Good things our way. After years and years.

Our donor started stimulation mid December and there was not a moment I would not think about her and pray for her health and well being – she was giving us our lives back and that was the very least I could do for my angel, my saviour.

She had her egg collection a day before Christmas 2015 and then began the dreaded wait for the embryos to become blastocysts! It was not all flowery and rainbows to be with a donor –  the fear of her backing out was always there and then the 5 day wait for the embryos to grow well.

On day 5 post egg collection the embryologist called us to give the great news of 5 blastocysts! We were thrilled! We had finally become lucky and things were going in our favor.

It was my husband’s 35th birthday in 2 days and we decided to celebrate our happiness! It had been years we had stopped celebrating every occasion in our lives and suddenly we felt like celebrating. The blastocyst news brought so much bliss into our lives that we hosted a lovely birthday dinner at home preparing for it within 2 days only. It was joyous night for us, we decorated the house with balloons and tree lights,  organised games and gave give aways! I had lost all my spirit over the years which I finally felt was back in me that day – it was phenomenal.image

This is just a joyous picture of the giveaways we gave to our friends.

Not to forget, I received my period a day before the party so the day of the party I had to go for my Day 2 scan to get the go ahead for starting the estrogen pills for my frozen embryo transfer! Yes , what a busy and happening day! The scans were amazing and as soon as I got them from my local doctor, I had to email them to LWC to get their go ahead. They replied within 10 mins! wow! Imagine what would the ARGC have done instead. Make me wait for 10 days?

So my estrogen pills started and I booked a flight to my favorite city on Earth, London. After 10 days I had travel to London and get my baby home. 😀

Much bigger and newer hope :)

We traveled back home in December 2015 after being in London for 2 months. Although we had failed badly, we were so GLAD we had the donor eggs option in hand. Such an option is not even allowed to be talked about in the Middle East (where we reside). We were really relaxed and had it not been for the donor eggs option in hand, we would have split upon reaching home.

My husband got his sperm frozen at the LWC (London Women’s Clinic) so that when the donor’s eggs were ready to be fertilized we wouldn’t have to travel to London all over again. God bless my husband for being so thoughtful and increase his wisdom.

With this much bigger and newer hope built inside us upon returning home, for the first time ever, I bought a cot spiral for our soon to arrive baby’s cot. I had wanted a baby since so long and the longing for shopping for my baby kept increasing so finally my husband allowed me to buy the first thing for our future baby. For the first few days I would take it out of the shopping bag daily and immediately have a huge smile on my face. It gave me lots of positive and cheerful thoughts about the near future. Life was finally progressing.

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Finally…

I spent the entire night crying and trying to convince my husband not to bring a third person between us but something had gotten into him and he just didn’t seem to care. It was a terrible night. I finally went to sleep at 4 am convinced that he had made his decision and I had to quit and start a new life. So it had been 5 and half years since we had married and we were already looking at separation because we couldn’t have a baby after trying for 4 years. Lots of couples went on to have natural conceptions 8-10 years into marriage, no one I knew separated this early!  What a sad moment it was. It made me feel worthless, unwanted and angry. I had always been praised for my looks and due to God’s will when I was unable to conceive, I was treated like a piece of junk.

When I woke up after passing that terrible night, I kept myself reserved with him and I had made my decision too. My crying until 4 in the morning made him realize it was wrong to abandon me like that and he told me he had taken an appointment for the London Women’s Clinic on Harley street for donor eggs! Of course I was still hurt from the night before but I became a bit relaxed. My husband was willing to hold my hand till the very end – I had to hold it tighter and never let it go.

We went to this amazing clinic for our appointment and the doctor convinced us on our decision and by the end of the appointment we were completely relaxed and actually even had a donor who could start her stimulation within 2 weeks! We were amazed at how things proceeded at our new clinic – the nurses were more responsible, the doctors were available for every matter and most importantly, they were always one step ahead of us in following up on things with us. It was a completely different experience.

Although I was finally doing donor eggs, I used to doubt my feelings about truly loving the baby that I would have in my belly and then in my life. I wanted to truly love my child and not feel that I used donor eggs. At that moment, I didn’t know or realize how much I really loved my donor eggs. I myself found out later.

when a final decision had to be made

We headed to our clinic the very next morning after landing and we were just determined to start now. We had waited since January to do this IVF and it was the 1st day of October already! We wanted to see our baby’s flickering heartbeat and have a healthy pregnancy resulting in our precious bundle of joy. We just wanted that desperately.

The down regulation started and soon enough the stimulation started and the egg collection was done by end October. We had 19 eggs collected and they were doing brilliant. We were ecstatic!

5 days past the egg collection we received the clinic’s call and they told us they wanted to see our embryos grow more and we were scheduled for a day 6 transfer.

On the 6th day past egg collection we headed to the clinic. Don’t they say the mother always knows about her babies? Well I had a sudden feeling that day that maybe my embryos hadn’t done well and I became worried. We kept waiting in the waiting area and my nervousness kept increasing. I kept on telling my husband that I had a bad feeling about the embryos but he kept telling me to stop being paranoid. Then an embryologist saw us and gave us the much dreaded news that the embryos hadn’t proceeded since day 4 and were still morulas! We were shattered and devastated. It was November and we had waited to do this IVF cycle since January and today after all the months we had NOTHING to transfer?

They told us to wait for a few more hours to see embryo growth – Of course I had no hope but we just had to wait hopelessly. We waited for 5 hours and finally I was told my embryo transfer would be done. I didn’t want to transfer embryos that were of no good but I was finally introduced to Mr T today and he did the transfer and convinced us that the embryos had grown significantly since the morning. I don’t understand what had  made him lie to us and secondly all the months when I was getting treated I never got to see him or hear from him and today just to make me a bit hopeful about the clinic’s concern regarding my embryos -they made Mr T do the transfer.

I am not here trying to bad mouth the ARGC due to my bad eggs – I have had failed multiple times at other clinics but I have never been treated this way by any clinic and what I really didn’t like about them was their irresponsibility at all times and how I used to keep waiting and be stressed just to hear from them regarding further protocol over the last couple of months. A patient is supposed to be kept calm and stress free but these guys gave me more of the opposites. I used to keep reading bad reviews about their chaotic clinic here and there asides the success stories but the huge amount of success stories made me feel ‘it will be all okay and I shouldn’t worry about other things asides my treatment outcome.’

10 days past transfer our BFN news came crashing upon us and we were destroyed. In a foreign country, having had tried so hard since months and having spent tonnes of thousands of Pounds – we had nothing yet. Absolutely nothing.

I decided to finally go for donor eggs and continue with my life. I hated the donor eggs option because I felt the child wont be ‘mine’ but I wanted to live a happy and complete life now – I had been through way too many drugs and hurt myself way too many times with too much of hope. I had decided and so had my husband – only difference was he and I had decided differently. He wanted to remarry a second time (which is completely acceptable in Asian culture) and I wanted to take up donor eggs. So now we weren’t on the same page.

 

The ARGC protocol starts – April 2015

I took 2 shots of Humira 2 weeks apart and 3 weeks after the last shot I retested my cytokine levels. It was the end of May already by the time I tested, my TNF alpha fell from 40 to 38 and my IFN was at 28 now. Although the cytokines hadn’t dropped, we were just glad I hadn’t flared up at least like some other women on the forums had. On the side, I also started a gluten free , sugar free and caffeine free diet to help me lower my inflammations.

When the results were out, we were told that we would have to wait at least 10 days to hear from the doctor regarding further protocol. We were just too naive to worry about our time being wasted and remained patient to hear from the doctor.

In the meantime, I had the baby dream again! It had only been a week since my ovulation but I tested and there it was! A positive pregnancy test all over again! Humira was working on me! I had read about some ladies conceiving naturally on just starting Humira and luckily I was one of those. At the back of my mind I was scared of another chemical pregnancy but 2 positive pregnancy tests within a span of 5 months compared to 3 and half years of nothing but BFNs made me very happy and hopeful about my body being able to reproduce. I tried to remain positive but not too positive because I had been through too much of bad luck over the years.

10 days after the positive HPT, AF arrived. What were the best 10 days of my life were pretty much the worst also because I used to be worried about it not being a viable pregnancy and I used to keep on waiting for the doctor’s response regarding my May cytokine results! I had even called the clinic to tell them about my positive HPT following round 1 of Humira shots – I didn’t get to speak to the doctor yet because the doctor was always just too busy. At times like these a patient really needs the help of a professional but it was something I couldn’t get from my doctor when I really needed it. It was a terrible time for me or lets say my bad luck maybe the ARGC was really responsible with other patients.

Finally I received the call and as expected I was put on a second round of 2 Humira shots 2 weeks apart just like before. Today when I sit to think about it, I realize how much of my time was being wasted by the ARGC on a simple decision of repeating Humira – which I had expected to be the protocol anyway. Luck was just not on my side but the hope inside me never made me feel even one bit of annoyance at the negligence from the clinic’s side.

In June 2015 I completed 2 shots of my second round on Humira and in July I retested my cytokine levels. I really was out of luck – I had flared up this time. My TNF Alpha was at 44 from 38 when I had last tested in May and my IFN was at 32. Bummer.

Waited for 10 days to hear from the doctor for further protocol. Finally the day arrived and I pretty much knew what was going to advised. Intralipid infusion was advised and I did my infusion the very same day. Although sometimes I used to get frustrated on the 10 day waiting period to hear from the doctor, I used to keep my mind occupied and calm. There was not much I could do anyway. I used to tell myself ‘the doctor must be busy treating the pregnant patients and they should be his priority at the moment because sooner or later I too will be pregnant’. These positive thoughts kept me going on and on.

2 weeks after my 1st intralipid infusion, I retested my cytokines and from TNF alpha 44 I had come down to 39. Phew! I was happy for the huge drop. Intralipids were saving me for once.

I am sure you all know the drill by now : 10 days wait to hear from my doctor. When we finally did hear from the doctor as expected intralipid round 2 was advised. I had it administered the same day when I heard from the doctor, not even a day later. I was always committed to treating my condition and the lag was always there from the clinic’s end. Yet I didn’t let that bother me and I continued to remain busy with my daily house chores and kept looking on with hope for my rainbow baby’s arrival.

We were told by the clinic that after 2 rounds of intralipid our treatment would start and hence the day I was getting my second intralipid infusion – I couldn’t stop smiling. It was a wonderful feeling , every step I took towards lowering my cytokines was a step closer to having my bundle of joy finally.

I still remember that whenever I would be waiting to hear from the clinic regarding further protocol, I used to have my phone on full ringer alert and even have my phone besides me while in the shower because missing their phone call was like a nightmare. If I used to miss their call even once and would call them back – no one at the reception would know who called me or for what. It was a complete chaos. I had never been treated that way by any of my previous clinics but my desperate wish to make this treatment work was making me take a lot of crap from the ARGC. Sigh.

Round 2 of intralipids brought my cytokines down to 35 and that was a good figure to begin treatment with. It was end September already and day 21 of my cycle was also near. I knew I shouldn’t wait for the clinic’s response which wasn’t until the usual 10 day waiting period, I wanted my down regulation to start already. I booked a flight and we flew to London before they even called us there. I had to step up for myself, enough was enough.

 

What only some ‘Hope’ can do

Although at the end of 2014 I had failed my 5th ICSI when my dear husband found out about Vitex and its success stories on the internet I was brimmed up with hope and I tried to keep myself relaxed and happy. Just that bit of hope had made me see my first ever positive HPT.

After my chemical pregnancy in January 2015, I sat down to research “Why Do My IVFs Keep Failing on Me”. I don’t know what made me type that in the search engine but today I am glad that I made that search to save my life. A huge list of articles by reproductive immunologists came up and I read one PDF study. At the end of study, I was shocked and and believed it to be my story. I showed my husband the studies and we could relate the issues to our issue.

What I understood from the the studies was that some women have an auto-immune disease in which when a embryo is made/sent inside the body, the body thinks that the embryo is a foe instead of a natural ‘thing’ and attacks it and hence women with activated natural killer cell activity don’t fall pregnant and even if they ever do, it gets terminated. It further went on to say that women with activated natural killer cells barely fall sick or even get a cold. It was totally my case! I barely fell sick and even if everyone around me would catch a cold I would still always be fine.

My husband wanted to try every possible treatment and we found out that these treatments happen in the western part of the world which meant making big plans. My husband found out that the ARGC had the best success rates and we made an appointment with them. We made an appointment in January and the appointment wasn’t until March. We were really excited about our trip to London and we could’t wait to start testing and treating because we had read amazing reviews from lots of people about getting success at the ARGC after years of infertility and no hope. Even people who had been told at their former clinics that their eggs had no hope became pregnant and had babies with Mr T’s treatment protocol. I could just see a rainbow not far away.

Finally March arrived and we traveled to London. Our appointment was the very next day and as soon as we landed we went to check out our clinic just to learn about the transport routes etc. We were determined! I still remember the hopeful feeling I had when I first saw the blue door of the ARGC at 13 Wimpole street, it was phenomenal. I could feel my dream was about to become true.

At our appointment we met Dr Sami who took down our history and discussed with us what the immune treatment et cetera would be about if we did need it. Of course we had a good idea through all the reviews we had read over the last 2 months but talking to a professional was very reassuring.

We made a blood test for TH1/Th2 ratios and NK cells the very same day and we were told the results would be out within 2 weeks. We spent the next 2 weeks chilling and enjoying but we were certainly very eager to know the results and the results date was marked in our calendars. When the results were out we found out that my TNF alpha ratio was at 40 and IFN ratio was at 30. The fertility ranges for these were below 30 and 20 respectively. I also had activated natural killer cell activity. We were happy we had identified our problem and couldn’t wait to embark on this wondrous treatment. Our follow up appointment was another 2 weeks later and we were very patient to wait that long just to solve our issue.

We were at the clinic right on time for our follow up appointment but something unlucky happened. There was a communication mishap and I was outside the ‘wrong’ doctor’s room waiting for my appointment. We kept waiting and waiting and then I received an email saying I had missed my appointment and that I didn’t pick my phone when the clinic kept calling me to check on me! How could we have been so irresponsible? I mean we had waited 4 weeks just for our follow up. What had happened? I was right there in the building on time. I immediately ran to the reception and checked with them and unfortunately I had missed my appointment which I had so dearly waited for since 4 weeks! When I checked what number the clinic had been calling me on, they had been calling me on my international number instead of my local UK number. How did they not call me on my UK number when they were trying to reach me and instead called me on my international sim when they are expecting me to be in London for my appointment?!? Just typing about it is making me extremely angry at this very moment. I had even asked if the doctor would see me after the patient who went instead of me but apparently the clinic was too busy to consider such an arrangement. I was willing to do anything and everything to get treated and I even offered to wait and see the doctor after his very last appointment but that wasn’t an option either. :@ I was told I would be able to have a telephone conversation in 3-4 days time with the doctor – at that very moment that option seemed good enough also.

On the telephone I was advised to do 2 shots of Humira and test my levels 3 weeks after completing my shots. If the levels would still be high, I would need another 2 shots of Humira and then retest my levels again 3 weeks later. So this was the plan. The plan that I could have also found out on a phone call in the comfort of my home abroad. I also noticed that my results for the TNF ratios and Nk cell activity had come out within 4 days of making the test. Why did I have to wait for a whole month in a foreign country just to find out a simple protocol which I was going to be told about on the phone anyway? I had been in London for 4 Weeks – doing what? Waiting and waiting, all for nothing. My husband had missed 4 weeks of work and where were we yet? No where. We had to head back home and continue on the protocol we were advised to start. Although so much of nonsense happened, we both were calm and relaxed then. We couldn’t blame anyone for all of this and we just wanted to succeed at our treatment instead of fighting away with the clinic’s staff from Day 1.

Above all, we went home with lots of hope and courage; Excited for the near future. Just some hope at the beginning of the year had brought us to so many conclusions within a few months. Regardless of the treatment outcome at the ARGC which I will talk about in my next post, I believe that just being hopeful has made us continue for so long and not willing to give up. Thus the name of my blog, “When You Cant Give Up”.

Bright Start to 2015

It was my younger sister’s wedding after new years 2015 so I traveled to meet my family and stayed with them for the wedding. I had a truly wonderful time after the longest while of sadness in all the years before. Asian weddings last for more than 10 days so I enjoyed dressing up and getting my hair made at the salon. I didn’t bother about my hair loss because I wanted my hair to look good in the pictures ha ha and also because worrying about hair loss never helped me so for once I wanted to forget about it. Once again I looked truly happy in my pictures and the smile I had was not fake unlike the times I pulled fake smiles for pictures during the years when I was miserable from my infertility shock.

Even today when I scroll through my pictures of the time we were newly married, I can’t imagine how happy and relaxed I was. I really want to be as happy as I used to be and smile with inner happiness and contentment but I guess it is too much to ask for when battling with feelings of incompletion due to infertility.

It was a blissful occasion for my entire family and those 2 weeks that I spent with my family laughing, chit chatting, dancing and making arrangements for my sister’s big day were like a pure detox treatment for me. I had never stayed at my parents place after getting married but that trip made me realize what a wonderful blessing I had missed on by not staying at their place for the last 5 years.

Getting decked up for the events made me feel beautiful once again and my husband also praised me over how I looked and I was simply overjoyed.

I was very busy and occupied with the wedding that I barely got any chance to sit free and think about my ovulation dates and blah blah for once. I was still on the herb Vitex and I used to insert Cyclogest suppositories for the first 10 days after ovulation.

After I returned home, I was a bit queasy for a day or two but I didn’t pay attention to it because I was tired from the wedding. Then I had a beautiful dream. I dreamt I had a baby in my arms and in the dream itself I couldn’t believe that the baby in my arms was mine so I would try and wake my baby up again and again to hear his/her sounds! I woke up instantly and very randomly made a pregnancy test. I didn’t expect much anyway because it had only been a week since my ovulation, sure enough it was negative. Later that day I looked at the pregnancy test again and to my surprise – IT HAD TWO LINES!! FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!

I was thrilled and shocked. I had never seen a positve pregnancy test ever, not even from my treatments and this was a BFP from just taking a cheap herb! Where was this beautiful herb all these years when I was doing those expensive painful treatments??

I was a bit scared about a chemical pregnancy or miscarriage because I had heard about lots of people conceiving after years of trying and then miscarrying in their later months. Anyhow I trusted my Lord and His blessing and kept my faith strong. I was extremely happy and couldn’t wait until my 6 week scan.

It had been 10 days to my positive result and I was nearly 5 weeks and a few days when AF arrived. I was devastated and I knew it was the end. This was my second chemical pregnancy but just having become pregnant naturally gave me lots of hope for conceiving naturally in the future.