Hi, my name is Ellie and at the start of April I am due to have a miracle baby.
I met my fiancé, Danny when I was 19, and from the very start of our relationship, I knew that a future with him meant having children via medical treatment.
Danny has Cystic Fibrosis you see, and it was never a question as to whether I would be willing to go through the process, but more of a fear of the unknown – what were the drugs I’d have to take and how would they affect my body? And at what point could I think about accessing the options available to us? Very early on we were fortunate enough to know that ICSI was the best option for conceiving, but we waited until my 23 rd Birthday before the process could begin.
My treatment diary
The waiting and wondering is over, and here I am, stood in our kitchen with a bag of hormone injections. It is such a strange mix of emotions. Excitement at being able to actually start the process, and worry, oh so much worry! What on earth are these hormones doing to me? Will it even work? “Breathe, keep calm.” I say to myself. We can do it.
So, I start taking the injections when my next period begins. They have to be done at specific times, and often whilst at work as a Ballet teacher, which is tricky. I also have to keep going back for internal scans to check the lining of my womb and my ovaries. Each time I feel like I’m being graded for an exam I have no control over, and all the while, I tell no one.
As the days go on I become bruised and sore. I have to keep reminding myself – breathe. Keep calm. We can do it.
Scary times for Danny
In the meantime, Danny is booked in for his sperm retrieval operation. Sounds relatively simple right? In our minds, Danny would be put under anaesthetic, then the surgeon would, well, nip in there and grab a bit of sperm, zip him back up and he’d be on his way! Except that it wasn’t very simple at all for someone with CF, and after being told the operation could be life-threatening, the added stress was very intense. Not to mention that they might not even find what they were looking for! Breathe. Keep calm. We can do it.
Thankfully, after a very long, uber tense surgery time, Danny’s procedure is safely done and dusted. We came away with seven vials of sperm (not sure what this really means!) Brilliant!
The twisty-turny emotional rollercoaster
The day is finally here, after lots of scans and monotonous injections, I receive the call to take the final, perfectly timed injection…the pressure is on! We do it. We wait.
The next stop – Egg collection.
I feel so bloated and sore and it’s my first time under anaesthetic. I’m bleeding and I’ve got several nurses and doctors surrounding me. They are so wonderful and friendly, but I feel so vulnerable. The magnitude of what’s at stake in this unknown journey intimidates me.
Then suddenly I wake. It is once again exam results day. Did my eggs make the grade? Apparently some of them look good, phew! Which means they get through to the next round – fertilisation!
It’s now in the hands of the amazing people literally working magic in the lab. We can only wait. Rest. Try not to think about it all? (impossible!) but all the while waiting for the call to tell us how many actually worked and if they survived the night.
Anxious waiting fuels next four days as we hover on tenterhooks by the phone to hear the progress of our embryos.
We are so lucky to have four little embryos that survived. It’s now down to the specialist doctors to choose the strongest to be transferred back to my womb. The others are frozen.
There are so many question. What happens to our frozen embryos? And if they aren’t ‘the strongest one’, will they even be ok for the future?
Nevertheless, here I am. After such an incredible, scary, nerve-wracking journey, watching on a screen as they delicately place the embryo inside me. I’m awestruck! Science is incredible!
Lay horizontal for the next 3 weeks? No, I’m told to carry on as normal! But how, just how can you continue as normal knowing there’s this teeny tiny little wonderment of life, desperately trying to cling on and begin developing?
More ‘What ifs?’ Time off work. People thinking I’m unwell. Waiting, Waiting, Waiting… Breathe. Keep calm. We can do this.
3 weeks later
TWO. PINK. LINES!!! Back to the CRM (Centre for Reproductive Medicine). Standard wee in a cup situation. Then the nurse goes out of the room. There’s that anxious waiting again…until
OVERJOYED! The most amazing news! Return in three weeks for internal ultrasound they say. We’re getting more accustomed to the waiting game now but nerves still hang in the air like a thick fog.
There it is, clearly fluttering away on the screen, a little miracle heartbeat! Oh the relief, and the excitement! Everything seems ok so we are Discharged from the CRM.
What happens now?
It’s strange calling the doctor’s surgery to make my ‘booking in’ appointment with the Midwife. It’s just normal procedure and the receptionist takes this call regularly – I can tell from her tone. I want to shout “I’ve waiting for years for this miracle!” but it’s ok. I can do it. The hardest part is surely over?
Five weeks until D-Day
This feels like the longest pregnancy in history but we’re on the home stretch. We also feel like the luckiest people alive to be in this position after our first ICSI attempt.
We decided to find out the sex and we’re having a baby boy! We watch in absolute amazement as he wriggles in my tummy.
Everything is ready – the cot, the pram, the sling, the nappies, the clothes…hundreds of them all lined up and ready to be worn.
Our families and friends have been there holding us up all of the way, but it was still tough in those early days when I felt perpetually sick, tired, drained and emotional, yet was unable to share it with the wider world until we were in the ‘safe zone.’
I’ve had such tremendous support from my colleagues too and I’ve realised just how important it is to have people I can talk to. On the other hand though, it has been upsetting at times when I have not always had the necessary support or consideration because I didn’t “appear” pregnant (I am quite small and my bump took a while to pop-out!)
At the moment I am still going through a series of growth scans, which are compulsory with ICSI treatment. We have been warned if our baby’s growth reduces near to the end, then I will have to be induced.
I guess you never know if everything is alright for sure, until you hold your baby in your arms and can see for yourself. For now I will keep calm and safe in the knowledge that my miracle baby boy will be on his way soon.
Photo credit: Lisa Scott Photography
Some facts about ICSI
What does ICSI mean? Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) used to treat sperm-related infertility problems. ICSI is used to enhance the fertilization phase of in vitro fertilization (IVF) by injecting a single sperm into a mature egg.
How does it work?
In the ICSI process, a tiny needle, called a micropipette, is used to inject a single sperm into the center of the egg. With either traditional IVF or ICSI, once fertilization occurs, the fertilized egg (now called an embryo) grows in a laboratory for 1 to 5 days before it is transferred to the woman’s uterus (womb).
Why would I need ICSI?
ICSI helps to overcome fertility problems, such as:
- The male partner produces too few sperm to do artificial insemination (intrauterine insemination [IUI]) or IVF.
- The sperm may not move in a normal fashion.
- The sperm may have trouble attaching to the egg.
- A blockage in the male reproductive tract may keep sperm from getting out.
- Eggs have not fertilized by traditional IVF, regardless of the condition of the sperm.
- In vitro matured eggs are being used.
- Previously frozen eggs are being used.
Will ICSI work?
- ICSI fertilizes 50% to 80% of eggs. But the following problems may occur during or after the ICSI process:
- Some or all of the eggs may be damaged.
- The egg might not grow into an embryo even after it is injected with sperm.
- The embryo may stop growing.
- Once fertilization takes place, a couple’s chance of giving birth to a single baby, twins, or triplets is the same if they
- have IVF with or without ICSI.