(Trigger warning: worry about a potential miscarriage)

At five weeks pregnant, I start cramping very badly.

I know what cramps in pregnancy feel like, I know the pulling and stretching sensations, I have felt it plenty when I was pregnant with Freya. I have never felt this though. It lasts for a few hours, then fades. The next day it comes back even stronger. Then again the next.

Eventually I ring the hospital. I’m not bleeding, but it hurts so badly that at times I can barely stand up straight. They are worried that it might be an ectopic pregnancy (where the embryo implants somewhere other than the uterus). That can be a serious medical emergency, so I’m told to come in for a scan even though it is so early that they might not see anything at all. Jo goes with me, and we both worry all the way there.

The doctor performs the scan and finds a dark spot on the screen. A baby, or what will perhaps become one. Only one. We are so relieved that we don’t really consider or grieve the fact that it might have been two until later. We just hug in the hallway. It’s okay. We’re okay.

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We transferred two embryos on a Wednesday. That Saturday, Jo, Freya, and I share a brioche and I pull a face and say ‘ugh, I can taste the egg wash on this!’.

The next day I feel unmistakable implantation cramping in one specific spot.  I refuse to walk into a restaurant because ‘it smells wrong’. I’m starving but I feel vaguely sick at the same time, shovelling food into my face and then sort of regretting it while craving even more food. And I am generally going through the day saying ‘Well it’s probably nothing but…’ while strongly suspecting that yes, it is something!  

The moon looms large outside. The weather is stormy for days.

We both know and don’t know, we definitely suspect that at the moment I am pregnant but we’re wary too after what has happened before. This doesn’t necessarily mean anything, we remind each other. We shouldn’t get too excited yet.

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When we transferred the embryo that would become Freya it was joyous and exciting. When we tried last time (and failed) it was anxiety-inducing and difficult. So this time, Jo and I both made a huge effort to remain calm, to let it all seem easy, and to trust in the universe.

Jo even received permission from the clinic to come with me for the transfer! I was incredibly happy to hear it. Jo’s parents were going to come meet us in London and take care of Freya while we were both in the clinic, and then… *deep sigh* You can guess where this is going, right? They tested positive for covid and weren’t able to meet us. Ugh! Only the second time in TWO YEARS that we could see them, a transfer that would mean so much to me to have Jo there… Yeah, not happening.

BUT we decided to not let it devastate us.

Jo, Freya, and I all went out to lovely restaurants, we went to playgrounds, we took it easy and tried to laugh and enjoy.

And yes, when the time came I walked all alone to St. Paul’s and into my clinic once more. I tried to think as positively as possible though. I am so grateful for our little family and there are so many wonderful things and people in my life. One moment of loneliness does not define me or this experience of trying for a child. I kept a mantra in my head, “I cherish what I have, and delight in what could be.”

I had also come very prepared with something to read on my phone to pass the time, Jo had written me a card that I could only read once inside the clinic, I was ready to spend a long time simply being calm and accepting. And then I walked in and…

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It’s a new year and we are gearing up to start all over again!

We have made some changes. Back in 2018 we were so enthusiastic when we first found abc ivf, and we went through an IVF cycle and a transfer that became Freya with them. But now we haven’t been too happy. In the years in between they have become immensely popular, growing from one small clinic to a massive network of them. Their admin side clearly hasn’t caught up, and they seemed overwhelmed, not answering emails for weeks at a time, not relaying important information, making a zoom appointment with us and then not being there…

We did go ahead with the embryo transfer back in November as we felt that it was best to give them a chance, and to their credit it did get all sorted in the end as well, but it didn’t leave us feeling super confident. And when we asked for other options they themselves referred us to Create, their ‘mother’ clinic. So now we have changed clinics!

Overall though it’s a good thing that this is my fourth (!) time on the hormone merry-go-round by now, and that I know when to take what and how to schedule everything myself, as Create obviously do have their problems as well. I don’t know how much of this is Covid, people working from home and not communicating, but information has been slow to get back to us, sometimes getting lost altogether. They don’t seem quite as disorganised as abc ivf, luckily, but it’s close.

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We waited and waited through almost two years of Covid before we could make it back to the UK. But then when we did! The stars aligned and we managed to do a frozen embryo transfer, transferring an embryo we nicknamed ‘Ice Ice Baby’.

After the transfer I was planning to go to see a theatre show, something funny, as I once read research that embryo implantation is aided by the mother laughing – it’s what we did for Freya too. But during dinner I start feeling awful, so I go back to the hotel and rest instead. No matter how many blankets I pile on top off me that evening, I can’t stop shivering.

I feel better the next morning, but the icy hands and feet remain. I am not feeling anything ‘more’ though. No implantation, no bigger breasts all of a sudden. I spend most of the day complaining to Jo that there’s nothing, NOTHING happening, what if it’s a failed cycle, what if we just spent all this time and money and stress, dear god the stress, for nothing???!

Then the next day, on Freya’s birthday, Jo and I go out for Indian food. I allow myself a chai even though it has some caffeine in it and I shouldn’t in case I am pregnant, but I’m convinced it didn’t work anyway, so why not.

And then, that evening in bed, suddenly I feel very clear implantation cramps. I clearly remember the sensation from when I was first pregnant with Freya, and it’s exactly that feeling! I smile and smile, there you are baby! Finally!

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