Him: 4 week old, cute, healthy baby boy!

January 7, 2015

Dear wife’s contractions started at the end of the day on her due date.  We were very excited and nervous.  We thought that he was almost on time, that he would only be one day late.

In the end, labour was a lot harder than we expected.  Initially her contractions were less than 10 minutes apart.. but they slowed down and would continue for the next 8 days!

It was 7 days before she finally entered established labour, by that time she was exhausted, as she had not been able to sleep well due to the contractions happening regularly throughout the nights.

We finally went to the hospital – the midwife checked and my wife was 6 cm dilated.  There we were left to mostly to ourselves as according to our birth plan.  We had regular monitoring but hoped to have as natural a birth as possible.

But after about 9 hours of active labour the contractions had started slowing again – we think that my wife was just too tired after the long labour that she had been going through.

In the end, we agreed that she would be given syntocin – an artifical form of oxytocin which would induce the contractions, also that my wife would have an epidural to help with the contractions which she’d found very painful.

Still it took several hours more, but eventually our baby son arrived.  He needed some more help, with the vonteuse suction cap to pull him out.  It was very emotional… most of the time, during the pregnancy, we’d been fairly happy and confident, partly because throughout all the scans and checks it seemed that he was very healthy with a good, strong heartbeat.  But towards the end of the labour, his heartbeat was becoming quite fast and mum’s temperature was getting raised.

There was also an alarming moment  a few hours before he was born when they were trying to listen for his heartbeat and they had trouble finding it for a couple of minutes!

We had to stay in hospital a couple of days for monitoring after the birth.  But things are going very well now.  Baby is very cute and healthy, and breastfeeding well.  It was easier at the start, when he slept a lot and easily.

More recently he still sleeps a lot during the day, and fairly easily after he’s been fed.  But in the evening, he will be wide awake after a feed and quite cranky, and usually take several more hours of feeding and consoling before he finally falls asleep from exhaustion!  Anyway, we’re really happy to have him in our lives after long, hard journey we’ve had to get him.

Him: 39 weeks pregnant

November 27, 2014

Well, the missus has a larger belly now. She is 39 weeks pregnant and if the baby is on schedule he should arrive next week!

Things have mostly gone smoothly. The only problem has been that her belly size is a bit small so the midwife has referred us several times to get an ultrasound scan.

All the scans have turned out well, each time he’s more or less exactly average size/weight. The last scan was just yesterday, so although we have had to have the extra scans was a bit worrying, it has been re-assuring to see the results were fine.

Him: Just had a 10 week scan

May 6, 2014

We just had a 10 week scan today (so although it is only 7 weeks since we had the embryo transfer the pregnancy dates are calculated as the number of weeks since your last period).

We previously had a 7 week scan and we saw a very tiny baby and we could see a faint pulsing where its heartbeat was.  We were quite nervous before then because although we had the positive pregnancy result, 3 weeks seemed like a very long time to wait before we could get it confirmed better.

Immediately after that scan we were quite happy and starting to believe the pregnancy a bit more… but it was another 3 week wait until the next scan which we had today.  In that time, we started getting a bit nervous again.  My wife has been very tired, usually going to bed quite early in the evenings, although she hasn’t had much morning sickness – in that she hasn’t been ill, but she doesn’t have much of an appetite.

At the scan today, the baby had developed a lot.  It was more recognisable as a baby and we saw it wriggling about a lot!  It had a strong heartbeat although it was a bit fast at 190 beats per minute.  It was a bit emotional seeing the baby moving about, I’m not sure what I expected but I guess I didn’t think it would be moving with such recognisably human movements.

I think that we’re a lot more reassured and it’s not long now until the 12 week scan – in just 2 weeks.  After that we can start thinking about telling our family and friends which will be a big relief.  We haven’t told anyone else yet as we’re quite private people and we’ve been really worried in case the worst happened.

Him: It’s a positive!

March 25, 2014

We were very nervous the day before, dreading the worst and wondering what we would do if this cycle didn’t work.

We were sleeping separately because my wife had developed a cough and wasn’t sleeping well… but I was awake when she got up the next morning and I heard her go into the toilet.

She came out of toilet and came into the bedroom I was in and I could see straightaway that it was good news as she had a smile on her face.

I think we have to wait until the 12 weeks (?) are up before we can feel really safe, but it’s been a big relief to get this far and we’re feeling happy.

Him: Another embryo transfer yesterday

March 16, 2014

I just logged in to do a latest update and realised that it’s almost exactly one year after our latest embryo transfer.

As we suspected, the transfer didn’t work last time.  Overall it was very disappointing… not only the result, but also that the agency who provided the donor didn’t bother to contact us or offer any sympathies after the treatment failed.  Also they charged us the same full price for putting us in contact with the same donor as we used previously, but I feel that they didn’t do much or any work for it the second time.  Also afterwards the hospital told us that the donor had been very difficult to work with.

Anyway, I think about 5 months ago we got contacted again by the egg sharing scheme that we had signed up to.  It was from the same scheme that we used for our first egg donation attempt in July 2010.  So far, that had been the best result in our 4 egg donation tries – which isn’t really saying that much as they all resulted in BFN (negative pregnancy test results).

They did the egg collection last Monday, and our share was 9 eggs – which is quite a good amount.  I went in to do the sperm sample in the morning and then left for work.  I got an urgent call from my wife a couple of hours later… apparently there was a problem with the sperm – the concentration was only 15 million/ml, whereas their guidelines said that you should have 20 million/ml to do IVF.

So we had to choose whether to continue with IVF or use ICSI instead – which should better guarantee that fertilisation would occur.

We stressed about this quite a lot because we had not needed to use ICSI before, and had heard was a very small increased chance of problems with ICSI.  We talked about this over the phone quite a lot, and the hospital had to call back my wife a couple of times as we couldn’t make up our mind.

In the end we went with IVF.  My wife managed to speak to a senior embryologist and she re-assured us that the sperm sample was generally quite good, as the morphology was very good, just that the concentration was a little low, but it shouldn’t really cause a problem.

We got a call the next day, 8 out of 9 eggs had fertilised.  This was the best fertilisation rate we had ever got, by quite a long way!  Generally, our fertilisation rates had been a bit low, but we thought this was due to poor quality of eggs.  Anyway, we were massively relieved.

On the 3rd day after egg collection we were tentatively scheduled to go in for transfer, but they called us to let us know that the eggs were progressing well – there were 6 top-notch eggs so they would try and take it for a day 5 blastocyst transfer.  This was very exciting too, we had always hoped we would get to do a day 5 transfer as it seems the success rates are much higher.

Yesterday we went in for the transfer.  They said that there were 2 x 3AB quality blastocysts which could be transferred.  And that there were another 4-5 which they would check on the next day which it might be possible to freeze.  So we had to choose whether to transfer 1 or 2 blastocysts.  Based on the age of our donor, we would have a 56% chance of a live birth by transferring 1 blastocyst compared to a 59% chance by transferring 2.  But there would be a vastly increased chance of having twins.

I admit that this did seem tempting to me – to suddenly have two children when we had been so desperately trying to get just one!  But the disadvantage is that there are much more (relatively) increased chances of complications.

In the end, we decided to take the recommended advice and play it safe by only transferring one.  If it doesn’t work we will still have another chance to transfer the frozen one… if it does work, then we can still try to use the frozen one to provide a brother or sister at a later point.

So… now it’s 8 more days until we can take the pregnancy test.  We’ve both very cautiously optimistic.  We haven’t really spoken much about what we’ll do if we’re successful.  After 4 failed egg donation IVF tries, and 2 natural miscarriages I guess we’re really scared of being hurt again.

Him: 2 days post transfer…

March 17, 2013

We went in on the Friday for the embryo transfer. We got a call in the morning saying that there were still 3 embryos, but they were going to transfer the 2 which were “slightly better”.

When we arrived at the hospital and went into the transfer room they gave us some more details. They were going to transfer two embryos which were at the 4-cell stage. They said that the embryos were expected to be 2-4 cells at this stage.

This seemed odd to me, in previous times we had been told that the embryo should be 6-8 cells – I mentioned this, and they said that they were transferring earlier since there was less embryos to select from. I accepted this at the time, not wishing to argue with them…

But I’ve checked the previous posts now, and this time we transferred 3 days after the egg collection, which is the same as the previous times. So I guess there’s a few possibilities – 1) they were correct, and there’s something I missed, 2) they told a little lie so that we weren’t too worried that the number of cells was fewer, 3) they were wrong, and thought it was a 2 day transfer whereas it was a 3 day transfer.

Anyway, I guess there’s not too much point worrying about that now.

They elaborated a bit further about the embryos – apparently they had 4 cells which was good – but there was a “bit more fragmentation than they would have liked”, but hopefully the embryos would repair themselves.

The 3rd embryo they had was still at the 2-cell stage, so they discarded it.

They started doing the embryo transfer which I think was a bit painful for my wife. During the procedure, she started crying… I thought it was because the procedure was too painful and uncomfortable for her.

The nurses were a bit worried, but went on and finished the procedure and the wife dried her eyes. They wished us luck, but we left a bit subdued, rather than happy and elateful.

Afterwards I asked why she cried – it was because she thought this treatment wasn’t going to work because of the poor quality of the embryos.

I guess that the odds aren’t good this time either. But I remain semi-hopeful… there’s always a slim possibility that the embryos will take and stick around.

It seems it’s always possible to google your embryo situation, e.g. fragmented 4-cell embryo, and you’ll always find someone either saying it worked for them, or they know someone it worked for. Of course, these are only odd anecdotes, and don’t represent any real data, but it is still comforting until we take the pregnancy test in 11 days time.

Him: From 6 or 7, down to 5, down to 3… hope they continue to stick around…

March 13, 2013

We started another round of egg donation using the same donor as before. We had spoken with our doctor and she thought that it should be possible to use the same donor again even though we had only 9 eggs retrieved last time – but that they would modify the treatment to try and get better results.

So we managed to contact the donor (via the agency) and they were willing to try and help out again. So for the past couple of months the missus has been taking the nasal spray and tablets to get ready. Whilst I assume the donor has been doing likewise.

We had the 1st update on the progress last week, when they said they told us that the donor had 6-7 follicles and egg collection would take next week (which was yesterday morning).

This was bit of a shock for us, as we thought the results should have been better this time, but that was quite a low follicle count.

I went in to provide my main contribution to the process yesterday – the same day as the egg collection. I was shown to a different sperm collection room this time – it was a bit more basic, it didn’t have any a TV and DVD player… just some magazines in a drawer. And most of those were pretty tatty, with all the pages fallen apart. Still somehow, I managed to soldier on and provide my sample.

A bit later on, we got the call that my sample was OK and so they would use IVF rather than ICSI – also they had completed the egg collection and managed to retrieve 5 eggs.

Today we got the call that overnight 3 of the eggs had fertilised into embryos… so that’s the stage we’re at now. The next call should be in 2 days time, then we’ll find out how many made it that far, and if we’re going to attempt embryo transfer on that day.

Looking back at the last time, we had 4 embryos the day after egg collection, so we’re only 1 embryo down although we had 4 less eggs… still the numbers aren’t great, but I guess that there is still slim hope, for the moment.

Her: Follow up appointment to discuss the way forward

September 16, 2012

Our consultant did not have our donor’s notes to hand at our appointment but the conclusion that we have all come to is that despite already having three children, our donor has turned out to be sub-optimal.

Our consultant felt that 9 eggs was a good number. Obviously, the more eggs collected the better but with egg donors, it is important not to over-stimulate to avoid the risk of the donor becoming very unwell. The expectation would be a 60% fertilisation rate but we only had 4 eggs fertilised and the fact that the resulting embryos were slightly advanced at day 3 of their development suggested that they were not ideal. What we need is a donor who is able to give us eggs which allow us to have a blastocyst transfer as these have the best chance of implantation. Unfortunately, it is impossible for screening to identify such donors.

We wanted to get our consultant’s view on whether we should attempt another egg donation cycle given that we have now had three failed attempts and two natural pregnancies which ended in miscarriage. Her feeling is that the failed egg donation cycles were most likely down to the donor rather than me, given my ability to fall pregnant.

She offered a couple of investigations with a view to identifying any underlying cause for my miscarriages and for failed implantation: a blood test to detect the presence of any antibodies which can cause miscarriage, a hysteroscopy which is an internal examination of the womb performed under general anaesthetic, and an endometrial biopsy. The hysteroscopy would diagnose any issues with the womb and any issues identified will be treated at the same time. There is a 4-6 week waiting list for the procedure at our hospital. They will send me a letter when a date becomes available.

I am apprehensive about the outcome of the additional investigations and wonder whether knowledge of these outcomes earlier would have had bearing on our previous attempts at conception and hence helped us to avoid unneccesary heartache.

Him: Almost a week since BFN (again)

August 19, 2012

It’s almost a week since the failed pregnancy test.

I think I was partly hopeful, since this would be the first (donor) IVF we had tried since we had the natural failed pregnancies. Perhaps, DW’s body had been adapting and was more ready to get pregnant? Also, as mentioned in DW’s post, she had acupuncture before and after embryo transfer, and had a more relaxing time in the 2 week wait (although I’ve heard that working normally shouldn’t make a difference).

On the other hand, I think I held back from hoping too much, since we had been burned twice before with the previous donor IVFs failing. Also, it seemed as though the eggs again might not be the best quality; they initially had problems with the IVF cycle in that the donor was not responding well to the stimulation – and I think that they had said that the embryos were grade 3.

I do wonder if the sperm could be a factor? We seem to get about ~50% fertilisation rate on the eggs, but they’ve never implanted. After consulting Dr Google, it’s hard to see for sure, but it seems as though the egg quality is the main factor, rather than sperm quality – once they are fertilised.

We have a follow-up meeting scheduled with a doctor in a few weeks. I don’t know if they’ll be able to suggest much – I anticipate that they’ll say it’s unlucky, and that there’s not much else we can do differently.

At the moment I’m still hopeful that we will have a child one day. I think we’re going to try and conceive naturally for a while since that had been on hold for almost a year whilst we waited for this donor IVF treatment to start and then go through.

In several months time, if nothing “happpens” before then, we’ll try and start the next donor IVF treatment. It’s probably also good not to stress DW physically and mentally too much by having too many IVF treatments.

One of the worst things about BFNs is that before each time, I think how happy my mum would be to have a grandchild. She asks us quite a lot when we’re going to have children, but we haven’t told her yet of our problems.

At first, I think she thought we didn’t want children or were putting it off, although maybe she suspects now we’re having problems.

She’s getting quite old now, I really hope that we have a child before my mum dies, and also so that the child would have some memories of her as a grandparent.

Her: Back to normality

August 18, 2012

A couple of days after I stopped my medication, my body realised that there was no baby and my period came. The flow was heavy and I’ve never experienced cramps quite so painful. I imagined this is what labour might feel like as the cramps came in regular waves while I lay in bed.

To me, the arrival of the first period after each disappointment marks the start of the welcome return to normality. Cute babies and toddlers out and about with their parents have threatened to bring the sadness to the surface but so far, I have managed to keep the tears in check since August 13th.