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Miscarriage after ICSI

A husband describes the diagnosis of fertility problems, undergoing fertility treatment and then having a miscarriage.

Everything is a trigger – a song on the radio, a news story, families in the park, people pushing prams and honestly I don’t see it getting better.

My wife and I had been married for about a year when we decided that we wanted to start a family. We had been trying for another year and nothing had happened so we decided to look for medical assistance to see if anything was wrong. The GP was very efficient and understanding and arranged for a simple check on myself as this is far simpler and less intrusive than any test on my wife. Unfortunately it was found to be that although I had a good number of little fellas, they were a little bit too chilled. It was a relief in some respect to find a problem that could be dealt with so the GP referred us to a specialist to see what options are available to us.

We talked through our situation and had more tests and it was decided that we should go through ICSI (IVF but slightly different). This wasn’t the news we were hoping for but if this was what we needed to do, then so be it. My wife had already thought this would be the result and had got her head into the right place. I had also to some extent thought this would be the outcome but hoped for something different.

I had done a little research on IVF as we had no idea there was a difference between IVF and ICSI and so I knew it wasn’t going to be a very pleasant experience for my wife. ICSI involves daily injections, tablets, 2 or 3 injections per day at some points, so this instantly gave me a feeling of guilt – it was my fault we couldn’t have children naturally and yet my wife was the one who would have to suffer the physical pain. I understand its nature and my wife was continually reassuring me it wasn’t my fault and she was happy to go through the procedure, but it doesn’t do anything to ease the feelings.

Once we had started the procedure, everything was going fine for the first few days. We were taking 2 injections per day, one to control my wife’s hormones, the other to stimulate the production of eggs. I’m sure I don’t need to go into the details of ICSI but basically my wife over-stimulated. We were told we should be getting about 10-15 eggs total, but she had over 30. My wife was hospitalised with the pain, several emergency calls to the fertility department – basically a nightmare couple of weeks for which my wife was in pain for the majority.

Once we got to the day of the egg collection, everything seemed to go according to plan but even though we had 30+ eggs, they could only collect 13. We should have been out of hospital and on our way home at lunchtime but once again we had complications and had to stay well into the evening. A 5 to 6 hour day in hospital turned into a 14 hour day in hospital.

The story gets even worse after this point but there is way too much to go into. To cut a long story short, we had 2 eggs survive and frozen so 3 months later we had them put back. We then went through the dreaded 2 week wait, the waiting period between egg put back in and earliest pregnancy test you can take. After everything we had gone through this was probably the worst, longest and draining 2 week of my life. When we finally took the test, it was 6 months of pain just disappearing when we saw the positive result.

Unfortunately about 3 weeks later, my wife had a bleed, nothing too bad and we were told that it might happen and not to worry, we should only worry if there is abdominal pain or swelling. Two days later my wife had pain and swelling and still bleeding, heavier and with clots. We called the fertility team who brought our 7 week scan a week early to see what was going on. Unfortunately we couldn’t wait that long. My wife was in so much pain and discomfort that we took her to A&E. We insisted that they find her a bed as they couldn’t scan her that day, typical busy A&E, everything took hours to organise.

Eventually she got a bed and we had a scan booked in for the next morning. Turned out we didn’t have a scan booked which was a fear of mine considering everything else has gone wrong and why I insisted she stayed on the ward – they couldn’t fob us off then. Once we did get a scan and I could see on the screen the two egg sacs, my heart skipped a beat, first because our little fellas were still holding on and second, my wife was ok, nothing was wrong inside. The person doing the scan didn’t seem to explain things to us very well, we came out of the room more confused than when we went in but our consultant would explain more. He eventually explained that it was very early and you might not expect to hear a heartbeat, but they are still in there, one is sat a little low down but all we can do is come back for another scan in a week.

I think my wife had already started to change her outlook on the situation to believe that the process hadn’t worked earlier on. A woman knows her own body and has an understanding when something isn’t right, but I couldn’t bring myself to think like that. It was only a couple of days later when my wife passed something a little different, she couldn’t see anything but she knew what it was. I kept saying we need to wait till the next scan.

A couple of days later my wife passed something again, this time we did see it. We both spent that evening looking on the Internet for people’s stories of miscarriage, pictures of miscarriage to see if what we saw was out there. Every story we read matched our own but no image looked like ours so I still couldn’t give up hope. I spent hours looking on the Internet, I knew I shouldn’t but I couldn’t put my phone down, I was in a bit of a panic and denial. My wife seemed to understand everything that was going on a lot better than me but I couldn’t accept the news until the medical staff showed me.

There was no point in going back to the hospital any sooner than our existing appointment, it was only in a couple of days. When we got to the hospital they told us the inevitable, they could no longer see any egg sacs. I was looking at the screen and I knew before she said anything, we had lost our babies. This was exactly what we were expecting but I didn’t want to believe it. What was strange however was that we were told to go another part of the hospital to see someone. We ended up in the blood test department and sat around waiting for 20 minutes to see a nurse who was very sorry for us but just wanted some details. I thought this was very callous and inappropriate.

It’s now been 3 weeks since that day and I’m not doing very well, I’m struggling to come to terms with it all. My wife seems to be doing better than myself, she seemed to already know it was bad news early on and so had time to prepare herself for the news. She also sees the whole procedure in a different way to me, she sees it that the ICSI procedure was done but it didn’t take.

I wish I could see it in the same way and maybe I would have done if we hadn’t had the first scan and I saw the egg sacs and they told us they had grown. From that moment on, they weren’t just implanted eggs, they were our babies, growing, trying to become more. When they told us that they could no longer see any egg sacs, to me that meant we had lost our children, we had two eggs put back and lost both of them.

I’ve got such a mad mixture of emotions – grief, guilt, anger, fear but also relief. I’m grieving for the loss of my two children, I’m angry at the way my wife and I were treated throughout the whole process, I’m fearful for what may happen again but I’m relieved that my wife isn’t in pain anymore or that we don’t have to go through that waiting period.

Unfortunately my job involves frequent long drives throughout the day without anyone to talk to. All I have is my thoughts and the radio. I have a great deal of time to think about what happened, get angry, get upset. Everything is a trigger – a song on the radio, a news story, families in the park, people pushing prams and honestly I don’t see it getting better. I know all I need is time, I’m not the kind of person that likes to talk too deeply with anyone except my wife.

I find it a little difficult sometimes to even talk to my wife because of the guilt. No matter how logical or how many times she says it’s not my fault, I’m always going have some guilt. Guilt over the fact it was my problem that meant we had to go through IVF. Guilt over having to inject my wife so many times a day – she couldn’t do it herself so I would do it for her and it broke my heart every time as I could see how much pain she was in. I feel guilt over the miscarriage itself, could I have done more to protect my wife, did we avoid all the things they told us to etc.

It may take a little time but we will get over this together, I love my wife so much, she has been my rock, there aren’t enough words to describe how special she is.