Well hello there. Thought I’d forgotten about you? No way. I’ve been having a few months off to get over what’s been a tough 2019. But now I’m back, and here to tell you all about my first Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) – my fourth IVF cycle – recently undertaken at GENNET, Prague.
So what’s the dealio? First, let me tell you about the last three months.
Recovering after my missed miscarriage
Ironically, I wrote a post after my missed miscarriage (MMC) about how I was OK after the whole ordeal. But what I meant was: I’d got through it. I wasn’t OK, though. Far from it.
Which is why I took some time off the blog. I just didn’t have the energy within me to keep it going. I’ve felt seriously down. And while you die a little inside after a miscarriage, the rest of the world keeps on going. So you have to, too. But it’s been all I can do to get through each day.
I’ve not posted on Instagram – I couldn’t face looking at photos of pregnant women at the stage I’d have been at if I hadn’t miscarried. I’ve not listened to fertility podcasts, I’ve barely seen friends. I’ve just kept my head down at work, tried to read more and got back into running.
And here I find myself again. Three months on, and I’m ready to get pregnant again.
Getting back on the IVF wagon
At least we had four frozen embryos waiting for us in GENNET. That kept me going a bit through the spring and summer. It was the first time we’d ever had frozen ones as well – quite the novelty. I didn’t really know what to expect! So here’s a little FET summary.
FET is a lot easier, cheaper and more fun that a fresh IVF round, that’s for shhuuur. All I had to do was order progesterone pessaries (although I still have loads left in the cupboard from last time) and some oestrogen tablets and away I went.
I had a baseline scan before I started taking the tablets between days 22 and 26 – all was fine, thank goodness, as I’d been a bit worried about the affect of the MMC on my insides. Then a day 10 scan to make sure my lining was thick enough. That was all drama-free as well. So off we went to Prague mid-August 2019 for the FET transfer!
But first, a dilemma I hadn’t expected.
The dilemma! When to defrost
My GENNET co-ordinator said I had two choices:
- Defrost two of our embryos – which are day four morulas – on the day of transfer and bung them in. OR
- Defrost two of our embryos – still day four morulas – the day before transfer to see if they reach blastocyst stage on transfer day.
The problem with the second choice is you might end up with nothing if the two embryos don’t reach blastocyst stage.
I asked the clinic if that happened, could they not just defrost the other two embryos? They said no, the timing with my medication and transfer would be off.
So… we were obviously terrified about coming back with nothing, after all the investment of time, money and effort that goes into it. And that could happen. After all, I’ve read 50% of embryos drop off between day four and five.
But, equally, I’d rather know if the embryos were viable or not rather than spending two weeks thinking there’s a chance if there isn’t.
We went for option two. Here’s what happened.
Three days in Prague
We spent three lovely days in Prague. Last time we stayed bang central in the Jewish Quarter. This time, being August and all, we opted for cheaper accommodation further out, but actually not far from GENNET, in Karlin, Prague 8.
We stayed at Penta Hotel, which is a chain actually – there’s one in Reading, randomly – but it was perfect for us. Cosy downstairs, like a cool hip London bar, with a free pool table and games station. The rooms were basic but stylish, and the breakfast was good.
The location was ideal for GENNET – I’d say a 15 minute walk. You could go further into town if you felt energetic, or get the Metro, which is two minutes round the corner from the hotel.
We walked from there to Zizkov, a cool area with loads of bars and restaurants, to see the weird TV tower with babies crawling up it. We hiked up the nearby hill to see a huge horse statue, which has an amazing view over the city. And we strolled over to Prague 7 – another hipster area – to check out the vintage stores and have a coffee in the communal arts space, Vnitroblock.
All of these are highly recommended because it meant we weren’t stuck in tourist hell, which is Prague in the height of summer. We saw a different side of the city this time around, and had such a chilled, fun time. It was like an actual holiday.
FET Transfer time
But we weren’t on holiday. We were there for business instead, and so at 12:30pm last Wednesday, we headed to GENNET. (But not before sharing a sacher torte at the Cafe Gallery Barista, a coffee shop a couple of shops down from the Starbucks near the clinic – it is outstanding!)
At GENNET, after the obligatory ID check at reception, up we went. The co-ordinator who met us took us to our own private room and, encouragingly, told me to change into the nightgown for transfer. ‘Well, this looks promising,’ both my husband and I agreed.
After waiting probably 20 minutes, the co-ordinator came in with the embryologist. ‘I have bad news,’ she said. I took one look at my husband, and almost laughed. Of course you have, I thought.
But it didn’t actually turn out to be bad news at all, really, in the grand scheme of IVF bad news. She told us they’d defrosted the first two embryos yesterday, but neither were developing properly. So they’d defrosted the second two later that day.
Now at this point I expected her to say they’d not developed properly either. But she said these two were good. Turns out they were both 3AAs – so how chuffed were we? Bad news? Nah, this was epic. This way we’d have the double transfer, and – at the same time – manage to discard the crap embryos.
Sure, if these two don’t work, then we’re back to square one, and IVF fresh round number four (my goodness, how did we become those people?). But at least we’re having a good crack of it this time. At least we have a reasonable chance (over 60% for each one).
Now we’re back
We came back on Thursday, and now it’s Saturday. And I’m excited. Yeahhhh, probably shouldn’t be. This is my fourth transfer, my sixth and seventh embryo cathetered up me, and none have worked so far. But you have to have hope – that’s all I’m clinging on to.
And of course I’m going to tell you my symptoms so far. Here we go (and I’ll update until test day):
Today we flew back home. On the journey, I felt two separate ‘pings’, like a rubber band being flicked in my insides. I can’t remember how far apart – maybe an hour or two – but I remember the same sensation last time I got pregnant. Could this be implantation?
Feeling a bit tired now – think the progesterone is starting to kick in. Nothing to report other than a headache at the end of the day, and slight cramps. Could be brought on by me struggling to get my pessaries to stay up where they belong! Bed time 9pm. Oh, the fun and glamour.
Day three (the day of writing)
I’ve started to do that crazy thing of feeling my boobs on a regular basis to see if they feel different. They don’t.
Woke up with slight headache – my body felt all tingly. Hard to describe.
Woke up with a headache again. My (.)(.) have started becoming sensitive – good sign! At midday I had period-like pains, but lower than I would normally feel them, which spread to my whole tummy. I felt a bit nauseous, but how is that possible so early on? I had a few pains in my thighs – not normal sensations for me. I also, strangely, felt like I could smell the insides of my nostrils! These symptoms are definitely positive.
Woke up at 4am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I have a stuffy nose, a bit of nausea – even a funny taste in my mouth at midday. Loose-ish bowels, where normally I’d be a bit constipated at this point (because of the progesterone). In the afternoon I was massively bloated. Confused because I know you can get bloated following a fresh transfer if you’re pregnant, but thought that was something to do with the trigger shot or something. Surprised I’m bloated from a FET. Perhaps (seriously) it was the pasta I ate! Also very thirsty all the time, with very dry lips and hands. However, despite the lack of sleep last night, I don’t feel exhausted like I think I should be if I was pregnant. Still, going to bed early and sleeping from about 9:15pm. Am definitely having lots of strange, vivid dreams as well.
Woke up, checked (.)(.), feel less sensitive/not at all. I don’t think it’s worked. I really don’t. I feel good this morning – really rested, not nauseous and not at all pregnant. The (.)(.) thing is a give-away. As soon as that goes, so does my hope. I reckon the embryos implanted but have stopped developing. It’s all I can do to stop me from testing. My husband bought me two FRER yesterday, but I’ve no idea where he put them. I really want to hold out to 9dp5dt because it’s a Friday, I can work from home and I can wallow in a pit of self-pity. I had such hopes for this cycle, and now I just feel FED UP.
Went to bed last night super early because I felt so sorry for myself. I’m pretty sure now it hasn’t worked, despite my earlier symptoms looking so hopeful. It’s the lack of sensitive (.)(.) that’s the obvious sign. Why would they stop being sensitive if I’m pregnant? Anyway, must have been asleep by 9pm last night – ridiculously early, even for me. Woke up 12:30am and could not get back to sleep.
About 1:30am I started listening to podcasts (RunPod and Happy Place) to drown out the thoughts in my head (‘That’s our seventh unsuccessful embryo – WTF’, ‘How the fcuk are we going to keep paying for more IVF?’, ‘I can’t carry on like this FFS’ etc.). Managed to sleep about 3:30am.
Woke up hot and sweaty at 6:15am with a horrible, bitter taste in my mouth. No period, which is due tomorrow. This is the longest I’ve ever not tested in four rounds – 8dp5dt. I was going to this morning, but my friend at work convinced me otherwise. I’ve already had my first wee of the day, so it’s too late now. Just got to get through a day at work, then I’ll find out tomorrow.
Still have a bit of hope… you have to.
Day nine – unofficial test day
I’ll cut to the chase. I tested this morning, and I got a faint line. But it’s 9dp5dt and I tested with a super sensitive FRER. The likelihood of this being a viable pregnancy, I’d say, is about 5%. I’m not even going to take a picture of the test result, I’m that unconvinced. My husband, however, is super excited. I told him: when I tested first last time it was 8dp4dt and the line on that test was super dark.
If you google ‘9dp5dt faint line’ there are HUNDREDS of posts from women in the same boat, and all the other forumites go ‘Waydago! A line’s a line’ and then – five days later – the original poster comes back and says it was a chemical pregnancy. I haven’t read one story of a faint line being the result of a ‘late implanter’, as people claim.
Like I said above, I definitely think one of the embryos implanted at some point – I felt the pangs, I felt the (.)(.)… and then it stopped 7dp5dt. I reckon if I’d tested with the FRER two days ago, it would have been a stronger line. But it’s fading. If I’d tested with another test – a less sensitive one – there’d be no line. Fact.
How do I feel? Frustrated. I’m in limbo, and I wanted to avoid this situation by testing 9dp5dt rather than sooner, as I’ve done before. And now I think: if I’d have tested sooner and it was a darker line two days prior, at least I’d know by now it’s definitely not worked. How ironic!
I’m annoyed that I’m still having the take the drugs. It’s Bank Holiday weekend, and I want to have a big glass of wine tonight to commiserate but I can’t. I’d like to go for a run this weekend, but I’ll have to wait til Sunday to see if the line is darker (it won’t be, I’m 95% sure.)
Ulgh… two 3AA blastocysts, and this is what we get. How many more fcuking IVF cycles do we need to do before we achieve our goal?
I haven’t really got much of an update, other than I am going out of my MIND not knowing whether I’m pregnant or not. I’ve been winding myself up all day, googling ‘9dp5dt faint line’ incessantly, and now I feel utterly depressed. How can I wait til Sunday? I’ll have to check again tomorrow, won’t I?
If it’s fading, I’ll be super sad (happy frigging Bank Holiday!) And if it’s still not darker, I’ll be sad too. (I know there’s a third, more positive option here, but I don’t believe it’ll happen. And, actually there’s a fourth – my period starting.)
The other total mind fcuk is that my (.)(.) started getting sore again this morning – ridiculous! Glimmer of hope. I was so pleased as they’ve been ‘normal’ for two days now. But they seem to have gone again now :-(. Whatever’s happening in there doesn’t indicate to me that it’s doing what it should be doing. Can I just know now please before I lose the entire plot?!
Day 10 – a bit more clarity?
Hey, so I tested again this morning. I wanted the test to either be much more faint, so I could rule myself out, or be much stronger so I could at least feel I had half a chance. After the three-minute window, the line looked much the same as it did yesterday. But after 10 minutes, it dried probably a tiny bit darker. I thought I’d upload a photo for you:
You’re probably reading this thinking: for goodness sake, there’s a line – it’s getting darker. But I can’t explain it – I know things aren’t right. Anyway, we’re off to Suffolk today for a family BBQ and staying in an Airbnb, so that’ll be interesting doing a test tomorrow in someone else’s house. I might take my trusty pee-shot glass… wish me luck.
Day 11 – teetering on the edge
So yesterday we were at our relative’s BBQ, and I started to get really bad period cramps, so much so I had to sit down at one point. These continued all evening. Once we got to the Airbnb (absolutely beautiful 17th century property, complete with big scary moths), I limped into the shower and realised I hadn’t brought any panty-liners or sanitary towels 🙁 – what an idiot! I was seriously considering wearing my shorts in bed as I was absolutely convinced I’d be on my period this morning.
Anyway, I survived a night with the massive moths (who knows where they went) and at 6am this morning – absolutely busting for the loo – I peed on a stick. (I forgot my shot glass.) I no longer hide the stick from sight until three minutes have passed. Now I just wanna know. So I set it down in front of me and stared, willing the second line to appear.
And, almost immediately, it did. I was quite excited, as the last two days it’s taken longer to appear. But the line is skinny – it looks skinnier than the line in the above picture. (Unfortunately I haven’t got the other sticks to compare.) Also, my husband – ever the optimist – says that my ‘technique’ – i.e. POAS rather than, er, dunking, will make a difference as they’re inconsistent control methods! Gah, I dunno. We’re 11d5dpt and the line is not the best. And I don’t have any other symptoms apart from cramps, which have eased.
I’ll obviously test again tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll get a bit more clarity then.
Day 12 – reasons to believe?
Well, I’m sure this blow-by-blow account of my ‘am I, am I not’ pregnancy scenario is a fascinating read (not), but the saga does continue…
This morning, 5:45am, I was awake – woken, of course, by the cats – and busting for the loo, as per usual. I went downstairs, boiled the kettle and, of course, peed on a stick. And again, I stared at the stick as the liquid travelled up the window. And I’m pleased to say, the second line came up before the control! It was pretty thick and strong, and dried pretty much the same colour as well.
So I feel better today. But also totally dumb-founded. I can’t believe that faint little line of d9p5dt has got darker – I honestly thought I was out. But I don’t have any symptoms. No sore (.)(.), no cramps any more – I’m not particularly tired, I have no headaches. I just feel normal, which scares me.
And no matter how much I tell myself not to get excited, I’ve already googled the due date (I know, but I’d have done it sooner or later – I have no will power), worked out the upcoming milestones (digital test – five days’ time; viability scan, 15 Sept; 12-week point, 18 Oct…) and generally dared to dream again. Which is dangerous.
However, I’m going to keep cracking on and not get too in my head about it. That means no looking at miscarriage calculation tables, no counting down the days (yeah, right), no obsessive googling (ahem) and distracting myself with films and books and stuff that I always say I’ll do but don’t
I did go for a proper run today, though, which I was super proud of myself for doing, because last pregnancy I was too scared. And look where that got me… so this time, I’m continuing the exercise for my health and happiness. And sanity.
So I survived the Bank Holiday! No booze, loads of sleep, connecting with family and being pregnant. Can’t believe it. Let’s just hope and pray for an uneventful week and hopefully some more symptoms!
See what happens next.