Part Two. SO it begins.

Written 18 April 2019.

I’ve shared before about my struggle with infertility and even before Flo and I were married, we thought we’d try and if we managed to conceive before we tied the knot, we would be happy. We went for all the tests, and then we got married. Still, we weren’t able to conceive because I couldn’t ovulate. I had no cycle.

On 11 Jan 2019, we embarked on our first SO-IUI cycle under KKH. We were both very hopeful as I started with daily injections of Menopur to help my follicles grow. I hardly had any side effects with the hormones and on day 7 of my cycle, I went in for my first scan to check how my follies were growing.

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They were growing slowly with the largest at about 5mm, and my lining as well was very thin at 3.5mm. So Menopur dosage was doubled.

I started getting really antsy, reading up about how to help my follies grow, and how to increase my uterine lining. I drank raspberry leaf tea, ate one brazil nut a day, tried consuming pineapple core, stopped all soft drinks and prayed that my next scan would go better.

19 Jan 2019, I had my next scan and the follies didn’t grow by much. The biggest was about 6.5mm and I had a few smaller ones. Lining had increased to 4mm.

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3 days later, on the 22nd, I was back in for a scan. My follies had started to grow, with the biggest at 10.5, and my lining at 5.9mm. I had lots of follicles at this point, almost as though my ovaries had woken up after all the years of being asleep.

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By the 23rd of Jan – Day 14 of my cycle, I could literally feel my follicles growing. My pelvic area on both sides felt tender and I started feeling bloated around my abdomen. Next day, I went for my next scan and all my follicles were growing at around the same rate. I had 6 on both sides with a range of 7 to 11.5, with small follicles that weren’t being counted. My lining had grown to 7.9mm, just 0.1mm short of the 8mm required.

Doctor said that my follies were beginning their growth spurt so my Menopur dose was reduced back down to the same as before.

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Next day, on the 25th – CD16, a good two weeks after starting my SO-IUI cycle, I was back in yet again for another ultrascan. My follies were in the range of 8-14mm, and then the lady doing the scan for me suddenly went back to my right ovary and said there looked to be a big one that was hidden initially. It measured 18.5mm (follicle has to be 17mm and above to be given the go ahead) and my lining was 9.5mm triple. OMG I cannot tell you how my heart started racing realising that I had a good sized follicle and a good lining!

Dr V, who is my consultant doctor, made sure to double check my follicle as well as ensure that I didn’t have too many other medium follicles that might release a mature egg as well lest I end up with multiples. When she was satisfied, I was triggered for ovulation and told to go in the next day for the IUI procedure. Ovidrel gave me terrible nausea in the afternoon but I soon managed to get past it.

Flo and I were at KKH before 8am next morning for him to submit his sperm, and we went for some breakfast before whiling time away until my scheduled procedure at 10am. The whole thing lasted no more than 5min, with them confirming my identity, and making sure the little vial of washed sperm were Florian’s, before putting them as close to my tubes as possible. I rested about 10min before I was free to go.

You’d think that the two weeks of daily injections was the hard part but to be honest, the injections were a breeze and on hindsight, the fear that the follies wouldn’t grow enough, or my lining wasn’t going to be thick enough, or that I’d have too many follies, were nothing to be worried about. The really difficult part was the two weeks’ wait after the IUI was done. 

27 Jan 2019, I was woken up in the middle of the night with bad cramps. I assume this was due to ovulation. I also found myself struggling to stand and being extremely bloated. I didn’t know this then but I was suffering from OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome). It took a few days for me to be able to walk upright again and not feel the abdominal discomfort.

The HCG from the Ovidrel made sure I experienced symptoms of pregnancy – sore nipples, tender breasts, tiredness, mood swings, all through the 14 days it took to leave my body. Every day, I couldn’t help but read up about pregnancy symptoms, and think about the what ifs. I was filled with so much anxiety and nerves, paying attention to every twinge, checking to see if perhaps I had some implantation bleeding.

On 8th Feb, 13 days past IUI, we celebrated Flo’s birthday and imagined it possibly being his last childless. Thoughout the two weeks, I imagined my little egg being fertilised, implanted, getting comfy in my uterus. And yet, I also knew that if it had been fertilised, if it had moved to my uterus and embedded itself into my lining, it would all have been done already. Nothing was within my control.

10 Feb 2019, 15 days past IUI, I started getting excited. It was a Sunday morning and we were due to meet our friends for a post CNY lunch. I was thinking of booking my GrabHitch later that evening for my Beta HCG test on Wednesday (18 dpiui) at the hospital but before that, Flo and I decided to spend some time together in bed before I went to wash up. I peed, discharge came out, and with it, fresh blood. Immediately, my face pricked and my heart dropped right into my stomach. Then I bawled my eyes out.

We hoped it was implantation blood since it looked like there was nothing else after that first wipe. We freshened up, met with our friends while my mood stayed low. I couldn’t think of much else aside from getting the home pregnancy test to verify pregnancy, or the absence of it, just as the hospital had said to. Right after lunch, we raced home and I tested.

Big. Fat. Negative. 

I spent pretty much the rest of the afternoon flooding Flo’s shirt with tears while his mixed with mine. We did end up going to Fel’s place in the late afternoon since that was the initial plan and the rest were already there. Of course, I couldn’t bear to share any of this with them at the time. I was subdued and could only wonder why – why didn’t it happen? What went wrong? Was it something I did? Is something wrong with my uterus? If my follicle was of a good size, and my lining a good thickness, and Flo’s sperm were checked and are of great quality, why didn’t it work? 

We could only console ourselves with the thought that perhaps fertilisation took place but the zygote was weak so better now than have it for a couple months and lose it. Or perhaps my egg wasn’t of good quality. The thing is, we’ll never know what happened but it wasn’t to be.

Dr. V asked if I wanted to carry on straight to Cycle 2 and as much as I wanted to, being the impatient person that I am, I couldn’t because Mum and I already had our Hong Kong trip planned for her birthday. I entertained thoughts of trying to cancel it, and getting Dad to go in my place, but in the end, I knew I couldn’t and that it would be better to take the month off to strengthen my body for the next cycle in March.

So I did. On 16th Feb, the day after my menses arrived, I went to visit the TCM Clinic behind our place, and I started going for yoga classes 3-5 times a week. On 9 March 2019, cycle 2 commenced…

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