A surrogacy journey, jointly documented by Surrogate and Intended Mother.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Little Hitchhiker 2

As Niki has said, Wednesday really was a truly exciting day. We had a lovely time at Westfields before transfer (boys probably slightly less than us as they had to keep themselves busy whilst we hunted for bargains) and sauntered down to the hospital munching our sweets and still chatting and laughing.

Sitting in the downstairs waiting room was the most nerve-wracking part for me; at that point we had no idea how many (if any) embryos had made it to day 5. We went upstairs to the next waiting room (edging ever closer to the transfer theatre) where as Niki says, there were other couples looking v sombre. It made me appreciate again what a huge huge (cannot emphasise it enough) plus the incredible friendship is when you're going through surrogacy; they say a problem shared is a problem halved and I'm sure having 4 of us in this together helps make it easier.

We were called in to discuss the embryos and the lovely embryologist said "it's good news" very swiftly which slowed my pounding heart down somewhat! Out of the 8 that had been developing, 2 had made it to good quality blasts, with the others still alive but further behind. The decision then arose as to whether to transfer 1 or 2, and after some conversation between the 4 of us and advice from both Dr Carby and the embryologist, we went for 1.The other good one (along with 1 other good one that caught up and 2 average ones) would later be frozen and put into storage.

After gowning up and spending a silly few minutes playing "what can we turn the paper square into" we were taken in. I think one moment sums Niki up pretty perfectly; we were in the transfer theatre, Niki was lying on the bed in a hospital gown, legs in stirrups, and she turned to me and said "are you OK?". As always, worrying and caring about everyone else.

The star itself, little hitchhiker (photo taken through microscope just prior to transfer)

As I've mentioned before, I have a love/hate relationship with the 2ww. I love the possibilities it offers, the fact we're PUPO (or SPUPO as some of the lovely Hammersmith hospital ladies I chat to have renamed it for us, the S standing for "Surrogately" which is now officially a word....) I love the fact that we're so close we could almost touch it, that we've already overcome so many obstacles. On the other hand the what ifs can drive you crazy, and the idea that it might again be a negative is very hard to digest. I cannot imagine the pressure Niki feels; I know how much she cares and how much she wants this to work for us, and I know whatever the result, this superstar lady could not have done more & we are eternally grateful regardless.

You might be able to help keep us preoccupied. Obviously we cannot really blog about progress for a bit, so we thought you might have questions for us. Perhaps those reading who are Niki's friends and family have questions for me, and vice versa. Or perhaps there are questions which are easier to ask written down than face to face. Anyway, if you do have any, please ask away, we're both happy to answer what we can and as I say, it might keep us busy and sane!

Little Hitchhiker

As the title suggests, transfer was a success!! I now have a top grade little embryo on board that I have affectionately named 'Little Hitch-hiker'.

I thought transfer day would be hugely nerve-racking but instead it was lots of fun. Nerves obviously still played a part and as much as I'm very aware that Em and Adam will be forever grateful for me just trying, I also know how much a success would mean. It's hard not to feel that pressure, even when none is ever put on me, but that's where my 'What will be will be' mantra comes into play.

 Transfer was in the afternoon so brunch and shopping beforehand was a must - matching transfer day souvenir dress anyone? After losing the boys to gadget browsing and spending far to much time in Dorothy Perkins trying on clothes we headed off to Hammersmith with our 'Hospital snack' bag of sweeties.
Once there and in the waiting room I (and I think I can speak for Em here too) started to feel a little guilty about the smiles and jokes we were sharing. We were seated with three other couples, all of which were undergoing transfers after us. The pain and nerves in their faces was heartbreaking and it really did put into perspective yet again just how lucky I have been and why I am doing this.
I know Em and Adam have had more than their fair share of heartache and I'm certain they were equally as nervous as the other couples in the room but I'm so glad we are all close enough as a team to make it as fun and exciting as it could possibly be.

 Transfer itself was quick and painless and felt extremely similar to having a cervical smear. Afterwards the nurse talked us through a still image on the ultrasound screen and showed us where Little Hitch-hiker had made it's temporary home.
It's certainly a bizarre feeling being PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise) as, unlike a natural conception I KNOW their is something in there, I just don't know how long it will stay, and it's truly out of my control.

I think we all have a gut instinct at the moment that this was truly meant to be and has worked, and Em and I are currently trying desperately (and somewhat failing) to put things to the back of our minds and be rational, but it really is in the hands of fate now...which is exciting and terrifying all at the same time!

So we are now in the dreaded 2 week wait...with everything crossed.

Taking things very seriously

Gorgeous Hospital attire

Tuesday, 28 August 2012


We got a phone call bright and early yesterday morning to update us on how our 8 little embryos were doing. Astonishingly, all 8 were still developing which is really good. For anyone who is interested, here is the breakdown:

3 x good 8 cell embryos
2 x good 7 cell embryos
2 x average 8 cell embryos 
1 x average 6 cell embryo

Embryos on day 3 should have developed between 6 and 8 cells, so all have done what they should have. They are then rated "good" "average" or "poor" depending on the quality of cell division (ones that are fragmented or show other signs that I don't understand get lower ratings)

Consequently, transfer will be tomorrow - day 5. We will not know till tomorrow how many embryos we have still developing and what quality and stage they are at (hopefully blastocyst). Approximately 50% embryos will reach blast stage and of course we may get less than that. Please cross your fingers tightly for us that tomorrow goes well; we are all definitely feeling the nerves as well as the excitement. 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Magic 8

Sorry for the lack of posting yesterday, we were busy saying goodbye to some dear friends who are buggering off to sadly moving 'oop North'.

We were woken up at 9am (I know I know, lazy lie in...) with a phone call from the embryologists. Out of the 13 eggs retrieved, 9 of them were mature so were injected with sperm. 8 of those fertilised successfully and we now have 8 embryos sitting in a little petri dish in Hammersmith hospital. This is a really good fertilisation rate and we feel v lucky. Transfer will either be on Monday (day 3) or Wednesday (day 5) depending on how the embryos are doing. Crossing everything...

Quick edit to add this rather cool video I found which shows what our embryos are currently (hopefully) up to and will continue to do over the next few days.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Our lucky number?

My egg collection is all done! Adam and I got to Hammersmith just after 7am; I was already dressed in my rather unglamorous surgical stockings so looking the part. We only waited for about 10 minutes before we were called through and I was given a bed. The anesthetist came to chat and credit to him, did not turn pale and run out the door screaming when I relayed my medical history. Obviously concerned about a similar prospect, Anna Carby was there to reassure him that she could get my transplant consultant on the phone should he have any questions.

I was second on the list so I donned my gown, attractive hat and slippers, and settled down to wait. Not long after, someone came to get me and I walked into theatre. The anesthetist had a bit of fun playing find the vein, but once the cannula was in and the sedation was given, I don't remember anything else.

So very attractive....
 I woke up to discover they had managed to get 13 eggs. Adam and I first met up with Niki on Friday 13th April so we've already joked that 13 is a lucky number for us and that's the first thing that popped into my head (and Niki's when I told her). A good omen? Let's choose to see it as such.

Last time I got 22, but I also got a condition called OHSS, and 13 is still a really good number - many fight hard and still get far less than that. I'm just relieved we're one step closer. Tomorrow we will get a phone call from the embryologist to let us know how many have successfully fertilised. So need your fertilisy thoughts now please....

I'm back on one of the jabs as they want to ensure I don't develop OHSS again, so have to do them for 5 more days to try and calm things down quickly (I visualise the jab going in and saying shhhhh to over excited hopping around follicles - not sure that's quite the scientific version but nevermind). Will update as we get news on the embryos and head towards the most exciting day, transfer day!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Egg collection

Just a quick update to say that my egg collection is tomorrow. I had to have my trigger shot last night, which was 2ml of a drug called Buserelin. I was quite poorly 2 years ago when I had IVF and they think it might have been the Buserelin that was partly responsible, so I was rather apprehensive to say the least and was a bit wussy and made poor Adam give the shot!

Luckily I manned up quickly (with the help of some jaffa cakes) and am feeling OK today, so so far so good! Will be at Hammersmith by 7am tomorrow, complete with sexy anti-DVT stockings on, so please keep your fingers crossed for us all and think eggy thoughts...

Monday, 20 August 2012

Getting very close

In the short time between blogs, lots has been going on behind the scenes (various hormone injections and oestrogen patches mainly) and both Niki & I are well into phase 2 of our treatment cycles. Niki braved a stupidly early morning journey today to come down to Hammersmith as we both had scans to see how things are going. All is going well, the drugs are doing what they should, and we are nearing exciting times! This is a bit more of an informative blog (not sure if anyone's actually interested in the process but you're about to find out...!)

I will have my egg collection at some point this week, which will involve as much sedation as I can persuade them to give me, and not much else on my part, but a short spell in theatre having them retrieved from each follicle. I am currently looking a tad rotund/sore/nauseous due to the drugs causing my ovaries to get very over excited and create lots of follicles, but that's all part of the plan (and the purpose of the drugs) so I'm not complaining. After they have collected all my eggs, they will fertilise them, and then we have a tense wait till the following morning to find out how many successfully become embryos.

The next hurdle is the daily wait to see how the embryos develop. The aim is to get to "day 5" which is when embryos turn into something called blastocysts. The reason the clinic will try and push the embryos to this stage is that the weaker ones die out along the way, the result of which is transferring an embryo that has a greater chance of survival/implantation. Once the transfer is done and we have 1 or 2 embryos tucked safely inside Niki, all that's left to do is wait till we can do a pregnancy test.
This is hopefully what our embryos will be doing in their petri dish.
There are just so many unknowns in IVF. Will we get a good number of eggs? Will they be mature enough? Will any of them fertilise? Will the embryos develop properly? How many will we get? How many will we have to transfer? Will there be any left to freeze? So many questions, and no way of telling, and that's not even thinking about the biggest question of all. My biggest fear is the egg collection - I just don't want to let anyone down at this vital stage. I'm well aware that that's a stupid comment and that no one would feel remotely let down at all, but I just want it to go well and for us to get a good number of eggs.

My favourite bit (well, it's a love/hate relationship...) is probably the "2 week wait" - the period between transfer and the pregnancy test. This is a lot of people's worst bit, but for those 2 weeks, the idea of being pregnant seems closer than it has ever seemed before, so close we could almost touch it. It's the closest I've ever got, so I do try to enjoy those two weeks of "what if".

The next few weeks will be extremely exciting but very nervewracking as well, so please keep us all in your thoughts, especially Niki who is just being incredible and could not do any more - she is a true star.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Overwhelmed and Excited

As Em has already said last week was Teamies week and Steve, The Kids and I took the Caravan down to Surrey.
It truly was a fabulous week full of meeting new people, cuddling squidgy babies, being big children and realising just how useless men are at communication ;)

Scan day was very exciting! After a very early start and a fairly stress free trip into an Olympic London we actually arrived at Hammersmith early and we were in and out before my actual appointment time. This of course meant we had to kill some time window shopping and having breakfast in Westfields ;)
I was so pleased to hear I was fully down regulated, mainly because it means we can now move on to the next stage of treatment (yay!!) but also because it means I'm one day closer to being able to stop these injections!!

We had a lovely afternoon and lunch at Emily's parent's house afterwards and the weather even held off long enough for a park trip so the big  kids could burn off some energy. Friday we spent at Adam's parent's and it was lovely seeing all the children playing together in the glorious sunshine.

I am really overwhelmed by how lovely both Emily and Adam's family and friends are and how they have all welcomed us into their lives so effortlessly. I really struggle with being thanked and praised for the help I am very much hoping to be giving very soon and always react awkwardly but it really does put in to perspective just how many people our journey is affecting.
This isn't only going to be a very special son or daughter, but also a grandchild, a great grandchild, a niece or nephew, a cousin, a special friend... that though thought literally brings tears to my eyes, more so now these once strangers now feel like friends.
This is the first time along our journey I have truly felt nervous. There is so much riding on this and so many people behind us all and with them all in mind,just allowing myself to consider the possibility this may fail breaks my heart. I am very much with Em though, why not invest our heart and soul into this and enjoy each step for the exciting time that it is.
 I am still remaining very positive and am quite convinced it is going to work. Fate has played its hand in mysterious ways in our journey so far and I really believe there's a very good reason for that.

Only a few weeks to go and we can hopefully prove that point :)

Monday, 6 August 2012

A week of teamcake fun

On Monday, our fab Teamies came down to Surrey for a little break. They have a caravan and stayed on a lovely site in Redhill. Adam and I went to the site when they arrived to run around with look after the children whilst Niki and Steve got set up and settled. Over the next few days, we proceeded to do grown up things like sit around in the ball pit at soft play and fall off children's play equipment at the park resulting in a v bruised leg (guess which of us that was....)

Both our families hosted lovely afternoons and Niki, Steve and kids were absolutely fab at handling the many new and excited faces that were eager to meet and chat to them. The more time Niki & I spend with each other, the more similar we realise we are. Thanks to Steve babysitting, she came out with me to see Adam drum at a local gig, and we were talking so much we were almost late and poor Niki had to have a rushed cheese on toast for dinner as we'd gossiped so much we'd not eaten! My poor hostessing skills aside, I think this is a good thing.

On Thursday, Niki had a scan so the two of us got up far too early and braved the trains into London. Bar one very packed train, it wasn't too bad, and we reached Hammersmith in good time and were seen quickly. The scan all went well, and within a few hours our consultant had emailed instructions of what we are to do over the next week. Niki is now "supressed" (i.e - they've shut everything down ready to start it back up) and by the end of this week, both Niki and I should have started phase 2 (starting us both back up at the same time so we're in sync) which is hugely exciting! 

I am definitely feeling very excited and positive about all of this. That is setting off a bit of a warning light in my head - am I setting myself up for an even bigger fall if it doesn't work by allowing myself to be excited? The answer (on reflection) is that I don't think so, no. If I go into it full of optimism and hope, and it doesn't work, I will be devastated. If I go into it very cautiously, trying not to believe it will work, and then it doesn't work...I will still be devastated. Why not enjoy this part as much as possible? What will be will be, and I think I'd rather make the most out of every step, enjoy it whenever I can, and thanks to Niki, Steve, Jack and Beth, there is a great deal of enjoyment to be had. 

Photos of the week to come soon!