The IVF two-week wait: the Land of No Eye Deer

ivf-blog-mum100-two-week-wait-no-eye-deer-instagramWell, here we are again. I haven’t a clue what is happening inside my body. Nine days after our embryo transfer, there are no obvious signs of pregnancy. I am truly grateful, however, that we’re still in the running.

Mum100-blog-IVF-red-admiral-butterfly-bleeding-after-ivf-embryo-transferI’m enjoying the hope and wonder that being PUPO brings. For anyone new to this community, the acronym stands for ‘pregnant until proven otherwise’. When I say, “I am PUPO”, it brings to mind a butterfly inside a chrysalis, preparing to hatch. There is just so much potential for a beautiful outcome. It is also a mental endurance test. Will the butterfly emerge after the two week wait?

Embryo transfer day

We wore our brightest T-shirts to the hospital – neon pink and turquoise. We wanted to celebrate the occasion with colour and this didn’t go unnoticed at the hospital.

“Wow,” our doctor said. “I saw you two coming!”

Outside the transfer room, we covered up with white hairnets and lab coats – in another setting, we would have passed for shift workers at a meat market, clocking on after a rave.

The embryologist broke the news that our day-6 blastocysts had thawed well. “They’re beautiful,” she said on final inspection. Oh, the pride and love we felt. Let nobody tell you that embryos are ‘just cells’ – the attachment is real; the hope is extraordinary.

Our team completed the embryo transfer in less than ten minutes. We travelled home with our micro-babies, inside our bubble of peace.

Rest and relaxation – 1dp6dt & 2dp6dt

For 48 hours, I did next to nothing. Our hospital said it’s fine to carry on as normal but other clinics say to rest. I’ll take any excuse to keep warm on the sofa, watch films and read books. I ate rainbow-coloured foods and drank lots of water. I celebrated our PUPO status by styling this pineapple. He is the legend of IVF folklore, after all, and he laps up female attention!

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Spotting and mini meltdown – 3dp6dt

I had traces of spotting on day three – which may or may not have been implantation bleeding. I remembered the spotting on day three in our first IVF, which rapidly progressed to heavy bleeding. I imagined escaping to India; my default panic setting is to daydream about hot holidays. However, I knew from our first IVF transfer that booking international travel in the two-week wait is daft.

Pale yellow cervical mucus and mild cramping – 4dp6dt & 5dp6dt

My cervical mucus changed colour on day 4 and 5 – marvellous! According to Google, this may or may not be a sign of early pregnancy. And then I had mild cramping on day 5 – yes, you’ve guessed it, another inconclusive sign of pregnancy.

Symptom analysis is truly bonkers. Really, what I’m searching for is certainty, which is an illusion. I am asking a search engine to tell me how my story ends – just stop and think about that for a minute!

All quiet on the uterine front – 6dp6dt onwards

There have been no further symptoms. No fuzzy head. No sore boobs. No nausea. On day 7, I let go. I came back to that peaceful place of acceptance and surrender. I cried tears of relief. All roads in this fertility journey end up in the same place – the heartfelt knowledge that I am not in control.

Dad 100 and I upped the distractions. We went to the London Buddhist Centre to try out Chi Kung. It’s a bit like Tai Chi, moving through set poses with deep breathing. On Friday afternoon, we went to London Zoo. We saw Kumbuka the gorilla, three sleeping lionesses, diving penguins, a growling tiger and this blue poison dart frog – how cool is he!

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In the reptile zone, I discovered I am Harry Potter. I said hello to a puff adder, the deadliest African snake – and I kid you not, the snake popped its head up from a rock, did a small dance, then slithered to the front of the cage. It flicked its tongue and eyeballed me and we carried on our chat. I can speak Parseltongue, people – a talent at last!

The last creature we saw at the zoo was this stork, which made me laugh. We had words, let me tell you, despite the clear warning.

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Today, we’re off to Kent. We’re staying overnight in a cosy B&B, exploring a couple of towns as potential locations for our house move.

Official test day is Tuesday 25th October – 11dp6dt

I’ll take the test first thing in the morning. We will wait for five minutes and we will look at our result. I promise not to squint! Whatever happens, I know we’ll be okay – we have each other and I have you lovely lot.

When I zoom out from all this, I can appreciate that infertility and IVF are great training for the mind. The process is changing me for the better. I am being shown my limitations. I am discovering my strength and resilience.

One line or two on Tuesday, we will carry on.

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Reassurance is human

Mum100-blog-IVF-day-3-past-embryo-transfer-spotting-words-wisdom-welcomeIt’s day 3 past my 5-day embryo transfer. I had mild cramping, low down. Over several hours, I passed a small amount of brown blood. I was frightened when it started. I went for a walk to the shop, to clear my head. A guy with a can of Tennent’s lager called out, “cheer up love”. I managed a smile, further down the road.

Mum100_blog_Doctor_Google_overgoogling_IVF_fertility_treatment_answersDr Google was at my door when I got home. He was making his usual guarantees of total certainty and fast results. I let him into my flat, having promised myself I wouldn’t hang out with him in the two week wait. Dr Google found an article that reflected back exactly what I wanted to see – this one on implantation bleeding. It satisfied me for about five minutes, but then I wanted more!

Thankfully, I soon realised that no amount of googling could solve the real problem. I needed connection with human beings, with people who have been where I have been, people who understand these strange tricks of the mind. So, I reached out to the IVF community on Twitter instead.

Some helpful and kind responses came very quickly (thank you sisters!) – reassuring me that my symptoms are perfectly normal, and more importantly, reminding me I’m not alone. I also asked Dad 100 for a hug.

I’ve learned again today that reassurance is provided by humans not internet searches. A Google search is a sprint in the darkness: I will get somewhere fast, but I might slam into a brick wall!

IVF sisters – I really appreciate your company and kindness. Thank you!

 

Trust me, I’m a search engine

Mum100_blog_Doctor_Google_overgoogling_IVF_fertility_treatment_answersIt’s about time we officially welcomed Dr Google into my family and other characters. He does house calls during IVF treatment, any time of day or night.

With his glowing yellow hair and his promise of omniscience, I always invite him in for a boiled egg or three – even when there’s absolutely nothing wrong with me. There’s just something about his open arms, his unlikely lips.

“Ask me anything,” Dr Google says.
“Why is your hair so yellow?” I say.
“It is styled with organic eggs.”
“Why are your lips so red?”
“They are glossed with Tuscan tomatoes.”
“Why are your trousers so green?”
“They are sown from the seeds of Wimbledon grass.”
“Why are your boots so blue?”
“They are made from the Mediterranean sea.”
“Doctor Google, are you telling me the truth?”

He gazes at me across the kitchen table. He spoons a whole golden yolk into his magnificent mouth.

“Brrrring, brrrring,” he says.
“Why are you making that sound?”
“Brrrring, brrrring.”
He puts on his stethoscope headset and holds the chest piece to his lips.
“Dr Google here, feeling lucky?…Man on all fours under desk, you say?…Woman shaking phone?…Kids on bed, playing iPad frisbee?”
“What’s happened?” I say.
“Wifi crash on Rectory Road. Must dash.”

Mum100_blog_Lancome_L'Absolu_Rouge_lipstick_Dr_GoogleDr Google reaches into my makeup bag. He pulls out my Lancome L’Absolu Rouge lipstick. He applies a coat to his lips. He pulls a flashing blue light from his pocket and straps it to his heart-shaped head. He pelts downstairs, making siren sounds.

“Same time tomorrow?” I call after him.

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2 little changes I’ve made after reading “It Starts with the Egg”

Mum100_blog_It_Starts_With_The_Egg_Rebecca_Fett_vitamin_D_plastic_BPA_IVF_fertilityI’ve had a few days now, to absorb all the information in Rebecca Fett’s book – “It Starts with the Egg”. I devoured this book in one sitting because the evidence base was so compelling. I rely far too much on Dr Google, so it was fantastic to read such clear guidance and see how much research Rebecca had studied to draw her conclusions (on the Kindle version of her book, p245 to p303 are the list of references she cites!).

To be honest, the book sent me into a bit of a spin for 24 hours. I thought, right, I have to implement every single one of Rebecca Fett’s recommendations today – ha! Thankfully, common sense has returned and now I have taken a couple of actions, which feel most relevant for me.

Vitamin D spray

I’ve topped up my vitamin supply with some Zita West Vitamin D spray. Here are three quotes from “It Starts with the Egg”, which convinced me this was a good idea – it’s possibly worth getting a test for vitamin D deficiency first, for those with time to play with, but my embryo transfer is just weeks away:

  • “In one of the most compelling studies, which was published in 2012, researchers at Columbia University and the University of Southern California measured vitamin D levels in nearly 200 women undergoing IVF. Of the Caucasian women in the group, the odds of pregnancy were four times higher for women with high vitamin D levels compared to those with a vitamin D deficiency. This trend was not seen in women of Asian ethnicity, but for Caucasian women there was such a powerful difference in the chance of becoming pregnant that it should make anyone about to go through IVF think twice about their own vitamin D levels.”
  • “It is not yet known how vitamin D is involved in fertility, but researchers suspect that one of the ways it may improve fertility is by making the uterine lining more receptive to pregnancy. Specifically, some scientists think that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to infertility by interrupting the estrogen system and also reducing production of antimullerian hormone which is involved in the growth of ovarian follicles. Another enticing clue about the role of vitamin D in fertility is the discovery that there are specific receptors for vitamin D in cells in the ovaries and the uterus.”
  • “It is likely that vitamin D supplements can only improve fertility if you are currently deficient, but a deficiency is surprisingly common, particularly in cooler climates. By some estimates, as much as 36% of the U.S. population is deficient, and the rate nearly doubled from 1994 to 2004. Researchers believe this is largely due to reduced time outdoors and greater use of sunscreen because even though we obtain small amounts from food, the vast majority of vitamin D in the body is made after skin is exposed to sunlight.”

Given the facts that I live in England, I work indoors and it’s been a long cold winter, I’m going for it.

Glass food storage containers

Secondly, I’ve chucked out my tatty plastic storage containers and I’ve bought a glass food storage set. They still have plastic lids, but they are BPA-free (which is the worst offender, according to Fett) and the food will only be in contact with glass. Rebecca writes that as long as you don’t damage the plastic by heating it up or washing with harsh detergents in hot water, then the nasty BPA is less likely to leach out. She suggests washing all plastics in cold water to minimise this.

Other information in “It Starts with the Egg”

There’s so much more good information in “It Starts with the Egg” about phthalates and other toxins, thyroid problems, vitamins, coenzyme Q10, Mediterranean diet, PCOS, DHEA for dimished ovarian reserve, blood sugar and insulin, antioxidants, sperm quality and much more – with basic, intermediate and advanced action plans to follow, if you want to implement suggestions she makes.

Finally, I love the quote Rebecca Fett puts at the start of her action plan chapter:

  • “Forget past mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you are going to do now and do it” – William Durant

That sums it up for me because according to her book, I have made quite a few mistakes. But that’s alright, because I didn’t know any different!