You might remember that a couple of months ago, Jess Jones, from Infertility and Life blog, recently guest posted for The Cuckoo Mama. Jess is currently undergoing her first frozen embryo transfer (FET)*. Sadly, the four fresh cycles of IVF she’s already gone through, haven’t ended with the miracle she’d hoped. After experiencing the grief that accompanies negative pregnancy tests after fertility treatment, Jess was really keen to share, on her blog, what it’s actually like to finally get a test result which has been the subject of so many hopes and dreams.
The big fat positive, or BFP as it’s known in the world of infertility, is absolutely the only outcome you want when you embark upon any cycle of IVF. It’s the whole reason you subject yourself to the injections and indignity caused by constant invasive treatments. It’s why you pay thousands of pounds to put your life on hold and feel pretty rotten from hormones week after week, cycle after cycle. And, unfortunately, they are a lot rarer than a negative result.
I still remember it well. It was Wednesday 21st January at 6am, two days before our “official” test date. After injecting my bottom with a two-inch, intramuscular, high dose of progesterone, my husband had gone to make a cup of tea and I simply couldn’t wait any more. After seven medicated two-week waits and four years of, desperately hoping for a miracle, worth of waits, my patience had run short and I could no longer battle my addiction of peeing on sticks.
For anyone who has ever struggled to conceive you’ll know the sick-making feeling there is at watching a digital egg timer spin, or staring at a control line willing it to double, or both at the same time, in many cases. To get to this point there has been heartbreak, acceptance, appointments, medication, invasive treatments, hope and despair, often many times over. There’s been guilt and grief, physical and mental pain and a sadness like no other. Thousands of pounds have been spent, along with hours of research, alternative therapies, diets, supplements, blood, sweat and tears, which could all have been for nothing, depending on the six-inch stick upon which your fate is held. No matter how long the two-week wait might seem, it’s as if time stops during those three minutes of staring at a lump of plastic.
And then the words jump up, or the line appears, or doesn’t, and, in that moment, at that split second, your future is determined.
“Pregnant 2-3 weeks”
There it was. In black and white. It had worked.
I wish I could write here that what followed was a scene worthy of a film, where I whooped for joy, as my husband ran up the stairs, dropping the mugs of tea to pick me up and spin me round whilst I, victoriously, wielded my, glowing, little pee stick in the air. But, in reality, I simply sat back down, elated, yet incredibly scared. You see, this wasn’t our first BFP. Just two months before, we’d had a positive from a fresh cycle, but had, devastatingly, miscarried just days after celebrating. I was utterly petrified that could happen again.
The previous BFP was one of excitement, sheer happiness and relief; relief that we wouldn’t have to go through IVF again, that our wait was finally over and that we could, more easily, have a larger family, as we had two embryos sitting on ice. We were unconditionally overjoyed, intoxicated by exuberance; I never imagined I’d miscarry. This time, of course I was thrilled, but there was something more reserved in my jubilation; I was cautious. I desperately wanted to be wholly consumed by euphoria, but worry was winning. My husband also felt the same. So this time we didn’t share the news, we didn’t make plans, or think of names, but anxiously waited, guarded, in case we needed to head straight back to self-preservation mode.
This time I was acutely aware that there was still a very long way to go.
And so the waiting began, again. But instead of ticking off the days until our next cycle or test, we were now desperate to get to our eight-week scan, the first marker, and further than we’d ever been before. We realised that this was most probably how the pregnancy would continue; counting down to the next thing to put our minds at rest.
I’d always imagined that I’d see the words “pregnant” flashing up on the screen and all of a sudden my worries and concerns would magically vanish, and it’s possible they would have done had we not suffered the miscarriage. Looking back I find it somewhat saddening that, despite the joyous occasion, we couldn’t ever properly relax into the moment and enjoy it for what it was; a miracle and a time of extreme happiness.
The disquiet was ever prevalent; each day I’d, constantly, check for blood, digitally testing to see whether the pregnancy was progressing as it should. But, no bleed came, and it was with relief that the scan date loomed ever closer.
Yet we never got there.
Due to our failure to conceive, we’d had both frozen embryos transferred and I was, amazingly, pregnant with twins. Unfortunately, the day before my scan, I was rushed into surgery, as one of the babies was ectopic and needed to be removed. Miraculously the other baby survived and, at 37 weeks pregnant, my beautiful little boy was delivered, safely, and placed in to my arms.
Our dreams had come true.
As my pregnancy progressed, I did eventually start to relax more and the anxiety did, somewhat, abate. It was refreshing being signed off from the clinic and placed in to the care of the community midwife team, being treated like every other pregnant lady to walk through their doors; a regular first time mum-to-be starting her family. Against the odds, we’d finally got there.
Infertility is, without a doubt, the toughest challenge I’ve ever faced. It’s cruel and unfair and leaves a lasting shadow upon your life. There’s not a day goes by that I’m not incredibly grateful for my son, or the ultimate joy those small words on a plastic screen gave me, but there’s also not a day I don’t think about others going through their own infertility journey and share in their pain; if I could wave a magic wand, I would.
*I know you’ll all be utterly thrilled to hear that Jess’ FET did result in her very own BFP and her baby girl was born in January.