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Isabellas first ever photo

From Embryo Transfer To Three And Thriving

Isabella, Michele

Isabellas first ever photo

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.

Isabella kissing mummySo 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.

  1. Oh dear, tears so early in the morning! What an amazing tale of excitement and fear. What fantastic parents you have both made! To two beautiful little girls xxxx

    1. Oh no, I didn’t mean to make you cry. Hope they were tears of happiness. Very nice of you to say we make great parents as you never know if you’re doing the right thing, you’ve just got to try & do your best. Thank you so much for taking the time to read & comment. Really good of you to share this post on Facebook too. Thank you x

  2. Amazes me still when I look at Isabella what you went through to make sure she arrived safe and well.
    The pain of investigatory operations, collapsing on pavements in pain on the way back from hospital, not being able to move for almost 5 weeks when you had OHSS, smiling nicely at the consultant when he told you that you were pretty much drowning internally, the determination that everything was going to be OK when we were told that they couldn’t find the heartbeat on our first proper scan, the list could go on and on.
    You are amazing and I am so lucky you are the mummy of my little girls

    1. That’s a lovely thing to say thank you. You & Isabella made all the pain worthwhile. & now of course we have Jemima as a bonus prize I couldn’t be happier. Thank you for all your support in everything I do, it’s brilliant to know you are always by my side.

  3. Thank you to your husband for sharing this link on twitter, otherwise I would have had no idea. What a beautifully heart warming first story to read on a morning, especially the 1st of December. I have two boys and thank god they are so beautiful and healthy. Hope your 3 o’clock slot is a long and luscious one! Xx

    1. Thank you it’s lovely to hear you enjoyed reading my post. My 3 o clock was luscious (great word by the way!) but like all good things came to an end way too quickly. I could have cuddled Izzie forever! Thanks for taking the time to read & comment. I’m still quite new to this blogging business so it really means a lot to hear what you think.

  4. I remember the teeth-meltingly terrifying moment driving to the clinic thinking I’d left that oven on & Paul’s joy at tormenting me! But that was nothing to the horrific fear I had when I heard about you collapsing. I’m so grateful you made it through, and that Izzie made it through, and that your husband, despite his fondness for winding me up, took such good care of you and my as yet unborn god-daughter. And continues to do so, along with JG and big ‘brother’ Ben. It was an emotional day just standing at the sidelines watching, can’t begin to imagine the roller-coaster for you & Paul. So honoured to be a tiny part of it. Xxxx

    1. Is it any consolation that said husband only winds people up he is very fond of? I am so glad you were & continue to be part of Izzie’s history. You are a true friend & despite leaving the oven on were a brilliant support especially doing things like walking The Dog when I know that you really aren’t a big fan of dogs! Thank you for always being there for us all. x

  5. always great to read your blog with pride.
    IVF gave Izzie a shot of life and 3 years on , a bundle of joy.
    the race is on between IVF and natural
    It is going to be fascinating to watch the development and bonding

    1. The competition between my 2 miracle babies is alternately funny & frightening to watch. We have nicknamed Jemima “me too’ as she’s so competitive with her big sister. Lovely to hear you’re proud of what I write, that makes me so happy as I always want you to be proud of me. x

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