28 January 2021, by Marian Nathan
After three miscarriages and two unsuccessful IUI cycles, I was devastated.
Only my best friend knew that we were attempting ART (artificial reproductive technology), so on the plus side, it was easier to appear fine and avoid intrusive questions, but in reality, it was killing me on the inside. I longed for motherhood and vowed never to give up. So we decided to try IVF.
The success rates for any assisted conception procedures are not 100%. It is advisable for couples to seek treatment as early as possible.
There are some similarities between an IUI and IVF treatment process. For one, both involved many daily injections to stimulate my ovaries, in an attempt to produce more than one egg during my natural menstrual cycle.
The main difference between the two treatments is that this time, the ripened eggs during that cycle would be extracted prior to my ovulation, and fertilised in a lab with semen from my husband. After which, they will be left to grow for 3 to 5 days to become embryos. Embryos that grow well are marked for transfer* (called a fresh cycle), and if there are more good embryos left, they can be frozen for subsequent cycles (called a frozen cycle).
*Under the MOH guidelines, a maximum of two embryos may be transferred at any one time.
For my case, they managed to retrieve 12 good quality eggs during that IVF cycle, and from there, only nine were fertilised, five managed to grow into embryos but only four were deemed suitable for transfer. Two embryos were frozen while the other two were transferred back into my uterus while I was under general anesthesia. After that, I had to wait for 2 weeks before knowing if the transfer was successful.
It’s always the wait that eats you up. I was hopeful nonetheless, having never tried IVF before and feeling certain it would work out for me. I would daydream about how I would want to decorate the room we had set aside for the baby and think of baby names. I was super excited and even looked forward to the morning sickness and body aches, as long as it meant I was pregnant. Sadly… just like the previous two IUI cycles, I got my period a day or two shy of the actual pregnancy test scheduled.
I was crushed. A negative pregnancy result yet again. I didn’t know what to attempt anymore. Why was I being punished like this? The three ART cycles were still payable whether a pregnancy occurred or not, making me waver in my decision if to still try IVF again. Looking back, I’m glad I did not give up but instead started on my first frozen IVF cycle.
The two frozen embryos thawed successfully and were transferred back into my uterus. This time I did not allow myself to daydream anymore, after having been crushed so many times by my own optimistic hope. I kept myself as busy as I could, and went about with my life as I always did.
The day of the pregnancy test came. I realised this was the only time I was going to go for the pregnancy blood test without getting my menses prior. Fresh hope shot through me and I tried to quell my excitement because I haven’t even gotten the results of the test yet. The nurse called back later that afternoon with the results. It was positive. I was pregnant.
I cried, this time from happiness. My journey to having a baby was far from over though because having lost three previous pregnancies, two of which I delivered in my second trimester, I knew there was still a long road ahead of me before I could finally hold my baby in my arms.
Here are some useful resources for couples trying to conceive:
- MediSave For Assisted Conception Procedures (ACP)
- Co-Funding For Assisted Conception Procedures (ACP)
- Fertility Support Group Singapore