Tag Archive | infertility in my twenties

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!

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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? 🙂

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.

On the prowl (for more embryos)

Yesterday morning I was getting dressed for work when I suddenly realised my follow-up appointment with Doctor B was scheduled for 11.30am that morning. How’s that for taking my medical treatment seriously! Good job Sadie, good job.

As I’d also forgotten to let Doug know of the appointment he was unable to attend, but I really didn’t mind. I felt absolutely no pressure or anticipation whatsoever. In fact, I sort of felt like the appointment was a giant waste of both time and money. Despite my feelings of trepidation, I still dutifully ducked off on my lunch break and headed up to the hospital.

Have I mentioned there’s always a baby in the clinic’s waiting room? Always. It drives me mad. These are mothers who know exactly what it feels like to be desperate and hopeless. Their children were created through fertility treatment. They are the lucky ones who made it through to the other side. Now they’re back at the clinic to try for baby number 2 and seemingly rubbing their success in the faces of all the childless women at the clinic.

I hear you all trying to rationalize that perhaps these mothers can’t find childcare and have no choice but to bring their babies along to their appointments. But it doesn’t drown out my bitterness. If you can afford IVF you can afford to leave your damn child with a sitter! That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

When my name was finally called I just felt thankful to be leaving the waiting room and escaping the cute, gurgling toddlers. And as it turns out, the appointment was actually mildly useful.

First up, we briefly discussed my last cycle and failed pregnancy. Doctor B was more than slightly surprised that my body had reacted so well to the methotrexate. My hcg levels dropped to negative in less than a week. In fact she said only one of her other patients had ever done so well with the methotrexate, and her hcg levels had dropped below 5 so quickly that they sprung back up a few weeks later. For that reason Doctor B wants to keep monitoring my hcg for the next month, just to keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn’t throw us a curve ball.

Then we discussed the options for our next move, of which there are basically two.

Firstly, we could prep my uterus lining and then go for an FET either straight away or in the new year. Doctor B isn’t concerned at all about the methotrexate shot, and said there’s no reason not to try straight away as long as my hcg stays below 5.

We currently have one embryo in the freezer, our little Jelly. But Jelly is a grade 2AB blastocyst. His expansion rate of 2 is very low and means he hasn’t actually made it to the full blastocyst stage, so there is a mild concern that Jelly won’t actually survive the thaw. That’s a huge problem for me. There are no back-up embryos waiting on ice and I don’t want to pump my body full of hormones only to find there’s no embryo to transfer.

Our second option is to give my body a month’s break from the FSH injections then jump straight back into another fresh IVF cycle and try to get us some better quality embryos to work with. In Australia there are strict regulations about the number of embryos you can transfer (maximum of 2 at any time) and also how many embryos you can have frozen while doing another fresh cycle (maximum of one at any time). Because we just have our one little Jelly the option is there for us to go back and try again before we attempt to thaw him. It only took me about 12 seconds to decide that Option 2 was my much preferred option. I didn’t even bother to consult with Doug, I just went with my gut instinct.

“Ok let’s have a look at my schedule so we can activate your plan.” the doctor said, flipping through her calendar.

I wanted to cringe when I heard the word ‘activate’. This part of the IVF process never happened at my old clinic, and it’s just basically a way to suck more money out of desperate people. Each time we want to begin a new cycle at this clinic we need to have an ‘activation interview’ which is basically the doctor going through a pre-written list and checking boxes as she goes. After the form is completed, our file is moved into the ‘activated’ folder and we are officially in an IVF cycle. The whole process takes 5 minutes and we’re charged around $1100 for the pleasure. Because ‘cycle activation’ is a made-up concept, the government doesn’t have a medicare item number for it and therefore no subsidies exist. Yay!

“Well I’m going away over the Christmas break so next time I see you will have to be the second week in January.” Doctor B said grumpily. “I hate going on vacation, it’s so disruptive to my work schedule.”

My jaw literally almost hit the floor. This woman takes more vacations than anyone I’ve ever met in my entire life. She must be off on vacation at least a third of the year. Is she trying to pretend someone forces her to go off and live the high life? Are my silly ‘activation interviews’ not paying for her jet set lifestyle? Honestly. I’d had enough and decided to give her a piece of my mind.

“The second week in January works fine for me.” I said meekly.

Yep, I sure showed her.

We then moved on to discuss the protocol we would use for the cycle, so Doctor B called one of the nurses into the room. This time it was Shirley, who is my second favourite nurse. Almost immediately the pair started talking amongst themselves about the merits of using different medications, but I kept on interjecting with my own opinions.

“Ok Sadie,” Doctor B said, turning to me. “I’m happy for you to make these decisions with us. Let’s talk about FSH. What dose do you want to be on this cycle. 125 like last time? Drop it down to 100? Or do you want to ramp it up to 150?”

I was sort of elated that for the first time ever I was getting to have some serious input into my own treatment plan. I love it when medical professionals take me seriously. I deserve to be taken seriously. I’ve been through so much, and also spent countless hours scouring peer reviewed medical journals and other research to try to decide what’s best for me and my body. Sometimes I think I know too much.

“I don’t want to move up to 150, given when I was on that dosage we yielded 34 eggs at pick up and I ended up with severe OHSS.” I said. “Even though we had a much more successful cycle last time and picked up 7 eggs I’d really like to do slightly better this time and see my numbers creep up into double figures. I know that 7 to 10 eggs is ideal for a cycle, but my fertilization rate is slightly lower than average for my age. If we could get around 12 eggs I think that would be perfect. Why don’t we do 125 plus one or two clicks?”

Realizing the room had gone silent, I looked up and saw that both Doctor B and the nurse were merrily laughing. I just wasn’t sure if they were laughing with me or at me.

“Well you’ve just thrown me for six.” the nurse said, turning slightly red.

“Sadie is one of my most well researched patients.” Doctor B said proudly. “She’s only young but she knows her stuff!”

I was pretty happy with that appraisal of my knowledge. Damn straight I know my stuff! I should be a doctor.

“Ok let’s do 125 plus a few clicks.” Doctor B agreed with me. “Would you like to do one click or two?”

The Gonal-F and Puregon epi-pens have the ability to increase the dosage in very small increments. Once you reach 125IU/mL you can then click once to increase the dose by around 8.3IU/mL, or click twice to increase by 16.6IU/mL before you hit 150IU/mL.

“Let’s start with one click.” I decided. “If it doesn’t work out, we can increase it by two clicks next time. I’d rather be less than ideal instead of hyperstimulated.”

Doctor B promptly wrote 125+1 down on my protocol form. I was pleased with my decision.

“Now, how’s your menstrual cycle going? Did we have to use provera last time to start a cycle?” she asked.

“Yes. We’ve used provera to start all of my IVF cycles.” I informed her.

“You’ve seen no improvement in your period since you’ve been on the metformin?” she asked, frowning.

“My periods are lighter now, but they’re not regular.” I explained.

“When was the last time you had a spontanous period?” Doctor B asked. “A period not brought on by provera or related to fertility treatment?”

I thought really long and hard. How long had it actually been since I had a period that wasn’t induced by medication or following on from a failed cycle?

“Two years.” I finally answered.

Bloody hell. Had it been that long? And I have to listen to one of my friends at work complain that she sometimes goes as long as 45 days without a period, which possibily affects her ability to have another child. Try going two years lady!! TWO YEARS!!

“My God!” Doctor B gasped. “So you’ve never done an IVF cycle without using provera first?”

“No, never.” I replied.

“All right let’s try that and see if this makes a difference for you.” she nodded to herself. “We won’t induce a period before we start IVF. We’ll just scan you, see what your uterus lining is doing and then just throw you straight in the deep end. Let’s see how your body likes this.”

Good. Excellent. Something new in the protocol. I like that!

So now we wait until 7 January when I will have my first blood test, then the following day I will start FSH injections and get my first scan. I also have to keep a diary over Christmas detailing any changes to my menstrual cycle. I imagine each daily entry will look something like this:

Dear diary,

Today I had no cramping, no bleeding and no ovulating. Again.

Lots of love,

Sadie
xx

Actually to be honest I am almost convinced I will spontaneously have a period now. After two years without even so much as a hint of spotting, now that I don’t want a period I’m certain to get one. That’s just the kind of crap that happens to me.

I guess we’ll wait and see!

Anti-D, Anti-Everything

Last week Shirley, one of the nurses at the clinic, phoned me and told me that I had to come in at 7am the next morning for a blood test and an anti-D injection.

For those who aren’t aware, Rhesus Immune Globulin (anti-d) is an injection that is used to prevent the immunological condition Rhesus disease. I need to get these injections because I am Rhesus negative but around 85% of the population is Rhesus positive, including my husband. When I am pregnant there’s a high chance my baby is also Rhesus positive like Doug, because most people are Rhesus positive and my babies already have a Rhesus positive parent. You all with me so far?

When the baby is on it’s way out of my body (either during miscarriage or labour – if I ever make it that far in a pregnancy!) there is a risk that a small number of the baby’s red blood cells can leak into my blood stream, allowing my body to develop antibodies against anything Rhesus positive entering my body in the future. If left untreated, during subsequent pregnancies if my baby is once again Rhesus positive my body may use those antibodies to attack and ‘remove’ it (yay!). Otherwise it can still cause lots of long-term problems for the baby including anaemia and jaundice. And nobody wants that. So basically I need to get an injection of anti-D to prevent this happening every time I miscarry and also at 28 weeks and 34 weeks pregnant (again, if I ever get that far in a pregnancy…).

The anti-d injection is produced from the blood of Australian Red Cross donors. I always find it fascinating when I’m injected with other people’s blood. Does that make me a weirdo? I know blood products from donors are also used to assist fertilization of eggs during IVF cycles and I’m also fascinated by that. I wonder if those donors have any idea they’re helping to create life rather than save life. When I imagine donating blood I see it going towards saving a car crash victim who is rushed into the hospital with an amputated leg and is bleeding out and close to death. I can see doctors running around the room and intubating the patient and shouting orders to each other. And I can hear the theme song to the television show ER. And I can see Doctor Green and Doctor Weaver, and definitely Doctor Ross. Oh hello, Doctor Ross. I have a fever would you like to do a full body examination? Oh…sorry…I think I just steered you all into one of my fantasies…

Back to the anti-d.

When I lost my first pregnancy in April I was with a large and impersonal clinic with unimpressive levels of patient care. I was never offered the anti-d injection, even though it should have been mandatory. Luckily when I was tested at my new clinic they found that Nemo’s blood cells had very kindly avoided my blood stream as he vacated the premises and I hadn’t developed anti-bodies. But I’d completely forgotten this time around that I would need an injection and was unpleasantly surprised to receive the phone call from the nurse.

Not only did I have to come in at 7am, I had to get another huge intra-muscular needle in my thigh. Why is it always in the damn thigh lately? And why always in the muscle? Give a girl a break.

After terminating the ectopic pregnancy I was looking forward to resting in the weeks coming up to Christmas. I was looking forward to not having to be up at the hospital most mornings before work for tests or scans or appointments or injections. I was trying to see the positive side to losing my little Peanut and/or Butters. But no! The inconveniences continued!

Five minutes after receiving the bad news, my phone rang again.

“Hi Sadie, it’s just Shirley again.” said the voice on the other end of the line. “We’ve changed our minds. Can you come in tomorrow at 7am for the blood test and then 7am the following day for the anti-d shot.”

Ugh. Seriously? Two days in a row? Just my luck.

“If the blood test comes back negative do I still need to get the shot?” I asked hopefully.

“Yes.” Shirley replied sternly. “And don’t forget the day after that you need to come in here for your first follow-up blood test following the methotrexate.”

Well…..damn. Apparently you can’t sleep in when you’re going through IVF, you can’t sleep in when you’re pregnant and you can’t sleep in when you’ve lost a pregnancy. You just can’t sleep in. At least not if you’re me. And I am me.

To be fair, the anti-d shot itself wasn’t too bad. It certainly wasn’t anywhere near as painful as the methotrexate. It sort of just felt like a regular FSH injection, except with a much bigger needle. I’m glad I had it done. Now I don’t have to worry about anything else going wrong next time we go through a cycle. Because let’s face it, not too much else can really go wrong for me at this point.

Now I’m just waiting for my next follow-up appointment with Doctor Vacation. Sorry, wait. I meant to say with Doctor B when she comes back from yet another holiday abroad. That will happen in the first week of December.

Now that everything is out of the way for this cycle, I can simply be “anti-everything” and just take a break from all the infertility stuff. At least for another couple of weeks. It feels so nice to just be away from it all. I can focus on other things now! I might even be able to catch up with a couple of friends for coffee and not bore them with fertility treatment talk. And I might even drink actual caffeinated coffee. I’m wild!

I can’t believe how positive I am being at the moment. I actually feel a little bit like a real human being!

You guys, I give it a week tops until I am back on here complaining about some other crisis or drama in my life.

A week.

A wake-up call for all of us.

The other day I received what was clearly a spam comment that somehow made it through the wordpress filter system. Ordinarily I’d just delete it, but then I changed my mind and thought I might share it instead so you can all learn some very important lessons:

The most obvious way of boosting your chances of getting pregnant is to have sex quite frequently. Although this might seem pretty trivial, the timing of having sex is equally important. Women ovulate at different times according to their cycles, so it is essential to calculate their most fertile days. For those women who are fairly regular in their cycle, the 14th day of their cycle is the most fertile. Even for those who aren’t regular, they can find out their most fertile period easily with the help of an ovulation kit. Sperms remain in the body of a women for about six days but the egg only has a lifespan of about 24 hours, so it is advisable to have sex about 2-3 times a week.Having the right position during intercourse is equally if not more important. The sperms have to travel all the way to the female’s fallopian tubes, hence some positions like the women lying on her back or placing a pillow below the hips do help in conceiving better by guiding the sperms at an upward angle.

The most obvious way to boost my pregnancy chances is to have sex frequently? My goodness why didn’t I think of this before? My husband and I have wasted two and a half years of our lives, and tens of thousands of dollars on IVF and multiple surgeries when all we had to do was have sex!

And I wish I’d known before that even though I don’t have a regular cycle I can still easily find out when I ovulate thanks to an ovulation kit. Never mind the fact I don’t ovulate at all. Never mind about that!

You guys, this may startle you, but I think I’ve been doing this all wrong! The entire time!

What’s more, I think we’ve all been doing it all wrong!

Okay everyone, new plan. We all need to have sex 2-3 times a week, use ovulation kits and put pillows under our butts. All our problems will be solved quite instantly. Put away your tissue boxes because there won’t be any more tears around here. We will all be parents by next Christmas at the very latest.

You’re welcome, guys. You’re welcome.

 

 

A twist in the plot

And my hcg levels have risen to 25. This time last week they were 35, but by the start of this week they had dropped to 18. Now they’re slightly back up.

I actually had to phone the nurse this morning to get my results. She seemed quite flustered when I said I was waiting for results from yesterday, and it occured to us both that I had been forgotten about. I hadn’t really given it any thought, or lost any sleep over the result because I was extremely confident I would get a number less than 5. But it still feels a little bit shit to know that I was once again overlooked.

Obviously 25miu/ml of hcg is not a viable level at 5 weeks, 2 days and more importantly I’ve had a full period. Granted the period was extremely light by my usual standards, but the blood was bright red. Red blood and ongoing pregnancy don’t mix.

“Sadie,” the nurse said sombrely. “I need you to know this pregnant has still failed.”

For a moment I couldn’t understand why she felt the need to say such a thing. I can’t imagine what it must be like for some women to get this kind of result. Women who have less support from medical staff, and who don’t have the opportunity to research widely. They would get that tingle of nervous energy that starts in your stomach and then zips up your spine and spreads across your whole body. They would start to smile, and gush and get excited. They would have hope.

Absolutely none of those things happened to me. I remained completely calm and collected. I knew immediately that my latest result had lumped me into a high risk category for tubal pregnancy, though the nurse did also spell it out for me.

“I’ve been getting bad pains on my right side.” was my carefully considered response. “Pain in my ovaries isn’t unusual when I get my period, because my cysts sometimes react badly to the hormone dump. But this pain has been quite isolated to my right side.”

“Ohhhh.” the nurse mumbed, and I could hear her shuffling papers. “This probably isn’t good. I’m going to have to contact the doctor immediately.”

“I have an appointment with Doctor B already scheduled for next Thursday afternoon.” I said.

“We may need you to come in sooner.” she quickly answered.

So she’s checking with the doctor now and she’s going to phone me back soon. I’m pretty sure this time I won’t be forgotten.

I can’t stop thinking about the day I found out my left Fallopian tube was partially blocked, and my right was completely blocked from endometriosis and scarring. My instinctive reaction was to request the right tube be removed. But apparently that’s not the done thing, even though the doctor warned I was at an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy.

I thought I was being pretty logical. If my tube was so badly blocked and it could never be unblocked, then it made sense to just get rid of it. Otherwise it was just going to sit there in my body like a surreptitious Venus Fly Trap, luring in my innocent little embryos then quickly snapping shut and gobbling them up.

It’s extremely common for IVF embryos to wander into the tubes, then back into the uterus in the hours and days before implantation. Especially day 3 embryos, because they don’t implant until day 6 or 7 so they have plenty of time to see the sights of my reproductive system. And I knew if my little ones drifted into a blocked tube they would almost certainly become stuck.

Of course there’s no guarantee that I am currently going through an ectopic pregnancy, and I probably won’t find out until next week. But just the fact that I’m now in a high risk category makes me angry. I want this tube gone. I want it gone before I have any more embryos transferred. I don’t want to have to stress about this any more!

Seriously. Why don’t doctors ever listen to me???

I should be a doctor! My nurses at the clinic already joke that I’m by far the most knowledgeable patient they’ve ever treated, and my husband complained recently that he can’t fill my mind with hope when I’ve researched everything so thoroughly and have a scientific answer for why hope almost always doesn’t exist. If only I didn’t faint at the sight of blood. That probably rules me out from attending doctor school, huh?

I’ll keep you guys updated when I have more news.