Infertility round 2

Caught between a rock and a hard place is what I would call planning for a second child after dealing with infertility the first time around. And we are not even at the stage of planning number two, we are still at the early stage of deciding whether we want a number two child.

Let's go back to times before we faced infertility. The times when we were naive to think getting pregnant was the easy, fun part, and it was the subsequent pregnancy and beyond that would be the more challenging part of growing our family. I'm pretty sure we would have said that our family would ideally consist of two children, a dog and a cat (or two). Today, if you asked us what our family would look like in several years time, I wouldn't be able to tell you because I just can't imagine it right now.

Today, I can't imagine Aviana playing with a sibling in the garden, showing them how to throw and catch a ball, or holding her baby brother or sister in hospital, asking THAT question 'where do babies come from?' or her poking my tummy and proudly saying to random people that mummy is having a baby. I can't see it. I don't want to see it. Because if I see it, I think it, I feel it and if it never happens, it will tear me up forever. But sometimes my mind does wonder there and I try not to cry over the fact that it is so distant and fuzzy. The future is so murky.

And yet, I am better prepared than I was before Aviana became part of our lives. Today I know I am infertile, I know what the chances of getting pregnant again are, I'm an infertility warrior, this isn't my first rodeo!

Somedays, I'm positive and hopeful….perhaps my hormones have 'reset' and I'll get pregnant without medical intervention, we have a frozen embryo I won't need to stimulate again, I now know all the IVF tricks of the trade, it would be a piece of cake!

And other days, I'm down and negative…I'm getting closer to 40 than 30, my eggs are even poorer quality than they were before, we only have ONE embryo in the freezer-it's got a 50% chance of surviving the thaw, there is a good chance I will have another IUGR pregnancy, we will be doing this with a toddler, I'm not sure I can cope with another IVF stimulation and suffer from OHSS. And then there is the risk of pregnancy loss, An ectopic pregnancy was a cruel experience.

And the negative is winning at the moment, infertility round two doesn't look good to me. I don't want to waste the precious time I have with Aviana whilst she is this small worrying about infertility. I'm not sure where this is going, but knowing I managed to survive that infertility journey the first time and looking back at that mountain, I'm not sure I can do it all over again.

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I am 1 in 8 speech

For my first international toastmasters speech which is known as ‘The icebreaker speech’ I decided to talk about my infertility. I thought I’d go big or go home! Talking about infertility to a bunch of work colleagues and a few strangers is nerve wracking!! This speech is the first of many I must give to gain my ‘competent communicator’ award. The idea is that the icebreaker speech is 4-5 minutes long and aims to ‘break the ice’ by talking a little bit about yourself as an introduction to your fellow toastmasters club members. Talking about infertility seemed like a bold challenge. 

It was hard to focus a speech that is only 5 minutes long to what has been a challenging part of my life. But in the end here is what I said…

“Ladies & Gentlemen, let me ‘break the ice’!! Let me take you back in time to when I was 9 in a leafy suburb playground of London. I was a bit of a Tom boy. I liked cars and transformers, so whenever I played with the boys, the girls would taunt me with the school playground rhyme…

“Dani & Chris, sitting in a tree

K-I-S-S-I-N-G

First comes love,

Then comes marriage,

Then comes the baby in the baby carriage”

Well ladies and gentlemen, that nursery rhyme isn’t quite so simple as it sounds after all. Because I am 1 in 8. I am 1 in 8 who suffers from the disease that is infertility. A baby in the baby carriage is not always what comes next.

Let me introduce you to Chris, my husband of 5 years….


Here he is winning the District 66 toastmasters humorous speech competition. You can see I have some competition!!!

4 and half years ago we moved to the US to work here. And it was at that point all our friends and family asked us….’so…when are you going to have a baby??!!’ Little did they know that we were trying but not succeeding. After many tests, thr doctors couldn’t tell us why we couldn’t have a baby. We were diagnosed as unexplained. So we tried InVitro Fertilisation or IVF.

Our first round of treatment we created these beautiful embryos…


We named them huckleberry and huckleberina because they looked like raspberries. Just 8 cells smaller than 0.1mm. One decided to stick around and I got pregnant!!! We were so happy! Until we discovered that it had implanted in the wrong place, the pregnancy was ectopic and so we sadly had to terminate the pregnancy as it threatened my life. 

We were devastated. We had to wait a while to try again.

Second time we created these 5 day old blastocysts. At first we didn’t name them because it was too painful. But in the end we did nickname them Petrie and Spike.


But it didn’t work. I didn’t get pregnant. It was very stressful and even Chris didn’t want to try again so soon. But we decided to try again. Third time lucky they say?!? This time we created thee 5 day old blastocysts – and as you can see we got a better photo of them  third time around!


And it worked!!! Today we have our beautiful daughter Aviana who is now 6 months old.


We are the lucky ones. Not everyone of the 1 in 8 gets to take a baby home in the baby carriage. It was a hard journey and involved hundreds of injections and there were many tears. People ask me now that I have a baby when will number two come along, or will we have another baby? But I tell them it’s not quite so simple as that. It’s hard. I wanted to share this with you today as my icebreaker because this is a subject deep to my heart and I hope you have learned something interesting about me today.

Ladies and Gentelemen, Thank you.”

I really enjoyed giving this icebreaker speech. It probably wasn’t what people would have expected as a first time topic. I got a great response from the audience. There was actually someone in the audience who was going through IVF themselves and have done two cycles at the same clinic as we used. They were about to decide whether or not to go for a third cycle and whether to stay with the same doctor. I offered details of our local infertility support group. It was obvious it was meant to be that I talked about this topic for my icebreaker. 

Infertility leaves a scar. I am grateful we were the lucky ones, but it doesn’t suddenly disappear from your heart when you have a baby. For me, continuing to talk about it and spread awareness helps the healing.

TTC and no more exams

I thought I was prepared for my 4 week postpartum checkup with my OBGYN, but when I got there I was taken by surprise. 

I had planned a few questions for my doctor….

  1. How to manage my urinary incontinence?
  2. What to do about my milk blister on my nipple?
  3. When could we TTC (try to conceive) again if we wanted to in the future, considering we have one frozen embryo? After all, I’m not getting any younger. Also, as someone who likes to think about the future it would be helpful to consider what is the art of the possible.

But when I got to the appointment, I never asked the third question about TTC-ing. Why? Because I didn’t really want to know. I thought I did, but when it came down to it, I realised I was afraid of the answer. I was afraid of my age being a factor, afraid of retelling my story of how Aviana finally came into our world to a new doctor, afraid of having a date in my head of when we may start another journey when we just finished this one. Plus I should be living in the moment. Well For now anyway 🙂

After my appointment I got in the car and realised I wouldn’t be going back for a while. 

I burst into tears. 

Why did I cry? I’m not totally sure other than assuming crazy postpartum hormones, but the realization that I didn’t need another vaginal exam after several years of showing my hoohar to countless number of doctors, residents, nurses and med students on a regular basis was actually a big relief. 

So it was a cry of relief for no more exams, and a cry for uncertainty to when we would TTC again if we decide to do that. Maybe Aviana is all the family we will want, maybe we will want a brother or sister for her, for once infertility is not on the forefront of my mind. So ultimately it was a cry of relief.

A new blogging adventure

The Great Pudding Club Hunt is over…for now.  But my infertility hasn’t been resolved.  Infertility doesn’t define me, but it is part of my life now.  I love this blog, I love the amazing people I have met through this blog, I love how it has helped me cope with infertility and how it taught me to keep fighting when things got really dark.

But this blog is not about being a parent, in fact it has always been about me not being a parent and dreaming of becoming a parent.  I am now a parent and I don’t want to write about being a parent here, I want to save this place as where I can speak freely about infertility and pregnancy loss.  I wanted a similar place where I can speak freely about being a parent, and that is not here but elsewhere.  So I have set up a new blog…

The Inconceivable Adventures of Parenthood

(https://inconceivableadventuresofparenthood.com)

I’m a little scared stepping out into the parenting world, I’m hoping this new blog will help me explore my thoughts and ideas.  There is so much parent bashing on the internet I am a little terrified!  But like I have used the great pudding club hunt to explore my thoughts, cope with the low times and share the good times with others in similar situations, I hope to use the inconceivable adventures of parenthood likewise.

I hope to see some of you there!!!

I will be posting here still, I am not going away, but it probably won’t be as regular (until our next pudding club hunt anyway ;-p)

Our one frozen embryo

Earlier this week at dinner Chris and I were talking and the topic of ‘we haven’t talked about timings for #2 baby yet’ came up.  I talked about the minimum suggested time between giving birth and getting pregnant again according to doctors is after 12 months.  I am not sure I would want to get pregnant sooner than that anyway!  And so I said to Chris,

“well we can get ready for a frozen embryo transfer with our one left in the freezer after a year”.

Chris then said, “But I would like to try and conceive naturally first before doing a transfer”.

I paused, looked at him for a moment and just burst into tears.

I couldn’t explain to him exactly why I was crying, but I had a gazillion emotions running through me at that moment.  It was difficult to process, but here are some of the things running around in my head before I could even get a word out between the tears….

  1.  A reminder that we were not able to conceive naturally in the first place.
  2. It’s so so so unfair.
  3. But what about our embryo in the freezer? How can we leave that behind?
  4. I would LOVE to conceive naturally and believe that our infertility can be resolved and that pregnancy ‘resets’ my hormones (somehow).
  5. We haven’t got to take home #1 yet, I can’t imagine #2!
  6. Aghhhhhh this stuff is just scary to think about right now.
  7. HORMONES HORMONES RAGING HORMONES can’t stop crying, why can i not stop crying???!!!

So Chris consoled me and asked me to talk to him.  Once I gave my nose a good old blow, I started thinking all these things out loud.  We had a long talk about it all, our thoughts, opinions and differences.  But for me the most important thing I wanted to explore was the fact that we have one embryo in the freezer still.  I was unsure what I felt about that, and how we should be involving that into our decision making.  It lead to some general questions about the existence of life and ethics.  Our journey to conceive and the stages we have faced along the way.  We talked about attachment to our embryos and changes over time.

Every month I receive a bill of $60 from my fertility clinic for embryo storage costs. A monthly reminder of what we are lucky to have.  This little embryo was frozen from our first IVF cycle and is the only embryo out of our three IVF cycles that made it to the freezer.  So our frozen embryo is now over a year old already.

Each of the subsequent IVF cycles after our first I have often questioned the logic of pursing another round of IVF when we have one embryo ready to go.  But it was all about an assessment of risk.  Risk that we would prepare for a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) for our one and only embryo not to survive the thaw and have nothing.  So the idea was to get at least another one to the freezer so we could de-risk the chances of preparing for a FET and not having anything to transfer.  It was all about numbers.  But the longer I think about it and further we got into IVF, our embryo is not just a number.  It’s a life we created. Although many argue it’s not really a life as some people consider a life to be.  It’s kind of mind boggling, and I wish I could articulate it in words.

So part of my response to Chris was my wrapped up with my convoluted feelings about our frozen embryo.  Maybe it’s guilt or maybe I’m thinking why the hell are we paying $60 a month if we don’t plan on using it!

It’s complicated and we have lots of time to decide what to do if we decide to try for #2 baby.  But I don’t ever forget about our frozen embryo, it’s existence and it’s strength to survive out of all our others 23 embryos (not including Rocky of course!).  May be it’s a future brother or sister for Rocky.  May be it will never survive the thaw.  But it’s definitely not forgotten about.

 

 

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 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!

IVF Diary Vol III: 03 – 06 Apr 16

Medication(s) administered and dosage(s). Stimming phase: day 6. PM: Gonal-F 375 iu & Menopur 75 iu injections. AM Lupron 0.5mg (5 units) injection

Medical procedures undertaken. Monitoring vaginal ultrasound and Estradiol blood tests check 2! I had a good number of follicles on Day 4 of Stimming…better than my previous 2 rounds, I had 6-7 in each ovary which was better than the 4-5 from the previous rounds.  So that’s good!

What are my symptoms?  The headaches have started 😦  I’m trying to stay hydrated, but I’m not able to shake them.  Also, when I thought I was suffering from a cold – turns out I was suffering from allergies to pollen – potentially the pine pollen.  For those of you unfamiliar with pine pollen, it is luminous yellow and coats everything in the neighbourhood in a fine layer of yellow dust.  Then when it rains it turns the puddles toxic yellow!!!

pine-pollen.jpg

Ughhh the pine pollen gets everywhere!!!

today is the first day I’ve been feeling my ovaries – Oh hello ovaries, it’s about time you woke up and reminded me how many follicles we are growing inside of you!!!

How do I feel today? I am feeling much better than my previous post.  I have been off work today.  I’ve caught up on some lovely blogs, I’ve chilled out with a friend and her kids (we also played with St Bernard mountain puppy in a pet shop) and I’ve put together some gratitude boxes for the upcoming yard sale to raise cash for our local infertility support group!  These boxes have some sweet treats and a positive happy quote written inside them.  They are a way to say thank you to those who donated to our group’s cause!  So I’m feeling inspired and positive today 🙂

boxes1boxes2

Any results?  Estradiol level after 3 days of stimming 380 pg/ml – this is a lot higher than my previous cycles – and correlates with my increase in follicle numbers too (cycle 1 – 173, cycle 2 – 194). Uterine lining is looking food.  Ovaries are stuffed with some nice looking follicles. So all looking good 🙂

What’s next? Tomorrow morning is monitoring appointment check 3!

Weight. I have put on 5lbs since IVF 2. NOT AMUSED.

Waist. AGHHHHHHHH MY TUMMY IS SOOOOOOO BLOATED!!!!!

Boobs. NSTR.

The Final Countdown!!! Over half way there!!!!

160406_IVF3_Calendar_Countdown.jpg

 

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

IVF Diary Vol III: 31 Mar – 02 Apr 16

Medication(s) administered and dosage(s). Stimming phase: day 1 PM: Gonal-F 375 iu & Menopur 75 iu injections. AM Lupron 0.5mg (5 units) injection

My doctor has decided to increase the Gonal-F and reduce the menopur for this cycle (Gonal-F being the more expensive drug, of course!!).  I hope I respond well to this change!!!

Medical procedures undertaken. Baseline monitoring vaginal ultrasound and hormone blood tests.

ultrasound

What are my symptoms?  I have experienced few symptoms, except for mild tummy bloating and a lot of farting!!! I also have what seems to be a cold, although it is pine pollen season so perhaps I am experiencing the effects of the icky yellow goo that spreads itself around this time of year.

How do I feel today? I am feeling perfectly chilled out right now.  I have had two nights in a row of sleeping through the night 🙂 But I’ve had a few bad dreams 😦  We are feeling a little bit emotionally lost about this IVF cycle.  It has been hard to get really excited.

I am planning some fun things to get us through this cycle.  I will be spending some of the two week wait away in DC so I am going to have to do these progesterone injections myself.  The nurse mentioned that if I do get a positive result then my doctor might be OK with me taking turns doing suppositories and injections.  But not until I get that positive!!!

Chris and I had a little walk to the beach and took our solo cups of wine because the weather was nice and warm.  It was our last alcoholic drink to mark the start of our IVF cycle!

Any results?  Estradiol level 20.9 pg/ml. Uterine lining perfect.  Ovaries – nice and quiet with some follicles sitting nicely ready to be stimulated!!

What’s next? Monday morning is my next monitoring appointment, meanwhile we keep taking those wonderful stimming injections!

Weight. I still haven’t got on the scales yet!

Waist. NSTR.

Boobs. NSTR.

The Final Countdown!!!

160402_IVF3_Calendar_Countdown.jpg

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