Tag Archive | depression

The other side of the mountain

Sorry for not updating in so long. Can’t believe it’s been almost a month. I have no real excuse, other than I just haven’t had it in me to sit down and write a blog post. Sometimes I would start to write something, then just not have the energy to finish it. Forgive me if this post is all over the place and makes no sense, it’s reflective of my head space at the moment.

I guess I’ll cut right to the point because I still don’t feel in the mood to write flowery prose. My FET was a failure. There was no happy ending for me. I am still as barren as ever.

Jelly thawed successfully, went through assisted hatching and was re-expanding nicely prior to transfer. But I never experienced any symptoms the entire two week wait, apart from extremely sore breasts which I was experiencing from the progesterone prior to transfer anyway. There was absolutely nothing to indicate implantation. Both times I’ve been pregnant in the past I’ve felt tugging, pulling, pinching etc. This time it felt like I’d never had a transfer at all. I had a gut feeling right from the start the cycle had failed. Can it stil be called mothers intuition when you aren’t technically a mother? Ha…ha…

So this is me. Here I am. A complete failure.

I am 27 years old and I have now failed 4 fully stimmed rounds of IVF and 2 FETs. I have never reached the point in a pregnancy where I’ve heard a heartbeat on an ultrasound. I have had 51 eggs collected, and only 6 of them have survived. Only 2 of them made it to the blastocyst stage. I have had all 6 transfered, but none have been successful. 0% success rate.

I went through a really low, dark period for a couple of weeks and so did Doug. I felt so lost and confused. I honestly couldn’t find any blogs on the internet written by young women who started fertility treatment when they were 25, had failed 6 cycles of IVF and still weren’t pregnant. All of the blogs I could find were happy stories, success stories; nobody fitting my description.The average number of cycles it takes to get a woman under 30 pregnant in Australia is two.

Two.

I can’t even pretend that I’m anywhere close to that point anymore. I am so far away from that point, I might as well be in another country. I can’t even remember my second cycle.

You know how cumultatively, your odds of success with IVF increase after each cycle? Statistics are different for every clinic, but maybe you have a 30% chance of having a baby after one cycle, a 45% chance after two cycles, 60% chance after three cycles, 75% chance after four cycles, 85% chance after five cycles and so on and so forth (those stats are completely made up for the sake of this blog post, but just go with me here). Each cycle you do brings you statistically closer to the cycle that is going to be successful for you.

But then you climb that percentage mountain, and hit the top. You’re standing at the summit. And then suddenly you find yourself on the other side of the mountain, climbing back down. On your fifth cycle your chance is 85%, but on your sixth cycle your chance drops to 60% and on your seventh cycle it falls again to 40%. Why? Because you are one of the unlucky ones who are way too broken to suceed. You are too infertile. So infertile, not even the doctors can assist you. You are beyond hope, and beyond help. You’re suddenly in that ‘too hard’ basket. You’re over the other side. You’re in that small group of women unlikely to ever conceive ever, ever, ever no matter what medical intervention is attempted.

And I’m afraid that’s me. Is that what I have become? I’m afraid the odds are against me now. I’ve reached the top of the mountain and now I’m climbing back down again. My chances are less now than they were a year ago.

I mean, I don’t know for sure. I don’t know how many cycles a 27 year old has to fail before she is statistically unlikely to ever have a child. But I’m worried I am that anomoly. Only a small percentage of women ever need IVF, a significantly smaller number are aged less than 30, and a terribly tiny group of them never succeed. Is that me? When I look into the mirror am I looking into the tired eyes of a young woman who will never achieve her dream of being a mother?

I’ve been seeing my therapist and she has been helping me. I told her I’ve been thinking about death a lot. Not death in the sense that I want to go out and drive my car into a tree or overdose on metformin (can you even do that? I suppose you can…) but I just mean that throughout the day these morbid thoughts pop into my head like “I just can’t do this anymore, it would be easier if I wasn’t here” or “I wish the ground would open up and swallow me” or “If someone told me this was my last day on Earth, I wouldn’t be sorry.” Just depressing thoughts like that. Thoughts that demonstrate I am simply tired, and frustrated, and worn down by my life. I’m certainly not suicidal, just feeling so down trodden. Does that make sense?

It’s been helpful just to have my therapist there. I can talk to her and I know she won’t judge me. She won’t tell me something hurtful like “Well Sadie there are people dying of cancer and I’m sure they’d love to have your problems” or “At least you have food on the table, there are children starving in Africa and that’s much worse than infertility.” She just listens to me.

The other day I sat down in her office and vented for about half an hour. She didn’t try to interrupt me or offer suggestions, she just let me blather about every little problem in my life and let me get it off my chest. I was speaking so fast I honestly don’t even know if she could understand me. But she told me I can call her anytime, and not to let myself get to the point where I am too desolate to be brought back.

We’ve discussed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication, and she has told me she will support me whatever I decide to do. We’ve found a few that would fit with my current medications, and offer little risk to me if I was to ever fall pregnant. At the moment I don’t feel like I need them, but I’m glad I have her support if I ever get to that point.

I know that probably doesn’t make sense. How can I not need anti-depressants if I’m thinking about death? I can’t really explain it. I feel like I’m strong enough to push through this with the support of my family and my therapist. I am down, but I am not out yet. I am open to the idea of medication if I do get to the stage where I need it (previously I haven’t been receptive to it) and just knowing I have that option on the table now makes me feel more determined to get through this. I know if I feel like I can’t get back up, there is medication that can assist me when I need it. I am buoyed by that fact. Again, I’m not sure if I’m making sense…

I have also arranged for Doug to see a therapist. For the first time in almost three years he lost hope. He stopped believing we would ever have a child. He has been crying, and he never cries. He has been so stressed and upset he hasn’t been sleeping at night, and has muscle aches all over his body. It’s amazing to see the physical affect his depression has had. He’s even been running fevers. It’s especially shocking because Doug is normally so strong and stable. He’s my rock. I rely on him for support. It’s been hard knowing he isn’t coping either. I feel so responsible because my body is letting us both down.

Doug didn’t want to see my therapist because he was scared about a potential conflict of interest, but we both agreed he needed to see someone. My own therapist helped me find a male therapist for Doug who also deals specifically with infertility. This guy seems so great that when Doug phoned the reception to make an appointment, the actual therapist phoned back the next day to have a chat with Doug. They discussed his circumstances, and the therapist was super understanding and supportive. I saw an improvement in Doug after just one phone call, so I’m eagerly anticipating his first actual appointment.

We have also decided we are absolutely done with Doctor Holiday. She kept me waiting for over an hour for my transfer. That is two transfers in a row that I have had to wait over an hour with a full bladder. It’s just unacceptable.

This time it was so bad I was actually crying from the pain in my bladder, and could barely walk into the transfer room when my name was called. My mother, who had accompanied me to the transfer because my husband had to work, had to physically support me just to get me into the room. When I told Doctor Holiday, with tears in my eyes, that I couldn’t walk, she was very dismissive and told me I had to change into my hospital gown before she would even scan me to check if my bladder was over-full. That was the final straw.

I spent the second week of my two week wait researching new clinics, and setting up an appointment to see a new IVF specialist. When I called Doctor Holiday’s rooms to ask for my medical records, the nurse was very stand-offish and told me to go through my own records to find what was missing and only those missing documents would be provided to me.

But how will I know if something is missing, if it isn’t there? Does that not defy logic? I’ve had hundreds of tests and scans and procedures over the past few years. I’ve been admitted to hospital 7 times in the past 7 months alone. I’m not going to know if one set of test results is missing. Isn’t that obvious? Am I entitled to my own medical records? Apparently not.

Not knowing what else to do, and not having the energy to spend hours going through my huge stack of fertility papers, I went back and saw my GP. She is a very expensive women’s health GP so I don’t see her often. She charges $125 just for an appointment, so she certainly isn’t your run-of-the-mill GP.

I explained the situation to her and she so very kindly said she would piece together the important parts of my medical record that Doctor Holiday’s office had forwarded to her, and then send them on to my new doctor. Then when I went to pay for the appointment, I found out from the reception staff that the doctor had insisted on waiving the fee for my visit. I am so thankful for the kindness of the few individuals in my life who are helping instead of hindering. I was so very grateful to my GP.

Speaking of money, that’s a whole other blog post topic that I won’t get into now. We are running extremely low on funds now, and it’s one of the factors driving Doug’s depression. Six cycles of IVF have completely drained us of our life savings. We don’t know how we are even going to afford any more treatment at this point.

My parents are more than happy to lend us the money, but Doug is scared that if we do six more cycles we’ll then be $50,000 in debt and still not have a baby. Spending $50,000 of your own money on a faraway dream is different to spending $50,000 of someone elses.

The doctor said it’s a sad but true reality that older couples are much more financially stable and able to afford more treatment, but often it’s too late for them because they have diminished egg quality. Whereas younger couples are physically more likely to succeed, but don’t have the funds to do it. Nobody wins I guess.

I think I have rambled on for absolutely way too long. If you have read all the way to the end you get a gold star. For those of you who haven’t, here’s a handy summary:

1. My 6th cycle of IVF failed

2. I am seeing a therapist because I am sad

3. My husband is also seeing a therapist because he is sad

4. We have no monies left

5. We are going to see a new IVF specialist at a new clinic, because even though we have no savings we are still desperate and childless. And clearly insane.

I really want to say I’ll update again soon, but I’m making no guarantees. If I feel up to it I hope to tell you all how the appointment with my new specialist goes. I’m hoping for good news, but I rarely receive it so who knows…

Sadie xx

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A state of calamity

Two nights ago I had a complete meltdown.

It started in the afternoon, after my traumatising experience at the pathology collection centre. I’d suffered a mini anxiety attack in the middle of our city’s busiest mall because I couldn’t stop thinking about the man who took my blood excitedly announcing he was going to become a father on Christmas morning. I pictured the way he would share the news with his family. The imaginary scene played over and over again in my mind like a bad video clip on repeat, and I couldn’t seem to turn it off.

When I returned to work I was unable to complete any more tasks for the day, and instead just sat at my desk trying to keep myself composed and looking busy.

On the way home I stopped off in a nearby suburb to collect a large white photo frame that I had purchased on ebay. I stumbled across it quite accidentally on the site, and thought it would look great in our new master bedroom. I knocked on the seller’s door, and was greeted by a slim, blonde woman in her early 30s.

“Hi,” I said, offering a broad smile. “I’m here to collect the -”

“Shshshsh!” the woman interjected urgently. “I’ll need you to keep your voice down. I’ve just put my baby to sleep. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get babies to sleep?”

My eyes bulged in shock, but I said nothing further. I simply handed over the money and took the frame.

Did I know how to get a baby to sleep? Well yes, actually. I’ve put plenty of babies to sleep. In fact, my friends used to joke that I was the baby whisperer. It was all so different a few years ago when hardly anyone in my group of friends had babies. If there was a baby at a party or social function it would be happily passed around the group for all my friends to coo over. But as soon as it started crying, the baby would be thrust in my direction. My friends were terrified of crying infants, didn’t know how to change nappies, and didn’t want to learn. I was the only one in the group who was willing or able to provide care and comfort. Now it’s so different. Now half those friends have children of their own.

I was relieved to finally arrive home, but quickly realised my relief was to be short lived. Our floors are finally being polished upstairs, and our tiler has started working downstairs. The state of the house meant that we would have to spend the night at my parents’ place. I ducked inside to pick up some clothes and medication. On the way out, I checked the mail box. I was quite surprised to see a letter from my sister-in-law Jess.

I have mentioned in the past that Jess has been quite insensitive and hurtful this year, throughout her pregnancy and the birth of her second child. If you don’t remember you can read a few examples here and here.

I have also previously mentioned that after finding myself unable to cope with the constant baby photos on Facebook I deactivated my account about 7 weeks ago. What I didn’t mention was what happened shortly afterwards. It took Jess a few weeks to cotton onto the fact I no longer had a newsfeed to be clogged with photos of her new baby, so she kindly started texting me through photos that I could enjoy and keep. Yay. Just what I wanted.

“What’s next!” I had lamented to my husband. “Will she start sending me photos of her damn baby in the damn mail?”

But I will admit that I hadn’t actually believed that would happen. No one was that cruel.

So when I peeled open the envelope and pulled out a photo of my two year old niece and her new baby sister dressed in pink Santa hats I was completely stunned. Flipping the photo over, I saw my sister-in-law’s scrawl and the words ‘To Uncle Doug and Aunty Sadie, get ready for a pink Christmas! Love Layla and Amy’.

It took me another few seconds to work out the true meaning of the message – because Jess now had two girls and we had no children of our own, the entire family was going to celebrate a girly Christmas day. The entire day’s celebration was to revolve around Jess and her daughters. Of course.

I was absolutely fuming mad. Was that really the kind of shit I have to cop from someone in my own family, a couple of weeks after terminating an unviable pregnancy and less than a week before the due date of another failed pregnancy? The act was low, and unacceptably selfish.

When I arrived at my parents’ place I decided to try relaxing and watching a comedy movie. Doug was out with a mate for the evening, so I could choose whatever I wanted. Flipping through my parents’ dvd collection I came across ‘This is 40′ and decided it would be perfect. I enjoy Judd Apatow movies (yes I’m a sucker for lame humour) and had never seen it before.

The first half of the movie was pretty good and I chuckled along happily. Then came the part where the doctor surprised Leslie Mann by announcing she was accidentally pregnant at 40. Oh no. Oh, no no no.

Leslie reacted by sobbing, clawing at her face and neck, and wiping sweat from her brow. She was obviously horrified to hear the news. I quickly turned the movie off, realising I couldn’t even watch a comedy without being reminded of my failures as a human being.

When I headed out of the living room I saw that Doug had arrived, and sidled up for a hug. But as I moved towards him I realised straight away that he was angry at me.

“Did you just sit around all night watching television?” he demanded, seemingly ignoring the fact he had spent the evening at the driving range perfecting his golf swing. “You didn’t even bother to pick up some of my clothes from the house when you were there, and there’s no sheets on the bed in the spare room! It’s late! You could have put sheets on the bed hours ago! Now I’ll have to do it!”

I did feel really guilty, especially about the fact I’d picked up clothes for myself but not him when I was at our house. He had completely taken over domestic duties since I had my methotrexate shot. He had been doing all the cooking each night, washing the dishes and doing all the laundry. I could understand why he was angry that I hadn’t even been able to do this one thing for him. I hadn’t thought about him at all.

“I’m sorry.” I spluttered. “I don’t feel well.”

He rolled his eyes and stalked off to find some sheets. Feeling dejected, I headed into the bathroom and started stripping my clothes so that I could take a shower. Peeling off my underwear I noticed the blood immediately. My period had properly begun. Again. My third period in five weeks.

Suddenly I was howling. I went from calm to utterly hysterical in about 12 seconds, having completely lost the ability to control my emotions. There was nothing I could do to stop myself.

Doug rushed into the bathroom to find out what was wrong. I was sobbing so violently I could hardly speak.

“I just don’t feel well.” I managed to repeat.

“I know things are tough at the moment.” Doug said. “But if you don’t feel well why did you watch that movie? Why didn’t you just go to bed? How can I help you if you won’t help yourself? I don’t want to listen to your self-pity.”

That was all it took to send me completely over the edge.

“Get out.” I spat, turning on the shower. “Just get out.”

Without another word Doug left the bathroom and I stepped into the shower cubicle. I washed myself, then just let the hot water wash over my body as I shook and sobbed. Suddenly I could feel my chest tightening and before I even realised it I was having trouble breathing. I started gulping in big lungfuls of air, but I still didn’t feel like there was any oxygen in my body at all. I knew I was having a panic attack, but it felt like I was dying.

I hopped out of the shower, dried myself and wrapped my fluffy towel around my body, all the while gasping for breath. My gasps became quicker and quicker. My hands were on my chest and around my throat. Suddenly the room started spinning. I couldn’t breath. I just needed air. I was going to collapse if I didn’t start breathing. Why were none of my gasps pushing air into my lungs? Looking at myself in the mirror I saw that my skin had lost all of it’s colour, and my lips were turning blue.

I don’t remember how I started breathing again. I don’t remember Doug coming back into the bathroom, or how he calmed me down. But I know that he did. I remember him helping me sip water, dressing me in my pyjamas and putting me to bed.

Then he lay with me on the bed, in the dark, rolling me over so that my head was on his chest, his left arm wrapped around my back, his right arm around my shoulders and his legs locked over mine.

I knew he felt bad about the things he had said earlier. I realised that they had been blurted out in the heat of the moment, without knowing what I had been through already throughout the day. The last few weeks had been hard on both of us, and sometimes when people are worn out they snap. His careless remarks had simply been the straw that broke the camels back.

Doug rocked me gently as I continued to cry, telling me that it was okay to be upset. We stayed that way for forty-five minutes, my tears puddling onto my husband’s chest. Somehow I managed to drift off to sleep.

The next morning I awoke feeling like I’d been hit by a bus. It was almost as if my body had gone into some kind of shock. I was so slow getting dressed for work, missed the bus and ended up arriving half an hour late. Two different colleagues asked if I was okay, thinking I had the flu. One even suggested I go home, but I insisted I was fine.

The entire day I felt like I was on the verge of tears, even though those feelings of anxiety had dissipated. I had severe stomach cramps and indigestion type pains, despite not eating much of anything at all. I kept rushing to the bathroom thinking I was going to vomit, but instead I just dry heaved. I was a total wreck.

After work Doug met me in the city and we went to see a movie. We hadn’t had a date night since before we started our last cycle of IVF, and he was trying very hard to keep my mind off things and make me feel better. I shivered violently throughout almost the entire movie even though I was wearing a thick cardigan. Doug had both his arms wrapped around me, rubbing his hands up and down my biceps. It must have been so uncomfortable for him to stay in that position, leaning over the armrest that separated us, for a two and a half hour movie.

Last night I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and I slept solidly until 11am this morning. I feel so much better today. I’ve kept some food down and my mental state seems to have stabilized. I still have a hormonal headache but I feel like a human being again. I’m incredibly tired and imagine I’ll probably sleep for another 12 hours tonight.

This has just been a really long, really hard year for me. I feel like all the shit in my life has been slowly building for the last few months and my panic attack was the climax. Now I’m hoping I can stay under the radar and just slip quietly into 2014. It would be really great if this year could just end now.

Two days ago I hit rock bottom. But I’m still here. I’m still surviving. I’m taking one breath at a time. I refuse to stay down. I will make it through this. I will.

A light in the night

It was very late at night, perhaps almost midnight.

My husband Doug and I were lying in bed, in the dark, listening to the monotonous whoosh of the fan turning overhead and our dog’s quiet snores wafting across the room from his bed in the corner. Just as I was drifting off to sleep the room suddenly lit up.

“That’s your phone.” I said. “Someone has sent you text message.”

“Have they?” murmured Doug, also half asleep. “That’s nice.”

Realising he wasn’t going to fetch his phone off his nightstand, and curious about who would text at such a time, I stretched over his body and plucked his iPhone off the charger. I could see his sister’s name on the brightly lit screen.

“It’s Jess.” I said, shaking him a little. “Maybe the baby is coming?”

My sister-in-law Jess was due any day with her second baby. The one that had taken them three months to conceive. The one that had been flaunted in my face for the past nine months, never mind the fact that for a time earlier in the year we had both been pregnant and I’d lost my chance at happiness in April.

“The baby isn’t coming.” Doug said, taking his phone and putting it back on the charger. “We have just been texting all night. Chatting.”

“This is very late for her to be chatting.” I pointed out, mildly suspicious.

“She has insomnia.” he said dismissively.

With that, he curled his arm around my waist, pulled my body flush against his and whispered in my ear that I should try to get some sleep.

The next morning I was awoken by the sound of my own phone vibrating insistently. Someone was calling me. I forced my eyes open and glanced at the screen. My mother-in-law’s name was buzzing at me. My mother-in-law and I barely speak to each other anymore. She wouldn’t call me at 7am even if her house was burning down. It could only mean one thing. I ignored the call, threw back the blanket, trudged down the hall and found Doug in the shower.

“Your mother is trying to call me.” I said. “She must have baby news.”

Doug turned off the shower, wrapped a towel around his waist and crossed the room to wrap his arms around me.

“Jess went into labour yesterday.” he said. “I didn’t tell you because I wanted you to get a good night’s sleep. The baby was born about an hour ago. It’s a little girl and they named her Amy.”

And that is how my heart broke into a million pieces.

Of course I pretended I was fine, I said how pleased I was that Jess had an easy birth, how excited I was that Layla had a new little sister and then I kissed my husband goodbye as he rushed off to an early work meeting. But as soon as his car’s tail lights had disappeared around the corner I was a sobbing mess.

I cried as I showered myself, cried as I sat with my legs on the edge of the bath tub inserting another tube of Crinone gel into my cervix to provide progerstone support to the low quality embryos that had been transferred six days ago and surely hadn’t implanted. I cried as I dressed myself, cried as I fed the dog, cried as I realised I had spent so long crying that I had now missed the bus and would be late for work. I cried as I reversed my own car out of the drive, cried as I drove to work, cried as I paid for parking, and then somehow managed to pull myself together right before I entered my office. Just after 10am I lost it again, locked myself in one of the bathroom stalls and cried so hard I couldn’t breathe anymore. Gulping for lungfuls of air, I began to choke, and then gag. I thought I was going to pass out.

The birth of new babies are a time for celebration. But I felt like I couldn’t have been more upset if someone had told me my grandmother was dead. This was…grief. But what was I grieving for? I was bitter, despondent and guilty. Good people didn’t react in such a way when they were given happy news. There was clearly something very wrong with me.

Jess and her husband had started trying for their second baby a year after we started trying for our first. And yet here they were actually holding their little bundle of joy, and we were still childless. And filled with hate. Jess and her baby were a reminder of every inadequacy in my reproductive system. They were proof that I was flawed, incapable, a failure.

Another small piece of hope was sapped from my heart that morning. With Jessica’s baby came irrefutable proof that the world was moving on, that the world had never stopped. The world does not wait for me, or my children. Other people around me would fall pregnant and have healthy babies, but my life would continue to be on stand-by. And that was something completely out of my control. Other people were going to feel joy even if I felt none, and there was nothing I could do about it.

I felt absolutely disgusted that I still feel nothing but bitterness, jealousy and anger for Jess and her baby. I don’t know who I have become. I don’t recognise my own face in the mirror anymore. I have become weak, and sad, and little.

Even my fertility doctor noticed that I have “allowed negative thoughts to take over my mind” lately. I haven’t had the emotional strength to blog. I have very much wanted to write, because writing is something I love, and my emotional outlet. But when I would log into wordpress, I’d just stare at the computer screen until I thought I was going to cry, and then click the little red X in the top corner. I had become a shell of myself. A dark blanket has been thrown across my mind, and is stifling my happiness and sense of self.

The fertility doctor said she has seen this happen before. Infertile women reach a point where they are just completely beaten down by their circumstances, and they just become tired of it all. Will I ever be a mother? I don’t know. I can’t answer that question. Does that tear me up inside? Yes, it really does. My doctor has referred me to a new counsellor. My first appointment is next week. She specialises in treating women who are going through IVF, so maybe she will be more understanding than the last counsellor I saw.

I’m not sure how much shit one person can put up with in one year. Major surgery, three cycles of IVF, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, a frozen embryo transfer, early pregnancy loss, pushing through with my exams and graduating from my masters degree, a horrible bout of the flu, strep throat, pneumonia, finding out I am losing my job at the end of the year, a nasty mother-in-law, watching my sister-in-law have her perfect second baby, and most likely finding out this cycle has also been a bust and my embryos didn’t take. Again.

I found this little quote and I really like it. I think it applies to me. I am trying to make it my mantra.

Image

I am trying to fight my way out of this fog of depression and anxiety. I will try to write more, I will try to tell you about my cycle, I will try to offer you all the support I once offered you. The support I appreciated so much from you, and the support I enjoyed providing in return. I’m not making any promises, but I will try. And maybe one day I will look back on this and feel pride that I made it through to the other side. Maybe.

Scraping the bottom

I’m currently hiding in the restroom at a wedding.

I am not coping very well. I suppose that’s obvious, right? I mean who updates their blog at a wedding?!

How did I get here? How did this become my life?

There’s a pregnant lady at our table. She’s knocking back glass after glass of champagne.

I swear it’s taking everything I have within me not to stand up and punch the champagne flute out of her hand.

She is at our table getting drunk, and I am hiding in a toilet cubicle with terrible period cramps absolutely miserable because our last cycle of fertility treatment failed.

This is a new low for me.

Stranger than fiction

You remember that movie ‘Stranger than Fiction’ where Will Ferrell plays an IRS auditor who can hear narration in his head, and it turns out he is the subject of a novel Emma Thompson is writing that’s all being translated into real life? I feel like that’s happening to me right now.

Well, I’m not hearing narration in my head. I’m not that crazy yet. But I do feel like I’m part of someone’s novel and I can’t escape from the stupid plot. My life is too bizarre right now to be anything other than a work of fiction. Did I mention I’m a character in a novel about early pregnancy symptoms? You see, I seem to be afflicted with pretty much every early pregnancy symptom conceivable at the moment.

Sore breasts? Yes. Fatigue? Definitely. Nausea? Yeah, got that. Headaches? Every day. Dull cramping? All the time. Gassy? Uh huh. Bloated? You know it. Backache? Yep. Achy legs and hips, moodiness, runny nose, vivid dreams, food aversion, upset tummy? I’ve got them all!

Pretty much the only things I don’t have right now are creamy cervical mucus (I still have heaps of clear, watery mucus) and a positive pregnancy test. And the thing is, I am extremely doubtful I’m ever going to see either of those things. At least not in this cycle.

You remember how in the movie it turns out Emma Thompson intended for her protagonist to die in her novel, thus Will Ferrell was also fated to die? I’m pretty confident at the end of my novel it will turn out that all these symptoms I’m experiencing mean nothing because I’m not pregnant. My body is just playing one huge, cruel joke on me. I’m not that girl who has a multitude of serious medical problems and ends up magically falling pregnant. I’m not that lucky.

To make matters worse, we’ve realized I can’t start my next IVF cycle in a week’s time, as was originally planned. It’s something we should have known before now, but the truth has only just dawned on us.

About six months ago Doug and I agreed to a long weekend in the Barossa Valley with his boss and her husband. The Barossa Valley is about an hour northeast of Adelaide in South Australia. It’s a beautiful part of the world, and also where a large proportion of Australia’s wines are produced. We’ve been looking forward to the trip for months. I’ve never actually been to the Barossa, and I haven’t had any vacation time from work since 2009 because I’ve been using all my leave to attend medical appointments and recover from surgeries. I desperately need time away. I desperately need a few days off work that doesn’t involve pain, sickness or hospitals.

But here’s the problem. We will be leaving on Wednesday 28th August and returning on Sunday 1st September. Assuming I get my period this weekend, that will put us at cycle day 11 or 12 when we go away. Anyone going through IVF will understand how critical those few days are. A normal IVF cycle involves a trigger shot late on day 14, and egg pick up on day 16. Even though I’ll be back home in Melbourne for day 16 of my cycle, they can’t trigger me on day 14 without scanning my ovaries first to confirm my follicles are ready. Thus, I can’t do IVF in August. It’s just not possible.

The frustrating thing is, I’ve never had one of those text book normal IVF cycles. My first cycle I was triggered on day 17 and had egg pick up on day 19. My second cycle, I injected for 24 days and ended up not even getting to egg pick up. There’s nothing to indicate I’ll have a normal cycle this time either. But there’s no way the doctor will allow me to go without a scan between day 11 and day 15.

This was supposed to be a win/win month for us. We would either end up miraculously pregnant after I ovulated for the first time ever, or we would dive head first into our third fresh IVF cycle. Yet somehow, as usual, nothing goes to plan in our world and August is going to be a lose/lose month. There will be no one-in-a-million pregnancy and there will be no IVF. I can’t believe I’m so unlucky even my first vacation of any description in five years is contributing to my problems.

I know it’s only a month to wait. I know September isn’t so far away. I know in the grand scheme of things a month doesn’t really matter. But I’m still so supremely frustrated. I’m sick to death of treading water. I’m sick of waiting for it to be my turn for something good to happen. I’m sick of life passing me by. I’m sick of hearing about my sister-in-law and her amazing, awesome, fantastic, easy pregnancy. I don’t want to be injecting myself with hormones when her baby is born. I just won’t cope.

I know what you’re all going to say: Calm down Sadie, relax, take a deep breath. You’re only nine days past ovulation. You don’t know for sure you’re not pregnant yet.

Rationally, I know that’s all true. But I’m not rational right now. I think my hormones are getting the better of me tonight and I can’t help feeling this way. I just want to curl up in a ball and weep. I think the only thing that will cure this is a good night’s sleep.

For now I have Pitch Perfect in the dvd player, a cup of caffeine-free tea warming my belly, my little snuggle-bug puppy curled up in my lap and my husband keeping a watchful eye on me. There’s not much more that can help me tonight.

Tomorrow will be a better day.

July IVF – CD13

Twelve days of injections.

For what?

Nothing.

I had my second scan this morning, and my ovaries haven’t done a single thing since last week. I still have that one follicle on my left ovary, and it’s still measuring 9mm. It hasn’t grown even one millimetre. The look on Doctor B’s face told me everything I need to know. There will be no egg pick-up. This will be a failed cycle.

We are pulling me off the orgalutran, because there’s no point putting me through the awful burning pain of those injections if there’s no ovulation to even suppress. But I’m going to keep stimming with 100iu of Puregon for another five days.

I’m going back Saturday morning at 7am for one last scan. We’re going to just give my ovaries one last chance. But Doctor B said given I’ve been stimming for twelve days and absolutely nothing has happened, she is extremely doubtful there will be any change. I love getting up super early on Saturday mornings to be delivered bad news!

I need to think about this realistically. This cycle is going to be a failure. And then what? Doctor B wants me to rest for a few months. She wants my body to recover a little from all the treatment over the past six months. This sounds like a horrid plan to me. I want to go back to back and start injections again as soon as I get my period. I want to keep going.

I want to scream at her until I lose my voice. Inject me every day for the rest of my life if you have to. I don’t want to wait again. I don’t want more months to lapse. I don’t want another rest. I don’t care if more hormone injections and steroids wipe my foggy memory completely clean. Just let me keep going. Please? Please?

I’m trying very hard not to be bitter. I’m trying very hard to keep calm. I kept having this warm and fuzzy recurrent thought that I was going to be pregnant when my sister-in-law Jess has her baby in early October. I was going to be pregnant and that was going to take the edge off my pain. The insensitivity shown by Doug’s family, the heartache of losing my last pregnancy, the pitiful feeling that I’m going to be barren and childless for the rest of my life…none of it would matter.

We’d go up to the hospital to meet our new niece and offer our congratulations. They’d pass me the baby, all new and squishy, and I’d look down at her and smile and think You’ll have a new little cousin soon. Your aunty is going to be a mummy soon. We’re all going to be great friends. Life is good.

But instead, that dream is now almost certainly an impossibility. Instead I’ll go up to that hospital, I’ll walk down the hall of the maternity ward and drink in the happy, exhausted new mums and crying babies, I’ll hug my sister-in-law, they’ll pass me my new niece, and I’ll look down at her and just wish a sink hole could open up beneath my feet and swallow me. Your mummy and daddy started trying for a baby a year after we did. Your mummy and daddy got pregnant straight away. You thrived in your mummy’s womb, but my little one didn’t make it. Your mummy and daddy now get to hold you and kiss you and love you and cherish you. Your aunty and uncle are still childless and miserable.

Resting for another few months before we begin another cycle will also mean I’ll now be at least another year old before I give birth to a baby. I’ll be 28. Big deal, I hear you say. But I’ve had two different specialist doctors tell me I’ll need a pelvic clearance around my 30th birthday. No more ovaries, no more uterus, no more anything.

Every minute, every hour, every day, I am hurtling so fast towards my third decade. Will I get a child at all? If I get one, will there be any chance for me to try for a second? Will my clock run down? Will I miss out on something that seemingly comes so easily to everyone around me?

Doctor B squeezed my arm this morning and smiled at me, almost as if she could read my mind. “You’ll be a mum, Miss Sadie.” she said.

Will I? I don’t know.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to see an infertility counselor for the first time. It’s something I should have done over a year ago, but for some reason I’ve been too afraid. Of what? I’m not so sure. Maybe admitting to someone other than Doug and my mother that I’m not strong enough to cope on my own. I admitted those things to my mother-in-law and look where that got me. Am I really ready to admit these things to another person?

I think in the end it’ll work out for the best. This counselor will understand my feelings, but not judge me for feeling them. Plus, they’ll never be able to throw them in my face or hold them against me at family dinners.

Doug is away most of this week. He’s on business until Thursday then he was supposed to join his mates on a boys football weekend away from Friday through Monday. He’s now coming home to me on Saturday midday, so I won’t have to be alone after I’m given the inevitable news that this cycle has failed. I love him dearly for sacrificing his weekend away, which I know he’s been looking forward to since it was planned in February. It makes me feel guilty that my wretched body is ruining both our fun.

Today, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Today, I am no closer to achieving my dreams. I need to keep reminding myself that there’s always tomorrow, though it’s easier said than done.

The post where my mother-in-law loses her shit (part two)

“Kill her?” I gasped into the phone. “Why would I want to kill Kate? I feel awful! You never should have said anything to her.”

I was standing in the hallway at work, trying to keep my voice down so my colleagues inside wouldn’t hear. I’d just received an alarming text message from my mother-in-law Kate, letting me know she was extremely sorry for upsetting me and she would understand if I never spoke to her again.

“Let me explain,” my husband began cautiously.

“No Doug!” I cut in angrily. “I know I was annoyed at her carrying on about your sister’s pregnancy, but that was personal. It was something I told you in confidence! Poor Kate! You’ve upset her for no reason!”

“No.” Doug said firmly. “I haven’t. You don’t know what she said to me.”

“Wait….what did she say?” I asked, my voice dropping conspiratorially low.

And over the course of half an hour, my loving husband divulged to me the truth of my mother-in-law’s opinion of me. A truth that shocked me to my core, and an opinion I knew was completely and utterly undeserved.

Doug had gone to visit Kate and his stepfather John while he had business in Torquay. He’d planned to stay for dinner before joining the rest of his team at their hotel. But according to Doug, his mother had spent almost the entire meal gushing about his sister Jess, who is twenty-five weeks pregnant, and her husband Rory. Finally, Doug said the rage that had been building inside him over the past few months overflowed and he couldn’t keep quiet any longer.

“Mum,” he said, holding up his hand to stop her. “I have heard enough. I don’t understand why you constantly talk about Jess’s baby. You know Sadie and I lost a pregnancy that was only a couple of week’s behind hers. It’s hard for us to hear about it constantly. Can’t you understand?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Kate had dismissed his comment with a laugh.

“Yes you do!” he argued. “And while we’re talking about this, why do you treat Sadie so differently to Rory?”

“I beg your pardon!” Kate spluttered. “I treat Jess’s husband and your wife exactly the same.”

Doug, not willing to let the matter go, proceeded to provide a handful of examples that proved just how much Kate preferred Rory to myself. To drive his point home, he pointed out the fact I was the only family member missing from the photo wall in their house.

“I don’t understand,” Doug said in exasperation. “Sadie is smart and reliable. She has two university degrees, a great job, she bought her own home when she was twenty-two years old, she doesn’t drink, or smoke or do drugs. By comparison, Rory is always in and out of work, he’s covered in tattoos, he drinks heavily and he almost certainly did drugs in his younger years. Why is it him and not my wife who you keep on a pedestal?”

I knew Doug’s words were very true. Rory is a nice guy and we all get along well with him, but he is certainly from the other side of the tracks than Doug’s posh upper middle class family. It had shocked me when they so readily accepted Rory into their lives, given he didn’t fit their mould. Whereas I certainly fit easily into their world, or at least I should have.

And that’s when Kate slipped up and finally divulged the truth. Once the flood gates had opened and she started to talk, she apparently hadn’t been able to hold back. What ensued was a mammoth four hour argument, peppered with screaming, tears, and moments where Kate stormed off into the bedroom to calm herself before returning for another round.

She told Doug that whilst she had heard that Rory drinks a lot and maybe used to do drugs, she personally had never seen that side of him. All she saw was a good husband to Jess and a good dad to their toddler. But she had witnessed me drunk, inappropriately dressed (according to her ridiculous standards) and acting like “tart” on one occasion six years ago at that pool party in her backyard (the one I spoke of in my last blog post).

Doug immediately pointed out it was unfair to judge me for being a drunk twenty-one year old, when he himself had been drinking heavily at that party. So drunk, in fact, he’d burned his hand when he lit a pizza box on fire in their backyard. But she refused to accept that. Her first impression of me had lasted and she’d never been able to shake it. In her mind I’d always been a floozy with loose morals. Never mind the fact I haven’t had a drop of alcohol in over three years and act like the perfect wife and daughter-in-law. I was automatically the bad spouse. Even when Doug argued that this whole thing was grossly unfair, she refused to concede.

Then Kate took it further. She went on to say she was concerned that I wasn’t the “girl for her son”…

“Excuse me!” Doug had exploded, standing up from the dining table. “What the hell are you talking about?”

It was at this moment that John turned bright red, confessed he didn’t share these opinions and quickly excused himself. He must have known what was coming next.

Kate started to tell Doug how over the past few years I’ve changed so much and now she was worried he didn’t love me anymore. She noted that when we came to stay with them at Torquay on weekend visits, I’d sleep in until after 9am (shock horror!) and then sit around the house all day being lazy. I didn’t enjoy playing family games with everyone after dinner and I was always so sullen. She didn’t doubt my love for him, but felt that perhaps he didn’t love me and was only staying with me out of obligation.

“She’s going through damn fertility treatment!” Doug shouted. “She works full time, she was studying a masters degree full time, and going through surgeries and IVF. She’s allowed to sleep late on Saturday mornings and skip a game of Pictionary! For Christ’s sake Mum!”

“But you never tell me you love her.” Kate continued her campaign against me. “You’ve never once called me on the phone and told me you love her.”

“What???” Doug gasped, completely thrown. “I’m not that kind of person! You know that I’m not! Do you expect me to call you constantly and profess my love for my own wife? You’ve never called me to tell me you love John! Does Jess call you and tell you she loves Rory?”

“No,” Kate admitted. “But Rory is a good dad, so I don’t worry about him. Whereas I do worry that Sadie won’t be a good mother.”

And that was the biggest bombshell of them all.

Kate proceeded to tell Doug that she’d listened to me countless times on the phone over the past six months confess to her how I often felt depressed, hopeless, bitter and alone. I’d done those things of course, because she told me how much she supported me. How much she wanted to help me. And I’d trusted her because she was my mother-in-law and has a degree in psychology. I felt safe telling her my problems and deepest fears.

But she’d taken my dark and private thoughts, twisted them, and somehow formed the opinion that I was going to be a negligent parent. She now feared I was going to end up getting post natal depression if we ever had a child, and then Doug would be stuck looking after a newborn and a depressed wife. He’d have to parent us both. She went on to say that once we have a child together, he’ll be burdened with me for the rest of his life. There will be no escaping me, and I would sap his happiness for the rest of his days. That was when Doug completely lost his cool and started screaming at his mother. She, in turn, had burst into tears and stormed off to the bedroom.

As he relayed these things to me during our phone call, I was too shocked to make a sound, or cry. I was surprised I was even still breathing. I was absolutely stunned. My mother-in-law, who I had a cordial relationship with, who I trusted, who I thought had my best interests at heart….thought I had loose morals? Thought I was sullen and lazy? Thought I wasn’t good enough for her son? Thought I was going to be a bad parent? Thought the best thing Doug could do was escape from me?

I was, and still am, completely devastated.

First of all, it is grossly unfair to assume I will be a bad parent because I have been depressed about my infertility and my miscarriage. As someone with a background in psychology, Kate should know better than that. There’s no telling whether I will get post natal depression or not. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t. The happiest girl in the world can end up with PND, through no fault of her own. PND does not discriminate.

To also say I will be a bad parent is equivalent to shooting an arrow through my heart. All I desperately want, more than anything in the world, is to be a mother. To suggest that I would do a bad job if I ever were to have a child understandably upset me. I am 100% completely and utterly certain that I will be a good mother. No one in my family or circle of friends thinks otherwise – in fact I’m usually the designated babysitter in our group. I am calm and patient with children, and can get the fussiest baby to sleep. I love having my two year old niece stay for the weekend and she often calls me Aunty Mummy instead of Aunty Sadie. I’m not at all worried about my ability to be a parent, and more importantly neither is Doug.

Furthermore, IVF and fertility treatment is mentally, physically and emotionally traumatic and exhausting. It is without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through in my life. Doug has been my knight in shining armour through all of it. We’ve gone through this together.

What Kate also did was speak out loud my deepest fear of all – that Doug would be better off without me. I am dragging him down. I’ve been fooling myself by thinking these infertility problems are ours to share. They’re not. They’re mine. If Doug had married someone else, he would be a daddy by now. I’m holding him back and he’d be better off without me.

I won’t even bother to address Kate’s assertion that I am a tart, or a drunk, or whatever it is that she seems to think. Most young people drink alcohol and let go of their inhibitions when they think they’re in safe places. A lot also do those things when they’re not in safe places. That is something I never did. I never slept around (I’ve only ever slept with Doug and one other previous long-term boyfriend), I’ve never done drugs, I’ve never done anything stupid.

Doug placated my fears. He told me how ardently he had defended me. He told his mother repeatedly that I am the best thing that ever happened to him. I have made him stronger, healthier, wiser, calmer and happier. I have enriched his life in every possible way. I felt proud and relieved that he had defended me. He completely allayed my fears that he believed in any way that I was dragging him down, or that he would be better off without me. More than anything he just regretted his mother had dragged me into the whole mess by texting me her apology. He had preferred I never know any of this.

He calmed me further by telling me that after Kate composed herself in her bedroom and came back to the dining table, the two had talked for a further two hours and the truth behind her truths (if that makes sense) had come to the surface. She didn’t really dislike me. She disliked anyone who she thought had replaced her in her son’s life. You know those mothers who cling so desperately to their grown up sons? She’s one of them and I never even realised. It wasn’t that I’m not good enough for Doug, it’s that no one is good enough for Doug. And once we have children, he’ll be gone forever. He will always belong to someone other than her. Her opinion had been driven by jealously.

He talked her through how harrowing and awful infertility and IVF really is, and she began to sob. She started to feel guilty and awful. She began to realise how terribly she’d twisted everything in her mind. All she really wanted was for us both to be happy, and she understood the many ways I have improved her son’s life in the years since we’ve been together. She confessed she hadn’t even noticed the ways she treated me differently to Rory, but now they were suddenly so obvious. Doug left her house feeling satisfied that Kate’s opinion of me had changed for the better and her attitude towards me would improve in the future.

What he hadn’t banked on was Kate not sleeping all night because she felt so awful and guilty, then eventually caving the next afternoon and alleviating those feelings by texting me an apology.

For the past few days I’ve felt so very torn. I have felt incredibly angry at the things Kate said about me. I am hurt and furious. I can’t possibly understand how she could say those things about me. But I also understand that Kate is going to be my mother-in-law for the rest of my life. She will be the eventual grandmother of my children. We need to maintain at least some type of relationship, for their sake and for Doug’s. I also know she feels terrible, and like she has wronged me. I appreciate those feelings and also her apology, but I desperately wish she’d never involved me in this debacle.

I guess I just don’t know what to think or do. I know that Doug will support me, whatever I decide. I also know from past experience that I don’t tend to hold grudges against people. What I do unequivocally believe is that Kate should never have done this while Doug and I are in the middle of a cycle of IVF. This is most certainly a stress I don’t need. I’m going to take the weekend to think everything over, and see how I feel. I spent the day today just relaxing around the house, and already much of my anger has dissipated. I think I’m still just in a bit of shock that anyone could think those things about me for any length of time, no matter what the real reasons were. I think I’m kind, introverted and good natured.

Doug hopes that time will heal all wounds, and Kate and I will be able to rebuild a new relationship, maybe even stronger than our previous one. I’m still not sure.

Has anyone else had to deal with a horrible mother-in-law before? Were you able to move past it all? I’d love to hear your opinions.

(Also, if you’ve made it to the end of this post congratulations! I know it was extremely lengthy and probably boring, but venting has helped me to organise my feelings on this matter.)