This is the story of how I came to be a mother of twins: first you can read about the many failed attempts, and finally the success!
The process started in 2005. After having learned that the reason for me not to get pregnant was that I had come to a pre-mature menopause, my husband and I decided to go for egg donation.
Coordinated through the clinic in Tampere, Finland, I was sent to the clinic in St Petersburg, since the waiting time for donors was shorter there. Preparatory visits were done in Finland, and I only went to St. Petersburg for the actual embryo transfer. One blastocyst only was transferred, since I have previously had complicated pregnancies, and the added risks with twin pregnancies were to be avoided.
Still, I got pregnant on the first attempt!
Some six weeks into the pregnancy, however, I started bleeding. I stayed in bed as much as possible, though not continuously. I had an ultrasound check which showed that the embryo had died. No heartbeat and no circulation. And although I stopped all medication, the embryo would not come out. Thus, in the tenth week I had an abortion. This ‘missed abortion’ was the toughest bit in this whole process. One of the real low tides in my life.
Determined to keep on trying, I made another attempt with a frozen blastocyst. This time the transfer was done at the clinic in Tampere. No pregnancy.
Still going for it, I tried my third ET, but no pregnancy. Though starting with a good number of blastocysts, few survived the freezing/unfreezing, and there were no more available for further trials.
I wanted to keep trying, and was directed to the clinic in Riga. Very convenient, with many more flights and no visa requirements, my husband and I could even travel over the day for check-ups and other preparations.
This ET was done in 2006. No pregnancy. Next try with frozen blastocyst. No pregnancy. Third/final try cancelled in last minute, as no blastocyst had survived the unfreezing.
Now we were giving up and managed to start an adoption process. But waiting times for adoption are getting increasingly long, so we decided to go back and make another try with donated eggs. Not that we believed it would result in anything, but for me, it was a way to distract myself while waiting for a child – or children – from China. I also had a creeping feeling that something would happen, and that the adoption process would stall somewhere.
Now, I checked out the homepages of the different clinics, and contacted both St. Petersburg and Riga. In Riga there would be some wait for a suitable donor, but in St. Petersburg, where I got into contact with Dr. Olga, there would be no waiting time.
I went to St. Petersburg for the first check-up and discussion in December 2007. I wasn’t very hopeful, but Olga seemed enthusiastic, and considering that all previous attempts had been with only one embryo, chances could be greatly enhanced if trying with two. This procedure and the alternative with prolonged hatching were discussed, but no real decision was taken.
Due to my menopause, I had to get my menstruation cycle in order, and this was to take some three months (with Femostone pills), and then at the end of February a donor was chosen and the treatment proper could start.
Already in December, I was also put on a low daily dose of Aspirin – for better blood circulation – and a high daily dose of vitamin E (2x400 IU). Also Pentoxiphillin was prescribed but I was not able to access this medication and it was dropped. The treatment proper consisted of Progynon tablet, onw Procren down-regulation injection, and eventually two daily progesterone tubes (Crinone).
When the time of the transfer was near, in March, I got a really bad flu. Bad luck, I thought, and was concerned that I might not even be able to make the trip at all. I spoke to Dr. Olga, and she said that results were usually not good if the patient had an infection, so she offered to have ‘my’ donor donate to the clinic and she would find me another one for ET at a later date. This whole shift was done at no extra charge, except for what I lost on the hotel, visa and air ticket that I did not use. Anyhow, I am very grateful for this, and quite certain that this choice/offer is partly behind the eventually successful result.
Another donor was identified, the discontinued treatment was restarted, and I was now to go to St. Petersburg in May. There were however problems this time too. My health was fine, but the donor treatment somehow failed and the eggs were not possible to retrieve. Again, Dr. Olga sorted out the situation, and yet another donor was found in no time. The matching with my physical characteristics was not perfect, but I am told she is very pretty.
Thus, I went for the transfer, which was done only two days later than originally planned, and a few hours before I had to catch my plane. Two blastocysts transferred.
Two weeks passed and BFP! Very high values on the blood test indicated the possibility of twins.
A few weeks later I could see traces of blood in the secretion from my vagina. It turned increasingly brown, and in consultation with Dr. Olga we decided to start Plan B. That is, progesterone and Dicinon injections. (I gather the Dicinon is to reduce bleeding.) On the same day that this had been decided, actual bleeding started. It was heavy and my hopes went rock bottom. My husband quickly turned into a nurse and gave me I don’t know how many injections during the course of several weeks, and I also doubled the daily intake of Progynon. And, as per order from Olga, strictly in bed.
I stayed in bed for five full days, except sparse visits – crawling – to the bathroom and, when bleeding ceased for some time, a visit to my local clinic for an ultrasound check. Were we surprised? Two little embryos with hearts beating. After all that blood and I don’t know what leaving my body, I am still totally astonished that the two little ones in there had actually survived.
We were now in June, and I spent most of my time in bed, though slowly also getting back on my feet. We continued with injections for several weeks, until bleeding had ceased completely and the Crinone tubes were possible to use again.
I kept going to regular ultrasound checkups and always astonished things were looking so good. Still, I took it very easy and was on sick leave from work during most of the pregnancy.
I continued with Progynon until week 12, and Crinone until week 20 (which is unusually long I hear from the local doctor).
As weeks progressed my hopes were coming up. I was really anxious and hopeful about delivering in 2009, with the expected date of delivery being early February.
On 24 November 2008 my husband and I came down with some gastro-enteric infection or food poisoning. I spent the following day vomiting, and at night I started bleeding. We went to the hospital on the morning of 26 November, and by the time I got in, I was already in labour. I was then in pregnancy week 30.
Since twin ‘no. 1’ has had positioned himself feet down, there was no chance for vaginal delivery. Instead, I had an immediate caesarean cut. In early afternoon, three minutes apart, we had two beautiful baby boys. No 1 weighing 1550 grams, measuring 40 centimetres, and No 2 1585 g, 42 cm.
The boys spent their first days in incubators, but were later placed in a twin bed. After five weeks of growth and medical oversight rather than care, we were ready to go home.
Now the boys are five months old, weighing 6.5 and 5.5 kilos respectively. They are healthy and the whole family is doing very well. I close my eyes, and am still amazed that they are here when I open my eyes again. It’s fantastic. (And of course, very hectic with lots of work and never enough sleep!)
I am of course extremely happy with this result, and I am very grateful for the professional, and flexible, treatment from the clinic and Dr. Olga in particular.
Details that may have made the difference are the Aspirin from an early stage (though not while bleeding), the great amounts of vitamin E, and, most importantly, the ‘plan B’ – what to do in case of bleeding. On previous occasions there has been no such plan, and on the only previous try that I did get pregnant, the fetus died while I was bleeding. Now I had a bunch of injections with me from St. Petersburg. And when finishing these, Olga sent additional injections for us to be able to continue injecting throughout the prolonged crisis. I had lost hope myself, but the doctors around me seemed not to see the heavy bleeding as totally fatal. Apparently, they were right.
Well, this is my story. The happy ending of a fertility rollercoaster ride.
Good luck to everyone on board!