My Busted Stork

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


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A salute to my TTC journey

It’s been almost 2 years since I posted last. I had to approve a recent comment so came back for a little visit and reading my posts have done so much for me.

When I was TTCing I read a lot of blogs and one of my pet peeves (gees, did I have a few!) was following a blog that I really identified with, and then the person went and finally got pregnant and became a mom (continued to blog) and I no longer identified with them at all. They just became another person of which my life is filled – mommies. I was very clear that this blog was about the travails of infertility so what would I have to write about when I came to the end of my journey? I loved the small amount of blogging that I did do but I didn’t think it was fair on anyone reading that I just write about being a mommy. Eeugh!

But in reading my story again yesterday I felt that I hadn’t quite ‘closed the loop’. And I also hadn’t acknowledged how my battle with infertility has been part of my story and a part of who I am today.

So this post is about doing just that. However, I will allow myself one sentence of gushing (here goes). Isaac (AKA Zac) is one year old and is the chubbiest, happiest, cutest baby boy ever known to man and I am one ecstatic, fulfilled and completely smitten girl. There.

While reading this post yesterday it struck me that although I do my fair share of bitching and moaning about sleepless nights and snot in my hair it never leaves me that this is what I so badly yearned for and it is everything I hoped and more. I stare into Zac’s cot and watch him sleep – I actually risk waking him up by going in to see him because I miss him. I don’t think I would quite appreciate him in this way if I hadn’t have gone through the journey I did. I am not for a moment saying that other Moms don’t appreciate their offspring in the same way. But in my personal journey it gives me a perspective that I don’t think I would have without having gone through that kind of pain.

I lost my Mom a month ago. In a cruel twist of fate she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Cancer a few months after moving down to Cape Town to finally be the Granny she always wanted to be. She died 4 months later as a thin, frail shell of her former self. Yes, I know I must be grateful that she at least got to meet Zac. But to be honest I am still pissed off that after all her prayer and sacrifice (like this) she wasn’t able to be Granny at all. Zac will never know the awesome lady that could have been his Granny all through his childhood. She was the one and only person who gave a damn about every small tiny detail. We argued about what to feed him, when to change him, when to stop breastfeeding, what time he should sleep. She wanted to be part of all of it and now she can’t be. But in all that anger there is gratitude. As she lay dying I whispered to her that I am so thankful that God blessed me with Zac before she died because it meant that I could understand her as a Mom. I could understand her love for me in a way I never could before. I could understand that her love for me caused her physical pain and that she wished and prayed for my happiness above her own. To have missed out on this understanding would have been so much harder to bear.

On a lighter note I have become all that I detested! Yes, that is sad to all those reading that are still TTCing. I know I would have said – “can’t one of you smug mommies just hold on to one iota of strength and bitterness and not buckle under the pressure to be gooey about your offspring?” Well, I wish I could but we are not built for it and I am not going to profess to be stronger than my emotions. I talk about poo, I don’t sleep well, I boast about Zac’s genius, I band together with other moms for support. I am my own worst nightmare and I love it.

But I am also aware of the thorn in my side. That ugly little devil is not dead yet.  Now all my mommy friends are going on for number 2 or 3 and I sit quietly calculating how I am going to have to cash in a policy or sell my house to go for number 2. After the horror of that FET cycle I was the happiest, most excited pregnant woman on earth and I have to, need to, have that one more time.

So until round 2 strikes, good luck to all of you out there and please keep in touch.

(I leave you with a picture, I’m sorry, I physically couldn’t resist!)

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Unreal

Life has turned itself upside down. It’s like I have woken up in someone else’s life and am pretending to be her. Pretending to be…pregnant.

Last Thursday evening we were smacked upside the head with our first ever BFP!

I know this is gross but most of you will be quite familiar with these!

We stared at those 2 (still wet, gross) pee sticks for hours on end swinging from giggles to absolute silent terror. My mind started going into overdrive that night and I hardly slept a wink. I knew that if the pee stick was positive the bloods would be positive but that it’s not like we are exactly in the clear yet. But for the first time in…years maybe?…I allowed myself to start thinking. To start planning, working out dates, day dreaming of what it would be like to hold a baby that is ours.

The next day I went for the blood test and Doc called with the news of a definite positive and a beta of 117. I tried to focus on work for the rest of the day but the news was sitting inside me like a big bubbling mass trying to seep out of my pores. I had to share with my family and one or 2 friends but I felt possessive over my secret and wanted to keep the news mine for a while.

W on the other hand was a happy mess. I always say that he isn’t in touch with his feelings and this is true when he is going through a tough time but when the news is good he turns to goo. He was tearful and emotional – which meant that any women he came into contact with (including the odd guy) was also bawling and hallaluja-ing along with him. Where I have been quiet he has started telling the world which I am not too happy about.

Over the weekend he turned into ‘husband of the universe’. I know I am always quick to bitch when it comes to my Darling Husband but when expectation is low he has the power to amaze me – doing the shopping and all sorts of chores, bringing me tea and pampering with me with affection. But then on Sunday night his own crazies took over. He started obsessing about our second beta, reading up on all the stories of chemical pregnancies, ectopics and other nightmares. He was petrified and by the time the Doc called the next day he was ready to crumble into a heap. But the second beta was strong – coming in at 676. The Doc was happy and Warren was once again a happy mess.

We go for our first scan in 2 weeks and that does fill me with dread as I am aware of the many things that can go wrong. But optimism has finally gotten the best of me. Things are still a bit unreal to me but I am happy. W commented on how I seemed like the world had lifted off my shoulders – I think he used the word “blossomed”. I suppose that makes me realise that before this even though I was functioning my ‘normal’ was burdened under a heavy weight of negativity, failure and heartache. I am now allowing myself to slowly fill up with hope.

And along with that hope and happiness comes excessive saliva, cramping and nausea – BRING IT ON!


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And now we wait

This is probably not going to be the most inspired post – right now I am at best holding my head up and at worst not even thinking straight. Words might not come the right order in. But I thought I needed to document where we are right now so that I have done it before the dreaded approaching test date. Last IVF I lagged on writing everything down and so had to write it all after we had our BFN which was really tough. Looking back it was good in a way because it let me examine my story and then put it to bed as best as I could.

We had our Embryo Transfer a few days ago. I tried to have a relaxing morning at home but ended up doing some work. Then I planned a nice walk on the beach with the dogs which ended up being a massive sand storm because of the wind – I continued to try and see the bright side.

We got to see the Doc and he said that they had thawed the first 2 embryo’s but they weren’t looking good. I saw them on the screen – they looked like lumpy walnuts instead of embryos but it’s a wonder to me that I even know what an embryo should look like! So we spent another stressful hour waiting to see if the other 2 – our last 2 – would thaw and remain viable. The what ifs were racing through my brain and making me seasick. Doc came through with a thumbs up which was a HUGE relief. So we did the transfer. It wasn’t as painful as the last time – although tight is still way too much of a understatement! Doc said it went well and so that was it.

Obviously I am blessed that I could even transfer 2 embryos but I was a little bummed that that is it for us regarding a further FET. Next time round it will need to be another IVF and another 30k – ouch!

But I am still feeling like shit warmed up. Like, really. Like I can’t face the drive home right now because of the nausea. My butt is now many colours of the rainbow with big painful lumps under the skin. And wait, I have diarrhoea to add to the list (sorry for the TMI). Oh, and don’t forget the moodiness and borderline depression – that’s new and probably the worst of them all. I have googled the side effects of Estropause and all of this comes up so I know I can’t read anything hopeful into these symptoms. It just makes a BFN all the more harder to bear when it’s all for nothing.

And yes, I know the good angel sitting on the other shoulder says “but it’s all worth it if its positive” but seriously, get the f**k out of my face!


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A lumpy arse and other joys of FET

Caution: Gloom and doom ahead. Do not proceed if you are easily affected by negativity.

We are half way through our first FET cycle and I have to say that I am not enjoying myself. Not that any of the IF journey is every “enjoyable” but there has been some excitement along the way. This cycle – not so much.

I suppose I am not going into things feeling positive or hopeful or any of the other life-giving, earth mother nonsense that everyone says I should be feeling. I am almost grateful for this. The more “low key” or even gloomy I can keep my expectations the better. There is no “light at the end of the tunnel” but just more pain and heartache and shattered hopes so I just kinda want to get this all done and dusted.

It also turns out that the hormones are more brutal on FET. My Doc explained it as “hormone replacement” rather than “hormone supplement”. I started taking Estropause from CD3 building up from 1 tablet to now 4 per day. This is Estrogen and from what I understand its purpose is to get the uterus lining as thick as possible for implantation. Now that I am on 4 tables the headaches and nausea are not to be sneezed at. Then from CD13 Doc put me onto Gestone injections. Gestone is progesterone in oil and requires you to inject it into the butt muscle on a daily basis. Progesterone helps with maintaining a healthy lining to aid embryo implantation as well as maintain pregnancy after implantation.

Let me just tell you that this idea is directly from the pits of hell. I wouldn’t say I have a high pain threshold but I am not a ninny. Stimming for IVF was a breeze; taking blood when the nurse can’t find my vein is par for the course – I can handle all of this with no drama. But these injections are on another level. W has a needle phobia (bordering on pathetic) but he has had to man-up and give me these injections because there is no way I could give them to myself. They burn like hell during but just when you are relieved it’s over the site starts burning like hell even more and you get a nasty bump in the muscle. This stays for the next few days accompanied by a lovely purple bruise. And then the next day W has to find another site. Look, I have a large arse but after 4 of these injections I am starting to run out of lump free areas to bear this needle abuse.

If I get lucky and fall pregnant then I need to continue with the Gestone injections to help maintain the pregnancy. But in that instance the pain and the purple lumps will seem worth it. I will cherish that blessed time of day when I get to lie down with my bare arse exposed waiting for my husband to anoint me with the needle of hope and glory. But until then I despise it and sometimes just want to punch W in the face for doing this to me.

We are going in tomorrow for the Embryo Transfer (ET). We have 4 embryos frozen – I think they will thaw 2 and if they don’t thaw well they will try the other 2 and then put back to the best 2 of the bunch. I wouldn’t say I am “looking forward” to it rather than looking forward to the day off work. I haven’t forgotten the horrible little tool of pain that Doc uses to wrench open my vagina. But I do want to get those little buggers inside so I can start threatening them with embryo abuse if they decide not to hand around!

Just to carry on with the gloomy note I am not even looking forward to being PUPO (barf) – because I won’t “feel” pregnant, because I don’t know what pregnant feels like anyhow AND I won’t be able to drink wine. I will just wait out the 2 weeks, weather the disappointment of it all and try and look forward to my end of year holiday where I will drink copious amounts of wine.

And here is another little cheery story. I have worked with this guy for 3 years. He is slightly senior to me but not my boss. But he gets all the promotions and the perks and remains with his head firmly entrenched in our bosses arsehole. He is younger than me – about 6 years. He parties HARD, drinks HARD and spews the most offensive, unfunny drivel dripping with sexual innuendo and chauvinism ALL DAY. We are not friends. He recently moved from “player” to “taken” (poor girl) and then a few months later dumped her ass to sow his wild seeds some more. But lo and behold she found out she was 3 months pregnant so he has “done the right thing” and moved in with her. He is going to be a Dad. He bought a pram last week. I actually had a really good laugh when he told me but now I am just bitter and twisted and hating.

Fun times!


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Claws out

PMS is such a cliché, but it’s an unavoidable truth. What is a minor irritation normally becomes a rage that I cannot contain. I can’t let it go – I need to act on it, I need to express myself. This is usually aimed at W, the poor sod. But sometimes it is aimed at my friends. It goes from a niggle to claws out in 30seconds flat. And when you are an infertile your period is even more of a thorn in your side. So yes, I am using this as my excuse for wanting to claw the eyes out of a friend of mine. (I even sound premenstrual in the written word!)

She is pregnant with her 3rd child and cannot refrain from endless moaning on Facebook. It’s the heartburn and the sore hips and the cankles and the tiredness, like she is the most afflicted woman in the history of mammals gestating. Every time I log on it’s there. Plus she keeps on sending me inane messages like “How are you”. What she is wanting from me is for me to make her feel special by opening up to her about what I am going through at the moment. Maybe it is unfair for me to say she doesn’t care but I feel like she wants the juicy details of my pain. Any horrific or tragic story has her beating down the door to “be there” for the person and I feel it is gratuitous.

So I sent her an email and told her so. I tried to sound fair. But I also had to add an extra little passive-aggressive “your heartburn and swollen ankles are my dreams at the moment”. This is not me. I don’t really talk like this, ever. But I wanted her to squirm. Haven’t heard back yet but I am hoping I didn’t open pandora’s box. Believe it or not I don’t want to fight…

I am relishing the PMS this month because as soon as the period arrives then it is back onto that bicycle. We are doing our FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) round this cycle. We have 4 of the little blighters. We joke about if any of them become children how much fun we will have knowing they were chilling in an icebox for a while.

This time round I am going into full defensive mode. The walls are coming up, I am not telling anyone and I want to be in robot mode just going through the motions without thinking or feeling ANYTHING. I AM ROBOT!


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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!