We decided to do a 2 part stay in Valencia, part city and part in a beach resort, we knew nothing about the place but given we were going to be there for 10 days we could get to know it. Of course, that and the romantic idea that our babies would be made there, so we wanted to know the place as much as possible.
On arrival at our UK airport, I suddenly realised that I had left all of my medication at home, I’d packed nothing other than 2 lots of treatment! I went into panic mode, I messaged my friend, how could I have been so stupid!!! The whole focus of the journey was for our IVF treatment and I’d forgotten to pack the key elements. My friend, my second rock through this journey, went into overdrive, she, unbeknown to me, went around to my mom’s to get a spare set of keys. By this time, I was on a plane and not contactable. Between them they searched my house for the medication, amazingly not only did they find it, but they also got me express delivery to Spain. Sounds easy, but getting someone to take drugs and needles wasn’t that straight forward!
On check in at our hotel we prepped the hotel, we needed to ensure that when our drugs got there, they were stored in a cool dark place. At no point did it dawn upon me that I could simply get another prescription from the clinic the following day when we saw them. My stress levels were crazy and the more you tell yourself they shouldn’t be and that stress isn’t good, the worse it is.
The following day we went to the clinic for our scan, they were happy with the growth of the follicles but felt they needed a couple more days. We hadn’t factored much leaway into our trip and we needed 5 days after collection for the transfer. We also didn’t want to fly immediately after transfer, so realistically we couldn’t afford to delay the collection for more than a day or 2.Whilst we had some extra time we decided to hire some bicycles and to try and have a ‘normal’ day. Day’s aren’t normal when you have IVF, you live in a bubble and for me it was a period of worrying about everything. Our bicycle hire turned out to be a disaster! We hired our bikes and set off on a tour of Valencia, what an amazing city it is and travelling by bike definitely allows you to see lots and cover more ground. The little alleyways and back streets are amazing, we had a great deal of fun exploring them. We then rode out to the parc, an old river bed that has been turned in to a beautiful setting, children running everywhere, long cycle paths and extremely tranquil. After about 30 mins heading out in one direction, I suddenly felt pain in the region of my ovaries, I had no idea what it was, whether it was serious or not, but I panicked. I refused to cycle any further, convinced that the cycling was bad for me, we couldn’t get a cab back because of the bikes. There was nothing else for it, I stood up on my pedals while Chris pushed me all the way back. He was exhausted, he’s no fitness addict, in fact golf is as much as he exerts himself (so not a lot!!). Of course, after a while the pain subsided, on my subsequent IVF treatments I became familiar with the sorts of pain that you get, but the first cycle was a whole new journey. I was so terrified of doing anything wrong.
At our appointment 2 days later, we were given the go ahead, we had 6 follicles that were a good size, our egg retrieval was booked for the following day. Now, as many of you who’ve had IVF will know, 6 isn’t many, however for my age, we were pleased. I had to have an HCG injection at a specific time that night, this triggers the release of the eggs ready for collection. Our collection was planned for 11am the following day.
We were really anxious when we arrived at the clinic, they can never guarantee that there is an egg in each follicle, so there was no guarantee that we were going to get 6 eggs. We were shown to our room, I was given a gown to wear with nothing else underneath. Pretty much to the minute of our time slot, I was taken to theatre to be put under anesthetic for egg collection. The theatre staff were amazing, so gentle and kind. I wasn’t scared, just nervous about what they would retrieve and of course the quality.
The next thing that I know, I’m in the recovery area, I remember coming round and there was a lovely nurse with me. As soon as I felt well enough, they wheeled me back to my room, along the way I passed another lady who was obviously on here way down to theatre. I gave her a smile, I knew exactly how she was feeling. Back in the room Chris was waiting, he was so relieved when I got back, even though it’s a straightforward procedure, there’s something about going to theatre and having an anesthetic that makes your partner worry.
We then got the good news we’d been waiting for, we got 6 eggs! Amazing and so happy, now we had to wait to see how they developed with the fresh sperm that Chris had provided.
We went back to our hotel and had a few days by the pool relaxing during the nail biting time. In Spain, they take your egg to the 5 day stage, typically longer than in the UK which tends to be 3 days. It’s quite the norm that you lose eggs along the way during that 5 days, as only the strong ones survive. The clinic suggested to us that we may want to do another cycle fairly soon after the first to increase our chances, the more eggs you have the better your odds.
We didn’t make that decision until we got the bad news that a transfer couldn’t go ahead. During the 5 day wait, I had bloods taken and my progesterone levels were way too high for a transfer. We were absolutely gutted, no one had warned us about the fact that this could happen. Basically, if your levels are too high, the chances of success are greatly reduced and therefore there was no point in transferring.
I subsequently found out that certain foods could have a negative impact, now who knows as there is a lot of conflicting evidence. However, I swear that it was the amount of almonds that I was eating, I’d been told that they were really good for you but maybe not in the volume that I had been taking.
So that was it, we were to fly home, freeze our successful eggs and plan to transfer the following month assuming my progesterone levels were more balanced.
Completely deflated, we returned home, empty handed it felt like! We went back to work like nothing had happened and it felt like our dreams had been shattered, we just weren’t prepared for this as an outcome. As with everything, time allows you to see things more clearly and we came to accept that actually it was a good thing, at least we hadn’t wasted our embryo’s on what would’ve undoubtedly been a failed IVF transfer.
Once we could rationalise this, we also made the decision to go through another cycle, to collect more eggs and to increase our odds. This way they get to pick the best of the eggs, naturally increasing your odds.
One of the hardest parts and one of the things that I would advise anyone against is telling too many people. The more people you tell, the more there are looking at you expectantly for good news, the more faces that look at with pity on their faces. No one means to give you those looks, but they do unknowingly and every time that they do, your heart breaks a little more.
Thank you for reading , part 3 will follow soon xxx
ps: the image I have used for this article shows a picture on the wall at the clinic, I used to spend ages staring at it on our visits, thinking how beautiful it was.