A shout out to the loved ones of an infertile woman.

The last week has been hard. Really hard. Hard to stay motivated and positive. Hard to get through each day at work. Hard to pick myself back up again after another failed cycle. But it has also been very hard on those around me. I dare say I have not been easy to live with and I have struggled to keep my emotions in check around those that I care about the most.

I work in a job where I am face to face, one on one with patients all day. I am expected to be happy, helpful and on the ball to help people solve their foot problems. That is hard work having that expectation at the best of times. It becomes a whole lot harder to stay positive and happy when you are feeling terrible and like a failure. When you just want to burst into tears and yell that life is not fair. When you have to listen to people complaining about trivial little things in their life, like having to fly economy to Europe, like its the worst thing that could happen to them. When inside you are screaming ‘FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS PEOPLE!’, try battling IVF!

I have become very good a putting on my ‘happy facade’ at work and ‘soldiering on’. Pretending everything is ok and that life is great. The difficult thing about this is it takes up a huge amount of energy, which is not sustainable all the time. It means when I come home I am likely to crack and the tears start running down my face when I walk in the door. It means I snap at my husband even though he has been amazing and I am short with my parents when they are only trying to help. Yesterday I sat on a friends couch and cried my eyes out at how terrible I feel and the unfairness of our situation when my beautiful friend would so love to just have a supportive husband (she’s single) let alone be ready to have a baby.

So this short post is dedicated to those who are the unwavering support to someone going through infertility and IVF. It’s a rough road for them too. I know I have been a terrible wife, daughter and friend over the last few months and I feel bad that these people deserve the best of me, not the worst of me. I am so lucky to have them in my life and things would be so much harder if it wasn’t for them. So to those supporting someone through this process – you are loved and you are very much appreciated. We may not have the energy or the head space to show it but we still care about you so much. Hopefully when our turn comes to get off the roller coaster you will get your wife, daughter and friend back, plus a little bonus in the form of a child who will love you as unconditionally as their mum does.

 

And just like that, its all over again.

So I started doing HPTs (home pregnancy tests) last Wednesday, the day after my last Pregnyl shot, so that I could track how long it took for the HCG to leave my body. While the good news is I now know it takes exactly 5 days to be gone, I also know this cycle has failed. If I were in fact pregnant it should have started showing on a HPT by Saturday or Sunday. By this morning, still nothing. I knew in my gut it wasn’t going to work but that small piece of you can’t help hoping you are wrong.

I rang the nurses at my clinic this morning to ask if I could do the blood test earlier and they said that was fine. At least I can get confirmation sooner so I can stop taking meds and start feeling like myself again. I should get the results tomorrow morning but I know exactly what it’s going to say.

To say I’m shattered is an understatement. I was really sad yesterday, knowing it was all over, but I think I still managed to hold it together reasonably well. Today is a different story though. Today I woke up angry. Angry of the unfairness of this whole situation that everyone seems to be announcing pregnancies and having babies around me. Angry that we are still stuck on this stupid roller coaster of investing time and money and experiencing pain and heartache and still not being any closer to our dreams. Today I am also angry with my husband for wanting me to take a break. I understand where he is coming from and I know taking a break seems like a good idea but for me it just feels like I’m getting further away from being a mum. At least if I am doing IVF I feel like I am doing something to help our situation. Sitting back and waiting is not going to get me pregnant.

Mentally he thinks the break will be good for me to take my mind off it and I understand he probably needs a break from the monster that his wife turns into during IVF. For me though, there is no switching off. There is no just ‘not thinking about it’ for a little while. I have constant daily reminders of the lack of child in my belly and my life. Waiting only sounds even harder. It’s like delaying the inevitable, I don’t really see the point.

I am getting good at putting on a mask and pretending I’m fine and yet inside I just want to scream at the world and for someone to ‘fix me’ so I can get pregnant. I feel like my body has let me down and that I’m letting my husband down. I feel like life keeps playing cruel tricks on me and I just want to go to bed and wake up when this period of my life is over. I’m sick of the worry, of the feeling like crap, of the daily injections and forever popping pills. I just want to be a normal person who just ‘gets pregnant’ and can then move onto the next stage of life.

Nearly 2 years of this battle and my patience is wearing thin. I’m done with waiting to be a parent. I just want it to happen already.

I’m hoping that little rant will make me feel a bit better. Sometimes getting the words on a page rather than stuck in my head is the best thing of all. There is nothing anyone can say or do that will change how I feel at the moment, but I just have to trust this feeling won’t last.

I have made an appointment to see my specialist in 3 weeks time with the hope of planning our next step. Whether that be trying sooner or later I don’t know but I at least want to plan the cycle. There is no way I’m ready to give up on this dream yet. I have fought too hard already to not have it become a reality.

 

7 days post 3 day transfer.

So I had assumed I would update this straight after the transfer but given a less than ideal scenario I didn’t really want to think about it for a bit.

I got a call the morning of the transfer to let me know that of the 4 eggs we had on pick up day, 3 of them fertilized but then only 2 made it to day 3. Unfortunately one of the embryos had ‘too much DNA’ and was not deemed viable. Of the two remaining one was an 8 cell embryo – looking great for day 3 and the other was a 4 cell embryo, a little slower but still ok. The 4 cell embryo was exhibiting ‘divots’ which means it was likely to split to 8 cells soon.

The decision was made to transfer both of our little embryos and keep our other one from our last cycle frozen at this stage. I went to an acupuncture session in the morning to make my uterus as receptive as possible and crossed my fingers as I headed in to the clinic. My husband met me there and given how the transfer panned out I was so grateful to have him holding my hand. Unfortunately my usual fertility specialist was in surgery that day so the head of the clinic offered to step in and do the transfer for us. He was very kind throughout the whole procedure but it was still incredibly painful and awful.

So turns out when they tried to do the transfer my cervix decided it didn’t want to dilate. Normally it is no problem to insert the small tube containing the embryo and ‘squirt’ them into the uterus. Once again my body fell into the 1% of difficult cases and they basically had to shove the tube up my cervix to get the embryos in the place. It was incredibly uncomfortable and while I tried so hard to stay calm I really just wanted it to be over. My husband ended up with rather crushed fingers but I’m so glad he was there for support. Thankfully they embryos finally made it into my uterus and I could head off for my second acupuncture session for the day.

As soon as I got back into the privacy of my car the tears started flowing. It was just such a horrible experience even though I know the doctor was doing everything he could to be as gentle as possible. I couldn’t even be excited about the possibility of being pregnant when all I felt was pain and sadness that this had to be so bad. I cried again when I got to the acupuncturist’s clinic and she asked me how it went. I’m just generally sick of things being harder than they have to. Not only having to do IVF in the first place but that my body never seems to respond the way we expect.

At least I was able to have a couple of very quiet days with a long weekend away after that and I’m feeling much better about things. Still not super positive in regards to the results but there is nothing else I can do at this point other than wait. I have done two 1500 Pregnyl shots since the transfer and I am continuing with progesterone in oil injections every 3rd day, plus 8mg of progynova each day and 2x 8% Crinone gel suppositories too. I did my first home pregnancy test for this cycle this morning and it was positive however this will still be the Pregnyl at this stage. I figure if I test every day I can see how long it take for the Pregnyl to leave my body so by mid to late next week I should know if the tests are accurate or not.

7 more days until blood test day and will know for sure if our lives are due to change for the better or if this roller coaster of IVF treatments continues. Keeping everything crossed but not feeling confident at this stage.

Egg Pick Up #3.

Yesterday was our 3rd Egg Pick Up and it went as well as we could have hoped. 4 little eggs which is the most we have ever got and I got the call this morning to say 3 of them had fertilized over night which was great news. At this stage we are heading for a 3 day transfer on Thursday, hoping they are good enough quality to make it that far.

I was a little nervous before the procedure yesterday which I think is only normal but overall it was at least nice to know what to expect. Everything went smoothly and while I felt a bit ‘spacey’ for most of the day and was a bit sore, really nothing to complain about. I managed to watch and entire season of Sex and the City which was actually fitting given it was the episodes where Charlotte is going through IVF. The nurse who looked after me in recovery said she had a positive feeling that she wouldn’t be seeing me again so I hope that’s a good omen.

Today I had to start the horrible Crinone pessaries + 2x Prognova tablets morning and night + the scary Progesterone in Oil injections. I’m not exactly thrilled to be back on them but I’m will to do whatever it takes to get our little miracle. This weekend is another long weekend and we are heading to Phillip Island for some RnR with lots of relaxing time reading and walking on the beach. I’m hoping that’s exactly what this little embryo need to stick (assuming transfer goes ahead on Thursday).

Not too much more to report at this stage other than feeling ‘cautiously hopeful’. Keep everything crossed for me!!!

Day 12 – nearly there!!

So it has been far longer between posts than I had intended but a head cold has had me stuck on the couch feeling miserable this week and I have not had the energy to open up my laptop. Thankfully feeling a little more human today and hopefully it will have completely passed by the time we get around to doing a transfer.

So.. this cycle has been different to my others in a good way (other than the sickness). On day 2 I had an Elonva injection which is a long acting FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) which meant I didn’t need to do any more injections until day 6! It was a weird feeling knowing we had started a full IVF stim cycle and yet I was cruising along and not having the daily reminder of injections. I had a nasty headache the day I had the Elonva injection but otherwise was pretty good. Apparently the headache is a common side effect and if I have to go with this cycle again I will know to expect that. Otherwise I felt pretty good. I had a lovely little ‘staycation’ weekend with my husband in Melbourne which was really chilled and relaxing. We wandered the city, enjoyed great food and had a lovely night in a hotel, followed up by the Van Gogh exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria.  Other than having to do a quick pit stop for an Orgalutran injection after dinner it was a really nice little break away.

Monday morning I had my first scan for this cycle. I had an absolute night-mare getting there as there was a fault with the train lines and had to drive an extra long way around to get there resulting in me being 40mins late to the appointment. My husband knows how stressful this was for me given I am the person who is 10 minutes early for everything. At least the doctor got caught in the traffic jam too and was also late so it wasn’t so much of a big deal. The scan showed 8 healthy little follicles (5 on the right and 3 on the left) all at approximately 8mm. This was a great result + my lining was sitting at 5mm which is normal for this stage of the cycle. Monday night was the start of 3 injections per day!!! 150 units of Gonal F, 300 units of Menopur and 250 units of Orgalutran. Ouch!!

Along came Tuesday morning and I woke up feeling terrible with a nasty head cold. I wen’t into work thinking I could brave it but after 2 hours went home to bed. My puppy was thrilled to have a snuggle buddy even if I wasn’t great company. I dragged myself out of bed Wednesday morning still feeling terrible. I cancelled work for the day but still had to drive 20mins to go in for my scan appointment. This was now day 10 and again things were looking good. The top up of Menopur and Gonal F had me now sitting at 10 follicles of around 13mm and lining of 6.4mm. I was thrilled my lining was continuing to thicken and we are heading in the right direction! Egg Pick Up booked for Monday morning.

Wednesday and Thursday brought more time on the couch trying to get better. The hardest part is not being able to take any medications for my cold and just having to ride it out. I would normally pop some cold and flu tablets and just keep soldiering on but I have had to listen to my body and take it easy.

Back to work today and looking forward to Egg Pick Up on Monday. The pressure to get a few eggs is slightly reduced knowing we have one little embryo in the freezer but I would so love to get a few more to add into the mix. Fingers crossed we can go ahead with a transfer mid to late next week and have another shot at this pregnancy business! Feeling confident and relaxed at this stage but I know the nerves will kick in as we get closer to Monday. I have to remember there is nothing I can do other than relax and trust the experts to do their job. It’s all out of my control now!

Day 1 again – Yay!

Woohoo! I never thought I’d be so excited for Aunt Flo to arrive! I have become so used to my body not responding to meds the way it’s expected to I had already assumed this cycle would be put off for a few more weeks with a change of medication before we could get started. But nope, this morning I got a little surprise that made my day. Never did I dream they day I go my period would be one to celebrate.

I will go into the clinic tomorrow to pick up my meds but from what I know this cycle will be different again with a slightly different protocol and we can only hope my body is happy with this change. At this point I am excited to get started but I know in a couple of weeks things will be tough and I probably won’t be so thrilled but that’s the joys of IVF. My husband and I are both in a good place mentally at the moment and we have a nice little weekend away planned for this coming weekend which couldn’t be better timing. I’m planning to go home this afternoon and do a massive cook up with lots of yummy, nutritious foods to keep me going when things get tough.

I was not expecting to get started so soon and as such have not told any family or friends where we are at. I think I would like to keep it that way for the moment and will just monitor how we feel about things as we go through. At least I know I have a great support base around me and people I can call on – no questions asked, if there is anything we need. I plan to take things pretty easy over the next month, enjoy walks in the sunshine with my pup and eat lots of yummy vitamin rich food. I will keep up my regular pilates and acupuncture but will likely go a bit quiet on the social side. Time to sit back, relax and go with the flow as things are now handed over to my specialists and I just do exactly what they tell me to. Keep your fingers crossed for me that it will be a smooth journey this time around.

Celebrating Mums when you so desperately want to be one.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and it was one of those really bitter sweet days. While I love my mum to pieces and it was so lovely to shower her with the love she deserves, it’s another reminder of something you so desperately want but just can’t seem to grab hold of.

We started the day with the Mother’s Day Classic, a 4km walk around Melbourne’s gardens to help raise money for breast cancer research and celebrate our beautiful Mums. My mother-in-law is one of the lucky ones who managed to beat breast cancer so it’s a special day for her to help acknowledge the help and support she received and to remember those who were unable to fight off the big C. It was a glorious morning with the sun shining and while it was a cool 6 degrees Celsius I was warmed by the love around me in the crowd. I was lucky enough to walk alongside my husband, my mum and dad, my mother-in-law and her husband and 2 of my sisters-in-law and one of their husbands. It was a beautiful positive start to the day. When then had breakfast out with my parents and enjoyed a great catch up over yummy food.

I had decided on a social media ban for the day knowing seeing many of my friends sharing photos of their first mother’s days would be difficult for me. I broke the ban to quickly post a few pictures from our walk in the morning and then logged out again. I did however receive a beautiful message from one of my mum’s friends (practically an aunt to me) saying she was thinking of me which was so kind of her. She had her own struggle to fall pregnant over 30 years ago and knows how hard these moments are. It was a really sweet gesture.

In the afternoon we headed to my sister-in-law’s new house to celebrate with all of my husband’s extended family. It was a little awkward when his grandma came around with little posy’s of flowers for all the mums and came up to me and said ‘Oops! Your not a mum are you!’. It was such a simple thing said on her behalf with no malice behind it (she doesn’t know about our struggle) but it cut me to the core. I looked up at my husband and I could see the look of sympathy in his face but it was difficult to just laugh it off and say ‘No, not me!’.

I came home and made the mistake of logging into Facebook without thinking and while having a quick scroll through 4 separate pregnancy announcements popped up. I instantly regretted my decision. While I am getting better at taking this news the tricky thing is 3 of them were friends announcing baby number 2 is on the way. I know it’s ridiculous to feel this way but I can’t help but think that’s a bit selfish having 2 children when some of us so desperately just want one! I had a little cry and moved on but I’m glad mothers day is over for another year.

I can only hope that by next Mother’s day we might have a little bun in the oven but I have learn’t not to put a time limit on these things as my body will not do anything it doesn’t want to until it is damn well ready! We are now 5 days post trigger shot so hoping I did actually ovulate late last week and can expect a period mid next week. I guess we will just have to wait and see. I did however celebrate my furbaby yesterday and his undeniable love for me. While he may not be a human baby he is a pretty awesome consolation prize. He really seems to know when I need to extra cuddles and that’s exactly what we did last night. I hope he is not my only baby but he will always be my first.

Some days are just plain hard.

So today marked day 32 of this current cycle meaning I should have got my period at least 4 days ago. Typical of my body it didn’t do what was expected and today I was back to the specialist to work out what’s going on.

He did a scan and found my lining is still very thin (measuring about 4.5mm) but found that I have one large, dominant follicle on my right side measuring 20mm. In theory this follicle should ovulate leading to a period 2 weeks later. Given it is taking it’s sweet time I have been advised to take a “trigger shot” of Pregnyl tonight to help this along and then we can try naturally over the next 48-72 hours. My chances of falling pregnant naturally are very slim given my thin lining but it’s still worth a try!?

All going well I should get a period in the next 2 weeks (hopefully it works this time) and we can get started on our next cycle. If not then I will go back to the specialist again and probably go back on the pill for a few weeks to induce a period. It’s crazy how you spend so much of your life seeing a period as an inconvenience and frustrating and yet when you want one it just won’t show up! Our specialist did reassure me that we are on the right track and there is no reason why we won’t get pregnant. We just have to keep trying until we get lucky.

I have had a few days recently where I have felt really down and struggled with how many people around me are falling pregnant with no problems. I went to a 30th birthday party over the weekend where 2 of my good friends had their little ones there – 9 weeks old and 11 weeks old and its hard not to feel left out when everyone is fussing over the bubs. Then another friend told me she is expecting her second child. She doesn’t know our story or I’m sure she wouldn’t have said it but apparently ‘it just happened without even really trying’.

It’s like a slap on the face hearing things like that and while I am really happy for her and she is a fantastic mum to her little girl I can’t help but thinking I so want to be in her shoes. We also have Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday which will be lovely to spend with my mum and mother-in-law but a piece of me can’t help thinking about all my friends celebrating their first Mother’s Day this year and I still can’t even fall pregnant. I have come to assume anyone I know is pregnant until proven otherwise as it makes it slightly easier to deal with when you hear of another pregnancy announcement.

As my specialist reassured me – our time will come. We just have to stay strong and keep working towards our dream. We need to remember there are good days and bad days. Some are just crazy hard and you just have to embrace them. let the tears out, and hope tomorrow will be a better one.

Limbo.

So I currently feel like we are stuck in no mans land. Playing the waiting game. After our FET was cancelled a couple of weeks ago I am now just waiting it out until I get my period and hopefully we can start our next stim cycle. In theory this should be in the next few days but I have learned to expect the unexpected with my body so who really knows.

I’m feeling a bit down and crappy which might be because my period is actually on its way but I also ended up with a UTI and the anti-biotics I’m taking are making me feel pretty miserable. I never feel great taking them but I would really like to hurry and and feel better please.

It’s particularly frustrating to be feeling crappy this week given we had such a wonderful relaxing weekend up in the mountains. My lovely group of girlfriends from Uni all put in for my birthday last year and bought us 2 nights accommodation in the Grampians, a beautiful mountain range in north west Victoria with incredible rock formations and views. It was so nice to feel human again, enjoying a glass of wine in front of the fire and hiking to see the best vantage points.  And while I adore my dog it was also nice to have some time with just my husband and I. Our dog is nearly 18 months old and still gets up very early in the mornings wanting to play so it was so lovely to have a sleep in and get up when we felt like it. It felt like the good old days when we were young and carefree and life was as busy or relaxing as we planned it. Not filled with medication schedules and doctors appointments.

I guess that’s why I’m feeling particularly low this week as it was a little reminder of what life used to be like and now I’m right back in the middle of feeling crappy and tired. I’m hoping next week will be a new week and I will be energized and ready to take on this process again. Fingers crossed I actually get a period in the next few days and we can get back on the roller coaster again. If not I guess this ‘limbo’ will last a little longer but I’m learning to just take what comes rather than trying to expect where we might be.

When you are the 1%, not in a good way.

So yesterday marked another confusing and frustrating day in this IVF journey. I had an appointment with my specialist yesterday afternoon to see where my lining was at and if we will be able to go ahead with a transfer next week. I had been on the highest dose of Progynova (Oestrogen) and yet my body was still not responding to it. Apparently 99% of women do and I am in the lucky 1% that doesn’t. Ultimately that means our Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) cycle has been cancelled and I am no closer to being pregnant.

It doesn’t make you feel great when your specialist then phones the head of the IVF clinic to work out what to do next. I appreciate the fact he is trying to do everything he can to help me but you feel pretty shit knowing you are that unusual in your presentation, not even a fertility specialist knows how to help you. After some conversation between the ‘experts’ it was decided the best course of action is another full stimulation cycle. Yes that means another full cycle of injections and egg pick up etc,  with slightly different meds to what I have had before. This will not only potentially give us some more embryos to work with but also give us a greater chance of thickening my lining. Apparently Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) when used in conjunction with the Oestrogen patches will give us the best chance of a pregnancy. The specialist kindly offered to do the cycle at a cheaper rate given our situation and not being able to do a FET.

I really don’t know how to feel at this point. I had a cry and I think it was just out of frustration more than anything. It feels unfair that everyone around me seems to be falling pregnant so easily, plus celebrities announcing pregnancies every second day. Including Serena Williams yesterday, who somehow managed to win the Australian Open while pregnant and yet I’m taking all these drugs, doing everything right and my body still won’t come to the party. I feel thankful for the opportunity to do another stim cycle at a reduced cost as this will be a huge help, and thankful for the possibility to perhaps collect a few more eggs and hopefully embryos along the way. But all of these things still keep pushing back my dreams and knowing we have another Mothers Day coming up in May and we are still not pregnant just makes it all a bit harder to take.

18 months into this journey and I know many people have battled a lot longer than we have, but I could have had 2 full pregnancies in that time too! My mind constantly flips backwards and forwards between thankful we live in a time and place where IVF is available and we are fortunate enough to afford it. And so frustrated that we have to do it in the first place. I so wish we never had to be here and this blog never had to exist. If things went the way we had planned we should be holding our son or daughter by now. Even writing those words feels strange. All we get to think about at this stage is eggs and embryos.

The ride continues. I’m sure one day I will look back on this and be holding a son or daughter, explaining to them how much love and hard work bought them into the world. But for the moment I am sad and frustrated that they are still just a hope in their parent’s hearts.