Natural Conception after Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Treatment

Today at work I was putting together a presentation on “What is correlation?” (I know, my work is full of excitement and such geekery 😎 ), and I came across an interesting example of ‘illusory correlation’ from the infertility world that I thought I would share with you all.  I was about using it as an example in my presentation.

Have you ever heard someone say

“Adoption increases the chance of an infertile couple getting pregnant naturally?”

Many people have heard or say this, and many can tell you a story of someone they know/know of that this happened to.  The rationale behind this can be hypothesised as:

Once the pressure is off and the couple is less anxious, it will happen naturally.

But how true is that?

Apparently it turns out there is NO empirical evidence to support such a hypothesis.  Research (from Resolve) has shown that the percentage of women who become pregnant without adopting is no different to the percentage of women who become pregnant without adopting.  What this means is that, while a small percentage of people who were having difficulty getting pregnant do not get pregnant after adopting a child, these are likely the same people who would have gotten pregnant after having difficulty, even without the adoption.  It has nothing to do with the adoption.

So why do so many people believe this myth?  Because many people can tell you of a story of someone they know that this happened to.  But the thing is, most people can only tell you ONE story.  And they don’t tell you all the stories they know about the infertile couples that adopted a child and didn’t get pregnant naturally afterward.  The examples of where it did happen are salient to them, perhaps because they remember thinking to themselves “This couple is going to have two babies within a few months of age of each other!”  What happens when something is salient – or when it produces a vivid memory – is that people tend to overemphasize the likelihood of its occurrence.  And they give it a lot of attention.

This is known as vividness bias.

The vividness bias is supported by what’s often referred to as an illusory correlation – the impression that two variables are related when in fact they are not.  In this example, because of one or two very salient or vivid examples, many people believe that there is a relationship between adoption and getting pregnant, when in reality, there is not.

(Extracted from: Intentional Interruption: Breaking Down Learning Barriers to Transform By Steven Katz and Lisa Ain Dack)

Similar to the case made for getting pregnant naturally after adoption, you may have heard a similar argument for couples who stop assisted reproduction and get pregnant naturally afterwards.  There is research that was published in 2012 that found that 17% of women who became pregnant, and gave birth, from IVF treatment, became pregnant again naturally (NB….within 6 years!).  For those women who were unsuccessful with IVF, 24% became pregnant naturally after stopping infertility treatment.

Other recent research has found that 16% of infertile women conceive naturally after stopping treatment (within 13 years!).  And by the way, let us not forget that a fertile couple’s chance of conception is 20-24% for every menstrual cycle!  So that 16% statistic still SUCKS.  In addition, the original cause of a woman’s infertility made a difference as to the chance of achieving a successful natural pregnancy after IVF – if the infertility was due to uterine, cervical or ovarian problems, endometriosis or infertility in their male partners, the women had a significantly greater chance of achieving a successful natural pregnancy after stopping IVF.  However in comparison, if the couple’s infertility was ‘unexplained’ or the problem was with tubal pathology, her chances of a natural pregnancy decreased 😦

So there are many illusory correlations out there in the infertility world.  And now you know how to respond to people that say to you:

“ohhh you will get pregnant naturally after adopting/stopping treatment, that happened to my friend/friend of friend”

you can reply

“……the evidence is contrary, my dear, and you are suffering from vividness bias”

It’s a whole lot politer, and factual, than – “F*#$ you”.

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A little thought

Before I get into this post I just wanted to say….

I received so much love from you all on my last post I can’t thank you enough for your kind words.  Donald Trump might stupidly say that “He knows words.  He knows all the words.” (Please, please America don’t let him be your next president) But actually you guys have all the words and know how to say them just right -for the whole time I have been blogging here on the GPCH your words have meant that I have managed to get through this journey without going insane.  Thank you so, so much XX

OK here is my little thought….

Someday we will probably show our child their first ever photo.  Chris and I have joked that it would be the best photo for a wedding speech.

blastocyst 3BB blastocyst 3CB

But here Rocky is…with his sister or brother that never made it.  This is just heart wrenching and would probably be a bit uncomfortable for some people who twig that we only had one child.  So perhaps we won’t ever show this photo at their wedding, but I will definitely want to show it to them at some point in their life.

I’m not going to lie, I have struggled a little bit with the fact that one of our embabies didn’t make it. It’s been even harder as there are several ladies in my local support group who recently also went through IVF just after me, all of them have found out they are having twins.  And a few ladies on Instagram who went through their IVF cycles the same time as me also found out they are having twins (two are even having identical twins!).

I know that having twins is not easy, but I can’t help but mourn the loss of Rocky’s brother or sister and ask myself – why?  Sometimes I even get jealous of these lovely ladies and I know that is a terrible feeling to have because I am SOOOOOOOO lucky to have one wonderful baby inside me right now.

Infertility is complicated. I read an article that Resolve published an advertised recently on their facebook.  Reading it helped me put into perspective these kinds of feelings I have. I hope you find it interesting too…

infertilty wounds

Read here: “Healing the Wound of Infertility”

Living in the moment

I should be living in the moment, but I am not.  I think about the past, I think about the future.  First let me say that I am very grateful that we have this chance, that I am finally pregnant. I know there are many women who want to be in my position.  I have been where you are.  But it is not easy, so bear with me whilst I explain.

The past should stay in the past, but I can’t help but question why we went through everything that we did to make our baby rocky (I wonder why anyone should have to go through that, and for some even more).  We still don’t know the cause of our infertility, and this is difficult for me to deal with.  Why did it work this time?   Out of 25 embryos we made, 1 decided to implant itself in the correct place.  1 survived. 1 made it.  But why didn’t the other 24 make it?  Just because I am pregnant, doesn’t mean I have closure on my infertility, why my body doesn’t want to do what it is meant to do.  I was on the edge of losing hope of any medical resolution.  We treated the symptoms, but we didn’t treat the cause.  We are still unexplained.

And all of this is in the past…right?  But then there is the future on my mind.  What if this baby dies inside me?  What if this baby is still born?  What if all this medical intervention has created a baby that cannot survive, that never had a chance or is severely damaged in some way?  What if we go through all this and get to the end with nothing in our arms, nothing to put to bed and kiss every night, but left with a heart of love, broken into a million pieces.

The future is still an infertile one for me.  I do not have confidence that we figured out how to resolve our infertility.  I believe what has happened was a result of simply try, try again and we got lucky.  Luck was on our side?  This is really hard to deal with because, I may never be this lucky again.

It is hard at times to live in the present right now.  I mostly do, but the past and the future sneak into my mind occasionally.  When I catch myself doing this, I remember the things I have learned in yoga and meditation.  I bring myself back to the present.

The pudding club

It’s been almost a week since I was on here…that’s not like me.  I have been hiding from the world a little bit.  It’s been a really hard week to get through.  My first scan looming over my head.  Would there be a baby?  Would there be a heartbeat?  I’ve had lots of lovely messages wishing me luck – but all I wanted to do was curl up and sleep, avoid polite conversation, time to fly.

Thursday morning I felt numb to the world.  Fortunately I was busy at work so the afternoon appointment came around quickly.  Chris met me at the clinic, he was already there in the waiting room, patiently waiting for me. I felt sick to my stomach.  This was it!  We didn’t have to wait long before we were called back.  The nurse took my vitals (weight and blood pressure), then we went into the ultrasound room together.  I sat up on the bed and before I had to time to wonder more about the possibilities my doctor walked in.  I don’t really remember what she said to me, but like I had been all week I’d had enough with the small talk.

As soon as the ultrasound wand was in me we could see my extremely hyper stimulated ovaries….I had many huge follicles still – like two times the size of the ones I am used to seeing during stimulation phase.  My doctor exclaimed my ‘hyper’ situation, and I said, yes, I have been feeling them 😦 And then she found a sac, zoomed in and there was a little blob on the screen!  I was holding my breath as she found the heart beat – and there it was 144 beats per minute (BPM).  I just cried.  She measured the size of it and it was measuring 2 days behind at 7 weeks 2 days, I was technically 7 weeks 4 days, but she said that was close enough!

As I sobbed, Chris asked what happens next and my Doctor said we now graduate to my OBGYN!  Oh…I don’t have one since we moved to the US and went straight from our family doctor to the fertility clinic.  Then Chris said we need to find one near our new house…to which I corrected him and he said – “no, we got the house today!”  I couldn’t believe it, he was telling me right there that we got the house we wanted and he had the call from our realtor an hour or so before the appointment.  Cue even more tears from me and excited happy doctors & nurse in the room.  What a day for good big news.  I hugged my doctor and nurse and thanked them with tears running down my face!  It was surreal as I walked out into the waiting room with my face red from tears, I am sure people couldn’t tell if it was good or bad news I just received!!  And that was it…we left our clinic realising we wouldn’t be back too soon.

Finally I’m in the pudding club – for real! I’ve been in a bit of shock, but I am embracing the pregnancy now.  I believe it is happening.  This is our time.  We have even agreed to give the blob a nickname – Rocky – our little fighter.  It also looked a bit rock like on the scan 😉

I realised I needed to find an OBGYN quick that works with the hospital we wanted to give birth at, so I did my research and made my first pre-natal appointment in the ‘normal’ world.  My first appointment and next scan will be at 10w2d – a little later than they like, but it was the earliest they could fit me in.  I’ve also been allowed to switch to progesterone oral capsules (but taken transvaginally) – these little things cost over $380 for 1 month’s worth!  Completely different to the progesterone in oil which cost only about $90!!! But I am sure it will be worth it so I don’t have to inject myself whilst travelling again (I’m off to Turkey tomorrow – not looking forward to this trip at all).

This week has been such an emotional roller coaster – and yet on the face of it, it has been easy…we have no complications.  Just when we thought this was the end…

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The Enhanced 2 Week Wait

It’s kind of like I’ve received my invite to join the pudding club, I’ve completed my application, I’ve done my best to fill everything out correctly, I’ve been thanked for my application and told I will be welcomed, subject to approval!  But there is a pause….no one is communicating with me, my doubts are creeping in.  May be they found something in my application that they don’t like.  May be I won’t be joining the pudding club after all.  This period of waiting is what I am calling the “Enhanced Two Week Wait”.

During this period of time, it doesn’t take much to make me stop and think about what might be.  And when I think about what might be I briefly hold in the tears.  Sometimes it’s tears of sadness and other times it’s tears of relief and happiness. 

With the sadness I think what might happen if we look at the screen and there is no fetal pole or no heartbeat.  I won’t be able to hold those tears back.  The immense sadness will wash right through me.  I  won’t be able to not think about the injections, the pain from the OHSS, the tiredness, the surprising love for someone I have never met….all for nothing.  It will be for nothing with a cruel ending that results in a horrible painful bloody mess.  It will all have been for nothing. 

And then sometimes I’m on the brink of tears of relief and happiness.  With the happiness I think what might happen if we look at the screen and there it is…wobbling around in there – only just the size of a grape, unknowing as to how much it is loved and wanted to be held in our arms.  I will feel relief that it was all worth it; that I am proud of ourselves sticking to the path on this rocky journey. 

I will keep these little thoughts in the back of my mind that will continue to creep every single time I feel a pain in my uterus for the next week, reminding me something is going on down there.  Just 5 more days and one of these opposite realities will come to fruition.

I am just over half way into this ‘enhanced 2 week wait’, and there is absolutely nothing I can do but patiently wait.  It’s been a tough first week being away from Chris in a country where there is a 6 hour time zone difference…picking up the phone to talk has been challenging with the nature of our work, it doesn’t help.  I’m becoming a pro at giving myself these progesterone injections, I even gave myself an injection without icing the area first.  It turns out that it just stings a little bit afterwards so it wasn’t too bad pain wise.

I have had sporadic pregnancy symptoms, which doesn’t fill me with confidence, but I know that this is the case for many women who go onto have successful pregnancies.  I just can’t help but err to the side of negativity. 

Symptoms:

Peeing a lot.  I have been on this plane for just 4 hours and have been to the toilet 7 times already. Boobs.  They don’t like being touched or leaned on (i.e. lying on my front is painful!!) Sorry Chris, no boob touching just yet!! 😉

Nausea.  I have had only a couple of instances of being on the verge of puking, but these were easily resolved as soon as I got some food in me! 

Tiredness.  It has been a hard week with work and travelling to Europe I’ve had little opportunity to catch up on my sleep so I am constantly yawning.  I have even set my alarm a couple of times this week for 10-15 minute PKs (Power Kips). 

Period type pains.  These pains don’t last very long maybe a minute or two and come randomly in waves.

Actually listing out all these symptoms makes me realise that perhaps I am a bit more pregnant than I really thought I was!  In addition to this I am still suffering from OHSS albeit a lot less.  Twisting my torso around or bending down/reaching up still is painful.  😦

I hate to wish my time away in this life, but I really wish it was Thursday already!

PIO on the go

I had a plan!!!! My plan was to give myself the Progesterone in Oil (PIO) injection at Philadelphia airport lounge in between my two flights.  I would get some ice from the bar, put it in the ziplock bag I had packed and ice my backside to numb it.  I would then use the nice clean, usually quiet, restrooms to prepare and administer my injection – there are even sharps containers to dispose of my used needles.  It seemed perfect.

But nothing ever goes to plan in the land of infertility!!! Oh no!!!

My flight to Philadelphia got delayed once we boarded – we sat out on the pan for an hour, then they decided that the aircraft jet engine was actually broken (just as well we didn’t take off then??!) so we headed back to the terminal and de-planed.  Practically all the passengers on the flight were transfer passengers and because I was soooo desperate to pee I ended up at the back and so waited forever in the huge queue to figure out if it was possible for me to get my connecting flight to Amsterdam.  By the time I got to the agent, my flight in Philly to Amsterdam was boarding…so no, I wasn’t going to Amsterdam.  I explained to the agent that I didn’t mind flying the next day – but that flight was oversold already. Grrrrrr.  He was going to send me to Amsterdam via London – and I would need to stay in Heathrow airport for about 15 hours before getting to Amsterdam a day later.

Ummmm no.

So I asked about the possibility of getting to Brussels – my true destination.

After the attacks in Brussels I booked my flights via Amsterdam because there were still no direct flights with my preferred airline – American – from the US to Brussels.  But the agent said…hmmmmm I wouldn’t have thought about sending you to Brussels instead of Amsterdam, but if that is what you want then I can get you there via London tonight.  So I accepted the challenge of the additional transfer in London and decided what the heck, I’ll go to Brussels airport (I guessed it wouldn’t be that bad).  From that point onwards I was just unlucky with every flight and barely made the connections. My plan to do the PIO injection in a nice clean restroom went out the window, I was going to have to do it on the transatlantic flight.

I ended up doing the injection in the teeny weeny aircraft toilet.  Fortunately I got some ice so I was able to numb my backside whilst I prepared the injection.  It was pretty challenging to do all of this in the teeny toilet with no flat countertop space…., plus I just get the general heeby geebies about aircraft toilets (people are just so gross in them and never clean up after themselves -sorry grumpy frequent traveler whining!!!). Then there was the turbulence! Everything went slipping everywhere…the progesterone bottle…the needles…the alcohol swabs! Aghhhh!!!! Finally once I got the injection drawn up and ready to go, I got all flustered thinking about people waiting outside and wondering why the hell I was taking so long!  So it took me a couple of minutes to mentally – wooooohhhhsaaaaaaahhhhhh – breathe – relax.

I waited for the turbulence to calm down and I managed to finally give myself the injection and pierce the skin without any issues.  But of course it takes a few minutes for the oil to be injected because it is so thick…and whilst that was going on the turbulence came back!  I was hopping around the toilet trying to balance on one leg and not tense up my butt and leg muscles whilst the needle was still in it.  Very challenging indeed.

I then remembered it was the day to put on new vivelle dot patches (estrogen) on my tummy, as I was doing this I dropped everything on the floor.  Gross.

But despite all this, I barely had any blood after this injection (impressive considering all the joltyness), and I was super proud of myself for not completely freaking the f*** out.

Having said that….I don’t want to have to do that ever again!! I do not recommend to anyone doing this injection on the go.  I did the Lupron one in the plane toilet before and that was easy compared to the Progesterone.  If I’d been more organized I would have asked my doctor for some progesterone suppositories for the days I am travelling.

Anything to keep this little one growing inside me 🙂

PS.

If you are interested to know – my unexpected trip to Brussels airport wasn’t too bad, but it did trigger some thoughts.  I thought about that day as I went to pick up my luggage.  I thought about how that day there were many customs border staff stopping practically everyone to check their bags as they left the airport.  I recall that how at that time I laughed because I was one of the lucky ones who did not get my bag rummaged through.  But today as I went through customs there was only one man.  I thought about how if I had been stopped by customs that day, I probably wouldn’t have been upstairs in departures when the bombs went off.  It was then weird to walk out of the baggage area to see the boarded up area from where the damage had been caused from the explosions upstairs.  I recalled the images of this area in the media and matched it to what I saw today.  A shiver went down my spine as I tried to find my way out of the airport to the train station.  No starbucks for me today.  The route to the train station today brought us out through the parking garage I had found myself in immediately after the explosions, not knowing where the hell I was or where to go.  Today I found myself thinking back about my whole experience.  It was very solemn…but I was OK.

fierce

IVF Diary Vol III: 29 Apr 16 – Stage 1 complete

Medication(s) administered and dosage(s). 13DP5DT (13 days past 5 Day Transfer)  Prove time! PM Progesterone in Oil 1ml Intra-muscular injection, vivelle dot estrogen patches 0.1mg x2.

Medical procedures undertaken. Beta hCG blood test – AKA THE PREGNANCY TEST!

Any results?  We are pregnant! Last night I got back from DC, Chris was already at home, I asked him – “Are you ready to do this?”.  He nodded nervously.  So we went to the toilet together and I peed on the stick, turning it the wrong way round so I couldn’t see the window.  I left it on the counter top for a minute or so, and we turned it over together.  2 lines!  Woohoo!!! Except it was kind of a weird experience.  It wasn’t quite like last time when I was really excited.  It was like….OK, this is a good step forward….but now we have to wait and see what my levels come back tomorrow.

ivf3_bfp

the test line was darker than the control line!

Today the doctor called with my results (it wasn’t my doctor who called) – he is a straight talking kind of man.  There is absolutely no beating around the bush with him, he tells it like it is (he gave me the news that our first pregnancy was not viable and he was pretty blunt with us).  He said he had positive news!  OK I like positive news! He then mumbled something about my hCG levels, I asked him to repeat what he said because he wasn’t clear (he has a foreign accent), he said it was a nice high level that they like to see of 485!  My progesterone and estrogen levels were good too.  When I got of the phone I was a little disappointed, I was hoping for a little higher being 13DP5DT….but then after a while I reminded myself that this first number doesn’t matter so much (it’s higher than last time so that’s good!), it will be the next number that tells us the likelihood of this pregnancy having a chance!

What are my symptoms?  So I have pretty much been certain I am pregnant since the return of my OHSS symptoms earlier this week.  My belly sticks out ridiculously – I have put on 7″ round my belly.  The area beneath my ribs and belly button are painful if I bend over, or try to get in and out of bed.  I am feeling nauseous – not sure if that is pregnancy related or OHSS related. I couldn’t eat more than 5 spoonfuls of my porridge this morning.  I have had lots of sharp pains.  I’ve also had period type pains.  I have an unquenchable thirst.  I am peeing about 30 times a day.

How do I feel today? I am excited to be moving onto the next stage!  But having some reflections back to IVF cycle 1.  We lived in this ignorant bliss for 5 days last time.  This time is a whole lot different.  We are definitely in a better position than cycle 1 so I am trying to keep positive, it’s just hard not to think about what happened to my body last time we saw those two pink lines.

 What’s next? Wednesday is beta #2! Is it Wednesday yet?

The Final Countdown!!! 

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*Notes.  I take First Response Reproductive Health multi vitamin gummies (pre-natal), 5mg Melatonin at bed time and CoQ10 200mg gummies, and  Pur-absorb iron supplements daily.  NSTR = Nothing Significant To Report.

reblog – Let’s Break The Internet With Infertility Awareness! —

I totally missed Day 5 of the Bloggers Unite Conference – bad Dani!!! I was exhausted driving back from DC yesterday (I know, excuses excuses!!) :-s

Day 5’s topic is about #StartAsking for insurance coverage.  As I have the best insurance coverage, I think, in the whole of the US (I have a worldwide insurance policy) I can talk about the benefits that everyone should have available to them – I have coverage for infertility diagnosis and infertility treatments (IUI, IVF, ICSI etc), including medication – I even have coverage for Genetic testing.  There is no $$$ limit, but I can only have 6 life time IUIs and IVFs. It’s quite amazing really!  So I have already used up half my life time allowance.  I still have to pay the 10% copay…but it is no comparison to those couples who have to pay the full amount.  Infertility is stressful enough as it is without the added financial burden and bills to track and pay.  It makes me mad that infertility treatment is seen to be ‘an option’ like cosmetic surgery is ‘an option’.  You can read more about this at missconceptioncoach.com below

In a perfect world, the tens of thousands of women and men suffering from infertility who consult reproductive specialists every year would know that their medical treatment would be covered by their health insurance. Infertility is, after all, considered a disease as stated by the World Health Organization. Yet the establishment of an “Essential […]

keep reading more here…via Day 5 – #niaw, Bloggers Unite Conference – Let’s Break The Internet With Infertility Awareness! —

Reblog – Start asking friends and family for support —

Day 4 of the Bloggers Unite Conference at missconception.com!  I don’t know who this lunatic blogger is, she is harping on about something for infertility awareness week…..oh wait….it’s me! I’m excited to be part of the bloggers unite conference this year, and very grateful to Miss Conception for hosting it!

I discuss how we opened up to our friends and family about our infertility journey and yet had never actually asked for support from them.  I assumed I didn’t need it.  But I was wrong. People find it hard to know how to help their infertile loved ones, so if you ask, they will leap, I have no doubt about that as we have experienced.  I suggest ways you can ask for support from your friends and family.  You don’t need to be as open about your infertility journey as we have, but knowing when and how to ask for support will help get you through those tough days. Click the link below to read more!!!  XXX

Hi! My name is Dani. My husband, Chris and I, have been trying to conceive (TTC) since December 2013. We were diagnosed with ‘unexplained infertility‘ in January 2015. I decided to blog about our journey of TTC as I quickly realised that talking to friends and family about our situation can be difficult. It can be hard for them to […]

…..read more of my blog post here via #niaw – Day 4, Bloggers Unite Conference – Start asking friends and family for support —

NIAWBLOGGERSCONFERENCE

Reblog: Be your own advocate. Listen to your gut. Know your body —

Day 3 of the Bloggers Unite Conference and Bri from dreamingofdiapers.com explains the importance of being our own advocates and asking questions to our OBGYNs and Reproductive Endocrinologists.  For me I certainly have learned that Doctors can get into their set ways of thinking and have certain biases (I wrote about this a while ago), sometimes they simply forget you are first time IVF patient, generally forget things, or apply a ‘catch all model’ to your infertility treatment.  So asking the right questions can help us all move forward on our path to our long desired babies.  Bri is currently pregnant with her sister as a gestational carrier/surrogate, she has some amazingly interesting perspectives… so you should go check out her blog! But first read her post for National Infertility Awareness Week link below….

There are so many topics that we could talk about with the hashtag #StartAsking but my focus will be about being an advocate for yourself and asking questions to your ObGyn or Reproductive Endocrinologist. When you are trying to have a child, many questions go through your mind. Some of you ask and some […]

continue to read more here…. #niaw Day 3, Be your own advocate. Listen to your gut. Know your body —