In about four weeks time I’ll be starting my first cycle of ICSI. My feelings about this are bitter sweet. I’m excited of course. I’m hopeful that it’ll work and that I can put my sadness behind me. Sometimes I allow myself to believe, just briefly, that it really might work. And that’s so lovely! Then logic kicks in and reminds me that statistics are not on our side; my clinic reports a 35%-40% success rate for ICSI in my age-group. Positively, I thought the stats would be lower and I like to think I’m in the young end of the age bracket (I’ve recently turned 36) and hopefully that helps our odds somewhat. On the negative side the incidence of things like cerebral palsy and downs increases with IVF. My only suggestion for why is that women who do IVF are typically older than those who don’t and developmental disorders are often associated with older women. Probably I’m now classed as an older woman – maybe those things are a risk for me now too. I know that my egg quality isn’t great, and I suspect my lining might be too thin. These things will cause problems for us in ICSI.
Anyway, we’ve signed our consent forms. We had to watch a couple of hours of videos and complete a quiz after each section. It’s quite a sobering process, learning about how it all works, what can go wrong, the ethics involved, the storage of embryos etc. they cover a lot to make sure we’re fully informed.
We saw our consultant on the day that Panorama did an expose on the Zita West clinic amongst others, stating that a lot of fertility clinics are extortionists. Our consultant told us about the programme, suggesting that we watch it. We have agreed to pay for an extra – £680 for an embryoscope to watch the cells develop without disturbing them. We’re getting everything else for free so I think it’s okay to pay out for this. The theory is that some cells might develop quickly but not as well as others, so when you get to day 3 or day 5 you really need to see how they developed as well as how far they developed to make sure you’ve got the best one.
My biggest worry is that I don’t know if I’ll manage to produce many eggs. Apparently my AMH is borderline okay/not okay. So I’m having the top dose of FSH to maximise my chances of producing lots of eggs. Some theorists argue this is a bad idea as it could compromise quality in favour of quantity. At the moment I’m not sure what to think at all; ultimately my consultant needs to get a good look at my eggs and The Boy’s sperm and see what he thinks after the first cycle. He’s already said he’s got nothing left to throw at it if this cycle doesn’t work. But at least we’ll know what we’re dealing with I guess. I think that’s what’s frightening me the most. What if I don’t produce enough eggs? What if none fertilise? What if I miscarry again? ICSI is potentially our only hope and I’m utterly terrified of finding out there is no hope left for us after this.
I had a phonecall from my best friend a few weeks ago. She was sobbing; she’d had a miscarriage. As I heard her speak I felt her pain so deeply that I was transported back to my first miscarriage. It was interesting that despite all my experiences of miscarriage I didn’t know what to say to her. I knew what not to say, but I saw her recently too and I didn’t even know how to bring it up to ask where she was up to with it all. She says that I’m the only person she can speak to about it & I’m grateful that I can put my experiences to some use. But it’s made me recognise just how hard it is for others to say and do the right thing. I’ve been so tetchy with people who haven’t responded well to my miscarriages but it was interesting for the shoe to be on the other foot.
In other pregnancy news I think my colleague is pregnant. She’s one of the loveliest people you could ever meet and I have told her more than once not to make the same mistake as me and wait to have children. So why did the realisation kick me so hard in the stomach? I guess the answer is because she’s able to do it so naturally, unlike me. It’s also highly likely that she’ll make her announcement just as my first ICSI cycle fails. The last colleague who was pregnant made her announcement while I was waiting for my second miscarriage to be confirmed. So it’s almost definitely going to happen again.
I’ll try to post how ICSI goes. Next week we visit the clinic for a scan and to learn how to administer the injections. I hope The Boy pays attention – I think he’ll need to do them! I’ll be going back onto the progesterone so I’ve pre-warned my close friends that I’ll be going a little bit loopy and hormonal for a few weeks. Oh, the joys of subfertility!