Saturday, 4 April 2015

Stress and IVF

This IVF was supposed to be the least stressful IVF ever. Before I go any further, let me assure you that so far I have had nothing tangible to stress about with this ... gulp ... pregnancy. Everything seems to be going to plan. 

This IVF was not make or break. It wasn't about whether I would ever be a mother. I have a child, and not just any child. Olive is brilliant - happy, funny, bossy - I'm going to put it out there, she's in definitely in my top ten of tiny people that I like.

Ok - top five. 

This also wasn't my last chance of becoming a mother of two. I had two frozen embryos left; putting one back at a time meant that after this round I still have one more opportunity to try to get pregnant without starting from scratch (or egg collection).

The run up to IVF was so smooth. Too smooth.

What happens after the transfer is crucial. The problem is no one seems to know what you should do to aid implantation. I have read, extensively, on the topic and there seem to be a whole raft ideas based on nothing more than a bit of guesswork or personal experience.

I read a book where the author advised against leaving bed, suggesting a bed is set up downstairs so you don’t disrupt your burrowing embryo if you do have to leave your nest for an emergency. 

It even suggested to try not to poo – all that pushing could dislodge something. (I guess that could explain why the husband has never managed to successfully conceive.) 

My doctor specifically cautioned against being too static. Whilst she warned me against anything too strenuous, she wanted a bit of movement just to ensure that the blood keeps circulating. 

But some things seemed like more of a no brainer. 

Stress for example. 

You’d want to avoid that, right?

My theory is that, back in our hunter gatherer days if the tribe was under extreme stress – being worried by a mammoth, or running from a creeping ice cap - the last thing you’d want is to get pregnant. It’d hold everyone back. So surely stress has to inhibit implantation, right?

Wrong apparently. 

This study shows that stress doesn’t impact on IVF working.

I am also able to endorse this.

Whilst the run up to my IVF went like a  dream, everything seemed to go tits up once the transfer was done. 

The transfer was on a Wednesday. 

On Thursday I had the day off work and Olive was in nursery. 

This was the first day I have had home alone since she was born. Luxury, but also a little bit boring without my pint-sized commander-in-chief telling me to sit down, or put my coat on, or read her a book, or that she's done a poo.

I got a call at about 10:30 from Olive's nursery saying she'd fallen and bumped her head and had a nose bleed. Nothing to worry about but just letting me know.

When I went to collect her in the afternoon she seemed fine. The nursery handed over their standard "head injury" leaflet. Look out for headaches, blurred vision, vomiting. I shoved it in the pram and went home.

Jump forward to one thirty in the morning and, after a perfectly normal evening, Olive woke up screaming. She'd been sick. 

I cleaned her up. 

She was sick again.

The husband joined us as we pondered whether this was a bug or head-injury related chunder. 

We decided to seek help from the experts so phoned NHS direct to ask what we should do. We should have known they'd tell us to take her to Accident and Emergency. The slightest whiff of a head injury and they are all about the Emergency Room.

We got a taxi to the hospital. She barfed in the cab, of course.

Then from 2am until 5am, after a brief inspection from a nurse who was demonstrably unconcerned, we waited with a pukey-smelling, wide-awake baby whilst the husband and I took turns trying to coral her into one area of the waiting room.

Eventually she was seen, given a clear bill of health and we got home to bed at 6am. Not the most restful post-IVF night.

The next day (or the same day I guess as this all happened in the early hours of the morning) was Friday the 13th. 

This is where I have to pause.

I blog about some of the most personal and intimate experiences that happen to me. As a blogger I think you make a pact with the reader to tell the whole truth, unflinchingly. But sometimes things happened that affect me but aren’t about me. When I write about other people on here I generally get their permission and often give them an opportunity to read what I’ve written before I hit publish. (Yes, the husband signed off on the poo gag above).

The next thing that happened on that Friday wasn’t directly about me. It was about one of my nearest and dearest and it was horrendous and horrible news. Three weeks later and I’ve got tears in my eyes writing this.

I’m sorry I can’t tell you more, I haven't asked the person involved if I can write about it. They've got enough on their plate. So there are no more details, this isn't mine to tell, but rest assured that Friday – and the days that followed – were a mess. I didn’t sleep again on Friday night.

On the plus side it put the outcome of IVF for a second child suddenly seem a lot less important.

These were key implantation days. I knew they were implantation days because over the weekend I felt sharp twinges in my urterus and I didn’t know if this was a good or bad sign.

Subsequently I know they were good, I got pregnant didn’t I?

So there you have it. I don’t know what works or what doesn’t when in comes to implantation but don’t stress about it – or rather do – it doesn’t matter. That won’t affect the outcome.

And as for the straining when pooing thing? I’m taking buckets of progesterone, which has a side effect of constipating one. That doesn’t seem to matter too much either. 

Now I wait for my first scan next week, to see if things are continuing to progress.  


  1. best wishes for your nearest and dearest, hoping much it will resolve / improve / pass / get less horrendous.
    hugs and cups of tea,

  2. Sorry to hear that your loved one has had horrible news. I hope things improve.

    Glad Olive's head bump was nothing major.

  3. Of course Olive was sat smiling at A&E. It's the true nature of things, and of course to make us feel like a bit of a burk / over concerned parent*
    Hoorah for twinges but I hope events making your nearest and dearest ease soon.

    * delete as appropriate.

  4. Of course Olive was sat smiling at A&E. It's the true nature of things, and of course to make us feel like a bit of a burk / over concerned parent*
    Hoorah for twinges but I hope events making your nearest and dearest ease soon.

    * delete as appropriate.

  5. Firstly, I hope that the not-so-greatness for your friend is working itself out. Secondly, I absolutely adore your sense of humor and you brought me back to the craziness that was our post-transfer ball of stress. Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing. Congratulations on your little second!

  6. Thank you so much for writing this post! After 5 years of infertility, four failed IUI's, three failed IVF and one failed FET, I was truly fed up of people telling me how important it was not to stress. There were many times where I was sitting happily post transfer, feeling very relaxed UNTIL the moment I congratulated myself on not stressing and the old stomach knotting began again, convincing me that the failure of another cycle was all my fault. I now have one year old twins as a consequence of my fourth IVF (the first with immune treatment) and my stress levels were no different with the successful cycle than with my previous ones. So just in case anyone is out there getting stressed over the need to say stress free, please put it out of your mind!

    I've been following your blog for several years and I've loved reading how happy you are now that you have Olive. I'm so pleased your recent cycle worked!

    I hope things get better for your friend soon


  7. I moved 3K miles for my first after 7 losses. I came off an almost lose your life ectopic to have number 11, which involved travel and trying to find a house. Said stress has merit in my mind. Loads of congratulations for everything, lady. It's been ages since I commented, but am thrilled at where things are. Other than the barfing bit. That's tough to go through.


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