Monthly Archives: September 2014

Dead inside?

The future stretches out before me like a long dark tunnel, the thought of this being “it”, my life, filling me with dread. It’s “Groundhog Day”, repeating itself again and again as I struggle to focus my attention on the light at the end of the tunnel.

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B. F. Oh?

For the last day or so I’ve felt neither here nor there. Kind of a zen-like calm of not-knowing. There’s nothing I can do, either this works or it doesn’t. I feel like I’m ready for either outcome. That doesn’t stop the nervousness of waiting for the call though. After an early start to get to my blood test by 7:30am the hours before the results come through are fraught with willing my phone to ring.

My husband and I have both taken the day off work to try and reduce the stress so, post-blood draw, head out to a delicious breakfast (white truffle scrambled eggs on brioche with smoked salmon and avocado puree for me, mmmmm). Then it’s off for a quick acupuncture session before heading home to twiddle our thumbs. After an hour or so I can’t handle it anymore, I need to do something. I’m either sick of putting our life on hold for this or just to antsy to sit still, maybe a bit of both.

We truck off to the plant store to buy some new plants for our vegie garden, it is spring after all, the season of new life; and cruise to my Mum’s house to farewell my sister who, very luckily, is heading off on a school trip to Europe for two weeks (never did that in my day! Haha). That’s when the call comes. Eek.

It’s all very jovial at first, yes, I’m sounding much better than I did the other day (when I could hardly talk and the nurse could hardly understand me); yes, now’s a good time for the results aaaannnnnnddd……..they’re negative. No baby Bumble for us this time around. Again. Our one little fighter wasn’t much of a fighter after all, or perhaps just wasn’t ENOUGH of a fighter, it was dealing with my body after all – the almighty egg/embryo killer.

The scary thing about this is, I feel fine. I don’t feel much different to how I felt yesterday, or three months ago. I guess I must be getting used to this or something, this endless disappointment, or maybe it’s just that I’m a reflector and it will all hit me later when I least expect it. My hubby doesn’t fare quite so well, this hits him, hard. Much worse than any of our other cycles, he’s down and I feel bad that there’s absolutely nothing I can do to make him feel better. Talk about the ultimate role reversal, we’ve both done a complete 180 on how we normally react to these things.

So now to break the news to our donor. Standing in Mum’s garage, where we’ve gone to hide to take the call, I send her a text, hardly knowing what to say. Then we’re off inside to tell my family, and send out the texts to let other people know. It’s a weird feeling but it’s nice not to be in limbo any more. We have a result and we need to focus on the next steps. Mum and I pour a glass of wine and I’m tiddly after just a few sips, talk about a cheap drunk!

So what so we do from here. Well, we farewell my sister, and go home to rip weeds from the garden of course. Nothing like killing a few obnoxious plants (or more than a few in our poor neglected garden’s case) to feel better. It’s extremely therapeutic.   And the future? Well, we’ll just have to see. We’ve toyed with the idea of heading to the States for treatment but haven’t ruled out another NZ donor egg cycle either. I’m just not planning on sitting around waiting anymore. It’s time to really take charge of this shit and bring Bumble home.


The dreaded two week wait

I’m struggling. This two week wait is a million times harder than the last one I went through and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s because last time we were a little naïve and it was easier to believe everything would work out. Maybe it’s because last time our embryo was of such poor quality there was little hope so it was easier to believe ‘whatever will be will be’. Or maybe it’s because last time didn’t feel like our last chance for this to ever happen. Whatever the reason, this time I’m struggling.

The first week felt like 5 years. By Wednesday I was sure we were already a week ahead, I just couldn’t believe it had only been 3 days. Time moved so slowly. But at least I was doing everything right, no regrets. I’d rested, I was eating the right food, I began some light exercise again. Off to the gym for a 30 minute walk on the treadmill. And that’s where it went downhill, fast.

I walked into the gym absolutely fine. I began my workout. With 10 minutes to go I realised the little fan on the treadmill wasn’t on – you know how they have those little ones built into some machines? I press the button to turn it on and it blows a wave of dust and crap into my face. I quickly turn it off again (ick) but suddenly get this weird feeling right through my body that that wasn’t good and something really bad is about to happen. One of those sixth sense type feelings you get sometimes. Now I know it’s really stupid because rationally I understand that that gust of dust couldn’t have caused what was to come, but it somehow fore-warned of it none-the-less. I leave the gym with a sore throat.

Back at home I’m relaxed. I’ve got a sore lump in my throat but I’m sure it will be gone by morning. I’ve had the same feeling before, after a walk in the cold or a night out in a loud bar, so I assume it’s nothing and head to bed. Thursday morning and it’s still there. Not overpowering but a constant niggle throughout the day. After reading on Twitter that a sore throat can sometimes signal an immunity flare I put a call into the clinic just to be sure. They almost laugh and reassure me I’m just sick. I never get sick but I am mostly inclined to agree with them. I make it through work and venture home for an early night.

By Friday I feel rubbish. Now I know this is a proper cold and it’s not going anywhere fast. After a quick trip to my GP to make sure it’s nothing more than a cold I take the rest of the day off work to rest. I have a craving for chicken satay and convince my husband to order us Thai takeout for dinner. Little do I know this is going to be my last proper meal for three days because Friday night/Saturday morning all hell breaks loose. It’s not just a cold.

I was in agony. I can’t even put into words how awful it was. I have never been so sick in all my life. NEVER. Because I am now (hopefully) carrying Bumble the only thing I can take to ease the pain is paracetamol. Tow lousy Panadol tablets every four hours but no more than eight in 24 hours, are you shitting me?! The Panadol eases the pain – to the point where I’m not moaning but definitely not to the point where I’m comfortable or not in pain – for an hour max. Then it’s back to full blown pain again with a three hour wait for the next dose. My left tonsils and glands are so swollen I can’t swallow. Only the left side though, my right side is normal and I have no other symptoms, not even a runny nose. If I look in the mirror my right side looks normal whereas the left side of my neck looks like I have elephantiasis, it’s so swollen it looks like I have a basketball rammed into that half of my mouth.

If I thought the days were going slowly before, they’ve almost totally stopped progressing now. Time is measured in the seconds until more pain relief. My head is buried in my pillow trying not to scream in pain, a towel wedged beneath my head to catch the drool. I actually can’t swallow without my whole body tensing in agony and a moan or scream passing my lips…and I pride myself on a reasonably high pain tolerance. It’s so bad that by Saturday night my hubby wants to take me to A&E. I’m screaming, tears rolling down my face, but the thought of having to move like this scares the shit out of me. I can’t physically get myself out of bed, into a car, and into an A&E waiting room without feeling like I’ll pass out. Instead I have more pain relief and try to sleep.

Sleep comes in small doses. Again, an hour, or if I’m lucky two, until the Panadol wears off and I’m woken by the pain. Then I wait, clenching my teeth and trying not to wake my husband. What’s worse is when I exceed my 8 in 24 hours dose of medication and have an 8 hour wait for the next lot.   This is close to hell. The upside of all this is that, other than worrying about whether I’m harming Bumble and taking my temperature a few times to make sure I don’t have a fever, I don’t stress much about whether this cycle will work or not. I’ve too busy surviving it.

I feel dramatic writing this all down, like I’m being a big baby and need to harden up, but reading back through it, my words don’t even seem to give a glimpse at how excruciating it was. By Monday I’m exhausted. I’ve hardly slept, I haven’t eaten, I’ve hardly had anything to drink. I’m so dehydrated that my breath smells disgusting and my saliva begins to taste like faeces. I’m dry retching, nauseous from the lack of food and water but with nothing to bring up. I’m so tired I can hardly move. I can’t even open my mouth more than a centimetre. I do however feel like I’ve been through the worst.

My lifesaver of a husband phones his mum (a GP) for advice – not for the first time over the last 72 hours – and rushes home from work with some ice-blocks (mmm a Pineapple Fruju and a lemonade Popsicle) and instructions to make me sip water through a straw, just enough to coat the inside of my mouth. It works. Until now there was no way I could have even put that ice-block into my mouth, too painful, but it seems I’ve recovered just enough to be able to squeeze it in and take small sucks. I’m in heaven (although I still dream of being able to gulp down a massive glass of water).

So where are we now? It’s Thursday and after some ups and downs over the week I’m nearly right. My throat is still a little sore and I get tired easily but we’re getting there. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to work from home, and that my bosses have ordered me off work entirely (from home or otherwise) for the rest of the week. But now the worry and stress about Bumble comes to the forefront again. Last night I was in tears (yes again) over what would happen if this didn’t work. I’m not sure I can handle another “I’m sorry, it’s not the news you were hoping for”. I worry about how I will continue to interact with our friends, nearly all of whom have, or are on their way, to having families, infertility issues or not. I worry about how I will turn up to work and continue with my job without breaking down.

Over the last two weeks I’ve had moments, sometimes even days, where I’ve been convinced this has worked, it’s just felt right. Then there have been other times where I’ve felt the complete opposite and have struggled to hold it together, scared (this week) that I’ve somehow hampered our chances with my dehydration and illness. There’s just no way to know.

I’ve had next to no symptoms (although I can’t say I was paying any real attention between Friday and Tuesday) other than some cramping reminiscent of my period. They say that can be a good sign but I can’t help but think it’s just that time of the month – the years of endometriosis have drilled that into my brain. I’ve had a couple of weird cramps in the same spot, kind of a concentrated pain (once a drilling spiralling pain) which made me think “ooo implantation?” then “ooo, ectopic?”. But who the hell knows.

I’ve been tempted to take some home pregnancy tests but have so far held off. General consensus is they wouldn’t be that reliable this early on anyway. My clinic seems to test quite early compared to others so there’s only one more day until we know the outcome. Tomorrow, Friday, 12 days past a day 2 transfer, we will know. Will we celebrate with joy? Or will our world fall apart yet again? Only time will tell.

 


Someone else’s ostrich

The nurses have called. Egg collection 10am Friday. Another agonising two day wait but then that’s what 90% of this infertility process is isn’t it, waiting, not knowing.

Friday rolls round and we’re trying to keep busy. Both hubs and I are working from home for the day so we can be close to the clinic. 9:45 we head in there. Hubs drops his part off to the lab, we head into a consultation room to sign our final consents, and we’re done. Easy as that. We leave some drinks for our donor and her family to enjoy while on holiday – one good part of an early collection date is that our donor doesn’t miss the family holiday she had planned, phew – and head back home.

Although the clinic had told us they’d call with results we don’t hear anything. Luckily, knowing our donor, she texts us and tells us “5 eggs” and that hopefully we should get two or three embryo’s out of those. We relax a little, but only a little, there’s still the fertilisation report to wait for….

It comes the next day. I (stupidly) take my phone to my acupuncture appointment so miss the call. The voicemail says the clinic need to get hold of me today – that can’t be good can it? They’re on skeleton staff so all I can do is phone back, leave a message, and wait.

It finally comes. There’s one. Two eggs were mature but only one fertilised normally. One little embryo, hopefully our little miracle fighter, and embryo transfer is scheduled for midday the next day. I’m not sure whether to be happy or cry. I mean, we have one, which is great, but then there’s only a 40-something percent chance of that little embie becoming our Bumble so this is it, no more chances. I’m nervous and excited and terrified.

It’s Sunday. My father-in-law’s birthday and our embryo transfer day…hopefully a day where dreams are made. As instructed I empty my bladder at 11am and start consuming my 800mls of water, jeez it’s a lot! By 11:45 we’re at the clinic and are shown into a room to wait. I need to pee. There seems to be a lot of commotion, people hustling and bustling everywhere, popping their head into our room and out again…they’ve lost my notes. I need to pee. Some apologies, a quick chat from my nurse on what’s to come and what to do afterwards. Notes are still missing. I NEED to pee! Eventually they find them, stuck to the back of my donor’s notes and the ball is rolling again.

The embryologist pops in and explains that although the egg result was not what we’d hoped for, the embryo we do have looks good. When she checked in the morning it was a healthy two-cell and she’d expect that by time of transfer or not long after it should be a 4-cell. This is good. Hold tight she says and the doctor will be in shortly. Um, guys? I need to pee, can we move this along? Eventually the doc comes in and we’re away. 30 minutes late. I’m busting!

Into the theatre we go and up on the bed. It takes a while to get everything sorted, bed adjusted, all the blankets and covers in the right place. Finally the nurse starts the ultrasound – warm gel this time which is nice. She’s moving it around, pushing HARD, argh full bladder! Turns out she’s in training, or so it seems. The doctor has to keep telling her what to do, showing her where to direct the ultrasound, and telling her not to press so hard. Not at all reassuring. First you lose my notes, now the nurse doesn’t know what she’s doing, they’re not instilling me with confidence about this procedure. What a shambles! I mean, I’m all for training people but maybe just not with the desperation couples who have been through this a million times before and are on to their last chance with only one little embryo?!? We can’t afford for anything to go wrong!

I remember thinking the doctor’s bedside manner needed a bit of work too. Our last transfer was done by our own doctor (who was unfortunately away in New York this time) and he chatted us through the process, what he was doing, pointing out the catheter etc. on the little screen. This one was too busy instructing the nurse and ram, pop, there you’re done, “you can’t see anything, that’s just fluid”, uh gee thanks.

After finally being untangled from the bed linen I race to the loo. Closing the door I put my hand on my tum and silently welcome Bumble home. I hope like hell Bumble chooses to stay. Turns out I can’t have closed the door properly as I’m nearly walked in on, whoops!

Back in our little room I change back into my clothes and we breathe a sigh of relief, it’s done. Now we hope. I’m not at all religious but right now I’m praying to everyone and everything I can think of that this works and we have our Bumble. We’re on the dreaded two week wait.

Embie - September 2014

Our little embie.


Scanning the skies

Scan day. I’m nervous yet again but luckily both my scan and my donor’s scan are early in the morning so I won’t have to agonise for long. It feels like everything is hinging on this moment, could this actually go to plan? At 8:20 I’m ushered into the scan room by a doctor I haven’t seen before (that’s one more to chalk up to the ‘seen my bits’ tally) and told to hop up on the bed. I know the drill but each doc is different so we shuffle this way and that until she’s happy then it’s “Hello Mr Dildocam, how (un)lovely to see you today!.” Ouch, she’s brutal. You’d think a female doing this would have a bit more care and respect but no, seems Mr D. Cam is in a rough mood today.

I hold my breath, pleading silently that my lining is doing what it’s supposed to, preparing itself for an embryo. It seems to take forever but phew, my lining is looking perfect. I let go of my breath. “Now let’s check out your ovaries” the doc says. OK, I guess you need to make sure they’re behaving. “There’s four follicles on that side, annnnnnd one on the other”. She seems confused. I’m bemused. I couldn’t care less how many follicles I have as long as they’re not going to interfere with our cycle, but she’s forgotten that we’re doing a donor cycle hasn’t she…..or maybe she just hasn’t read our notes because next she’s asking me if I’m taking anything. Ummmmmm, besides the stuff you guys have given me to take?!? I tell her what her co-workers have prescribed me and she seems pleased. What a shambles. Nevermind, one more box ticked.

We bump into our donor on our way out and have a chat. It’s always so awkward meeting at the clinic – it just seems so surreal, and not normally a place I’d choose to hang out with my friends. I feel bad leaving but there’s not a lot we can do there. We head off to work and anxiously await the call with the result of her scan.

She texts us around half an hour later. It’s not as good as she was hoping, 8 follicles and only 3 larger ones, but that doesn’t sound too bad to me. It’s hard because we hear accounts from overseas where people get upwards of 20 eggs a cycle but it seems we just don’t stimulate that much (or stimulate people differently) here. Personally I think we’re too conservative. If you’re paying all that money and going through all the procedures you want the best chance you can. OHSS is of course an issue, but other countries don’t seem to have massively higher numbers of this than we do do they? I guess it quality not quantity that matters in the end though right!

The future looks uncertain but we soldier on. Two days later and our donor is off for another scan. I’m just about to head into an acupuncture session when the call comes in. It’s my doctor rather than the nurses (who normally call) which isn’t a good sign. The number of decent sized follicles has dropped to two with a few smaller ones lagging behind. We’re given a choice: 1) continue stimming for a few more days to try and catch the smaller follicles up – not a great option as the larger follicles will most likely steal all the stim goodness, and will then be too large/old to be of use to us; 2) cancel the cycle completely and start from scratch at a later date; 3) trigger our donor that evening and hope for the best. We choose hope.

I’m glad our doctor phoned. I makes me feel like our clinic actually care about us, and that he is determined to see us through to our goal of being parents. He reassures me there’s still hope, and that the nurses will give me a call later with more details. Eek! This is it!

 


A message from our donor

Our wonderful donor is not only donating us her eggs, she’s also taken the time out of her busy life to write a post for this blog about her thoughts and experience thus far. It means so much to be able to share this. Thanks D, hopefully it’s the first of many!

How do you decide to be an egg donor? You just do. You just know that helping someone to have the child that they have been wanting for so long is more important than any of the potential problems or discomfort or the emotional aspects that come with the process. After reading that Waiting for Bumble were keen to use a donor that they knew, it took a 2 minute conversation with my husband before I knew that I wanted to offer to be their donor. So how do you make an offer like that? Well, I don’t know what the “best” way to do it would have been, but being a fan of the written word, I decided to send a text. That was the 18th of January 2014. It’s now 9 months later and we’re deep into the donor egg IVF process. It takes a couple of blood tests, a couple of counselling sessions and a 3 month stand down period (and some additional delays if you’re waiting for the public system) to get to the nitty gritty. Tonight will be my 4th night of injecting myself with Gonal F to grow my eggs, then I’ll start taking Cetrotide tomorrow morning to stop me from ovulating and continue with both of these injections daily with regular scans, until they decide its “go” time and a trigger injection is given 36 hours before collection.

So what has been going on in my head for the last 9 months? There are a myriad of thoughts and feelings which, as time goes on and we get closer to the possibility of a baby being born through this process, become more real.

My biggest concern was/is probably the drugs/procedure itself. How affected was I going to be by them? So far, so good with no adverse reactions or personality fractures. Possibly feeling a bit tired, or is it just my hectic life? Is my tummy more bloated than usual or did I just have a big dinner? The main procedure is yet to come, but I’m told the drugs are good. But will it work? Will I have any eggs good enough to transplant?

The emotional aspects – it’s hard to know how anyone is going to feel afterward. We’re all hoping it will work, but what if it doesn’t? And what if it does? It’s all unknown at the moment. Will it be weird? How am I supposed to act? Will I feel any attachment to the child? How will it affect our friendship? What if there is a problem with the baby?

I’ve certainly got more questions than answers at the moment, but I’m not worried. I’m donating my DNA, a piece of me that I am not using, to give my friends the opportunity to create their baby. I’m not worried because that, the opportunity for them to be parents, is more important to me than whether I feel a small amount of pain or weird or uncertain.


The next instalment

So my Friday blood test has come back perfect and we’re awaiting our donor’s day one. Sunday night we receive a text “Day 1 tomorrow!!” That soon?!? I knew it was approaching that week but could it really happen quite so rapidly? Why yes, it seems it can! Day one is indeed the Monday and the clinic call me at work to tell me to start on Progynova, my estradiol valerate tablets, to encourage my uterine lining to grow. I’m buzzing. I hang up the call to the clinic and am incredibly nervous, nauseous, and excited all at once. I can’t believe this is finally happening. I’m shaking, clammy, and suddenly can’t concentrate on my job. This is it.

I’m actually more anxious than I thought I’d be and it takes me a while to calm down and relax. I should be happy and excited at the prospect of things falling into place, and I am, but after a few weeks of largely feeling positive about this I’m suddenly incredibly worried. Worried that this might not work, that my friend might react badly to the drugs or be uncomfortable, worried that I might be putting her through needless pain/discomfort/hassle for nothing, worried that my body may let us down once again. And after so many disappointments, one IVF cycle that ended in a marginal embryo and one where we didn’t even make it to transfer, it’s hard to believe that an IVF could actually go right, despite changing the one variable that’s previously held us up. I actually can’t imagine that we could end up with healthy mature eggs, that those eggs could fertilise normally into healthy embryos, and that those embryos could develop to a point that they’re worth transferring. I just can’t fathom it.

So my donor starts her stimulation injections and I start on my estradiol. That’s the physical stuff sorted, now to get my mind in shape. I’m a reasonably strong believer in the power of the mind. For years I’ve said “I don’t do sick” at even the slightest hint of illness and on the whole I’m healthy – it’s pretty rare that I even get a cold. So, despite my go-to negative view on fertility I’m determined to think positively about this, and use my mind to will my body to function. I invested in the Circle and Bloom audio relaxation sessions specifically designed for donor egg IVF long before our cycle started and, while being pretty slack at listening to the suppression sessions (I listened to them four times out of the fourteen days I was supposed to), I’ve really made an effort to listen to the estrogen sessions so far. I certainly still flip-flop between nervous anxiety and feeling positive but I can definitely say the sessions have helped. I totally recommend them for anyone else going through this.

As well as getting my mind in order I’ve also been trying to make sure my body is in the best possible shape to receive this embryo we desperately hope to have. Many of you know that I’ve been off the booze and coffee for a while now, but over the last few weeks I’ve been making an effort in other areas too. I’ve been doing a weekly yoga session for a few months and have made sure not to miss a class unless absolutely necessary. I’ve also added regular walking into my routine and have started back at the gym doing cardio and weights multiple times a week (three times a week if my schedule allows but with exercise on acupuncture days a bit of a no-no, this is sometimes difficult given I do acupuncture three times a week!). I’ve been listening to my body too and if it feels too exhausted to work out I don’t push it, luckily that hasn’t happened often.

I’ve also started watching what I’m eating more and have increased my fruit and vegetable intake. We bought a slow-juicer recently and a nice glass of fruit and veggie juice in the mornings has been helping with this. I’ve cut out nearly all junk food – not that I was having a lot before anyway – and have been trying to ensure I eat a wide range of healthy food options. I’ve not only been feeling better but I also know I’m giving it my all for Bumble, no regrets. And hey, if this cycle doesn’t work, there’s the added bonus of having a mint bikini body for summer!

And that’s where I’m at. A ball of nervous yet excited energy, attempting to think positively, and giving it my all for Bumble. Our first scans (for both our donor and I) are tomorrow so we’ll see just how well my lining is coming along and how many follicles our donor is nurturing. Fingers crossed it’s good news for all of us.


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