Category Archives: Hope

The final countdown

And the roller coaster never ends. Monday we get given our C-section date and my blood pressure is high. Wednesday I have a Doppler scan to check the umbilical cord blood flow. Thursday we get the not so good news. And Friday I’m back in hospital. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning.

As mentioned in my last post, on Monday the 7th, we had an appointment with our obstetrician and he surprises us with our C-section date mere minutes before taking my blood pressure. It’s high which then puts us on pre-eclampsia symptom watch. Obviously this is not so fun, especially when my first cankles experience shows up later that night adding to the worry and nervousness around symptoms. Personally I think it’s just the timing of having my blood pressure taken and spending too much time on my feet that has caused the symptoms but after going through so much to get where we are I can’t help but worry.

Roll on Wednesday and the cankles have pretty much gone (I’ve been trying my best to rest and keep my feet up). I head in for my Doppler scan praying I have a different sonographer to last time. Alas, it seems that no one is listening to my prayers today as the same lady comes out and calls my name. Doh! She seems slightly more competent this time but still flusters at the beginning and just can’t seem to get her head around the simple fact that our twins have swapped places, so the one who is now our leading twin (the one nearest the birth canal) is actually titled “twin 2” while “twin 1” who USED to be leading has now taken a backseat. Again it takes a while to get what we need but at least we don’t have to do growth measurements this time. The Doppler readings look ok to me, and the amniotic fluid, although borderline for our leading twin, is acceptable so off I trundle home again.

Thursday. On getting back to my car after lunch with a friend there’s a voice message from our obstetrician on my phone. “Not too urgent but can you give me a call back.” Oh-o this can’t be good. I return his call and am transferred straight through to him. That never happens so now my heart is racing. Turns out it’s not so bad (I must have just caught him between patients) but it’s not good either. Apparently the Doppler scans show the blood flow to at least one baby is becoming compromised. While not urgent at the moment, this will require much closer monitoring so I’m booked in for twice-weekly visits to the Day Assessment Unit at the hospital. Not so convenient unfortunately as it’s 20 minutes drive away (rather than the 5 minutes to our usual scan place) AND I’ll have to pay for parking (exorbitant prices versus free). None of this matters though, as long as our boys are safe.

At each visit they’ll do a CTG to check out the boys heartbeats, a Doppler ultrasound to check blood flow, my Obs to keep an eye on blood pressure, and every fortnight (although realistically this probably means only one more) a growth scan ultrasound to measure the boys growth. Theoretically this should all fit into roughly an hour, yikes! Our obstetrician has booked me in at the Day Assessment Unit the following Tuesday (for CTG and fluid/blood flow check) and the next Friday (for CTG and a growth scan) – it’s all go and I cancel my pre-booked growth scan at our private radiology clinic (yay, no more useless sonographer!).

Friday. I’m not sure if it was the events of the previous day but one of our twins has decided not to really move for a good 24 hours. I’m sure everything is ok but it’s hard not to worry, especially with the ups and downs we’ve had lately, so eventually we call our obstetrician and head back to the Women’s Assessment Unit for some monitoring. I arrive pretty promptly and am hooked up to the CTG. Bee has still been quiet so I’m still stressing but of course within 10 minutes of the sensors going on he’s wriggling around like a fish. Typical. I feel bad for wasting everyone’s time but it’s better to be safe then sorry. My blood pressure etc. also look good so I’m out of there again just over an hour later. Talk about dramas!

The weekend is pretty uneventful and we truck through a few more of the things on the list in order to get the house ready. On Tuesday I head into the Day Assessment Unit for my first monitoring session. The fluid around each baby looks ok, still a little marginal for Bee but better than the scan we last had at our private clinic. The CTG is eventually fine too although it takes a while to find the two boys as the midwife (who I later find out is just helping out due to a busy day) is a bit hopeless…she actually blames her incompetence on me a little saying “it helps when the mother knows where the babies are” – um, you try having twins, especially ones who have already swapped places, and then let me know if you can tell me which way they’re lying! Anyway, the good midwife who usually runs the clinic manages to get the monitor to pick them up and after about 45 minutes (someone wouldn’t stop wriggling!) we have a reading. Although the scan report hasn’t come through yet I’m allowed to go knowing that our obstetrician will call later in the day with the results.

He does eventually call, the scan report took AGES to come through, and the rollercoaster hits a dip again. The fluid is marginal as we knew but it’s also looking like the blood flow to the babies might be becoming further compromised. I’m advised to skip breakfast on Friday and take my hospital bag in with me when I attend Friday’s monitoring session, just in case they need to do an emergency caesarian on Friday afternoon. Oh my god I’m not ready! I mean my hospital bag is pretty much ready to go but mentally I’m not prepared for the boys to arrive that early. At 35 weeks on that day I know they’ll be in reasonable shape but I have my heart set on getting them just a little bit further.

Turns out I needn’t have worried as Friday’s scan and CTG results are great. The boys are still measuring a little small for their gestational age, with one at approximately 1800g and the other around the 2kg mark (3lb 15oz and 4lb 6oz) instead of the recommended 2250g (4lb 15oz) but they’re not too far off. I ask our OB about the weight difference between the two but he’s not concerned. They only worry about a difference of 20% or more and that’s ours is only 10% so we’re ok. The fluid looks good – the boys have moved a bit allowing better fluid measurement (Bumble, although not the leading twin anymore, is head down, and Bee is breach, bum first) – and the blood flow looks fine too. The CTG takes only 15 minutes, it seems everyone is behaving today, and my obs are fine too. All in all a great result and a good day! Up goes the rollercoaster again.

And then it plummets once more when on Saturday evening I notice some tinting when I go to the bathroom and by Sunday morning I’m spotting again. Will this drama never end?!? It’s old looking and there’s not too much of it but my hubby suggests we call our obstetrician just in case, so we do. He’s not too concerned and thinks it’s probably just left-over from my last bleed 5 weeks ago. He’s happy for me to stay at home and keep an eye on it, especially given our latest monitoring results were good. I’m happy with that, I’ve spent enough time in that hospital lately and it won’t be too much longer before I’m back in there for the big event with just over two weeks to go until our scheduled c-section.

It turns out that time is actually much shorter than we anticipated.   We have friends around for a Sunday afternoon tea and my husband’s phone goes with “No caller ID” displayed on the screen. He silences the call and goes to put the phone back in his pocket. “It might be N” (our obstetrician) I say so he ends up taking the call. I hear our obstetrician on the other end of the line confirming that it’s indeed him but then I hear no more. It’s torture to only hear half the conversation and I feel my skin prickle and my hands and feet sweat with nervousness. Our poor friends having to sit through me anxiously waiting to see what he has to say, I feel a bit rude but I can’t think straight until I know what’s up.

My hubby gets off the line and says “Friday.” My heart races. WTH?!? Apparently our OB has been reviewing our notes and with the spotting occurring this weekend he thinks it’s a good idea to pull our c-section forward to the next available elective slot this coming Friday. While I think that’s true I also think it has something to do with him being out of town on holiday the following week, secretly wanting to be the one to deliver our children (seeing as we’re his freakishly young USA donor egg patients – he’s never had anyone like us before) and not wanting to chance me needing a c-section from one of his off-siders while he’s away. He’s going to be on holiday the following week too but being back in the city was going to pop in to do our caesar on the 5th….see what I mean by I think he wants to deliver our babies!

Oh my gosh, I’m seriously sweating now and have gone into shock. Our friends think it’s funny and I guess it is. All that comes our of my mouth for the next wee while is “Oh my god” and various swear words, before I finally pull it together enough to return to a normal conversation. Our mates depart and I return to my panic. There’s still so much I want to get done before the boys arrive…not much that HAS to be done but definitely things I wanted to have crossed off my list purely for my piece of mind and satisfaction.

I start to work through the plan for the rest of the week and we let our parents and siblings know what’s going on. We decide not to tell our friends for the moment (other than the ones who were there when the news broke obviously, as there was no avoiding that), partially because it’s not guaranteed that the operation will go ahead on Friday – it depends on whether my scans continue to look good, on whether all the necessary staff line up, and whether there are spare beds for the boys in the hospital nursery (all things that will be confirmed later in the week), and partially because we want it to be a surprise for them. There hasn’t been much we’ve been able to surprise them with over this journey so it will be nice to be able to make the phone call/texts/emails that other ‘normal’ new parents get to make after the boys arrival.

Keeping it secret proves harder than I thought. Honesty is a value I hold dearly so feeling like I’m lying to my friends really grates me. I make a point of not outright lying to anyone as I just couldn’t handle that, but more skirt the tricky questions and answer in more general terms. “Next monitoring session on Friday?” gets a reply of “The Day Assessment Units monitoring days are Tuesday and Friday”, “Any chance they’d let you go longer if things are still really good a week from now?” gets “No, not a chance, our OB doesn’t want to risk anything.”, “Want to catch up next week?” = “Sure!” (I just won’t tell you it will be a catch up in hospital! I still feel bad doing this but for some reason I just need this to be a surprise.

I guess it’s a little to do with wanting to feel ‘normal’ and a little to do with buying ourselves some extra time to bond with the boys. I know how excited everyone is, how desperately many of them want to meet the twins, and understanding this (as well as being excited for them to meet the boys too) I know I would be hopeless at trying to delay people coming in. It’s a momentous occasion that hubby and I need to fully experience and accept without anyone else around. We’ve waited years for this.

The monitoring session on Tuesday goes well again; even more fluid around the boys (they’re obviously moving around), good blood flow, and a great CTG; and I think our obstetrician is slightly second guessing his decision to pull the c-section forward. In the end he decides it’s still the right call, we’re trading off a little extra prematurity (not too much at 36 weeks) for the boys arriving safely, and I tend to agree. The spotting isn’t really letting up, although it isn’t getting worse either, and I don’t want to risk anything going wrong at this late stage.

Following the monitoring session I’m booked into a pre-op admission session at the hospital across town so make the mad dash there for that. I meet with a nurse who measures my blood pressure (a little high from my dash across town), weight and height, and takes me through what I need to do the evening before and morning of my operation. Take a Ranitidine tablet (to reduce stomach acid) Thursday evening, nothing to eat after midnight, another Ranitidine on Friday morning, water only until I arrive at hospital, and be at the hospital day surgery unit (ORDA) at 8:30am. I can handle that.

Next I see the anesthetist. She’s not the one who will be there for my c-section but she performs all the checks and writes copious notes for the one who will be there on the day. She’s really lovely and walks me step-by-step through the operation including the people who will be there, how and when they’ll administer the anesthetic, what to expect in the operating theatre, and what will happen afterwards. She demonstrates how they find the correct place for the epidural/spinal and makes me feel better by commenting on how good my back is for finding the right spot.   She details post-op pain relief, possible side effects, and likely length of hospital stay, and I leave feeling pretty comfortable about everything.

Blood tests on Thursday to check that I’m ready to go and to identify the details they’ll need should I require a blood transfusion in theatre, and all that’s left is to await the confirmation call from my obstetrician to let us know that it’s full steam ahead. My husband and I head out for a nice yum cha lunch (probably our last for a while) and to check out a part of our local museum that they’re closing down and was always my favourite when I was a child (on a sidenote for Aucklanders – can you believe they’re actually closing the Colonial Auckland exhibit?!? Especially after all these years!)

The call from our OB comes around 2:45pm and we’re still all up in the air. There’s one spare bed in the nursery but not two. This could of course change overnight, for better or for worse, so he’s going to call again tomorrow and give me an update then. So the ideal plan is no food after midnight and it all goes ahead as we hope but, failing that, he’ll admit me to hospital for daily monitoring and we’ll take the first slot we can once beds are free. Plan B is far from ideal but I guess it’s a matter of whatever’s best for the boys (lucky we didn’t tell everyone it was tomorrow!). I’m disappointed. I like the 25th of September as a date, and I’d really like our OB to deliver the boys before he goes on holiday, but whatever will be will be and I just have to roll with it. The rollercoaster’s not quite done with us yet.

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30 weeks, 2 days

Wow! What a great mother I am…first I can’t get pregnant, now it seems I’ll struggle to stay pregnant. Just like that our dream of making it to 37 weeks is dashed as another bleed lands me in hospital yet again.

Lying on the couch after a busy but not overly strenuous day, I feel a couple of small trickles creep onto my panty liner. It doesn’t feel right so I get up and head to the toilet. Yep, sure enough there’s blood and this time it’s bright red rather than the old brown blood of my 26-week bleed. I panic and call out to my husband “looks like we’ll be off to the hospital again” I say, just when I’d been about to go to bed too.

Hubby picks up the panic vibe and rushes around trying to find the obstetricians phone number (of course us idiots hadn’t saved it to our phones after last time), while I begin to sob hysterically on the loo, this can’t be happening. I plead with the boys to hang in there and stay put. “It’s online!” I cry as he’s still flustering. It’s so stressful and neither of us can really think straight.

Eventually hubs gets through to the after hours service and explains the situation, then dashes around packing me a bag for the hospital. In a fashion typical to us, I’d started packing my hospital bag during the week intending to finish the packing in the weekend but never quite got around to it, and what do you know, Sunday night we need it.

The OB on call phones back and tells us to head on in to the Women’s Assessment Unit, yes we know where that is. Despite being a little scared to leave the toilet we make it out the door for what seems like the longest car journey ever. We clutch each other’s hands, me trying not to cry and willing our now silent boys to move, and hubby trying to reassure me that things will be ok. I still can’t help feeling like a failure as a mother, why can’t I keep our boys safe?!?

We arrive and minutes later so does the OB who is on call from our usual OB’s practice. We’re given a private room (yay!) then taken through for a quick scan to make sure the boys are ok. They are (phew) but are still in odd positions – one breach, one tranverse. The OB can’t see any reason for the bleeding but is going to book me in for a proper scan with the sonographers tomorrow just to be sure. We then head back to the private room for an internal exam.

This is even worse than the last time we were here. Our usual OB uses a speculum so it’s somewhat like a smear test only a bit more painful. This one uses his hand (something I suppose I should get used to in case I happen to go into labour naturally). Boy is it uncomfortable! What’s worse is that his glove comes out absolutely covered in bright red blood. “Ooo, there is quite a bit of blood,” he says, then “it feels like your cervix is shortening so there’s a chance you could go into labour and/or need a c-section tonight. It’s quite possible you won’t be leaving hospital without having your babies.” Eek, that freaks me out but as long as the boys are ok I’m ok, so I’m less worried and stressed than the last time we were here. They’re 30 weeks gestation now so it’s less daunting than the threat we had of delivering them at 26 weeks. Perhaps I won’t be making it to my baby shower next weekend after all!

They pop me on a monitor and, despite the boys wriggling around a little requiring me to angle the sensors, we actually manage to get a decent heartbeat reading this time – something we struggled to get at 26 weeks. Unfortunately the machine is showing that I’m having contractions, of which I only feel the odd one here and there, which will mean a c-section tonight for sure if things don’t settle down. They think the boys will definitely come early regardless, I just hope we can hold them in at least a few more weeks.

Unsure as to what may happen they decide to keep me in the Women’s Assessment Unit overnight rather than transfer me to a ward. It’s not something that happens often – they usually try to clear you out of WAU pretty quickly – but it’s great as it means I get a private room for the night. I’m hoping I’ll get a decent sleep but the booster shot of steroids I’m given lays rest to that. Not only do those shots blimmin hurt and give you muscle cramps, they also give you insomnia, awesome! Oh well, at least I can lie awake without the worry of disturbing someone else.

After about an hour the monitor shows the contractions easing, and I’ve had no further gushes of blood, so the midwife decides it safe to leave me be for the night with the understanding I’ll buzz her immediately if anything happens. My hubby heads home for a much needed rest and I start my long night of wishing I could sleep.

In my wide awake state I start writing. First a note to my husband about my wishes should a c-section occur (regardless of whether this happens tonight or not) and something goes horribly wrong. I realise this may seem very morbid but I’ve had more than one friend go through a traumatic caesarian section, and two friends nearly die on the table, I feel like I need to be prepared and I need to get my thoughts down in writing to ease my mind. I can’t write that one without tears, a lot of tears, but despite being a horrible note to write, it’s a nice release of pent up emotion and energy. When I finally finish that, I start this blog post, then eventually stop writing for the time being and grab a fitful couple of hours sleep.

Come morning my condition has improved further and the team decides it’s safe to transfer me to a ward. I’m booked for a proper scan with the ultrasound team at 1pm so hang around in WAU until then as it’s just across the hall, unlike the wards which are a wee walk away. The scan shows both boys are doing well. They’ve moved so much (from both being breech and perfectly parallel down either side of my belly to one breech and one tranverse top and bottom) that both the sonographer and the obstetrician struggle to work out which twin has historically been labeled Twin 1. Essentially they’ve switched places so that Twin 1 should now really be labeled Twin 2 and vice versa, but because they need to be able to plot the same twin on the same growth line each time they scan, the boys labels can’t be changed.

Both Bumble and Bee are still on the small side, measuring a week to a week and a half behind, but at least they’re growing appropriately and are both around the same size. There’s still no obvious sign of where the bleeding is coming from so the assumption is made that it’s probably a bit of placental edge bleeding and to continue monitoring to make sure everything’s calming down. I’m moved to a ward.

It’s not quite as warm a reception this time around – I tell you the Orange Team are the best! – but at least I get to specify dietary requirements (I’m still struggling to eat dairy which is so weird for someone who rarely has trouble with any food) and am asked if I’d like a tour of the place. I’m one ward over from where I was last time (and share facilities with my old ward) so I know the layout and where to find everything, a tour is unnecessary. I settle down to the nothingness that is hospital ward-time. I don’t bother telling too many people I’m here as I don’t want to worry people, but after much debate I let my family know (feeling bad as my Mum, Step-dad, and sister have just flown back into the country this morning after a holiday).

The rest of the day is broken up by obs and baby monitoring, and thankfully my husband comes in for the day (and brings me real food!) to keep me entertained. The ward is pretty busy so one of the midwives is borrowed from my old ward to help out. She’s the one who took care of me during the days for most of my previous hospital stay and recognizes me almost straight away which is kind of nice. “I know you!” she says, I reply that I was in here a month ago, and she manages to rattle of most of the details of my previous stay – that I was on the other ward, the bleeding, both hubby and my reactions and feelings the last time we were in, comments we made etc etc. Enough to make me realise she’s not just read my notes again and truly does remember me. The ward obstetrician had recognized me too (although not to the same extent, purely a “you look very familiar, have we met before?”) and both make me realise how good the staff here can be.

The CTG (cardiotocography) monitoring shows the boys are doing well. Bee is a little rascal and moves so much during every monitoring session that the midwives often struggle to find his heartbeat and, when they do, he’s often only there for a short time before darting off the monitor, necessitating another ‘come find me’ session. Nevertheless we manage to get decent readings from both twins and they’re looking good on all sessions. Likewise my obs are consistently normal, and the bleeding is still easing, so hopefully I won’t be in hospital much longer. The trouble is I know exactly what I need to say to be set free so I constantly have to monitor myself to ensure I’m reporting accurately rather than saying what I know needs to be said to be discharged.

Everything seems to be coming right a bit faster this time and it looks like I’ll only be in the ward for one more night before being sent home. I know what to look out for now and what I need to do (more rest!) so can easily monitor my condition myself from home. Lucky for me as my hospital roommate is so sick with a cold, on top of her pregnancy problems, that she snores like a freight train all night and I once again struggle to sleep. I make a comment to my husband that I’m probably not leaving hospital without a cold she’s that ill, apparently it’s been doing the rounds of the wards and everyone there is sick. Fun times.

My regular obstetrician is back on duty again the next morning and seems pleased with how things are progressing, so after two nights in hospital I’m released. Woohoo! I head home for more rest as, same as the last time I was in hospital, I come out feeling worse than when I went in. I don’t know if it’s the food, the lack of natural light, the stress of being there, the lack of sleep, or all of the above but I’m absolutely shattered and it takes a few days of decent eating and relaxation to come right. Unfortunately after two bleeding episodes the likelihood of another occurrence happening is pretty high so it’s entirely possible I’ll be back in hospital sometime soon. It’s also more likely that the boys will come early so resting and taking care of both myself and them is even more important now. I’ll do my very best!

 

Postscript – my comment regarding the cold turns out to be prophetic…or maybe a self-fulfilling prophecy…..either way I end up with the worst cold I’ve had in at least six years and am snuffling and coughing for the next two weeks. Grrr.

 


Two week wait craziness (written 10th February 2015)

This two week wait is absolutely killing me. And I blame hope. On the two previous times we’ve made it to transfer we’ve been warned in advance that things weren’t looking so good, so we went into transfer and the two week wait totally prepared for things not to work.   This time however we’ve got a good chance, with decent quality (and multiple) embryos, and that’s sparked that bitch they call hope in me again. I feel like there’s so much riding on this that if it doesn’t work I don’t know what we’ll do. Well, I suppose I do, we’ll save up some money and head back to San Diego to give it another shot with some of our frosties.

So it’s Tuesday and my second day back at work. I thought being back at work might actually help with the two week wait as I’d have something to distract me, but in fact it’s made it worse. I don’t want to be there, I can’t concentrate, I can’t focus. Monday wasn’t so bad, everyone came over to chat and catch up on our trip, so the day was somewhat light-hearted, although I may not have got as much work done as I should have. The hours still dragged though and I was left thinking that this was going to be the longest week of my entire life.

And then Tuesday rolls round and things get worse (is that possible?!?). I’ve hardly slept, due in part to jet-lag and in a larger part to worrying, so I start the day at less-than-optimal. Hubby’s not feeling great either, we’re just both so stressed about this not working. He’s worrying about work also and has a mini-meltdown in the car on the way into the office, which isn’t helped by me losing the plot and getting angry at him. I feel bad about it but I’m barely holding myself together, I just don’t have the capacity to hold him together too. It’s ok, we make up over hot drinks in the café not long after we get to work, but we’re both obviously at our wits end already and it’s only 5 days after transfer….there’s still a week to go until our test day!

I struggle through the morning, it’s like each second takes a full hour to tick by. I’m so close to tears I can barely talk to anyone and even tell one of the girls I work with it’s better to pretend I’m not there today. I honestly think I’m going crazy. I don’t know how people do this! I don’t know how I can keep this up for another week! Luckily my colleagues and bosses are really understanding and are supportive in my wobbliest day so far.

By 11am I can’t take it any more and, after a whinge on Twitter followed by further encouragement to test from one of the girls there, I decide to do just that. It’s still early enough that I can write off a negative result as “too early” and if it’s positive then it will hopefully ease my anxiety a little. I’d been researching online last night and there have been plenty of people who have had a positive result at 5 days past 6 day transfer (5dp6dt) so it’s not out of the question.

I grab my bag and wander out of the office without talking to anyone. There’s a pharmacy just down the road so I walked quickly down there, praying that no one would see me and put two & two together. I was hoping the pharmacy would have early test kits, thinking that these would have a better response what with me being so early in my two week wait. They didn’t, but after agonising for a while over which test to choose I grabbed a Clear Blue and headed to the counter. I’m sure the salesperson thought I was hoping for a negative result, he gave me that kind of quiet sorrowful look that people sometimes give young mothers (not that I’m young but I do still get ID’d occasionally). I made sure to pay with my personal credit card so that if the result was negative I wouldn’t have to divulge my moment of weakness to my hubby….not that he’d mind but I guess I didn’t want him to feel down if the result wasn’t what we’re hoping for.

Back to the work loos and I’m fumbling the test as I try to unwrap it, ever so conscious of the other person in the cubicles. What must they be thinking! I’m nervous as I pee on the little white stick and nearly forget to start the timer on my phone to time the two minutes. I watch anxiously, praying for a quick positive result….it doesn’t come.

What does come is a very slow fading in of a very faint second line to form a +. It seems so light I don’t dare hope that it’s a positive result. I think it is but I’m not totally sure. I snap a quick photo of it, tuck it into my bag with all it’s packaging and head back to my desk (stopping in a quiet room on the way to snap another couple of pics).

When I get back to my desk there’s a message from my husband, asking if I want to go for a walk to clear my head and hopefully make us both feel better about the day. “Sure” I say (I know exactly what I can do to make him feel better!). We meet at the main stairwell and wander off to the park near to our work. It feels good to get some fresh air but my legs are shaking as we head down the small hill to the park. I’m still not believing this could even be remotely real.

We sit down on one of the benches just inside the park and chit-chat about this and that trying to brighten the day. I last about a minute before I pull a little black box out of my bag and tell my hubby I have a present for him which will hopefully make him feel a bit better. He has no clue what I’m about to drop on him.

Now this little black box comes with a story. Four years ago, in our first month of trying to conceive and sooooo sure it would happen just like that, I bought a little newborn baby onesie and wrapped it up in a box ready to give to my husband as I announced we were pregnant. Well, that little black box has sat in my cupboard at work for all of the last four years, surviving both a role change AND an office move, waiting waiting waiting for the chance to come out and surprise him, and today it got that chance.

He slowly unwrapped the box and pulled out the little suit. He turned to me with a confused look on his face. “I caved and tested,” I said “and it came up with a faint positive.” I wish so much that I could’ve captured the look on his face as his confusion turned to absolute delight before he grabbed my face and gave me possibly the most excited kiss he ever has (ok, maybe not really the most excited kiss ever, but it was pretty amazing. TMI?).

I pulled out the test to show him (knowing that it was past the 10 minute time limit, but given the test looked the same as just after I’d tested I figured it was ok). “There’s a definite line there” he comments, and we’re both buzzing. We sit and chat and exclaim a few minutes longer, try to capture some better photos of the test to prove it’s real, then head back to the office. Shit, I think, I now have to get through the rest of the day without telling anyone.

The anxiety eases a fair bit, I’m a little euphoric with the idea that for the first time ever I may have just got a BFP on a pregnancy test, but then, as the minutes creep by the unease builds again. What if I did the test wrong? What if that’s not actually a second line on the test? What if it’s a positive but it disappears over the next few days? I’m nervous again. I’m going to have to test tomorrow, and every day between now and my official test day (OTD).

I make it through the remainder of the day, actually managing to concentrate on some more menial tasks I have to do, and buy a couple more pregnancy tests (First Response brand this time) from the supermarket on our way home in order to test for the next two consecutive days. Hubs thinks I’m a little nuts as I ask him whether we shouldn’t grab one more and retest today just to make sure, and puts his foot down, “NO”. Well we’re barely inside the door to our house when he’s changed his mind…..admittedly I bought it up, but he agreed! We retest and this time there’s no mistaking it. There’s a very clear and well-defined second line. OMG, we’re pregnant.


¡Adiós San Diego! (written 5th February 2015)

Let the two week wait crazies begin! I’m trying not to think about it, to only to think positive thoughts, sending loving vibes to our little embies (hopefully) nestling deep inside me, but with a fair bit of cramping from yesterdays transfer, it’s hard not too contemplate what’s going on within my body. I’m not desperately seeking signs, over-analysing every little twinge or symptom my body experiences, it’s waaaaay too early for that, but I’m sure I won’t be far off.   It’s going to be a looooong two weeks.

Today’s our last day in San Diego and by lunchtime tomorrow we’ll be well on our way back to Los Angeles. I’m not looking forward to heading back, not back to LA and not back home to New Zealand. I’m loving San Diego, it suits me, and I’m loving the break from all stress that awaits me back home. I’m wishing we’d taken another week off and had a bit more of a holiday now that all the nerve-wracking IVF stuff is done and dusted, but the plan was (and still is) to try and save my leave in case we (I) need to come back here for another cycle soon.

Aside from the sunny warm winter here and chilled out atmosphere, I’m really going to miss hanging out with my friend L and her gorgeous wee cherub. L and I met through Twitter (neither of us can really remember how), becoming Facebook and email friends not long after, and finally getting to meet in person last week. It feels like I’ve known L forever, although in reality it can’t be any more than a couple of years as I’ve only been on Twitter that long. She’s one of those amazing people who could entertain you for hours, knows just what to say when (usually when you need it most), and is always there no matter what shit she’s dealing with herself. Thank you L for being such a great friend, for showing us around this beautiful city, letting us hang with your gorgeous family, and for just being you. You rock!

Despite not wanting to leave San Diego there are some parts of going home I’m looking forward to. I’m looking forward to seeing my fluffy wee fur-babies and having some snurgly munchkin cuddles – although I know at least one of them will be grumpy with me for being away so long and will make me earn back her affection. I can’t wait to see my friends and family, and sleep in my own bed. And on the plus side it’s still summer so I’ll hopefully be going back to sunshine and warmth.

So heading home’s not all bad, and I guess the stress of returning to work will help distract me throughout the two week wait. I’m going to miss San Diego but I’ll be back, hopefully on holiday with my own little cherubs in tow.


Day 4 (written 2nd February 2015)

It’s day four. A day when we should be seeing our embies compacting and forming morula (a compact ball of 8-16 cells). After the morula stage our embies will hopefully form into blastocysts which is what we want them to be for both testing and transfer into me.   Our wee Bumbles are doing well and we current have:

  • 2 x early blastocyst
  • 4 x morula
  • 12 x compacting
  • 6 x 8 cell
  • 2 x 6 cell

It’s great news. Our two 6-cell embies probably won’t make it but at least some of the 8-cell embryos will hopefully progress through to later stages.

Me on the other hand, today I’m not doing so well, and I don’t even know why. I had a great sleep but, after a few days of feeling positive, am all a bit doom and gloom again today. I’m not quite at the “this isn’t going to work” stage but I’m not as sure as was over the weekend that it will. I need to snap out of it.

I did manage to have some acupuncture today though which made the physical me feel better even if I couldn’t get a handle on the mental me. This acupuncturist was recommended (and booked) by a lovely friend, and was totally different to the acupuncture I get at home. My acupuncturist at home is much harsher, for want of a better word, using stronger needles and more manipulation, a very traditional Chinese style. Today’s session was much softer – more Japanese in style as my US acupuncturist said – and more relaxing.

I normally come out of acupuncture feeling physically good (although I have to admit it’s often painful and I don’t feel better until a few hours after the session) but somewhat drained. The intense needles and manipulation can hurt sometimes and it takes a lot out of you, but you do end up feeling better for it. Today’s session was almost the opposite. Softer needles, no manipulation, and I exited the appointment feeling almost dreamy. Totally relaxed, body feeling great, with a euphoric buzz. It was fantastic. Physically better without the pain or endurance factor. I only wish this acupuncturist could come back to New Zealand with me.

Unfortunately the acupuncture didn’t do anything to regenerate the “this is totally going to work” vibe. My body is dehydrated of electrolytes, there are issues with my ‘heart blood’ and my yin is down – not a good thing when this is supposedly what opens your uterus to embrace an embryo – and this news gets me down. I’m told to get some electrolytes into me, try a herbal supplement to help calm the mind, and to do some fun silly things that bring me true joy and open my heart up to get everything flowing again.

I’m trying my hardest but I just can’t seem to make that happen today. Hopefully tomorrow will bring a brighter me.


From the archives of my mind

I saw a great link on Facebook the other day, “The 8 biggest misconceptions about infertility” (oh my gosh, number 7 in droves – I can’t emphasise that point enough and definitely can’t write it better myself!). There are quite a few of these kinds of posts floating around, a never-ending attempt to get fertiles to understand the many intricacies of being infertile, but this was one of the best I’ve seen so far so I thought I’d share it and add a few of my own observations to boot.

For a while now I’ve had friends and family requesting I write a blog post about what they can do to help – what to say, what not to say, how things look from my perspective – and until now (despite a few attempts at starting posts) I’ve held off doing it. There really are so many out there it always seemed a bit unnecessary for me to add to the pile. However, I’ve decided to go ahead and contribute. One, because if this reaches even just one more person and aids in their understanding then it’s worth it; two, because of the post mentioned above; and three because of a line in an email I received that, while intended in the best possible way, has really stuck with me and made me realise that some people still just don’t get it. So here we go:

From my own experiences these are some things you should never say to an infertile:

 

“You guys just need to relax” / “You just need a holiday”

Uh, no. Believe me, we’ve tried relaxing, we’ve tried having a holiday and we’re still not pregnant. Funnily enough because our infertility is not related to any level of stress or busyness in our lives. I have a/various medical issues that are stopping us from having children. I have endometriosis and my eggs, while I have plenty of them, are (to put it very bluntly) fucked. This has nothing to do with my age, my sexual history, or any of the many activities I’ve done throughout my life. It’s simply a truckload of bad luck that has befallen my reproductive system, and no amount of relaxing is going to change that.

 

“If you just give up it will happen”

One of my personal favourites. No, if we give up, we remain childless*. As per the above paragraph, our infertility is a MEDICAL CONDITION. Much like relaxing or going on holiday, giving up is not going to make my endometriosis damage disappear or magically make eggs start working. Giving up means no more chances for children. Zilch. Nada. None. Giving up means us throwing in the towel and accepting that we will never have a child to call our own.

 

“Well you can always adopt”

Yes, we can certainly TRY to adopt. While this can be quite an inflammatory statement for many infertiles, a minimisation of their desire to have a child that is biologically and genetically theirs, this is not the case for my husband and I. We yearn for a child and whether they are genetically related to us or not isn’t a concern. Yes, we’re grieving the fact that we will never have a child that is genetically related to both of us but in reality that is a very minor part of our process. We will and are openly pursuing adoption, unfortunately it’s not as easy as you would think. The statistics rolled out at the adoption evening we went to stated only 5 adoptions in our area in the previous year and 54 couples on the waiting list. Those are not good odds. Even if we make it through the endless tests, evaluations, home visits and referrals, and manage to get our names into the adoption database, the chances of us actually being chosen by a set of birth parents is slim to none. So no, we can’t “always adopt”.

 

“Such & Such’s uncle’s friend’s cousin-in-law tried for years then just did blahblah and surprise they were pregnant!”

While it may seem an inspiring story, and in the initial stages of infertility they often can be, we’re not Such & Such’s uncle’s friend’s cousin-in-law and we never will be. Please don’t compare us to these amazing hard-to-believe success stories, they’re hard-to-believe for a reason, they’re rare. [Insert random person here]’s journey will more than likely be completely different to our own and is therefore likely to have entirely different reasons for success/failure. Not only can it make us feel bad that we’re not doing enough or doing too much, but it can also add extra pressure both financially and emotionally when we feel the need to try and emulate that other person’s journey in the hope it brings success for us too.

 

“Oh, you can have mine!”

I know it’s intended as a joke and I don’t lose my sense of humour entirely just because I’m infertile, but trust me, this far down the infertility track offering up your children is far from helpful. I’m nearly at the point now where I will take people up on this offer and respond with a “Oh sure, totally! Now if you’ll just sign these adoption papers”, only I’m not sure the joke would go down so well when thrown back at the joker. Lord knows I don’t need another stare and awkward silence of ‘this woman is crazy’.

 

“You wouldn’t want children so desperately if you had them, they’re such hard work/so naughty/a handful”

Yes, I would. I know what children can be like, I was a nanny in my younger days, have babysat many a child, and was also pretty much an adult when my younger sister was born, I know exactly what I’m getting myself into. But that’s beside the point. Surely infertiles deserve to experience the joy, trials and tribulations of having children the same as everyone else, regardless of whether they know what they’re getting themselves into or not. I’m pretty sure a large percentage of parents, fertile or otherwise, have no clue as to what having a child involves, so please, allow us the same civilities as the rest of the population. There aren’t many parents who would voluntarily give their kids up once they have them.

 

“I struggled with infertility too, we were trying for [insert number of months less than 12 in here] before we got pregnant”

Now believe me, I’m not trying to minimise your struggle to get pregnant, I know that every month that you’re not pregnant when you’re trying to conceive is a massive disappointment. I know it hurts when you don’t get that positive result month after month, but it is considered perfectly normal to try for a child for up to a year before you conceive. A baby conceived in under a year is not a child conceived following infertility (recurrent pregnancy loss excluded). It may feel like it, once again I know those months can be devastating, but medically speaking infertility is “the failure to conceive following twelve months of (frequent/perfectly timed) unprotected intercourse”. You may be trying to connect and empathise with us in our ‘common struggle’ but, from my perspective at least, you’re more likely to invoke jealously and anger or a conversational disengagement from me. Yes, I feel like a bitter old lady having this reaction but it certainly feels that, when it comes to infertility, I’ve been around the block more than once and would almost kill to have been able to conceive a child in less than a year.

 

So what CAN you do? Well, it’s hard to say because who knows how we’re going to feel on any given day. Best you can do is enquire.

 

Ask us how we’re doing, what’s going on, how we’re feeling.

We’ll soon enough let you know if we don’t want to talk about it. More often than not I’m happy to discuss anything and am just glad that someone’s cared enough to ask. But if we don’t feel like talking, please don’t be offended if we brush you off and change the subject, on those days it’s pure survival mode, we either distract ourselves & change the subject, or cry, and believe me there’s enough crying behind closed doors we don’t want to be having a breakdown in front of you too!

 

Invite us along to your gatherings.

We may decline to attend your child’s birthday party or a social event with loads of kids. We may decline these events often, but please don’t mistake this for us not wanting to attend. The majority of the time we desperately want to join in but the reality of being surrounded by kids, and parents talking about them, is sometimes more than we can bear. Once again it’s survival mode. We’ll try and come along to as much as we can so please continue to ask us. It may seem like it’s not worthwhile, that we’ll say “no” anyway, or that you’re putting everyone in an awkward situation by extending the invitation to ‘the infertiles’, but the alternative is so much worse. By not being invited to events that everyone else gets to go to, and finding out after the occasion, we feel even more alienated from the crowd; that we’re not only losing our child but that we’re losing our friends as well.

 

Remember that we love your kids.

We may not see them often or we may seem a little sad when visiting but please remember that we absolutely adore your children. They’re not only awesome kids, fun to play with, an extension of you (our friends and family), but they also help us to remember why we’re going through this hell of fertility treatments and why we cling so desperately to this rollercoaster of hope. They are all beautiful souls and we love them as if they were our own.

 

Be considerate when announcing your pregnancies.

Take us aside or let us know privately that you’ve expecting a/another bundle of joy rather than including us when you broadcast it to the wider group or pop it up on Facebook. We will be thrilled for you but remember we’re also grieving for ourselves and we need time to process this information and work through our sadness for our own situation before we face the wider world. This may seem selfish but bear in mind we so desperately want what you have (in this sense) and a pregnancy announcement is yet another reminder that we’re lagging behind, unable to participate in the joys (and trials) of parenthood. Please believe me when I say our reaction has nothing at all to do with your happy news, we are absolutely stoked for you and will be there for both you and your child/children always, we may just take a moment to display the appropriate social graces, pop a smile on our face and congratulate you.

 

Don’t get angry or upset when we gaze longingly at your baby bump.

We’re not trying to stare or be offensive, we just so desperately want to have a bump of our own.

 

Understand that we may not publicly congratulate you over social media.

I’m sure some people think it weird that I’ve personally messaged them over Facebook or the like rather than add to the ever-growing congratulatory comments that follow their pregnancy or birth announcement. I may ‘like’ your pregnancy/birth post but I will very rarely comment publically on it. I’m not trying to be strange, I’m merely trying to avoid the onslaught of notifications telling me that someone else has wished you congratulations. Those constant reminders that we may never be in your shoes can be totally soul-destroying. Once again we are truly happy for you but need the space to continue our battle without being reminded of what we’re missing out on.

 

So that’s a start, I hope it helps. If you can add to this list from your own experiences please feel free to do so, I’d love to hear of other people’s thoughts/reactions/experiences too.

 


*I say childless here, for all those up with the ‘childless’ versus ‘childfree’ debate, because for us it will always be childless – while we can handle living without a child and will enjoy life to the fullest were that to happen – it will never be the choice we wanted and hence we are ‘child-less’.


Merry Christmas

It’s Christmas. Possibly the worst time of the year for infertiles. Certainly around here it’s a very child-centric time. For weeks now the conversations at work have revolved around the presents the kids are getting and what everyone is doing with the kids these holidays. Everywhere you look is a reminder of the one thing you don’t have yet desire so desperately. I wish I could say I was a bigger person and could let it all wash over me, but I can’t. This year especially it’s really getting to me. Perhaps it’s because we’re ever closer to having to give up our dream of a child, as failing donor egg IVF the only option is adoption, and to be honest adopting here is rarer than winning the lottery.

It’s awful feeling sad through what should be a happy time. It’s not like I’m having a bad Christmas outside of missing a child. My family are hanging out together, it’s sunny and warm, we’ve got good food and drinks, we’re having fun. There’s just this hole in my heart and an ache in my tummy of something missing. Had everything gone to plan we’d have a two (nearly three) year old now. Heck, even if our first IVF had worked we’d have a near one year old. It hurts.

There are posts all over Facebook of happy family holidays, kids making sandcastles, running around the beach, opening their stockings and other Christmas presents, and I can’t help but wonder if we’ll be able to ever do the same. Even on our walk today there was a sign outside someone’s house announcing the birth of their child. Oh yeah, and my cousin announces he’s going to be a grandfather, his 17 year old daughter is pregnant. Fuck. My. Life. And Merry Christmas.

I haven no idea why people think Christmas is a great time to announce pregnancies. Even if I was fertile I think I’d feel this way, Christmas is already a time of excitement and celebration, why get all the thrill out of the way at once, to drown the pregnancy in the standard buzz of Christmas. If it were me I’d want to spread the hype out over the year, to celebrate Christmas then create a new buzz a month or two down the track. There’s not enough excitement in adult life as it is (not like when you’re a kid and the world is an exhilarating and mysterious place), doesn’t it make sense to extend what excitement there is as much as possible?

Hopefully one day we’ll have a Christmas where we’re creating excitement for our own kids, planning treats and watching their joy as they open their presents. Hopefully this won’t always be a time tinged with sadness and longing, but as we edge ever closer to a childless life, it’s hard to believe that will ever be the case. So we struggle through another Christmas, slap on a smile, hide the tears, and try our best to have a good time. A life split in two and put on hold, living in hope of one day mending our bruised and broken hearts.


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