Fertility update diary 2022
Very unexpected news...
We started our fertility journey in September 2019, with a known diagnosis of Diminished ovarian reserve.
Our (in)fertility journey looks like this: 3 x fully medicated ovulation inductions (1 loss at 5 weeks, 2 failed), 2 x IUI's (i failed and 1 TFMR at just under 14 weeks pregnant), followed by 2 failed rounds of IVF ICSI (no blastocysts) a big break, a shit load of tests and extra expense, 12 weeks mental prep, sperm DNA fragmentation testing and treatment and our final round of IVF ICSI in January 2022 resulted in 2 blastocyst embryos, of which one came pack PGT-A normal and is sitting in the freezer in London! We got busy prepping for our frozen embryo transfer, I was having more tests and consultations and then we are thrown a huge plot twist!
I have been keeping a diary to help me process the last few weeks and now I am ready to share it with you.
Tuesday 15th February 2022
I have been seeing my acupuncturist for over a year every single week and when it is the time of my cycle where I could technically be pregnant, she always gets me to take a pregnancy test to check that I am not so that when she comes, she is always giving me the right treatment). I take a test nearly every month but rarely talk about it because it is always negative. Also, this month I was a day late, but I did also ovulate late and The Evewell did tell me I may have a longer cycle as my bleed came 5 days early after egg retrieval.
Normally I buy digital tests just in case I am pregnant so that I can be sure and not have to doubt if I can see a line or not and stress myself out… however they are expensive so this month I decided to just get the regular ones (but a 2 pack, because, you know, anxiety).
I grabbed my I’m 39 +1 swearing mug that my brother bought me for my 40th (I figured this kind of summed up how I felt about turning 40 with no baby in my arms after losing willow to TFMR dude to Edwards Syndrome). I ‘should’ have had a 11-day old baby in my arms on my 40th, but sadly I didn’t. So anyway, back to the present… I peed in the mug and then sat on the toilet bleary eyed to finish going to the toilet and took the test out of the wrapper and dipped it in the mug of wee for 5 seconds, 1,2,3,4,5. Popped the cap back on and placed it on the floor. I watched the windows get wet and the lines appear and once again my heart sank (it never gets easier) …. and then to my surprise a very faint line appeared making it a cross!!!! I think… was it a cross?…. SHIT!!!
I took a picture and sent it to Gareth and my mum…. “is this a cross??” No answer…
I sent it to 2 friends here in Dubai “is this a cross” One of my friends replied “Whaaaaaaaatttttttt theeeeeeee F!!!!! YES, THAT’S A CROSS!”
My response went like this “shit, fuck, shit, ok, breath, hahaha” “might be a chemical again, I’ll go get a Beta, Fuck, shaking”
Gareth then called me back and said that he could see a faint cross too...
So, with that, I jumped in a cab and headed to the lab to get my bloods done. I got my Beta HCG and my progesterone levels done. I also emailed The Evewell to let them know.
I then came home and did a digital test, and it was positive!!!
4 hours later I got my results back and it was 9.7. Now anything over 25 is classed as a positive pregnancy test and anything under 5 is a negative and anything between 5-25 needs a retest in 48 hours to see if your numbers are rising. The first time we got pregnant (January 2020) our first number was about 17 and that resulted in a me bleeding a week later, so a loss at 5 weeks ish. So, I promptly emailed the results to the Evewell and texted my friends and Gareth, saying it was likely a chemical pregnancy and that if I hadn’t bled by Thursday then I would retest.
We went ahead with acupuncture and I had a supporting pregnancy treatment, my acupuncturist and The Evewell felt quite positive about my results as we worked out I was only 12 DPO. Incidentally my progesterone levels were also in an OK range but for my own peace of mind I started taking Crinone at night (Vaginal Progesterone gels).
Wednesday 16th February 2022
I did another test, and the line was getting darker, this was a good sign and gave me a bit of hope. I emailed my nutritionist, Anna, from Melanie brown for an urgent 15 min chat to ensure what I was taking was correct as I was on my FET prep plan. A few adjustments were made, and we ordered some vitamin B6 liquid just in case things progressed as the nausea last time I was pregnant was off the charts!!
Thursday 17th February 2022
Thursday came and no bleeding…. So, I did another at home test and the line was darker again. I hopped in a cab and went back to the lab and had my Beta HCG done again…
4 hours later, the results hadn’t arrived, so I called and chased for them and they were in. The emailed them to me and I felt so anxious and sick as I opened them…. 54.3!!!! more than 5 X higher in 48 hours! I could not believe it! Initially you want to see your numbers doubling every 48 hours… so this was promising…
I shared with the Evewell again and they seemed pleased.
Gareth and I also videoed his parents to let them know what was happening… to say they were shocked was an understatement….
Friday 18th February 2022
Friday comes and still no bleeding, but I had started to feel nauseous a bit in the day on Thursday. So, I took another home test and the line was darker again… This is a good sign that my levels are rising!
Saturday 19th February 2022
We had quite a bit to do as we are moving soon. I am so glad we are moving as I don’t really have much time to think about things.
We got straight up and went to the lab for my repeat Beta HCG and progesterone levels. Then we drove to our new community where we are going to be living to sign the final contract and organise the services to be switched on. Then we drove to the Emirates mall and went to Carrefour to buy an oven and fridge-freezer as our new place doesn’t have built in appliances. We also got a new washing machine as ours sounds like it’s going to the moon every time it reaches spin!
Then we went to grab some lunch and as we were in the queue the email from the lab came through…. 131.70!!! It's more than doubled and we literally can’t believe it….
We go and sit down at the table with our food and tears are rolling down my cheeks and into my subway! This is the first time I have cried since getting the first positive test…. I think it has taken this many days to actually register that we may be in with a chance…. Maybe just maybe this might go somewhere.
We head home and have a rest as I am also starting to feel tired. Then we went to dragon mart and chose some new bigger terrace furniture and loungers for our new and enormous terrace at our new place! We both feel so excited to be moving in to somewhere new and having a fresh start!
Sunday 20th February 2022
I have been thinking long and hard about why on earth and how on earth this has happened…. This is the first IVF cycle that we have managed to get blastocyst embryos and as you know we got 2. Out of those 2, 1 came back genetically normal (PGT-A normal) and is sitting in the freezer in London. This is also the first round where we have had a thorough look at G’s sperm beyond a regular sperm analysis (for which he has had 10) and we discovered that he does have a small varicocele and also his DNA fragmentation (DNA integrity of the sperm) was just under 40% fragmented, which put him over the bracket for good IVF outcome in in to a male infertility bracket.
Now there is no denying that my eggs are bloody crappy at best and to get a good egg out of me is no easy feat but with this in mind the sperm also needs to be in tip top shape to give my tired eggs a bloody chance!
There is also the fact that this cycle we both did a 12-week prep on food and supplements, plus G was icing his balls twice a day to reduce the DNA frag! His DNA frag came down to just 4% after all his prep! I also had 9 eggs retrieved and 8 of them were mature. This is the best shape our eggs and sperm have ever been in!
I also did 30 days of HGH priming for the cycle before starting stims, which was a total of 45 days of injections.
So perhaps it’s all the residual good from coming straight off our best cycle yet and all of these factors that are perhaps still paying off that has led us to conceive on my very next ovulation after egg retrieval?!?
Who bloody knows!? All we do know is that we are both in complete shock that this has happened to us and we are taking things day by day and trying to let it sink in.
That being said you can’t help but whizz all the way to the future and think if it did, by some miracle, work out and luck was finally in our favour and this became a health pregnancy and living baby, that would mean that we still have 1 genetically normal embryo in ice to potentially be a sibling in the future…. Now, that is one crazy thought right there!
So, today we have been out for a nice poolside lunch and then home to watch Love is Blind (absolute trash TV but so easy to watch) followed by a nap!
Tomorrow I have another Beta as, all being well, my numbers should have doubled again… Let’s see what happens.
One step at a time…
I have also had thoughts of how on earth do I even begin to share this? I have shared everything about my journey so openly and this has absolutely blown us sideways… I need us to be able to process what’s going on before I can share this….
Thoughts of feeling like a fraud have also come up… How can I possible share and say we have had a ‘normal’ conception…. I even spoke to G and said I feel like a fraud and he gently reminded me of everything we have gone through and that it has been far from easy and this does not mean we haven’t battled with infertility when we really have.
So, I am sitting with this and doing my own work around this too. I guess we just never expected this in a MILLION YEARS!
The other thing that comes to my mind is we have no idea of the genetic health of this embryo that has implanted…. We didn’t with Willow either and she had T-18 and I didn’t miscarry, so my body is clearly able to hang on to a very poorly baby.
The truth is there is nothing we can do about this, other than take it literally one day at a time and see what happens. I thought I would feel terrified, I actually don’t, perhaps it’s the shock that is keeping me away from fear for the moment, again we will see as things go on.
Right now, I feel, calm, happy, shocked, in disbelief, grateful, nervous, guilty and hopeful.
I also have a sense of calmness around things going wrong again. Of course, I don’t want anything to go wrong and I hope with every part of me that it doesn’t, and I know that should we have to TFMR again, we will get through it again, because we did, it will be horrid and heart-breaking, and I know more now and know what I might do differently should we find ourselves in the same position again. I feel more prepared because I am more informed, this helps me. Anyone that knows me well, knows I like to know everything, and this helps me to feel safer even in situations that are awful.
So, that’s all for today, I have written this all today for the last few days as I knew that documenting this somehow would help me. I usually document everything on Instagram but that doesn’t feel right yet. I am sure it will and when the time is right, I will share this diary with you.
From tomorrow I will try to write my diary in real time until that right time comes to me to share more widely.
I also want all of you to know that without your support, help, advice and guidance over the last nearly 2 years of me sharing about our fertility struggles I honestly wouldn’t have made it through as well as I have. I cannot explain how much of a two-way experience this has been for me to share with you. Not being in a space where it feels right to share yet has highlighted to me how much sharing with you all really helps me. I miss sharing with you and I hope that it feels right soon so I can resume business as usual.
Anyway, signing off for today Emma x x x
Monday 21st February 2022
So today, I woke up and went straight to the lab for my bloods. My numbers have more than doubled in the last 48 hours and my Beta HCG is now 311.60
You literally couldn’t make this shit up could you… how on earth!
So, I have now booked in an early pregnancy scan with the same doctor that we had when I was pregnant with Willow. Yes, it will present some challenges as it is in the same place AND she knows us well and will handle us very gently…. I did try to book in with someone new (thinking a new place would be better) but they couldn’t see us until a week later and I’m not sure I can wait that long… on reflection, I think it would have been stressful having to explain everything and get to a place where I fell understood before even having the scan… So I am back where I was with my old doctor and she doesn’t know yet that I am pregnant, so let’s see and hope I don’t bleed between now and then.
I may go and have another Beta in 48 hours, I will see how I feel.
We also have the last of our moving plans coming together for this weekend. We are moving on Saturday and then that gives us Sunday to settle in and Monday to get this place ready to hand back for our 4pm inspection. Then it will be just a few days until our first scan!
I think we had a foetal pole (initial heartbeat) at 6w5d last time, so this time we may see the yolk sac and maybe a foetal pole… One day and step at a time x
I wish we could be full of 100% hope that this will work out but with our track record that just isn’t possible… So we take it step by step instead.
Wednesday 23rd February 2022
I didn’t do a diary yesterday as I went to a candle making event in the morning, which was so nice! I got to meet some amazing ladies, each with their own moving life experiences. The candles are Copper Top candles and are soy based made with pure essential oils.
My candle should be ready to pick up from today, I will go and collect it on Friday when I have the car as I am going to visit a friend, a fellow TFMR Mama, who has recently had a baby.
We then had a nightmare with the internet services as I put in a request to have a disconnection and they said they would call in 48 hours to arrange. They did call, but I missed it and instead of waiting to speak to me, they went ahead and cut off the services and deleted our account…. This all happened an hour before I was scheduled to have a zoom call with a journalist from the Washington Post and another interview with a UK magazine…. So, I gathered my things and went to the hotel lounge in the tower next door and set up camp there and took both calls. I then naively thought I had enough time to nip to the mall to speak to the internet provider and get things switched back on in time for running support groups, I got there and took a ticket to be seen and waited over a hour to be seen to be told they couldn’t help me.
So, we are now running off phone date until we move into our new place on Saturday.
Anyways, let’s get to what is happening today… I have been for my next blood test for Beta HCG and progesterone today and I am currently waiting for the results….
They need to be 600 or above for them to have continued to double every 48 hours… Do you think this might actually happen?! I am still struggling to take this in… Wouldn’t it be an absolute miracle if this did go well…. Let’s see what the results say today, and we also know that even these rises don’t tell us anything about the genetic health of the baby… one step and breath at a time.
Today I have lots of membership requests to process and also a podcast episode to release too. That should keep me busy until the results arrive.
Back in a bit….
Results just in, it’s not quite doubled, its 594.60, so just under, my progesterone level has dipped off a bit, but I also missed a dose, so I will take it twice a day from now on and I will do bloods again on Friday morning.
I feel pretty happy with the results so far and we will keep taking it one step at a time.
Also, G seems far more anxious than I am, and I feel quite relaxed about things… just an observation as last time I was pregnant he was quite calm and I was a nervous wreck…
Now back to work
Emma x x x
Thursday 24th February 2022
Perhaps the anxiety is starting to kick in, my breasts are still not sore, and I feel like I am just waiting for them to start hurting for me to feel like this is actually happening....
I am taking Crinone twice a day to ensure my progesterone levels stay nice and safe and I also started baby Asprin yesterday. I am sharing my blood results with Evewell, and they have advised that I start this and re-do bloods tomorrow.
We have less than 48 hours until the movers are here to move us and I still don’t have a move in/move out permit or an Ejari for the new place!!!! Please let them come through today…
Everything is set to go and now I need to pack the things that I want to pack myself as the movers will do the rest.
It has also entered my mind that we haven’t released our update on the podcast yet.. I do have an episode on acupuncture to release which I will likely edit today and release tomorrow maybe.
I feel back in a weird limbo land with what I share and the podcast right now… we are not booking flights for our transfer and we don’t know what will happen regarding this pregnancy… always in limbo with infertility and loss… such weird spaces we find ourselves in.
For now, I will keep writing my thoughts in here and when the time is right I will share x x x
Friday 25th February 2022
I am now writing this on Sunday the 27th Feb as we have just moved home, and it’s been mental!
So, Friday morning, I got up and got ready and went to see a friend and fellow TFMR Mama and meet her baby who is now 9 weeks old. I can never predict how I will be around babies, so I always caveat any meetings with “I would love to come and meet you as long as you are comfortable with me randomly crying”, I find this helps as I just don’t have the energy to pretend I’m ok when I’m not, so people can take me as I am, unapologetically messy and raw. Before meeting them, I went to get my bloodwork done again (Every 48 hours, Beta HCG and progesterone). We had a lovely lunch and I got to have some lovely cuddles with my friend and her gorgeous little baby. There is something so special about meeting a loss mamas’ baby, I feel so lucky to be connected to so many amazing humans!
I headed off home to start getting organised for the move on Saturday and on the way home my results came in… My Beta HCG has more than doubled and was 1255 and my progesterone is also still at a good level. My results went over to The Evewell and they are also pleased and have advised that no more bloods are needed, and the next step is my scan. I am to continue to take progesterone twice a day and also baby aspirin along with my other 20+ supplements that I take under the direction of my nutritionist, Anna at Melanie Brown.
So, all In all a good day!
Saturday 26th February 2022
Move day, awake at 5am and we didn’t stop until 9pm! Shattered doesn’t even cut it! Tie this in with nausea and it’s been a long tough day!
The cats are so stressed and spooked, a few days and they will settle down and relax again.
We are in, the bed is made up and we will tackle the rest tomorrow!
Sunday 27th February 2022
This is today! I woke up at 4am (no curtains yet) exhausted, feet throbbing and feeling pretty grouchy and tearful…. a mix of doing too much and hormones starting to kick in…
I really don’t like the rooms organised the way they are… G did say they would be better off the other way around and he was right! I text the movers and asked them if they would be able to swap the bedroom furniture around from one room to the other and they organised for a team of 3 to come at 11am and get it done! We had wardrobes and mirrored doors going in and out of windows to make it work and they did it and it is SO much better….
We have the kitchen unpacked, all our hanging clothes and shoes are now away and we have about 7 boxes of stuff and the clothes for the drawers to get away.
We have to go back to the old apartment tomorrow to get the making good stuff done and ready to hand back for an inspection at 4pm…. We did stop in the middle of today and have a nap and catch up on Eastenders..
Today is the first day I haven’t done bloods every 48 hours and it feels a bit weird as now we are in the limbo part waiting for the first scan… strangely though I have only done 5 home pregnancy tests this pregnancy, I did a normal line one on the first day, followed by a digital one to be sure and then I did a line one for the next 3 days and then I haven’t done one again…. G was surprised by this, as last time I spent a fortune on home tests… so I am marking this down as a WIN!
Anyways, now I need to go and have a shower (as I literally look like a gremlin!!!!) and then have some dinner with my end of day supplements and baby aspirin.
Catch you later Emma x x x
Friday 4th March 2022
We have been so busy this week getting the old place ready to hand back, getting straight in our new place and dealing with one of our cats waking us up at 2,3,4,5am every morning, howling because she is unsettled after the move that I haven’t had time to write.
So, here we are! We didn’t have any more bloods after Friday last week and we had our first scan yesterday. I thought I would be 5w6d or 6w pregnant, it turns out I am 5w3d pregnant according to the sac size. I was hoping that we didn’t get there and see an empty sac as that would have been game over… it was ok though and we saw a gestational sac, a yolk sac and the initial flicker of the fetal pole…. So far, so good! We are back on Tuesday for our next scan to hopefully get the proper heart beat… Yesterday did make this feel a bit more real… so, let’s see what happens at our next scan. G’s parents are due out to Dubai next week, for a week and the house is more or less done now. Pictures went up today, we just need to get the gas connected now so we can cook at home.
I am exhausted as I have been running on just a few hours of sleep every night, although I have been trying to keep her (our cat) awake in the day for the last 2 nights so she will sleep at night and for the last 2 nights we have managed to get to 5am before the wailing begins…
Today has also been a griefy day as I have finally framed Willow’s watercolour picture of her scan and put some other bits up for her. I then proceeded to really cry for about 45 minutes, it’s been a while since grief has landed that heavily, so I allow it to come and feel it then I always feel better (tired but better).
I have just ordered a pizza as that feels like all that will cut it right now! I will have a shower, get comfy, eat pizza and watch documentaries and crap TV! Looking forward to a weekend of doing nothing!!!!
Monday 7th March 2022
So, the last 3 days I have had dark blood spotting every day and although this happened last time and it didn’t mean I was miscarrying, it is still unsettling. I know that I have a scan tomorrow and I also know that I am doing everything I can for miscarriage prevention, so if this doesn’t work out then it won’t be because I could have done anything differently. This I can sit with. So, for now I am just exhausted, and I feel tired all of the time, I don’t feel sick right now which is good, so I’ll take that as a win… Yesterday I announced the TFMR awareness Day which will take place on the 4th May 2022. 4th May is Willow’s due date and this year, had she been healthy she would be having her 1st birthday so this year we will birth a very special day that brings the whole community together and we will host the world’s first TFMR awareness day.
G’s parents arrive tomorrow to stay for a week, actually tomorrow is busy, we both have work to do and then we need to go for our scan at 4pm, then we are going to a Gala awards dinner for IWD with women who thrive, then I have a support group call to host and then G is picking up his parents from the airport….. whew…
Anyways, on that note, I will get off now as I have a heap of content to create and schedule.
Tuesday 8th March 2022
Ok, today is a weird one as we normally have our scans first thing which avoids too much time to think about it, but today the scan is at 4pm and I have to get ready for an event beforehand as by the time we get back I won’t have enough time to get ready and still make it to the event in time.
We arrived at the scan and my normal doctor is on leave, so it is with her colleague. She was very thorough and read through my notes beforehand and noted that we had lost a baby before through TFMR due to Edwards syndrome.
I got on the bed and asked if I could see the screen and she told me she would find it first and then show me…. I waited and waited and she didn’t turn the screen around…. I felt myself start to feel very anxious and my body started to get tight…. This went on for a few minutes (felt like hours)… I thought to myself I can lay here and panic and assume what is happening or I can ask… So, I asked “is there a problem with the machine or my body?”
She replied, “no, no, not your body, it’s a problem with the machine” now this did help but by this point my body was so tense and stressed that it was almost too little reassurance too late and I was really quite activated. I concentrated on my breathing and she eventually found the little pea! There it was, still there…. Now, is there a heartbeat?!? There is!!!!! She asked me to hold my breath so she could capture it and play the sound…. There it was the sound of our baby’s heartbeat!!!! I was instantly triggered as the sound of heartbeats have become very activating since our last pregnancy with Willow, as that was the last sound I heard before being told there was something wrong with our baby….
It was mix of relief to hear that sound again coming from within my own body and also a painful reminder taking me straight back to ‘that’ room where our world fell apart and changed forever…
I broke down and sobbed and sobbed whilst still laying on the couch, half undressed with the doctor between my knees, she was hugging my knees tightly, I mean it would have been a weird sight for a fly on the wall to see our lovely doctor, head pressed up against my knees hugging me tightly as I sobbed and sobbed, She couldn’t have got to me any other way as there was equipment and G in the way, I am very grateful for her compassion and care, moments like this really do stay with you forever.
I literally cannot believe that we are in with a chance!!! But here we are…. I could see that G had been very anxious too with all of the machine not working malarkey and he too was very relieved.
We are back in 2 weeks for another monitoring scan and to see how the growth is going and hopefully we will still have a heartbeat at that point too.
So, we plod on again and wait. For our next scan.
I actually feel relief between scans as I can get on with things without a big life changing piece of information potentially looming in.
After the event tonight, G’s parents are due to arrive, and will be with us for a week, so that will keep us busy!
Until my next check in we will take it step by step.
Tuesday 22nd March 2022
Today is our 8 week scan… all of our visitors have gone home (G had a friend come to stay after his parents left) and we have some space to get through this next appointment. I have learned that when big appointments are due, I need space so I can process how I feel privately without any social pressures.
I was so nervous just before bed last night and when I woke up this morning, I felt sick and nervous in the bottom of my tummy….
I met G at the hospital and went in for our scan. Our Dr and nurse know us so well now and it feels so safe with them. Very quickly the baby was found and the heartbeat detected nice and strong at 170bpm roughly… Our little baby is measuring 8weeks and 5 days gestation and all is looking as good as it can for this far along. Our NIPT (with micro-deletion genome testing) has been booked for next Friday! How on earth is this happening already? And our NT scan will be 3 weeks today…. This is bloody mental! So grateful for this second chance and at the same time it's hard to comprehend after everything that has happened. I really cried when the heartbeat sound played, this sound is so activating for me… Not sure this will ever leave me… well it may do with EMDR therapy, but now is not the time for that…. That will have to wait now.
That is all for today. I will write again when I have more that I need to brain dump. I feel like I would like to share more openly soon as whatever happens on the next steps I know I will need all of you more than ever…. Perhaps I will share this week, let’s see how I feel x x x
Thank you x
Thank you so much for being there for us on this crazy journey to parenthood, I honestly couldn't have got through this in the way that I have without you! I am pregnant for the third time in 2.5 years and we don't have any living children yet. We are hoping this little one might get to stay.