Tag Archive | infertile

I’m still here (and photos!)

Wowzers. Sorry for being away so long.

Motherhood (particularly as a single mum) has knocked me around very badly. I truly never expected it to be this hard. 

I’ve been battling so many issues that I never thought I’d have to deal with and the anxiety is incredible. I won’t even bother mentioning Harriet’s traumatic birth because I’ll save that for a different post but I’m sure you’ll want some highlights from the past two months…

For starters I’ve got massive breastfeeding problems – I’ve had mastitis six times already. Three times required antibiotics and one was so bad I needed hospitalization. 

The constant antibiotics gave me nipple thrush which is treatment resistent and has now gotten into my milk ducts. It has started travelling to other parts of my body and I now have it in my throat and mouth too.

It means my let-downs feel like someone is pouring acid on my chest and every time Harriet feeds I cry from pain. They keep treating me but it’s not improving.

Hmm what else? Oh yes. James had a total break-down when Harriet was a couple of weeks old and his treatment of me became so terrible even he finally realised he had a massive problem. So I finally got him to a doctor’s clinic and on antidepressants. 

Again, this is a whole other post for another time but let’s just say he has made adjusting to parenthood ten times harder than it should be. I felt like I was raising two children.

I’ve also been struggling massively with anxiety. I’m paranoid Harriet is going to die in her sleep, paranoid she hates me, paranoid I’m going to die and leave her to be raised by James and paranoid she isn’t hitting her milestones or something is wrong with her.

For the first few weeks I didn’t bond with her at all. I would cry and scream and tell my mother something was wrong with me. I needed so badly to protect her and keep her alive but at the same time felt no affection for her. 

The doctor suspects it was due to the fact we were separated straight away when she was born and I didn’t really see her for the first few days so we had no initial skin to skin etc. It was terrifying and the moment the love finally hit me was just utter relief. 

Oh and it’s worth mentioning once again that my ex got remarried just to add to all the fun.

Honestly I have so many half written posts to eventually finish and publish. And the longer I leave it the harder it will be to catch up and say everything I want to say. Except right now I’m not strong enough and I don’t have the energy.

But I swear it’s not all bad! Harriet is 9 weeks old now and time is flying so I thought I’d at least post some photos to see you all through until I can actually post something substantial. And maybe some of the photos will speak for themselves.

All I can say is that she is honestly my whole world. She is my reason for existing. And she is absolutely thriving. She is in the 85th percentile for height and weight and a very smiley contented baby. 

I love her, I love her, I love her.

Week one

Week Two

Week Three

Week Four

Week Five

Week Six

Week Seven

Week Eight

Week Nine

That’s all for now.

I will try hard to update properly soon.

Sadie xx

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I have a short legged baby…

I had my 30 week appointment today (even though I’ve just ticked over to 31 weeks).

As usual, I am measuring 2 weeks ahead.

Fundal height is 33 weeks. Baby’s head is measuring 33 weeks. Baby’s torso is 33 weeks. But baby’s legs are 30 weeks.
Baby’s legs were at 29 weeks at my last appointment 2 weeks ago. So legs have had 1 week of growth in a fortnight.

The doctor measured 3 times just to be sure and got 30 weeks for the femurs each time.

He said not to be worried. But…I mean…it’s me…so I am worried.

I know short femurs is a soft marker for down syndrome. But my Harmony test came back at less than 1 in 10,000 risk and my nuchal scan was less than 1 in 15,000 risk.

So what’s the deal here? Should I be worried about dwarfism?

My doctor says maybe she is just short. He said he will measure her again at 36 weeks and not to think about it until then.

I’m 5’4 but my dad and brother are both over 6 foot. James is 6’3, both his parents are tall and his sister is even 6 foot. What are the chances of me having a short kid?!

I am freaking out here you guys and imagining a tiny legged kid with a huge head.

What DEFCON level should I be at here?? Because I’m not going to lie I’m probably sitting at DEFCON 3 right now but will happily slide into DEFCON 2 if you tell me to.

My no-complaints pregnancy

All the years I was going through the fresh hell that is IVF, I swore over and over that if I ever managed to fall pregnant and stay pregnant I’d never once complain. Not a single complaint.

So everything in this blog post is what I would say if I were able to complain. But I can’t complain so I won’t.

I’m merely just listing out the following complaints as an example of how not to behave when you’re experiencing a miracle pregnancy…..
Continue reading

Oops my doctor thinks I’m a wackadoodle…

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it before, but in “real life” (because…my words on the internet aren’t real life?) I’m a researcher.

I work at a university, I have a masters degree and I began my doctorate but deferred my studies when my ex-husband left me in 2014. Eventually I hope to go back, finish my PhD, and become Doctor Sadie. Yes Doctor Sadie – because in the world of pseudo-anonymous online blogging, there are no surnames…

The fact I was born with the ability to conduct rigorous academic research in my sleep has been both a curse and a blessing over the past few years.

It’s meant I was always fully capable of arming myself with cold hard facts during fertility treatment, IVF, surgeries, miscarriages, and all the other fun stuff us infertiles get to deal with on the daily. I always bypassed the anecdotal evidence available in copious amounts on Google, and went straight for the good stuff in peer reviewed academic journals.

And every time my hairdresser would say something like “Oh well my sister’s best friend’s cousin’s accountant was doing IVF and she started drinking Pepsi Max and fell pregnant straight away.” instead of rushing out and buying Pepsi Max by the carton I would think hmmm I wonder if there have been any clinical trials conducted on the effects of aspartame in infertile women under the age of 30.

But on the flip side, it’s also meant a lot of sleepless nights for me. Too much knowledge can be dangerous. Too much knowledge leads to anxiety, depression and sometimes mild hysteria. Knowing risk factors, knowing the research, the statistics, the likely outcomes…is not always a benefit.

But now I’m pretty sure my current obstetrician, Doctor Eminem, thinks I’m a wackadoodle. Why? Well I’m glad you asked because I’m going to tell you.

I attended my 28 week appointment yesterday. I’m actually 29 weeks but due to scheduling issues, we had the appointment a little later than usual.

First up I was given the news that I don’t have gestational diabetes. This absolutely shocked me, to be honest. I’m carrying a huge-ass bump out the front of my person. Like I mean people are already stopping me in the street and asking if I’m overdue. And don’t get me started on the old “is it twins?” jaunt. Why do people think it’s okay to ask that question? I don’t go up to random strangers and ask them why they’re so damn fat.

Plus don’t forget that PCOS puts me into a high risk category for GD (hello years of metformin!), I have a family history, I’ve stacked on way too much weight (already up 12kg – or 26 pounds – by 27 weeks, though this can likely be chalked up to emotional eating due to stress) and I fainted at work the other week.

So I was fully expecting the news that I would be replacing my Snickers bars with celery sticks. But all rejoice! The Snickers gets to stay!

Next up we did some measurements. My fundal height is now 31 weeks. This is no surprise to me as like I said, I’m carrying big. My tilted uterus makes me look even bigger than 31 weeks so I was just glad he didn’t say I was measuring 36 weeks or something!

Next up, I got my ultrasound. In Australia, in the private health system, you get an ultrasound every 4 weeks. At my last ultrasound (which you’ll know was at 24 weeks if you can count backwards in denominations of four ;)) my fatso baby was measuring at 25+4.

This time, her tummy is measuring 30+6, her legs 30+5 and her head 31 weeks. So that’s pretty much perfectly consistent with my fundal height of 31 weeks. Is it because we don’t know when I conceived and I’m actually 31 weeks along? Or is she just a monster baby?

She weighs approximately 1500 grams (3.3 pounds) which is 400 grams more than she should weigh at 29 weeks but spot-on for 31 weeks. Hmmm….

After the scan was done, Doctor Eminem tried to convince me to schedule an elective c-section to protect my pelvic floor from my monster baby. I am absolutely against this for a number of reasons.

I told him that firstly I want to be able to experience vaginal birth as this is likely the only time I’ll get to do this. Secondly, I want to be able to get up and move around straight after I give birth. Thirdly, the short-term recovery is better for vaginal births.

Lastly (and most importantly) I want the dump of hormones and chemicals after a natural birth that lowers a mother’s risk of postnatal depression. Given I’ve had multiple miscarriages and I’m still going through prenatal depression, I’m already in a very high risk category for PND. I don’t want to increase my risk any further by having an elective c-section.

Doctor Eminem worked out pretty quickly I wasn’t going to budge on that one, so then he started talking to me about elective induction instead. He actually gave me some copies of some studies conducted recently that show women who have elective inductions between 38 and 40 weeks gestation have a 19% lower risk of emergency c-section and their infant mortality rate was less than half that of women whose babies are born after their estimated due date.

The studies he provided me with are quite compelling but I’m not entirely convinced because I know that on the flipside the epidural rate is 20% higher in inductions (and of course an epidural will also prevent that dump of happy hormones after birth) plus I also don’t like the idea of being stuck to an IV drip and not being able to walk around during contractions.

I’m also looking at studies that show when a mother’s brain signals that it’s time to start labour (yes we spell labour with a “u” in Australia – deal with it) the baby’s lungs are coated with an extra large dose of a protein called surfactant that helps the baby to transition to breathing air after they are born.

Surfactant coats the baby’s lungs from around 32 weeks gestation onwards, however right before birth they receive a large and crucial dose. That dose is never provided to the baby during an induction because the process is artificial so the mother’s brain misses the signal, and this is why induced babies are more likely to suffer respiratory problems as newborns.

So with regards to the induced labour I have some more research to do and some decisions to make.

But then I was all like “Hey Doc, while we’re talking about medical studies I’d like to raise a few questions with you.”

He was all like “Oh okay Sadie sure.”

And then…I hit him with the wackadoodle!

“As you know,” I began. “I’m Rh negative and due now for my first shot of anti-d” (that’s a Rogam shot for you Americans)

“Yes.” said the doctor. “You’ll receive your first anti-d injection today.”

“Well, keeping in mind that I clearly understand why this shot is administered and I’ve happily had the shot after all of my previous miscarriages, I’d like to discuss the persistent assertion that women who have the anti-d injection are at an increased risk of having a child with autism.”

*silence*

“As a researcher I’m very aware that correlation and causation are two different things.” I continued. “I’m also very aware that a lot of the evidence that supports this claim is purely anecdotal. But a study was conducted which demonstrated a 62% increase of autism in the children of women who had the anti-d injection. Of course this could be a genetic factor linked to the Rh negative blood itself and the fact these women received the shots was just coincidence. Can you please debunk this theory for me so I can have a clear conscience when you administer my anti-d injection?”

*more silence*

And then I’m just looking at the doctor like oh crap please don’t think I’m crazy because honestly I’m happy to have the shot! I just really wanted some good medical studies to put my mind at ease.

I’m not a person who believes in woo-woo pseudo science. I’m not a person who believes that autism is caused by basically anything and everything including vaccinations, patting your head whilst rubbing your tummy or listening to Justin Bieber music (which, I’d like to add, is a well known use of torture in prison camps around the world).

But there’s a very strong genetic history of autism in James’ family. It’s across several generations but seems to be getting worse. In fact, James has a brother and a sister. Between the three siblings, they have had four children.

His sister’s son is far enough along the spectrum that he has to attend special school and both of his brother’s sons are also autistic. One nephew is severely autistic and non-verbal.

The only child in the new generation of his family not to have autism so far is James’ own son Isaac. So of course autism is something I’m very aware of, even with the understanding that the condition is genetic and cannot for the most part be avoided.

And if I do have an autistic child that’s totally fine and I will love her no differently and raise her to be a beautiful young woman. Just so we’re clear. I just don’t ever want to feel guilt for causing her autism through a decision I made. Get what I’m saying?

“You know what Sadie?” Doctor Eminem finally said. “Don’t have the shot.”

“But…but…I want to have the shot!” I spluttered. “I don’t want to risk my baby being Rh positive, my body creating antibodies and hurting the baby!”

“If you started bleeding would you agree to have the shot immediately?” he asked.

“Yes of course!” I answered.

“Well then the risk to your current baby is quite frankly nil.” he said. “Once upon a time, the anti-d injection wasn’t manufactured in large quantities so Rh negative mothers only received the shot once their baby was born. They didn’t get the shots at 28 and 36 weeks. And in all my years as an obstetrician, I’ve never once seen a woman develop antibodies. So we’ll wait until the baby is born like they did a few years ago, and give you the shot then. That way not only are your hypothetical future babies protected but if your current baby ends up having autism you’ll know it’s not because you got that injection.”

I had to admit, Doctor Eminem’s logic was sound. I wasn’t aware that up until recently women only received the shot once their babies were born. That made me feel a lot better.

Plus…let’s be honest…the chance of Miss Infertile Australia spontaneously falling pregnant twice in her lifetime is slim to nil. So future babies are unlikely to be a factor to stress about…

“Right.” I said. “Let’s move on to the whooping cough vaccination.”

*silence*

*crickets chirping*

*tumbleweed rolls past the doctor’s desk*

“Vaccinations don’t cause autism.” Doctor Eminem blurted out, a wild look in his eyes.

“I absolutely agree.” I said ardently. “I’m a very strong proponent of vaccinations and my child will be fully vaccinated. I am fully vaccinated. I had a whooping cough booster only two years ago! Every single person who will be coming into contact with the baby in her first few weeks of life including James, my parents, his parents and my grandparents have been given a booster since I fell pregnant.”

“Okay so what’s the problem?” he asked.

“Well I just want some evidence of the safety of administering the booster whilst pregnant.” I explained. “The Boostrix vaccine insert recommends the shot not be given to pregnant women. I understand this is because vaccine manufacturers routinely exclude pregnant women from their clinical trials and I’m not questioning this. But from what I can see, the only clinical trials that have been conducted for pregnancy have been trials of rabbits and mice. There was one very small study conducted on humans in Europe, but the study population was tiny and I wouldn’t think it overly reliable. I am wary of allowing myself to be injected with a vaccine whilst pregnant, before rigorous clinical trials are conducted on humans. Your thoughts?”

“My thoughts?” asked Doctor Eminem. “Well…um…my thoughts are that you shouldn’t get the booster during pregnancy.”

“But Doc!” I gasped. “Australia is in the middle of its worst ever whooping cough epidemic! And by administering the booster shot to pregnant women between weeks 28 and 32 of their pregnancy, they pass partial immunity to their baby! I need the shot!”

(As you can see…it was like I was playing devils advocate with myself and my doctor was merely along for the wackadoodle ride.)

“Yes it’s true that the booster does provide partial immunity for the baby.” the doctor agreed. “But you personally are already protected by your recent vaccination and everyone in your family is protected. If you plan to isolate the baby prior to her first round of shots when she’s six weeks old then don’t even worry about it. That’s a good level of protection. Then you won’t have to worry about the validity of the research into administration of the vaccine during pregnancy.”

So basically…I went into the appointment hoping my doctor would debunk my concerns regarding the anti-d injection and the whooping cough vaccination, and instead I technically won both the arguments and the end result was no shots for me. And the truth is that was not the outcome I wanted! I really want the shots! I just wanted him to prove me wrong! Argh!!

I’m still pretty certain I’m going to go ahead and get the whooping cough booster shot. I don’t like the idea of her being exposed, even if I keep her at home. I guess I have a few weeks to decide.

And now I’m going to ask for some of that anecdotal evidence I try so hard to avoid!!

Did you get the anti-d (rogam) injection whilst pregnant? Did you ever worry about it affecting your baby?

Did you get a whooping cough booster whilst pregnant? Did you feel safer knowing your baby had partial immunity?

Oh oh! And can anyone share a story with me about elective labour induction? Or just induction in general? What was recovery like? Were you able to move around? Did you need an epidural? Did your baby have breathing problems?

Hit me with your lovely anecdotes!!

Lots of love,

Sadie xx

p.s I think this post definitively proves I’m basically incapable of writing anything less than 2000 words even when I’m not moaning about my stressful life. #sorrynotsorry

A hospital visit, a confession and a bombshell

It was early October.

On the morning that I turned seven weeks pregnant (according to my obstetrician’s dating scan the week before) I woke up with intense pain in my upper right torso.

It just so happened that a friend of mine was visiting Paradise and staying with me for a few days. And it further just so happened that this friend of mine was a nurse.

She was in the kitchen when I woke up, so I hobbled in there and confessed that I was pregnant and also in weird pain right below my ribcage.

She took me back into my bedroom, got me to lay down on the bed and examined me.

Based on my pain response, she said that the pain was isolated in my stomach and gall bladder region.

“Look I don’t mean to alarm you, but given pregnant women are more at risk of gall bladder attacks I think you need to go up to the hospital.” she said.

So I called in sick at work and then phoned my mother. She was driving to Paradise that morning anyway to have lunch with me, so she was luckily close-by.

She diverted to my house and picked me up, then drove me up to the local public hospital.

I was worried I was in for about a six hour wait just to be seen by a doctor in the emergency department, as is commonly the case when you visit a large public hospital.

When I arrived I was triaged by a nurse at the front desk. I explained that I’d had four previous pregnancy losses, was seven weeks pregnant and having bad pains in my upper torso.

To my surprise I was given priority care and within ten minutes I was wearing a hospital gown and had been given a bed in the emergency department.

The doctor who examined me confirmed that the pain was in my stomach and gall bladder, and ordered blood work and an ultrasound of my torso. I was then admitted as a patient of the hospital and made nil by mouth.

While the technician was scanning my stomach and gall bladder, we chatted and I told him all about IVF, my miscarriages, my husband leaving and my surprise miraculous pregnancy that may or may not be continuing. He was absolutely fascinated and even when he’d completed his task, he still kept me there chatting.

“Hey listen,” he said. “The paperwork here says I was only supposed to scan your upper torso, but do you want to have a quick look at your uterus too? I’m dying to see if you have a baby in there.”

Did I want him to do a quick scan of my uterus? Well…is the Pope a Catholic? I mean, yes. Yes I did.

He spread the cold gel onto my belly and I held my breath while he placed the wand across my middle.

The hospital’s ultrasound machine was brand new and significantly better quality than the little dinky machine in my obstetrician’s office. Straight away a fat little blob appeared on the large screen and I could clearly see the flicker of the blob’s heart. 

There it was. Undeniable proof I was still pregnant.

“Well you’re definitely pregnant!” The technician said, as if reading my mind. “I don’t see a second baby in there. But to be honest I’m not trained in pelvic scans so I don’t really know what I’m looking for.”

When I was taken back to the ward, I was again visited by the doctor who told me that my stomach and gall bladder were clear of blockages or issues, and that his best guess was an aggressive bacteria in my stomach had caused the pain.

He wanted to keep me in overnight and give me antibiotics and morphine, but I asked to be discharged. Knowing there was definitely a little baby still growing inside me, I didn’t want to be putting anything unnecessary in my body – particularly hardcore painkillers. I promised to return straight to the hospital if I started feeling very unwell and the doctor reluctantly signed my discharge papers.

As my mother was driving me back home, I started vomiting. Luckily she had a bucket in the back of her car. It was pretty horrific.

Arriving at my house, my mother asked me if I wanted her to stay but I told her to go and I’d be fine. But unfortunately the vomiting continued all evening and all through the night. It was absolutely horrific and I couldn’t even put a swig of water into my mouth without being ill.

Early the next morning, while I was lying on the bathroom floor with my head resting on the cool tiles, James appeared in the doorway. He looked absolutely distraught.

“What’s the matter?” I asked through my exhaustion.

“Sadie I’ve figured it out.” He said solemnly. “I’ve figured out what’s been going on with you lately.”

I swallowed a lump that had suddenly formed in my throat.

“Wh-what do you mean?” I spluttered, sitting up.

“The constant doctors visits…blood tests…scans…you’re vomiting all the time…you’re moody…you were at the hospital yesterday.” He said, so upset he was almost crying. “I’ve figured it out and I know what’s going on here.”

Oh god. It was time to finally face the music.

“You have cancer!” he said, practically sobbing. “You’re dying aren’t you? It’s cancer!”

For about thirty seconds I’m pretty sure I sat on the bathroom floor staring at him like he’d grown a second head. How could a grown man be so…silly?

“What!” I finally gasped. “I don’t have cancer you idiot! I’m pregnant!”

More silence.

Much more silence.

He just stood there, eyes wide, gaping at me. And I sat, staring nervously back at him.

Then James let out a huge sigh of relief.

“Pregnant? Is that all? Oh thank God!” he said.

Well…that sure wasn’t the reaction I’d been expecting.

He asked me a few questions about how far along I was, and why I hadn’t told him before that point. I explained that there was an expectation I was going to miscarry and I didn’t want to worry him needlessly, given he didn’t want more children. He actually thanked me for trying to protect him as long as possible.

He was extremely calm and I was extremely grateful. To be honest it was sort of a relief that James finally knew.

I told him that I had an obstetrician appointment in a couple of days, and that I would have more information to give him then. He accepted that and promised not to ask more questions or tell anyone until after my appointment.

Two solid days of vomiting later (turns out the illness I was suffering from was actually severe morning sickness!) I turned up for my appointment with Doctor Eminem. Given I’d seen the baby a few days earlier at the hospital and I hadn’t had any bleeding, I felt fairly confident my pregnancy was progressing.

Sure enough, when Doctor Eminem scanned me he confirmed that there was one baby in the gestational sac measuring perfectly based on my ultrasound the previous week. The baby had a healthy heartbeat of 163bpm. He printed off a photo and handed it to me.

A photo…of my baby.

The baby I was pregnant with.

Actually pregnant.

After the scan was over, we went back to his office for a chat.

“I don’t understand.” I said. “How is this happening? How is this possible? Eight cycles of IVF and then I was told I’d never have children?”

“You know what really bugs me?” Doctor Eminem asked, pushing his glasses up his nose. “When fertility doctors tell women it’s their fault.”

“What do you mean?” I replied. “I have proven infertility factors – endometriosis, PCOS, blocked tubes…”

“Yes and did the doctors focus on treating those factors? Did they perform surgeries, give you medications, perform IVF?” he asked.

“Yes…” I responded.

“And in all your years of trying, how long did doctors spend focused on your husband? My guess is he had a sperm analysis and not much else.”

He was right. It was only at the very end the experts had suggested genetic testing to look for a sperm problem and that’s when Doug had left me.

“You see Sadie you are suffering from reproductive problems but you are able to have children. Clearly your uterus is good and your eggs are good.” Doctor Eminem said. “The insurmountable factor – the one that meant you’d never have children – that factor was not yours. It was your husbands.”

Suddenly it was like someone had dropped a heavy weight across my chest and I couldn’t breathe.

“You’ve had unprotected sex with a new partner and fallen pregnant almost straight away. Why? Different sperm!” The doctor continued. “Because the reason you previously couldn’t have children was your husband’s sperm. Ultimately, you were not to blame. Your husband was to blame.”

It made sense. It made so much sense.

The reason IVF had failed was not my fault. It was my husband’s fault.

His sperm analysis had showed C and D grade sperm, but the truth was actually much worse. There was something genetically wrong with his sperm which had caused dozens of our embryos not to develop, and had caused me to miscarry several times.

My husband had left me because I couldn’t have children, but the truth was that he couldn’t have children.

HE COULDN’T HAVE CHILDREN.

I was in complete shock. Utter dismay and shock.

And also…secretly a little bit smug.

That douchebag had no idea that he’d blamed me for his own problem and it served him right.

Doctor Eminem asked to see me again in a week’s time to check on my pregnancy’s progress and I left his office on cloud nine.

I was finally really truly pregnant. Maybe this time I was going to be a mum. Maybe this time all my dreams would come true.

The baby looks good. Measuring on track. Heartbeat is 163bpm. I texted through to James.

A few minutes later my phone buzzed and I opened up James’s response.

Ugh no! Are you kidding! How have you not miscarried yet? What a bummer.

Good mood ruined, suddenly I felt so deflated. I couldn’t believe James had texted something so callous that clearly assumed we’d both been rooting for bad news.

Suddenly I had a terrible feeling this “dream” pregnancy was going to be more like a nightmare…

Two or one or none…

I sat quietly in the obstetrician’s waiting room.

My mother, who had travelled from the city to attend the appointment with me, was sitting on my left.

Every other woman in the room had rounded and protruding bellies, which any infertile knows is pretty much the worst case scenario when it comes to doctor’s waiting rooms.

The instruction to “go home and wait to miscarry” had been followed, but the prediction had not come to fruition. Instead, I had endured eight days of solid excruciating menstrual cramping but nothing close to a period. Just bucket loads of clear, odourless discharge.

Clear discharge is common in early pregnancy because the mucus plug is forming, my brain cruelly whispered to me as I lay awake stressing each night.

Did I say stress? Well let’s not even mention the constant crying. Cooking dinner was cry time. Showering was cry time. Bed time was cry time. Lunch break at work was cry time. My anxiety levels were well and truly through the roof.

Every little thing had been harder. Sleeping, eating, working, especially taking prenatal vitamins even though the simple act of swallowing the tablet made me feel like a dickhead.

It was all so much harder because James, who was still occupying my front bedroom, had no idea what I was going through. My mother, who was my main support, was two hours away and none of my new friends in Paradise had any idea I was even infertile.

In reality, I had to remember I was lucky that this whiz-bang obstetrician was even able to fit me in for an emergency appointment at such short notice. I mean, it wasn’t a real emergency. Nobody’s cat was stuck up a tree, I just hadn’t started my period.

Sitting in that room, surrounded by smug pregnant woman (note: they probably weren’t smug) I realised suddenly that this was the first time I’d ever visited an obstetrician. I’d seen basically every other type of doctor, but the coveted prize of the obstetrician had always been outside my grasp. Or…my uterus’s grasp.

By the time my name was called, my protective shell was well and truly in place. To out-of-context quote Pink Floyd, I was comfortably numb. 

The obstetrician I met that day is someone who I’m going to call Doctor Eminem.

Not because he was a prolific white rapper from the wrong side of the 8 Mile Road, but because he was supremely meek and mild. Almost like a kitten wearing a lab coat.

Actually, after we left that day my mother said that he spent the entire appointment looking like he may burst into tears at any moment because there was just so much beauty in the world. You know, one of those types…

After Doctor Eminem called me into his office and shook my hand, he started flipping through the notes in my file while I sat on the other side of his desk nervously wringing my hands.

“Sadie I must say I’m extremely confused.” The doctor said. “Based on your previous history you shouldn’t be sitting here today.”

“I’m aware…” I replied. “Look, the truth is I was told to go home and wait to miscarry, but I’ve not yet had my period. This isn’t my first time at the miscarriage rodeo and I know the drill here. So if you could just confirm there’s no viable embryo and book me in for a d&C I’ll be on my way.”

“Of course.” Doctor Eminem said meekly. “Please follow me next door to the ultrasound room.”

I opted for an internal scan, as the external scan hadn’t even shown the sac the previous week. As predicted, he was the kind of doctor who apologised profusely right before he inserted the dildo cam. I was so nervous I couldn’t even look at the monitor.

“Okay I’ve seen it.” he said, after all of about three seconds.

Wait, that was it? A couple of seconds was all he needed to diagnose me?

“I see it too.” said my mother, who was standing at my side with her fingers digging into my bicep in some kind of supportive gesture.

“See what?” I finally asked, flicking my eyes up to the screen.

“The baby’s heartbeat.” Doctor Eminem replied.

The what now? The what? I’m sorry, the what?

Looking at the screen I could see that the gestational sac had grown larger, and that there were several blobs in there. The ultrasound machine wasn’t as new or fancy as the ones I was used to in the city and everything was slightly unclear.

“What am I looking at?” I asked, confused.

“Well it looks to me like twins.” Doctor Eminem said. “Here’s twin A and yolk sac, and here’s twin B and yolk sac. But only one has a heartbeat.”

He measured twin A (the one with the hearbeat) and announced that the baby was measuring 6 weeks and 2 days with a heartbeat of 122bpm.

“No that’s not right.” I said. “My hcg levels were 5500 ten days ago. I should be like…seven and a half weeks.”

“Well I’m going to hazard a guess that the reason the gestational sac was empty last week was because you’re only six weeks along now.” He said. “Twins would make your hcg levels higher than average.”

Next, the doctor examined twin B. It was measuring the same age, but as he’d previously stated it was without a heartbeat.

“I’m going to be honest with you Sadie and outline some different scenarios.” Doctor Eminem said.

First of all, there was the possibility that the second baby was just a few days behind developmentally. Normally the heart started beating at around six weeks gestation. That second heart may begin to beat very soon, although this was highly unusual as identical twins tended to develop at the same pace in early pregnancy.

Secondly, the unviable embryo would be reabsorbed back into the uterus. This was called vanishing twin syndrome. The healthy embryo would develop as a normal singleton pregnancy.

Thirdly, as the two embryos looked to be sharing a gestational sac, my body would recognise the need to flush the unviable embryo and I would miscarry both.

Doctor Eminem told me I needed to go home and wait again. If I hadn’t started bleeding, I should come back in ten days and he would scan me again to check on progress.

I couldn’t believe I’d been put into yet another high stress waiting situation.

Doctor Eminem could see I was visibly upset. “What can I do to make this easier on you?” he asked.

“Well the truth is,” I said. “Last time I miscarried only a couple of hours after seeing my baby’s heartbeat for the first time. I’m just sad I didn’t have any proof that baby existed, even though I saw and heard it’s heart.”

“I understand.” Doctor Eminem said empathetically. “Go and get your phone and we’ll do a recording of the heartbeat for you to keep.”

It was a perfect idea and I was so very grateful for his sweet suggestion. So my mother raced next door to his office and came rushing back with my phone.

Then he let the heartbeat play for about 30 seconds, while I kept the phone’s camera focused on the screen.

“Good luck Sadie,” he said as we ended the appointment. “I hope to see you again in ten days.”

And so began another torturous wait…

Go home and wait to miscarry

It was the morning after the night before.

I had driven back to Paradise after my positive pregnancy test, completely in shock and also sort of numb. I honestly didn’t know what to think or how to feel.

Focusing on the road stretched out in front of me, I mentally calculated timeframes.

The month of May was when we transitioned away from condoms. We’d only had unprotected sex once in May, but it was the week before I’d started my period.

We’d had unprotected sex twice at the start of June and several times right before I got my period. Never in the middle of the month.

In July, James had taken on a month long construction labourer contract back in the city so we hadn’t seen much of each other and only had sex sparingly. Maybe a few times right before I got my period.

In August, we started in a good place emotionally and had sex basically every night for the first two weeks. Then the arguing escalated and we’d had sex maybe once more before calling quits on our relationship.

August.

Had I conceived in August?

Had I conceived the very first month I’d had unprotected sex around the time a woman normally ovulated?

I mean…as far as every doctor had told me I didn’t even ovulate. And if I did miraculously ovulate, my tubes were too blocked for the egg to get through. And if the egg did get through a tube my endometriosis and high prolactin levels would kill off the embryo.

No pregnancy. No way. No how.

And yet…the little FRER stick tucked into my handbag said differently.

The first thing I did when I arrived back in Paradise was call to make an appointment with a local doctor. Thankfully, he said he could fit me in right when the clinic opened at 8.30am.

The clinic was next to a supermarket, so while I was waiting for 8.30am to roll around I went and bought a Clearblue Digital with a conception indicator. I figured it would give me a more accurate indication of what was actually going on, particularly as I’d used late evening urine with the original test.

Almost as soon as my urine hit the stick, the digital screen lit up with Pregnant: 3+.

Suddenly I began to question even my own timelines. Could I have conceived back in June or July and just continued to have menstrual bleeding? I’d definitely heard of it happening before.

Then I started making a mental list of all the non-pregnancy friendly things I’d done in the past month….

  • I had ridden my bicycle to work every day.
  • I’d guzzled green tea to try and lose some weight before summer arrived.
  • I’d had some alcoholic beverages the week before. Me! Someone who hadn’t drunk alcohol in years even while unsuccessfully trying to conceive! And ironically I had consumed alcohol whilst pregnant.
  • Ohhh I had taken Isaac to the theme park and ridden the rollercoaster all day. That couldn’t be good…

Finally the clinic opened and the doctor ushered me into his consultation room. I explained that I was unexpectedly pregnant, and gave a brief history of my infertility.

“Wait…” he started incredulously. “You asked a different doctor for the contraceptive pill and he’d told you not to bother? That is…super negligent. Really bad. I can’t believe it!”

It was the first time it had occurred to me how stupid that previous doctor had actually been. No one is ever one hundred percent guaranteed not to fall pregnant naturally unless they’re missing their womb, both tubes or ovaries. Sure my chances of not falling pregnant were 99.99% but that still wasn’t a guarantee.

The doctor ordered beta hcg blood work just to confirm I was actually pregnant. He put a rush on the test and told me he’d phone me in the afternoon.

Whilst having my blood drawn, I explained my situation to the phlebotomist. She was a young girl, maybe 23 or 24, with long blonde hair. She rocked back on her heels in shock.

“Get fucked!” she gasped. “No way! Get fucked! That’s amazing!”

Well…um…yep…that was definitely a concise way to sum up my situation.

I went home in a daze and sat in the kitchen waiting for my phone to ring. I felt like I had been transported back to the old days of waiting for the fertility clinic to call with embryo fertilization reports or hcg results.

“Why do you look so miserable?” asked James, coming into the kitchen to make himself lunch. “And why do you have medical tape on your arm like you’ve had a blood test?”

In that moment I instantly decided now was not the time to tell James what was happening. He had made it very clear right from the beginning that his son was enough for him and he didn’t want any more children. Not to mention the fact we’d broken up and he was currently looking for a new home to rent.

“I have the flu…” I muttered.

Thankfully he didn’t question me further, and chose to go back to watching television.

Finally the phone rang. It was the call I had been waiting for.

“Hi Sadie,” said the doctor. “Your hcg result was very positive. Your level is 5500. I’m going to suggest you’re at least 6 weeks along. But given your previous history, I need you to get an ultrasound as soon as possible so we can rule out an ectopic ok?”

I agreed. Of course I agreed. I was both scared and excited.

But I was also so confused. Was this actually going to happen? Was I actually going to have a baby? With a man I didn’t love? Where was my husband? Why couldn’t this have happened a year ago?

I remembered back to the hundreds – or maybe even thousands – of times that I’d prayed and wished and begged to have a baby. Maybe this was my own fault. Maybe I hadn’t been specific enough.

Do you remember that Brendan Fraser movie Bedazzled where the devil (played by Liz Hurley) grants him three wishes in exchange for his soul? And he wishes to be rich and powerful, with his girl crush Frances O’Connor as his wife? The devil grants his wish and makes Frances O’Connor his wife, except it turns out she hates him and is cheating on him? Because whilst making the wish he didn’t ask for her to love him only to be married to him.

Do you get what I’m trying to say here? Maybe instead of just wishing for a baby I needed to wish for a baby with my husband. This whole thing was happening in such a messed up way because I hadn’t been careful enough in my wishing.

Two agonising days later, it was finally time to get my scan done at the clinic.

Once again, I explained my history to the sonographer and told her that I’d probably had hundreds of pelvic ultrasounds so I would know what I was looking at. She seemed quite stunned by that.

After I got undressed and sat up on the table, she placed the ultrasound wand on my pelvis, pressing down onto my overfull bladder.

My eyes were keenly glued to the screen across the room. Looking…waiting…

She moved the wand left and right, digging further into my bladder.

Blank. The screen was blank.

“There’s no gestational sac.” I said matter-of-factly.

I’d been pregnant several times before and knew this drill too well. Pregnancies didn’t go well for me. This was the expected outcome. I was in comfortable territory. I knew the deal. I could cope with this. Right. Okay. I was going to be 29 years old with 5 pregnancy losses under my belt. Fine.

“We’d better get you to empty your bladder and do an internal scan.” the sonographer said. “With levels at 5500 two days ago and the uterus empty, we need to check your tubes immediately.”

As soon as the internal scan began, a small sac popped up on the screen smack bang in the middle of my uterus.

“You see that?” the sonographer asked.

“Yeah I see it.” I nodded. “I don’t see a yolk sac or a fetal pole though.”

“No.” she agreed. “The sac is very small and it looks like it’s empty.”

She called a doctor into the room, who confirmed her diagnosis.

“I’m really sorry.” he said. “My best guess is that this is a blighted ovum. With your levels as high as they are, we really should see something bigger than this. My advice is to go home and wait to miscarry.”

“Okay.” I said calmly. “And what if I don’t start bleeding?”

“If you haven’t started bleeding within a week, I’ll need to schedule you an emergency appointment to see one of the best obstetricians at the private hospital.” said the doctor. “He deals with complicated cases like yours. You will probably need a d&c.”

That night, I was sitting in the living room watching tv with James when his phone rang.

It was his sister, Sharon. She and I were friends, and it was in fact at her Halloween party where I’d met James in 2014.

“Hey James put me onto speaker phone!” I heard her shout down the phone.

As soon as he complied with her request and placed the phone on the coffee table between us, she started shrieking excitedly.

“Guess what James! Guess what Sadie!” she screamed. “We’re having a baby! We’re pregnant! I’m going to be a mummy!”

My heart dropped into my stomach. It was the jolt of emotion that I badly needed to knock me out of my numb stupor.

Sharon’s child would have been my child’s cousin. They would have been the same age. Grown up together. Been best friends. Sharon and I would have gone through our pregnancies together.

As soon as she hung up, the flood gates opened. I just cried and cried and cried.

James, assuming I was upset because I am infertile, came and sat beside me and quietly hugged me. He kept telling me over and over that it was all right to be sad about the fact Sharon was pregnant and I couldn’t have kids. He kept telling me it wasn’t my fault.

I just couldn’t tell him the truth.

That I was mourning for another lost dream. Another hope dashed. Another failure. Another chance at happiness.

All I had to do now was make it through the next week.

At the end of a week I would have a more clear understanding of my future.

By that time, I’d either have miscarried already or I would be on my way to see the obstetrician who could give me some real answers.

Little did I know, it would be the longest week of my life…

To be continued! Hoorayyyyyy……