Tag Archive | pcos

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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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.

Waiting for the WTF appointment

I called my doctor’s clinic this morning to book in my post IVF cycle “WTF” appointment.

The receptionist couldn’t fit me in until the end of next week, and only at the super inconvenient time of 3pm. It means I will have to leave work at 2pm, which in turn means my boss will once again be cranky at me. I was quite unimpressed by this, as I have discussed with my doctor on more than one occasion the need for my appointments to be scheduled before work, and she has enthusastically agreed.

You see, when I took my job at the start of the year it was sold to me as a 12 month promotion contract at a higher salary, and a 99% chance at the end of the year that my promotion would be made permanent. Everyone at my workplace was super receptive to me staying on in my current role…until I told them I was doing IVF. Then the bosses started having meetings about the fact I was taking too much sick leave, and grumbling when I came in late or left early. Never mind that my day-to-day work was being completed to a high standard !Then the bosses informed me that my promotion would not extend to next year as originally planned. Surprise surprise! So at the end of the year I must return to my lower paid job (with the same employer) which is less busy, less interesting and less responsibility.

When I informed my doctor of these happenings she was outraged and insisted it was illegal for employers to discriminate against employees for being sick or seeking medical treatment. Of course she was right, but there’s no way the discrimination can be proven. The doctor insisted she could always see me first up in the morning, so I could still make it to work on time. It was a solution that has been working well for the past few months. Until today.

Upon hearing the only time the doctor could fit me in was 3pm, I explained the circumstances and once again asked the receptionist if there were any time slots available before work.

“No sorry,” she replied, thoroughly bored. “As I said, all the early appointments are taken for the next two weeks and then the doctor is on holidays.”

Ok, just hold up a minute here! My doctor is going on a holiday? Another holiday? Is this some kind of joke???

Dear readers, you may or may not remember that my last fresh cycle was delayed 5 weeks because my doctor went on a vacation for the entire month of September. And the fresh cycle prior was also delayed by 6 weeks because she went on vacation for the entire month of June and part of July.

This doctor makes it really friggen hard to like her. She doesn’t allow me to be treated by her substitute doctors when she is on leave because my case is “too sensitive and unique” given the number of factors causing my infertility and my history of OHSS. That means when she goes away my treatment stops. And she is ALWAYS bloody away. I’ve never known a doctor to take so many vacations. What a nice life she must have! She’s only at work two thirds of the year! So while she and her family enjoy European jaunts and cocktails on the beach, I’m stuck at home in my miserable barren rut, cursing the world. That hardly seems fair, does it?

Maybe I should just try to be more patient. I know that many infertiles have to wait years and years before they even start IVF. I know I’ve only been trying to conceive for two and a half years. But I’m 27 and a half now, and I’m still on track for a full hysterectomy by the age of 30. I may be young but the clock is seriously ticking for me. I don’t want to waste precious weeks or months when I could be working on having a child, simply because my doctor spends more time than anyone else I’ve ever met in my entire life taking vacations.

But what are we supposed to do? Change specialists again? That takes time and costs a lot of money. I need to choose a new doctor, get a referral, wait months for an initial appointment, pay all the exorbitant fees that come with starting fertility treatment at a new clinic, have all the same tests done, and go through my history all over again. I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

At least for now I am coping ok mentally. My husband Doug, on the other hand, isn’t doing as well. After our last chemical pregnancy I was a mess and he held it together really well, but this time it’s the opposite. He came home from work last night looking pale and distressed. He told me he couldn’t believe this was happening to us again, and his eyes were red rimmed and glistening as he confessed he was shattered. I am hoping a good night’s sleep last night will have him feeling more like himself. I know the only way we will get through this is together.

As of this morning, my bleeding has turned from brown to red, but it’s still fairly light. I did pass a couple of massive clots this morning (I’m talking the size of my fist or bigger) so I’m hoping the bleeding ramps up a bit and soon this will all be over.

While I can’t do anything to speed up my doctor, I can work on losing weight. At the moment I’m 76kg (167 pounds) which is the heaviest I’ve ever been in my whole life. Prior to IVF and OHSS my weight was 63-65kg (around 140 pounds). I’m realistic and know I’m not going to get back to my original weight anytime soon, but I’d like to see myself drop down below the 70kg mark. I think that will give me a better chance when my one and only frozen embryo is transferred. Plus, I think health and fitness will be a good way to refocus my energy and try to alleviate my depression and anxiety.

Last time I tried to lose weight I had absolutely no luck. I ate healthy and exercised regularly but didn’t even drop 100 grams in 3 weeks. Do any of the PCOS ladies out there have any great tips for shifting the weight? I would be super grateful for any advice!!

Where the hell is the fat lady?

As this weekend draws to a close, I could probably sum it all up in one simple word: pain.

I have had severe cramping pretty much constantly since Friday night. It’s been fun. Really fun.

On Friday night I went to bed with cramps, and tossed and turned all night. It didn’t help that Doug had gone out drinking with his best friend and didn’t get home until 3am. He very rarely goes out these days, and even more rarely drinks. Our fertility specialist told him he can have a few drinks every now and then, but anything more than that affects male fertility and we certainly don’t want to risk anything. But we’ve just been through a fresh cycle, probably won’t go through another fresh cycle until February of next year, and still have an embryo on ice. Seen as we probably won’t be needing Doug’s sperm for many months I felt like it was okay to relax the rules on this one occasion.

Doug’s best friend is in the process of breaking up with his fiance after a nine year relationship. He’s in a dark place at the moment and felt like a boys night would help him. I understood that there would most likely be binge drinking taking place, but I hadn’t banked on my husband arriving home at 3am and then spending two hours vomiting into a bucket while I rubbed his back. I guess after 2 years limiting his alcohol intake, Doug can’t hold his alcohol anymore, because he was super sick.

As a consolation prize, he was very sweet to me. My husband traditionally alternates between being a grumpy drunk, and an affectionate drunk (I know this because I remember from back in our university days, not because he has ever been abusive to me!) and on Friday night he was definitely affectionate. In between barfs he continually professed his love for me, told me he could do anything “with his girl by his side” and apologised constantly for being drunk.

Saturday morning at 7.45am I dragged myself reluctantly out of bed to give myself my usual dose of crinone, and noticed when I pulled out the applicator that there was small amount of black discharge on the very tip. It must have come from right at the top of my cervix. I studied it for a while and couldn’t figure out if I was looking at black blood or really old crinone build up. The cramping was still there, but not so severe, so I figured I would just monitor the situation. I went to the pathology clinic and got my blood drawn so that first thing Monday the fertility clinic could let me know that my pregnancy is over. That way I wouldn’t have to wait to start taking pain killers for my cramps, and the sooner I get to stop taking icky crinone the better.

At 11am I went to the bathroom again. There was nothing in my underwear, but there was a very light smear of brown when I wiped with the toilet paper. Definitely the brown discharge that I always see about 3 or 4 hours before my period starts. It was over. The fat lady was finally singing. I put a pad on and got on with my day, trying to push everything to the back of my mind. But when I next went to the bathroom just after midday, the brown discharge was gone. There was nothing but the usual white cottage-cheesey crinone discharge, even when I searched very hard for anything else.

“Awesome!” I said aloud. “My reproductive system is now mind fucking me!”

Later that night, about 8.30pm, the discharge was back. It was so super light you really had to look for it, but it was definitely there. It was just like a touch of brown mixed with the crinone discharge. It wasn’t even strong enough that I could see it on the crinone applicator when I gave myself my evening dose. But the cramping definitely remained. I know that lots of women get brown blood in early pregnancy, but that blood is rarely associated with cramping. Cramping means pregnant, brown blood means pregnant, cramping and brown blood almost always means miscarriage.

Sunday morning when I woke up there was once again no brown, but the cramping had ramped up to a whole new level. I have PCOS and severe endometriosis so I’m not a stranger to awful menstrual cramping, and this was awful menstrual cramping. At any moment I expected a flood gate to open up and blood to just start pooling at my feet. By 5pm I couldn’t stand it anymore. I desperately needed my heat pack and some hardcore pain killers ASAP. I rushed to the bathroom, ripped open a Clearblue Digital package and took the test. I needed to see “Not Pregnant” on the little screen. I couldn’t wait until Monday for pain relief, I needed to know it was okay to take it now now now.

That damn test thought….and thought…and thought….and thought….and thought…..and I was almost ready to give up and throw it in the bin. I was sure I’d never seen a test take so long to make up it’s mind. Then an answer finally appeared….

“Pregnant. 1-2.”

Wait. What?

WAIT….WHAT?

Of course it still says I’m pregnant. Of course it bloody does! I have the worst luck EVER! If I was still properly pregnant by now it would say 2-3 weeks past conception. But it says 1-2. That means the pregnancy hormone in my urine is still sitting above 25 mIU/ml. Whyyyyy why why why. I just want to take a really strong pain killer and stick a heat pack on my abdomen and curl up in bed and curse the world. Why does this have to linger?

Now my bleeding is heavier. It’s still brown/black and not enough to fill a pad, but it’s definitely in the pad now, rather than just noticeable when I wipe. Just a light flow. And my cramps are so bad they’re drawing down into my legs and cutting me like a knife. Why would I be bleeding if there’s still hcg in my urine? Last time I was pregnant I didn’t bleed until 3 days after my hcg level dropped below 5. Can anyone explain why this is happening to me?

All I know is that I can’t take a pain killer until tomorrow and I really want one now.

I see so many women in the wordpress infertile community have fallen pregnant this cycle, or are newly pregnant, and all are very excited about their futures. I just wish I could know either way. I want my body to stop messing with me. I want to get this period over with so I can move on with my life. I don’t want to always be the one suffering through the bad news. I need my fat lady to show up and start singing again so I can grieve and move on. I hate being stuck in this limbo. I want it to be my turn for things to go right, or just all be over so I can leave the heartache of this cycle behind.

This stuck-in-the-middle shit is the worst.

The. Worst.

One small step for man

When Doug arrived home from work last night, I was in the shower. He came stomping into the bathroom and I could see through the frosted glass of the shower cubicle that he was in a bad mood.

My suspicions were confirmed when I didn’t get a hello darling, or any other sort of pleasantry. Poor Arnold the toy poodle, who is always terribly excited to have his daddy home, was also being ignored.

“Have you used all the hot water?” Doug asked gruffly.

It’s Melbourne, it’s winter, we live in a small house with a small hot water system. Sometimes the hot water runs out. Shit happens.

“No? Not to my knowledge.” came my response. “Are you ok?”

“I have the flu.” he said, shrugging off his work shirt. “And I’ve been at the physio this afternoon, I’ve pulled a muscle in my shoulder.”

Sure enough once my husband had removed his undershirt I could see the strapping across his right shoulder blade and down his right arm. It looked very sore.

I jumped out of the shower and began to towel dry myself, as he swapped places with me and stood under the spray of water.

“It’s cold!” he said furiously.

Oh goodie! I thought to myself. Doug is sick, he’s injured, and he’s in a bad mood. This is the perfect moment to bring up the fact the doctor has mandated we engage in ‘coitus’ tonight.

“Darling, what about sex tonight?” I asked ever so sweetly.

“Can’t we just use a syringe again?” he grumbled. “I’m tired.”

I felt like I’d stepped into the Twilight Zone. I was sure it wasn’t normal for a young husband to propose his attractive young wife stick a syringe full of his semen up her cervix to try and impregnate herself while he took a nap.

Besides, I’d spent the whole week fantasizing about making love the old fashioned way. About reconnecting with each other, and stripping away the layers of medical bullshit that have prevented us from enjoying sex for so many months. We were finally able to go back to basics, and start our family the way nature intended us to. Finally it could just be about us in the bedroom, and through our love we could create another life. It was that perfect moment I’d always dreamed of, and this was my one chance to have it. I’d never ovulated before, and it was likely I would never ovulate again. I’d be damned if my grumpy husband was going to stand in my way.

More importantly, I wasn’t going to risk another syringe accident like the one I’d had on Monday night. No more bloody syringes! Reluctantly, Doug agreed with me that sex was probably our best option.

So now, good readers of my blog, I am going to describe the special “love making” I experienced with my husband last night. Feel free to look away if it is too much information for you to stomach, though I will try to speak in innuendo.

*ahem*

Last night my husband and I decided to…..fly a rocket to the moon.

We had no problems with the, um, lift off. The journey into orbit was fine. I’d go as far as to say it was better than fine. But then it came time for the moon landing. And Houston, we had a problem.

Every time the Eagle got close to landing, my flu riddled husband would sneeze…or his injured shoulder would give out…or the dog would start barking in the yard….

The longer the process dragged on, the more performance anxiety built up in my husband’s mind and the harder it all became (no pun intended). Forty-five minutes passed quickly with no result.

Forty-five minutes! I hear you say. What a lovely time you must’ve had reconnecting with each other!

Well let me tell you, it was not a lovely time at all. It was fun for the first twenty minutes when I was happily on Apollo 11, coasting towards the lunar surface. But after that I found myself on Apollo 13, trapped in excruciating orbit and neither able to land on the moon nor return to Earth. Are you feeling me here?

They say if you shoot for the moon, even if you fail you still end up amongst the stars. But Doug had the flu and a sore shoulder. Meanwhile, I have vaginismus which makes sex painful, and I was on day 22 of multiple daily hormone injections. We certainly weren’t interested in savouring our time amongst the stars. The stars were for another day. We badly just wanted moon.

I also want to make it clear at this point that Doug has never been one of those guys who suffers from issues in the bedroom. His moon landings are never too early or too late, they’re perfectly timed. Except this time. And how ironic that this was the one time we really needed that perfect landing. The only time it’s ever counted for anything bigger than just our own enjoyment in each other.

I glanced over at the clock and noticed an hour had now passed. A whole friggen hour.

Gritting my teeth and smiling up at him I tried to allay his fears by promising that it didn’t even matter. There was no guarantee I was going to ovulate before Friday, and even if I did the chance of me actually getting pregnant naturally with severe endometriosis, adenomyosis and hyperprolactinemia was so ridiculously small there was hardly any point in bothering with the whole space program.

“No.” Doug insisted. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I want to continue. I want to get this done.”

Great. I thought. Now he’s become competitive with himself and won’t give up until he wins. I’m going to be here until Christmas.

Thinking quickly, I decided the only way to solve the problem was to take matters into my own hands and take a leaf out of Meg Ryan’s play book. I realise I’m mixing metaphors here now, but you’ll all understand what I mean when I pulled a When Harry Met Sally. I figured if I built up and faked a huge orgasm, it would resonate with his male ego and we could finally go for our moon walk.

But after a few minutes, he abruptly pulled away from me.

“My god Sadie what is wrong with you?” he gasped. “Why are you shrieking like that?”

So apparently Meg Ryan was wrong. Men do know when you fake orgasms. And they don’t like it.

And one hour and fifteen minutes into our space adventure, the mission was officially aborted and we finally re-entered Earth’s atmosphere.

I felt a little like Tom Hanks at the end of the Apollo 13 movie- supremely grateful to be alive and walking on firm ground again, even if I never got to experience the moon.

Well to be honest I was a little cranky. Fertility treatment is hard for women. I’ve had to endure two major surgeries, four minor surgeries, MRIs, dozens of injections that mentally and physically alter me, bloating, cramping, bruising, egg pick-up, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome which had me convinced I was going to suffocate and die, early pregnancy, morning sickness, miscarriage, a D&C, regular invasive and internal ultrasounds…..and all he had to do was this ONE THING. A pleasurable thing! A thing that we enjoy doing on a regular basis anyway!!

But I didn’t dare tell him how I felt. I love my husband very much, and I am a patient and understanding person. I simply smiled and hugged him and told him it was ok. Then I went to cook dinner.

An hour later, he came downstairs with a sheepish look on his face, thrust a little sterile collection cup into my hands and apologised profusely for not being able to get the job done the proper way, before quickly disappearing again.

And then……..

I had my second date with the syringe.

 

July IVF – CD9 – Update

Well my scan went just as expected.

Doctor B said my ovaries were very busy (meaning lots of small follicles and cysts were visible on both) but nothing much had actually happened since she saw me last. None of my follicles have really grown at all, except for one on (I think) my left side which is measuring 9mm. It needs to double in size before anything can be done with it.

At least I’m hoping it was my left side, and my poor memory is not playing tricks on me, because that ovary is attached to my unblocked tube. Or at least it was unblocked 6 months ago. I had surgery in January to remove endometriosis and treat my PCOS, and while I was under anaesthetic they performed dye studies on my fallopian tubes. My right tube was blocked and could not be unblocked, but my left was only partially blocked and able to be cleared. I know there’s a chance it could have completely blocked itself by now.

Doctor B said we will keep stimming me with 100iu Puregon each day and I’m to come back on Monday morning for another scan. We will then decide what our options are. At this stage it’s looking unlikely I’ll be able to have an egg pick up this cycle.

The good news is Flo (the unfortunately named nurse) stocked me up on more Puregon and Orgalutran. Enough to see me through until Monday. She didn’t seem at all upset about the fact I’d wasted an entire vial of Puregon. I’m so lucky to live in a country where these medications are so heavily subsidised by the government.

If that follicle on my left ovary keeps develping but none of the others do, Doctor B said we might consider ovulation induction. It’s not a definite possibility yet, because she is concerned about the chances of infection. This is something that’s never actually been considered for me before, given the severe multiple factors causing my infertility. My chances of success with ovulation induction would be extremely low, but a low chance is better than no chance at all if we can’t even progress as far as egg pick up.

Assuming I don’t get pregnant, we will rest my body for a few months before starting another IVF cycle and this time only marginally increase my FSH dose (Doctor B described the future increase as one click of the epi-pen). Doctor B is extremely hesistant to increase the dose too much, given my past history of OHSS and the severity of my PCOS.

Doctor B is also concerned about the amount of stress my body is currently under. In the past 6 months I’ve been through major surgery, a cycle of IVF where I had 34 eggs picked up, “moderately severe” OHSS, an FET, a pregnancy which ended at 5 weeks, 3 days and now I’m on my second stimulated IVF cycle. She is concerned this is what is causing my memory loss and general spaciness.

The doctor said repeated cycles in a short space of time, where high doses of hormones are used, can cause memory problems. I’m thankful she has confirmed for me that I’m not going insane, which I originally feared to be the case. Memory loss I can deal with, insanity I can’t (or maybe that’s the other way around…).

We also had a chat about using frozen sperm. I explained that Doug has to travel most of next week, and his boss is being inflexible about him coming home to Melbourne when he is beckoned. Doctor B was much more understanding this time, and agreed we definitely need to be freezing a sample just in case.

Unfortunately she said every clinic is different, and this particular clinic has a low success rate with frozen sperm. Assuming we get to egg pick up she said we can still try IVF, however there’s a fair risk that none of the eggs will fertilise because the frozen sperm are slow swimmers. She said if we end up needing to use frozen sperm her advice is to go with ICSI again, though she is happy to take direction from us on this matter.

Doctor B knows ICSI is something I am against, based on recent studies (more info can be found here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-02/rare-in-vitro-technique-raises-autism-risk-study-says.html) that suggest when using ICSI there is a 4.6-fold increased risk of autism, and more than twice the risk of mental disability, compared with regular IVF.

My doctor strongly agrees that ICSI should be avoided if possible, and I am quite upset with my previous clinic for never warning me of any potential risks. In fact, quite the opposite, they assured me there are none. Doctor B said some clinics are quite dishonest, and use ICSI as their standard approach for no good reason. Some clinics have an ICSI rate of up to 90%. Our clinic’s ICSI rate is only 40%, as it is only used in cases where absolutely necessary. I think that’s the way it should be.

Where to next? Doug is currently at an expo for work about 3 hours drive away. He wasn’t meant to be home until the weekend, but now he is coming home early tomorrow to make a “deposit” at the clinic for the scientists to freeze. Then it’s just an anxious wait until my next scan on Monday morning.

I guess through all of this I’m coping ok. After I left the doctor’s office this morning and I was driving to work, I started to get bad chest pains, which I can only assume was the start of an anxiety attack. There were a few moments when I thought Is all this for nothing again? Am I going to come out of this empty handed again? Why am I putting myself through this whole ordeal? I tried to use some calm breathing techniques and slowly the chest pain went away.

I also feel very guilty that poor Doug has to drive home in a panic tomorrow morning because my ovaries aren’t responding as they should. If my body had cooperated, we’d be going to egg pick up on a day when Doug is in town. No one really bothers to worry about the impact all of this has on him, the focus is almost solely on me.

I know there’s no point in dwelling on any of this. I need to stay calm and positive, but that’s easier said than done given my current circumstances.

I’m sorry this update has been terribly long, sterile and boring. I’ll try and update properly tomorrow and fill you in on some of my experiences over the past week, particularly the way my memory has been wreaking havoc on my life. That is to say, I’ll update if I remember. 😉

A new chapter

My first impression of our new fertility specialist was definitely positive.

The doctor, who I’ll refer to here as Doctor B, asked me to bring along my medical history in my own words. It ended up being an 8 page document. She was 15 minutes late for our appointment because she’d sat in her office and meticulously read the whole thing. Straight away I felt like she was actually listening to me.

We then talked in-depth about my medical history, she asked me lots more questions and also asked my mother a lot of questions about our family history. After that, Doctor B took me through to the examination room to have what she described as the “full 20 thousand kilometre service” which meant I had to strip completely naked. She did a breast exam, felt my tummy, checked the scars from my previous two surgeries then did an internal exam, internal ultrasound and a pap smear. This is going to sound weird but even through years of problems with my reproductive system, fertility consultations, two surgeries and two rounds of fertility treatment no one has ever done such a thorough exam on me. She was patient and caring, asking me constantly if I needed to stop for a break.

During the (external?) ultrasound Doctor B noticed some adenomyosis, which she confirmed in the internal ultrasound. It looks like there’s a huge pocket of it in my uterus at the moment, which shouldn’t affect my fertility too much (ha…ha…I have no fertility!) but may cause pre-term labour so it’ll come into play later in the game. But otherwise Doctor B said my uterus is very beautiful. Finally some good news! The ultrasound also confirmed I still have cysts all over my ovaries.

“Has anyone ever officially confirmed the diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome?” she asked.

“No, actually.” I replied.

Doctor B explained that whilst one in four women have cysts on their ovaries, only a few of them actually have PCOS. The syndrome needs to be strictly diagnosed by having at least two of the following three conditions met:

  1. oligoovulation and/or anovulation
  2. excess androgen activity
  3. polycystic ovaries confirmed by ultrasound with the volume of at least one ovary measuring more than 10cc.

Doctor B wanted to get an official diagnosis before we start any sort of treatment and also meet Doug.

She ordered a full set of blood work, a pelvic ultrasound to confirm PCOS, and an MRI to make sure I don’t have a pituitary adenoma. The last test was ordered because of my hyperprolactinemia. I’d previously had a CT scan confirm the presence of a tumour in my pituitary, but a follow-up MRI had ruled it out. Doctor B wanted to be sure I’m still in the all-clear on that front.

We booked in a second appointment for 27th of May – one Doug can definitely attend.

For the first time in a while I feel positive about the future.