The moment had arrived, we were going to start the IVF journey again, now as a married couple – a joyous milestone! After the unexpected change in plans last time, we decided to delay our next round of IVF until after our wedding. The thought of not having to worry about a retrieval right before or after our special day was a sigh of relief. I longed for that glass of champagne, a toast to love and new beginnings.
A few days after our honeymoon, the time had come. This round was going to be different. A new medication regimen and a different goal: retrieving eggs and freezing embryos without immediate transfer, all in preparation for my excision surgery.
As we began the medication, our amazing doctor explained the Flare protocol we were to follow this time. It was designed to be shorter than our first round, a protocol that had shown promise for women with endometriosis-related challenges like mine – those who struggled to produce sufficient eggs.
Around the seventh day of the medication, I nervously walked into the clinic for the first ultrasound. The anxiety was palpable, but as I left the clinic that day, I was filled with newfound confidence. It was working. There were more eggs this time! I had to return for another check in a couple of days, but for now, I had hope.
Navigating an IVF cycle can be a surreal experience. While the world around you carries on, you’re consumed by thoughts of whether this journey will lead to the cherished dream of becoming a parent. The moment of truth was approaching, and I received the call – it was time to trigger and prepare for the retrieval.
On the morning of the retrieval, we rose before the sun, a mixture of nerves and excitement bubbling within. Surgery was a foreign concept to me; my only previous hospitalisation had been when my cyst had burst a few months earlier. The hour-long drive to the surgery centre was filled with silent contemplation and tears. Was this the moment we had been waiting for?
Because of the pandemic, I had to face the surgery alone. In the pre-op room, I sat in alone until a compassionate nurse joined me. She held my hand from that moment until I drifted into slumber, and she was the first face I saw when I awoke. Her words carried hope – She said we got 4 eggs!
I could hardly believe it; there was a glimmer of hope. Now, all that remained was the anxious wait to see if they would fertilise. Those 24 hours were agonising, but late on a Saturday afternoon, after clutching my phone all day, it finally rang. It was our fertility nurse. She delivered the news – She said all our eggs fertilised.
We celebrated this small victory, but the waiting continued. Five long days passed before we would discover what we could freeze. Typically, they anticipate a 50% drop-off, so I braced myself for the possibility that 2 or more embryos would be a triumph. With my perfectionist tendencies, I secretly hoped for 4 embryos ready for freezing.
Then, after what felt like an eternity, the call came. It was right after the clinic opened. I was convinced it was going to be wonderful news. She said none of our embryos survived.
My heart shattered into a million pieces.
It was back to the drawing board… again.