The blog has been a tad quiet recently, because I was trying to rest more, before and after our Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). I’m not getting any younger, and can’t afford to “waste” time, since we want more kids, and we haven’t been able to conceive naturally. I stopped breastfeeding Noah at 33 months, and went to see our gynae, Dr SF Loh, so that we could start on our second round of IVF.
We had two frozen embryos left from our previous cycle, which meant that I didn’t need to go through all the jabs, multiple scans, and egg retrieval. The FET is definitely less stressful on the body, and we prayed really hard that I would be able to get pregnant via the FET. I also kinda liked the idea that the embryos were from the same batch as Noah, so if I really did get pregnant, the baby would be his twin, born a couple of years later.
Dr Loh advised us to return to KKH for the FET, since we only had two precious frozen embryos, and he didn’t think we should run the risk of having the quality of the embryos affected during the transfer from KKH to TMC, as we originally planned. (Dr Loh is based in TMC now.) He recommended Dr Matthew Lau, and called him on the spot to ask him if he could see me that day, so I went for a consult at KKH after seeing Dr Loh. We really wanted Dr Loh to do the FET for us, but since it was his advice to go to KKH, we did as he suggested.
Dr Lau sent me for a sonohysterogram, to check my womb, and unfortunately, they found two polyps, which meant that I had to go for day surgery, to remove them. After the surgery, my period was supposed to return within three weeks, but when it didn’t show up, I went down to see Dr Lau again. Apparently, my womb lining wasn’t thick enough to shed, so to speed things up, I was put on Microgynon, otherwise known as the Pill, for two weeks, and was told to see him again if my period didn’t appear after a week. Why the big rush? Firstly, KKIVF was undergoing some upgrading, so there were some block-out dates for FET, which meant that if my period came during those weeks, we wouldn’t be able to do the FET in that cycle. Secondly, Dr Lau informed me that he would be leaving Singapore for two years at the end of July, so if my period didn’t come by then, the FET would have to be carried out by a different doctor instead. We didn’t like the idea of having to see yet another doctor, and frankly, we were getting frustrated with all the delays. (I wrote a little about this FET process in this earlier post.)
My period finally decided to make its appearance five days after my two-week course of Microgynon, but not before wreaking havoc on my emotional and physical well-being. The meds made me super short-tempered and emotional, and I snapped at every single little thing. Noah seemed unusually badly behaved to me, and I was often exhausted at the end of the day from all the disciplining that I had to do. I also suffered from nausea, and splitting headaches, so you can imagine what a grouch I was.
I was told to call the KKIVF Centre on the first day of my period, so that they could make the necessary arrangements, and give me instructions on the next course of meds. I was told to take two tablets of Progynova for five days, then three tablets daily for the subsequent days. I was also scheduled for a scan on Day 9, to check my womb lining, which would determine when the FET would be. The Progynova caused similar side effects as the Microgynon, though I think the nausea wasn’t as severe.
On Day 9 of my cycle, I returned to the KKIVF Centre, a place that was all too familiar to me, since I spent a lot of time there back in 2011. I honestly hoped that I would never have to step foot in that place again, but there I was again, seated on the squeaky seats, watching reruns of health ads, and waiting to be called to the procedure room. I didn’t have to wait too long that day, since my appointment was in the early morning, and the scan was quite quick. My lining was 9.1mm that day, which meant that I was good to go for the FET in two days time, ie on Noah’s birthday. It seemed like a good sign, so we decided to stick to that date, rather than postpone it by a day, even though we had originally planned to bring Noah out on his birthday itself.
On the day of the transfer, my mum came over to babysit Noah, while C and I headed to KKH. We were nervous, but hopeful. We prayed that both our embryos would be viable, and that God would guide Dr Lau’s hands during the transfer. I had to fast from 1130pm the night before, although I could still drink water. You need a full bladder for the FET, so I had to empty my bladder before leaving the house, then drink at least two cups of water before my appointment time. For some reason, there was a delay, so we only entered the procedure room two hours after our scheduled appointment. I even had to pee, and drink up again in between, because of the long wait.
C was allowed into the procedure room with me, where we were informed by Dr Lau that only one of our two embryos were viable. One had six cells, while the other had three cells when they were thawed, but the first didn’t grow at all, and the other increased to five cells, which was a good sign. We told ourselves that one was better than nothing, and after the rather painful transfer, we prayed again, then came home to rest. The blood test to check if I was pregnant was scheduled on my birthday, and I kept thinking about what a wonderful birthday gift it would be, if the test came back positive. Everything seemed rather perfect: FET on Noah’s birthday, and blood test on mine.
During the 19-day wait, I tried to do as little as possible. I didn’t carry Noah at all, and I missed him terribly, even though I was physically with him as usual. I lay in bed a lot more, while Noah played in the living room with his grandparents, and I think he missed me too, because he would come running into our room quite often, just to hang out with me. He’d bring his toys in, and play quietly on the bed with me. He’d ask me to read to him, and I was more than happy to oblige, so we spent a lot of time reading in bed as well.
I had to take two tablets of Progynova every morning, and inserted two tablets of Utrogestan vaginally three times a day. I experienced a lot of cramping, and going to the toilet was really stressful, because I had a lot of clear discharge, probably due to the Utrogestan, and I was terrified that I’d see blood whenever I went to the loo. As silly as it may sound, I talked to the embryo when I was alone, and looked at the only photo we had of it. It was an extremely blurry photo, because the embryologist said it moved when they were taking the photo, but I didn’t care. It was the only evidence of our last remaining embryo, and I prayed that it would implant and grow.
My blurry photo of our last embryo
Progynova (Singa for size comparison)
Utrogestan (Singa for size comparison)
On one of the days during the wait, I saw a rainbow, the first I had seen in a long, long time. The name Samuel also kept popping up in my mind, and I thought that was God telling me that He had heard our prayers, and would bless us with another child. Every day that I didn’t get my period was a good one. As the days passed, we became more and more hopeful. When my period didn’t come by Day 19, the day of the blood test, and my birthday, I was quietly excited. Honestly, I had been daydreaming about how happy I would be to be pregnant again, and how wonderful it would be to go through the entire pregnancy experience again. I wondered how Noah would react to a younger sibling, and was looking forward to seeing him interact with his own sibling, since he loves babies, and has never once expressed jealousy whenever I carried other babies. I knew that I was getting my hopes up, because I read online that Utrogestan can delay periods even if implantation didn’t occur, but I, for once, wanted to be the glass half-full person, rather than the glass half-empty pessimist that I usually am, when it comes to pregnancy.
The faint rainbow I saw
I waited at the KKIVF Centre for the nurse to draw my blood for the procedure, and chatted cheerfully with her while she took a vial of blood from my right arm. I knew the drill: do the blood test, then go home to wait for the call. After all, I had gone through it once, when we did IVF and conceived Noah.
The almost empty KKIVF Centre at 730am
The call came earlier than expected, just before I left the house to send Noah to school. My heart was pounding with excitement, and my brain took some time to process what the lady on the line was saying. What did she mean by “I’m so sorry, the test was negative, please stop all medication, and see the doctor again.”? How could the test be negative, when my period hadn’t returned, when we prayed so hard, when I had already started thinking about names? I didn’t cry, just told my parents, who were at home with me, and texted C. I sent out plenty of Whatsapp messages, followed by FB messages, to those who had been keeping us in prayer throughout the entire process. C was in a meeting, but he said he would call me as soon as he could, but I told him not to, because I knew I would cry if I heard his voice. I didn’t want to talk to anybody about it, and I still don’t. What’s there to say?
Meen was one of the many lovely ladies who supported me during this round of IVF. She is struggling with infertility too, and it was much easier for us to talk about the meds we were on, and how we were feeling at each stage, because we both know what it’s like. I’m thankful for the many friends who prayed with and for us, and am especially touched by those on Dayre, whom I’ve never actually met, but who sent me encouraging messages and virtual hugs. I didn’t blog about our FET process on this blog, because I wasn’t quite ready to share it so openly, but I wanted to write, so I recorded down every little thing on Dayre instead.
It was tough getting the horrible news on my birthday. Not that it would have been any easier to hear on a different day, but at least I wouldn’t have had to put on a front and respond to people wishing me “Happy birthday!” on Facebook or in person. I cried when my godma called that day, and again when I went to pick C up from work. My mind knows that our chances were slim to begin with, but my heart just can’t seem to deal with it. After Noah fell asleep that night, I spent the last few minutes of my birthday sobbing in C’s arms, even though I know that we’ve already been blessed to have Noah, which is more than what many other couples have. But having Noah doesn’t mean we can’t want more children, does it?
Why does it feel as though we’ve lost something, when it was never even there to begin with?
I’ve been going through the motions of life on auto-pilot since then, and as long as you don’t talk to me about it, I’m okay. Since the phone call, I’ve been more distracted than usual, and so far, I’ve washed my face with shower gel, put my face wash on my toothbrush, and almost put our laundry into the rubbish chute instead of the washing machine. I’m not quite up to meeting people, or listening to their words of sympathy. I know that my friends mean well, but right now, I’m just afraid of bursting into tears if I do meet them. A close friend sent me some flowers and a gift the other evening, and although she said it was a belated birthday gift, I knew she was trying to cheer me up, and for that, I’m grateful.
Noah with my surprise delivery
We’ll be making an appointment to see Dr Loh again to do a fresh IVF cycle soon. I’m not looking forward to all the daily injections, the weight gain, the mood swings, the multiple doctor’s appointments, the stress, and whatever other side effects there are, but I will do what I have to do, because that’s the way it is.
I’m trying hard not to cry, because I don’t want Noah to be affected. Already he has asked me why God doesn’t want to give us another baby, and I have no answer for him. There’s a dull ache in my head and heart, a general sense of loss, and a lack of motivation to do anything. I think I need time to grieve over what could have been, to do mindless activities that will take my mind off it, and to spend time with C and Noah. I’ll be taking a short break from blogging, and will stop writing my Friday Flips posts for a while, because I’m just not up to it. I might blog on Dayre, and I’ll still be posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but this blog will be quiet for a while, until I’m ready again. It might take a week, or a month, I really don’t know. I’ve got a new colouring book, plenty of books on my to-read list, reruns of Running Man to watch, and some Lego to build with Noah. In the meantime, please do keep us in your prayers, and please don’t be offended if I don’t respond to your messages for a bit. Thank you.
*PS. Please note that everyone’s body is different, and different doctors have different treatment plans. The meds I was prescribed, as well as the timeline for my FET, may differ from your own, so please always check with your doctor if you have any questions.
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