1st December is always a special day for me now, as 4 years ago I had a very important transplant operation. After years of investigatory procedures, months of injections and weeks of scans, this is the date I had two embryos transferred back to me.
In the blissful chaos of looking after two toddlers I often struggle to remember the end of my own sentences let alone what I dashed up the stairs for. Well until I’m back down the stairs then I always remember exactly what it was I went up there for. But every tiny detail of 1st December 2008 is somehow etched into my memory.
We took a risk with our ICSI treatment and decided to let the embryos grow to Blastocyst stage as they had a better chance of developing into a successful pregnancy. At our time of treatment most embryos were transferred at 2 or 3 days old, Blastocysts are usually 5 or 6 days old. The downside is of course the embryos may not survive until then.
I had my embryo transfer operation booked for 3pm but had to call in the morning to see if our embryos had survived. It was the most nerve racking call of my life and I was beyond elated when I heard 7 blastocysts had survived. I was told to arrive with a full bladder and wear no perfume as apparently embryos don’t like perfume.
My closest friend had already driven 200 miles “Up North” for moral support and to help with the heavy work like dog walking afterwards. I remember her being so orgainised and cooking dinner for us before we left, just in case we got back late. We left in plenty of time, prepared for a snowy drive and I vividly recall her squeaking “I think I left the oven on” when we were well on the way to the clinic. She’s always been so good at distracting me. My husband had actually turned the oven off but of course didn’t tell her this until he had toyed with her sufficiently.
So I arrived at the clinic way too early, alternately worrying my bladder may be too full and I may not be able to make it through the transfer operation and whether it was actually full enough so the transplant could be done successfully. I worried if I’d sprayed Soft & Gentle on too liberally. Would embryo’s mind deoderant as that had perfume in it? There was little I wasn’t worried about.
At 3pm our consultant greeted us and took us into theatre. He gave my husband Scrubs to wear. I wonder why an already attractive man always look a little bit more appealing wearing Scrubs? The consultant explained that when transferred, the embryos would be proportionately like 2 peanuts in the room we were in. I thought that was a bit random but now I can’t look at a packet of peanuts without thinking of IVF.
Our consultant was efficient yet kind and asked if we wanted to take photos of the amplified embryos. I’m so glad we did as those photos gave us so much hope. I still have a copy of the photo on my bedside table to remind me how lucky I really am to be getting up for my babies in the middle of the night. It’s very easy to forget with the endless sleepless nights and constant back chat in the day.
I was tempted to beg for anaesthetic but I’m glad I didn’t as I watched the procedure take place on screen and was wheeled out of theatre to Destiny’s Child, “I’m a survivor”. I had to stay still for 15 minutes, then I was given a pregnancy test to take in 13 days. They might as well have said 13 years. It felt so long away but I was finally pregnant until proven otherwise. It was a strange feeling of limbo. You can’t allow yourself to believe you’re pregnant but you can’t allow yourself to think you’re not, as after all the work you’ve done negativity could destroy you.
When I was admitted to hospital a few days later with Ovarian Hyperstimulation, an occasional side effect with ICSI, I never gave up hope but if I’m honest my optimism was wearing thin. I remember sitting in the hospital chapel with my Mum who saw that I may be about to blub. She held me in her arms and told me that she had a feeling one embryo would survive. It was a brave thing to say but it turns out, Mum really does know best.
I was incredibly lucky as one of the embryos did indeed survive, thrive and became Izzie. Although I went on to have another gorgeous baby girl naturally and wonderfully unexpectedly, I will always be eternally grateful to IVF, all the doctors and medical staff at Care Fertility who helped us. I used to think the term transplant was used when it came to saving lives but my transplant really changed mine by creating a life.
So 4 years on, Izzie, my former embryo is now 3. Today I will try not to get irritated when she uses her favourite word “why” with infuriating regularity. I’ll try not to bark at her for littering the floor with the lego I have just trodden on. I’m hoping to have a little time alone with her, just the 2 of us and around 3pm I hope to scoop her up and cuddle her for as long as she will let me, which won’t be for very long but will be longer than I could possibly have hoped for this time 4 years ago.