Frozen Embryo Transfer.

So things have been travelling pretty slowly over the last week or two. Frustratingly slowly. I first saw to specialist on Monday the 10th of April to plan our Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). I was prescribed Progynova to help thicken my lining and had to initially start on a low dose and slowly increase it during the cycle. We then had a review scan on Saturday morning (Easter Saturday) and my lining showed it was at 5mm thick. Still far too thin to consider a transfer –  we need to get it to 8mm. At this point the Progynova dosage was further increase to 6 tablets a day + the addition of an Estrogen patch which i have to change every 4 days. Then review again on the Tuesday after Easter.

It was nice to have a few days break over Easter to rest from work and spend some time with my Husband and dog. I also managed to paint our old 60’s fireplace to bring it into the 21st century which was nice. We also had a few days down at my parent’s place celebrating Easter and my Dad’s birthday with a day of sailing out on the bay. While there was no wind and we mainly motored around it was nice to feel the sun on my skin and not be thinking about IVF. It was nice to do something ‘normal’ that didn’t resolved around appointments and medications.

Yesterday morning I had a review with the specialist and kept my fingers crossed as I was getting changed for the Ultrasound that it would be good news. Sadly my body was still not really responding to the increased dose and my lining was still only 5.3mm. I felt very flat afterwards and have continued to do so since. I feel like my body is letting me down not only with this whole infertility battle but also with the fact it just doesn’t respond to the drugs the way many people do. So now I am up to 10 Progynova pills per day + 100mg of baby aspirin + the Estrogen patches. I have been pretty emotional today and I’m not sure if its the medications or just me struggling with this whole process. Everyone seems to be getting pregnant and having babies around me and it’s just not happening for us, even with all the help in the world. I’m torn between wanting to give my body a break after this round (assuming it won’t be successful) and wanting to dive straight into another full stim cycle to this process doesn’t keep dragging out any further.

Back to the specialist tomorrow and I’m really hoping we are finally seeing some improvements. I just need something to give me a little bit of hope that we might still get to be parents one day.

The roller coaster continues.

So it has been a little longer than I had intended between posts, however so much has happened so quickly it felt silly to update when the information we were getting was changing so quickly.

To cut a long story short, the transfer was cancelled last Saturday as we had 3 good quality 8 cell day 3 embryos. The plan was to wait until my lining was improved and then do a Frozen Embryo Transfer when the time is right. This is where it all got confusing as we had to decide what to do with the 3 embryos. Option 1 was freeze all three as they were, option 2 was allow them to continue to grow in the lab and hopefully become blastocysts, which are the best quality to transfer, or option 3 was to do a mix of the two options. While blastocysts have higher pregnancy rates, only one in 4 fertilized embryos will make it to that point.

We found this to be a really difficult decision! It was like choosing what to do with your children in a really weird way? The embryologist kept throwing all these figures and chances of each outcome and it all got really confusing. Luckily we were able to speak to our specialist and he helped us to make the decision. He suggested that we freeze one embryo at day 3 as a ‘back up plan’ and then allow the other 2 to continue growing in the lab. This would hopefully give them a chance to try and achieve blastocyst stage. I was comfortable with this and felt like we were hedging our bets and giving our little embryos the best chance.

The other advantage to not doing a transfer is having a break from meds! On Saturday night I was able to enjoy a glass of wine and it felt so nice to be ‘normal’. The pressure was off and I could be me again for a while, rather than a pill popping pin cushion drugged up on hormones. I actually felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.

Come Monday morning and I received a call from the lab to say one of our 2 embryos was growing nicely and would likely achieve blastocyst, but the other one had slowed down and was less likely. I still felt ok with this as one out of the 2 is a pretty good result. Unfortunately everything came crashing down on Wednesday morning when the lab called to say neither of them had made it. I think this hit me as a real shock as I was so relaxed and confident that we had one strong little fighter. To know we were back to just one shot at this was pretty devastating. I felt like we had put all this time and energy and money and pain into nothing.

I took the afternoon off work and wallowed in self pity, crying until I had no tears left. Luckily I was seeing the acupuncturist that night who was able to put things into perspective. She explained that some embryos simply don’t like being in the lab. Its not a reflection of my egg quality or that I am a failure at this IVF process. Some embryos simply do better in you than in a petri dish. I guess if I am faced with the same decision again I am more likely to freeze all of the embryos, but you don’t know unless you try hey?

So back to see the specialist on Monday and come up with a plan to thicken my lining and transfer this last little guy. I can only hope this is the one but if its not meant to be we will just have to regroup and throw ourselves into this crazy process all over again.

 

Egg pick up and the next steps.

So our Egg Pick Up went reasonably well on Wednesday morning and I woke up from the anesthetic to learn 3 eggs were collected. While this is not an amazing number in terms of IVF it was 3 times better than the one we collected last time so I was happy. I did however have more pain this time and had to lay pretty low for the rest of the day. My dog kindly stepped in as my hot water bottle, laying across my belly and watching movies with me. My husband was a legend throughout the whole process and helped to stop my mind from running wild with possibilities before hand.

I was a bit emotional for the rest of the day, partly happy that we got 3 eggs and partly scared that they wouldn’t fertilize and they wouldn’t be enough. Thursday morning brought fantastic news in that all 3 fertilized over night. It was time for more tears, all be it happy ones this time. The embryologist also confirmed we would be going for a 3 day transfer and that I was all booked for Saturday morning. I had just enough time to write the appointment in my diary and tell my husband before I received a call from my specialist to say that still may not be the case. He was concerned my endometrial lining was too thin which would not support a pregnancy if we were to go through with the transfer. The plan from here is to take some extra meds over the next couple of days to try and thicken my lining, while also hoping that the embryos will be good quality and able to be frozen to transfer at a later date.

I’m confused about what I should feel at the moment. Ultimately its better if they are good quality and we can do a freeze all cycle, however if not, the best option is to transfer them and hope my lining thickens enough in that time? I’m scared we will lose/not make the most of these embryos we have fought so hard to get. I’m trying to trust that all the vitamins, acupuncture, herbs and meds have been enough to give me good quality embryos but we won’t know until tomorrow morning. I’m booked for acupuncture early in the morning and then again around lunch time to help support the transfer if it goes ahead but I hope we can save our little embryos until a later date when my lining is optimum for transfer. I guess I just have to follow what the specialist and embryologist suggest is the best course of action and hope for the best. Keep all your fingers and toes crossed for me that either way, we get our little miracle soon. x

All about the elastic waist – Day 15

So finally tomorrow is Egg Pick Up Day! I had another scan with my specialist yesterday and we have 10 follicles of good size and a couple of other smaller ones that are just behind but may grow a little bit more before tomorrow. Unfortunately my endometrial lining is still too thin so will need to start some additional meds after the Egg Pick Up to try and improve that before transfer. Worst case scenario we can do a freeze all cycle and save any little embryos for a later date when my lining is improved. No point implanting them if they are not going to stick!

I had yesterday off work which I had organised in advance given I had expected Egg Pick Up to be yesterday. I was so glad I did as between the scan appointment and then having to drive 45mins to the other side of town to put in the prescription for these new meds which could only be done at that pharmacy, I was exhausted. That and now feeling very bloated and sore. Hence the elastic waist pants! My ovaries feel like these horrible hard bubbles that could burst at any moment. Very tender and I’m aware of them even just with the shock of my foot hitting the ground each time I take a step. I don’t remember it being quite so sore last time so I will hope that is a good sign for more eggs this time. I did my trigger shot at 7:30pm last night all ready for surgery at 7:30am tomorrow morning.

At this stage I feel like I should be getting nervous about what will happen tomorrow. Last time I was really nervous before hand as I had not had a general anesthetic since I was a child and was a little freaked out about how I would respond. I’m not so worried about that this time but I can’t help but be scared of only getting one or even no eggs this time. I was so confident we would get a decent number last time and was then shattered when the nurse came to tell me we only got one. While my specialist is confident we will get more this time there is still a small piece of me that is scared this might all be for nothing. I’m going into it with the hope of 2 eggs as that is already a success compared to last time, but in reality it is something I have absolutely no control over and will just have to keep my fingers crossed that is goes well. And if not, we managed to cope with that last time and will do so again. I know my husband is much more confident this time as we have both been in a much better place this whole cycle, but that also scares me that it is further to fall if things don’t go to plan.

I guess this is the point where it is all out of our control, we just have to trust the experts and hope like hell that my body is willing to play the game. Wish me luck for tomorrow and fingers crossed we can transfer a little embaby next week.

How much longer? – Day 11

OK today it has hit me. I woke up feeling uncomfortable, exhausted and just wanting this to be over. The injections hurt like crazy last night and both spots bled when I removed the needle. I didn’t get the same awful feeling as when I injected the vein last week but it still wasn’t nice. I’m not sure if it was because I had had acupuncture earlier in the day and had extra blood flow in the area or I’m just getting so much of all the drugs in my system now.

Either way, I feel tired and crappy and like I could cry for no reason at all. I keep trying to tell myself ‘this will all be worth it when I’m pregnant’, but I can’t help but worry, ‘what if I’m not?’. I’m trying really hard to push the negative thoughts aside because I have felt so strong during this cycle but I guess we all have our limits. Hopefully a weekend of relaxing and nice things with friends and family will drag me out of this funk and I will be pumped again by Egg Pick Up next week.

I keep looking back to a quote that keeps me going – “Everything will be ok in the end, and if its not ok, it’s not the end”. We will make our baby dreams come true one way or another. I just have to tough this out and remember I am only human. It is ok to feel sad, tired and flat at times. You just can’t be that way all the time and need to focus on all the good things in life. This afternoon I will go home and hug my puppy, for one day he will not be my only baby and I have to give him all the love I can now. Already feeling a bit better just getting these feeling out of my head. Time to take a deep breath, put my big girl pants on and tackle this day like any other. Hopefully just a few more days of injections to go.

Cycle Day 9 – 1st Scan

So here we are nearly at the halfway point of this cycle. There have been ups and downs but overall I really can’t complain.

First injection was 337mgs of Menopur on day 3 of the cylce and it’s fair to say it did not quite go to plan. Somehow I managed to accidentally inject directly into a vein. Certainly not what you are supposed to do and I have never done this previously. I knew something wasn’t quite right when I started to inject as I felt a rush go through me (which I had never experienced before). I stopped and pulled the injection out a bit before putting in the rest of the dose. A large drop of blood came out with the needle confirming what I suspected. As soon as I’d finished I went straight from the dining table where I was sitting to the couch to lie down as I felt like I was going to faint. Then a rush of nausea hit me and I knew something was not right. My heart was racing and I was not sure if this was a side effect of what I’d just done or simply me freaking out about it.

It was it scary to say the least. My husband called “Nurse on call” and explained the situation and she said that while it was not dangerous to inject the Menopur directly into a vein it meant that I had received the entire dose in one quick hit rather than slowly adsorbing through the fatty tissue over a few hours. It was a really unpleasant feeling and I still felt a bit ‘off’ the next day.

The good news is no further ‘mistakes’ since then and all has been going smoothly with the injections. I am still on the same dose of Menopur every day with the addition of 250mgs of Orgalutran to stop me from ovulating prior to Egg Pick Up.

Side effects wise I think I’ve been pretty lucky. Just one day of feeling ‘bitchy’ on Sunday – I advised my husband to ignore me for the day as I could just tell I was going to snap at anything he said. Since Sunday I have been feeling really tired with the constant need to nap (I would so love to, but work kind of gets in the way of that) and also feeling a little bloated. No real pain in my tummy yet but I’m sure that is yet to come!

This morning I had my first scan which revealed 9 little follicles growing. The 5 on my left ovary are a little bigger, measuring between 7mm and 12mm with the 4 on the right side a little behind, measuring between 5mm and 7mm. We are going to give the little ones a bit more of a chance to catch up so Egg Pick Up now looking like it will be next Wednesday rather than Monday. Another scan Monday morning and continue with everything else as is until then.

Overall I’m happy with how everything is going and still feeling positive, even if I’m exhausted. I figure its all just practice for when we actually have a baby one day. I’m feeling very lucky to have such a great support network around me with friends and my Mum regularly checking in to see how I’m travelling. Just have to keep taking it one step and one day at a time.

Day 1 – Cycle 2

So today marks day 1 of our second cycle. The last few weeks have been very busy a friends’ wedding (in which I was bridesmaid) and the birth of 2 babies in my close friendship group. Both little boys are just gorgeous and it was nice to feel just happiness for them both. I still tend to feel a tinge of jealousy whenever I hear about a pregnancy announcement but I feel I am able to manage my emotions well with other aspects now. I feel far more confident that this will happen for us at some stage rather than scared it will not happen at all.

So how am I feeling about this cycle? Excited, nervous, slightly scared but overall relatively relaxed and positive (will see how that changes in the coming days/weeks). I feel like this time around I know what I am getting myself into and my husband and I are both better prepared for what to expect. Last time I worked full time through the whole process, this time I have blocked out a few 1/2 days at work so I can have some down time and relax if I need to. Last time my husband was very sick, fingers crossed that won’t happen this time around. The other difference is we have chosen to let a few close, select people in on what we are going through this time. Last cycle it felt like a big secret we couldn’t tell anyone and still had to put on a brave face even when I was feeling terrible. I hope having a few nearest and dearest we can lean on will help make the process a bit easier. Not just for me but for my husband too.

I did a big cook up yesterday with lots of nutritious and healthy snacks and meals so I can eat as healthily as possible without the extra stress of trying to cook alot during the cycle. All these little steps make me feel stronger and like I have my ‘Game Face’ on and ready to tackle this! We got this! Picking up meds tomorrow morning and then start injections on Thursday night.

Fingers crossed this cycle sees us get the result we so dearly would love, but if not I know we can always go again. Wish me luck!

The journey so far..

Today marks my very first blog. I have decided it is time to get all of these thoughts and ideas out of my head and onto a page. So here goes.

The last 15 months have been the most challenging in my life to date. I have been hit with more curve balls than I thought possible and I have learnt that life really can be a roller coaster, even when you least expect it. It all started with a fun and exciting idea to try and have a baby. My husband and I had been married for nearly a year, recently bought our first home and had not long returned from our amazing honeymoon in Europe. Everything in life was falling into place and we were excited to take the next step.

Little did we know what lay ahead of us.

As a teenager/young woman I was constantly reminded that everyone in my family had fallen pregnant incredibly easily (basically just looking at each other) and to be so so careful to make sure I took all precautions to avoid an ‘accident’. I did. I started taking the pill at 16 years old and didn’t look back. It became part of my daily routine and I never thought any more about it. Then one day as a 28 year old, now ready to take that step and start a family, I stopped taking it. Simple as that.

6 weeks later and I still hadn’t had my period after stopping the pill. After speaking to friends I heard that this was common, nothing to worry about, but I figured I should check in with my GP anyway. Her first comment was “Oh, you must be pregnant! Let’s do a test!”. I assured her I had already done one at home but she insisted we do another one. Negative. As I expected. This lead to a referral to an Ob/Gyn who would “get you sorted out”.

At this stage I discovered that a close friend was in the same boat. We had both come off the pill at a similar time and were both having issues with things ‘returning to normal’. It was so re-assuring to know it was not just me! We were both feeling ‘hormotional’ together and became buddies in this silly experience.

From here the medication started. For me it was 3 cycles of Clomid, at 3 different dosages over a period of 5 months. In theory this would make me ovulate so we could get our baby making plans in action. Unfortunately it was not that simple. Every month led to another failure to ovulate and another disappointment. It was about this time that suddenly my desire to become a mum and grow our family became an obsession. As soon as you tell someone they can’t have something, suddenly they want it so much more. I became an emotional wreck and my poor husband bore the brunt of my disappointment and frustration. I began to see my body as broken and wonder what was wrong with me. I questioned everything I had done in the past and wondered what I had done to deserve this label of ‘infertile’. I became angry and told my husband he would be better off leaving me and finding someone who could make him a dad. I became irrational and it’s not something I am proud of.

The next option for us was a cycle of Gonal-F injections which still failed to give us the result we so desired. I was still not even ovulating. I still didn’t have a reason or diagnosis as to what was causing my infertility. We were told the next step for us was IVF. I don’t know why this news broke me the way it did but I cried for days. I felt like a failure as a woman and was utterly terrified of not only the process but the expense. I felt so guilty that we were spending so much money on trying to get pregnant. Guilty that that money should be going towards our dreams of renovating our home. By this stage this whole process had been going on for more than 12 months.

It had been a year from hell. I could not tell you a time in that full year where I felt 100% well and full of energy. I was a shell of my normal self, retreating away from the world. To add to the crap of our battle to have a baby was the fact my husband had suffered a head injury playing sport, which left him with post concussion syndrome. Like infertility it was an ‘invisible illness’ where he looked perfectly healthy from the outside but was dizzy exhausted and struggling to concentrate. And our puppy broke his leg. That was the icing on the cake. We were all battered, broken and not sure what to do with ourselves.

Then I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. An allergy to gluten which causes your intestines to become so inflamed you are unable to absorb nutrients from food. It explained my weight loss and tummy troubles, both of which I had put down to stress, and a possible cause for my infertility. This is it we thought! We have found the source of the problem and once I change my diet I will be fixed! It was exciting news for us. While going Gluten Free has made a big difference to my energy levels and overall health, unfortunately I am still to this day living with infertility.

We went though our first IVF cycle in November 2016. To say it was a struggle is an understatement. The daily needles, scans, surgery and appointments is tiring, let alone the nausea, bloating, pain and emotional upheaval that goes with it. Sadly it was far from successful.While I had 6-8 mature follicles going into the egg pick up procedure, I was absolutely gutted to discover they only retrieved 1 lonely egg. I thought it was all over and we had just wasted a crap load of money and achieved nothing. Our hopes were lifted the next morning when we learned thatthe one little egg had managed to fertilize and we had an embryo to transfer. We still had a very small shot at this! We had a 2 day transfer and 10 days later on our 2nd wedding anniversary my curiosity got the better of me and I did a pregnancy test. It was positive. I felt the first real, genuine smile and complete and utter happiness I had felt in over a year. I will never forget seeing that second line show up on the test. Sadly that happiness was short lived and we had a very early miscarriage. Known as a chemical pregnancy. While I was sad and so disappointed all over again we had learnt how my body responded to the drugs so we knew how to change things for the next cycle. And we knew that I could do it. Physically my body had the ability to fall pregnant and I held onto that little piece of hope as tightly as I could.

The toughest thing for me in this whole process has not been the painful procedures or the physical symptoms. It’s been dealing with other people around me the things they have said to me along the way. People I assumed would be really thoughtful and have my back in this have said things that have been so insensitive and totally upsetting. I have had so many friends fall pregnant and have babies around me and that has been so hard to deal with. I have had strangers and clients constantly ask “When are you going to have a baby?” and sometimes I just want to scream at them that I am trying and it won’t work! My ‘buddy’ who I shared my fears with in the early days fell pregnant on the first cycle of Clomid and I was left alone in this again. We were no longer on the roller coaster together.She was now on a completely different ride. The pregnancy ride, and I so desperately wanted to be on it with her.

Ultimately the hardest thing I have faced has been the lack of support when we needed it the most. The situations that very nearly tore me apart. When one of my very best and longest friends told me she was pregnant, in the middle of a party with a crowd of people around. She knew the battles we were going through (this was still in the early days) and yet did not stop to think about how hard that news would be for me to hear. She was 15 weeks pregnant and apparently I was the last to know. I don’t know if I will ever forgive her for the pain she put me though that night. I have chosen not to share the rest of my story with her. She now has  beautiful daughter and we are still friends. But never again will I share with her my biggest fears and hardest moments. I have since had other friends share their happy news with me and I am so appreciative of the way they have respected my feelings and told me alone and given me a chance to get my head around it before the news is public. These are the real friends and those that I appreciate so much along this rocky ride.

We will be starting another round of IVF in the coming months and I hope to document my feelings and fears along the way. I hope that one day I have happy news to share on here but I know there will likely be many more ups and downs along the way. I have long since given up on the notion of fairy tales but that doesn’t mean we can’t have our happy ending. With my amazing husband by my side and a beautiful group of friends around me I know I will eventually be a mother one day. No matter what it takes to make that happen, we will get there.

A quote shared with me by a dear friend – “Life is tough darling, but so are you”.