Tag Archive | infertility in my 20s

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……

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m back! And I’m on the hunt for advice…

You know those bitches who disappear from their blog for a few months and then suddenly come back and they’re pregnant?

Yeah, sorry about that. Because I’m pregnant.

Seriously though I need some huge advice. I am freaking out and I don’t really know what to think or do. I suppose I should give you guys a quick recap before I get into the questions. That’s only polite.

First of all I want to explain the reason I left my blog. I never stopped thinking about you all, but I made a personal decision that was best for my relationship with my husband. We went through a rocky patch after my sixth cycle of IVF failed and he admitted during a disagreement one evening that he hated that I felt I was able to vent my true feelings on the internet but not to him. I was upset with him for thinking such a thing, but also desperate to mend our shaky marriage. So he made a request that I temporarily suspend my blog until such a time when our relationship was more stable, and I reluctantly obliged.

After that our relationship quickly improved (though I’m sure it had nothing to do with my lack of blogging, and more to do with the fact we both started seeing our therapists more regularly) and I would often think about returning here, but things have been very busy and I just never found the time.  

I am currently in my eighth cycle of IVF. You guys missed me moving to a new doctor, my entire seventh IVF cycle, another major laparoscopy where heaps of endo was removed, a D&C, more tubal studies, and another round of needle diathermy for my PCOS. Told you it’s been busy around here!

My new doctor is awesome, and so different to my last doctor. He swears a lot, which took a little getting used to. He said it was “fucked up” (his words, not mine) that a 27 year old had failed six cycles of IVF and no one seemed to really care or think I was important. He said decent fertility doctors would pay more attention to me because of my circumstances, rather than ignoring me to focus on older patients.

He took me on as a challenge, and even did my laparoscopy with no out of pocket expenses (even waived his surgical assistant’s fees) because he wanted to get me as healthy as possible as cheaply as possible. And because no young women should have to suffer what I’ve suffered through, and he wanted to make my life better. Just like that! Last time I had a laparoscopy it cost us around $5000 out of pocket so the saving was ridiculously massive. It was like falling in love all over again, except you know, not in a romantic kind of way…because he’s old…and I love my husband…

This doctor uses much more radical treatment methods, and pays close attention to studies coming out of Europe. He believes in throwing the book at IVF, rather than taking the ‘softly, softly’ approach that most IVF doctors in Melbourne seem to take. For example I was up to my sixth cycle and still wasn’t allowed to use embryo glue at my old clinic in case it resulted in twins! I mean honestly!

My previous doctor also kept refusing to test me for MTHFR gene mutations. She kept insisting I didn’t have it and the test was pointless and would cost us thousands out of pocket. I asked my new doctor and he said “sure go right ahead if you want to get tested I’ll write you a pathology request.” And guess what? The test only cost $65 out of pocket. And guess what else? I am a homozygous carrier of the MTHFR mutation. SURPRISE SURPRISE!!! I cried so much when I found out, because I’m so sure that fact at least contributed to my previous two pregnancy losses. Now I take blood thinners, and I feel better not only about the fact my treatment is more successfully managed but also hopeful this will lessen my chances of thrombosis in the future.

During my seventh cycle of IVF I experienced a fun new thing which I can add to my long list of fun new things. It’s called Empty Follicle Syndrome and it’s extremely rare in young women. Doc estimated I would have approximately 30 eggs picked up (he was deliberately overstimulating me to pick up as many eggs as possible, and then triggered me with Synarel instead of Ovidrel in order to prevent OHSS – I told you his protocols are more radical). But on egg retrieval day I only had seven eggs in the 30+ follicles.

When the doctor found out he didn’t dismiss it as “just something that happens sometimes” like my old doctor would have. Instead, he said “Well this is shit. Really shit. I’m really sorry. If we don’t get any fertilized eggs we will figure something out I promise. And I hope to God you have embryos on day five because I don’t want to deal with your wrath if you don’t.” It made me feel like he actually cared. I appreciated that.

In my eighth cycle we had some success and ended up transferring one perfect hatching AA graded blastocyst, with one lower quality blast tucked away in the freezer. Obviously we didn’t need assisted hatching, but we did use embryo glue.

And now we get to the part of the blog post where I ask y’all questions so please pay attention.

Last Monday (3dp5dt) I had a temperature spike and a tiny bit of pink spotting, which I thought might have been implantation bleeding. Then throughout the week I had bad headaches and ran a low grade fever but my boobs weren’t sore even though I constantly poked them. Last Friday I started cramping so I took a home pregnancy test and got a super super strong positive. Honestly I’ve never seen a pregnancy test turn so dark so quickly. Then on Saturday I had pink spotting in the morning and a small amount of red spotting in the evening followed by awful cramping. I was sure I was getting my period.

But on Monday (10dp5dt) I had my first beta test and my level came back at 330. I was ridiculously shocked to pull such a high number so early, particularly because in both my other pregnancies my levels were always so low. Not to mention the cramping and bleeding.

Two days later (yesterday) they did a follow-up blood test and I was so depressed and anxious. I was completely 100% convinced my numbers weren’t going to double so I went down to the supermarket on my lunch break at work to buy chocolate to console myself. As I was coming out of the supermarket, the nurse rang to tell me that my hcg at 12dp5dt was 805. I asked her to repeat that number like 6 times. “Sorry did you say 805? Can you just confirm 805? My number? For me? 805?”

The nurse said usually patients get numbers between 100 and 200 at 12dp5dt. So my numbers are pretty high and my doubling time was 36.14 hours which is also super fast am I correct? Like it’s the fast end of the normal range? She said my pregnancy seems strong and healthy. But come on. This is me. Things don’t go right for me. This can’t actually be happening for me.

My first thought was “Oh my god they’ve both implanted” and then I remembered we only transferred the one embryo, and put the other one into storage. So then I looked up identical twins and saw that the second embryo usually implants between days 10-14. Immediately I recalled the second lot of spotting I had on the weekend, which was 8dp5dt or technically 13dpo. So are identical twins a possibility? I guess so. My hcg levels don’t seem high enough for twins, but seem very high for a singleton.

All day today I have had a strong pain on my right side. It’s about 2.5 inches to the right of my belly button, but much further down near my pubic bone. It’s sort of a consistent twinging pain. Sometimes it’s on my left side, and sometimes in the middle, but mostly it’s on my right side. And now I am freaking out. I called the nurse and she said maybe it’s ligaments stretching but why is it mostly on one side?? Like I mean constantly twinging on my right side and occassionally mirrored on my left. The pain never leaves my right side.

So here are the questions:

1. For the IVF ladies who have had success…what were your hcg levels like in early pregnancy?

2. When my last pregnancy wasn’t located in the uterus, my hcg numbers were much lower than average and kept fluctuating up and down. Can I still have an ectopic pregnancy if my levels are higher than average and doubling nicely?

3. What does ectopic pain feel like?

4. Is this cramping normal? In women who have PCOS did the cysts on your ovaries react to the hcg increases and cause you pain? Could it be my ovary I am feeling?

5. If I have higher hcg levels with fast doubling times, does that mean I am more likely to have a normal healthy pregnancy, or is the actual number irrelevant?

6. I have an appointment with my doctor on Monday (I will be 5 weeks, 1 day pregnant) should I push for a scan or would it be pointless this early on because it’ll be too early to see anything?

I really can’t believe I’ve been away for months and now I’m coming back and asking for advice. Like, how selfish am I!

I really truly need assistance to calm down here. I know you all probably think I am overreacting, and I most likely am. But I feel like I deserve this one. Eight cycles of IVF is enough for anyone and it’s my 28th birthday on Monday. Please oh please can’t I just have a baby this time? 

Thanks in advance for your advice ladies.

 Sadie xx

p.s sorry for any spelling or grammar mistakes in this post – I didn’t have time to edit it I just wanted to get my post out there!

A boring summary of my 4th IVF cycle (the final part)

In the past I have been accused (by my husband, doctor and close family members) of being extremely negative during my IVF cycles, and particularly during the two week wait.

I was told repeatedly that if I stressed less maybe the embryos would have a better chance, despite the fact my psychologist has told me directly that studies have shown negative and positive emotions have zero impact on success rates.

But I was still high off my vacation to Malaysia and feeling confident that I’d had my last ever egg pick-up. I was just so sure this time was my time. So the two week wait started incredibly positively.

After my bungled embryo transfer, my mother took me out to lunch to try and take my mind off what had taken place. I was in such a good state of mind. We talked the whole meal about my “twins” as if they were a sure thing.

I also realised I had to come up with nicknames for them. Given that I’d just come home from Asia, and was wearing my ‘year of the horse’ necklace for good luck I decided to name the “twins” after the co-captains of the Broncos – Parker and Hodges.

For those who are unaware that there is a Broncos football team other than the Denver Broncos (yes that’s right I’m telling the truth!) the Brisbane Broncos are one of the most successful rugby league teams in Australia.

I grew up in Queensland (where they are based) so I’ve always followed them and gone to their games when they play in Melbourne. I thought it would be so cool to take my “twins” to football games in the coming years and show them the players they had been named after in-utero.

Here’s a photo of my “twins”, Hodges on the top and Parker on the bottom. Hodges was a grade 2 and compacting nicely but you can see his fragmentation problems. Parker was developmentally advanced for a day 3 embryo, and given a grade of 1.

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After lunch, my mother and I went to some baby stores. Yes, you read that right we went to baby stores. I was feeling so confident about P&H (that’s the twins, in case you didn’t get it) that I felt absolutely no stress or anxiety being in those stores. Sure, I was surrounded by pregnant women and mothers with young babies. But I was going to be one of them soon. I would be joining their ranks. So it was ok for me to be there. I felt secretly accepted.

In one of the stores we found mini football team singlets, and they had a Broncos design! The tiny singlets were in team colours and had the words “Mummy’s little Bronco” written across them. My mother pointed out how strange it was that they didn’t say “Daddy’s little Bronco” because football is generally associated with men. But lucky they didn’t because Doug doesn’t follow rugby league at all. He was born and raised here in Melbourne so he’s an AFL fanatic. Mummy’s little Bronco was perfect.

I took it as a sign from the universe that my little Broncos were definitely on their way. I bought two of the singlets and hung them up in my wardrobe. They looked like they belonged there.

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“I don’t want to rain on your parade,” Doug said as he watched me admiring the singlets. “But I think you’re actually being too positive this time. I can’t be as positive as you. I need to guard myself ok?”

Oh but I didn’t care at all if Doug didn’t want to join in the positivity-fest. Me and the boys (yes I gave P&H genders) had each other and that was all that mattered.

And then, three days after my embryo transfer, I was in the back garden shed unpacking boxes of gardening gear and tools when my phone rang. At the time I was holding a white handled shovel, trying to hook it up on the wall, so I didn’t even check the caller ID.

“Hello Sadie speaking!” I chirped happily.

“Hi Sadie, this is Leanne I’m one of the embryologists at your clinic.”

“Oh hi!” I said, breaking out into a huge grin.

I had been excitedly anticipating this phone call. I was about to find out how many of my remaining embryos had made it to freeze. I suspected two, but was hoping for three. Maybe even four!! These were my back-ups. They were the reason I was so confident I would never have to do another egg pick-up. I was done with IVF. My future children were all sorted.

“I’m so sorry to advise you that none of your embryos were frozen.” Leanne said slowly.

“What?” I asked, unsure if I’d heard her correctly.

“I’m so sorry Sadie.” she said. “It looks like all of your embryos stopped growing after day 3.”

“All of them?” I gasped.

“Yes they all stopped growing at the same time. One of them started growing again last night but it only made it to day 4 stage. Too slow to freeze.” Leanne explained.

“Well why would they all stop growing like that?” I asked.

“Usually when they all stop collectively it’s a genetic problem.” she said. “Usually a genetic problem with your eggs.”

My eggs? They were the only things that hadn’t been tested. I have every other infertility problem under the sun but no doctor had ever suggested there was something wrong with my eggs. It was the last thing I needed. It would take all options of parenthood off the table. Donor eggs arent readily available in Australia.

“Does this mean that the two that were transferred back to me would also have stopped growing?” I asked.

“It’s impossible to tell.” Leanne said. “I’m sorry. I hope not. We’ll have to wait and see.”

After I hung up the phone, I stood alone in the garden shed crying hysterically, still clutching the white handled shovel tightly in my hands.

All my chances were gone. My last hope was already inside me. If I failed to become pregnant, I would have to do another fully stimmed IVF cycle. If my eggs were bad I couldn’t even do that.

Every ounce of positivity instantly melted away and Miss Negative was back. Suddenly I was struggling to cope. I needed to know if P&H were going to implant. I just needed to know. Thankfully, I was having a lot of symptoms. I was getting more pinching and tugging in my uterus than I had with either of my pregnancies. That kept a small glimmer of sanity alive for me.

7dp3dt I woke up in the morning feeling like someone had repeatedly punched me in the abdomen. It wasn’t that cute and hopeful tugging anymore. It was full on menstrual cramping. I was hysterical.

I rushed to the bathroom and took a pregnancy test. Negative.

“It’s ok.” I said to Doug. “With both my other pregnancies I didn’t get a positive until 8dp3dt. It’ll be fine!”

But in my heart and in my mind I was worried it wasn’t fine. It was far from fine. I went out to the supermarket and bought hundreds of dollars worth of pregnancy tests. I figured if I exclusively used the really expensive brands and the digital tests that I would get a clearer result. And by “clearer” of course I mean “positive”. FRER became my closest friend.

But 8dp3dt brought with it negative, negative, negative, negative results. I kept testing throughout the day and that second little pink line was nowhere in sight. No matter how long I stared at the test, no matter what light I held it under, no matter what angle it was tilted to. Negative.

Every day between 8dp3dt and 11dp3dt I wasted at least $40 in pregnancy tests. I’m not even kidding. It got to the point where every time I went to the bathroom Doug was banging on the door shouting “Sadie you better not be peeing on a stick in there!”

I knew the cramping was menstrual cramping. I knew the tests were negative. But I just couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I couldn’t give up. I was in shock, really. At 27 years old, on my fourth fully stimmed cycle (fifth cycle if you counted my FET), and after two pregnancies, this was statistically supposed to be the cycle that worked for me. This was the time that was supposed to be my time.

On 11dp3dt before I went to get my blood drawn I had finally resigned myself to the fact this was a negative cycle. I was mentally prepared and ready to deal with the sadness and move on.

But then I tested at home, and I got a squinter. A squinter! A second little pink line. Definitely not an evap line. Definitely not something I was imagining because my husband could see it too! But still so faint that I couldn’t even pick it up when I tried to take a photo of it. My heart soared and my hope returned. Maybe this was my time. Maybe everything would be all right. Maybe all my worrying had been for nothing.

I was cautiously optimistic as I headed in to get my blood drawn, and content when I drove to work. Maybe, just maybe, I was going to get a nice surprise.

But a couple of hours later the phone rang. It was one of the IVF nurses.

“Sadie,” she said, her voice sombre. “I’m so sorry to tell you that your blood work shows you’re not pregnant.”

And just like that, it was over.

This entire cycle had been a massive waste of time. No pregnancy. No frozen embryos. Nothing. Just thousands of dollars down the drain.

I went to the bathroom at work, locked myself in a cubicle and cried so hard I thought my chest cavity was going to cave in and crush my heart and lungs.

I felt broken. I felt useless. I felt bitter and hateful and angry and devastated all at the same time. I wanted to go to sleep and never wake up again. I wanted to tear all my hair out. I wanted to scream my pain to everybody in my office.

Instead I calmed myself down, unlocked the cubicle door, washed my face at the sink and then went and sat back down at my desk like nothing had happened. When you have a failed IVF cycle you don’t even have the right to grieve. Nobody at work cares one iota, and nobody expects you to slack off or stop working. You become invisible. Your pain is invisible.

When I got home from work yesterday I went to my wardrobe and took the two little Broncos baby singlets that were hanging next to my own clothes. I folded them carefully and placed them on the top shelf in the wardrobe in the back bedroom. A place where I will never have to see them, and will never have to think about them. I couldn’t throw them out because they belonged to Parker and Hodges, but I don’t want to be reminded of my failures every time I get dressed in the morning.

I woke up this morning with my period. It is already really, really bad. It is more painful than I ever remember it being in recent years. It is so bad I am having trouble carrying out regular daily activities like walking and eating. But I am at work. And I am pretending that nothing is wrong with me. I feel like I’m wearing a mask to try and hide the fact I’m really covered in slimy scales beneath my clothes. My infertility causes those scales, causes me to be an incomplete person. My infertility is my dirty secret.

For now I want you to know that I am around. I am here. I will try to update my blog and keep my emotions flowing. When I bottle them up I start to sink too deeply into that mud-pit of misery and depression.

But I don’t know whether I will have the energy or the strength to read and post on your blogs. I know of at least two of you who have received great news this week about your own cycles. Don’t get me wrong, I am ridiculously pleased for these ladies. You girls deserve this blessing and happiness more than anyone else I’ve ever come across. But I’m just not in a head space right now where I can soak up the joy of others. I am too low, I am too sad, I am too broken. Please forgive me, I’m not strong enough to smile through my tears at the moment. I will be there to congratulate you as soon as I am.

Today is a bad day. Tomorrow will be a bad day too. Maybe someday in the future I’ll have a good day again. Surely I deserve one? Here’s hoping…

Sadie xx

(You can read Part One here)

(You can read Part Two here)

(You can read Part Three here)

A boring summary of my 4th IVF cycle (part one)

This IVF cycle started quickly and quietly, with little fuss.

I’d spent the past weeks overseas, and hadn’t really had time to consider fertility treatment because I was off having the time of my life.

But stepping off the plane onto Australian soil, our treatment started almost immediately. I didn’t have time to build up anxiety or stress or worries. I highly recommend this way of doing things. It should be mandatory to have a holiday directly before every cycle of IVF. We all pay enough money for treatment, the least the fertility clinics could do is throw in a weekend getaway…

This was our fourth fully stimulated IVF cycle, or as I like to call them “fresh” cycles. Because they aren’t frozen cycles. And because it’s my blog and I can call them what I want.

I have mentioned previously that Doctor B had decided to try something a little different this time and not start day 1 of FSH injections in tandem with my cycle. Normally FSH injections start on CD2 or CD3. But after 30 days of bleeding late last year following a failed pregnancy, I had not had a period in a few months.

Before that, I hadn’t experienced a spontaneous period in over 2 years. Fun! Normally prior to fresh or frozen cycles (yes, I’m still sticking with those terms – deal with it) my period is started artificially through provera or another drug. But the doctor wanted to see how my body would respond by not forcing a period.

So as soon as I got home from Malaysia, I started my cycle by getting a blood test to check to see where I was up to in my reproductive cycle. My first blood draw for 2014 – I wonder how many I will have this year….

The next day, already nursing a sore throat and a headache (because I’m the type of person who gets sick after moving between climates) I went into the clinic to visit Doctor B for a diagnostic scan, so we could decide when to start the cycle. She noted that both my ovaries were quiet and my endometrium was measuring 5.9mm. My LH was 14, my progesterone <0.5 and my oestrogen 184.

Honestly I had no idea what any of those numbers meant. Those types of blood tests are rarely done for me because my body is so silly and useless, so my hormone levels usually don't impact upon my cycles. Ultrasounds on the other hand, they make sense to me. I can read a pelvic ultrasound just as good as my brother. And he reads ultrasounds for a living. Legitimately – he's a radiographer.

Then I was told to have my first injection right there in the clinic. Bam! Just like that! No warning or anything. The cycle had begun.

I absolutely hate injecting myself in front of nurses. They're so….judgy. Like seriously what if this whole time I've been doing it wrong? I don't want to be told I'm not administering injections right during my FOURTH cycle. That'd be really embarrassing.

Luckily the nurse's eagle eyes only picked up one small mistake -I put the cap back on my needles before I remove them from the epi-pen and dispose of them. Apparently that's wrong because you could prick yourself while you're recapping it. But when you unscrew the needle and dispose of it there's no risk of pricking yourself (note my sarcasm here guys).

Anyway, this cycle we decided to inject a Puregon dose of 125+1. If you want to know the basis for that decision, you can read about it here. After my first dose, the doctor told me that she was going away and wouldn’t be around for my egg pick-up. I’m pretty sure my eyes popped out of my head.

This lady is seriously never at work. I’ve bitched in the past (here, and here for starters) about how my doctor is never in the office. On more than one occasion she had significantly delayed a cycle because she was going away. She had literally just come back from 3 weeks of leave over Christmas, and she was already going on vacation??? From here on in, I am officially changing Doctor B’s name to Doctor Holiday.

“You might want to delay your cycle for a month until I come back.” Doctor Holiday suggested.

“No thank you.” I replied.

“It’s just that you have a tendency to hyperstimulate, so I’d like to be here for your egg pick-up to make sure you’re ok.” she explained.

“No thank you.” I replied.

“I suppose you were ok after your last pick-up, so it might be safe to leave you in the hands of my capable replacement doctor.” she muttered.

“Sounds good!” I agreed.

Honestly I just wanted to get the show on the road and didn’t mind if the replacement doctor was a leper. But I did agree to attend all of my scan appointments with her so she could monitor my progress until she went away. In fact, she wanted to see me on day 5 of stims. It’s highly unusual for me to be seen before day 8, and even then the biggest follicle I’ve ever had at that stage was 5.6mm. I thought a day 5 scan sounded like a big ol’ waste of my time but said nothing.

And luckily I didn’t because day 5 showed my lining was already 10.1mm triple, which was excellent for that point in the cycle, and I had follicles! Real, proper, growing follicles! Even in spite of the fact I’d been suffering from a head cold all week!

In the right ovary I had an 11mm follie, and 2 measuring 10.9mm. In the left ovary I had a 10.4mm and a 12.6mm. Yes 12.6!! Doctor Holiday and I were both shocked and she had to put me onto my orgalutran shots early to stop me from ovulating.

“Do you know what this is?” she asked me.

“What?” I asked, confused.

“It’s what a normal IVF cycle looks like, Missy.” she gushed. “You’re being normal!”

And there was much rejoicing. For I am never normal, but when it comes to fertility all I want to be is normal. I mean hey, don’t we all?

After that my growth slowed down a little and at my next scan 3 days later I had one 15.5mm follicle on the left and on the right four follicles ranging in size from 15.5mm to 11mm. I was actually starting to become disappointed that I only seemed to have five follicles growing.

I’m 27 and I have PCOS and super high egg reserve so I know my body is capable of more than that. Plus in someone my age usually only 80% of follicles contain eggs, so I was concerned that we were only going to have four picked up. How could I go from having 34 eggs picked up in a cycle to only four?

“It’s not too late.” Doctor Holiday pressed me. “We can cancel this cycle and just start afresh when I come back. You really don’t need to use the replacement doctor. Maybe next time you’ll get more follicles.”

“No.” I shook my head. “I just want my eggs picked up. I don’t care who picks them up.”

“But everyone loves Doctor Eventi.” she sighed. “What if you decide you love him too and never come back to me?”

Ahhh so the plot thickens. The real reason Doctor Holiday didn’t want me to see the replacement doctor was far less noble than her need to protect my health. In that case, I was definitely still going ahead with the replacement doctor.

I agreed to come back and see Doctor Holiday for one more scan before she went away. It was a Saturday 7am appointment. Who has appointments that early on a Saturday? That’s just nasty. No wonder patients were choosing to stay with the replacement doctor…

“Ok!” she said cheerily as she began the scan. “We have lots of follicles now!”

I was flooded with relief as she began to measure and record the follicle growth.

“On the right we’ve got a 22.7mm follicle which is probably too big to contain an egg actually.” she started. “Let’s just forget about that one.”

Well, ok, that’s not such a good start then…

“But the others on the right side look good. We’ve got a 16.6mm, 15.7mm, 14.5mm, 14.3mm and a 12.2mm.” Doctor Holiday said.

Yes five follicles! On one side! Great news!

“So now let’s look at the left ovary.” Doctor Holiday continued. “Well we have a 12.6mm, 12.3mm, a 20.6mm that’s filled with blood, a 17mm…”

Sorry, what?

“Wait.” I spluttered. “Wait wait wait! What do you mean I have a follicle filled with blood?”

“Oh,” she frowned. “Wasn’t that there before?”

“No!” I shrieked.

I could not believe she didn’t even remember my stats from the scan I’d had days earlier, let alone the fact I had been coming to see her through three fully stimmed IVF cycles and ovulation induction! So unimpressed. My doctor constantly unimpresses me.

“Right. Well. It looks like you have a really large cyst filled with blood.” she said matter-of-factly. “It’s an endometrioma.”

“What caused it?” I asked nervously.

“I don’t know.” she admitted. “It’s probably from your last period.”

“But I haven’t had my period since November.” I said, unable to comprehend that she couldn’t remember we hadn’t started the cycle with my period this time around. “And it wasn’t there three days ago!”

“Oh well,” Doctor Holiday shrugged, clearly confused herself. “If you don’t get pregnant this cycle we’ll investigate it further.”

And after that she promptly dropped the matter and didn’t mention it again. It left me scared and confused, and worried for my egg pick-up which Doctor Holiday had agreed could go ahead on the following Tuesday at 7am. I was worried that the endometrioma was going to detrimentally affect the quality of the eggs, and also concerned that it had grown so large in just three days.

As I was leaving the office, Doctor Holiday wished me luck for my egg pick-up with Doctor Eventi, and then she said something really odd…

“Just remember that women who have a few failed pregnancies in a row often go back for another cycle of IVF and just end up with a negative.” she said. “Don’t feel disheartened if this cycle is negative for you. It doesn’t mean you’re broken.”

Seriously. She said that. Like gee thanks for being a ball of optimism! Thanks for basically slamming my hope and courage into the ground. Thanks for making sure I’m going into the egg pick-up with the mind-set that I’m definitely going to fail. Doctors are just useful like that sometimes, aren’t they? When I got home and told Doug what she said, he was so furious.

On Sunday at 5pm I pushed all negative thoughts to the back of my mind and triggered myself with Ovidrel. It was a messy injection because I somehow managed to pull the needle out of my skin before all of the drug had injected. Then I panicked and shoved the same needle straight back into my stomach, like some kind of reflex. I ended up with a bruised and bleeding tummy, and more anxiety that I hadn’t given myself the correct dose.

And then, after that, there was nothing left to do except wait for 7am Tuesday….

(to be continued)

How to roast an infertile

A couple of days ago I did something both spontaneous and stupid.

I was browsing on the internet and counting down the minutes until 5pm Friday, so I could leave work and start my weekend. I clicked onto a popular site that is completely geared towards women. Think articles about cooking, celebrity gossip, fitness and most definitely raising kids. Even though heaps of the articles on the site are about babies, I usually feel comfortable enough ignoring them.

But not that day.

At the top of the home page was an article about how hard it is to be a stay-at-home mum. The title immediately flared both my curiousity and my anger, so I decided I had to click the link. Oh to go back in time and stop myself from reading that story…

The article was written by a journalist who had recently given birth to her first child. At the top of the page was a gorgeous professional photo of the author, with her hair and make-up perfect, cradling her baby. In the photograph she looked happy and contented.

But the article was completely different. It went on and on about how stay-at-home mothers are invisible. Nobody cares about them or pays attention to them. The author complained that all she got to do all day was sit at home and feed her baby, change her baby’s nappies and eat family sized blocks of chocolate. She lamented the fact that she had gone from a fast paced job to a hellish sea of nothing but babies.

She then admitted the only time of the day where anyone paid any attention to her was every afternoon when she took her baby out for a walk and everybody on the street stopped to admire and compliment her gorgeous daughter. On one such occasion while out for a stroll, a drunk man in a pub leered and wolf whistled at her, basically insinuating she was a MILF. She was apparently so incensed by his behaviour she decided to turn her life around, start eating healthier and think more positively.

I was completely taken aback by the article. I was glad that it had ended the way it had, with the author realising she wasn’t helping herself or her daughter by feeling sorry for herself. But I still couldn’t believe that she actually thought nobody cared about mothers with newborns, or that she was somehow a victim because she had to raise a small child.

And here’s where the stupid and spontaneous part comes into my story. You guys, I decided to write a comment
on the article.

I tried to be very diplomatic about it because I didn’t want to insult the author, the way I felt she had insulted me. So I explained that I had been through four failed IVF cycles, experienced pregnancy loss, and desperately yearned to be a mother. I told her I would happily lay down on the road and let a car run over me if it meant I could have a child, and I would gladly live in a ‘hellish sea of babies’.

But then I went on to say that I thought she looked like a great mum who was doing the best she could, and her daughter looked lovely and happy. I basically just wanted to remind her that she was very lucky and even when things are bad, that she should remember that she was blessed.

Feeling quite pleased with myself, I posted the comment anonymously and then carried on with the rest of my day. I thought my perspective might give the author, and other readers, something to think about. I thought I’d done a good thing.

Yesterday I happened to log back onto the website in search of a recipe for Christmas slice, and saw the article again. I wondered if anyone had left a comment under my own, so I clicked back into the story again.

Basically, all hell had broken loose. The internet mummies, who typically spend such a large part of their days nastily attacking each other and tearing each other down, had all united against me. I was an infertile in a sea of mothers. They’d sniffed me out immediately, and closed ranks against me. I did not belong. I was enemy number one.

A lot of the mothers told me I was horrid, and I had no right to say what I’d said. They told me to shut the hell up. They told me I was insensitive, uncaring, and it was people like me who caused postnatal depression. My lack of sympathy for the author was apparently grossly unethical and frightening. More than one commenter told me that someone dying of cancer would gladly lie down on the road and let a car run over them if it meant they could just be infertile, and there were lots of people out there with problems far worse than mine. It was suggested that if I was so sad about the fact I couldn’t have children, why didn’t I just adopt one. How dare I say something negative to a new mother who was struggling to come to terms with her new routine. How dare I suggest that her life was somehow easier than mine. It was pointed out that I was clearly mentally unwell.

At first I just stood there, with my ipad propped up on the kitchen bench, staring intensely at the words on the screen. You know that sensation when you slip and land on your tailbone, and all the wind is knocked out of your lungs? For a minute you can’t move or breathe and you’re consumed with pain? That’s akin to what I was feeling. Then I started to panic. And then I started to hyperventilate.

I was shocked by how nasty these strangers on the internet had been. Bullying hurts, even when it’s online. I hadn’t meant to insult anyone. I’d told the author she was a good mum and her baby was lovely. I hadn’t expected such a vitriolic reaction.

Suddenly all these thoughts started running through my head…

Why had I read that friggen article? Why had I commented on it? Why had I ventured out of my little infertile bloggers community, where I am safe and protected, and surrounded by women who understand me? Why did these people think I was trying to be insulting? Why did I think I was allowed to comment on an article in a parenting community, when I don’t have any children? Why was it clearly not okay for me to have a negative opinion of the author, but it was quite acceptable for all these women to have a negative view of me? I am a horrible person. I am selfish. Infertility is nothing compared to what others go through. I should take that advice and shut the hell up.

Then the rational side of my brain kicked in and I started to negate the stupid arguments these commenters had made.

First of all, nobody can directly cause postnatal depression. It’s brought on by a hormone and chemical imbalance in the brain, following pregnancy and childbirth. The author did not have postnatal, but even if she did I was not the cause of it. It was irresponsible of these women to suggest that.

Secondly, it is certainly understandable that new mothers struggle. They’re tired, confused and overwhelmed. If a new mother came to me seeking help or support I would gladly do everything I could for her. But this was not a new mother reaching out to her family and friends for help. This was an article on a large, popular website written by an award-winning journalist, carefully crafted to generate interest. The headline sucked you in! The author had written a controversial opinion piece. It was meant to be thought provoking. It had provoked a thought in me, so I had left a comment. Wasn’t I simply doing what the author wanted me to do when I voiced my own opinion?!

I wasn’t off-the-cuff leaving comments on the internet about how new mothers need to suck it up. I was commenting on an article about how tough new mothers have it compared to the rest of the human population. I was allowed my opinion on the article, and I didn’t see why I was being roasted for it.

Thirdly, I have never in my life said that I have it harder than people dying of cancer. That is a gross exaggeration of my opinion. If the article was written by someone dying of cancer, and I’d left a comment saying “Suck it up Buttercup, I’m infertile. Try that out for a day or two and see how you like it.” I would expect to be abused by everyone on the website.

But I was comparing having a child to childlessness. I was comparing two sides of a coin. This lady was basically pointing out how awful it is to be the mother of a young child, and I was counter pointing out that it’s even worse to not be the mother of a young child (when you badly want to be).

But comparing infertility and terminal cancer is like comparing apples and oranges. It was not what I had intended at all. Of course people dying of cancer have it much worse than me. I never said they didn’t! I’m not trying to say my problems are worse than anyone else’s. Am I making sense at all here?

Finally, I feel I should address the good old “why don’t you just adopt” throwaway condescending line from mothers who have never experienced infertility. Oh my gosh! You guys! I should just adopt! This never occured to me before now! How silly that I’ve been wasting my time and money on IVF! I can just go down to the shop and adopt a baby! It’s practically the same as adopting a stray dog from the RSPCA!

Never mind the fact that Australia has the lowest adoption rate in the developed world. Never mind that adoption here takes an average of nine years, once you even get onto the waiting list, and many couples “time out” because they get too old waiting to reach the top of the list. Never mind that I can afford to go through at least eight to ten cycles of IVF for the same price as adopting one child. All my problems are solved! Yippee!!

In all seriousness though, I just want to sincerely apologise. I genuinely never meant to offend anyone with the comment I left on that article. I feel like saying that, even here on my blog, will somehow get this weight off my chest. I didn’t mean to hurt the author, or anyone else who read my comment.

Maybe the others who commented didn’t mean to hurt me, although I suspect they did. Maybe my tears and sorrow were for nothing. But don’t worry, I have well and truly learned my lesson. I feel awful. I feel like a sub-human. I feel unworthy to breathe the same air as everyone else.

I will never, ever, ever step outside my blogging community again. I’ve noticed that some of the nastier comments have now been removed by moderators, but it’s too late to unsee what I have seen. I won’t try to give fertile people perspective. I see now that they really, honestly don’t want it. They will just resent me for trying. They don’t get it. They’ll never get it. They don’t want to get it. They don’t want to even try.

It’s two days until Christmas. That author will be celebrating her first Christmas with her new baby. Her first Christmas as a mother. I will be miserable, and barren, and alone. If anyone is angry at me for my comment on that article, maybe they can remember that fact and they will feel satisfied that I have served an adequate punishment for my words.

Now I’m going to push this whole incident out of my mind and try not to think of it again. Like the author, I want to turn this story around and end on a positive note.

So here’s three great things about being me, so I can remind myself that I’m lucky to be me:

1. Later this week I’ll be jetting off to Malayisa to enjoy my first overseas holiday. I’m so grateful.

2. Even though this is my last week in my job, I get to go back to another job next year. Sure, it’s less pay, but so many people are out of work at the moment. I’m so lucky to have a permanent position.

3. I have amazing friends and family who rally around me to support me all the time. I know not everyone has someone they can turn to when things get tough.

See, isn’t that a much nicer way to end a post? 🙂

An infertile at the supermarket

For some insane reason, I agreed to do the grocery shopping with my husband on Sunday.

I had firmly decided not to return to any busy shopping centres until after the Christmas holidays were over. With my anxiety rearing it’s ugly head at unpredictable times, I didn’t need to place myself among the throes of babies dressed in cute elf costumes, and kids high on sugar in the line to visit Santa’s grotto. But for some reason my husband really wanted me to go with him.

“Don’t worry, we’ll go super early.” he said eagerly. “The grocery stores open before the retail stores, so if we do the groceries first thing there’ll be no kids around.”

Sure enough we arrived just as the grocery store doors opened, and were pleased to find the car park mostly empty. I knew in half an hour the same quiet stretch of concrete would resemble a war zone, with people fighting to get parking spaces, blocking roads and blaring their horns at each other. The thought sent a shudder down my spine.

I stepped out of the car, gathered our swag of environmentally friendly shopping bags from the back seat, and started across the car park towards the entrance. That’s when I spotted her.

A friend from high school, toting her 8 month old baby in her arms. A friend who had been bugging me for months to come over and meet her precious bundle of joy. A friend who was so thrilled to be a mother she couldn’t stop gushing about her baby, even after I explained I was depressingly infertile. She had also just parked her car and was also heading into the shopping centre.

“Wait!” I hissed frantically. “Wait, wait, wait!”

My oblivious husband was walking a step ahead of me, so I grabbed the back of his shirt collar and physically dragged him behind a large cement pillar. He looked at me like I had sprouted a second head, but dutifully stayed where I had placed him.

“Why are we hiding?” he whispered.

“Because my friend Hannah and her baby are just over there.” I whispered back. “If she sees me she will thrust that baby into my arms and then try to take a photo of us together for her ever-growing Facebook photo collection.”

“Ok.” Doug said, understanding. “Stay here, I’ll peek around and tell you when the coast is clear.”

I was grateful that my husband was being so considerate, but also massively regretting the fact I agreed to come shopping. It had been a stupid, stupid idea.

More importantly, I could not even believe my life had come to this. I was hiding behind a pillar in a shopping centre car park. Hiding from my friend and her baby. Hiding behind a pillar! From a baby! It really put my life into perspective.

After a few moments, Doug confirmed that Hannah was gone and I slinked back out into the open. We were at one of the biggest shopping centres in the southern hemisphere, and there were five different grocery stores inside. I started to become paranoid that Hannah had gone to the same store that we were going to. There was no way to tell.

Keeping my head down, we ducked inside and I grabbed a basket. I did a quick sweep of the store from my vantage point at the entrance and thankfully couldn’t spot Hannah inside. I let out a sigh of relief and we headed down the first aisle. No more than thirty seconds later, I was grabbing a loaf of bread off the shelf when I felt someone come up behind me.

“Hey there! Fancy meeting you here!”

I turned around to come face to face with the realtor who sold us our house. Fantastic.

“Hi, nice to see you again.” Doug said, happy to do the talking for both of us.

“How’s the house coming along?” the realtor asked. “Have you started renovating yet?”

“Yes it’s all happening.” Doug replied enthusiastically. “The painting is almost finished, the tiling is underway and the floorboards will be finished today.”

“Wow!” the realtor said, clearly impressed. “Surely you aren’t staying at the house while all that is going on? Those fumes coming off the floorboards would be awful!”

“Yes the house is very smelly.” I finally piped up. “We’re staying with my parents for a few days.”

“Probably for the best.” the realtor nodded pensively. “The fumes wouldn’t be good for your baby.”

Oh.

My.

God.

In a flash I remembered that during our third private inspection of the house, prior to purchase,  we had been measuring up the space we’ve allocated as our future nursery when the realtor walked into the room and overheard us discussing where we would put things ‘once the baby arrived’.

At that stage I was in the early days of my second pregnancy, and armed with the knowledge that less than 2% of women under the age of 30 have two consecutive losses. He had asked if we were expecting, and I had this awful feeling that if I lied and said no I would somehow ‘jinx’ the pregnancy. So I had blurted out that yes I was.

I had told him I was pregnant. And now he was talking about the baby. But the baby wasn’t around anymore. There was no baby.

What the hell was I supposed to do? I didn’t want to tell this person, who was a virtual stranger, that I’d lost my pregnancy. Not in the middle of a damn grocery store!

“Haha, yes, the baby…” I muttered senselessly. “How about that. Yes indeed. Yep yep yep…”

Thankfully he didn’t pick up on my awkwardness and after a few more minutes of small talk he moved on to continue with his shopping. But I could feel the anxiety welling up inside me. I flexed my fingers a few times and tried to shake it off. I knew I could get through this wretched grocery shopping expedition. I just needed to keep calm and take each moment as it came.

Then I looked up, and Doug was gone.

Starting to panic, I could feel my breathing starting to turn shallow. I could not deal with this if I was on my own. Not knowing what else to do I started walking up and down the aisles, wringing my hands like a lost child.

I cursed my husband’s lack of height that made him harder to spot in a crowd. How had he disappeared so quickly? One second he was there, and the next he had vanished into thin air.

On my second sweep of the store I finally located him in the fresh produce section, filling a brown paper bag with mushroom cups. My relief was palpable and I rushed up to hug him.

“What the hell were you thinking walking away from me!” I snapped. “You know I have anxiety! You know I do!”

“Um, what?” he asked, perplexed. “I told you I was going to get some mushrooms and you looked right at me as I walked away.”

“Well I didn’t hear or see you!” I replied.

“Ok calm down.” Doug said. “It’s fine, I won’t leave you again.”

Doug was true to his word and didn’t leave my side for the rest of our shopping trip. He even tried to keep things light hearted. As we reached the end of each aisle he would jokingly push me up against the shelves and tell me I couldn’t pass around the corner until he checked to make sure no one I knew was in the next aisle over. I was thankful that he was able to keep me laughing and smiling in a tense situation.

I guess I learned two things from my experience:

  1. I can control my anxiety as long as I remain calm – I was so proud of myself for not having another panic attack.
  2. Stick to the original plan and stay the frig away from shopping centres!

Has anyone else been through an experience where someone hadn’t realised you were no longer pregnant? How did you handle it? Advice would be appreciated so I don’t act like such a bumbling idiot next time!

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.