The first thing I needed to do now was have an SHG scan (sonohysterogram). It had to be done earlier on in your cycle, so I booked for day 10. This had to be carried out at the Harley St Clinic in London. When I'd had my fertility checks at the Canterbury office, the Dr had said that I had a heart-shaped uterus, so to go for a round of IVF, they needed to make sure it wasn't too bad and that my uterus would be able to sustain a pregnancy.
I'm not a big fan of London, sure I can appreciate the big city and its diversity of it, but it's not really for me. The crowds, the hectic atmosphere and oh don't start me on the tubes, it literally fills me with dread. I wanted to do this though, so there was no choice. I got on the train to King's Cross with my Mum one freezing early November morning. I felt sick with nerves, but as usual mum was my calming presence.
On the way there, the clinic phoned to check I was on my way and let me know they were running about 10 mins behind. I generally have to wait about an hour to see my doctor at home, so I found this amusing but also I was impressed with the service. When you pay privately the whole experience is completely different. We got off at King's Cross and it was freezing. Not a little cold, freezing. I stupidly had on a jacket rather than a warm coat, even though my mum had warned me to wrap up a bit more (moral of the story, my mum is always right!). There was an M&S store in the train station and as we were so early we popped in to try and buy me some layers. £40 and a black jumper later (that I have never worn since), we had time for a quick coffee while I ordered us an Uber.
My first and last experience with Uber was that day. There is no need for them where I live. 15 minutes later we had been picked up by the uber outside the station and were on our way. A short ride later, in a warm comfy car with a lovely driver and we were right outside the clinic door. I was so grateful that I'd decided to scrap the tube, this was much better. In the warmth of the clinic, we were sat in a waiting room with huge ceilings, a fireplace and very luxurious furnishings. There was no time for the refreshments offered as I was called straight in.
A female Dr told me to strip from the waist down and lay on the bed. She explained it would be like the transvaginal scan that I had at the clinic, but that she would be putting in a clamp-like they do when you have a smear, and then filling my uterus with water to get better images. It was so uncomfortable, painful even I'd say. The Dr wasn't really very friendly, unlike the Canterbury staff and afterwards seemed to just hurry me out the door. She had said all was fine, although I did have a heart-shaped uterus and I would probably deliver slightly earlier if I was to become pregnant as the baby would run out of room sooner.
In the toilets afterwards I bled, and I had very painful cramping. I'd had enough, I was hungry and wanted to go home. We got in an Uber and asked if he could take us to a local vegan cafe that I had found online. Once we arrived, the place didn't look that good or have many options, so we walked deciding that it was probably close enough to the station. Once back at King's Cross in the warm I found a burger place, that did vegan options. I was so hungry that I scoffed my burger down too quickly and then felt sick.
Everywhere seemed so busy, and crowded and I wanted to be back home. We ran for the train and just made it. Once the doors closed and I realised there was nowhere to sit, I started to feel hot and panicky. I felt like I was going to throw up. I sat on the floor in a tiny corner surrounded by commuters' legs and struggled to breathe. My mum leaned over me and held my hand and reassured me while I cried and felt like I was going to die. I was so grateful to have her right by my side. It was only a panic attack, but if you've had one you'll know how scary they can feel. All the other commuters ignored my distress, apart from one lady who offered me some water. To everyone else, I seemed invincible.
Eventually, the scenery changed and I could see the sea of my home town Whitstable. I begged mum to drive the next time we had to go, I didn't think I'd be able to face that kind of journey after my egg collection or transfer. Being the star that she is, she agreed as long as I helped her with the directions. I immediately relaxed. I wouldn't have to go through that part of the journey again!
The next day I spoke to the Canterbury clinic again. They'd had my results and all was fine to start on my very next cycle. I would be starting IVF in about two weeks! I'd had a breakdown of the drugs that I would be given and it had been suggested on the internet if I get a prescription I may be able to get them a bit cheaper. Because my egg count was so low they would be using very high doses of drugs to stimulate my ovaries into producing as many eggs as possible. I'd have a scan the first day of my period to check my baseline, basically how many egg follicles I had, then I would start the drugs and be scanned every two days to see how much and how quickly the follicles were growing and when I would ready for egg collection. I'd have another set of injections to stop myself from ovulating prematurely and then when the follicles were of a big enough size I'd give myself a shot to trigger the final maturing of the eggs before they were retrieved. I was given my prescription and told to phone the clinic as soon as I started my period.
After phoning several pharmacies with my list of drugs I was able to save overall nearly £1000! Not everyone has such high doses of medications, but the higher the dose the more expensive they are. Worth shopping around if you can! I placed my order and now it was time to wait again.
At the time, Lucy and I were working together on our partnership business, Salt Dog Studios. During the day while we worked, mum had Marley for Lucy. It was the perfect arrangement as we could pop inside and see him anytime we wanted. I'd still be working while I had my IVF but there would be quite a few times that I would have to go to the clinic for my scans. Mum wanted to take me to my appointments, but Marley would need to come so Lucy could still work. I decided that we ought to have a conversation with him, so he knew what was potentially happening. I went into his room at mum's and got out some toys with him. "Marley, you know how mummy has a baby in her tummy, your brother or sister? Well, Auntie Hey would like a baby in her tummy too. Normally a daddy would put his seed inside mummy's tummy and if it met up with an egg, that egg might grow into a baby. Well, Auntie Hey hasn't got a man to be a daddy, but there is a special doctor that is going to try and do it instead." Marley looked up and just nodded, like I'd said I'm popping to the shops. I explained that because I loved him so much, I'd like to have a baby like him and asked how he felt about it. "So the doctor will put a man's seed in your tummy and you're going to grow a baby like mummy?" He asked. "I'm going to try and grow a baby, and hopefully it will work, but it may not. If I have a baby, that baby will be your little cousin and love you so much. I'm going to have to go to the doctor lots in the next few weeks, would you mind coming with me?" I asked. He said he didn't mind at all, and when I asked if he had any questions... "is this blue car your favourite or the green one?", conversation finished!
I'd planned in my head if I started my period when expected and I had the stimulating drugs for say 14 days and egg retrieval by, the 18th Dec, if it all went to plan, and I like a plan, I would maybe be able to find out if it had worked in time for Christmas! Wow, what a present that would be! I provisionally booked a scan for my expected date and said to Marley that I would take him for a waffle at creams before we went to the clinic. The day of my scan came and although I had period pain, no period! I was going to have to wait but as I'd promised Marley a waffle we went to Canterbury anyway.
It was freezing cold, as we walked through town we noticed a homeless man trying to dry his drenched sleeping bag. Lucy went into Costa and bought him a coffee and a sandwich and we got chatting while waiting for her. A man that had fallen on hard times when he had found his wife in bed with his best friend, he had left and had nowhere to go and then felt he couldn't go home again, so there he still was a year later. We said our goodbyes and as we were walking to Creams, couldn't shake off the thoughts of his wet sleeping bag. I explained to Marley that the poor man didn't have a home and was very cold, would he mind if we just went and bought him a couple of bits and as soon as we were done we would go straight to get his waffles. We had already kept him waiting for 30 minutes and it was freezing, but not once did my four-year-old nephew moan, what a special little angel he was. After grabbing a new sleeping bag, hand warmers, thermal gloves and socks and taking them back to the man, we finally got Marley his waffles.
My period pain was getting worse, but still nothing. I was starting to feel stressed as it was Friday the next day and if I didn't come on by then it would be the weekend when the clinic was closed.
Luckily by the next morning, I had my period! It was the first day of what I was hoping was going to be my last period for a long while! At my scan, I was told I had two follicles on one side and maybe three or four on the other. I knew the numbers weren't very good but was assured the drugs would increase those numbers and it only took one good egg! I was shown how to inject myself in the thigh and given a diary of what drugs to inject when and a list of the next few scan dates and times. My mum offered to inject me daily as she had often given my dad injections for a blood disorder he has. Two days left until I started my meds, I was getting excited!
The injections stung and left my head a bit woozy for about 15 minutes after each time, but I didn't mind. Each scan showed the numbers and size of the follicles increasing and before long I heard, we'll scan you again tomorrow and may then book your egg retrieval for Monday! Mum had done most of my injections but in the last few days I'd naturally taken over. It wasn't as hard to inject myself as I'd thought it would be, three shots in my thighs at roughly the same time each day. The one I was nervous about was the trigger shot, as it's called. It has to be given at exactly the right time 36 hours before egg retrieval, a dose of HCG, which is the pregnancy hormone to give those eggs the final push. By now I was feeling bloated and uncomfortable, a bit hormonal, but the HCG shot would likely make me feel sick too.
At the next scan, my eggs were still not quite ready. After speaking to the doctor, the nurse had given me the news that I would need a few more days of drugs, and as there wasn't time to order via a prescription, I'd have to pay for them then and there. Only a minor setback, but in my head, I was most worried about when I would find out if I was pregnant or not. I didn't want it looming over Christmas. Officially the clinic doesn't do the first blood test to see if it has worked until 10 days after the embryo transfer, which would be around New Year. I knew I couldn't wait that long, and would probably start testing daily from 4 days past. I'd seen online a lot of people get a positive pregnancy test from that early on, maybe I'd be lucky enough to get it in time for Christmas.
Several more scans later and they booked the retrieval. I was given strict instructions to make sure I had the trigger shot at exactly 8 pm that night. I'd had a blood test that morning in the clinic too, and just as I was leaving to go home the nurse casually came to tell me that some of my levels were a bit off and they may decide to not do a fresh transfer and freeze any embryos instead. They were waiting for confirmation from the London office but said I would receive a call in the morning to confirm. I was devastated, I hadn't even considered this as an option! I was expecting my egg retrieval and then 5 days later my transfer. The nurse assured me if it couldn't go ahead then they would just transfer any frozen embryos in my next cycle. I know I sound like a spoilt brat, but I didn't want to do it next cycle. Apart from the extra money, it was the time that was worrying me. I wanted my BFP (big fat positive test) before Christmas! Also, I hadn't been prepared for the news. I went home feeling despondent. There were so many highs and lows, and every day the plan seemed to change.
That evening mum came to give me my last shot, at exactly 8 o clock. Within about 15
minutes I could feel it, I started to feel sick. I was so glad that mum would be driving me to London this time and we wouldn't be having to catch the train.
The next morning I got the call. My level was fine and I'd be going for my retrieval the next day with my planned embryo transfer 5 days later! Relief washed over me. Thank goodness it was still going ahead. In 6 days I'd hopefully have that precious embryo tucked safely back inside me.