On Tuesday the 14th of February, when other couples were celebrating Valentine's Day, Mr Click and I were making an important decision about the lives of our potential offspring. We ultimately went with the option to let them grow on to Day 5 in the hopes that we would know what we had to work with when we came to begin our frozen transfer, but despite knowing that this was the best thing to do, it was still a decision fraught with anxiety. I pretty much started second guessing our decision the minute we hung up the phone from the Embryologist.
Now if you've read my posts from the days following our second call from the Embryologist, you'll know that there was a happy ending to this choice. But at the time we didn't know which way it was going to go.
I spent the days that following playing a careful balancing game, searching for invisible signs which would tell me one way or the other which way the results were going to go. I saw a single magpie, that must mean we'd lost one; I saw a bunch of seals on the beach, that means they're all okay; there was something that may have been a roadkill rabbit at the side of the room, that's an embryo gone.
Somewhere in the back of my brain I kept a running tally of how many I suspected we would have by that date. I was optimistically thinking that we would maybe lose one a day, that seemed like a reasonable number and would leave us with five by Day 5. That would be one more than we'd had last time and it seemed like a good number to hope for. Each day, if my mental tally tied up with what I was expecting by that day then I would be happy, if not I would worry that we weren't going to have anything by the time Saturday rolled around.
I got into a routine as well. Each day I would load up the Advanced Fertility website and send Mr Click a picture message of what our Little Bubbles should be looking like that day. Then I would commit that image to memory and concentrate on it through the day, in the hopes that I could somehow send a message to my embryos that this was what they were supposed to look like.
I suppose that concentrating on the Bubbles the way I did helped me to feel like I was doing something to help. In reality there wasn't much I could do, and that made this one of the most difficult bits of the process so far. In a normal cycle you'd be preparing yourself for the transfer, but as we wouldn't be doing that so it kind of felt like waiting for an even longer wait.
I'd originally planned to go back to work on the Thursday, figuring that would give me plenty of time to recover from the op and would give me something to focus on, but by the time Thursday rolled around I was still walking as though I was about 80.
The cold I'd caught had me coughing and sneezing so everything was feeling uncomfortable, not only from the op but also from feeling pulled each time I coughed or sneezed. Sitting upright was pretty uncomfortable so I spent all my time sort of slouched down with my jeans unbuttoned, or wearing jammy bottoms. I was a very pretty sight and I spent most of the time knitting because all of my other hobbies (playing on the computer, letter writing, colouring in) all required the ability to sit upright or hunched over and that was just not happening!
I spent the whole day on Thursday in a state of nervous tension because I was convinced we would get the call to say they had all arrested. In a normal cycle, if they weren't doing so well in the incubator, you might get called back to do a Day 3 transfer. In a freeze all cycle this just is not an option.
In hindsight they probably didn't check them until Day 5 because there was no need to. They were confident that with ten embryos we would have something on Day 5, even if we did lose a number of them. Ten is a fantastic number to be going on with and there's bound to be a drop off along the way. But that didn't stop me from being nervous and jumping every time my phone made a noise!
On Saturday I really wanted a lie in and, despite the fact that the hospital said they would probably be calling in the afternoon, I insisted on us getting up early just in case they phoned.
Once again I was a big ball of nervous energy. I struggled to settle to anything and kept trying to find ways to distract myself. I'd sit next to my phone for ages, despite needing the loo, just in case we got the call.
And then as the day wore on without a phone call I started to panic.
The Embryologist had told me on the first call that if any of them were a little slow to develop then they might let them go on into Sunday before they attempted to freeze them, just in case they needed another day to catch up. So as lunch time approached, and passed, I started wondering if perhaps they were all really slow and they were going to phone us on Sunday instead. Perhaps none had made it and they saved those phone calls for 4pm (I don't know why, I think all sorts of crazy things when I'm anxious about my Bubbles).
I had a pretty comprehensive meltdown about this to Mr Click shortly before 2pm. Went back through to the living room, sat down and the phone rang.
My hands were shaking so much I almost hit the hang up button instead of answering.
The Embryologist confirmed who she was speaking to and immediately said 'first of all, it's good news', then went through all the details she needed to take from me before she could actually give me the good news. My first thought was 'phew! We must have five!'
Then she ran down our numbers, like we were on Top of the Pops or something: 'You had 19 eggs collected. 12 were mature. Ten fertilised. And you have nine fabulous embryos!'
I think I repeated 'nine' a couple of times because I couldn't quite believe it. I also felt a tinge of sadness for that little tenth one which didn't make it for whatever reason. It's kind of a silly thing to focus on because we've got nine but I still feel sad for the little one that didn't make it.
The Embryologist went on to let me know that all nine had been frozen for us, but also that she'd checked them against our last embryos and they were all better quality that what we had before! This is a massive deal. Our best one last time was the first one we transferred and was graded as a 5BB (they're given a number from 1-6 which is their stage of development, 6 being the highest; the letters denote the inner and outer cells and are graded from A-C). 5BB is good but that means that these must be 5AB/5BA or higher. I'm so hopeful that this means we're going to get a sticky one this time.
What was lovely was that I could tell how happy the Embryologist was on the phone. I guess they sometimes have to phone with not so nice news, letting people know they have no embryos or that they're poor quality, or that there's nothing to freeze. Letting someone know that 90% of their embryos have made it to Day 5 for freezing, when last time only 57% of them made it that far is probably a pretty nice call to make.
So that's where we're currently at.
I'm half hoping that someone at some point will ask me how many children I have so I can say 'none yet, but I have nine in the freezer' because these are the jokes that you make when you have IVF treatment and you're waiting to defrost your future children.
Because we've got to wait.
I can't believe we've been waiting two and a half weeks since then already. The time has both flown by and dragged. Hopefully in another couple of weeks I can start playing phone tag with the hospital and trying to arrange defrosting at least one of the little guys.
And then the angsting can start all over again. Will I respond to the drugs properly? Will my lining be alright? Will they thaw? Will they continue to expand? Will they implant? Will it stick?
I'll let you know how that goes when we get there.