1117 days later | An IVF Journey

4:55 pm

When I started this blog, I had the intention of only writing randomly about IVF and ICSI and I was not going to share my journey in detail.  The main reason was that we were unable to share our donor cycle details if a child was born.  It meant, I stopped making my Youtube videos and I deleted my old blog Mint 120.  Sadly, our most recent cycle using donor eggs failed and therefore, I am able to share a little more detail about our journey so far. I created Mrs Yellop to share more about infertility, especially secondary infertility.  I tried to work out how to share our journey and this seemed the easiest way, in a timeline.

Day 1 | Vasectomy Reversal
I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of nature. Paulo Coelho
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/p/paulocoelh620633.html?src=t_life
I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of nature. Paulo Coelho
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/p/paulocoelh620633.html?src=t_life
Day 1 | Vasectomy Reversal

We decided we wanted to have children before we got married and 6 months after our 'I do' we decided it was time to try and get Dean's vasectomy reversed.  We were advised it would be tricky after such a long time (20 years at that point) but we wanted desperately to try to conceive naturally.  So we went ahead and booked surgery and spent the next 6 months trying naturally while we waited for the results, testing furiously at every period due date.  Nothing.

Day 184 | Surgery Result (Sperm Testing & Analysis)

We received a letter from the Surgeon confirming the semen analysis showed no active sperm, only debris, which meant the vasectomy reversal surgery was a failure and we only had one way to have a baby using Dean's sperm.  That was via IVF, TESE and ICSI.  I found this article written by Dr Jeffrey Steinberg helpful in understanding sperm analysis.

Day 195 | Will the NHS help us with IVF?

No.  Dean chose a vasectomy and they consider that reason enough to not allow us to apply.  Therefore, we had no other option than to self-fund and obtaining money to do that took time.  The blow to knowing we had a further delay in starting our family was extremely difficult, but we were not going to give up.

Day 510 | Consultation with IVF Clinic

The day finally came when we met with our Consultant and explored how we could try to have a baby with IVF, TESE and ICSI.  He explained that in order to start IVF we had to ensure that we had sperm from Dean and that a procedure known as Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE) would be performed in the clinic.  Dean would be sedated and a needle would be used to take the sperm directly from the source.  Once we had viable sperm samples they could check and freeze, we could proceed with an IVF Cycle using ICSI to fertilise the eggs.  Separately injecting each egg with a sperm is the only way to fertilise eggs with surgically extracted sperm.

Day 534 | TESE 

Dean was a champion.  He said he was awake but felt a little spaced out as they did the procedure.  He said it was a sharp pain but manageable.  They got 3 samples of sperm and said the quality looked great.  Bingo.

Day 534 | IVF Cycle 1 Starts

Yes, the same day, in the recovery room, they announced that with the sperm we could start a cycle.  They asked when my last period was and prescribed me norethisterone to take daily for 12 days whilst we were on holiday and I had a baseline scan booked for the day after I got back from Crete.

Day 551 | Day 568 | Failed Egg Collection

We knew getting the eggs out would be tricky.  As my baseline scan they couldn't find my right ovary and assumed I did not have one.  So we already knew our chances were halved.  As time went on with stimulation medication Menopur, I became more bloated and uncomfortable and they struggled at each scan to find my ovaries at all.  They did however find the illusive right ovary but then lost the left.  This made scanning and measuring follicles difficult but they saw around 6 on each at various times.  Sadly, on egg collection day both were unable to be found/reached and we had no eggs.  My egg collection was brutal and I had extra sedation given to me as I was waking up through the procedure and was in intense pain as they tried to reach my ovaries. 

Day 652 | Consultation with Surgeon for Investigation Laparoscopy

We chose a private hospital near to us (through the NHS referral system) and were extremely pleased that we could be seen so soon.  The Consultant explained that the surgery would be standard, with 3 incisions, one on each side and one through the belly button.  They would check the ovary position and condition, my uterus for adhesions and do a dye test to check my tubes were clear.

Day 670 | Laparoscopy Surgery

Surgery went well and only minor adhesions were found that were cut between my uterus and bowel.  The dye tests showed both tubes between my ovaries and uterus were clear, one was slightly slower than the other.  Ovaries were in perfect condition and where they should be.  Consultant confirmed he thinks I have moving ovaries but there was no reason not to try another round of IVF and that perhaps it was bad luck on IVF Cycle 1.

Day 734 - 751 | IVF Cycle 2 Starts

We had a clear baseline, the same slow response to medication but a reasonable amount of follicles on each ovary.  At each scan, one ovary would hide and there was always the risk they would not be accessible at egg collection.  I took lactulose to ensure my bowels were almost empty every time I had a scan and the day before egg collection.

Day 753 - 754 | Egg Collection

We got 13 eggs!  The day after we were told 9 were mature and fertilised using ICSI.  7 of those 9 fertilised overnight!  We were beyond happy and pleased with such a high maturity and fertilisation rate.  Things looked so promising.

Day 756 | Day 3 Embryo report

All 7 were growing.  4 were perfect 8 cells embryos and the other 3 were slightly slower at 5 and 3 cells.

Day 758 | Day 5 Embryo Transfer Date

We had 2 blastocysts and 2 that were almost blastocysts to be left until day 6 to see if they were viable for freezing.  We chose to have 2 embryos transferred.

Day 759 | Day 6 Frozen Embryos?

Yes.  The 2 embryos made it and we had 2 beautiful blastocysts frozen.  We never expected to have any to freeze and were delighted.  Things were certainly going in our favour.

Day 762 | First pregnancy test at 4dp5dt

A positive line.  A faint line but still, it was very early and we got a positive line!  we were so excited and started buying more first response tests, hoping to test again and see our line darken as the HCG would rise in my system.  We knew the trigger HCG was out because we had tested it out of my system and got a clear blank test 2 days before.

Day 764 | The line was gone

That day was awful.  We waited for the test window for the 3 long minutes, wondering and speculating how much darker it would be this early on.  We looked and saw nothing, the line had gone and just like that we knew this cycle was over and transfer had failed.  The embryo had implanted and started releasing HCG but sadly, this was a chemical pregnancy that had stopped growing.

Day 771 | Official Test Date

A negative test.  I had been bleeding for 5 days and all meds were requested to be stopped.  My bleed that came was very heavy and uncomfortable.  I cried more than I ever have before.

Day 864 | Frozen Embryo Transfer Cycle

Baseline scan confirmed that my ovaries were hiding again but that did not really matter as we were simply transferring both frozen embryos.  Go ahead, confirmed.

Day 873 | Lining Scan

My lining was not thickening as much as it did on menopur and the dose of 3 tablets of progynova was increased to 4 a day.

Day 875 | 2nd follicle scan

My lining was still not thick enough and they advised to continue the increased dose of progynova and to book another scan in 2 days.

Day 877 | Lining Scan

Finally, my lining was thick enough and we booked our embryo transfer for 3 days later.  All that lay ahead was excitement and possibility.

Day 880 | Embryo Transfer

The transfer went very smoothly and both blastocysts had thawed perfectly.  One was hatching and one was about to, so we felt positive this transfer had an even better chance of success.

Day 883 | First pregnancy test at 3dp6dt

I woke up and something told me to test.  3 days after transfer is so early, although essentially it was the same as 4dp5dt when I tested after my last transfer and we got a positive line then.  I did the test and to my amazement, there was a clear faint line.  my heart almost stopped.

Day 884 | Second test at 4dp6dt

The line was no darker and I was worried this was not going to progress again.  I kept doing tests but no difference.  My heart was starting to break.

Day 885 | Negative test

We were 5dp6dt and the line had gone, I was heart broken and cried so much.  I could not believe our embryos had tried to implant again and it had not worked, again.  We were so upset.

Day 888 | A New Hope

Not wishing to sound all Star Wards about it, but, I did a test as I had not started to bleed yet at 8dp6dt and there was a line.  After 3 days of blank tests another line appeared.  Was this the 2nd embryo?  We booked a blood beta HCG test to be sure as the lines were confusing us something rotten.

Day 889 | Blood Beta Result 9dp6dt

After having blood drawn in the morning for both HCG levels and also progesterone to check I was absorbing the pessaries, we got the results that afternoon and my HCG was 10.6 and I was technically over 6, so I was told I was pregnant and congratulations.

Day 891 Beta Result 2 11dp6dt

Sadly, my result was only 11.2 and that meant the pregnancy was not progressing and this was another chemical pregnancy.  We could not believe it, after so much hard wok to get out sperm, then eggs, we now had a problem with recurrent chemical pregnancies.

Day 893 | Official Test Date

The tests looked like there may be a faint line and we tested for the third time by blood for HCG and was told the amount was 0.2 which meant this cycle was 100% over.

Day 943 | IVF Cycle 3

We decided to try one last time with my own eggs, praying that we would be lucky like last time and get some.  My response had been good and 4 blastocysts at 37 was pretty amazing.  All went well at baseline, ovaries were visible.  Happy days!

Day 960 | Egg Collection 3

At my the scans I was told I had very few follicles, only a couple on each side and they did not know why my body was not responding in the same way it did the previous times.  They reached my ovaries but the follicles collapsed and not one egg was retrieved.  Failure, again.

Day 961 | Broken

This was the day that broke me.  I fell apart and just could not work out how we could be so unlucky.  From 3 cycles we had 2 failed egg retrievals and now they were saying I had diminished ovarian reserve/poor egg quality and there was no point trying again with my eggs.  We had already added ourselves to the egg donor waiting list and while we waited for a suitable donor, my heart bled and I took several weeks off work to mourn the loss of opportunity.

Day 1087 | IVF 4 using an Egg Donor
[due to anonymous regulations we can't be specific with numbers that may identify us to our donor]

Our baseline went great and my lining was super thin.  I started on the higher dose of 4 prognova daily, with aspiring 75mg daily to help prevent another chemical pregnancy.

Day 1098 | Egg Recipient Lining Scan

Everything was perfect and on schedule.  Also, my donor was ready and egg collection was brought forward by 3 days.  Hoorah!  We were told how many follicles she had and the estimated number of eggs.

Day 1100 | Donor Egg Retrieval

Our donor had her egg collection and we were called with the news we had eggs and a higher number than expected.  It was not as many as I had retrieved in my cycle, but still, it was a good number.  I started progesterone pessaries and waited.

Day 1101 | Fertilsation Report

We had 4 fertilise with ICSI and cleave normally overnight.  We were delighted and hoped we would have 2 blastocysts by day 5.

Day 1102 | The lab called and the Embryologist said all 4 were perfect 4 cells embryos with little fragmentation.  It was indicated that we would likely have a 5-day transfer.  This was possibly the best day as I really thought all 4 had a chance!

Day 1103 | Bad news.  2 of the embryos stopped developing overnight and only 2 were growing.  One was a perfect 8 cell but the other was growing a little faster than they would like.  They recommended waiting to see if the 2 continued to grow and make blastocyst stage, but with only 2 left, we agreed to transfer both that day.  We also started injecting Clexane (a blood thinner) to help reduce the risk of a chemical pregnancy from a number of issues such as C4M2.

Day 1115 | 12dp3dt Result

We had tested daily from 5dp3dt just in case but every single test was negative.  We tested early to check if we had another chemical - to see if the Clexane worked - but it seems the embryos either did not make blastocyst stage, or did not implant.   Therefore we do not now if the clexane and aspirin would have worked.

Day 1116 | Moving on

With no frosties (frozen embryos) we have no alternative but to try another donor egg cycle.  However, right now we are unable to afford another cycle and we have decided to take a break from IVF.  We are exploring adoption and fostering and are also reviewing any other possibilities.

For now, we are sad this failed but I know one day I will be writing part 2 of this journey.


  1. Absolutely pulling for you both, Sam. May day 1118 start with growing hope and strength. Xo

  2. Still in your corner and so super proud of you for taking a break instead of giving up. You are an inspiration to us all, and I pray you are being filled with hope and renewed strength. Sending you love!


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