After 4 IVF cycles (2 fresh and 2 frozen) with the NHS in Edinburgh and 5 IVF cycles (4 fresh and 1 frozen) at a clinic in Athens, we decided to have one last try at another Greek clinic which was recommended. We had been on at least 7 trips to Athens and although it’s a great city, it was beginning to feel a little like Groundhog Day. So if nothing else, this new clinic would be a change of scenery and a chance to see more of Greece. I’d recommend doing IVF abroad as there are lots of distractions to take your mind off what’s happening and a little sun always helps. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s a holiday – unless endless injections, catheters with legs in stirrups, daily dildo cameras and sedatives are what you want from a holiday. The sedatives are pretty good though.
We managed to get 4 embryos at the new clinic and had 2 transferred – we imagined we’d be going back out for the other 2 a few months later, just to tick the box, and then we could focus 100% on adoption or surrogacy – or just get more dogs and move on with our lives.
I had zero symptoms unlike other times I was pregnant, so was prepared for bad news. On the day I was due to test I woke up covered in blood – I won’t go into detail but it was pretty dramatic – I just casually took myself to the bathroom and didn’t even waken my husband. I was used to this. But this was too heavy to be a period and too pain free to be a miscarriage. But I assumed it had to be one or the other. I told my husband a while later and we accepted that was that. Then I decided I may as well do a pee test later that afternoon – just to see if anything had stuck at all. I got the familiar two lines – these lines were very strong for so early on. I continued to bleed and presumed it had been a brief pregnancy which didn’t stick.
This was followed by blood tests a few days later – I almost fell over when the nurse told me my HCG was in the thousands and continued to increase dramatically over the following days. Always protecting myself from disappointment, I said to my husband – ah it must be an ectopic as I’m still bleeding and I lost too much blood for it to possibly be a viable pregnancy. He accepted this and was even persuaded by me to go to a family wedding as I convinced him this wasn’t going to go anywhere. Our scan happened to be booked that day but we had been to around 100 scans over the years so it was no big deal. He wasn’t happy about not coming but I told him it was just a formality and I would go with my mum. In the end I went alone and asked my mum to look after our dog in the car.
I was shocked and numb when they discovered at only 5 weeks a heartbeat and sac. The happiness didn’t kick in until quite a few weeks later. The doctor advised me there was just one heartbeat and I suggested she check again as I was concerned that there might be two, with such high HCG numbers. She checked 3 times and said ‘Nope, just the one strong heartbeat.’
I was scared of the idea of twins as knew it was more high risk and wasn’t sure I was built to carry them. And despite wanting this for years, the thought of two at once was terrifying!
The doctor decided to check once more. ‘Wait! Oh my goodness, there’s another heartbeat! You are having twins!’
I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t emotional – I was just in shock. I knew I was incredibly lucky but I knew how much I had to lose and we hadn’t ever gotten past 8 weeks of pregnancy. So I kept my guard up, thanked them, arranged next appointment and left. I phoned my husband who was over the moon (and also in shock) and told my mum who couldn’t quite believe it. Like me, she was very detached and remained like this until around 26 weeks when we started to believe that things could actually work out. Until then, there was no point in worrying. Easier said than done, but I was determined to enjoy each moment – even the morning noon and night sickness ones, when I was puking down the loo.