Tag Archive | sadness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hello Sadie speaking!” I chirped happily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“All of them?” I gasped.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And just like that, it was over.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sadie xx

(You can read Part One here)

(You can read Part Two here)

(You can read Part Three here)

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A light in the night

It was very late at night, perhaps almost midnight.

My husband Doug and I were lying in bed, in the dark, listening to the monotonous whoosh of the fan turning overhead and our dog’s quiet snores wafting across the room from his bed in the corner. Just as I was drifting off to sleep the room suddenly lit up.

“That’s your phone.” I said. “Someone has sent you text message.”

“Have they?” murmured Doug, also half asleep. “That’s nice.”

Realising he wasn’t going to fetch his phone off his nightstand, and curious about who would text at such a time, I stretched over his body and plucked his iPhone off the charger. I could see his sister’s name on the brightly lit screen.

“It’s Jess.” I said, shaking him a little. “Maybe the baby is coming?”

My sister-in-law Jess was due any day with her second baby. The one that had taken them three months to conceive. The one that had been flaunted in my face for the past nine months, never mind the fact that for a time earlier in the year we had both been pregnant and I’d lost my chance at happiness in April.

“The baby isn’t coming.” Doug said, taking his phone and putting it back on the charger. “We have just been texting all night. Chatting.”

“This is very late for her to be chatting.” I pointed out, mildly suspicious.

“She has insomnia.” he said dismissively.

With that, he curled his arm around my waist, pulled my body flush against his and whispered in my ear that I should try to get some sleep.

The next morning I was awoken by the sound of my own phone vibrating insistently. Someone was calling me. I forced my eyes open and glanced at the screen. My mother-in-law’s name was buzzing at me. My mother-in-law and I barely speak to each other anymore. She wouldn’t call me at 7am even if her house was burning down. It could only mean one thing. I ignored the call, threw back the blanket, trudged down the hall and found Doug in the shower.

“Your mother is trying to call me.” I said. “She must have baby news.”

Doug turned off the shower, wrapped a towel around his waist and crossed the room to wrap his arms around me.

“Jess went into labour yesterday.” he said. “I didn’t tell you because I wanted you to get a good night’s sleep. The baby was born about an hour ago. It’s a little girl and they named her Amy.”

And that is how my heart broke into a million pieces.

Of course I pretended I was fine, I said how pleased I was that Jess had an easy birth, how excited I was that Layla had a new little sister and then I kissed my husband goodbye as he rushed off to an early work meeting. But as soon as his car’s tail lights had disappeared around the corner I was a sobbing mess.

I cried as I showered myself, cried as I sat with my legs on the edge of the bath tub inserting another tube of Crinone gel into my cervix to provide progerstone support to the low quality embryos that had been transferred six days ago and surely hadn’t implanted. I cried as I dressed myself, cried as I fed the dog, cried as I realised I had spent so long crying that I had now missed the bus and would be late for work. I cried as I reversed my own car out of the drive, cried as I drove to work, cried as I paid for parking, and then somehow managed to pull myself together right before I entered my office. Just after 10am I lost it again, locked myself in one of the bathroom stalls and cried so hard I couldn’t breathe anymore. Gulping for lungfuls of air, I began to choke, and then gag. I thought I was going to pass out.

The birth of new babies are a time for celebration. But I felt like I couldn’t have been more upset if someone had told me my grandmother was dead. This was…grief. But what was I grieving for? I was bitter, despondent and guilty. Good people didn’t react in such a way when they were given happy news. There was clearly something very wrong with me.

Jess and her husband had started trying for their second baby a year after we started trying for our first. And yet here they were actually holding their little bundle of joy, and we were still childless. And filled with hate. Jess and her baby were a reminder of every inadequacy in my reproductive system. They were proof that I was flawed, incapable, a failure.

Another small piece of hope was sapped from my heart that morning. With Jessica’s baby came irrefutable proof that the world was moving on, that the world had never stopped. The world does not wait for me, or my children. Other people around me would fall pregnant and have healthy babies, but my life would continue to be on stand-by. And that was something completely out of my control. Other people were going to feel joy even if I felt none, and there was nothing I could do about it.

I felt absolutely disgusted that I still feel nothing but bitterness, jealousy and anger for Jess and her baby. I don’t know who I have become. I don’t recognise my own face in the mirror anymore. I have become weak, and sad, and little.

Even my fertility doctor noticed that I have “allowed negative thoughts to take over my mind” lately. I haven’t had the emotional strength to blog. I have very much wanted to write, because writing is something I love, and my emotional outlet. But when I would log into wordpress, I’d just stare at the computer screen until I thought I was going to cry, and then click the little red X in the top corner. I had become a shell of myself. A dark blanket has been thrown across my mind, and is stifling my happiness and sense of self.

The fertility doctor said she has seen this happen before. Infertile women reach a point where they are just completely beaten down by their circumstances, and they just become tired of it all. Will I ever be a mother? I don’t know. I can’t answer that question. Does that tear me up inside? Yes, it really does. My doctor has referred me to a new counsellor. My first appointment is next week. She specialises in treating women who are going through IVF, so maybe she will be more understanding than the last counsellor I saw.

I’m not sure how much shit one person can put up with in one year. Major surgery, three cycles of IVF, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, a frozen embryo transfer, early pregnancy loss, pushing through with my exams and graduating from my masters degree, a horrible bout of the flu, strep throat, pneumonia, finding out I am losing my job at the end of the year, a nasty mother-in-law, watching my sister-in-law have her perfect second baby, and most likely finding out this cycle has also been a bust and my embryos didn’t take. Again.

I found this little quote and I really like it. I think it applies to me. I am trying to make it my mantra.

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I am trying to fight my way out of this fog of depression and anxiety. I will try to write more, I will try to tell you about my cycle, I will try to offer you all the support I once offered you. The support I appreciated so much from you, and the support I enjoyed providing in return. I’m not making any promises, but I will try. And maybe one day I will look back on this and feel pride that I made it through to the other side. Maybe.

July IVF – CD14

This is going to sound weird, but I think my husband is more upset about this cycle being a failure than I am.

I was definitely angry and bitter yesterday morning, but writing a blog post was quite therapeutic for me and by the time I got home I felt as close to normal as a gal can possibly feel when she’s going through IVF.

When Doug arrived home from work at about 7pm, he looked tired and sad. He wrapped me up in a big hug and asked me how I was doing.

“I’m ok,” I said. “What would you like for dinner?”

“Come on now, don’t lie.” he cajoled. “You don’t have to be strong for me.”

“Um…I’m not?” I said, looking up at him. “I feel ok.”

“Neither of us feel ok.” he disagreed. “We don’t have to pretend with each other. I tried to pretend this morning at the doctor’s clinic but we need to just allow ourselves to be sad now.”

That’s when I really noticed just how devastated he actually was. He confessed that he had been on the verge of tears all day at work. His boss had even noticed something was wrong, and had asked if I was sick. He’d also spoken to his family and asked for some space from them so we can grieve.

Doug has never really shown that much emotion throughout this whole IVF process, at least not without a few wines in him. When we lost our last pregnancy, I was the one who hid under the blankets and cried for a fortnight. Doug almost seemed to carry on as normal. I knew he was disappointed with the result, but he even admitted that he didn’t think of our loss as a baby because it was only 5 and a half weeks along and “shaped like a tiny tadpole” rather than a human. It’s just the way he copes with things. He rationalises and internalises and carries on.

So to see him so upset last night really broke my heart. It’s frustrating and awful and soul destroying to have a cycle fail before egg pick up. But I also know it could have been so much worse.

In a way I was glad Doug finally showed that IVF is affecting him too. He even admitted he might need to go and see someone like I am. It’s not healthy to bottle up all your emotions all the time. The last thing I want is to see him sad, but I’d rather get upset with him than worry he’s getting upset when he’s all alone.

Speaking of “seeing someone”, I had my first session with the infertility counselor this morning. She seems a bit odd and I haven’t made my mind up about her yet, but I’m going to go back next week to give it a second try.

She asked me some weird questions, like why I think infertility is becoming a greater problem in society. I didn’t really see how that was at all relevant to me, or my situation. I’m trying to have one child not solve the fertility problems of the entire world. Do I look like Captain Planet??

Pushing those thoughts aside, I considered her question for a moment then told her I thought it was because people were leaving it later to have children, thus diminishing their fertility. Other environmental factors, such as the genetically modified foods, chemicals and preservatives we eat in modern, western society surely also played a role. Then there was social infertility. I gave examples of single women who are now able to try to fall pregnant through the use of donor sperm and homosexual couples who are able to use donors or surrogates. Treatments were not legal or widely available for non married couples until recently. Then I added the basic fact that infertility would historically have been under-reported. A childless couple was not necessarily considered infertile. There was no assisted reproductive technology available, thus they would not routinely be identifying themselves as unable to conceive to medical professionals.

“No, that’s wrong.” she said dismissively, offering no supposedly right answer.

What in the……

To be fair, it wasn’t all weirdness and she did also offer me some interesting insight into my own mind. She picked up on the fact I seem to now identify myself as an infertile.

“That’s not who you are.” she said. “Infertility is a circumstance, it is not the definition of a person. You can’t let infertility define your character. You’re more than just a young woman who is struggling to have a child.”

Those words really hit home with me. I realised very quickly that I have allowed my medical conditions to take over and define who I am as a person. If someone asked me to sum myself up, I’d say Sadie, 27 years old, infertile. But that’s not actually me. So I think it’s time to reintroduce myself…..

I’m Sadie. I’m 27 years old, kind, funny and supportive. I love my dog an unnaturally large amount, I’m very close to my family, and I’m married to the love of my life. I eat vegemite straight from the jar, and I have an irrational phobia of whales. I’m a high achieving student, I hate exercise but I try, I can never stop at just one piece of chocolate, I’m a movie buff with a huge dvd collection and a little bit obsessed with the X Files. My goals in life are to see Versailles, complete a PhD, run a marathon, have three children, write a novel, learn to swing dance and live on a farm.

I am not just an infertile. My medical problems make up a big part of my life, but they are not shameful and they don’t define me. I am a whole person with multifaceted habits, goals, opinions.

I encourage everyone who is going through fertlity treatment, or struggling with infertility, to sit down and write out on a piece of paper exactly who they are. You might be surprised by the results.