A story of hope – Hannah’s story – an update

My name is Hannah and in 2016 I raised money and awareness for the Genesis Research Trust by cycling 107 miles around Anglesey in North Wales.

I suffer with Polycystic ovarian syndrome (pcos) as well as high natural killer cells, and because of this I have been battling infertility since Rob and I decided to try for a family at the end of 2012.

I underwent 6 months of clomid, had many invasive procedures, several IVF cycles and heartbreakingly 2 miscarriages.

Our second miscarriage was on the 22nd January 2016, this was also our last two frozen embryos. Due to being a military wife, we had also moved during this time and so had to appeal for the funding for our second harvest as the good old postcode lottery had struck and in our new area the entitlement was only one NHS funded harvest; So after months of appeals, the funding was finally approved and we could begin treatment at Nurture in Nottingham.

Although I was feeling anxious about another harvest due to hyperstimulating on the first egg collection, I was also feeling excited and hopeful as it was also fresh eyes on our case and new treatment ideas and options.

I was immediately put on Metformin to try to prevent hyperstimulating again and they also decided to use a different injected medication which would also help prevent this problem.

After much thought we decided on an elective freeze all, as my chances of a fresh transfer being successful after using this injection was around 40% where in a frozen transfer the chance of success doubled to 80%.

So in October 2016 I began treatment for my harvest. This wasn’t as easy as we had hoped, as I did not appear to be growing any eggs and as each scan appointment showed no change they discussed stopping the treatment as I was not responding. In the end they decided to up my dose and give me a couple more days and thankfully four eggs then reached the correct size criteria and my theatre slot was booked.

Following my harvest we were advised that only three eggs had fertilised and so my best option was to go ahead with a fresh transfer as there was always the risk that the embryos would not survive the thawing process.

This came as a surprise decision for us to make as we had been prepared to have a frozen embryo transfer (FET) in a couple of month’s time with better success rates but we felt it was worth going ahead with a fresh transfer.

I was put on steroids to treat my high NK cells and our embryo transfer was booked in for the 29th October.

All three of our embryos made it to day 5 blastocysts and also topped the class as grade 1A, the best! And so we were faced with yet another difficult decision, did we want to freeze all three after all, as they were such good embryos and the success rate in a FET being so much higher, or go ahead with the fresh transfer as planned. We were planning on having two transferred but our decision was to freeze two and put the best looking of the three embryos in. we also decided that we would pay to have the embryo glue, anything is worth a go. I had also been having weekly acupuncture and scheduled a pre and post transfer session.

The dreaded two week wait had now arrived, alongside the un-pleasant side effects of the steroids, but they were doing their job and any side effect was worth it in my eyes.

Test day arrived and our little A grade embryo gave us a positive result, lucky cycle number seven! Although we were over the moon at having a positive result, we were both feeling very nervous and numb and acted completely different to our last two positives, knowing my high risk of miscarriage and our previous heartbreak had left us very fearful to think ahead and so we took it one day at a time. I felt robbed of the excitement and joy I should be feeling, and found that really upsetting but understandable.

A few weeks into the pregnancy, I suffered my first bleed and thought here we go again, such a familiar path. We decided to pay for a private scan so that we could get in on that day as I could not face the wait until an appointment was available, and thankfully there was a little heart fluttering away on the monitor. The bleed was not coming from near the baby, but looked like it was from a sore created by the medication I was on and hopefully it would soon stop and all would be ok. The bleed did stop as quickly as it had arrived but returned a week later but much heavier this time. I was booked in for another scan. Such worry and anxiety, how could I cope with the loss of another. But there on the screen was our little miracle and the heart beating away merrily. They could see a bruise and believed that was the root of the bleed, so again hopefully it would stop and not affect the pregnancy. That was my last bleed.

On the third of January, we went for our twelve week scan, there was our beautiful little miracle baby, heart still beating away and all was looking good, I honestly felt as though I had hit the jackpot and the luckiest person on the planet right now, it was time to relax more and I could also stop the steroids now. Although I am aware that I am a high risk pregnancy, we decided to put this and all the worries of it to the back of our minds, stop thinking of what could happen and focus on the positives, one day at a time and announce our wonderful news to family and friends.

I am now twenty one weeks into my pregnancy, and all is looking good and healthy as well as a blossoming figure!

It has been a rollercoaster; physically, the side effects have been tough going, injection times, different medications, weeks on pessaries and almost 3 months on steroids takes its toll on your body. Financially, we have spent thousands of pounds on frozen embryo transfers, a biopsy, and then there are the added extras, intralipid infusions, embryo glue, acupuncture as well as travel costs and then there is the emotional side, such highs and devastating lows. The pain of the miscarriages will always be in my heart. The added strain and worry on our relationship, the what if’s, a complete fury of hormones, stress and worry all mixed in with hope.

It has been a painful process and become the main focus of our lives for the past few years, I’ve not only lost friends but a part of myself too – who was I before my life was taken over with hospital appointments, injection times and medications where we couldn’t make any plans as there was always something going on. Over the next twenty weeks as my little miracle continues to grow, I will spend time reflecting and discovering me again and preparing for the arrival of our little bundle of joy. Happy and exciting times lay ahead for us.

If you were to ask me, if I could go back to the beginning armed with all the knowledge I now have, would I still go ahead with it? and the answer would be yes in a heartbeat, because my hope has always been greater than my fear and I know that with Rob by my side we can weather any storm and face anything.

Never give up, even miracles take a little time

Hannah xx