Last week Shirley, one of the nurses at the clinic, phoned me and told me that I had to come in at 7am the next morning for a blood test and an anti-D injection.
For those who aren’t aware, Rhesus Immune Globulin (anti-d) is an injection that is used to prevent the immunological condition Rhesus disease. I need to get these injections because I am Rhesus negative but around 85% of the population is Rhesus positive, including my husband. When I am pregnant there’s a high chance my baby is also Rhesus positive like Doug, because most people are Rhesus positive and my babies already have a Rhesus positive parent. You all with me so far?
When the baby is on it’s way out of my body (either during miscarriage or labour – if I ever make it that far in a pregnancy!) there is a risk that a small number of the baby’s red blood cells can leak into my blood stream, allowing my body to develop antibodies against anything Rhesus positive entering my body in the future. If left untreated, during subsequent pregnancies if my baby is once again Rhesus positive my body may use those antibodies to attack and ‘remove’ it (yay!). Otherwise it can still cause lots of long-term problems for the baby including anaemia and jaundice. And nobody wants that. So basically I need to get an injection of anti-D to prevent this happening every time I miscarry and also at 28 weeks and 34 weeks pregnant (again, if I ever get that far in a pregnancy…).
The anti-d injection is produced from the blood of Australian Red Cross donors. I always find it fascinating when I’m injected with other people’s blood. Does that make me a weirdo? I know blood products from donors are also used to assist fertilization of eggs during IVF cycles and I’m also fascinated by that. I wonder if those donors have any idea they’re helping to create life rather than save life. When I imagine donating blood I see it going towards saving a car crash victim who is rushed into the hospital with an amputated leg and is bleeding out and close to death. I can see doctors running around the room and intubating the patient and shouting orders to each other. And I can hear the theme song to the television show ER. And I can see Doctor Green and Doctor Weaver, and definitely Doctor Ross. Oh hello, Doctor Ross. I have a fever would you like to do a full body examination? Oh…sorry…I think I just steered you all into one of my fantasies…
Back to the anti-d.
When I lost my first pregnancy in April I was with a large and impersonal clinic with unimpressive levels of patient care. I was never offered the anti-d injection, even though it should have been mandatory. Luckily when I was tested at my new clinic they found that Nemo’s blood cells had very kindly avoided my blood stream as he vacated the premises and I hadn’t developed anti-bodies. But I’d completely forgotten this time around that I would need an injection and was unpleasantly surprised to receive the phone call from the nurse.
Not only did I have to come in at 7am, I had to get another huge intra-muscular needle in my thigh. Why is it always in the damn thigh lately? And why always in the muscle? Give a girl a break.
After terminating the ectopic pregnancy I was looking forward to resting in the weeks coming up to Christmas. I was looking forward to not having to be up at the hospital most mornings before work for tests or scans or appointments or injections. I was trying to see the positive side to losing my little Peanut and/or Butters. But no! The inconveniences continued!
Five minutes after receiving the bad news, my phone rang again.
“Hi Sadie, it’s just Shirley again.” said the voice on the other end of the line. “We’ve changed our minds. Can you come in tomorrow at 7am for the blood test and then 7am the following day for the anti-d shot.”
Ugh. Seriously? Two days in a row? Just my luck.
“If the blood test comes back negative do I still need to get the shot?” I asked hopefully.
“Yes.” Shirley replied sternly. “And don’t forget the day after that you need to come in here for your first follow-up blood test following the methotrexate.”
Well…..damn. Apparently you can’t sleep in when you’re going through IVF, you can’t sleep in when you’re pregnant and you can’t sleep in when you’ve lost a pregnancy. You just can’t sleep in. At least not if you’re me. And I am me.
To be fair, the anti-d shot itself wasn’t too bad. It certainly wasn’t anywhere near as painful as the methotrexate. It sort of just felt like a regular FSH injection, except with a much bigger needle. I’m glad I had it done. Now I don’t have to worry about anything else going wrong next time we go through a cycle. Because let’s face it, not too much else can really go wrong for me at this point.
Now I’m just waiting for my next follow-up appointment with Doctor Vacation. Sorry, wait. I meant to say with Doctor B when she comes back from yet another holiday abroad. That will happen in the first week of December.
Now that everything is out of the way for this cycle, I can simply be “anti-everything” and just take a break from all the infertility stuff. At least for another couple of weeks. It feels so nice to just be away from it all. I can focus on other things now! I might even be able to catch up with a couple of friends for coffee and not bore them with fertility treatment talk. And I might even drink actual caffeinated coffee. I’m wild!
I can’t believe how positive I am being at the moment. I actually feel a little bit like a real human being!
You guys, I give it a week tops until I am back on here complaining about some other crisis or drama in my life.