Category Archives: Meltdowns

The buzzing of Bees


Having a urinary catheter in overnight means I can’t get up to visit Bumble and that’s absolutely heartbreaking. I feel like the worst mum in the world, having one baby absorbing all my attention and one totally neglected in a room down the hall in another ward, but there’s nothing I can do. Even once they take the catheter out I find I’m still hesitant to go and visit Bumble, I feel so unbelievably guilty that he’s in the situation he’s currently in, that I didn’t cook him long enough – or as my step-mum says I “had him on grill, not bake”

I eventually head down to see him an hour or so after I can move freely again. This is actually a few hours after the catheter comes out as it takes a little while to get up and running again – out of bed to the chair and back, a slow trip to the bathroom – but I’m determined to get moving as soon as possible and to not take too many painkillers so that I can recover as fast as I can. I indeed surprise the pain team by using the morphine pump just 2-3 times (and even then only because people told me I should), and requiring the minimum of slow-release morphine capsules, anti-inflammatory & paracetamol.

I’m so nervous as we push open the door to the room 11 (one of the Level 2 NICU rooms), what have I done to my baby?!? Bumble is the first incubator on the left as you enter the room and I see his tiny body stripped to the nappy and curled up on his tummy in the warm plastic cocoon. My heart melts but yet I feel so sad that I couldn’t give him a better start in life. My poor little Bumble.

He’s actually doing really well, despite the fact that he’s hooked up to a million different monitors and has a feeding tube coming out of his tiny nose. He was only on CPAP for five hours before he was determinedly breathing all by himself. Now he’s just being monitored to make sure he keeps it up (he had one spell of apnea in the first night), can regulate his body temperature a bit better, and until he puts on a little weight. I stroke his little head through the incubator window before the nurse comes to open the side and help me lift him out for a cuddle. Oh my gosh my darling little Bumble. We snuggle in the armchair for a while then attempt a breastfeed. My clever little man latches pretty much perfectly straight away and even re-latches himself when he comes loose. I’m so proud of him.

The next few days pass in a blur. Racing between NICU and my ward, feeding the boys, making sure I keep Bee’s temperature stable, expressing via breast pump to encourage my milk to come in, trying to coordinate times in my room with having my obs done, visitors, and the million program coordinators (hearing, dental, eyesight) that the hospital sends our way. It’s exhausting, especially as my husband is working this week (we’d stupidly thought him working would be ok as I’d be in hospital for a while) and I’m largely doing this by myself. I really struggle after a few days and beg him to take a day or two off work.

On day 3 Bumble is doing well enough to be transferred from level 2 down to the Parent Infant Nursery (AKA PIN, level 1 NICU – the lowest risk level). He’s now in a more comfortable open plan room with the potential to share with up to 12 families (in two conjoined rooms) rather than the four in level 2. He’s in a heated cot rather than an incubator, and my husband and I now have more control over his day-to-day care – ideally we do as much as possible but have help on hand as required. All the nurses are lovely and we can also bring Bee down from the ward to visit. It’s great, and I love that he’s thriving so much.

The following day it’s decided that Bumble is doing well enough to be allowed down to my ward room for feeding in an attempt to get the two boys back together as soon as possible. So on the evening of the 29th of September J, the PIN nurse, wheels Bumble’s cot through around 7pm. It’s so exciting having the boys together in our own room and we try to snap as many photos as we can before their feed (Bee isn’t so keen on this idea – not only does he hate having his photo taken but he’s also super hungry). I try my first tandem feed, which seems to go ok, and we have a few more cuddles before taking Bumble back to the NICU Nursery.

It’s barely half an hour later when the NICU nurse is back in our ward room. “Now I don’t want you to worry,” she says “but [Bumble’s] temperature and heart rate both plummeted when we got him back to the nursery so we’ve had to put him back in an incubator to try and stabilize him. We’ll keep monitoring him and see how things go.” And then she’s off again. Already emotional after having to say goodbye to my little Bumble (and not helped by the fact that today’s the day my milk’s come in meaning a surge in hormones) I totally lose the plot and cry hysterically for about three hours. What an atrocious mother I am; I couldn’t get pregnant, I couldn’t stay pregnant, and now my poor little man is suffering because I haven’t managed to cook him right. Thankfully my husband, who was due to go home, stays until 2am to comfort me. I’m a mess.

I’m pretty puffy eyed the next day but manage to pull myself together enough to tend to Bee and get down to NICU to check on Bumble. It’s horrendous to see him back in an incubator, monitors bleeping, him struggling to do just the basic things his body requires of him. I find myself subconsciously trying not to get too attached to Bumble (waaaay too late for that!) just in case we lose him. I know it’s silly as it’s pretty unlikely that will happen and that he’s way closer to coming out than staying in, but when you’ve sat and watched your baby (mildly jaundiced and half the size he should be) in an incubator stop breathing for 10 seconds followed by two strongly gasping breaths it’s hard not to prepare for the worst even though you expect the best. 10 seconds is ages, stop reading this right now and count that out, hold your breath if you have to, that’s a long time for a 5 day old.

Thankfully his struggles don’t last long and within a day he’s back in his heated cot and managing to maintain both his heart rate/breathing and, to a lesser extent, his temperature. We have to take his temperature at every feed/nappy change and add or remove layers of clothing or bedding accordingly. It’s a common theme for premature babies who just aren’t able to regulate their body temperature the way their older counterparts can.

Everything about Bumble is monitored so closely; body function, feeding, temperature, growth, yet Bee is almost forgotten about by the hospital staff. Officially he’s a patient of Ward 96 but they hardly ask about him at all. It IS hard as he spends so much time with me visiting his brother in PIN, and I guess the ward just aren’t used to babies spending more than a day or two with them before discharge, but the difference in care offered between NICU and the ward is astronomical, even with simple things like the vitamin supplements offered. NICU supplement premature babies with Vitadol (a multivitamin solution administered once a day), and there’s evidence to support the idea that it’s beneficial for all babies to receive this but especially premature ones. The ward do no such thing and don’t even seem to know about it – something the NICU staff comment on “the wards are a bit behind the times with things like that”.

I find it a little distressing especially considering the only difference between the two boys was 260g at birth. NICU won’t take Bee as he’s too big and doing ok, the ward won’t take Bumble because he’s not over 2kgs. I sometimes think “if only I’d managed to grow him an extra 20g the boys would be together” but then we’d have missed out on the amazing care, advice and help we’ve received through NICU so I guess it’s better this way. Every cloud has its silver lining as they say.

There are some things that Bee DOES get examined for but on the whole his hospital care is pretty minimal. Both boys get their near-mandatory hearing test. This involves a giant headphone being placed over one ear with sensors positioned on the baby’s head, which measure the response of ‘the hearing nerve’ to sounds played through the headphone. Bee is due for a feed the first time the screeners come so is fidgety and unsettled. Of course this means they get a ‘failed’ response as the baby needs to be almost perfectly still with no noise or electronic devices in the room. I have to switch off my phone and the heated cot mattress that Bee sleeps on, and hope like crazy that my newborn child remains motionless enough for the test. They’re dreaming right?!?

To make matters worse the hearing screening people turn up at whatever time they feel like, seem to get annoyed if it’s not a convenient time, and can never do any of the other times you propose despite the fact you know your child will be more settled then. It feels like a total waste of everyone’s time. Another example of the backwards system the ward, or even the hospital, operates on.

So after failing his right ear in the first test due to movement, or possible fluid in his middle ear (again something common in newborns, especially those born via c-section), then passing his right ear but failing his left due to dreaming in his sleep (again, WTH! How are you supposed to stop a kid dreaming!) he’s referred to an audiology specialist for further testing once we leave the hospital. They’re apparently not allowed to test them more than twice in hospital regardless of the fact that there were obvious causes of the failed result and the fact that it was different ears that he failed on in the two separate tests. I’m so pissed off, but lucky for her our second screener was really nice so I don’t take my anger out on her. Thankfully Bumble passes his test in both ears the first time round. Being that little bit smaller and working that little bit harder to survive (as well as the fact he’s spent a few days in NICU by that point) means he’s quite a bit more settled and remains still for longer periods of time. I’m sure that will change as he gets older!

Then there are the other bits and pieces that Bee manages to get included in purely because Bumble gets offered them as part of his NICU care. Regular weighing, extra blankets, various studies and other monitoring. We like to try and help out as much as possible so sign up for an eye test study (this never eventuates due to timing issues) and a body mass/nutrition study aptly titled ‘PeaPod” (Pea is one of my nicknames).

By day 6 there’s huge pressure for me to be discharged from the ward. Despite the fact that they’d hardly have a clue what was going on with Bee, both him and I are deemed well enough to leave hospital. While I can’t wait to get out of there, in my mind there’s a big issue with leaving Bumble, especially when he seems to be doing so well. Theoretically after a c-section I’m not supposed to drive for a few weeks, which makes the idea of me going home even more ludicrous. It would be different if both my babies were under NICU care but to have one at home and one stuck in hospital just seems so cruel. Anyway, I needn’t have worried. The NICU staff once again save the day, with C, our family liaison, assuring us that we won’t need to go home and that she’ll ensure one of the NICU family rooms is available for us.

And that’s exactly what happens. On the Friday, at exactly a week old, the boys, move with my husband and I into one of the parent rooms (essentially a studio apartment within the NICU ward) just down the hall from the NICU room that Bumble has been staying in. The idea is for us to spend a few nights in there, to adjust to being new parents with premature babies, doing everything on our own but with help at hand nearby should we need it.

The weekend passes in a blur of feeding, visitors, and takeaway food. It’s harrowing having the boys (somewhat unused to each other after a week apart) in a small area with nowhere to go. The boys are pretty good about things but the endless temperature checking, feeding (first one then the other), medicating (extra vitamins), monitoring and recording is exhausting. There’s so much more to do and worry about when your babies are premature, but (thankfully) ours are at the lesser end of that spectrum, other people have it so much harder.

We ask for Bumble to remain on his apnea monitor for at least the first night in the parent room as we’re a bit paranoid about his breathing. This turns out to be more of a nightmare than something that eases our mind as, for a while, it keeps going off. The first time this happens is incredibly traumatic. I still have it stuck in my head that he’s going to be taken from us and I quickly lose the battle to hold it together. After we’ve checked on him to make sure he’s breathing my husband goes to get help and I sit feeding Bee (woken by the noise of the alarm) with tears streaming down my face. The nurse, H2, is amazing. She’s there in a flash, making sure Bumble is ok then dashing off to make us hot drinks despite our insistence not to. The monitor continues to go off throughout the night until it’s discovered that the monitoring pad is not quite positioned properly under the mattress. It’s horrible but at least we work out the problem and can rectify the situation for the following night.

The worst night comes on Sunday. We’ve solved the problem with the monitor and Bumble’s breathing is ok, but something sets them off after the 8pm feed and the twins scream hysterically for the rest of the night. Bee had an unsettled night when we were back on the ward, crying constantly for a few hours but it was nothing like this. We try everything, different burping techniques, cuddling, rocking, more food, gripe water, formula, my husband’s father even comes in to try and help bringing new swaddles. We formula feed through the night in case it’s something in my breast milk setting them off…it’s later suggested that it’s perhaps the orange juice I had throughout the day that wrecking havoc on their inexperienced tummies, but who knows. Whatever it is it’s a long 10 hours until daylight.

And daylight brings it’s own new challenges. We’re completely over the parent room by this stage. I’m wanting some real food, some space, and, after 10 days in hospital with next to no natural light, some fresh air. We’d been told by the pediatrician on Friday that we should be fine to be discharged Monday and can finally head home, he’d even completed all the paperwork (again a little stupid as Bumble’s weight was incorrect by the time we’re due to leave), but our unsettled night and subsequent multiple formula feeds makes the young doctor question the call to discharge us and they threaten to keep us in another night.

I’m visibly upset by her comments knowing full well we were only trying to do the best for our kids and plan to continue breastfeeding now that it’s a new day – she didn’t even ask why we had formula-fed (and of course formula is seen as the evil no-no, puh-lease!) Lucky for us the lovely nurses and family liaison take our side and manage to convince the doctors that we know what we’re doing enough to be able to take the boys home. We give Bumble a bath, pack up our bags, and with the nurses help, get the boys into their capsules/carseats. Then at 3pm we’re set free, out into the big wide world to have a go at being parents. Wish us luck!


The drive to ‘true’ viability

It’s the day after I leave the hospital and as previously mentioned I’ve been resting and napping for the last day and a bit. Work have been great and told me to stay home for a few days to put my feet up and recover. My bosses are being so lovely and so flexible and basically allowing me to guide them on what needs to happen.

The hospital midwife told me I shouldn’t be going back to work at all, my GP mother-in-law thinks this is probably a good idea, and the obstetricians (both the hospital and my own one) didn’t advise against going back to work but they didn’t recommend it either. My obstetrician is very pro-choice (and I don’t mean in an abortion/anti-abortion way) who likes to present the options and allow us to make the decision. This is not always what we want, sometimes you just need someone to tell you what to do, but it is nice to be presented with a largely unbiased fact-based view the majority of the time.

So, aiming to head back to work towards the end of the week and just try to take things easy once there, I turn up to my acupuncturist appointment on the Tuesday afternoon. My acupuncturist used to be a midwife so has been great at offering advice from that perspective, and filling me in on things that obstetricians tend to overlook (you know, the more womanly details of being pregnant and having children). She’s horrified at the thought of me returning to work (much as I suspect the hospital midwife had been, only she wasn’t close enough to me to say), highlighting the fact that the twins safety should come first and that with the bleeding and fatigue, my body is obviously trying to tell me something.

I know this of course but I just don’t feel ready yet to give up on the work front. Mentally I’m not prepared for it for another 4 weeks, work-wise I’m not prepared for it at all (with projects I’d hoped to finish still in full swing and my handover notes only partially completed), and emotionally I feel a bit of a failure not making it to my 30 week end date. It’s a lot to take on board and I struggle not to cry throughout my session. As always my appointment ends in a hug, and my acupuncturist tells me to take it easy.

I make it to the car before I burst into tears and totally lose the plot. I know I need to give up work now. I couldn’t live with myself if my determination to see work through to the 30 week mark had a detrimental effect on our boys – we’ve been through so much to get here it should be an easy decision – but I’m just not ready to make it.

Through a bit of bad timing, one of my bosses phones mid-meltdown just as I’m driving away from my acupuncturist’s. I make myself pull it together enough to be able me to talk to him, with fair warning to him that I’m emotional and there are no guarantees I won’t lose it again mid-conversation. He gets me to talk him through how I’m feeling and the advice I’ve been given, and very wisely says if all that advice doesn’t sway my decision to give up work then I should think about how they (my bosses and team at work) would feel if something bad happened while I was working and they hadn’t made me leave now when I should have.

It seems weird but this is the thing that finally pushes me over the edge into the decision that I need to end it, that it’s time to admit defeat and realise that work is just too much for me right now on top of everything else. I guess it added another perspective on how selfish it would be to persevere through to 30 weeks potentially putting our boys at risk (why the thought of putting our boys at risk didn’t do that by itself I don’t know – perhaps hearing it come from someone I see face-to-face on an almost daily basis just made it more real).

So, still an emotional wreck, the choice is made. My GP is contacted for a medical certificate and when her locum (my usual GP is away) phones me later in the day her response only cements my choice. She TOTALLY agrees that I should be giving up work now and can’t believe my obstetrician didn’t just come right out and say that. So that’s two GP’s and two midwives telling me it’s time, with two obstetricians recommending but not enforcing it. It’s definitely time. (Funnily enough, when I tell my OB at our next appointment that I’ve given up work he’s really pleased and says that that’s what he really thought I should do – see what I mean about presenting the options but not telling us what to do! I think this was one time I just needed him to say it).

So I spend the rest of the week trying to take it easy while also covering the vitals of my job – monitoring emails from my bed etc. I pop into work on the Thursday to try and tidy things up a bit and this only further reinforces the fact that I’m doing the right thing. After a couple of hours I’m shattered, and I actually don’t get as much done as I intend to. I do clean out my desk though, taking all my personal items home and leaving a bare shell. Man that feels weird! Lucky for me my replacement can start straight away so she’s able to move her stuff in Friday and set about getting her head around my job and what I do.

Monday morning I spend a few hours in bed typing up some handover notes. Monday afternoon I head in for a face-to face handover. Tuesday I do another. And then she’s away. I feels so strange to hand over a large part of my life to someone else but it also feels so right, my heads just not in it anymore…amazing how quickly one’s mindset can change. I’ll go in for another session or two over the next couple of weeks if required but by in large I’ve surrendered my job. Now time to rest and grow our boys in an effort to get them as close to full term as I can.

Easier said than done however. It seems I’m not so good at sitting around doing nothing. I’m just not that type of person who can spend hours on the couch watching TV or playing games. I am normally a big fan of reading but at the moment I find I just can’t concentrate enough to focus on whatever it is I’ve attempted to read. So what do I do? I set about organising the house of course. The nesting has begun! I buy some bits and pieces (including a hospital/breastfeeding nightie – which seems like an ENORMOUS step for me in admitting that this pregnancy is actually real), I clean out cupboards, start washing stuff, paint a bookcase, organise different areas so that they make more sense or are more child-friendly, I start organising photos to allow us to create albums for the boys, I basically do not spend enough time resting.

Now fortunately for me nothing horrific happens, all that occurs is I get really tired and am forced into early nights and quieter days. Two and a half weeks into my sick leave, with just under two weeks to go until my annual leave then maternity leaves starts, and I think I’ve finally managed to find a good balance between sorting and resting. The countless sleepless nights (restless legs, multiple toilet trips, pregnancy insomnia) have definitely helped with this and I find I need to nap/rest during the day just to make it to dinnertime.

Four days ago we hit the 28 week milestone, a goal I was so relieved to hit as the boys now have a 90%+ survival rate were they to be born today. I remember our OB saying to us months ago that 24 weeks was viability but most OBs aim for the 28 week mark as the viability indicator as then they can “really do something” should unexpected delivery occur. So we’re there, and I’m stoked.

At 28 weeks we have another scan – something we’ll be doing pretty much fortnightly from now on to monitor the boys growth and, possibly more importantly for us, their growth differential. The outcome is better than we could have hoped for. Bumble has caught up to Bee and the boys are now almost identically the same size. What’s more, although on the small side, they both sit nicely in the normal range. We’re so relieved. Seems the rest (yes I know I should have more), no-work, iron supplements and/or SOMETHING is making a difference. Phew! Our obstetrician is pleased and is back to a target of a 37-38 week delivery, something that seemed completely unobtainable a fortnight ago when 32-34 weeks seemed our best goal. Of course anything could happen still but we’ll take that win for now.

28 weeks is also the time that our antenatal class kicks off so on the Saturday we head along to our specialised “Childbirth & Parenting Preparation Course for Multiple Birth.” Most of the stuff we cover in our first three-hour session (they run for 3 hours a day for 5 Saturdays in a row) are things my husband and I have already thought about and/or researched (having been on the journey we’ve been on, and just being the type of people we are, we tend to do a lot of reading and research – in fact it always comes as a bit of a surprise that other people don’t) but future sessions look like they will be of great interest and assistance…next week “the birth”, eek!

It’s a large group of 13 couples and they all seem really lovely. We know one other couple there as I used to work with the guy, and there are also quite a few who live in the surrounding suburbs to ours which is really great and makes a coffee group from this seem more likely. Most are roughly around the same due date (there’s only one multiple-specific antenatal class so you end up with a bit of a range of due dates and living locations) but it seems we’re pretty much the only ones who have had trouble conceiving, although we don’t blatantly mention our struggle (something I feel a little uneasy about with my desire to make infertility less of a taboo topic) so perhaps there are others in the class who have done the same. Hopefully in time we’ll all (assuming there is more than just us) feel more comfortable about sharing our stories.

So here we are at today, 28 weeks and 4 days gestation. The last week or so has been really positive with a lot of good news and great events that I’m hoping will continue. Physically I’m still knackered – too many sleepless nights – and am becoming a little uncomfortable (at 28 weeks I’m carrying the equivalent of a 34 week singleton), and of course as sometimes happens in the third trimester (can you believe we’re third trimester!), that good old nausea has been creeping back in – not to the point of wanting/needing to vomit but enough to make me feel pretty gross all day – but otherwise we’re doing well. The boys are back to moving a lot, mostly at night in their 4am dance parties, and are hopefully continuing to grow as they should. Fingers crossed our next scan shows this and fingers crossed they’ve moved enough to get a decent 4D shot of their faces – something we haven’t quite managed to do yet due to them wanting to cuddle each other so much!

28 weeks and 4 days. Here’s hoping there’s at least 8 weeks and 3 days to go!







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.

The tip of the iceberg

I had the meltdown of all meltdowns last week. I should have known after such a good week the week before that it would all come crashing down in a big heap. Starting with my birthday on the Monday I cried nearly every day….but Wednesday was the worst. I guess everything’s just hitting me hard at the moment. I’m 34, no longer “early thirties” as our ‘About Me’ section would suggest; my biological clock is ticking – not that that matters entirely because my eggs are already well-fucked; it just feels like time is running out and there’s nothing I can do to fix/help/stop anything.

This whole process just wears away at you bit by bit. I’ve been trying to do things that make me happy to improve my lot but then one of the things that make me happy is my friends, and being there for them and that can wear away at you too in a way.  It’s been a hard time for a lot of my friends lately and I a) don’t feel like I can do enough to help, and b) struggle to hold myself together enough to be of any use sometimes.  My boss once suggested that our emotional state is like a battery and the energy can be sapped by various things.  You can recharge your battery but it never really becomes fully charged again as long as the major drain on the battery still exists.  I can understand that but for me I visualise it a little differently.

I feel like we’re all giant 3-D jigsaw puzzles and I don’t have enough hands to hold all my pieces together.  Every time I reach out to try and help someone else hold their pieces in, another piece of my jigsaw falls out, which is fine as long as you have a break at some stage to pick up your fallen jigsaw pieces from the floor and put them back in their place.  It’s when there’s no time for this that you run into problems. Eventually your jigsaw becomes so unstable that it explodes – picture a standard jigsaw that you’re deconstructing to pack away into its box, you start to destroy the pieces from the outside and the pressure causes the inner pieces to explode, cascading down all over the table.  Anyone who has felt the joy at annihilating a jigsaw puzzle will know the effect I’m talking about.  So my jigsaw explodes and a meltdown ensues.

Unfortunately this time it wasn’t the best timing but you just don’t have control over these things…you can hold them off to a point but eventually there’s just no stopping it.  Generally I try to keep them to outside of work hours so as not to appear a complete fruit loop to my colleagues, hmmmm, no such luck this time.  I now not only appear to be a complete nut bar but, because the jigsaw pieces had collapsed enough to stop my brain from function properly, I couldn’t even explain to my boss what the issue was/is, so also appear to be an unsupportive selfish bitch as well.  That thought of course fuelled my meltdown even more as I try my hardest to be a supportive and caring person, and the thought that I’m the opposite makes me feel awful.  Needless to say my poor husband had a hard night trying to get me to talk through my hyperventilating and tears to calm me down, what a frickin mess.

I feel so stuck at the moment.  Stuck and confused and there are so many elements at play that I’m not sure I can even express them in any kind of coherent stream.  I feel like I don’t have time to do the things I need to do to sort out my body and brain and prepare myself for the future.  I feel like I shouldn’t be upset about our current situation but then I feel guilty when I do get upset.  I feel like I need to move on but also feel like I can’t until we’ve exhausted every possibility.  I feel like there’s no one I can talk to.

Stop.  Break these down.  One.  I feel like I don’t have time to do the things I need to do to sort out my body and brain and prepare myself for the future. Where does this come from?  Life feels so busy at the moment that I just don’t have the time to stop, to breathe, to focus on what I need to be doing to sort myself out.  We’ve been doing a lot of things to our house so I’ve spent most of my time at home busy doing things.  Work’s been busy so we’ve been staying later a fair bit.  I’ve also been trying to fit in other things such as acupuncture and the gym to get my body in shape but don’t feel like I have the time to do it.  I’ve been trying to schedule acupuncture outside of work hours (quite difficult sometimes with the hours my acupuncturist works) as I feel bad leaving work to go to my sessions and also feel I need to stay in the office – which leads onto my second point.

Two.  I feel like I shouldn’t be upset about our current situation but then I feel guilty when I do get upset.  This is a hard one to put into words so let’s start with how it feeds into needing to stay in the office.  I work closely with two other women and to be honest we’ve all been having a shit time recently – for different reasons.  It’s not compulsory but on the whole it’s better if there’s always one of us in the office throughout the day.  Now I know this doesn’t have to be me but because I don’t have kids and the other two do I feel like it’s more important that they have the flexibility to do what they need to do.  It’s not a matter of them making me feel that way or that they work less than I do because both of those statements are most definitely not true, it’s just that they have tangible/real/physical commitments (their children etc.) while mine is just imaginary, a wisp of future potential not yet realised.  Yes, I understand I impose this feeling on myself, but that doesn’t make it any less real.  I feel that I shouldn’t be upset or need time away from work for something that doesn’t, and possibly never will, exist when others are suffering just as much, if not more, over things that subsist in the real world.

Another side to this second point primarily comes from other people’s reactions to us doing donor egg IVF.  Everyone is so excited for us, and thrilled that we’re taking the next step, which is fantastic and trust me, I’m super excited too.  There’s just this conflict of emotion within me that is really frickin hard to deal with sometimes.  On one hand I’m thrilled to able to progress in our journey, and am absolutely stoked that we have someone so willing to help us, but on the other hand I’m still trying to grieve the loss of a genetic child and deal with the guilt of it being my defective body that has cost us so much time, money, and most prominently, heartache.  I am the reason for my husband’s suffering, for my mother’s lack of a local grandchild, for every dysfunctional infertility-related thing that’s happened to us over the last three years.  It’s all my fault.  It’s a hard thing to work through and just when I feel like I’ve made some progress, that I’m starting to accept that this is just the way things are, everything falls to pieces again.  I feel like this is a time I should be filled with hope so I find myself riddled with guilt when I’m sad about how things have come to be.

Three.  I feel like I need to move on but also feel like I can’t until we’ve exhausted every possibility.  The need to move on stems from the conflict in point two I think.  Mentally I need to push forward, to take my life back and not have to think about infertility any more.  The trouble with this is that I know I will forever live with guilt and regret if we were to quit without pursuing every angle.  Is a life of remorse worth living for the sake of a short term relief from my anguish?  I don’t think so.  Perhaps in time I would come to accept our decision, come to ignore the regret, but I know I’m not one to let things like that go easily – why is it much easier to forgive others than to forgive yourself? – and there would always be that nagging doubt of “what if”.  No, I need to be brave and propel myself forward through my current set of emotions until we’ve tried everything we possibly can to realise our dream.

Four.  I feel like there’s no one I can talk to.  It’s been so long now that I feel like I’m a broken record forever skipping back and repeating the same couple of bars.  I know people care about us and about our situation but I no longer feel I can talk about it freely without people being absolutely sick of hearing about it.  I guess in a way this feeds back into point two – people think we should be happy that things are progressing and don’t really understand how I can be upset.  Perhaps I’m not being fair, perhaps it’s more that people are happy about the way things are developing and if they concentrate on that happiness then I will be happy too.  This is true to a point, I love that people are thrilled for us and it does make me happy, it just also results in me feeling like I can’t talk to anyone about my internal conflict as that makes me ungrateful or uncomprehendable.  I don’t want to burden my friends and family with my sadness and guilt.  I can’t lean on my Twitter friends because I can’t even face Twitter at the moment with all its babies and success stories – don’t get me wrong, I’m truly happy for all those success stories and other peoples happiness, it’s just with where my head is at at the moment I can’t help but think we will never be one of them, and that makes me sad…..and I feel like I’ve got my fill of sad at the moment I can’t possibly fit any more (cue more guilt at not being there to support others again).  I suppose I should really go and talk to our counsellor but while she was great when talking through DEIVF, I find I can never get the words out when talking about myself.  I always seem to be in a good state on the few days I have been to talk with someone, and it’s much harder to get to the bottom of the issues when everything feels fine.

So I’m back to feeling stuck.  Stuck waiting for DEIVF to progress, stuck waiting for myself to work through my emotions, stuck on a dream that has the propensity not to exist, stuck in the groove of my broken record spinning round playing the same old tune.

The beginning of the end?

So I’ve had yet another meltdown.  To be fair this is only the second one since our IVF round two fail and the second since we learned my eggs are fucked so I think I’m doing pretty well.  I don’t melt down terribly often and so far my husband has always been there by my side.  The further we progress in this journey though the more I worry whether our marriage can handle the turmoil created by this battle.  I used to think we could get through anything, we’ve been together 15 & a half years and while we’ve been through a lot, we’ve always managed to work our way past whatever issue was plaguing us and stand united as a team.   However I am beginning to wonder if this infertility might be just a little too big for us.  Deep down I know we can survive it but that doesn’t stop me worrying about what could happen in the meantime and what we’ll have to endure to get there.  I’d love to know what my husband thinks and feels about all of this but he’s a man, he doesn’t talk about it.  Does he even think about it?

The latest meltdown had the unfortunate timing of occurring at our friends wedding.  We’d gotten up early (bear in mind I am not a morning person at all!) and driven the 3 & a half hours home from our holiday.  A quick shower and change then another hours drive out to the wedding location. Friends had rented a house and we were to stay for the weekend.  I was a little apprehensive about it as I knew one of these friends to be pregnant and was nervous about how I would cope with that so soon after such a devastating cycle fail.  Soldier on I tell myself, you can do it.  We pull up to the house and it turns out both of the women we are staying with have pronounced baby bumps, gee, thanks for the warning.  It hits hard.   Both these women are older than me and have had no trouble at all in conceiving.  I shed a few tears outside then off we head to the ceremony.  From there it never stops.  99% of all the child-bearing-aged women there are either pregnant or are sporting young children.  The cries and gurgles of infants ring through the surroundings as the afternoon progresses.  There are endless remarks from the preggos lamenting the fact that they can’t drink, “not being able to drink really sucks.”  I’m tempted to reply with “yes, and hearing pregnant people complain about being pregnant feels like a stab in the guts but at least you’ll be able to have a drink in a few months time so I guess one of us won’t be suffering forever”, but I hold my tongue.

The ceremony is lovely and I’m genuinely happy for the married couple, even though the entire time my head is telling me they’ll be next on the baby-train. I attempt to cheer up and chat, then the baby talk starts.  Not being able to stand it I wander off to the other end of the party with my husband but alas we can’t get away from it.  You’d think I would have realised that impossibility with the 99% right?!?  The sounds and words build and build, surround me.  It’s like in the movies where someone’s going crazy and all those voices and faces swirl around their head until it all gets too much, only it’s not imaginary voices and faces swirling around my head but the very real sounds of babies and pregnancy talk.  I break.  Tears stream down my face and I can’t stop them, I struggle to breathe, it’s just all too much.  I need to get out of there and eventually it’s decided I should go home.  I know it’s bad form to leave but I can’t help it, I’m a mess.  Cue the awkward moment with M. as he tries to play the nice guy while all the while hinting that he should stay behind.  “You should go home.  I can drive you home.  Or you can drive home and I can stay here”.  I know he desperately wants to stay (ever the FOMO sufferer) but I so desperately need him.  I can’t force him to come with me, I need him to make that decision himself, to decide I’m more important.  But as expected I’m heading off alone yet again.  I wander back along the beach to the house and spend an hour on the lawn in hysterical sobs before finally pulling myself together enough to get in the car.  I still cry all the way home.

I pull in the drive and no one’s here.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  I don’t want have to explain myself to my sister, who’s housesitting for us, but at the same time I need someone here, I need a hug.  I’ve never felt so alone.  Why does the party always have to come first?  I realise my grief appeared at a completely inappropriate time but does that mean it’s better to ignore it and party on?  I often feel like the emotional side of this struggle is all a little too much for my husband.  That he doesn’t know how to deal with the mass of sadness that overflows from me at times.  That he doesn’t understand how this journey has changed me.  From my perspective I don’t understand how he can go on as normal.  I know this hurts him too, how does he pretend it doesn’t, and I envy him of this skill to hide his emotion and be ‘part of the crowd’.  I worry that this is what will destroy us.  My inability to deal with this curse, and his inability to acknowledge it.  I can see now how the fight for a child can annihilate a marriage.  I can only hope we’re stronger than that.

Happy New Year

And here we are in 2014.  It’s a sunny day and we’ve said goodbye to a devastating 2013 with tears and fireworks.  Good riddance.  I’d love to say the new year will be our year, that things can only improve, that it’s going to be better than the year just gone, but I said all that 12 months ago and look where that got us.  So 2014.  It’s a brand new year and whatever happens will happen.

I’ve had a few comments that this blog is sometimes a hard read, that it’s depressing, or negative, so I thought it time to write a post that somewhat addresses this.  My life is most definitely not a hard slog all the time, like nearly everyone else I have good times and bad.  However this blog is not a documentation of my life as a whole, although who knows, one day it might serve that purpose.  It is a documentation of our struggle to have a child, and that journey is hard, way harder than I ever thought it would be, so naturally (that is if I’m doing my job right) what you read upon this page is sometimes hard.

You sit down to a nice relaxing breakfast, I’m on my way to yet another early morning fertility appointment.  You take a sip of that delicious coffee (the one that I can’t drink due to its potential impact on my fertility), I’m on a hot date with dildocam.  Yep, dildocam, I’m sure you can imagine what that involves if you don’t already know.  Having a nice night out with friends? Check out the non-alcoholic drinks on that beverage list (the list of drinks us infertiles often have to stick to)…..9 out of 10 times there won’t be one.  Now think of the one thing in your life you’d really love to achieve but for reasons outside of your control can’t, and imagine everyone around you talking about how they’ve achieved that very thing, how easy it was, and how fantastic the results are.  Relaxing on a beach or in a park? Take note of how many families are there with their kids and imagine how you would feel if that was all you wanted but couldn’t have.  Feel good?

This journey is physically difficult.  During treatment it involves a hundred and one appointments with specialists, invasive (and sometimes painful) tests and ultrasounds, surgery, constant monitoring and blood draws, and piling multiple chemicals into your body – often accompanied by hideous side effects of some description or another.   And that’s just the beginning, for some of the more unlucky amongst us this voyage involves even more.  I, thankfully, have not had the experience of that ‘more’, and hopefully never will.

Outside of treatment time, we’re trying to give our bodies a fighting chance of being able to conceive.  That means trying to ensure your body is in the best possible condition fertility-wise.  Exercise (but not too much exertion – quite a hard balance to find), eating the right foods at the right times, taking a multitude of supplements, alternative medicines such as acupuncture, the list goes on.  It all may seem excessive to the fertile community reading this but when your body doesn’t perform as it’s supposed to you try everything to bring it back to ‘normal’, often on the recommendation from the medical community.  Now try fitting all of this in around your job and the rest of your day-to-day life.

Yet the physical is the easy part.  As well as being physically challenging, it’s also a complete mind-fuck.  You know when you buy a new car and then suddenly you start seeing that make and model everywhere you drive?  It’s like that with kids.  Everywhere you go there are children, babies, pregnant people, and when I say everywhere I mean EVERYWHERE.  It’s inescapable.  We took a walk to a waterfall miles from anywhere in the middle of the bush, there’s a pregnant lady there at the waterfall.  Out to the pub for New Years Eve, a pregnant woman…and what’s worse, she’s drinking, a lot, vodka and energy drink no less.  To a ‘normal’ person that’s horrifying – we’ve been conditioned to know this is bad for the baby – to an infertile it is heartbreaking.  Why is this woman who is abusing her baby before it’s even born allowed to conceive yet we, who would give that baby everything it could ever need, cannot.

You’ve just sat an exam, one that the rest of your life depends on, and you’re awaiting the results.  Now let’s say you can’t do many of the things you enjoy because they could potentially effect the results of this exam, and this exam is going to dictate whether you get to have the life that you want or whether you’re destined for the sidelines to watch from the outside.  You have two weeks to wait until you know what path your life will take, and all the while you’re surrounded by those who have already passed the exam and are living the high life while unintentionally bragging about it.  Welcome to the two week wait.  The torturous two weeks following treatment (or ovulation) in which you wait to find out if you’re pregnant or not.  You try to distract yourself but it always comes back to the same point, will I have the life I want for myself or will I need to heartbreakingly change my dreams.

For infertiles, everyday things become a challenge.  Meeting new people comes with questions of kids, time is measured by appointments or treatments rather than days of the week, even going to work comes with the constant reminder of what you don’t have – colleagues funny anecdotes about their children, or the thought of ‘if everything had gone to plan I’d be on maternity leave/planning a kids party too right now’.  Your mind is your worst enemy.  The smallest of things can trigger an emotional response, and sometimes it all gets too much.  I was negotiating a change to my job recently and things didn’t entirely go to plan.  Rather than my usual response of ‘take a step back and reassess’ I had a complete meltdown and cried for half a day.  Now on the surface this looks as though I’m an overemotional nutbar, overreacting to what is a seemingly normal job transaction but what the majority of people don’t see is that this job transaction comes at the tail end of another failed IVF cycle (one with atrocious side effects), a cycle that has ended the dream of a biological child for us, a cycle that cost us nearly $12,000 and, because of my defective body, we weren’t able to complete.  Imagine knowing this is all your body’s fault and not being able to change anything.  It’s like building a house of cards or a Jenga tower and slowly pulling out the foundations one by one.  The job hiccup was the last piece that caused the house/tower to come tumbling down.

I don’t know too many infertiles in the flesh but I sure know a plenty online, via Twitter and this blog, and they are some of the strongest and most resilient people I know.  They’re survivors.  So next time you feel like saying we’re a bit negative or the tales of our lives are hard to read, spare a thought for the people actually living this reality.  No, it’s not our entire life summed up in these pages, but the haunting reality of what’s written here has an impact on everything we do, and on who we are as people, good times or bad.  These words are merely our outlet, a way to cope

The Snickers wife

Preface: I have debated long and hard about whether to make this post public because for some reason its contents seem to have even more of a stigma attached to them than infertility does.  Although my stance from the beginning of this blog has been that this is a record of our journey, that I wanted to document everything, and that if it even helped out one person going through something similar then that would be a bonus, posting this has been a hard decision to make knowing that this blog is not entirely anonymous, and that people I know and work with will read its contents.  For those who know me you’ll know that it will have taken a lot to get me to this point, please don’t judge.


I’m in a bit of a messed up place right now.  We got our IVF BFN two weeks ago and I haven’t managed to really cry or anything.  I’m almost scaring myself with how well I’m coping, except that I’m not really coping.  Outwardly I’ve seemed normal, and to be honest I’ve even felt like the pre-TTC me at times, but in reality inside I’m a mess.  I’m so confused.  On one hand I’m really enjoying being ‘normal’ for a few weeks until our IVF follow up (WTF) appointment, but on the other hand I’m feeling even more defective, left behind, and scared that this may never work – making me forever the childless ‘aunty’.

I really don’t know what to do.  I feel like there’s all this pent up emotion in me that needs to come out but for some reason it just won’t budge.  This is coming from a girl who is no stranger to tears, who is generally pretty free with her emotions, and who has always been able to ‘melt down’ when required.  I think that’s almost freaking me out more than our future at this stage.  I just can’t find relief and it’s so damn alien to me I don’t know how to respond.  I’ve tried listening to sad music (a guaranteed way to get me to cry if I need to) – no tears.  I’ve tried relaxation CDs – can’t relax.  I’ve tried forgetting about infertility and being me – doesn’t work.  Not only do I need to vent to move on, but I’m getting more and more worried that the longer this goes on, the more inappropriate my outburst will be when it finally hits.  And on top of all that I’m still flat.  Almost emotionless, but still full of emotion.

So time for something to happen.  After chatting with a couple of friends last weekend I’ve started toying with the idea of anti-depressants.  Until now I’ve always told myself I don’t need them, that I can pull myself out of this funk, and until now that’s always been the case.  Looking back, this has actually been going on much longer than I’d let myself admit.  In reality I was even feeling like this on our honeymoon which was nearly three years ago.  At that time I put it down to exhaustion – a wedding, then frantic over-work to save for the honeymoon, then off to Europe and the States for an eight countries in nine weeks whirlwind holiday.  Full on.  Obviously I haven’t been down the entire time since then – there have been good days/weeks/months and bad – and it’s only really been truly noticeable in the last few months.  I guess infertility and a negative IVF result has really been the final straw.  So what am I going to do?  Good question.

I started with some research on the interweb and have concluded that I definitely don’t have major depression.  There is a milder version (Dysthmia) however that could possibly apply to my situation.

“More days than not, you feel mildly or moderately depressed, although you may have brief periods of normal mood. The symptoms of dysthymia are not as strong as the symptoms of major depression, but they last a long time (at least two years).”

Who knows, maybe I do, maybe I don’t but I’ve booked an appointment with my GP this afternoon to discuss it.  I hope I get some kind of answer out of it because the thought of this being my life from now on really isn’t appealing.


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