My Busted Stork

The travails of an infertile…and no, I won’t just relax!


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We all fall down

My posting has been delayed so I started writing this post a few days ago and thought I better finish my IVF stories first before I go ahead and post this one.

Monday was our scheduled test day – 9dp5dt

(It took me a while to discover what this means so thought I would share with you – 9 days post 5 day transfer. In IVF you will either do a 3 day transfer or a 5 day transfer. This is up to the doctor but my doc explained it to me that with older women or more complicated cases they will transfer the fertilised embryo 3 days after the eggs have been retrieved. So the embryo is around an 8 cell organism. With younger women or more straight forward cases they try grow the embryo to a full blastocyst in the lab before transfer – for some reason. A 2 week wait is always 14 days from egg retrieval (ER) but can be 9 days post a 5 day transfer too. Complicated much???)

W and I decided to do a POAS (Pee on a Stick) on Sunday (the day before) so that we could prepare ourselves for the results and deal with it on our own before hearing it from the doc over the phone. It was one of the most scariest moments of my life. I shook like a leaf as I waited for the bloody thing. And there staring up at both of us was one lonely little line. We couldn’t believe it. We had said all sorts of things to try and prepare ourselves. We had convinced ourselves that we knew it would be negative so that it wouldn’t affect us. But that was bullshit. When you sacrifice so much, when you put yourself on the line as much as you possibly can (financially, physically, emotionally) you feel like you deserve it to work no matter how you try and prepare yourself.

We then courted hope a little more as our old friend Google told us over and over again that home pregnancy tests are the scourge of the earth. So we waited for our blood test the next day. That too was negative and we had to finally admit defeat. That night I was woken with searing period pains and bleeding. Kick me while I am down.

It feels like a big wave is about to crash on my head and I don’t know how to prepare for it. I look back on the “before” and realise that even though I told myself I wasn’t I was still so hopeful. Now I don’t have much hope going forward. The  frustrating thing is that everything went perfectly – there is nothing Doc can learn from the last round to make a difference in the future. He will probably do the same thing and we will be faced with the reality of going through this pain all over again. I really don’t know how I am going to endure more of it. I feel dead inside – like thee is nothing that is going to make me feel happy or excited again, least of all another IVF cycle. I am sure it will pass but how could I possibly get excited and hopeful again after all of this.

We are waiting a month before trying a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). In the last round we managed to freeze 4 blasts. So if they thaw then we will transfer them back and hope for the best.

I had all these plans for if it didn’t work – take up kickboxing, drink a lot of wine, paint my house. But how can you all of a sudden get so busy when you feel so flat? I battle to drag myself out of bed in the morning, let alone exercise. And I am comfort eating and putting on weight. Wine doesn’t even feel like the friend it used to be.

What worse is that I don’t want to talk to any of my friends. I just can’t face anyone’s pity, especially everyone with kids.

It’s Loeries weekend which are our Annual Advertising awards with loads of parties happening all weekend. Yay for me, that means stuffing my fat body into some cocktail dress and pasting a smile on my face. Got to play Executive Barbie!

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My first IVF cycle Part 3: Growing babies and trusting my body

Things were becoming very real. There were 8 possible babies chilling in a petrie dish somewhere and we had to wrap our heads around how each one of them had the possibility to become a completely individual human being.

I had such a complete meltdown over nothing on the way to the transfer appointment. It was Saturday morning and W got up early to go and fetch our man who works for us in the garden. But W didn’t know that the guy wasn’t where he thought he was and my cell just up and died so I couldn’t get hold of W to tell him to not wait anymore and come home because we had to leave. W was also being really thick because I had told him that the time of our appointment had been moved a half hour earlier but he had forgotten and was chilling at a MacDonalds somewhere while I, unable to get hold of him, was pacing on the street outside. I tore off to the MacDonalds to get him, luckily found him there and was shaking with stress and rage. As I have said, no one knows how to bring out the monster in my quite like my Darling Husband. Not the serenity I had hoped to have that morning!

We arrived at the clinic and were taken through to a room that has a labour bed, a TV on the wall, an ultrasound and a mysterious hatch in the wall. The Doc had asked that I come prepared in 2 ways: Have my husband with me to hold my hand (or rather glare at from the other side of the room!) and a full bladder which didn’t happen because I had forgotten to drink anything during my stressful morning. So I got up onto the beds with my legs in those awful stirrups and the bum part down so you really feel at your most attractive. On the screen was a webcam view of our petrie dish with the 2 selected Embryos. The screen also showed the microscope view of the embryos.

Perfect little blast number 1

Perfect little blast number 2

The next part wasn’t so fun. I wasn’t expecting it to be so sore! The Doc inserted his horrible little tool that felt like it was ripping open my vagina and I nearly hit the roof. The nurse was trying to soothe me while the Doc said something really irritating like “yes, it will feel a little tight”. Yeah right dude, when you have a sharp metal object ripping you open then lets talk about the use of the word ‘tight’ and see if that is indeed what it is. So once again a harsh reality taking away from the serenity of the moment. Through gritted teeth I watched the lab technician on the screen aspirate the 2 embies into a tube and hand them to the Doc through the hatch in the wall. Doc then used an external ultrasound to guide the tube into the uterus to deposit the embies in the lining. Who knows if he chose the right spot? Or whether that even matters? I was just happy it was over and he could take that dreadful thing out of my vagina. I then had to lie there for 10min and think positive thoughts. Hmmm.

Ironically this was a joyful experience and shows that there are 2 sides to this IVF coin. Besides the horrors, the fears, the pain there is a surprising side that you discover along the journey. You are completely in touch and in tune with your body – it is hard graft getting pregnant and if moms going through labour pains feel that the journey is worth it then I suppose this is another version of that labour. And you know the exact moment of everything. You know when you ovulate – because you take a shot to trigger it. You know when you are growing eggs. Even this is special because you see those eggs at least twice and you know they could be half of what makes a baby. There are 13 of the bloody things so you think about which one will make it and the odds of one versus the other – would they have different personalities and looks and talents. Then W goes in and the pressure is off when it comes to his underperforming sperm. He must have at least 13 good sperm which is like 0.00000001% of the total sample. And you realise that when they fertilise it is most likely that it is the first time this has happened after thousands of times of us trying on our own. Science is amazing!

The next stage is the scariest because I have lost faith in my own body – my body has never pulled through before and now I had to trust it to clinch the deal. Science’s job comes to an end – it has kept up it’s side of the bargain. And the precious cargo is now unloaded to our untrustworthy bodies which have let us down so many times before. That is big-deal stuff right there!


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My first IVF cycle Part 2: Egg retrieval and OHSS hell!

First, a disclaimer: I am not a professional on any part of this procedure and although I have tried to understand the science behind everything all I have to arm me is my experience and what I have read or been told. I hope none of what I write is misleading!

So there I was, happily jabbing away. On CD8 I had my first scan with Doc and he counted 12 eggs growing nicely in my ovaries. On CD9 I also introduced Cetrotide to the the morning jab routine. This drug prohibits the egg from being released from the follicle before it is ready.

I scanned on day 10 and 12 with Doc again. I could feel my ovaries like 2 big bunches of ripe grapes and that is exactly what they looked like on the ultrasound. It felt good to think that one of those grapes could hatch a little baby at some point.

I was scheduled for Egg Retrieval on Day 15, a Monday and so 36 hours before my appointment I took another jab, this time a “Trigger” shot called Ovidrel. This shot triggers ovulation so that the timing is perfect for when the eggs are released so that the doc can suck them all up.

The Egg Retrieval procedure was a little more “big deal” than I had anticipated. W drove me to the clinic along with his sperm sample tucked between my boobs – one happy family…sort of. (W can produce a sperm sample in under 5 min. It’s handy, if not a little perturbing. A party trick we best keen under wraps…) He handed his sample into the lab and I got deposited into a nice comfy chair to wait for the arrival of the anaesthetist and my nice Doc all decked out in their surgical scrubs. At this point I had nice Greys Anatomy day dreams. Then I had to get into my really unattractive backless hospital gown which puts an abrupt end to all sexy Greys Anatomy day dreaming as my fat ass is exposed to the world. I then shuffled into the sterile surgery trying not to offend anyone along the way with the view of said fat ass. Someone tried to get me to sign some documents which was virtually impossible while still trying to hold my stupid gown closed at the back – so embarrassing! Eventually I climbed onto the surgical bed thing and then everyone got all busy attaching all sorts of monitors and drips and gels to me. I made sure to tell Doc he had to get all 12 eggs out and that I wanted a good result. He agreed! Lovely Mr anaesthetist said good night and I said hello dream world.

I woke up back in a cubicle feeling a little drowsy but otherwise fine. Doc was very chuffed with himself as he had got not 12 but 13 lovely eggs and we were ready to rock and roll.

That afternoon I started to cramp. I thought it was all part and parcel of that morning’s activity. It just started as a dull ache which carried on to the next morning. I went in to work but by mid day they had become full on cramps and I went home, took some ibuprofen and cuddled a hot water bottle. But I kept feeling quite positive, especially since I got the call that 8 out of the 13 eggs had fertilised. Apparently this is an average to good result which was good enough for us!

The next morning I went in to see Doc because I knew the cramping wasn’t good and that it might be OHSS (Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome). It is a risk after ER. Basically your ovaries are large and disstended from producing so many eggs. The Ovidrel trigger (which is actually pregnancy hormone) can have a negative reaction and cause the ovaries to fill with fluid. Sometimes this fluid seeps into the abdominal cavity causing cramping and bloatedness in mild cases and sometimes more serious repercussions if the fluid gets into upper abdominal cavities where it can affect your diaphragm, lungs and other organs. Doc scanned me both internally and externally and saw I did have some fluid but that it was only in some areas surrounding my ovaries and nothing higher up. There is no cure or medicine but Doc said I could carry on taking ibuprofen. He mentioned that he was a little worried that if it didn’t clear up then embryo transfer could make things worse but that he was sure it would clear by then.

That afternoon things got worse and I was not a happy camper. I am pretty sure that if you suffer from IBS then it is likely that this will flare up and double the pain. It’s almost as if the pressure is exerted onto your bowels and your bladder. When you try go to the loo there is a sharp pain shooting either up your rectum or your vag (sorry for the TMI!) which is agony! I couldn’t straighten or stretch out my body and basically I just lay there curled up feeling sorry for myself. My stomach was so bloated that I looked like I was 4 months pregnant. Oh the cruel irony!

After 2 days at home I eventually started feeling better. And at the end of the second day I got the news that all 8 fertilised eggs had grown into 8 cell embryos and were looking good. We were A for away! Our Embryo Transfer was scheduled for the Saturday morning. It was all becoming very real and very exciting.


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This made me cry

As I am semi-anonymous online (blog and forums) I tend to bitch about friends who have at times been ignorant and insensitive to my situation. All of my friends have babies now so besides W I don’t have too many people to bitch to in real life so I pour all my hurt and frustration out online whenever I need to. Although I know my friends love me I know that they don’t understand me and I completely forgive them for that because how could they? But once in a while, besides all the platitudes and the “it will happen one day” a friend can really cut through with a REAL message of support.

An old friend of mine sent me a letter with a poem attached. She had actively searched online for something meaningful to say to me and what she found really touched my heart. This poem might be widely known in Infertile circles but this was the first time I had read it.

I suppose some people will be offended by the sentiment but right now I don’t care.

Thoughts on Becoming a Mother
(author unknown)

There are women that become mothers without effort, without thought, without patience or loss and though they are good mothers and love their children, I know that I will be better.I will be better not because of genetics, or money, or that I have read more books but because I have struggled and toiled for this child.I have longed and waited. I have cried and prayed. I have endured and planned over and over again. Like most things in life, the people who truly have appreciation are those who have struggled to attain their dreams.

I will notice everything about my child. I will take time to watch my child sleep, explore and discover. I will marvel at this miracle every day for the rest of my life.

I will be happy when I wake in the middle of the night to the sound of my child, knowing that I can comfort, hold, and feed him, and that I am not waking to take another temperature, pop another pill, take another shot, or cry tears of a broken dream.  My dream will be crying for me.

I count myself lucky in this sense:  that God has given me this insight, this special vision with which I will look upon my child that my friends will not see.  Whether I parent a child I actually give birth to or a child that God leads me to, I will not be careless with my love.

I will be a better mother for all that I have endured.

I am a better wife, a better aunt, a better daughter, neighbor, friend, and sister because I have known pain.

I know disillusionment, as I have been betrayed by my own body.

I have been tried by fire and hell many never face, yet given time, I stood tall.

I have prevailed.

I have succeeded.

I have won.

So now, when others hurt around me, I do not run from their pain in order to save myself discomfort. I see it, mourn it, and join them in theirs.

I listen.

And even though I cannot make it better, I can make it less lonely.

I have learned the immense power of another hand holding tight to mine, of other eyes that moisten as they learn to accept the harsh truth and that life is beyond hard. I have learned a compassion that only comes with walking in those shoes.

I have learned to appreciate life.

Yes, I will be a wonderful mother.


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My first IVF cycle Part 1: Numb Robot versus Tinkerbell

Ha ha. I just read this post and had a good chuckle to myself. This is so typical me – I was all indignation and resentment but it didn’t take me long to get over that and start scheming how to get on this IVF train. We have been waiting for my Gran’s estate to come through and so as soon as we had the money we went to see the doc, which was last month.

In June/July this year we had an amazing overseas holiday, also paid for by my inheritance. My Darling brother got married on a beach in Scotland and it was one of the most special times.

Gypsy bride!

Then W and I went off for a dream-come-true week in Italy. We didn’t have too much money but we had the best time. It was so good for us. We laughed, drank, ate, got lost, nearly died on a moped, swam in the Med and soaked up everything.

Florence!

We both thought that with the amount of romance in the air we might even have a little Italian baby on board (we would name him Sergio!) but OF COURSE NOT! What overcame me to be so uncharacteristically optimistic, I have no idea.

So we came home to money in our bank account and decided to bite the bullet. It actually took me a few weeks to make my first appointment. I really think that in the last year I have had to harden my heart. I withdrew from the broodiness and the yearning and the “why me!”. I would grimly face visits with friends and their kids and either climb into the nearest bottle of wine or else clam up and look for the closest exit. I knew that I didn’t have the resources to face things. And then my best friend, the last one standing, fell pregnant unexpectedly. But I soldiered on and to be honest it really worked. I had moments of despair but I felt so numb that after a short time everything returned to normal.

Intro The Numb Robot. A friend remarked on how I didn’t seem that excited or positive about doing IVF. I just matter-of-factly decided we were going ahead. I think I am so immune to getting my hopes up after years of having them dashed.  So a battle ensued –  The mean Numb Robot against the tinkerbell fairy daydreaming about pink booties.  Squash! …fairy dust.

So I made the appointment and we went to see our Fertility Specialist. He had a quick look and remarked on how healthy everything was looking and said we should go for it. A few days later I got my period the doc gave me a whole freakin cooler box full of drugs, needles, you name it. It was a formidable sight.

Ouch!

But it was a challenge I took head on. My first time injecting myself was a metaphor for how I have approached this whole thing. There was a bit of fumbling around with the syringe but when it came to jabbing that needle into my flesh (thanks to the Numb Robot) I didn’t stop to think and just went for it.

I started almost looking forward to my morning jab. For the first time in many years I could DO SOMETHING to getting a baby. I suppose it was the same mechanical, pragmatic approach that I used to sometimes view sex when we were “trying” (You know , that really awful awkward sex when you would rather scrub the toilet bowl with a toothbrush rather than touch each other. The sex is like scraping your nails down a blackboard. But you do it to get it done. Oh, those blissful times.)

Heroine addicts had nothing on me. I jabbed away with 3 amps of Menopur started on CD3 (Cycle day3) for about 10 days. I embraced the pin cushion inside of me.

More to come!


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I’m Back! Locked and loaded

I am thinking that maybe the 4 or 5 people who might have read some of my posts in the past were wondering where I went and I suppose the obvious conclusion would be “Another one bites the dust” as in – she must have fallen pregnant and got over being so bitter and twisted. Well, actually, not so much!

In actual fact, life got really miserable and I ended up seeing a therapist who advised against all infertility based digital activity for a while. I suppose it was that life was all a bit unmanageable and I had to cut myself some slack from the IF journey so that I could make it through some other rough stuff. So I put everything on hold, well as much as I could. That Ugly Little Devil kept me on my toes alright. But I had to get through my Dad getting sick again, this time with heart disease, W losing his job (yes, lovely) and just general shit being thrown at the proverbial fan.

Cut to September 2012 and I am PUPO! I just learnt what that actually means today which is Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise. I am very hesitant to use that term because it seems on the perkier side of optimistic, and I wouldn’t say I am perky. But this last Saturday the Doc did happen to transfer 2 lovely little blastocysts into my uterus and so until I do the dreaded POAS (Pee On a Stick) I suppose I am PUPO!

(I don’t know why us infertiles need to speak in so much code all the time. I suppose it’s like being part of a secret club or something but sometimes it gets pretty lame.)

So in the next few posts I will back track a little and take you through my journey to this point. I think it would be really useful for anyone who is about to embark on IVF to know what might be in store for them. Or just laugh and point at my misfortune/fortune – whatever floats your boat.