2013-03-15

I’m feeling OK today two days after the egg retrieval. Tired, and stiff. But OK. I worked yesterday and went to the pub (no alcohol!) so all is pretty much back to normal, and I only took one paracetamol yesterday I didn’t need to top up with another one.

Today I had to start taking a new form of hormone – progesterone. I have to take this for a couple of weeks because the IVF treatment has screwed with my natural hormones, and a regular dose of this ensures my womb is a welcoming place for an embryo to settle. Happily this progesterone is not delivered by injection so that is a nice change after a month of daily (and twice daily) injections. Instead I have to administer it… er… vaginally. All the drugs are in the thin tube (see photo), and the blob at the end is a pocket of air. I have to twist the end off, stick it up, squeeze the pocket of air, and this poofs the drug up into me.

As I’ll be having ‘the chosen one’ transferred back into me tomorrow or Monday, I thought I’d tell you a bit about multiple births.

Many people are aware that IVF is more likely to result in multiple births than a natural conception. The main reason for that is that the more embryos that the doctors transfer into a woman, the more likely it is that at least one will stick. Back in the day when IVF was a new thing to do, they used to put quite a few embryos in and they wouldn’t all grow into babies. These days things are different and the IVF process has been refined with higher success rates. Now, when doctors put a couple of embryos in this quite often results in a couple of babies – non-identical twins with one growing from each embryo. The rate of non-identical twins through IVF is thus much much higher than it is in the general population.

The thing about multiple births is that the NHS is keen to avoid them. Multiple births are more dangerous for mother and babies and more likely to result in a premature birth. I know because the IVF clinic gave us a leaflet about this. Basically the NHS is saying that multiple births are a drain on resources that they prefer to avoid. So these days the NHS has targets in place to reduce the number of multiple births through IVF. In practice, this means that if you have NHS-funded IVF treatment they will only put one embryo in to minimise the likelihood of non-identical twins or triplets being the outcome. If you pay, you can put two in. But we’re not paying.

Rules is rules. I do get this, I think it is reasonable strategically, but as a woman going through the IVF process I’m keen to do everything I can to have a baby and I don’t want to have to do IVF loads of times to achieve this, so I’d have preferred to up my chances the first time by putting two embryos in. Funnily enough I always saw myself with twins and last year when we thought we would be paying for IVF I was going to have them put two embryos in. Now it will be one as we are NHS funded.

Interestingly, the rate of identical twins is higher than the norm in IVF pregnancies. And they don’t know why! They think there is something about the drugs taken during the process that makes the embryo more likely to split into identical twins. So you never know it may end up being twins after all…

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