Tag Archive | young and infertile

Two or one or none…

I sat quietly in the obstetrician’s waiting room.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so began another torturous wait…

Advertisements

Go home and wait to miscarry

It was the morning after the night before.

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

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

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

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

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

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

August.

Had I conceived in August?

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

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

No pregnancy. No way. No how.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I have the flu…” I muttered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blank. The screen was blank.

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

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

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

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

“You see that?” the sonographer asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I just couldn’t tell him the truth.

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued! Hoorayyyyyy……

 

 

 

 

 

 

The one where Sadie gets her “groove” back (part two!)

Sorry for the delay in updating, the Christmas holidays got the better of me.

If you want to catch up on part one of my story before you read part two, you can read it here.

Otherwise, strap yourself in because part two is super choppy and actually has nothing to do with me getting my groove back…

___________________________

We were lying together in bed one night, James and I.
 
It was very late, the lights were off and I was very nearly asleep. Suddenly he sat up.
 
“I can’t do this anymore.” he said.
 
Groggy and confused, I reached over and switched on the lamp.
 
“Can’t do what?” I asked.
 
“I can’t be with you.” he said. “You’re very pretty and very nice. But it just doesn’t feel right. I’m just not that into you. I can’t pretend I am when I’m not.”
 
For a second I thought he was joking. After all, he’d been so intense during our short relationship. He had brought his son into my life. We’d spent Christmas together. What the hell was he talking about?
 
My next thought was that I’d just started feeling healthy again after my husband walking out on me. I wasn’t going to put up with any nonsense from anybody else ever again. Not him, not anybody.
 
So I started screaming at James. Told him in no uncertain terms I was too good for him anyway and didn’t have time for losers like him. Told him to get the hell out of my house. Grabbed his clothes from my wardrobe, his toothbrush from my bathroom and marched him downstairs in the middle of the night to my front door.
 
Once he was gone I didn’t even cry. In fact I was kind of glad that I could get back to my intense self-imposed gym schedule without feeling guilty that I should be spending my time with him instead.
 
The next morning he texted me very early to say he was sorry. I angrily deleted the text. My friend had been right – I didn’t have room in my life for any more Willy Wonkas.
 
My beloved house was on the market, my financial future was still in the hands of my divorce lawyer and I had better things to worry about than some stupid boy that I’d only been seeing for a couple of months.
 
I told all my friends what James had done and they all agreed wholeheartedly that he was basically the scum of the Earth. He’d even formally met my parents! You don’t meet a girl’s parents then ditch her like that.
 
48 hours later he turned up at my doorstep begging for forgiveness. He said he felt like he’d made a terrible mistake. It was just that after his own divorce and the fact he didn’t get to see his son very often, he felt like he wasn’t ready for anything serious. He’d rushed into things.
 
“Anything serious?” I scoffed. “Do you think I’m ready for anything serious? I’m still going through my separation! At least your divorce was finalised a long time ago!”
 
“So could we try again?” he asked hopefully. “Just…not so serious? Like maybe…friends who date each other and sleep together…but aren’t…committed?”
 
“If you’re suggesting we sleep with other people then no.” I said firmly. “I’m not interested. I don’t want to catch anything nasty.”
 
“Okay I agree.” he said. “We could be exclusive…but not committed?”
 
“Fine.” I said. “Whatever works.”
 
And thus began the most bizarre relationship I’ve ever been a part of.
 
Suddenly I felt like I’d been thrust into a Taylor Swift song. We were together, we weren’t, we were together, we weren’t.

He’d be super committed for a few weeks then panic and back right off. He’d call me up and tell me he still wanted to be with me and we were back on again. Even though my friends were telling me that this whole thing was silly and we should never, ever, ever get back together…
 
Whilst I was dancing the ridiculous relationship tango, other parts of my life started to change dramatically as well. 
 
One day I received a phone call out of the blue from a large organisation based in a seaside town about 2 hours outside the city where I live. It was a lovely regional hub, and had the atmosphere of a friendly town with the infrastructure and services of a small city. Let’s just call it….Paradise.

Doug and I had always planned to move there to raise our family but good jobs in the area were very hard to come by. I’d gone for a job interview there many moons ago and ended up coming in second from a pool of over 300 candidates. 
 
The caller on the other end of the phone was the manager of the same organisational department where I’d applied for the original job. She said that a different job had popped up and as I’d come second last time she really hoped I would apply. She even said she’d send through key information on the job which would give me a competitive edge in my interview.
 
Honestly I thought the whole idea was perfect. Paradise was close enough to the city that I could still regularly travel home to see my family, but far enough away that I would never have to worry about running into Doug in the grocery store or at the cinema.
 
The money was incentive too. Years ago I worked in a high stress high paid job, but I’d given it up prior to starting IVF and taken a $30,000 annual pay cut in order to work in a low stress environment and help our chances of conceiving.  It was never an issue as Doug’s hefty salary made our lives more than comfortable.
 
But going through the divorce on my lower wage, it meant I was left completely broke trying to pay the bills and mortgage. This new job would be a $15,000 increase on my current annual salary. It would mean I’d still have to carefully budget and watch every penny, but I would be much better off financially and have a chance to apply for further promotions at the company in the future.
 
Not to mention the housing market in Paradise was amazingly better. In the city, the money I received from my divorce settlement would be enough to possibly afford the deposit on a small two bedroom apartment. But for the same money in Paradise I could easily put down a deposit on a large house with a decent sized garden for the dog.

It would be a lot of space for just one person, but make the transition out of my dream home much easier and I could always get in a few people to rent the extra rooms.
 
Plus…I mean…who doesn’t want to live on the doorstep of some of Australia’s nicest beaches?
 
After agreeing to apply for the job, the process actually happened very quickly. In a matter of days I was signing a contract and resigning from my old job. I told my family and friends, who were all a little worried that I was isolating myself too far away from them, but at the same time excited for my big change.
 
The hardest part was telling James I was leaving. Or…so I thought.
 
“Great!” he said enthusiastically. “I’ve always loved it in Paradise. Let’s go!”
 
I stared at him blankly. “Wait…what?”
 
“Well I’ll quit my job and move with you!” he said, as if this was somehow an obvious option.
 
“You want to…move in together?” I asked, perplexed.
 
“Well sure!” James said. “But I’ll have my own bedroom wherever we live so that it won’t feel like a serious relationship.”
 
The idea sounded wacky as all hell and there was also the obvious problem of maintaining custody weekends with James’ son, not to mention he had no job prospects once he arrived in Paradise.

But James was determined the move would be a fresh start in life for him and a chance to get out of truck driving. And secretly, I liked the fact I wasn’t going to be totally alone in a new place…
 
Two weeks later I was settling into my new job. The team in my new department were all lovely. It was an all female team (surprisingly with no bitchiness that I could see!) and everyone was a fair bit older than me. But everyone was so nice and I made friends very quickly.
 
I had one minor heart attack when my supervisor dropped my ex mother-in-law’s name during conversation and it turned out they were friends. But other than that, my life was pretty chilled out and living with James was pretty effortless.
 
A month after moving, my divorce settlement came through and a week after that I’d bought myself a new house.

Modern and surrounded by quiet bushland, the house was built only eight years ago with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a good sized yard, two living rooms, double garage and a huge leafy park directly opposite where all the neighbourhood kids congregated every day after school.

It was ten minutes from the beach but only 1.5 kilometres (0.9 miles) to walk to work each day. There was even a dedicated flat walking path that would take me straight there.
 
It was no palace. The house had been a rental for its entire eight years, so some internal walls needed patching and it needed painting inside and out. The carpets in the bedroom were worn and also needed replacing. But it was mine! It was a house nobody could ever take from me. I was very proud of it.
 
James was amazing. He moved all my furniture and boxes to the new house. Then he helped me pick paint colours, and while I was at work each day he painted every internal wall, the entire outside of the house and even built me new fences so the dog couldn’t escape. The only thing I needed to source was someone to lay new flooring in the bedrooms. Within two months the house was looking brand new again.
 
Plus, our relationship had never been better and James even told me that he loved me. Everything was coming up Millhouse.
 
I held a housewarming/birthday party when I turned 29. James organised the whole thing and I had so much fun. Surrounded by friends in my new home I felt like a whole human being again, even though it was my first birthday in over 10 years without my husband.

When it was time to blow out the candles on my birthday cake, James’ 4 year old son Isaac asked me to pick him up so we blew out the candles together. It was an incredible feeling to finally be able to blow out the candles on a birthday cake with an excited little boy nestled on my hip, even if he wasn’t mine to keep.
 
It was when the crazy busy house renovating stopped, the boxes were unpacked and I’d settled completely into my job that things with James started to go really badly.
 
Four months after moving he still didn’t have a job and wasn’t really looking for one. He would sit on my couch all day in his underwear, watching tv and making a huge mess (which he never cleaned up!). It was absolutely maddening.
 
Then he became lazy and started skipping his custody weekends with Isaac because he couldn’t be bothered driving back to the city to collect him. As you can imagine, I found it very upsetting that I wasn’t able to see my favourite little guy very often.
 
As if things couldn’t get any worse, one night James agreed to do IVF with me (in a sperm donor capacity) so that I could try once more to have a child of my own. My parents even said they would lend me the money for the fertility treatment.

I was ecstatic and booked an appointment to see a fertility specialist in Paradise. Then, the day before the appointment, James changed his mind and said he couldn’t go through with it anymore. I was left devastated.
 
A few weeks later, we patched things up. Things were fine for about a month. Until I found out that at the beginning of our relationship, back when we were still living in the city, he’d slept with another girl behind my back. A girl who had the same name as me. Can you say ewwww!

He argued that it was perfectly fine because it was only one time, he’d used protection with her and we hadn’t yet agreed to be exclusive. But it still made my blood boil that he’d hidden it from me.
 
It especially made me mad because we’d been having unprotected sex for months. After sleeping together for a while, we noticed I seemed to have a mild allergic reaction to condoms so I’d gone to the doctor and asked for a prescription to the contraceptive pill.

The doctor had actually laughed at me and told me I didn’t need the pill because I’d never get pregnant naturally. But nonetheless, we’d ditched the condoms and been unprotected. I angrily made James get an STD test to make sure he hadn’t given me anything. Thankfully it was clear.
 
But James turned into a verbally abusive monster. He told me he hated my beloved dog and hoped he died, thought I was a stupid uptight snob and wasn’t worth the effort.

Finally our constant arguing got the better of me. He told me he didn’t love me at all, I told him I hated him and needed him to move out of my house within the coming weeks.

Honestly I was so upset that I felt sick and even started vomiting, which was unusual for me. But I also knew that my period was due and judging by the intensity of my menstrual cramps it was going to be a huge one. So I didn’t think much of it.
 
Trying to make the most of the little time I had left with Isaac, I took him to the local theme park and we rode the kiddie rollercoaster all day. Then we rode our bikes all around town. Saying goodbye to him, knowing it was probably the last time, was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
 
That weekend I drove into the city to have dinner with my mum and put some distance between myself and James. I told my mother how I’d been so miserable it was making me sick and nauseated.
 
“Nausea, hey? You should take a pregnancy test.” she said nonchalantly, taking a bite of her chicken.
 
“That would be a waste of $12.” I scoffed. “You know I can’t get pregnant. Besides, I’ve had horrible cramps all week.”
 
But after dinner my mother drove to the supermarket and purchased a test herself. I was cranky and most certainly not a willing participant.
 
“Just take it.” she said, handing me the box. “At least then you’ll know.”
 
“This is so stupid Mum.” I snapped. “As if I don’t have enough to be sad about lately, without you reminding me I’m horrendously infertile.”
 
Yet to appease her, I stormed off into the bathroom and locked the door. I could hear her hovering just on the other side of the door, like the meddlesome parent that she was.
 
Sighing, I ripped open the FRER package and followed my old routine. I turned the test face down so I didn’t get pee in the results window, did my business and then quickly flipped the test the right way up so I could leave it to sit for 5 minutes on the floor and wait for the lonely little control line to appear.
 
Strangely when I turned it over, the control line was already there and super thick even though it had only been a few seconds. Except I noticed straight away that it was on the wrong side of the window.
 
“The freakin’ test is faulty.” I called through the door to my mother.
 
“What do you mean?” Mum called back.
 
“There’s only one line in the results window, but it’s the pregnancy line not the control line.” I explained.
 
Suddenly I realised what was actually happening and I burst into tears.
 
“Why are you crying?” my mum asked, banging on the door. “What’s going on in there?”
 
But I didn’t even have the ability to form words to respond. I just kept staring at that test.
 
Sure enough, after a minute or so, a super faint line appeared on the control side.
 
It was a reverse squinter.
 
In other words, my hcg levels were so high that the pregnancy line had sucked all the pink dye across from the control line.
 
After years of trying and failing to conceive, multiple surgeries, 8 cycles of IVF, 3 pregnancy losses, an ectopic pregnancy and my husband walking out on me because I couldn’t have kids…I was pregnant.

Pregnant naturally.
 
No wait, I was pregnant accidentally…to a man I’d just ended a relationship with.
 
To be continued…..(again)
 
 

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!

The other side of the mountain

Sorry for not updating in so long. Can’t believe it’s been almost a month. I have no real excuse, other than I just haven’t had it in me to sit down and write a blog post. Sometimes I would start to write something, then just not have the energy to finish it. Forgive me if this post is all over the place and makes no sense, it’s reflective of my head space at the moment.

I guess I’ll cut right to the point because I still don’t feel in the mood to write flowery prose. My FET was a failure. There was no happy ending for me. I am still as barren as ever.

Jelly thawed successfully, went through assisted hatching and was re-expanding nicely prior to transfer. But I never experienced any symptoms the entire two week wait, apart from extremely sore breasts which I was experiencing from the progesterone prior to transfer anyway. There was absolutely nothing to indicate implantation. Both times I’ve been pregnant in the past I’ve felt tugging, pulling, pinching etc. This time it felt like I’d never had a transfer at all. I had a gut feeling right from the start the cycle had failed. Can it stil be called mothers intuition when you aren’t technically a mother? Ha…ha…

So this is me. Here I am. A complete failure.

I am 27 years old and I have now failed 4 fully stimmed rounds of IVF and 2 FETs. I have never reached the point in a pregnancy where I’ve heard a heartbeat on an ultrasound. I have had 51 eggs collected, and only 6 of them have survived. Only 2 of them made it to the blastocyst stage. I have had all 6 transfered, but none have been successful. 0% success rate.

I went through a really low, dark period for a couple of weeks and so did Doug. I felt so lost and confused. I honestly couldn’t find any blogs on the internet written by young women who started fertility treatment when they were 25, had failed 6 cycles of IVF and still weren’t pregnant. All of the blogs I could find were happy stories, success stories; nobody fitting my description.The average number of cycles it takes to get a woman under 30 pregnant in Australia is two.

Two.

I can’t even pretend that I’m anywhere close to that point anymore. I am so far away from that point, I might as well be in another country. I can’t even remember my second cycle.

You know how cumultatively, your odds of success with IVF increase after each cycle? Statistics are different for every clinic, but maybe you have a 30% chance of having a baby after one cycle, a 45% chance after two cycles, 60% chance after three cycles, 75% chance after four cycles, 85% chance after five cycles and so on and so forth (those stats are completely made up for the sake of this blog post, but just go with me here). Each cycle you do brings you statistically closer to the cycle that is going to be successful for you.

But then you climb that percentage mountain, and hit the top. You’re standing at the summit. And then suddenly you find yourself on the other side of the mountain, climbing back down. On your fifth cycle your chance is 85%, but on your sixth cycle your chance drops to 60% and on your seventh cycle it falls again to 40%. Why? Because you are one of the unlucky ones who are way too broken to suceed. You are too infertile. So infertile, not even the doctors can assist you. You are beyond hope, and beyond help. You’re suddenly in that ‘too hard’ basket. You’re over the other side. You’re in that small group of women unlikely to ever conceive ever, ever, ever no matter what medical intervention is attempted.

And I’m afraid that’s me. Is that what I have become? I’m afraid the odds are against me now. I’ve reached the top of the mountain and now I’m climbing back down again. My chances are less now than they were a year ago.

I mean, I don’t know for sure. I don’t know how many cycles a 27 year old has to fail before she is statistically unlikely to ever have a child. But I’m worried I am that anomoly. Only a small percentage of women ever need IVF, a significantly smaller number are aged less than 30, and a terribly tiny group of them never succeed. Is that me? When I look into the mirror am I looking into the tired eyes of a young woman who will never achieve her dream of being a mother?

I’ve been seeing my therapist and she has been helping me. I told her I’ve been thinking about death a lot. Not death in the sense that I want to go out and drive my car into a tree or overdose on metformin (can you even do that? I suppose you can…) but I just mean that throughout the day these morbid thoughts pop into my head like “I just can’t do this anymore, it would be easier if I wasn’t here” or “I wish the ground would open up and swallow me” or “If someone told me this was my last day on Earth, I wouldn’t be sorry.” Just depressing thoughts like that. Thoughts that demonstrate I am simply tired, and frustrated, and worn down by my life. I’m certainly not suicidal, just feeling so down trodden. Does that make sense?

It’s been helpful just to have my therapist there. I can talk to her and I know she won’t judge me. She won’t tell me something hurtful like “Well Sadie there are people dying of cancer and I’m sure they’d love to have your problems” or “At least you have food on the table, there are children starving in Africa and that’s much worse than infertility.” She just listens to me.

The other day I sat down in her office and vented for about half an hour. She didn’t try to interrupt me or offer suggestions, she just let me blather about every little problem in my life and let me get it off my chest. I was speaking so fast I honestly don’t even know if she could understand me. But she told me I can call her anytime, and not to let myself get to the point where I am too desolate to be brought back.

We’ve discussed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication, and she has told me she will support me whatever I decide to do. We’ve found a few that would fit with my current medications, and offer little risk to me if I was to ever fall pregnant. At the moment I don’t feel like I need them, but I’m glad I have her support if I ever get to that point.

I know that probably doesn’t make sense. How can I not need anti-depressants if I’m thinking about death? I can’t really explain it. I feel like I’m strong enough to push through this with the support of my family and my therapist. I am down, but I am not out yet. I am open to the idea of medication if I do get to the stage where I need it (previously I haven’t been receptive to it) and just knowing I have that option on the table now makes me feel more determined to get through this. I know if I feel like I can’t get back up, there is medication that can assist me when I need it. I am buoyed by that fact. Again, I’m not sure if I’m making sense…

I have also arranged for Doug to see a therapist. For the first time in almost three years he lost hope. He stopped believing we would ever have a child. He has been crying, and he never cries. He has been so stressed and upset he hasn’t been sleeping at night, and has muscle aches all over his body. It’s amazing to see the physical affect his depression has had. He’s even been running fevers. It’s especially shocking because Doug is normally so strong and stable. He’s my rock. I rely on him for support. It’s been hard knowing he isn’t coping either. I feel so responsible because my body is letting us both down.

Doug didn’t want to see my therapist because he was scared about a potential conflict of interest, but we both agreed he needed to see someone. My own therapist helped me find a male therapist for Doug who also deals specifically with infertility. This guy seems so great that when Doug phoned the reception to make an appointment, the actual therapist phoned back the next day to have a chat with Doug. They discussed his circumstances, and the therapist was super understanding and supportive. I saw an improvement in Doug after just one phone call, so I’m eagerly anticipating his first actual appointment.

We have also decided we are absolutely done with Doctor Holiday. She kept me waiting for over an hour for my transfer. That is two transfers in a row that I have had to wait over an hour with a full bladder. It’s just unacceptable.

This time it was so bad I was actually crying from the pain in my bladder, and could barely walk into the transfer room when my name was called. My mother, who had accompanied me to the transfer because my husband had to work, had to physically support me just to get me into the room. When I told Doctor Holiday, with tears in my eyes, that I couldn’t walk, she was very dismissive and told me I had to change into my hospital gown before she would even scan me to check if my bladder was over-full. That was the final straw.

I spent the second week of my two week wait researching new clinics, and setting up an appointment to see a new IVF specialist. When I called Doctor Holiday’s rooms to ask for my medical records, the nurse was very stand-offish and told me to go through my own records to find what was missing and only those missing documents would be provided to me.

But how will I know if something is missing, if it isn’t there? Does that not defy logic? I’ve had hundreds of tests and scans and procedures over the past few years. I’ve been admitted to hospital 7 times in the past 7 months alone. I’m not going to know if one set of test results is missing. Isn’t that obvious? Am I entitled to my own medical records? Apparently not.

Not knowing what else to do, and not having the energy to spend hours going through my huge stack of fertility papers, I went back and saw my GP. She is a very expensive women’s health GP so I don’t see her often. She charges $125 just for an appointment, so she certainly isn’t your run-of-the-mill GP.

I explained the situation to her and she so very kindly said she would piece together the important parts of my medical record that Doctor Holiday’s office had forwarded to her, and then send them on to my new doctor. Then when I went to pay for the appointment, I found out from the reception staff that the doctor had insisted on waiving the fee for my visit. I am so thankful for the kindness of the few individuals in my life who are helping instead of hindering. I was so very grateful to my GP.

Speaking of money, that’s a whole other blog post topic that I won’t get into now. We are running extremely low on funds now, and it’s one of the factors driving Doug’s depression. Six cycles of IVF have completely drained us of our life savings. We don’t know how we are even going to afford any more treatment at this point.

My parents are more than happy to lend us the money, but Doug is scared that if we do six more cycles we’ll then be $50,000 in debt and still not have a baby. Spending $50,000 of your own money on a faraway dream is different to spending $50,000 of someone elses.

The doctor said it’s a sad but true reality that older couples are much more financially stable and able to afford more treatment, but often it’s too late for them because they have diminished egg quality. Whereas younger couples are physically more likely to succeed, but don’t have the funds to do it. Nobody wins I guess.

I think I have rambled on for absolutely way too long. If you have read all the way to the end you get a gold star. For those of you who haven’t, here’s a handy summary:

1. My 6th cycle of IVF failed

2. I am seeing a therapist because I am sad

3. My husband is also seeing a therapist because he is sad

4. We have no monies left

5. We are going to see a new IVF specialist at a new clinic, because even though we have no savings we are still desperate and childless. And clearly insane.

I really want to say I’ll update again soon, but I’m making no guarantees. If I feel up to it I hope to tell you all how the appointment with my new specialist goes. I’m hoping for good news, but I rarely receive it so who knows…

Sadie xx

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.

20140206-155306.jpg

20140206-155233.jpg

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.

20140206-155547.jpg

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

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

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

“Hello Sadie speaking!” I chirped happily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“All of them?” I gasped.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And just like that, it was over.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sadie xx

(You can read Part One here)

(You can read Part Two here)

(You can read Part Three here)

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

The embryologist phoned me to let me know I had been scheduled for a day 4 embryo tranfer.

I was prepared for this eventuality, and not happy with it. Neither was I planning to go ahead with it.

“Can I ask a question?” I interrupted her as she was discussing the time I needed to arrive at the hospital.

“Sure.” she said uneasily.

“Why am I having a day 4 transfer?”

“Um, well,” she started. “Unfortunately you had your egg pick-up on a Tuesday and that means a day 5 transfer would take place on a Sunday. And we don’t open on Sundays.”

Ah yes, but of course. Never mind what’s best for the patient who is paying thousands of dollars for treatment. The clinic doesn’t open on Sundays. Makes perfect sense.

“”But why am I having a day 4 transfer?” I asked, undeterred. “I mean the embryos are taken out of the incubator on days 1, 3 and 5 aren’t they?”

“Yes….” she said.

“So they were taken out on day 1 to check for fertilization.” I said. “Then they’ll be taken out on day 3 to check for progress, taken out on day 4 to pick the best embryos for transfer, taken out on day 5 to check them again and then taken out to freeze on day 6. What happens to embryos when they’re taken out of the incubator?”

“They’re placed under stress.” the embryologist said. “It has a very small impact on their quality.”

“Right.” I said, happy she was proving my point. “And you’re going to take my embryos out of the incubator four days in a row. That doesn’t seem like a good idea to me, unless you can definitively tell me that there’s evidence to suggest a day 4 transfer improves pregnancy rates compared to a day 3 transfer. Of course I want the best possible chance to get pregnant, but I’m also very mindful of our other embryos. I want to freeze as many as possible and give us as many chances as possible to succeed.”

“Well actually,” the embryologist said. “It’s much harder for us to pick the best embryo on day 4 than it is on day 3. On day 4 the embryos are going through a transition stage and it’s almost impossible to tell which ones will come out of it looking the best.”

“So you’re actually recommending I go with a day 3 transfer?” I asked.

“I’m not allowed to recommend one day over the other,” she said. “But between you and I, if I was you I’d be going with a day 3 transfer. Put two embryos back so you give yourself the best chance at pregnancy and also help your other embryos in the incubator at the same time.”

“Ok that’s great.” I said happily. “Let’s set that up.”

There was silence on the phone for a moment.

“You’re always so smart…” the embryologist suddenly said, in a faraway voice.

You guys, I think I’m getting a reputation at the clinic as someone who likes to interfere with my treatment plan. I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing…

As it turns out, Doug wasn’t available to have time off work for my day 3 transfer so instead I elected to take my mother along. The transfer was to be at 11.45am on Friday morning, and it was going to be with Doctor Eventi. That same replacement doctor who had turned up half an hour late to my egg pick-up.

“This doctor is supposedly fantastic.” I explained to mum as she drove to the hospital. “But after my egg pick-up fiasco he has one last chance to prove himself. My own doctor isn’t anything to write home about, but I’m certainly not transferring to this doctor if he isn’t any better.”

My admission time was 11.30am, and my full bladder was just starting to become painful when we arrived at the clinic. The worst thing about embryo transfer, other than the nerves, is the fact you need to have a full bladder for the guided ultrasound. This time around I had stupidly polished off 150ml more water than I was supposed to. 150ml is no big deal unless you leave it sitting in your already full bladder for an hour.

At 12pm, fifteen minutes after my scheduled transfer time. a nurse came out to ask me how I was coping.

“My bladder is stinging, but I’m managing ok.” I said. “How far away is the doctor?”

“We aren’t sure. ” she admitted. “I’m sure he’ll be here soon.”

At 12.30pm, a huge 45 minutes after my scheduled transfer time, they started ringing the doctor’s phone but he wasn’t answering. I was furious. I couldn’t believe he was late again! And this time he was super late.

The embryologist came out and showed me photos of my embryos to save time. Of the seven embryos that had fertilized, we had a grade 1, a grade 2, three grade 3s and a grade 4 in the incubator. The grade 1 was perfect looking and actually developmentally quite ahead and sitting at the day 4 stage. The embryologist was very happy with it. The grade 2 embryo was nicely compacted and also right on schedule, but had some fragmentation. They were the two chosen for transfer.

“Don’t worry about your other embryos.” she said. “From memory last time you had a grade 3 embryo on day 3 and it ended up coming good and was frozen on day 6.”

“Yes that’s right.” I nodded, feeling confident.

At 12.45pm, an entire hour after my scheduled transfer time, the nurse took me into the theatre and started prepping me. She dressed me in one of those sexy backless hospital gowns and had me up on the table ready to go. She said there was nothing else they could do other than wait.

The pain in my bladder was so terrible that I was sure I was going to end up with a bladder infection, and I was concerned about my embryos who had already been prepped for transfer an hour ago.

“All I can say,” the nurse said. “Is that if you pee on the doctor during the transfer then it will be entirely his own fault for keeping you waiting!”

At 1.00pm the doctor strolled casually into the theatre.

“Oh hello!” he said. “You’re already all set up in here? How unusual!”

“Yes we’re trying to be quick.” the nurse said grumpily. “You haven’t been answering your phone.”

“My phone?” he said flippantly. “Oh I lost it.”

Well, great. The guy is an hour and fifteen minutes late while I’m sitting in the waiting room with a full bladder because he lost his phone. Happy days.

“Well Sadie,” he said, turning to me. “The other day at your egg pick-up I was late and you were very cross with me weren’t you?”

“Yes.” I agreed. “I was.”

I was honestly in so much shock I didn’t even have it in me to complain about the fact he was once again late.

“This is the first time we’re properly meeting isn’t it?” he asked.

“Yes.” I agreed again.

“But look at you! You’re just a baby!” he gasped. “How old are you?”

“I’m 27.” I replied.

“27 is too young for IVF!” he said. “Why do you need IVF?”

“I have endometriosis, PCOS, adenomyosis, hyperprolactinemia and blocked tubes.” I said through gritted teeth. “And this is my fourth cycle of IVF. I’m not a baby.”

After that I think he got the idea that I wasn’t really in a mood to chat so we got started with the procedure.

“I always have to remind Doctor Holiday that I have a long cervix so you need to use a longer speculum.” I told him as I lay back onto the bed with my legs in the stirrups.

He began with an internal examination and cleaned the crinone build-up out with saline. After that, we were ready for the transfer to begin.

“Actually I disagree.” he said. “You have a normal length cervix and we will use the normal length speculum.”

So he inserted the instrument and started opening my vagina. I have vaginismus so it was excrutiatingly painful, particularly with my over-full bladder. I was gripping my mother’s hand so tightly it was starting to turn purple. After a minute Doctor Eventi stopped and assessed his work.

“It looks like you were right Sadie.” he said. “We do need that longer speculum after all!”

Just like that! No concern for the pain I was in, or apology for the fact he had ignored my advice and now I was paying the price for it. The nurse rolled her eyes so violently I thought they were going to fall out of her head.

When Doctor Eventi finally got the second speculum in place, my body was starting to go into lockdown. My pelvic muscles were trying to shut up shop so desperately that even with the speculum holding me open he couldn’t get the catheter inside my uterus.

“Your internal organs seem to be resisting…” he frowned, pushing harder to try and get the catheter inside me.

In the end he had to go and get a different type of catheter and wash my cervix with saline again just to force his way inside. Then the two embryos were loaded into the catheter and ready for transfer. The nurse was scanning my belly so we could see a clear image of my uterus on the screen.

“Where is the catheter?” Doctor Eventi asked, looking at the ultrasound screen.

“What do you mean?” asked the nurse.

“I can’t see it in there. Where is it?” he frowned. “I’m going to poke it around and you just shout out if you can see it on the screen.”

Let me tell you if I hadn’t already been lying down I would have fallen over in shock. The man who I was trusting to get me pregnant, the man who was pocketing thousands of dollars of my hard earned savings, didn’t even know where the catherer was. He had apparently lost it in my uterus.

“There!” my mother said. “I see it in the top corner of the uterus.”

“Ah yes!” the doctor nodded. “Good work Sadie’s Mum. It looks like it’s in a pretty good position so I’m ready to insert the embryos now.”

I couldn’t believe it was up to my friggen mother to find the catheter for the doctor! And I couldn’t believe he was being so flippant about the whole thing. A pretty good position? You’d better be damn sure it was in the absolute perfect position if you’re playing with my health, my emotions and my bank account.

As he was completing the transfer, the doctor began to laugh. “These embryos look so healthy. What will you do if they both take? What will you do if one splits and you end up with triplets? You might get triplets you know!”

What kind of stupid question is that? If I get one baby I’ll be ecstatic. If I get two babies I’ll be completely over the moon. If I get three I’ll be completely freaked out, but also thankful. Did he expect me to say that I would selectively abort a baby if we had triplets? That I would adopt one out? I mean honestly what an idiotic thing to mention.

Thankfully, before I had the chance to say something biting or witty I was informed the procedure was over and I was allowed to get up and run to the bathroom. That was much more important than wasting time having a go at the doctor.

“Well congratulations and good luck!” the doctor said. “I’m sure you’ll do just fine because those embryos looked great.”

On the way home from the hospital I called Doug to let him know how everything had gone. He was completely furious with the treatment I had received, but also happy with the final result. We had two beautiful embryos on board, and four more still alive in the incubator who were going to bake for a few more days. Everything was falling into place.

“Doug what will we do if neither of these embryos implant, and none of the other embryos freeze?” I asked quietly.

“Don’t be silly.” my husband said. “That’s not even going to happen. You’re 27. Your embryos looked great. We’ll get many chances. We’ll get pregnant. This is going to be our year! I can feel it!”

If only wishing made it so…

(to be contined AGAIN….only one more part in this long-winded saga, I promise!)

(You can view Part One here)

(You can view Part Two here)