Mother’s Day & Diving in

When I first found out I was pregnant I thought Mother’s Day would be different this year. I would have been 10 weeks along, almost through my first trimester. 
After the loss, everything came crashing down, harder than ever before. I know it seems ridiculous but I couldn’t face babies, I even started selecting where we would go for our weekend brekky based on whether pregnant women or babies were present. Unfortunately it seems as though I’m some kind of magnet for pregnant women as of late…if only I could attract some bloody fertility.

I deleted my Facebook app in anticipation for Mother’s Day and I think I will keep it that way for quite some time…I haven’t missed it and realised it has only made me feel worse about myself not just in relation to motherhood but in every way imaginable because our lives have been on hold for so long. The things we love like travelling and our home renos have been pushed aside because we have no idea how much money we will need to get there in the end.  

On the day before Mother’s Day, Scott suggested we go to the beach for the day. Since “operation avoid all babies” had been in place for a couple of weeks by then I was pretty unenthused about venturing out in public to a hotspot for families. I was also very unenthused about being in my togs after gaining 6kgs on fertility drugs. 

In my head I weighed it up.

I love the coast. It will always be a profound place to me because it was not only where Scott and I were living when we first met, but it was also where I discovered so much about myself. It was the place where I went through a devastating breakup and depression and also the place where I was at my happiest and where I fell in love.

Scott says when he first met me, I exuded confidence and positivity, I was untouchable, nothing could get me down. I relish the thought that I was ever perceived that way because I had battled depression on and off for years prior to then and had always been a shy person. I had consistently felt self conscious and not good enough until I moved there. 

We lived a great carefree life together. Swimming, kayaking, bbqs, camping and parties a plenty, it was wonderful. 

I looked at my life now, I hadn’t gone for a swim at the beach for literally years…2 or 3 I’m not sure. I’ve been to the beach in that time but never had enough confidence to get in a bathing suit. 

I’ve hated my body so much that it prevented me from doing one of my most favourite things. How ridiculous is that? 

So I decided to take Scott up on his offer. And I told him “I have to swim no matter what, no matter how fat I feel, no matter how cold the water is” 

And you know what, I did and it was INCREDIBLE! It was super crowded as expected but we somehow managed to find a perfect secluded swimming spot. Scott tested the water with his foot and concluded, “yep, it’s going to be a run and dive” so in he dove and I followed. I ran and dove into the cold water and it felt so incredibly delicious. In that moment it really felt like something significant had happened. I felt a release of some kind. 


When had I stopped being the girl who seemed invincible? At what point had the negative self talk about my body taken over?  When did I become this rigid half person? When did I stop doing the things I love? When did I stop diving in? 

Which brings me to: Wonky Genes’ post “Ahh f*** it” you can read here 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the sacrifices those suffering with infertility make. The enormous amounts of money down the drain, the lifestyle changes, the way our bodies are constantly being poked and prodded with different tests & different meds, all the appointments and schedules. It’s so easy to get swept up in this and forget who you once were, and to remember that once upon a time our infertility didn’t define us. 

My current goal is to stop drifting through my life and instead start living it. I’ve started by planning a trip for my mum to Sydney with her and my sister to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit. Something we desperately want to see. 

Hopefully a bit of Frida’s spirit might even rub off on me. If you don’t know who she is, you should google her life story or even watch the movie ‘Frida’ she is one of the most remarkable women to ever live.

And although I’m not sure where I’ll be with IVF then, and although money is tight I thought “ahh f*** it”.

It’s time to start living. 

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Grief is OK

The world can be an amazing place but it can also be mighty brutal. It is inevitable that at some point in our lives we will experience grief. Whether it be the loss of a loved one, an act of violence, a breakup, a natural disaster, a freak accident, an illness or disease.

Maybe the grief isn’t the result of one big devastating event, but rather a multitude of little things piling up until it feels suffocating and debilitating and you simply can’t dig yourself out. Maybe you fear that your reasons for feeling grief are inadequate. Maybe you will keep it to yourself because it seems a little silly to ask for help.

The reasons for grief may be vast and complicated but there is no doubt about it, grief will catch up with you one day, you cannot shut it out or run from it forever. When that grief finally catches you it may stop you in your tracks. It may make it hard for you to even breathe. It may make life feel unbearable. It might make you feel broken and alone. Maybe you will feel like you will never ever be, the person you once were.

Eventually though the grief will ease and by the time you have put all the broken pieces of yourself back together, you will find that yes, in fact you were right, it did change you. You may be stronger, or wiser or more empathetic.

So why if we’ve all been there, there are still so many people who know diddly squat when faced with someone who is dealing with grief?

Instead, people march around this world sticking bandaids over people’s gaping wounds. These bandaid warriors say things like “it wasn’t meant to be” “this wasn’t your time”. They start a lot of their sentences with “Oh well, at least…” as they desperately try to pick positives out of the rubble.

I can only assume that they think they are helping the wound heal by sticking these measly bandaids over the grief stricken person. Maybe they walk away thinking that their naive attempts to erase the grief actually worked.

Of course I know that they don’t mean any harm by their actions. The statements they use to patch over the grief are pretty ‘harmless’ after all…or are they?

I just want to tell them all to please stop trying to sweep it under the carpet, because grief is in fact OK. And if they don’t know the right thing to say there are two words that are a pretty safe bet “I’m sorry”. Sometimes no words are needed at all, maybe a good long hug will suffice. But please, please stop with the bloody bandaid statements because all they are doing is tearing that wound a little wider.

I want to say a huge thank you to all the women who commented on my previous post. And for the women who shared their heartbreaking experience with either a natural miscarriage or D&C procedure. It not only took guts to open up and share your experience with me, but it also took a mountain of kindness. I feel completely overwhelmed just thinking about all your compassion that carried me through that awful day. After reading your comments Scott and I decided to proceed with the D&C. And since the procedure I can say with certainty that your guidance helped us to make the right decision.

It all went very smoothly and physically I feel quite alright. Apart from a bit of lower back pain that was quite uncomfortable last night and a small amount of bleeding on the day of the surgery, it almost felt like nothing had happened. As one fellow blogger summarised perfectly “it was such a minor procedure I was almost disappointed that it didn’t match with my emotions”.

For me the hardest part of the process is the fact that my husband and I deal with these things very differently. It is no fault of his that he doesn’t know how to deal with grief. But he made that day harder for me and possibly even for him because grief made him uncomfortable. And it was this discomfort that led him to repetitively say things like “chin up”, “just relax”, “it’s not all bad”.

Yep he busted out the bandaid statements in full force because I guess he panicked and didn’t know what else to do. I was mourning the loss of the one thing we wanted more than anything, whereas he was thinking – Let’s just get ‘it’ out and move on so that we can start again. The more casual the words he used, the more pain I felt.

That morning when I woke, I felt so shockingly numb, like I would never be able to get out of bed again. I finally convinced myself to get up and I went and showered. When I got out of the shower I looked at my naked body in the mirror. I looked at my swollen breasts and the rivers of veins across my chest that I had marvelled at in wonder each day as they grew more and more prominent and all I could think was “Fuck you body”.  Why all the pregnancy symptoms this week, WHY? I hated how cruel this was, that I had finally begun to believe this pregnancy was real just before it was taken away. I cried and cried. I went outside and sat in the sunshine and read through all the comments on the blog. My mind was made up. I needed a D&C. I needed it as soon as possible.

So I rang my specialist’s office. When the receptionist answered I didn’t really know what to say. So I kind of stuttered out a bunch of half sentences. “I’m miscarrying…um I mean…I’m going to miscarry…my baby stopped…I only found out yesterday…I need to book in for…um…the procedure…he said he could do it today…but that was yesterday…so I’m not sure”. The receptionist spoke gently, “Oh honey, that’s awful. I’m so, so sorry” then she let me sob into the phone for what felt like an eternity. She didn’t attempt to wrap up the call she just let me cry. She told me that she would call me back as soon as he had finished his appointment. And she did. A few minutes later the phone rang “He can do it today, don’t eat anything or drink anything, he will call you soon to confirm the time”. Ok so it was happening.

The surgery wasn’t until 3pm. I hadn’t eaten dinner the night before, or breakfast so I felt starving and quite weak and spent most of the day in bed crying on and off until it was time to go to the hospital. Scott drove me up there and the closer we got, the more I cried.

The hospital staff showed so much compassion towards me that it shocked me. The admissions nurse, told me “Let it all out sweetie” as she went to get me more tissues. My specialist came into the waiting room, he sat down beside me and held my hand and spoke softly “Oh darling, I’m so very sorry. We will look after you today, ok.” When I went to meet the anaesthetist I said “Nice to meet you Patrick” to which he responded by giving my hand a gentle squeeze as he said “I really wish we were meeting under better circumstances”. The nurse who took me through to theatre rubbed my back as we walked and told me she was sorry.  I couldn’t have asked for better treatment. In fact it wasn’t until the very end in recovery that Scott and I encountered another bandaid wielder. One of the nurses exclaiming how lucky I was. And then proceeding to fill my head with all kinds of hopeful ridiculous thoughts like “oh you’ll probably go on to conceive naturally now” to which we responded that we will always need to do ICSI due to sperm quality. “Oh but you can improve sperm you know” yes we know because we spent $6000 at a naturopath and Endocrinologist.

She was one of those verbal diarrhoea bandaid folk. “Oh so this is your first pregnancy…You’ve been trying for 3.5 years?! Gee what took you so long to try IVF…So how many are in the freezer then…Oh none well that’s no good at all…So the eggs mustn’t have been any good then…so next time you’ll have to start from scratch…and it costs so much money to do that doesn’t it…amazing you got pregnant though…so lucky…enjoy your rest now…cause once you have kids hahahaha…”

I wanted to tell her, “Please stop whatever you are trying to do and remove my drip so that I can go home and grieve. I want to grieve. It is normal to grieve. It is ok to grieve.” Once we left, Scott said she was an absolute dickhead and I agreed. And I wondered how he could see fault in what she was doing and yet not recognise his own bandaid statements.

I look around this blogging community and there is something very significant about it. No one here is making bandaid statements and I guess in a way that’s what we are all here for.  The people here know that these statements cause more harm than good. They know that grief does not represent weakness, but a strength to come. Without it you cannot heal nor grow.

We are united by our common goal. We all want to be parents in one way or another and for whatever reason, it is a very difficult goal for us to reach. So from all corners of the earth we walk together, certain in the knowledge that while grief is probably going to totally kick our ass, whenever it does we will have this space. A place to grieve, a place to bare our darkest thoughts, a place to heal.

 

 

 

 

Nothing

There was nothing on the scan but an empty gestational sac and a yolk sac.

Both sacs had increased in size since last week, which explains why I’ve actually finally had some nausea this week. The gestational sac can continue to grow & raise hCG levels and therefore cause pregnancy symptoms (because sometimes Mother Nature can be so very cruel). 

Please note: I discuss miscarriage in this post which may be a raw topic for some.

Our doctor was amazingly kind to us. He took the time to explain the situation in full as well as our options. He was extremely thorough in his explanations. I could tell that this was a part of his job that never got any easier. I held in the tears until we made it to the lifts but even with our brave faces on, it was obvious we were broken. 

The doc immediately offered to refer us for a second opinion to further confirm, although he stated he was 100% sure that this was not a “progressive pregnancy”. Scott and I decided not to prolong the painful process.

I’m now to stop all my medication. Then I either have the option to wait it out and miscarry naturally or the option to have the sac removed surgically via a D&C procedure. He performs these procedures on Wednesdays & Fridays, so we could do it tomorrow if we chose to.

I don’t know whether I’m ready for a D&C tomorrow, but with every delay in becoming parents there is only more hurt and frustration, it makes me feel a bit frantic. I also don’t know whether I can handle waiting for such a traumatic event to come and then continue for weeks on end. 

He explained that a natural miscarriage may not start for weeks, some don’t even start until the 12 week mark. As I said, Mother Nature can be heartless. Alternatively it may start in a few days but not end for weeks. I should have been 7.5 weeks today and it was still one week behind in growth. Anything prior to 10 weeks does have less complications for a natural miscarriage. 

As with any surgery there are risks involved. Unfortunately some of the complications have the potential to decrease your fertility further. Possible complications with D&C are as follows:

  • Complications related to anesthesia
  • Injury to the cervix
  • Scarring of endometrium
  • Infection of the uterus or fallopian tubes
  • Uterine perforation (hole in the uterus)
  • Bleeding
  • Damage to other organs in the abdomen
  • Need for additional surgery
  • Possible need to remove the uterus ( hysterectomy)

Pros to the D&C are that it may be less distressing for some to not see the sac, and there may also be significantly less bleeding. Also, it can be sent for genetic testing to confirm the reason it stopped developing (I guess for further closure). 

The doc said there was no need to be hasty in making any decision. He told us to take our time to decide and call him whenever we have anything we need to discuss. He offered to write me a certificate for time off work for as long as I needed. 
What’s next:

After the miscarriage we will need to wait one more normal cycle before we can proceed for the next round.

And yes we will be going for round 2. Starting again from scratch. We only had one embryo who really did give all it had. It was a tough little embryo that survived long enough to tell us that I am capable of getting pregnant. For that knowledge we are so very grateful. 

A month ago, when we had the embryo transferred Scott was brainstorming nicknames, he said “I know look up Million Dollar Baby (the film), she had a nickname” this was Scott’s daggy sense of humour because this baby had cost us a lot of money and also because it was a fighter (it had finally gotten to blastocyst stage 1 day late when we thought it wasn’t going to make it). I wasn’t sure about his suggestion (nor his dodgy sense of humour) but when I googled it and found “Mo Chuisle” an Irish phrase meaning “my pulse, my darling” it seemed appropriate in more ways than one. So we had named our only embryo Mo. 

If you are reading this and have had a D&C or natural miscarriage, I could really do with some advice. So if you have any words of wisdom I would love to hear them. 

Scott and I want to thank our friends and family for supporting us both through our first IVF/FET. And to the other bloggers out there who have followed my journey so far, thank you so much. Sharing this here has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Although we have never met, we are no longer defined as strangers. We cannot thank you enough for the kind comments and encouragement.

Sleepless nights

 So I’ve been awake since 3am this morning unable to get back to sleep. It’s now 5am so I’ve decided the whole ‘try get back to sleep thing’ is completely out of the question. I figured I may as well write a post to try to clear my head a bit, plus the telly at this hour is really atrocious. 

Over the past week, Scott and I seem to keep waking at the same time, usually 4am, but today it was extra early. I’m feeling anxious about our scan today to see if there actually is a heartbeat, the hot flashes I’ve been having all morning also haven’t helped the sleep situation.  

Emotion wise, the past week has been pretty shitty to be perfectly honest. The first few days following our scan (last Thursday) were spent on Google in search of stories like ours that had a positive outcome. And it pains me to say it but I couldn’t find any IVF related ones, only natural pregnancy where there is every possibility the person miscalculated when they ovulated. As a result I’ve decided that if we have good news today I’m going to post our story on every forum known to man! 

Scott and I have been having freak outs all week followed by bouts of positivity. He quizzes me everyday on how I’m feeling. Do I feel different, am I bleeding, is there any cramping, am I nauseous…the poor bugger it’s doing his head in. He told me he “has never wanted something so badly in his life”. 

I’ve had no further bleeding or cramping since last Thursday which is somewhat reassuring. I’m hoping that the bleeding was maybe due to an irritated cervix (as a result of all the pessaries and gel I’m cramming up there). Who would have thought that I would have ever “hoped for an irritated cervix” just one of the many wonders of IVF. 

As for symptoms, I have had some nausea  however I honestly can’t decipher whether it is a good sign or whether I’m just making myself sick with worry. I’ve also had hot flashes and a strange mild tugging sensation on my left hand side of my uterus (I think that’s where it is anyway!) 

I had my first decent cry on Saturday night which was actually a little unexpected. One of my friends had messaged to ask how it was all going (I had told some friends we were doing IVF, but hadn’t been updating them with the progress). And that single little question just triggered a big ol’ cry fest. To be honest, I had to get it out, I am a cryer, that is how I usually deal with things and it allows me to release and move on. 

On Sunday morning though I continued this theme with a massive breakdown. I was in the midst of it when our two friends came by that morning. Luckily this particular friend has been my best mate for 14 years and has been by my side on more than one occasion when a shitstorm has hit. I’m not sure about her partner though, I may have scarred him for life with my Oscar worthy outburst 😂😂

The boys went to golf and my friend and I went out for lunch (delicious pasta) and as always she let me vent my heart out (she is such an amazing friend!) Needless to say I felt so much better after our catchup, it was just what the doctor ordered! 

On Monday I had the day off and spent the entire day ‘resting’ oh and watching 8 hours of Outlander (as you do). It was in preparation for my initiation into ‘Outlander Night’.A little tradition held by some of my friends where they get together with wine, dinner, dessert and watch’Outlander’. Because they were starting on the second season, and I hadn’t watched any episodes at all nor read the books, I thought it best that I try to get some education before then! Anyway Monday was all in all a success by finally keeping me occupied enough to leave Google alone! It has firmly cemented my belief that the sweet sounds of a Scottish accent can sooth many an ailment.  

 I’ve been really enjoying the series and had a great night with the girls, although my friend did completely lie to me when she said the series wasn’t very bloody 😬(I absolutely hate seeing violence & blood), she is a nurse so I really shouldn’t trust her with these claims! 

On Tuesday I went to my weekly acupuncture appointment and used that time to think positively about today, I pictured the specialist telling me that the heartbeat was really good and strong. I pictured Scott and I hugging and shedding tears of relief. I really hope this is how today will go. Still have no idea how to feel. We are reminding ourselves every day that whatever the outcome we will be ok. 

As the week progressed I’ve done less googling and obsessing, I’ve come to realise that there is nothing I can do, but hope & wait. 

In a few hours time we will have an answer.

Until then…

Our first scan

If you’ve read my previous post you will know that we had an early scan today due to some light bleeding I’ve had over the past days. 

Scott took time out of work to come with me because we were both totally freaking out. 

Pros of the scan

  • The gestational sac was in my uterus (aka ectopic ruled out)
  • We could see a yolk sac
  • Could not see any bleeding in uterus

Negatives of the scan

  • No heartbeat detected
  • Fetal pole unable to be detected

The doc hadn’t checked my dates prior to the scan because he had slotted me in between appointments. With these factors in mind and the measurement of the gestational sac the Doc concluded that I was 5.5 weeks along. Which would all be very well and good except that I’m actually 6.5 weeks along. I told him that I had gone online to a specific IVF FET date calculator and it had told me I was 6 weeks 3 days today. 

When we left the ultrasound room and went back to his office, he had this spinning chart thing out to predict my dates.

“Hmmmm” he said “you are right, you should be 6.5 weeks along, you are measuring one week behind”

So what does this mean?

He tells us that whilst it is possible this pregnancy will pick up and be fine. It is also likely that the embryo has ceased developing.

He told us to look at it as ‘more of a cup half empty’ approach.

I don’t like this thought at all. 

We are hoping ours will be one of the few happy endings. 

Nothing to do now but (you guessed it) wait.

I’m hoping I’ll make it another week with minimal to no bleeding. 

We go back for another scan in a weeks time and will know more then. 

The ‘YEAH’ we’ve been longing for

Scott took the week of the BETAs off work. To tell you the truth, I think he was just as anxious as I was.

12 days after the transfer, March 30th 6:30 in the morning, we drove into the city for my bloods. In the car on the way there, we had our first real discussion about whether or not the embryo had stuck.

Scott asked “How do you feel about it all?”

And with a heavy heart I finally told him, that unless I am totally out of sync with my body, I feel nothing at all, I honestly don’t think it has worked. I was so scared of uttering those words aloud, because I had been so conscious of remaining positive.

After the blood test we decided to drive down the coast for a day trip to keep ourselves occupied through the dreaded wait (one of the millions of dreaded waits with IVF). I was expecting the results at around 2pm.

So as it turns out, I am totally out of sync with my body.

We were in the car heading out of town when my phone rang. It was only 10am.

As I answered I felt like I might not even hear the nurse over the sound of my own heart beat.

The nurse was on the other end telling me my HCG reading.

“73” she said. OMG I HAVE A HCG READING!!!!

I was smiling in complete disbelief and giving Scott the thumbs up as he drove.

“73 is low, very, very low” she continued.

They would hope to see at least a 100 at 12 Days post 5 Day Transfer. It was quite obvious, she certainly wasn’t congratulating me. I read between the lines of what she was saying. This was possibly a chemical pregnancy.

Ok…so I was now giving Scott other hand signals…the one when you hold your hand flat and wave from side to side, to tell him that there was a ‘BUT’, don’t celebrate yet.

The nurse advised that the levels needed to be at least doubled in the next 48hrs, I was to return for my 2nd BETA two days later.

We didn’t know what to tell our loved ones who knew we were getting our results that day. This is one of the crappy things about IVF, do you tell your loved ones about IVF so that you have constant support, or do you keep it secret so it’s one less thing to agonise over? We rang our mums and told them to be cautiously optimistic or indifferent or whatever.

We didn’t know how to feel between BETAs. My emotions swung widely from being amazed that I was actually capable of being pregnant, a tiny bit of faith in my body restored at long last, to feeling extreme anxiety and panic. It felt like torture.

Up until this point I hadn’t done any pregnancy tests during the entire process. But that phone call changed everything. We went to the chemist and picked up a pack of 5 First Response & 2 Clear Blue Digital Weekly tests. I did a First Response that evening, and there it was, my first ever positive. We had waited 3.5 years for that positive and yet there were no tears of joy, no celebrating, just a confused state of emotions. What should we feel? It was the complete opposite reaction to how I always imagined seeing those two lines would be.

The next morning, I did the Clear Blue test and it showed 1-2 weeks post conception. Ok so that sounds about right, I was feeling slightly more optimistic. I repeated the First Response that evening, around 24hrs past the original one. My heart sank when the line was barely there. I came out of the bathroom and told Scott the line was fading, it was over. I felt heartbroken and numb.

The next morning, the day of the 2nd BETA, Scott insisted I use the 2nd Clear Blue weeks test. I came out of the bathroom and handed it to him. I told him I couldn’t look. A few minutes later Scott sung out, “Asho….it’s gone up….it says 2-3 weeks”. I raced down the hallway, “What? Show me…”

Sure enough, there it was. My hope was back.

We drove into the city again, feeling slightly optimistic.

That day was the longest day ever. They didn’t ring at 10am, or 11am or 12pm. Scott kept telling me to ring and I kept telling him I would wait until 2pm.

I made it to 1:30pm before I caved. I rang the specialist office.

“Ahhh Ashleigh you’ll probably be wanting your results” the receptionist said cheerily.

UMMMM YESSSS I SURELY WOULD!

“so the HCG has doubled nicely, it’s currently 161, so I’ll book you in for your scan in 2.5 weeks”

So there you have it, we found out we were pregnant on April Fools Day, and as far as I know it wasn’t a joke, although it sure feels like that at times.

Our first scan is due next Tuesday, I should be 7 weeks by then… BUT (yes there is always a ‘but’!)

A few nights ago, I experienced cramping for the first time. It lasted about half an hour on and off and wasn’t very painful at all. The next morning when I went to the bathroom there was a tiny amount of bright red blood when I wiped. Now cramping is considered normal in early pregnancy, however, cramping and bleeding is not. Until that happened I had no idea how terrifying it would be. As soon as I saw it, my hand started trembling uncontrollably. I know it may sound absolutely over the top and ridiculous but I felt like I was going to have an actual break down right then and there. It was 6am at the time and Scott was already at work. I rang him but there was no answer. Ok, that is probably a sign to not worry him. I googled “bleeding 6 weeks pregnant” like a mad woman, and for once I actually felt reassured by what I read…there are seriously loads of women saying they bled throughout pregnancy, I know even my own mum did with me.

I felt slightly better about it, I went off to my acupuncture appointment, and my usual acupuncturist was away. The lady covering her shift had just given birth 5 weeks ago. She told me that she bled throughout as well, but to definitely advise the specialist.

My specialist and acupuncture clinic are conveniently all in the same building, so on the way out I dropped in to the specialist. The doc was out of the office at another appointment. The receptionist took it all very seriously which I was quite impressed with. She noted all the details and told me that she would talk to him about getting me an earlier scan.

Shortly after I got back home, the doctor called. He was very reassuring. He told me that whilst they don’t like to see blood, it is a very common occurrence (in about 25% of all pregnancies). He told me to rest, continue taking all meds, and advise him if there was any further bleeding/ cramping. He didn’t want to scan me early in case it was too early to see anything in which case would only increase my anxiety. That’s what I like the most about our specialist, he never wants to put us through anything which would cause unnecessary stress.

I had the day off work, so I lay on the couch and watched bulk netflix all day, going to the bathroom every half hour to check like someone suffering from OCD. I finally got hold of Scott and told him what had happened. He is pretty much a nervous wreck at the moment too, quizzing me constantly on how much blood there was, how I feel now etc.

Anyway, I went two whole days without bleeding, then today, the exact same thing happened when I woke this morning. A tiny amount of bright red blood.

Stress= Next Level (I didn’t even know there was a next level)

I’ve spoken to my specialist today and we are going for the scan in a couple of hours. Hopefully to work out what on earth is happening, so that Scott and I can both get some sleep tonight.

Again I’ve been instructed to rest today, so I’ll be off for another decent netflix session.

My mum called me on the first day of the bleeding and messaged me again today…I swear it’s like mother’s have some kind of sixth sense built in…maybe my sixth sense will come later on because right now I don’t even feel pregnant and that is absolutely terrifying.

I’m so sorry for such a gigantic rambling post…I haven’t felt ready to post about it all since we found out because everything feels so surreal. I feel like if I say it out loud I will somehow break this spell. It feels too good to be true and I have to keep peeing on sticks and reminding myself that yes, this did actually happen. Yes I am actually pregnant.

A part of me feels like the luckiest person in the world, honestly what right do I have to feel so utterly terrified when so many women have never even got that positive? Another part of me is remaining seriously guarded, I don’t feel secure at all especially with a lack of symptoms and now the bleeding. This part is telling me not to celebrate yet, to keep detached from the notion, like some form of self defence in case it all comes crashing down.

And the final part just wishes that all the other incredible women struggling with infertility would get their positives too. I’m thinking of you all as I write this, because I know how bloody hard it can sometimes be hearing about other people’s success, not because you don’t wish success for others but because it makes you feel damaged and broken.

It’s a big wakeup call reminding me to count my blessings.

Thinking of you all, and sincerely hoping that your BIG FAT POSITIVE is around the corner xxxx

 

 

 

 

 

Two Week Wait – Over half way

So I was tempted to call this post ‘The adventures of Pessary Pete’

Why you ask? Did I mention that my husband is the king of inventing nicknames, dozens of terrible, annoying nicknames which appear to bring him great amusement and pleasure. Since I have to lay down for half an hour, 3 times a day in order to take my progesterone pessaries, he has decided that my new nickname is Pessary Pete (Scott is clearly also a fan of the Ol’ Alliteration)

Oh boy.

So whenever I walk into the room/ call him on his phone and so on… he has to say something like “Well, if it isn’t Pessary Pete” “here comes Pessary Pete” Yeah I know, I don’t know why I married him either.

Guess what though!?? We officially have only four more sleeps until testing day (next Wednesday). Woohoo!

For those of you who don’t know, the two week wait is technically less than two weeks for IVF, usually 10-12 days. I can test 12 days from my Embryo Transfer date. The only catch is the IVF two week wait is absolutely agonising, I mean waaaayyy more agonising than it ever was the whole 36 plus times we went through it prior to IVF. So much emotional and financial investment involved!

POST EMBRYO TRANSFER:

DRUGS: Continue drugs as normal

  • Progesterone Pessaries = 3
  • Ethanol Oestradiol Capsules = 2
  • Aspirin Tablet = 1
  • Provera Tablet = 3

SYMPTOMS: No new symptoms post transfer. Absolutely no cramping or spotting occurred. Relieved that all my boob changes (bigger, veiny and sore) all happened prior to ET as a result of the meds. Otherwise I would be analysing my boobs like crazy! I felt incredibly tired in the lead up to day of ET and for the 2 days afterwards, but now I’m feeling a little better. Oh and also, the pessaries are rather unpleasant. To avoid going into too much detail, the pessaries are held together with a waxy, somewhat oily substance, which leaks out everywhere when you move around…ewww.

To rest or not to rest, that is the question…

The theory: Bed rest is necessary for 1 – 5 days post embryo transfer.

What my doc says: No not necessary at all, ok to resume normal activity but take it easy.

What Dr Google says: Article here and many, many more available online to back this one up! It used to be the preferred practice (it still is advised by many clinics) however it has since been debunked as a myth and ‘old wives tale’. Some studies even found that bed rest could hinder the implantation as circulation is significantly reduced.

What my Acupuncturist says: Lounge around, clear your social schedule, be relaxed.

Verdict: Bed rest not necessary, lounging and serious netflix session however gets the tick!

Hmm but alas, this does not seem to be the only question. This week was the week leading up to the Easter long weekend, and as I usually only work two days a week I nominated to do them early in the week. This means that I have six days off until I work again. Which means I have an awful lot of time on my hands to ponder (aka analyse the heck out of everything).

Reader, come with me on a journey as we venture deep into my brain…or at least my google history over the past week.

Will one glass of wine per week affect IVF?

Googled when I really, really wanted nothing more than to enjoy a lovely glass of red, I am not a big drinker at all, I usually only ever have 1 to 3 glasses of wine per week. I did discover a study which concluded the consumption of alcohol does affect your chances of IVF, however if you are only having a couple of drinks a week please do not freak out! Also, please note that this was more so in the preparation weeks leading up to IVF, rather than affecting the implantation stage.

Key points from the article below:

“Couples who share a bottle of wine a week reduce their chances of having a baby through IVF by more than a quarter, according to a study by American fertility specialists.”

“The link between alcohol and conception is an area where the evidence is not clear-cut. It may well be that couples who are already subfertile are more affected by alcohol that those who are perfectly fertile”

You can read the full Article here which outlines the findings and also advises that results were more significant in those who drank white wine or beer.

My verdict: Personally I restrained myself and decided to just avoid it completely. Obviously, I’m going to cut alcohol if I do become pregnant so may as well get used to it now. Bye, Bye, my beloved red.

Cold Symptoms post Embryo Transfer

On the Sunday following ET (2 days post 5 day blast transfer) I had what appeared to be the beginning of a cold, I was all stuffy and sniffly and just felt generally unwell. Note: the next day I woke up with all these symptoms alleviated.

The theory: During implantation/ early pregnancy, your immune system is taking a mini break in order to stop your own cells from attacking the embryo, hence women report getting sick around the time conception would be occurring.

Of course there were loads of women on forums (like always, seriously type any symptom into these forums and I’ll guarantee they’ll tell you you’re pregnant). These forum folk were claiming that they definitely believe this was a symptom of pregnancy blah, blah, blah. But I couldn’t really find any solid scientific evidence. The truth is these forums have given me false hope SO MANY FREAKIN’ TIMES. And it’s not through any fault of the forum world, it can definitely be an uplifting and supportive place to turn to. It’s just that I personally have a tendency to have ‘a bit too much hope’ at times which in the end put me through great emotional turmoil when said ‘hope’ was crushed over and over again!

My verdict: From the research I did, I honestly don’t think it was anything to do with conception, at the end of the day it could have been anything.

Is eating soft cheese harmful during IVF?

Yeah I googled this after eating a whole lot of delicious brie of course! Note to self: google things before doing them, not after.

Apparently the answer is give it up as soon as you could be pregnant – errrrm whoopsies! Soft cheese can lead to a Listeria infection, which can harm an unborn child. If you’ve just polished off half a wheel of brie like myself, then again, please do not worry! At the end of the day worrying is the worst thing we can do.

As for me, I was really not too concerned about this, however I probably won’t go on a cheese binge anytime soon just to be on the safe side.

My verdict: Probably a wise idea to familiarise yourself with foods you should avoid. The basic rule is to eat healthily, avoid sugar, refined carbs, excessive caffeine etc. Confession time – this past week I have been eating so much worse than normal (yes, probably due to being a crazy hormonal woman) I mean I ate an entire 1ltr tub of gelato throughout the week after promising myself I would avoid frozen foods completely (to help keep my uterus warm) I also ate pizza, and brownies and hot cross buns with loads of delicious butter…yep I was totally out of control. However, this journey is crappy enough as it is without being super judgemental and strict on yourself, so I’m being pretty chilled about my week of blow outs, I know I will be ‘back on the horse’ next week.

 

Can an embryo fall out through cervix?

Yeah ok so I actually googled this, don’t judge me. I wasn’t the only (slightly crazy, paranoid) woman to ask this question. In case you wanted to know the answer is a big “NO” it definitely cannot just fall out. You see the Uterus ‘cavity’ is not so cavity-like after all as the walls are touching each other. Apparently no amount of sneezing, laughing, coughing, walking, running, jumping or pooping will upset your embryo. So chill out & read this article it is one of many out there assuring women to please for goodness sake relax.

When to pee on a stick post embryo transfer?

Oh I really have thought long and hard about this and I now know so many women out there pee on a stick from word go. A key point is that if you are doing a fresh transfer, the trigger shot prior to the egg collection can register as a false pregnancy on a home pregnancy test. Many women will do a pee test straight away to make sure that the trigger shot is out of their system. Then they will continue to test regularly following that.  I think this one definitely boils down to personal preference. Personally  know if I got a positive I would be analysing it like crazy (is it a real pregnancy or just a chemical pregnancy?) on the other hand if it was negative I would be so down and emotional and I think I would just cause myself so much unnecessary stress. I say unnecessary because sometimes home pregnancy tests aren’t always that accurate. They are definitely nowhere near as accurate as the blood test.

My verdict: Leave them alone. At least until the morning of my blood test, so then I’m not waiting on that phone call all day, driving myself insane. I want to stress that this is 100% a personal decision, I think everyone out there should way up the pros and cons and make their own decision. For the women out there who can do it and not go completely insane, my hat is off to you!

Dear Reader if you’ve made it to the end of this lengthy rambling post, well done! You somehow made it through this terrifying look into the brain of a madwoman.

Yours truly,

Pessary Pete

 

 

Embryo Transfer

So our big day was last Friday 18th March 2016.

It all went swimmingly well. It’s crazy how one of the biggest moments of this journey was so simple.

Like everything (I mean EVERYTHING) I had googled the heck out of Embryo Transfer, and as a result I was expecting the process to be a bit more ‘Wow’

I thought there would be an ultrasound where Scott and I would watch the Embryo (more specifically the gigantically long needle rod thing) being inserted safely into my uterus. Then I thought I would probably have to lie there for 10-30 minutes, so that the embie could ‘make itself at home’.

Well the whole process actually went something like this:

We rolled up to the hospital, paid our fees.

A lovely nurse took us through and gave us both booties, and hair nets, I even got to keep my dress on this time, but needless to say undies were off (mine that is, not Scott’s). They gave me a dressing gown to throw over the top, Scott got to wear some kind of gown thing too.

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Rockin’ our booties in the waiting room

After a relatively short wait in the waiting room with another couple. Another nurse came and took us through to theatre. Again the nurse was super lovely, she was even concerned about keeping the metal speculum nice and warm for me. She kept the conversation flowing the entire time while we waited for the specialist and the scientist. Our doc came in and shook both our hands, then the scientist came in shortly afterwards with the gigantic metal rod in hand. The scientist did not look like Albert Einstein at all, rather she was a young blonde lady, also very pleasant. She told us what our Embryo was, we honestly can’t remember what she said because it was a series of numbers and letters which meant diddly-squat to us. When I asked her what that meant she said “it lost a few outside cells in the thawing process”. When I asked her what that meant also, she said “it is a completely normal, frequent occurrence and the embryo thawed very nicely”. PHEW.

Then it was time to put my legs up on the stirrups under a gigantic light.

Nurse: “Is the lighting alright?”

Doc: “Yes it’s perfect”

Me “Is it flattering?”

Yeah did I mention that I have this habit of making terrible jokes in awkward situations?

Scott’s face: Sigh, yep, that’s my wife

Me: “So it’s probably not the right time to make bad jokes”

Nurse: Laughing “It’s fine as long as you’re the one making them”

Doc: “There is nothing flattering about a vulva I’m afraid”

Nurse: “Do you think we should change the subject”

Doc: “It’s a bit like a scrotum, nothing flattering about a scrotum”

Everyone: laughing because it’s so very true…

Doc: “Did you know that Billy Connolly once spent an hour and a half talking about scrotums”

Scott: “Well he is probably one of the few people that could actually get away with that”

Then it was all done, so there you go, who’d have thought we would have been talking about scrotums and Billy Connolly in this significant moment.

The scientist went back to the lab to check that the embryo had left the needle. Then two minutes later, we were able to leave the theatre. The whole process was entirely pain free, and over in a matter of 10 or so minutes.

Unlike the videos I had watched, there was no ultrasound, no picture of my uterus to take home and no picture of the embryo. I figure this is a good thing, because I think having these things would just make me slightly more crazy in the two week wait.

 

FET Cycle – it’s all happening this week!

Last Friday I went for my scan & bloods for my FET cycle. The specialist said that the scan was simply to check the thickness of the lining. Good news is my lining was nice and thick so we are going to transfer the little embie this Friday! The specialist assured me that it’s a good looking embryo – Yahoo! It’s very exciting. He gave me a couple of referrals for further bloods for pregnancy tests, so it’s all getting very real now!

For this cycle I am doing a medicated FET cycle, because the last lot of hormones seemed to have knocked my usually very predictable cycle out of whack. My period came very early compared to normal (about 4 days early!).

Tomorrow (Thursday) I will get a phone call from the hospital to tell me what time my appointment is. On Friday they will thaw out the embryo. It doesn’t need to mature any further for the transfer because it is already at the blastocyst stage.

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The embryo transfer itself is a very simple procedure,  within a matter of minutes I will have a potential human inside of me, how amazing is that!!

So this is my protocol for this FET cycle:

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Day 2 onwards

Commence taking Ethinyl Oestradiol – 1 x tablet per day

Day 6 onwards

Increase dose of Ethinyl Oestradiol to 2 x tablets per day.

Day 13 onwards (4 days prior to transfer) I started taking a whole concoction of things.

I continue with 2 x Ethinyl Oestradiol per day.

3 x Provera Tablets per day

3 x Crinone Gel/ Progesterone Pessaries per day

1 x Aspirin per day

Plus my multi vitamins as normal.

I’m also doing two lots of acupuncture on the day of the transfer, one before and one after the transfer.

SIDE EFFECTS:

Even though I am ecstatic that there are no needles this month, I actually feel like the medication is really knocking me around.

Ever since I started taking the Ethinyl Oestradiol I have felt incredibly fatigued. I feel sooo lazy it’s ridiculous – each day is such a struggle. I just want to lie around and do nothing EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! When I started on the progesterone a few days ago it hasn’t seemed to have altered this in anyway, it hasn’t appeared to have worsened nor lessened the fatigue.

I am glad to report that there is no bloating going on this month, although I am gaining more weight (I never managed to shake the 4kg I gained on Clomid).

My appetite hasn’t actually increased at all and my diet hasn’t changed. So I’m putting the weight gain down to a bunch of hormones and being a blob human.

Apart from feeling like a lazy sloth woman, I’m feeling positive. I really find that my weekly acupuncture, pottery class and yoga are all very effective at keeping any anxiety at bay.

 

Life. Loss. Gratitude

LIFE

The doctor called Thursday 25th Feb. He told us that one of our embryos had made it to freeze, one of our two embies had ceased developing overnight. So there it was; our little trooper, a single embryo, a single chance. After an unbearable week of tension, it was such a glorious relief that the IVF had not been fruitless.

It’s still quite surreal to think that there is a potential life, a part of Scott and I, tucked away safely awaiting the next cycle.

It’s been a while since I’ve come here to write. Over the past couple of weeks I haven’t felt up to blogging. I was deep in the midst of grieving.

I completely stopped reading the blogs that I follow. I stopped all the persistent googling and researching about IVF. Suddenly this journey seemed to pale in significance.  I could only attempt to process a single devastating event.

 

LOSS

On the same day we received the good news about our embryo, someone extremely dear to me and my family began to drastically slip away. My godfather Wayne was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive brain cancer 15 months ago. Wayne was already in hospital that Thursday when he developed a severe headache. There was swelling in his brain, so the hospital gave him morphine for the pain and anti seizure medication. He had then gone into a state of unconsciousness which the nurses said was unusual. Julie, his wife and soulmate, knew that the end was very near.

My mum had contacted me to give me the news of Wayne’s decline so Scott and I headed to the hospital that evening after work. When we arrived, Julie and their youngest daughter were both at his bedside. The weariness and devastation on Julie’s face said it all. Their daughter told me “He can still hear you Ash” so I sat down by him and held his hand. Their son and his partner also came to be by his side. We spent the next hour or so talking together, we laughed and we cried. We hugged each other tightly and Julie said that we were all very lucky to have this man in our lives.

The next morning I had a dream. In my dream Wayne had miraculously awoken, his family were wheeling him through the streets in his hospital bed. I ran up beside him and he was struggling to talk. He kept stuttering my name and then he finally said “I just wanted to tell you I could hear you” then he closed his eyes and went to sleep. I awoke with tears streaming down my face.

That Friday evening he passed away. He was 60 years old.

GRATITUDE

Wayne and Julie met my parents 35 or so years ago, and they quickly became best friends. Through their friendship with my parents, Wayne and Julie remained a constant in my life.

There were so many good qualities about Wayne. In fact, I’m certain all who had the honour of knowing him couldn’t help but love and admire this loyal, gentle, passionate and generous man. Wayne was determined and he always had a project. But perhaps his most remarkable trait of all, was his ability to remain positive. He was a firm believer in living life to the fullest. He loved nothing more than sharing an adventure with someone. Exploring the magnificent Aussie landscape with good company was Wayne’s definition of heaven.

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Photos from the Mangali 4WD Tours Wayne led throughout Australia. One of his greatest passions was this beautiful rugged country.

So it is with Wayne’s positive spirit in mind, that the purpose of this post is simply to express my gratitude. Through his example, I learnt so much about life. Together with his wife by his side, they demonstrated the ultimate capacity and strength of love. Over the years, I’ve seen him swell with pride for his children and grandchildren and I’ve witnessed them grow with his guidance. Each of them truly in awe of their father. He is now forever cemented as their hero, a fighter to the end. By witnessing his battle it further enforced that life is not something to be taken for granted.

I also happen to be writing this on International Women’s Day and today I’ve been reflecting a lot about the courageous women in my life. For the women in my family, my dear friends, my teachers, and for the thousands of women out there who too are on this fertility journey. So many remarkable, inspirational women.

Mostly I’ve been thinking about Julie, Wayne’s soulmate and rock. The woman who stood by him for 38 years as they saw through good times and bad. On the darkest of days she provided him an indescribable level of care. There are no words to encapsulate this woman’s strength and love for her husband, soulmate and best mate.

I am so incredibly grateful to Julie.

I am so incredibly grateful to Wayne and the lessons he taught me.

I am so incredibly grateful for this life.