Archive | April 2013

In between breaths

I started bleeding four days after I came off the crinone gel and Nemo left me forever.

My little embryo, only five weeks old, who had a heart that never beated. Forever my first pregnancy, but never a child I would hold in my arms.

The doctor had warned me the bleeding would be heavy and painful, but this was actually the lightest bleed I’ve had in my entire life and only lasted five days. Normally my periods go for 8+ days. I don’t know what that even means.

Doug and I have also had a rough few weeks. We’ve been fighting more than usual, which is to say we’ve been fighting at all. We usually argue very rarely. Our relationship is the most solid of any of the couples in our friendship circle. But at the moment we feel very separated from each other, and I suspect this is because we’ve dealt with the grief of losing the pregnancy very differently.

I spent weeks being injected with hormones and cultivating my eggs to grow, then I saw my future when I looked at a photo of a 6 day old embryo. And when that embryo was transferred back inside my womb I felt instantly connected. I was living for two, breathing for two, caring for two.

Doug made the mistake one night last week of confessing he wasn’t devastated like I was because Nemo “wasn’t even a real baby”.  I was lying on our bed, and he was standing in the doorway to the room, but we may as well have been on different planets. His words couldn’t have stung anymore if he’d slapped me.

He tried to back-peddle, explaining what he’d meant was that this pain would be greater if we’d lost the baby at 12 weeks or 16 weeks or 26 weeks instead of 5 weeks. At least we’d lost the baby when it was no bigger than a tadpole and wasn’t able to feel pain or hear or see or think. I knew what he was saying was true, but I was still so mad that he didn’t feel the loss of the pregnancy like I had.

The next evening he said something that really stuck with me. He said that he thought what we were experiencing was normal. Women feel connected to their babies so much earlier than men do. We can feel them expanding our wombs, moving and growing. But men need to see that belly growing, feel those first kicks and hear that tiny heart beating during an ultrasound before they start to make that same connection. Nemo passed on too soon for him to experience those things. He had very much wanted the baby, but never managed to make a real connection.

Doug and I love each other. We know we love each other. We just need to stay strong and understand this is hard for us both. The hardest thing we may ever go through. If we can make it through this together, we can make it through anything. We just need to never forget we want to be together, and we want to have children together. When we are holding our child in our arms, these painful moments will all be worth it.

Doug’s family have also been a bit insensitive. They still talk to me all the time about Jess’s baby. They mean well but they’re making things worse. A pregnant lady came into my office yesterday and I had to rush to the bathroom because I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I’m pretty sure it’s not normal to have a panic attack at the sight of a pregnant belly.

Doug keeps insisting I go see a counselor. I know he’s right. I know I need to see someone. I just can’t explain why I haven’t made an appointment to go see one. He’s even offered to go with me! What is holding me back?

Our appointment with the new fertility specialist is 22nd May. It’s my birthay on the 19th May. I really desperately wanted the appointment to be before that day. I didn’t want to turn another year older, feeling like I was no closer to becoming a mother than I was two years ago when we started trying to conceive. But that’s not going to happen and there’s nothing I can do about it. As usual, I just have to be patient.

IVF is an incredibly long and drawn out waiting process. The wait to start treatment is just as hard as any other wait. It makes you feel useless. Why can everyone else get pregnant on their own? Why do I need a doctor to intervene? Why does our fertility have to happen on the doctor’s schedule instead of our own? When is it our turn?

You know I read a statistic that only half of people who go through IVF get a baby at the end of the process.

Half.

Which half am I in?

I really wish I knew.

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When patients come last

The past 48 hours have certainly been fun.

I went back yesterday morning to get my blood test done. The pathologist grabbed me as soon as she saw me come in and told me the request form had arrived. I was relieved to hear that, and thankful she was going to rush me through so I didn’t have to wait in line again like I had to on Monday.

I sat down on the bed and rolled up my sleeve so she could insert the needle.

“Yes that form was sent through at 5pm yesterday afternoon.” she said. “So it was waiting for me when I got in this morning.”

“Wait,” I said. “5pm yesterday?”

“Yes.” the pathologist confirmed. “Funny time of day to fax a form through!”

Then she pulled the fax receipt out of the drawer and handed it to me. 5.01pm was date stamped clearly across the top. Once again I was so incredibly angry!

“They promised they’d faxed it at lunch time yesterday in case I wanted to pop by in the afternoon to get the test done.” I grumbled.

“Well it’s lucky you didn’t,” the pathologist replied. “Because I would have turned you away again.”

I cannot believe those people lied to me. Again.

At 12.30pm yesterday I got a call through from the only nurse at the clinic I still like. She’s always been caring and understanding. She told me that the hCG (pregnancy hormone) level in my blood was 6 mIU/mL. Anything below 5 mIU/mL is considered not pregnant.

“I’m sorry I’ve never seen a 6 come back before,” she said. “It looks like your hormone levels are dropping but haven’t made it back to their normal level yet.”

“So this is a chemical pregnancy?” I asked, surprisingly calm.

“You’re just past 5 weeks now. Some doctors would call this an early miscarriage, others use the term chemical pregnancy up until they can see the baby on an ultrasound scan.” she said. “I’m sorry.”

“Can I at least go off the crinone gel now?” I asked, trying to look on the positive side of things.

The crinone gel makes me feel disgusting, itchy and squeamish. I can’t stand it.

“Sorry sweetheart you can’t come off the crinone until your doctor gives you the okay.” the nurse said. “I’ll leave a message for him to call you now.”

So I waited. And waited. And waited.

No call.

At 2pm I called the doctor’s office. They said he was busy and would call me shortly.

So I waited. And waited.

No call.

At 4.30pm I called his office again. His receptionist said he had gone home for the day and would phone me first thing tomorrow morning.

Now I was seriously pissed off. His patient, who had paid him thousands of dollars for specialised treatment needed care and attention, and he had not bothered to even call me back?

Doug was so angry when I told him. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him so angry. He can’t wait until we’re rid of that awful doctor and find someone who actually wants to help us.

Last night while Doug was downstairs making dinner I sat in the shower and let the hot water wash over my body while I scooped all the disgusting crinone gel out of my cervix. I’d been told not to remove it in case it irritated me and affected my pregnancy, but that clearly wasn’t a concern anymore. I was shocked how much was actually sitting up there. No wonder I was struggling to fit gel in. I let the crinone disappear down the plug hole and sobbed until the water turned cold. It felt like an emotional release.

This morning when I woke up I called the doctor’s office at 9am. The receptionist told me he had a free morning and would call me soon. I didn’t hear from him until 11am. That pretty much sums up the level of care he offers his patients!

He told me to go off the crinone (too late pal, I already did that yesterday) and to wait for my bleed to begin. He warned it would be heavy and painful and promised to call in a few days time to see how I am.

I don’t expect to hear from him ever again.

The last straw

I’m so incredibly angry today.

Last week when the doctor told me I needed to get a second blood test, the nurse arranged for a copy of the pathology request to be faxed through to my local pathology clinic.

I arrived at 7am this morning, almost sick from nerves, and waited for 45 minutes until it was my turn. But guess what? No form. The pathologist triple checked and no form had ever been faxed through. So we tried to phone the fertility clinic, but they don’t start answering their phone until 8.30am. Makes perfect sense!

I was furious. How could they do this to someone in such a vulnerable mental state? I stormed off to work determined that for once I was actually going to stand up for myself and give them a piece of my mind. I called again at about 10am, and this time got through. The nurse was very apologetic when I explained what had happened but I asked for the manager to be informed that I was making a formal complaint. They also assured me the fax would be sent through immediately so I could go and get the blood test done either this afternoon or tomorrow morning.

Straight away, I phoned my cousin Phoebe. She is very supportive and my only non-immediate family member who knows we’re going through IVF. She works as a medical receptionist at a clinic that specializes in women’s health. I told her how angry I am and how the thought of stepping foot in that fertility clinic again makes my blood boil.There had just been too many mistakes. The doctor had ignored the warning signs and I’d gone on to get OHSS, I had way too many eggs picked up in a cycle that should have been cancelled, this meant only one of my embryos survived to freeze, a nurse had yelled at me on the phone when I told her I’d taken a home pregnancy test and now they’d forgotten to fax through my pathology request. Was all this happening because I’m only 26 years old? Am I somehow less important to them because I’m young? Do I not deserve the same level of care?

I told Phoebe I needed to find a new fertility clinic, and definitely a new doctor. Even though it was Phoebe’s day off work, she was very caring and understanding. She called in and got me a priority appointment to see the best doctor in her clinic at 12pm. I called Doug and asked if he would be able to meet me there at midday. He explained he had a meeting that didn’t finish until 12pm, then he would have to drive across town to reach me. But he insisted he would try to get out of the meeting early because this was so important and there was nothing he wanted more than to find a better doctor that would take us seriously and get us results.

The doctor at Phoebe’s clinic was lovely. I’d met her previously at Phoebe’s last birthday party so she already knew we were going through IVF. She was shocked by all of the fertility problems we’re facing.

“That’s a lot for someone your age!” she gasped. “I’ve never seen someone so young with so many problems.”

Yeah, no kidding!

She suggested we would be best off seeing a doctor who specialized in both fertility and endocrinology because of the problems with my pituitary gland. She promised to write the referral this afternoon and fax it through first thing tomorrow. She said the clinic she has chosen for us is perfect and often deals with the fertility cases other doctors have thrown in the “too hard” basket. It’s a smaller, boutique fertility clinic that doesn’t put patients on a production line. The doctor I’m being referred to is the director of the practice and one of the most knowledgeable fertility and endocrinologist specialists in the country. I’ll call the clinic later in the week and make an appointment.

At 6pm this evening as I’d just arrived home from work I got a call from the practice manager of our current clinic. She apologized profusely for the error at the pathology clinic this morning, but insisted the form had been faxed. She said something to me which I found really interesting.

She said “your case has been so unique and we’ve all learned so much from you.”

By that I assume she meant that they’ve all learned not to dismiss and disregard patients based on age alone. That I need as much care and assistance as every other person who comes to the clinic seeking help starting a family. How nice for them. Unfortunately, I’m the one who has had to suffer physically, mentally and emotionally for them to learn that lesson.

I’m glad we won’t be going back to that clinic, but I do hope they don’t treat the next 25 year old who walks through their door the same way they treated me.

Sydney

Sydney was very tough to get through, but I’m proud I managed it by myself.

I’d promised myself that I would try to think about my university work and not about the pregnancy, but it was extremely hard to concentrate.

Qantas lost my bag on the flight up to Sydney. I didn’t even realise until wheels touched tarmac. They assured me that my bag would be delivered to my hotel room by 7pm, but by 10pm it still hadn’t arrived. By that stage I’d run out of battery on my ipad and iphone so I had no way of contacting anyone. I was starting to panic because my crinone gel was in the bag and I needed it to keep my progesterone levels up.

I kept thinking what if Nemo is ok after all, but missing the crinone dose has a negative affect? What if the incompetence of the airline company is going to hurt my baby? Thankfully, the bag arrived at 11pm and I was able to take the crinone dose only half an hour late.

In class on Saturday morning I could hardly concentrate at all on anything the teacher was saying. I couldn’t stop my mind from wandering. So on my lunch break I ducked across to the pharmacy and bought a pregnancy test. I needed to put my mind at rest. The test was ridiculously expensive – $28 for just one test. The price tag stopped me from buying more than one, which in the end I was glad about.

The following morning upon first waking in the hotel room, I ripped open the plastic packaging and said a silent prayer for Nemo. I think it went something along the lines of “Dear God, I’m an atheist so we don’t really talk. But if you could please just let me have my baby I would owe you big time and I really mean that.”

I was using another Clear Blue digital test. The one that flashed up an image of an egg timer while the test was thinking. It was the same monotonous flashing as before.

Flash……thinking…..flash…..thinking……flash…..thinking.

And when it stopped flashing, there were two words on the screen that I’d never actually seen on a digital test before. There in plain English for the whole world to see.

Not Pregnant.

It hit me really hard. It wasn’t a squinter on a first response, or an internet cheapie. It wasn’t a test with a pink control line that I could study under a microscope to try and convince myself I could see a second line. It was undeniable, unarguable. Not pregnant. Just like that.

In class on Sunday morning we were handed back some essays. I’d written mine while I was going through the worst of my OHSS a month earlier, so I knew it wasn’t up to my usual standard. I was still shocked to see that I had only received a pass mark. Normally I get distinctions and high distinctions for my studies. I’m a high achieving student.

The lecturer, who has taught me in previous semesters, wrote on the bottom of the paper “Sadie I am most disappointed with this effort. Please come and see me after class.”

On the mid-morning coffee break, I found the lecturer outside finishing a phone call. I asked if it was an ok time to talk about the essay and she said that it was. Before I knew it I was a blubbering mess, sobbing in her arms that I was losing my baby and my entire world was ending. The poor lady hardly knew what to do with me.

She offered to let me resubmit my essay, but I said I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to have to re-write an assignment I had already passed because I now lacked the mental energy. She also suggested I should drop out of university for the semester, and come back in a few months time when I’m feeling better. But through my tears I explained that I’m in the final semester of my masters degree and I didn’t want to lose my baby and my dream of graduation.

Afterwards, I went for a walk through the campus for about half an hour to clear my head. I phoned Doug and sobbed to him on the phone for a while. He said when I come home he wants me to start seeing a counselor to cope with my feelings. It’s probably a good idea.

I’m waiting at the airport now for my flight home.

Tomorrow I  get my next blood test. I’m confident the results will show my pregnancy levels have dropped and soon I’ll start to bleed. I can’t keep pretending there’s still hope. I need to pull myself back together and try to figure out what we’ll do next.

The news I expected

I had blood drawn at 7am this morning, and got the phone call with results at 1pm.

The pregnancy hormone in my blood indicates I am pregnant, but the levels are quite low.

The doctor was initially hopeful that the pregnancy would progress as normal,  as every woman is different and some start out with naturally low levels. He tried to tell me this isn’t a sign anything is wrong. Until I explained the disappearing pink line on the pregnancy test. Now he is concerned I am either having an early miscarriage (technically a chemical pregnancy up until the 5 week mark) or an ectopic pregnancy.

He wants me to wait until Monday then have more blood drawn. The numbers need to triple to show the pregnancy is still viable.

I am going to Sydney this weekend for university. It’s too late for Doug to book flights and I’ll be in an intensive workshop from 8am until 6pm every day so he won’t be there to hold my hand anyway. I have to go alone.

I am absolutely terrified that I will miscarry and start to bleed by myself, either in the hotel room or in class. And there is nothing I can do about it.

The good news is, my sister-in-law Jess had a scan today and her baby is fine and healthy.

Maybe I’ll get that same news on Monday.

Maybe my baby is still healthy.

There’s still a chance, right?

Nemo is my one egg. My one shot at this.

I’m just not ready to give up yet. I just can’t.

A sickening development

Tomorrow is my official test day. I’ll get blood drawn first thing in the morning and by the afternoon they’ll tell me whether I’m pregnant.

Here’s the thing….

For the last 24 hours I’ve started getting awful cramps.

Initially I dismissed it as growing pains. My uterus starting to stretch and expand to fit my growing Nemo.

But this morning I took a home pregnancy test, and the little pink line was so faint I could hardly see it.

72 hours ago that line was dark and thick and beautiful.

I started to cry and tremble.

The rational side of my brain reminded me that there was a chance this particular pregnancy test was faulty. They don’t all have the same amount of pink dye in them. This one was just a dud. It was lying to me.

Everything was fine. Nemo was fine. It would all be ok.

My sister-in-law Jess is also having problems with her pregnancy. She has started bleeding. It isn’t a good sign for her. I confessed that I am pregnant and we are now worrying for each other, to try and relieve each others’ burdens.

Test day tomorrow.

Please hold on Nemo. Please hold on.

I need you. Daddy needs you. We both want you so very much.

Please just hold on.

Falling in love

It’s been an awesome week.

I started my new job. My new team seems lovely and the work is very interesting. It’s actually sad that I won’t be able to spend too long working with them. Nemo’s due date will be 11 December, so I’ll only be here for 7 or 8 months.

It’s taken everything I have not to tell anyone I’m pregnant. We’ve decided not to tell anyone, except my mother and brother. Doug thinks it’s a good idea I’ve told them because he needs some help supporting me haha. Apparently I’m a bit of a crazy girl at the moment and my mother and brother are taking the pressure off my husband!

When I told my brother Alex I did so via text message, because he lives over 1000km away and works in a busy hospital. He immediately texted back “it’s a girl.” Just those three words.

About twelve hours later, I was talking on the phone to my mother and she said “you know I reckon it’ll be a little girl with strawberry blonde hair.” How weird is that!

Then again, how weird is it that my family are imagining at all whether the life growing inside me is a boy or a girl. I don’t really care of course! This child is so longed for, so badly wanted, it means nothing whether it’s a boy or a girl. But I could imagine myself as a mum to a little girl….

I’ve also taken a few more pregnancy tests, you know, just to make sure!

tests

positives

For some reason they don’t show up very well on the blog, but yep those are positives! The little pink line is getting thicker, darker and showing up faster as the level of pregnancy hormone in my urine increases. As my baby grows inside me.

One of the clinic nurses phoned the other day to see how I’m doing. I confessed I’d taken a home pregnancy test before the beta date and she started yelling at me on the phone. “We told you not to do that! Now what are we supposed to do?”

It made me feel embarrassed and like I was being scolded by a teacher. But I’m not a school girl anymore. I’m a woman and I’m in charge of my own body. If I want to do a pregnancy test I’ll do a damn pregnancy test. Nobody controls my body except me. It was ludicrous and I was so angry about it after I hung up. Angry at her for screaming at me, and also angry at myself for being too shocked to call her on her unacceptable behaviour.

We definitely won’t be going back to this clinic again or our current doctor. When we go back for a second child we’ll certainly choose a new clinic to have treatment.

I have to travel to Sydney for university at the end of next week. I’m a bit worried about going on the plane at just past 5 weeks pregnant, but I’m sure it will be fine. Women fly all the time at 5 weeks, without even knowing they are pregnant.

Besides, my little Nemo is a fighter. Of the millions of eggs in my ovaries, 34 were collected. 19 were mature, 11 were fertilised. Four made it to the sixth day in the incubator, but only one made it to freeze. And that one little miracle is inside me right now. Soon a little heart will start beating. My Nemo will be ok. We will look out for each other today, tomorrow, next week and every week for the rest of our lives.