Sunday, 28 September 2014

My birth story



Our son is 7 months old later this week, so once again I've neglected to update for an embarrassingly long time! I sort of "rediscovered" my blog the other night, and resolved to come back in here and do a couple of posts to bring things back up to speed. Obviously it's not a priority for me anymore, but I still want to keep a diary of sorts of the most important or significant events that occur, even if no one but myself ever reads them. Maybe our little boy might be interested one day, although if he turns out to be a stereotypical boy he probably won't really care. ;)

From 30 weeks onwards my pregnancy was just as textbook as the first three-quarters was. But my belly was huge, and I was quite uncomfortable. The sensation of my baby scraping his sharp baby-talons across the walls of my uterus is not a feeling I will soon forget! And just feeling like he was going to fall out constantly... yeah, not pleasant. My ob joked with me a couple of times about not being able to help me out by inducing, as my blood pressure remained perfect... not that I wanted pre-eclampsia, of course, but he understood how over it I was towards the end. Having said that, seven months after the fact, I desperately miss being pregnant and would LOVE to be up the duff again. But I'm not really ready for another baby yet. He's still so young, and I already have a serious lack of energy and motivation, so I can't imagine how much worse it would be if I were baking another bun too.

So on with the show (Ahh, get it? Show? Birth Story? *wink wink* Ahem). This is copied and pasted from a forum post, but I may edit or tweak any bits I see fit.

On Friday 28th Feb, I had what would be my last appt with my ob. I was 39 weeks exactly, and SO ready for the baby to come out! My ob gave me a membrane sweep, which was not very comfortable at all, but I used it as an opportunity to practice some deep breathing for labour, lol. I was already 2-3cm dilated, but he said he could manually stretch it to 4cm! He told me to book another appointment for the following week, but said that he’d be EXTREMELY surprised if I lasted til then. I found out later that he was on call that night, so he hung around for a while, thinking there was a good chance I’d be back in within a few hours. But unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

I didn’t really feel much different after the sweep. I think perhaps there might have been an increase in Braxton Hicks, but nothing noteworthy. Then at around 3pm on Saturday, I went to the loo, and when I wiped... well, there was my “show”. It was revolting, and didn’t let up for the rest of the day and night. Gross. But I was extremely happy that at least something had finally happened!

That night I kept waiting for contractions to start, or my waters to break, even though I know that your show can happen ages before labour does. We had Indian take-away for dinner, as a last-ditch attempt to get things going, hehe.

On Sunday 2nd March, I woke up and was dreadfully disappointed by how “normal” I felt. I rolled out of bed like the beached whale I was, and went to the loo. While I was sitting on the toilet, I felt a very sudden massive jolt from the baby, and a second or less after that, I both heard and felt a “BANG-BANG” from somewhere deep inside my abdomen. I was very freaked out... I was hoping it was my membranes rupturing, but there was no fluid coming out, so I didn’t know what to think. A part of me was terrified that something had happened to the baby, or he’d somehow done something in there to hurt himself!

I went back to bed, thinking I’d try the “lie down for a while and see if anything leaks when you get back up” thing. But no sooner was I lying down again that I experienced a huge surge of AF cramping low down... was that a contraction?? I made a note of the time, and four minutes later, I got the same thing. I nudged Alan awake and told him that I thought I was having contractions. He got up to have a shower while I rang the delivery suites to describe to them everything that had happened. I didn’t experience any more contractions, so I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I had leaked a small amount of fluid when getting out of bed. The midwife told me to come in for monitoring, that I may be sent home again, but to bring my bags just in case.

We got organised pretty quickly (I was SO glad I’d written my “last minute things to pack” list! I couldn’t think straight so it was very helpful), then we were in the car and off before 8am. Alan and I joked the whole way there about how it was very laid-back, a very civilised time to go into labour... there was no traffic to contend with, and we’d just gotten up after a normal night’s sleep! I began leaking fluid like a bastard... VERY glad that I’d had the puppy training mat and towel on the car seat for the last few weeks! By the time we got to the hospital my pants were absolutely soaking, and I was feeling extremely crampy -- it didn’t even occur to me that these were contractions, as I wasn’t timing them or anything, it was more just a constant discomfort. We made our way inside, and I was so embarrassed about my wet pants, but fortunately being a Sunday the hospital was nice and quiet. We were met at the maternity ward by a nice midwife who ushered us into a monitoring room near the birth suites. She hooked me up to the CTG then left us alone for ages. My cramps/contractions were getting more intense, and I was really hoping she’d be back to finish assessing me soon! It was a pretty busy morning at the birth suites, after apparently nothing happening there all day Saturday, lol. She came back and gave me an internal, and was surprised to find that I was 5cm dilated. I told her that my ob had said I was 3cm on Friday, so I wasn’t shocked by it. ;) After a bit more faffing around, I ended up under the care of a different midwife, a boisterous and loud younger girl who was like the ultimate birthing cheerleader. She gave me a sheet to wrap around myself as I was pants-less, and got us to follow her to my birthing suite. She set up mats on the floor, and encouraged me to be as active as possible. She went and got us biscuits and sandwiches after we told her neither of us had had a chance to eat anything, but I was only able to nibble on about half a biscuit the whole time as I was too consumed by my contractions. She practically force-fed me orange juice just so I had some sugar in me. I spent most of my time on my knees hunched over a fit ball, and got through each contraction by blowing out every breath as hard as I could. The MW constantly complimented me on how well I was doing, but I told her that it was really just instinctive, which it was!

Eventually she encouraged me to go for a walk, so she grabbed her doppler and we headed out, first walking around the inside of the maternity ward, then we went outside (even though I forgot to put my thongs on!) and walked around the exterior of the hospital. Every time I stopped for a contraction, I grabbed whatever was nearest (signposts, pillars, fences, etc) and swayed my hips side to side, using a breathing visualisation where I was pretending my “blowing-out” breaths were blowing molecules or invisible particles off the surface of whatever I was leaning on. It sounds weird, but it was really effective! The MW kept checking baby’s HR, but there was absolutely no timing of contractions or measuring of my cervix, for the entire labour.. it was all very easy-going. The MW kept saying “this baby will be here by 11am”, and I hoped she was right!

I was relieved when we got back inside, as my contractions were really ramping up and I needed to just be in one spot and be “in the zone” as much as possible. I hunched over the fit ball again for a while, and banged together my stress balls during each contraction, still doing my strong “blowing out” breathing. The MW then got me to stand and lean against the bed to get some more gravity behind bubs. I got Alan to get my orange essential oil out so I had something pleasant-smelling to inhale. The MW put it in a cup with boiling water and got him to hold it in front of me. My contractions were so strong by this point that I was feeling the urge to push. The MW told me to “go with it” and push if I needed to. It wasn’t long after this that she wanted me to start pushing for real! She called in the ob who was on call.. unfortunately not my own ob, which I was a little sad about. 

I asked if I could start by kneeling on the bed holding onto the back. I pushed in that position for a while, and wow, what an incredibly intense feeling that was! It felt almost good at first, but I was starting to struggle, so they eventually got me to change positions so I was lying on my side with one leg raised, bracing my feet against the MW and Alan. The ob then asked me to try lying on my back too... and then began the most draining and physically demanding experience of my life to date. For 1 hour 45 mins they let me push, changing positions periodically, even though they don’t usually let it go longer than an hour without intervention. But the baby’s head was RIGHT THERE and visible (“I can see dark hair!” said the MW at one stage, encouraging me along)... they even put my hand down there and got me to feel it... yup, felt like slimy hair, lol. But I pushed and pushed, and I thought I was going to explode from the exertion; it was SO frustrating. Baby was moving down, but very slowly. Alan later told me that he could see the MW and ob looking at each other, both obviously thinking “this isn’t going to work”, even though they kept shouting encouragement at me. When we reached 1 hour 45 mins, the ob gently but firmly told me that we had gone for too long, and that we needed to try an episiotomy and vacuum delivery (or “Kiwi” as they call it). So I was prepped for all that, and once everything was ready to go, our beautiful baby boy popped out in two or three pushes at 1:28pm! I let out a single sob of pure relief when I heard him wail as they brought him up onto my chest. “Whoa, what a whopper!” the MW said. It turns out that my bub that constantly measured every single scan on the 50th percentile was actually 4080g, or exactly 9lb! No wonder he didn’t come out so easily.

Alan cut the cord (we didn't get a photo though, which I was later quite disappointed over), and they delivered the placenta which was apparently huge, but I didn’t get to see it, which I’m also a bit bummed about. They weighed the baby, and he proceeded to pee all over the place during that, I think he managed to hit the MW, lol. Then they put a nappy on him and brought him over for a very prolonged period of skin-to-skin. I lay there trying very hard to enjoy my gorgeous baby while I endured the pain of being stitched up! The local anaesthetic wasn’t 100% effective, as it happens. Ouch. The MW expressed some colostrum from me to syringe-feed to our son, but he also did latch for a short while too when we were left alone for a bit. Eventually he was given to Alan for more skin-to-skin, while the MW grabbed me a change of clothes and some toiletries and took me into the bathroom, where she sat me down on a chair in the shower and washed my hair for me while I cleaned myself off. I felt so weak and shaky! When I came out, a bundled-up bub got handed to me before I was wheel-chaired up to my room on the ward. I got into bed and cuddled him close, tucked inside my t-shirt for more skin-to-skin. Bliss... which is more than can be said for the following days, but I’ll cover that in another post!

 
 




I've really enjoyed reading this again for the first time in months. Apart from the frustration of pushing for so long and not getting anywhere, I really had a wonderful birth and I can only hope the birth of any subsequent child is as brief and easy and positive as our son's was. :) I never 100% planned on birthing drug-free, I was just going to go with the flow, and because I was blessed with only a 6 hour labour beginning to end, I never felt the need to take or have anything. I don't even remember the pressure/pain being unbearable to be honest, just a bit intense. I guess everyone's experience and pain tolerances are different though.

Anyway, that's enough for today, but in the coming days I hope to remember to post about our awful time with breastfeeding (our son has been 100% formula fed for more than 3 months now), and our big move to England when he was only 3 months old!


 

Thursday, 26 December 2013

30 weeks...

It was never my intention to let this blog die once I got pregnant. I started it to talk about wedding plans, then IVF, so I always assumed it would be a pregnancy journal of sorts as well. But I suppose that once it finally happened for me, I just got so caught up in the experience, plus the several forum and facebook due-in-groups I'm an active member of, that I only cared about updating to those ladies I'm (sort of) sharing the experience with, and didn't really feel the need to keep a diary here as well.

Truth be told, even if I had kept this up-to-date, it wouldn't have been that exciting. Up until this point (and I really hope I'm not jinxing anything here), I've had an absolutely textbook pregnancy. My obstetrician even told me at my last appointment a week ago that I'm "about as uncomplicated as you can possibly get". Of course a part of me is still expecting everything to go wrong, but nowhere near as much as I was back in the first trimester. I'm 30 weeks today, and it's really starting to hit home that I might actually have a baby in my arms soon. It's exciting and terrifying, and I can't wait... except I kind of can too. It all just seems so surreal still. Only two and a half months at the most until our lives change forever. I'm not sure if I'm ready for that, but I suppose it's not like I'm going to completely lose my identity or anything. Sure I might not have time anymore to play World of Warcraft, keep the house as clean and tidy as I do now, go and have a quiet latte, or sit and watch DVDs of an afternoon, but it doesn't mean I'm going to stop liking these things. I'm still going to enjoy the things I enjoy now, become obsessed with silly things like TV shows, talk about geeky stuff with my husband. It's just that my priorities will change, and stuff that doesn't affect the wellbeing of my child or our family may end up on the back-burner for a bit. I can handle that.

Anyway, I guess I should maybe do a recap of what's happened over the last almost-26 weeks...

My last post was at 5w6d, when I'd just had my first scan the day before. I then went to Perth for a week or so, and spent the time there anxiously wondering whether everything was still going okay, and waiting for early pregnancy symptoms to show, which they never really did! I think there were a couple of random days where I felt a little bit seedy on and off... the closest I got to actually throwing up was one day when I was just hanging at home with Mum, and the smell of her lunch that she heated up made me feel quite nauseous. But I kind of realised it was probably partially in my head, so I just pushed through it, and felt fine a couple of minutes later. The only other "symptom" I had was bloating from all the progesterone. Here's a pic of how I looked at somewhere around 6 and a half weeks:
 
It's funny, I remember thinking how enormous I was then, but now I look at it and can't believe I was EVER this skinny in my whole adult life!

I headed home at 7w2d, and at 7w3d we had our second scan with our FS. I was SO nervous, I was absolutely preparing myself to be told there was no heartbeat and/or growth. But lo and behold, this is what we saw, with a beautiful little regular flicker showing us that there was still life inside my uterus:
 
 
Amazing.

Before I'd headed to Perth, I'd already researched and booked an obstetrician, as ridiculous as it felt doing it so early. I just didn't want to miss out on getting someone with a fantastic reputation, but I was sure I'd be calling before we reached the date of our appointment to cancel because of miscarriage. Well, I was proven wrong, as the day for our appointment rolled around at 8w3d. I was very excited to get this far, and it was a relief to discover that our Ob was as friendly and laid-back as I'd read on various online forums. One of the reasons I liked the sound of this ob is that he gives you a scan at every appt, so we got to see our precious baby again... an external scan this time, so for once I didn't have to take my pants off! The baby still looked like a blob, but you could kind of tell which end the head was. We even saw it give a tiny wriggle at one stage, which Ob said was a great sign as it was about the earliest that you would see any movement from bub.
 
 
I didn't have many questions for our doctor (which was to become a common theme for our appointments up til now!). I did ask him if I could start running again, as I stopped the night before my transfer and hadn't done any exercise at all since. He said I can do whatever I want, essentially, just don't run any marathons or anything. So I tried going for a run that week, but only did about 200 metres before stopping... unfortunately it just didn't "feel" right, so I decided that getting back into running could wait til post-pregnancy, and it'd just be brisk walking for the time being.

So anyway, this baby was starting to look like a bit of a reality. I was still panicking over a complete lack of symptoms, and still convinced that I would start bleeding or wouldn't see a heartbeat at my next scan. But around this time I started venturing back into the baby sections in department stores... areas I'd been avoiding like the plague for longer than I cared to think about. And I made my first purchase for this baby; a onesie from K-mart which was only $3. I figured that it was my way of acknowledging the reality of this little creature inside me, but I wasn't spending enough to "jinx" the pregnancy. And if anything did go wrong, at least I hadn't gone too crazy or anything.
 
 
Even though it was relatively gender-neutral, I chose blue, as since pretty much the first positive pregnancy test, I was 98% certain that I was having a boy. Funnily enough, my mum was just as convinced as me, and my cousin thought so as well. Still a while away until we found out though.. although I didn't have to wait as long as most people, but more on that later!

I also resolved around now to start taking regular belly pics. I had every intention of doing them every single week, but eventually I got lax, and they became further apart. I also eventually started randomly taking them whenever I felt I "looked pregnant", but when I take them on a Friday (when I start a new week), I still always wear the same black singlet for the sake of consistency. Here's my first belly pic from 9 weeks:
 
 
Despite starting appts with my Ob, I was still having scans with my FS, as he likes to stick with his pregnant patients until they reach nearly 12 weeks. I think part of it is the fact that he used to be an Ob as well, so maybe he misses that side of things sometimes. But I'm sure he also gets a real kick out of knowing that everything's going well. So I had my next scan with him at 9w3d, and it was incredible! The little baby now had an obvious head and body, and we could see it waving it's little arms and legs around. My FS said that the scan around 9-10 weeks is always his favourite, and I can totally see why. :)
 
 
Afterwards he asked me whether I'd like to come back for another scan. Since my big NT scan wasn't booked until 13 weeks, and I knew I'd go crazy if I didn't see the baby again in that time (I'd been too spoilt with incredibly regular scans!), I was very happy to book another one for two weeks from then.

Here's my belly pic from a few days later at 10 weeks:
 
 
Something amazing happened in the meantime. At around ten and a half weeks, I started feeling... something happening in my uterus. I think the first thing that really made me pay attention was one evening lying in bed, when I felt what I can only describe as two or three "rubber band flicks". Another night that week, I was just drifting off to sleep, when I felt a tiny "jolt" so obvious and sudden that my eyes flew open and I lay awake waiting to see if it would happen again. Then soon after that, the regular "flutters" and "vibrations" started. Everything I read said that quickening isn't felt until much later (around 16 weeks, and even later for first pregnancies). Pretty much every official source said it was impossible to feel movement this early. Well it goes to show how much official sources know! This was movement, there was absolutely NO doubting it. And I loved every second of it, it was emphatically reassuring! However, because I'm a stress-head, in the hours and days when I felt nothing, I would freak out. But I couldn't justify going for any emergency scans or doppler checks, as I had no medically sound indication that anything was wrong, and if I told them it was because I hadn't felt movement for a couple of days, I'd have been laughed away. So I just had to power through these periods when the baby was "quiet", and relish the quickening whenever I felt it.

11 weeks:
 

Finally my next scan with FS rolled around. It had been two weeks since my last one, which was the longest I had gone between scans, so I was very excited to see the baby again. It was absolutely looking more baby-like this time, which was fantastic. It wasn't moving though, apart from one massive full-bodied jump a few seconds into the scan, which was probably a reaction to pressure from the probe. I was a little concerned by the lack of movement after all the crazy wriggling last time, but my FS said nothing of it, so I let it go. I was aware that the baby was meant to be spending a lot of time sleeping, so it made sense really.
 
 
After this scan, I finally "graduated" from my FS! I thought I'd be kind of emotional about it or something, but just like the rest of the pregnancy so far, I had no real reaction apart from to be happy and relieved to walk out those doors for what was hopefully the last time, at least for a while... preferably a couple of years! But yeah, apart from fear of it all going wrong, and relief every time I got to see that the baby was still alive, I still had had no emotional response to getting or being pregnant. I think my IVF journey had jaded me to the point where I just couldn't let myself explode with happiness and joy, I was far too cautious. I felt a bit ripped-off really, that I never got to have a happy-tears moment; not when I saw that first convincing BFP, or got awesome HCG results, or saw that little heartbeat. But whatever, that's just the way it had to be with me I guess... and kind of fitting, since I'm not overly emotional anyway!

I hit the all-important 12 week milestone a few days later, but as I mentioned, my NT scan wasn't until 13 weeks, so I still had another week until we knew what kind of risk we were looking at for T21. I met up for a cuppa with a fellow IVF friend, who gave me some belly-pic stickers that she'd forgotten to use during her pregnancy. So despite having already taken this pic that morning:
 


I also took this one in the afternoon, which kicked off my sticker belly pics, which were initially every four weeks, so you could actually see a real difference between them, hehehe.
 
Wow, I still can't get over how skinny I was back then!

Eventually the NT scan rolled around. I was SO nervous; I felt that if we were going to get bad news, it'd be now. I kept preparing myself for the fact we may have to terminate, as Alan and I had decided long ago, when we were still doing IVF, that we would terminate if our baby had a chromosomal abnormality. To finally get this far then have to go through something like that... well, let's just say it's definitely one of the reasons I hadn't let myself get excited about the pregnancy.

The scan went well, but I was nervous over the Nuchal measurements. I knew from previous research that they like it to be below 3mm, and ideally below 2.5mm. Our baby, who was now known as Squiggles, had a measurement of 2.9mm. The sonographer spent a very long time taking measurements, as she said the way the head was positioned (tilted back a bit) could have been skewing the results. But the smallest measurement she got was 2.4mm. Everything else seemed okay, but I sat with Alan very tensely while we waited for her to calculate our risk factor and bring the report back in to us. When she returned, the first thing she said was, "Okay, everything's looking good guys" which made me relax a little. But I was desperate to see that number.... It was 1:927. Which is technically low risk for Down Syndrome, as anything from 1:300 is considered low risk. Still, I was really hoping for that number to be in the thousands, just for peace of mind. Alan and I talked at length on the way home about whether it would be worth doing extra testing, but we decided that in the end, low risk was low risk, so we'd just let it go.

We were given a DVD full of images from our scan, which was really nice.
 
 
That night, I finally got to do what I'd been dreaming of for so very very long, and announce on facebook that we were expecting a baby. I wanted everyone to know how much of a struggle it had been, but didn't want to put up a big sob-story, so after much planning over the previous weeks, this is how I did it:
 
We got a lot of lovely responses, it was very exciting to be able to put it out there finally, after biting my tongue for weeks!

Two days after that was Fathers' Day. I thought I'd get Alan a little present, something that would mean something to him:
 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar was his favourite picture book as a child, so I bought him a copy in the hopes that one day he'd be able to share it with our baby too (I also got him chocolate bars that he'd been craving about a week before that, hehe).

A few days later, I had a call from our Ob. He wanted to know whether we were interested in having extra testing for T21, as our risk factor was a lot higher than he would have expected. He said he was expecting something closer to 1:10,000, which is basically what I'd been hoping for. He acknowledged that an amnio was unnecessary, as they carry a 1:200 risk of miscarriage, so definitely not worth it. He did however offer the Harmony DNA blood test, which is expensive but non-invasive and risk-free. I was a little put on the spot by his questions though, and basically told him what we'd concluded the previous week, that we were still low risk and that was good enough.

But I spent the rest of that day dwelling on it, and by that evening, after discussing it with Alan, we decided to go ahead with it. He told me that even though it was a lot of money, if it meant that I could finally relax and enjoy being pregnant, it was worth it. :)

So the next day I called the Ob's rooms back, and after a bit of faffing around, managed to get them to send me a blood request form to take to the clinic near the city that runs these tests. I went there a few days later, had a brief interview with one of their staff who talked me through my consent form (upon which I also consented for them to reveal the baby's sex to us) and how the test worked, then I waited for an available doctor to do the blood draw. I paid (gulp!) and left, after being told to expect a call with results in about two weeks. The sample had to be sent to the US for the actual testing, which is why it takes a while.

My next appointment with my Ob happened before the results came back, at 15w3d. We don't have any pics from that scan (or any done with him since), but the baby was looking great, and he tried to find out the sex for us, even though we'd find out in a week or less from my Harmony test results. But bub didn't want to play; it had it's "business end" buried down near my cervix, and our Ob really couldn't see much at all. "Look," he said, "that COULD be a package there, but I wouldn't want to put any money on it at all!". So it was to remain a mystery for a few more days.

That was on the Monday. At around 8:30am on the Friday, my phone rang, and I knew straight away that it was my results. I'd already had a strange feeling I was going to get a call that morning, even though I wasn't meant to be expecting results for a few more days. I'd just had my first bite of egg and toast, and my throat went so dry that I couldn't swallow it! I answered and confirmed my details with the same lady who did my pre-test interview. Then she thankfully said straight up, "Well, I've got good news for you!" and went on to explain that our risk factor for T21 was less than 1:10,000!!! I was delighted, and then she asked me if I was ready to find out the sex. Of course I said yes. And she said, "Boy." My first response to that? "Ha! I KNEW it! I've had a gut feeling since day one!" "Always trust your instincts," she laughed in reply. After I hung up, for the first (and only!) time all pregnancy, I cried happy tears. I turned to Rogue, one of my cats, who was sitting on the back of the armchair. "Rogue, I'm going to have a son!" I gasped at her. She stared at me, then went, "Mrow?" I laughed, and texted both Mum and Alan to call me when they could so I could tell them both of the pieces of wonderful news.

I will admit that out of the tears I shed, there was one little one in there that was a farewell to the daughter that I wasn't having. Both Alan and I had a slight preference for a girl, but because I'd been so convinced that this one was a boy from so early on, it wasn't a big deal for me to instantly let go of this preference, and get excited about my little boy.

That afternoon I took my next sticker belly-pic:
 
We went to stay at SeaWorld Resort the next day, mainly to go and see the Australian Outback Spectacular that evening, which was fun. I also wore my bikini for the first and last time all pregnancy, as I was already getting big enough for it to look weird, and my boobs were too big to fit in the top properly anymore! The temp was only in the low to mid 20s, so I only went in the freezing pool for a couple of minutes, but rest assured I kept my t-shirt on! Hehe.

We got home on the Sunday afternoon, after a morning visit to SeaWorld, and it was while I was sitting on my computer that afternoon that I felt an actual, real, distinguishable kick from Squiggles for the first time ever. I waited for it to happen again, and sure enough, 45 minutes later, I felt two more! I think he might have been annoyed by the pants I was wearing, as they were cutting into my lower abdomen a bit.

And from that moment on, I had no more flutters or quickening from my baby boy, only kicks and wriggles that progressively got more frequent and stronger. :) 16 weeks was ridiculously early to be feeling proper kicks, still early to be feeling quickening in fact, but I had found out at one of my scans (probably the NT) that my placenta is at the back of my uterus, which is what made it so easy for me to feel movement so early.

Nothing much happened in the next few weeks worth mentioning, except I got a letter from the place where I did my Harmony test, which had the following very reassuring print-out of our results:

I also started venturing into Baby Bunting and checking out furniture and other random baby things, but didn't allow myself to buy anything much yet. I knew Alan wanted to be involved with the big stuff, and I didn't want to go nuts with the smaller stuff just yet.

I took my next belly shot at 18 weeks:
 
 
Definitely started to "pop" around then! I was so happy to finally look pregnant and not just like I'd eaten too much.

Our morph scan was scheduled for the earliest I was allowed to have it, which was 19w3d. I was a bit nervous, but nowhere near as much as I was for the NT scan. Our sonographer was lovely, and extremely thorough. We told her we'd had the Harmony blood test when she asked whether we'd done anything to follow-up from our thick-ish Nuchal measurement at 13 weeks. She spent a LOT of time on the baby's heart; constantly coming back to it and checking every last thing she could. She said that thicker Nuchal Translucency can sometimes indicate possible heart problems, but said that our baby's heart at this stage looked "absolutely pristine". That was a wonderful relief to hear. She tried to look at his nether regions, even though we already knew the sex, and it was a good thing we did know, as the umbilical cord was blocking everything! She did manage to get one shot that briefly showed his "manhood", but we couldn't really see it.

But the highlight was definitely the eight or so 3D images she captured of his beautiful little face. Here is my favourite one:
 
 
I just couldn't believe how adorable he was. Such a cute baby... huge nose though, lol! Or maybe it's just the angle of the shot. ;) My parents arrived for a short visit (thanks to Dad having to come for work) that afternoon, so when we met up with them later, it was wonderful to be able to show them the closest thing you could get to a photo of their grandson.

My beautiful boy. <3 <3

Later that week I took my 20 week belly shots, which I had another sticker for:
 
 
 
And the following day, thanks to a sale at one store and a very good price-matching service at Baby Bunting, we went and bought/ordered furniture for the nursery. We got a cot, mattress, bassinet and change pad, and ordered a change table and a chest of drawers (which will hopefully arrive sometime in January). It was very exciting for me, but I think Alan was grumpy about spending so much money, especially in one hit. The cot didn't fit in my little car with me in it, so he had to take everything home, and leave me in the laneway at the loading dock to wait for him to come back!

On October 29th, when I was 21w4d, we went on a cruise to New Zealand, leaving from Sydney. I won't write about it, as this isn't the place, except to say that for the most part it was wonderful, and I could quite happily live in New Zealand forever if the opportunity was there! Unfortunately that's incredibly unlikely though, boo. I also had the WORST constipation of this pregnancy while we were on the ship, probably from eating far too much, and not drinking the same amount of water or exercising regularly like I would at home. I chugged so much Movicol it was ridiculous! I tried not to let it get me down too badly, but man was it frustrating, and it didn't resolve itself properly until we'd been home for a good week or two. We also spent a LOT of money on a professional photo shoot, which unfortunately I don't have digital copies of (just a few prints and a DVD slideshow), so instead I'll post a pic of Alan and I on the first "Formal Night" instead, when we went and ate at the rather swanky little steak restaurant which was attached to the main dining area.
 

By the time we got home, I was approaching 24 weeks, and definitely feeling it too:


We started a 5 week course of antenatal classes on Nov 19th, and I wasn't surprised that I was the second-last due date out of the twelve couples, but I was slightly surprised that my belly was one of the biggest! A couple of weeks later I took myself to a pregnancy aqua class at a hydrotherapy place, thinking that it was going to be like gentle aqua-aerobics. Wrong! It was SO intense. The cardio exercises made me feel like I was going to have a heart attack. I definitely got palpitations a few times. And the "core strength" exercises I was useless at; I kept tipping over off my pool noodle, when all the others, including the other three first-timers, didn't seem to be struggling at all. To top it off, I had a terrible foot cramp for the final ten minutes, which lasted another ten minutes after the class finished, plus it took me around 50 minutes to get there in peak-hour traffic, so I decided not to go again. But at least I got to wear my maternity bathers for the first time:
 
 
A couple of days later, I tried just an ordinary aqua aerobics class, and it was SO much better for what I was wanting, which was basically just a replacement for walking, since I'd gotten quite slack with going for walks. I'm pleased to say I've managed to go once a week since then, and as of next week I'm hoping to go twice a week, as I've found an instructor I really like who runs the class on Tues and Thurs. I love how weightless my belly becomes in the water... when I walk up the ramp out of the pool, it feels like sandbags are suddenly weighing me down!

The next day I dragged took Alan back to Baby Bunting where we bought our pram (Strider Compact) on special, and layby-ed the newest model of the Safe n Sound Compaq car seat, which was so new they didn't even have it in store yet, and none of the staff even knew about it! We'd just been informed of it by the rep we spoke to the previous week. So hopefully they get that one in stock pretty soon, at least with enough time for us to fit it before Squigs comes..

The next thing I had to do was my GCT to test for gestational diabetes. Fortunately my Ob had only sent me for the one hour non-fasting test, being low risk, although I've heard of many who have failed it and had to re-do it with the GTT (two hour fasting), so I had my fingers crossed that wouldn't happen to me. The drink that everyone complains about was actually really refreshing and yum, kind of like a limeade flavour, and pleasantly carbonated. The phlebotomist looked after me really well; she had me sitting in the foyer for the hour with my feet up on a chair and a pillow behind my back, and kept coming out to ask if I was feeling okay!
 
 
From what I'd gathered from the ladies in my DIG, no news is good news when it comes to this test usually, so I left hoping that I wouldn't get a call from my Ob anytime in the next week!

A couple of days later I reached 28 weeks, and took another sticker shot:
 
 
I couldn't believe how huge I was getting, so I made a collage of the last four sticker shots to compare:

 
So weird and pretty incredible! Although at our last antenatal class a few days later, I did notice that I no longer had one of the biggest bellies.. it was still pretty big, but about on par with the ladies due in January, lol. I have a very short body though, so I reckon I'm so big because this baby has really got nowhere to go but out!

That weekend, now that we'd sold our big china cabinet, and donated our couch and a bookshelf to charity, Alan set up the cot for me, which was great as it made the spare room finally start to look like a nursery. I'd already placed Squiggles' bookshelf where I wanted it, and put some books and some (freshly washed) plush toys on it, including penguins that we'd bought from the Antarctic Centre in New Zealand. We'd also purchased a second-hand glider chair off a colleague of Alan's for a great price, which I was so pleased with! Here's our lovely cot, which is now being used to store all the clothes and random stuff for the baby until we get our drawers:

 
And a "nursery progress" pic, just for the hell of it:
 
 

I'd already set up the bassinet myself, as it was easy to do and I was too impatient to wait for Alan to do it. ;)

After a suggestion from Alan ages ago, I'd decided to go with a polar theme for Squigs' room. Obviously, being in a rental, plus not wanting to spend heaps of money, we can't do a huge amount to make it all 'pretty', but I thought it might be cool to make some pictures to hang down the bookshelf, and make some little stuffed animals for a cot mobile. I made the pics last week, and ended up spending over $100 in art materials, sigh! But here's the finished product:
 
 
And hung:
 
 
Pretty pleased with how they turned out, and Alan said they were cute, which was a big bonus. :) I've started making the animals for the mobile, so I hope to have them done soon. I bought a second-hand mobile off a lady on one of my forums for just a few dollars, and removed the things that were on it so I can use the base and arm to hang my own creations.

Back to the medical side of things, I had my most recent Ob appt at 28w6d, and found out that my blood test results from my GCT were "outstanding"! He said my glucose was great, my iron was nice and high, and when he took my blood pressure he said that was outstanding too. So at this stage, no signs of gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia, which is a relief. Just hoping it stays that way! The baby looked great on the scan, sitting just below the 50th percentile in size. He's always been just above at previous scans, so hopefully his growth isn't slowing too much.. not stressing about it yet though, I promise. I also had my first Anti-D shot, which I didn't even feel even though it was a thick needle and viscous fluid. :) My next appt is on 9th Jan, then I'll be on fortnightly (and soon after that weekly!) appointments. I can't believe how fast this is going.

The next day I wasn't going to bother with a 29 week pic, but I was wearing a maternity dress I'd bought months ago for the first time, and it made me look so freaking pregnant, I just couldn't resist!
 
This week was Christmas, and I made up for my stupid "I'm dying" sook last year by making my husband a yummy turkey roast for lunch. This was our last Christmas with just the two of us; it's very exciting to think that next year we'll have a little baby to spoil!

And now, to finish off, I'm going to go and take my 30 week sticker pic, even though I really don't think my belly's changed at all since 28 weeks!

Okay, here we are, and yeah, like I predicted no remarkable difference (or even any difference!):
 

Wow, so after all this time, my blog is finally up to date. This epic post took me hours to write, most of the day in fact, as I had to work out all the photos I wanted to include, and all the main points of the pregnancy so far in correct chronological order! If I ever leave it this long between posts again, there is no way I'm going to do another huge update like this, I'll just pick it up from wherever I feel like it! But I'm glad I've written my pregnancy story so far. I'm sure there's a tonne of stuff that I've forgotten to mention or include, but I think most of the important bits are here. If anyone's actually read all of this, well done and thank you. :)

I'm off to make dinner now, and then I think I'll get stuck into the next animal for the cot mobile. I'll post a pic in here once it's done, of course. I've still got so much I want and/or need to buy for the baby, but we'll get there soon I hope!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

5w6d...

Yes, you read that title right. For the time being, until I'm informed otherwise, I am able to refer to the passing of time by how far along my pregnancy is. Yup, pregnancy. The big "P" word.. the one that I was starting to think I'd never be able to use when talking about myself.

Shall I rewind a bit?

I think the last time I posted, I was saying how amazingly pleased and blown away I was with my egg numbers and fert rate. Well, the following day, Day 2 for my embies, I got a call to say that one of the two that I was told had shown "signs of fertilisation" the day before had actually started dividing, so I actually had ten little embies!! Incredible. As it happens, that little one didn't do anything else after Day 2, but whatever. Ten was still fantastic to hear.


I got daily updates on my embabies, because I like to be as informed as I possibly can be. They kept doing fairly well, and in the end I ended up with two beautiful blasties for transfer, two early Day 5 blasties in the freezer, and a third "borderline" Day 6 blasty frozen too.

Two transferred, three frozen. Five blasties from fifteen eggs. I was just so amazingly stoked that I could get anything approaching that kind of result.

But yes, as I've insinuated, it got even better.

 
Alan was away at site on transfer day, unfortunately, so I was flying solo (but he's only been able to attend two out of six of my transfers so far, so not a big deal really). The night before, I took the advice of various people, and went for a big 8km run to get my blood flowing, then indulged in a glass of wine after dinner. I arrived at the clinic the next day, after not hearing anything that morning and desperately hoping that I would get a couple of blasties for transfer. I went in to speak to the embryologist, where she informed me that they'd already frozen two early blasties, and were watching a couple more embryos for the next day. She then handed me a pic of my two beautiful embies for transfer, who from that moment were named Vernon and Petunia.


Petunia is on the top, and Vernon is the fat one down the bottom.

Transfer went very smoothly as always, and was over pretty quickly. I went to acupuncture, then went home and spent as much of the next three days as possible sitting on the couch with my feet up. The next morning I got a call to say I had one more blasty frozen; that it was borderline, but worth keeping. My Day 5 frosties are called Bernard and Manny, and my Day 6 frosty is Roy. :)

At 3dp5dt (8dpo), I decided to do my first HPT to see what was happening with the trigger hcg. Surprisingly, it came up negative... based on previous experience I was expecting at least a ghost line still. Good to know though.

Later that morning, when I was out having breakfast with Alan, I felt a few seconds of really strong, intense cramping; enough to make me stop what I was doing and say "ow". I've had mild cramping during the TWW before, but nothing like that. I did wonder at the time whether it meant anything...

The next morning, 4dp5dt, I started testing "properly", knowing that the trigger was gone and any result I saw was the real deal. As the test first started developing, I could SWEAR that I saw a faint ghost line there, but as time went by it seemed to fade away again. In true me-fashion, I scrutinised the test for the rest of the day, but really couldn't make anything out, and ended up tossing it in the bin.

At 3:30am on 5dp5dt, I got a squinter. So so so faint, but it was actually there, unlike the previous day's maybe-line. Trying not to get excited, I decided to hold my pee for six hours, and try again with SMU at 9:30. Hands shaking, I watched as the pee spread across the test, and I waited for something to appear. I stood there leaning on the vanity, staring as hard as I could. After a few minutes... there it was. A pink line. Very faint, but dark enough to be seen in a photograph.


Immediately I started telling myself that it was just another chemical, that there was no way this had worked. I tested again at 8pm that night, and the line was no darker, so I was convinced it wasn't going to last. Same again at 6dp5dt, the line hadn't changed that much at all.

Thus began my turbulent relationship with the dreaded pee sticks over the next few days. At 7dp5dt, I felt a little better when I saw this:


But at 8dp5dt, I was really concerned that the line was no darker than the day before, plus my lack of "boob symptoms" had me worried that my progesterone was too low. So I went to my GP for another unrelated issue, but while I was there asked her for bloodwork to check my levels. I got a call late that afternoon, with a beta of 77 for hcg, which is a pretty good number for that day, and a p4 of 41, which is low for an IVF cycle, but not too low. So I was definitely pregnant, but the stress didn't stop. Every day I was analysing the sticks, every day I was thinking about my official clinic beta on Monday, and imagining that my levels hadn't doubled quickly enough for a viable pregnancy.

Finally the dreaded day rolled around. I drove to my usual pathology collection centre after dropping Alan at work, and there was a sign on the door saying that it had closed down on 21st June. I was quite put out, and a little sad, as I liked the phlebotomist who worked there a lot, and was excited to tell her the news that I wasn't coming in for yet another pointless BT this time. There was an address for the next closest centre, so I took myself there, hoping that maybe it was a good omen; that I had a brand new collection centre that would produce good news rather than bad.

The clinic rang at 11:30 with my result. "How are you going?" the FN asked me. "It depends what number you have there in front of you!" I replied.

539. 5.. 3.. 9.

I was blown away. Here I was desperately hoping it'd be over 200 or preferably around 300, and it was over 500! I used an online beta hcg calculator to work out that it was a doubling time of 33 hours from my test four days earlier. They like it to double in 48 hours, so I was a long way ahead.

But of course, me being me, I still stressed for the next two days, waiting for my follow-up beta. Lines still not behaving every day, some were lighter, some were darker... I know now that it means nothing, so if I ever fall pregnant again I won't be so reliant upon my HPT line progression looking like all those perfect examples I've seen so many times on forums and google images!

For my final beta, I had my follow-up with FS at 2:45 that afternoon, but I was sure they'd call with my result before then. So I waited. And waited. And waited.... I started getting even more nervous. Was it such bad news that they didn't want to call me? Were they leaving the blow to be dealt by FS in person that afternoon?? 2:15 rolled around, and I still hadn't heard anything, even though the clinic are meant to have results by 1pm at the latest. So I headed off to our appt, meeting Alan in the waiting room, and we sat together nervously. He'd asked the receptionist to check to see if our results were in yet, and after I arrived she came out and said, "Not yet". But she looked very serious, so I was wondering if that meant anything.

We got called in, and FS said to Alan, "So, the bride's up the duff!"
"Am I?" I asked semi-incredulously.
"Isn't that what I saw the other day? Five hundred and something?" he asked.
"Yeah, but I haven't got my number for today yet!"

He got on the phone (speakerphone!) with the pathology results hotline, and sweet-talked her into giving us the number then and there.

1290!!!! I sagged in relief, and FS said, "See, nothing to worry about!"

I worked out later that it was a 38 hour doubling time from the last test, so still going well.

The rest of the appointment was fairly brief, and was spent talking about early pregnancy stuff. That in itself was quite surreal! He confirmed my EDD was 7th March 2014, but I already knew that. I was able to inform him that I'd already booked in with an obstetrician that day (awfully prematurely, but I didn't want to miss out on someone with a great reputation). FS was in high spirits.. he was obviously very happy that we'd finally got a positive result, and was joking around and being silly. He apologised to Alan for it taking so long, lol.

We were going to book in our 7 week scan, but I told Glenn I would be away in Perth for ten days, so it would have to be after that, at 7w3d at the earliest. So he offered us an additional early scan the day before we went away, at 5w5d.

That morning of my final beta, I did my last HPT. The line was beautifully dark, which hadn't reassured me much that morning, but that evening I realised what a fabulous sight it was. Here's all my pee-sticks, FMU on the left and SMU on the right.


The following week was torture. I had no more blood tests to make sure everything was still going okay, and I had absolutely NO early pregnancy symptoms either. And it didn't matter how many times I read that it was normal to not feel any different until 6 weeks or more, I still freaked out. I joined a couple of due-in-groups online for March, and so many women were already complaining about throwing up or feeling nauseous or things tasting/smelling bad, etc. etc.... I couldn't help but wonder what was wrong with me!

Yesterday was FINALLY scan day. FS had told us three times at our previous appt that we may not see a foetal heartbeat, and he mentioned it yet again, just before I started stripping off my lower half for another date with dildo-cam.

Straight away we saw the gestational sac. Only one.. it looks like we're not having twins, which is mostly a relief! Inside the sac I could see the yolk sac immediately, which was a good sign. FS probed around to see if he could make out a foetal pole... and then we saw it. A tiny, white, pulsating little flash. A heartbeat!! It was extremely slow, possibly even slower than my own, but FS said it looked like it had only just kicked off, so if that was the case, that would explain it. I didn't get emotional like I thought I would, I just kind of said, "wow!" in a hushed voice, and found it very interesting! The scan was over quite quickly, but he printed out some images for us. Here's a picture of our blob Vertunion (combination of Vernon and Petunia). The arrow is pointing to the foetal pole with it's little heartbeat.


I am booked in for another scan the day after I get back from Perth, which will be 7w3d. I am hoping with every fibre of my being that that day we will see Vertunion's little heart beating much faster, and the foetus measuring up perfectly. But until then, I have another very anxious wait ahead... good thing I have this little trip to distract me somewhat!

Come on, little one, keep growing well, and get that heart beating strong and fast.....

Friday, 14 June 2013

Hope in my heart...

I wasn't planning on doing any blog posts for my fifth stim cycle until I got the final result... I liked the way I condensed my FET cycle down into one single post, and thought I'd probably end up doing the same thing for this one.

HOWEVER....

I have had the most amazing news the last two days. I went for my first scan one week and one day ago, and we counted about 12 follicles. Funnily enough they were all on the right, only one of them was on the left! Weird. Anyway, I was re-scanned three days later on the Monday public holiday, hoping that I would be triggering that night and having EPU two days after that. But the FN who did my scan said that I only had one follicle that would be ready by then, the rest were "Friday Follicles". She took her time measuring them and writing down all the numbers, and I actually had fifteen on the right and one on the left, so 16 in total! She guesstimated that I would get "12 mature eggs". Sounded good to me, but obviously my expectations were not quite that high. I was disappointed that I had to wait til Friday for EPU, but obviously I wanted to give the little guys the best chance I could.

I triggered on Wednesday night, after freaking out all day that I had already ovulated, as the strong ovary pain I'd had first thing in the morning had completely gone. I was so stressed that they would knock me out on Friday, then probe me with the ultrasound, only to find a bunch of ruptured follicles and no eggs!

Friday finally rolled around. I was so excited about the sedation and sandwiches... I knew there was a chance this could be my last egg collection, for better or worse, so I was determined to "enjoy" every moment of the process. The anaesthetist put my cannula in, then hooked me up to the good stuff, saying, "Here you go, this'll make you feel like you've had a couple of champagnes." I felt my head go wonderfully fuzzy, and said to him, "Mmm, I love this part!". He told me not to say that cause I sounded like a junkie! I am though, I'm totally a sedation-junkie. ;)

The next thing I knew, I must have been stirring, cause a nurse was saying to me, "Are you okay? Just having a little snooze?" I can't even remember if I responded or not. I spent the next half hour or so gradually waking up, but feeling so pleasantly sleepy. I will NEVER get tired of the feelings before and after light sedation! Anyway, once I was alert, I started freaking out again, cause I had NO pain whatsoever, not even the slightest bit of cramping, and I was worried that my paranoid suspicions had come true and I had not even had the procedure cause all my eggs were gone. It wasn't until after I'd had my sandwiches and lemonade and was allowed to get dressed that I stood up and saw the blood stains on the sheets... whew!! Never been more relieved to see my own blood, hehe.

Got wheel-chaired back to the clinic after my tea and biccies, as is their policy, and I got the receptionist to call Alan to get him to come and meet me. I had to wait a while before a nurse was available to see me, which was good, because Alan arrived just before we got called in, so he was able to hear the news with me. The FN who came to talk to us was carrying a bag of Crinone and pessaries, so I knew for sure then that I had gotten at least one egg, lol.

But I never expected fifteen!!!! Yes, fifteen eggs! Unbelieveable. My first reaction was to bury my face in my hands. I told the FN how stressed I had been since Wednesday, and she understood perfectly. She told me to look out for OHSS over the next few days, as I had gotten a pretty decent number (for once!). I did get quite bloated and had a bit of pain last night, but I was much better this morning, and my bloating has completely gone down... well, to my "normal" level of bloat anyway.

I tried so hard not to get nervous this morning, and I did okay. I knew that logically I SHOULD get more than two fertilise this time, just based on prior fert rates, but of course I had no idea how many of my eggs would be mature. The embryologist took a lot longer than normal to call; we went to the shopping centre for breakfast and shopping like usual, and I had my phone in my hand or on the table next to me the whole time. It FINALLY rang in the middle of JB Hifi... I was worried that with the loud music and such I wouldn't be able to hear, so I nearly ran out of the store to take the call, but only got as far as the middle of the CD section when I thought, "screw it" and just answered anyway! I could hear fine though.

So, she told me that they had been able to ICSI all fifteen of my eggs, which in itself almost made me explode with thrill-ed-ness!! But then... then.... she told me that nine had fertilised! NINE! :o

I think I shocked her with my overexcited reaction, lol. My hands were shaking and I had the biggest grin on my face. As soon as I hung up I walked back to DH, and threw my arms around him. I still can't believe it. Nine little zygotes in the incubator. <3 I have NO idea whether they'll grow any better than my last two stim cycles, but at this early stage I don't care. I will just take it one day at a time. I've asked the lab to call me every day, as I really prefer to keep tabs on everything as much as possible.

Hopefully I'll end up with two blasties to transfer on Wednesday. I am begging the universe just this much. If that happens, then I know that maybe, just maybe, I might not need an egg donor just yet after all....

I don't know when I'll post again, it really depends on how well my embies do or what kind of mood I'm in. But I just had to post today, as I've had such an uplifting last couple of days... even if this cycle goes to shit, I can perhaps read this post again and remember what it felt like to have hope once more. :)

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Make-or-break (aka ICSI #5) - CD 1

I started spotting late yesterday afternoon, after POAS (just a cheapie) at lunchtime; a sure-fire way to get AF started! Can't believe it worked. Then again, it could have also been my acupuncture appointment yesterday morning... she did use the delightful heat lamp on my belly (mmm, my best friend!), which may have done something too.

So anyway, here I am, at the base of this gigantic mountain that I'm about to start climbing... I can see the peak in the far distance, as I squint into the sun. About a 14-day trek, I estimate, give or take. Once I reach the top, I don't know what will happen. I could be setting up camp for nine months, which would be ideal, but there is also a very real chance that I will trip and stumble, and plummet down the horrifyingly sheer precipice on the other side. It's happened five times now, but I've kept climbing the same mountain over and over again, hoping that for once I will keep my balance. However, if I'm to fall yet again, this time I will let the river far below carry me along a different path to a brand new mountain, which will hopefully not be as steep or high, and won't have any trip hazards at the top. I'll also have another lady climbing alongside me, so her presence will steady me, and if I start to teeter, she can grab my wrist and drag me to safety.

But for now, I'll secure my spiked boots (Gonal-F), equip myself with climbing picks (Saizen and Orgalutran), tighten my harness (the arms of my amazing husband), and be on my way... wish me luck.

 

Friday, 3 May 2013

My FET Story

It's been so long since I've written a blog entry, and I've done a whole FET cycle in that time. I didn't feel like writing at all during the process, for various reasons. But I can't just ignore it, so I'm going to tell the whole story in one hit.

As you're well aware, if you've read my previous entries, I had very little faith in my frozen embryo, so I went into this recent cycle with zero expectations, convincing myself that I wasn't even going to have a transfer and that the whole thing would be a bust. I started taking Progynova tablets as per the FET HRT cycle treatment plan, then went for my first scan on CD 12 to see what my lining was doing. FS and I were disappointed to see that it was only 6.6mm. He told me to increase my dose of Progynova by one extra tablet a day (so I was on 4 a day now), and to come back in three days for another scan. Did so, and surprise surprise, my lining was still 6.6mm!! In fact, the first two measurements he took were 5.2mm and 5.7mm, but when he zoomed in closer he managed to get 6.6mm again. I couldn't believe that the Progynova was having ZERO effect! He told me to increase AGAIN to 6 tablets a day, and instead of swallowing them, to dissolve them under my tongue so that they absorbed directly into my bloodstream instead of digestively. He told me that the liver and everything can sometimes kick in when you swallow tablets and eliminates the hormone instead of letting your body absorb it..... I really really hope that this isn't what is happening with my DHEA!

Anyway, my lining had the magic "triple stripe" which FS said you need to be able to fall pg, and is much more important than lining thickness, so he said my transfer would still go ahead, but we'll wait another three days to see what my lining had done. So, back for another probing with the dildo-cam three days later, and wow! My lining measurement had shot up to 7.9mm! They like it to be at least 8 for transfer, so I was on track and my emby thaw and transfer was scheduled for four days later, and I was told to go home and take my first Crinone to simulate ovulation day as the previous day.

The next few days was spent wondering whether it was even worth "wasting" all this Crinone when I knew there was a chance that my one little frostie Sheldrick wouldn't survive thawing. On the day of transfer, I was so freaking nervous. I spent the morning working on my wedding scrapbook, but I had my phone right next to me and kept eyeing it with trepidation. I was so sure it was going to ring any second with bad news. Meanwhile I had no idea whether they'd bother calling me if it was good news, so when "Blocked" popped up on my screen at around 11am, along with the horrible generic iPhone ringtone I use, I nearly jumped out of my skin... and I think I actually said, "Oh fuck" out loud as I reached for the phone, as I was sure this was bad news. When I answered, I barely took in what she was saying, but I heard the words "good news" and "survived", and I nearly collapsed on the floor. I thanked the embryologist profusely, and confessed to her that my heart had jumped into my throat when the phone rang!

Hanging up, I felt lighter than I have in a long time. I was so indescribably happy. As per other cycles when I've found out on transfer day that I actually have something to transfer, I swore that I didn't give a crap whether it was successful or not, I was just so very content at the prospect of being PUPO for the next two weeks. But this time was different... I could feel a new sort of hope building, a level of hope I hadn't experienced since I went in for my very first EPU.

When I arrived at the clinic (flying solo this time, as Alan had a meeting at work he couldn't miss), the embryologist took me aside and showed me a pic of Sheldrick from just after 10am that morning. I was disappointed to see that s/he didn't look much different to my last two morulas, but s/he was meant to be a blasty! She informed me, though, that when the pic was taken s/he was in a "collapsed" state, but was starting to refill with fluid again, which is what indicated that s/he was doing what s/he was meant to be doing. That was very good to hear. She then told me she'd give me an update on what Sheldrick was up to after she loaded him/her into the cannula for transfer.

Eventually I got called in, and went through all the same old crap to prepare for transfer. This was my fifth one; I'm old hat at it now. When the embryologist came in, she informed me that Sheldrick was now fully expanded. I was thrilled. That little seed of hope inside me began to grow...

The transfer went really well, FS commented that the emby was in a "perfect position", and as he left he even commented to the nurse, "Good transfer!". Everything just felt so happy and positive... my little hope-seedling was now lovingly planted in A-grade mulch, and was being watered and cared for tenderly.

I felt SO great for the next two days. Just completely different. I really thought, for various reasons, that this could truly be the one. Then at 3dp5dt, I started POAS. I was a little disappointed when nothing showed the first couple of days, and of course began my obsessive googling to see when others had gotten their BFPs on FRERs and if their pregnancies had been successful, etc. etc. I do this every cycle, and was reading all the same old forum threads that I read every cycle! It's so silly, but it's my method of coping with building disappointment. I was feeling different feelings than previous cycles though.... pains in my ovaries, lower abdominal "tightness", cramps that were unlike anything I've felt before. But when I got to 6dp5dt and was still getting BFNs, that's when everything came crashing down around me. I was beyond devastated. I have never been so crushed by a BFN before in my life. I was anrgy. I was depressed. I was even crying a lot, something that a BFN has never caused me to do. I couldn't believe that after feeling so different this time, so positive and so happy, that someone had come along with a weeding fork, gouged up my metaphorical hope by the roots, bent it and crushed it, and threw it in the compost heap.

After 7dp5dt I stopped POAS and wallowed in self-pity for a couple of days. But for the first time ever, AF didn't arrive. That was unheard of; I always have spotting before my blood test, no matter what. I started wondering if I could be one of those weirdo people who get negative FRERs but positive betas. Of course I started googling those sort of stories too... why I insist on doing this to myself I don't know! I was still feeling unusual in my abdomen. I resolved that if I hadn't started spotting two days before my BT, I would take one last FRER just to "make sure". At 10dp5dt I POAS in the afternoon, and stood in the bathroom scrutinising it at all angles as usual. But the difference this time was that there was... something there. I can't even call it a line. A "figment of my imagination" would be a more accurate description. I took a photo of it on my phone, and photoshopped it to try and bring it out more. There it was. A line. So so so soooooo faint, even after photoshopping, but there.

Now, I wasn't excited in the least, because I knew that it was way too late to be getting even a faint line you could see at arms' length, let alone something this non-existent. I was also aware that FRERs have recently had a spate of people getting "false positives", so I knew that it could just be a faulty test. I'd only bought one though, and knew it really wasn't worth buying another when I knew my beta would tell all in two days anyway.

When I went for my BT, I still had no spotting at all, so I joked to my usual phlebotomist that instead of being 100% sure of my result this time, for the first time ever I was only 99% sure. Then I went home, glad that I had my BIL and PIL visiting and hence distracting me. When the call from the clinic came through around midday, I suddenly knew they had interesting news for me, because my "negative" calls had come in the mid-afternoon. Sure enough, for the first time in my life, I had a nurse tell me that my BT was positive. But an "extremely low" positive, of course. My HCG was 6. Anything 5 and below is not pregnant, at least at most clinics. So I was barely pregnant. I couldn't even truly use the "P" word, that's how low my level was. But it was there. That little single-digit number proved that my ghost-line two days prior was the real thing, that the "different" feelings I'd been getting had been the real thing. It was a relief, to be honest. I was happy. A chemical pregnancy was better than none at all.

The nurse asked me whether I'd had any cramping or spotting, and when I replied in the negative, she instructed me to stay on Crinone just in case. My follow-up with my FS was booked for two days later, so she told me to check with him whether I should go for my second beta or not. At the appointment, FS kind of brought me back to earth a bit. He was still "shitty" (his word) that I wasn't pregnant, and this unconvincing chemical wasn't as much of a consolation for him as it initially was for me. I did start wishing that my HCG had been a little higher, like at least 40 or something. 6 was pretty fucking pitiful, and I knew that it had probably never been much higher than that, because the line on the FRER would have been more obvious than it was. Not as inspiring a result as it had been two days earlier. He told me to head off for my second beta that morning anyway, because "we have to know what's happening" regardless. We then got ushered in to see a nurse to discuss our next cycle, and we ended up reserving a straw of donor sperm too. We went with the same donor that made Sheldrick, and the other emby that had given me a possible early chemical, Ichabod, in my 3rd stim cycle. I figured that that donor had given us our two "best" results, so we might as well stick with him. The FN told us that there were only three straws of him left, and did we want to reserve all three for future use. But we weren't prepared to fork out $1650 on the spot like that (we weren't even really prepared for the $550!), so we said no. At this stage, we could care less if future children are created with a different donor. They'll still be our kids, so so what? We just want one child for now, one would be amazing and incredible and mind-blowing. I can't even think about siblings, that is so frigging presumptuous right now..

Anyway, that afternoon my beta came back at 3. So it was with great relief that I stopped taking Crinone, and started back on my DHEA and Testogel. AF arrived a couple of days later, and I honestly never once thought that I was shedding poor little Sheldrick, my little fighter who couldn't quite do it, along with the lining that had taken so many Progynova tablets and a fair bit of persistence to achieve. Nope. I was glad it was over.

I still feel bitter, and angry, and lost, and hopeless. But I'm starting again. Every cycle I do is one step closer to success or giving up. Giving up has it's appeal, I must say...

But I'm not there yet. Nowhere near.

Friday, 22 March 2013

FET commenced

Just a short update today to keep my (imaginary?) readers in the loop. I've been taking the DHEA and TestoGel for one month now, and haven't noticed any side effects, good or bad. I was reading a forum thread recently where several women were enthusing over how fantastic they felt taking DHEA, but I certainly haven't noticed any changes. I hope there's a different story going on in my ovaries.

AF arrived yesterday, almost a week late after I ovulated a week late (meaning my endo biopsy had to be pushed back three days... good thing I had a hunch and took that OPK!). I also only had a 12 day luteal phase again, just like in my last IVF cycle, which isn't very good, so I hope this isn't going to be a permanent thing from now on. Anyway, two days ago, FS finally called with my biopsy results, and I was extremely happy to hear that my NK cells are normal, so at least it seems like my uterus is capable of accepting an embryo, even if my eggs are incapable of making one. Very relieved to know that I won't need to go on Prednisone just to be able to fall pregnant! It was nice to be able to tear up the 'script that FS gave me at my biopsy appointment.

So I've now started my FET cycle, which means I have to take Progynova tablets every day, increasing the dose every four days, and then add in Crinone and/or progesterone pessaries after my (hypothetical) transfer on approximately Day 18 of my cycle. My scan to check how far from ovulation I am is on Day 12, which is 2nd April, then my transfer will be scheduled based on the size of my leading follicle. Fingers crossed that I have one!

My biggest concern, as I've said before, is wondering whether I will have a transfer at all. I hope I do... I'd really love to have a valid reason to POAS on our 1st wedding anniversary, even if it ends up being a BFN, because at least then I can have a glass of fancy sparkling when we go out for dinner that night. ;)