You can always tell when a May is excessively nervous. She does housework. Normally I regard housework with the finical loathing of a millionairess asked to pick through the recycling for food scraps on a very hot day. My first dissertation however and for example saw me scrubbing all the grouting between the bathroom tiles with bicarbonate of soda and an old toothbrush. This morning, I washed dishes (I confess, we had reached a Dish Crisis) and tried to ignore the insistent stinging focus of every neurone I possess on the phone. The embryologists weren’t due to call until midday and I was scowling at it through the back of my head by 10:45.
And H had a nap, because he had spent the entire night lying awake rigid as a board in an unholy puddle of angst, heat and cotton mouth.
And they rang! Just after midday! As promised! (I am still finding it novel to be rung by a lab when it says it’s going to ring).
‘Is that May? It’s the embryologist. I have good news!’ And I promptly went a little giddy.
The good news? The two ‘good’ embryos were just that – good, hatched, developing, and chromosomally normal. The third, the slightly lazier one, was abnormal. The Wee Fourth’s wee hiccough did not in fact yield a result, but it looked rather crummy this morning, so it has been benched.
We were told to come in for transfer as soon as possible, and to think about whether we wanted to transfer one or two while we travelled, and I tell you, it’s hard to think about these things and find your shoes wallet hat knickers (what? I was in the shower just before they called) and bus pass. And we were a tad bemused. Doctor George had made a strong case in favour of transferring one. Two embryos wouldn’t necessarily increase the chance of a pregnancy, but twins are riskier, both to the mother and themselves, and my uterus (sorry, Cute) is a stiff distorted heap of rust to start with. H is somewhat skeeved by the idea of putting me at any extra risk (remember how he freaked out about OHSS before IVF was even really on the cards?). He also, I think, likes the idea of having One In Reserve, and FETs can do better than fresh IVF, because an embryo that survives thawing is one tough cookie, and the uterine environment is nicer for not having been jack-hammered with fertility drugs. We were all ‘good reasons for one at a time!’ So we sat on a bus and boiled and Talked Cryptic. And decided that unless they had a new bit of information that Changed Everything, we’d go with one.
And then we reached Riverside (‘Good luck!’ said the Receptionist), wandered off to the waiting room (‘Hi!’ said Dr George, rushing past in scrubs and carrying a sandwich) and sat there, tweeting nervously (it’s the beans) and wishing I could go pee.
As I have already remarked on this ‘ere blog, Riverside has a seemingly unlimited supply of charming medical staff. We were called through by yet another one, in pink scrubs this time, and led to a room containing two chairs, a gynaecological couch with stirrups, an ultrasound machine, the door to an en suite toilet, and in the wall next to the couch, a serving-hatch. ‘Do you have a full bladder? Yes? Good! That *pointing at the toilet door* is for later.’ She then went off to fetch a doctor (we knew it wouldn’t be Dr George as he was clearly doing retrievals (and sandwiches)).
Transfer Doctor was a sweet, pretty lady. (I don’t know about you, but I personally feel more self conscious about a pretty lady looking up, err, me than I do about a chap, on the principle of, if you ain’t got one, you don’t get to judge). She opened the hatch and lo and behold, it led to the Lair of the Embryologists, and an absolute poppet in a pink hair net poked her head through to check I was me, and H was H, and to say good luck, and then went off to fetch our embryos. And then another embryologist appeared at the hatch – it was the one we originally had our consultation with all the way back in June – just and cheerfully to say good luck. I like Riverside.
We established that there was no more information to suggest transferring both rather than one was a better idea. So we decided to transfer the starriest, prettiest embryo, and freeze the handsome second one, graded respectively as 6AA and, I think, 6AB (or was it 6BA?).
(6AA? We produced a 6AA? How?)
(WordPress app. is not letting me do links this evening, or I’d link you to an explanation of Day 5 blastocyst grading)
And then I got to take my skirt, knickers and sandals off and put my Lucky Fluffy Socks (gift of Shannon (hi Shannon!)) and clamber onto the couch, H sitting close to my head where he could see the ultrasound screen and the tv screen on the wall above it. Pretty Doctor winched me open, using the longer speculum (Cute Ute, being ‘bulky’, no longer fits behind my pelvic bone and instead rests her weary fundus on top of it, and my bladder, so, uh, is further ‘up’ than she used to be. It’s a thing. Fucking adenomyosis). She then proceeded to scrub my cervix clean ‘of mucous’ (it’s meant to have mucous. It’s a protective coating) with what felt like mop, broom, window scraper and street-cleaner truck with whirling brushes. And then we threaded a test catheter in, which I barely felt (my cervix has always been cooperative). And then we waited. And waited. Me with a breeze where one does not normally feel one. Eventually the Nurse called through the hatch: ‘Hey! We have a lady here with a full bladder!’
‘And a speculum up her vagina!’ chimed in the Pretty Doctor.
‘No sense of priorities, these embryologists,’ added the Nurse, ‘Next week I’ll make them lie there with a speculum up them and a full bladder… Of course, I don’t know where I’d put the speculum in Fred… ‘
Giggling hysterically with your vagina full of ironmongery and a full bladder is also quite a thing, by the way.
Poppet popped her head back through apologetically to ask if we wanted to see the embryo. Yes please! Who on earth wouldn’t? And after a few moments it appeared on the TV screen. Oh my God. It’s… It’s an actual embryo. With a trophoblast, an inner cell mass, and a neat little cavity. It was textbook. I actually teared up.
Another pause while they coaxed it into a catheter, and ceremonially handed this over to the Nurse, who ceremonially handed it to the Pretty Doctor, before taking on the ultrasound machine and prodding me about to get a view of Cute Ute’s inner workings. Cute Ute not being exactly where she should be, this took a minute of determined if apologetic pressing on my bladder from all angles. And then we watched the catheter appear in my uterus, and be withdrawn, leaving a little, white, magical dot behind.
And another pause, me still full of contraptions and bonus covered in gel, while the catheter was handed back through the hatch and checked to make sure it was empty. It was! And I was finally emptied of metal and allowed, oh bliss! to go pee. (And put my clothes back on).
We were handed a photo of our 6AA embryo as a souvenir, so we took it with us to lunch at an American-style diner. Burgers and fries and milkshakes. Every fresh little embryo whose had a hard 24 hours being tested needs a milkshake.
As for the other one, we asked them to freeze it, and what then? Well. It depends on what happens next. So we all four are waiting, and H is googling special offers on peesticks.
Strange world. Normally thrusting your progeny into a chest freezer for an indefinite period of time would be considered abusive.
P.S. As I type this, H is trying to tell his father we are doing IVF this summer without letting it slip that, err, we’ve done it. Teeheehee! Secret Squirrel! I did the exact same thing with my mother on Tuesday!