Two weeks doesn't seem like that long to wait, until you have a lot invested.
As it turned out, I could handle one week with ease. I didn't even really think much about whether or not I could be pregnant. But as soon as I hit 8 days of waiting I started to seriously wonder. It doesn't help that there are early pregnancy that state they can pick up pregnancy hormones from as early as 7-10 days after conception. IVF means you know exactly when your egg was fertilised, so 8 days seems like a good time to start home pregnancy testing.
First home pregnancy test - negative.
At about this time I also had my first cut loose day from my pre-pregnancy weight loss diet. We had a friend that was celebrating their 40th birthday and there were many delicious treats to be had. Later that night I had weird pain in my chest. I was trying to get to sleep and this ache was throbbing away. I didn't want to take any pain killers, just in case I was pregnant. I checked out the time, thinking if I needed to go hospital I would need to know how long the pain lasted. Next thing I wake up in the morning pain free and I didn't really think much about the episode.
Queensland Fertility Group must know that about about a week after transfer all their patients start going a bit crazy, so they schedule a call to see how patients are going. When the nurse rang she asked about the ovarian hyper-stimulation symptoms I'd experienced. I mentioned the chest pain, which the nurse puts down to possibly having fluid in my lungs as a result of the hyper-stimulation.
I make it through the second week wait, with only taking three home pregnancy tests - all negative. I convinced myself that I would prefer to have an idea of the outcome of the blood test so that my hopes aren't too high.
When I head in for my blood test, I'm confident that I'm not pregnant. I'm told it should only take an hour for the result to be through to my specialist. I wait an hour and a half and ring to find out the result - they aren't there. I'm told there has been a problem in the lab and to ring back in an hour. An hour later I sneak off from my desk and ring again - still a hold up in the lab. My anxiety is rising - I tell myself, you are not pregnant, why is this stressing you out. As instructed I ring back in another hour and still there is a hold up in lab. When they ask me to ring back in hour I say no - I can't - I've rung three times and have meetings and work to do.
I ring the Queensland Fertility Group (QFG) head office to find out what the hold up is - they have no idea. I fire off a nasty email to QFG about the general lack of service, given that I just shelled out $7,000 and am emotionally invested up to the eyeballs.
Hours later when I have time I ring my specialist's office again - finally the result are in - I'm not pregnant. They tell me I should have a chat with my specialist in the coming days to discuss what I want to do next.
The next day, which happens to be a Saturday, my specialist calls me. He is so nice. I don't know how he does it. He seems so genuinely sorry it hasn't worked out and also apologises for the stuffing around the day before. He reminds me it didn't all go bad and that I'm in the enviable position of having 10 high quality frozen embryos. We discuss when I might want to try again. He tells me there is no physical reason I shouldn't try again in my next cycle, depending on how I am coping emotionally. He refers me to his website patient login area to read the information on the different approaches to frozen embryo transfers and asks me to call him on his after hours number the next night.
Matt and I discuss what we want to do and decide we are prepared to go again straight away. The next night I have dinner just before I'm supposed to call the specialist and as soon as I put down my cutlery I start to get the chest pain like I had experienced a week earlier. I ring my specialist to let him know we are keen to go again and ask him about the chest pain given that it started through the IVF cycle. He tells me it sounds like my gallbladder and that I should get it checked out before we proceed.
Once I hang up the phone the pain becomes even more intense. It feels like my chest is going to crack open. After about 20 minutes of me writhing around the house and crying, Matt decides it is time to take me the hospital. Just as we pull into emergency the pain ceases. I feel completely drained and am broken out in sweat. We decide I should go in anyway.
Presenting to emergency at 8am on a Sunday night is not ideal - unless one is actually dying. It is busy. We aren't urgent now the pain has ceased it looks like I shouldn't even be there. We wait. Nearly four hours later a doctor can see me. She gets me on the bed and feels around my abdomen. We discuss all the IVF dates the type of pain and other symptoms like sweating and nausea. She orders blood tests and xrays and asks me to head back out into the waiting area. An hour later I'm called back in and am seen quickly by the head doctor and sent off with a diagnosis of reflux and with instructions to take some mylanta next time I experience the pain.
Turns out I wouldn't have to wait long to experience the pain again. The following week our entire team was going away for a two day conference at Caloundra. As soon as I finished lunch on day 1 I felt the beginning of the symptoms with which I was now becoming familiar. I didn't have any mylanta on me, so I asked one of my colleagues to drive me to a chemist. By the time we got to the chemist I was in the full swing of the pain. My chest felt like it was going to split in half and while I felt like a could vomit I knew I wouldn't. The double strength mylanta does nothing. We go over to the doctor's surgery that is in the centre, they say we should go to the hospital. My colleague gets some quick instructions and a map and we are on our way.
In the car the pain eases and then increases again. I ring Matt to tell him it is happening again. It seems worse than ever. When we get to the hospital I'm a mess of sweat, but my pain has eased a little. The triage nurse asks me to rate my pain, I only grade it a 6. She takes some quick vitals. All of a sudden the pain is getting more intense. I bump up my pain number to 8 and a half. By now I'm groaning and I can't stand or sit still. I can't get comfortable. I hold my chest and rock. The triage nurse brings me some tablets and tells me to calm down - I think that is because of the groaning. My poor work colleague is back on the phone to my husband and filling in the admission forms, digging in my purse for my medicare cards.
Soon enough I'm the emergency ward and being asked to drink a 'pink lady' - a disgusting, thick pink drink. The nurse is sure I have reflux - I'm thinking you've got to be kidding this cannot be reflux.
I'm in a bed, the needles are going in, blood going out, and at last the good drugs are being administered. It took two IV shots of something to finally bring the pain down to the point that I could start talking normally. A doctor comes to see me and ask lots of questions about the pain - in particular is it squeezing type pain. I'm not sure. It is really hard to describe my own pain. The doctor sends me for an ultrasound of my abdomen. The sonographer tells me my gallbladder has stones, but so do a huge percentage of the population, and that it looks fine to her.
Back in the ward the doctor comes to see me again, he seems to think it is reflux, and then he is away again. My pain is now completely gone and I'm told I will be discharged soon. Matt is on his way up to Caloundra, he was planning to either pick me up, or stay at the hotel I was supposed to be in for work if I had to stay longer in hospital.
Just as Matt gets there the doctor comes over and tells me he thinks it is my gallbladder and that he wants me to make an appointment with my GP to referred to a surgeon. I'm discharged with my letter to my GP and prescription for a hard core pain killers. The emergency doctor advises me to take the pain killers with me always and if I really want to prevent further episodes to cut fats from diet.
It turns out that heightened oestrogen levels created through the IVF cycle, plus my weight loss, conspired to cause my gallbladder malfunction. My surgeon tells me gallbladders often play up during pregnancy and given that is what I'm trying to achieve that I should just get it out as quickly as possible, so we can get on with the IVF.
Once the problem is diagnosed it didn't take long to get it tended to. Instead of doing my second round of IVF, within a couple of weeks I was scheduled for surgery, my second laparoscopy for 2011.
On 19 July I said farewell to my gallbladder and within a couple of weeks I was talking to my fertility specialist to discuss when I could do my first frozen embryo transfer.