Tuesday, 27 June 2017

harvest time!

Monday this week was egg harvest time for me. They've pulled out 12 good ones, and I got the news today that they have created 8 little embryos. We will just have to see how these little embys grow now. While the numbers sound good so far, we are cautiously not getting too excited about it since last round we got 9 embryos at this same stage, but by day 5 there was only the one good one, and another one that was barely passable.
Well, all we can do is hope!
Do your best little guys! grow well!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

IVF and the warping of time

I am up to my 5th time doing this IVF business... And yet, somehow, my head doesn't quite get used to the strange warping of time while I am in an IVF cycle. 
I find that life gets divided into "before cycle", "in cycle", "after cycle"... Like the other day, I called up dad because I felt as though it had been SOOOOO long since I had spoken to him. Then I realised it was only about 2 weeks,.. less actually? I couldn't even work it out. I thought about all that had happened since then. Not much really. Just me going to work, and giving myself needles. I really didn't have anything newsworthy. So why did it seem like a lifetime ago? 
... Before cycle.

A coping strategy for me is to try to stay somewhat straightforward about day-to-day life while on a cycle, to just go through the usual motions of life. I learned this after the rollercoaster of cycle 1, that it might be better for me to remain in a state of emotional equanimity, just focus on getting through while I'm getting through, and wait till the end to rejoice or fall apart. 

And on that note... when the outcome is clear, I just let myself feel what I feel. There's nothing more to do. Let the feelings come and flow through.  Because I know that eventually I will bounce back. I am like that, resilient. I am grateful for that.

So I think that I have learned to stay in balance, yet, I cannot help but get a warped sense of time that disorients me.  Perhaps it is because IVF is itself a way of playing with time. Extracting all these eggs that would usually take a year  or longer to come out, but doing it in one month.  Or maybe it is because I am injecting myself day by day. It could be as simple as there being so much talk about timing and dates of procedures. I am starting to wonder if it is because I have introduced a competition with time... trying to beat the proverbial biological clock. This disorientation is time's way of fighting back. 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

just moving through round 5

Day 11 today of my 5th round of IVF.

It seems outrageous, since so much of my headspace is distracted by IVF musings of late, but I totally forgot to give myself the morning FSH injection yesterday. Ooops! mad dash home during my lunch hour, since I finished work quite late yesterday. On to the Orgalutran from last night too. I've always found that one a bit ouch. Has anyone else out there forgotten?

I was so appreciative to see people's comments on my post about the stories that are out there. It was somehow comforting and uniting to know that there are so many people who have been and are right now are going down their own path with facing infertility.  I actually have plenty of friends who have had some infertility issues and needed some treatment to help... I was even going through IVF at the same time as one of my good friends. She's now pregnant and it feels as though we are veering down different forks in the road. She can look forward to her baby. I feel like now I am facing the possibility that IVF with my own eggs might not work, and have to look at other options like donor eggs, adoption, or childlessness.. In fact, except for one friend, they have all gone on to have children at this point. And I think it has been going on a lot longer for me than it did for my friends. Not that it's a competition whatsoever. But I suppose I had been feeling that I was alone somewhat. I know of course, I am not. Many are going down this road.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

the stories that are out there

It seems to me that the happy-ending story that is so often "out there" about infertility is this: "Here is a couple who struggled and struggled to have kids, and then, finally, they had a baby. The end"...

I think something about this story feels like a lack of honouring of the losses felt along the way for infertile couples. I know life goes on, and I know it does no one any good at all to get stuck in grief or pain. But surely there is some kind of transition for people to adjust from infertility to parenthood? Maybe there is a certain loss that is always felt? Transitioning to parenthood seems like it would be a hard process following infertility battles, and different somehow from a "normal fertility" transition to parenthood which I am sure would be hard enough (and I think is spoken about a lot). Something about the "...and then they had a baby" part of the story seems a bit dismissive about the infertility dramas, or gives a message of- if you try hard enough and long enough, you'll get there, and then you can move on to happy endings.

Increasingly, I have found myself asking of the infertility story... but what if they don't have the kid? What if they try really, seriously hard, and just... can't? How does that scenario pan out to become a happy ending?

Society, (and even the internet!), offers far fewer answers to this question.

One answer to childlessness that I feel is "out there" is this... ok, no kids? well then, you have to be amazing. You have to shine in your career. You have to do something super humanitarian. Or maybe travel everywhere and have a lavish lifestyle. The pressure's on! Stand out! I wonder if this feeling of pressure to be outstanding stems from another strange perception out there that childless people are selfish... I don't understand the selfish argument. Well, for one, what if the childlessness is forced upon you by infertility... the outcome has nothing to do with the self... and, if childlessness is by choice, surely there is not a single thing selfish about that? (To be honest, the more I sink money in to infertility treatment the more I start to think, man, this quest to having kids is kind of a selfish endeavour, but that's another story!) The case could just as easily be made that childlessness is altruistic. My guess would be that childless people would end up working more, on average, than parents, and therefore end up paying more in taxes ... taxes which prop up the education and healthcare of other people's kids by the way!. Not having children, they probably have smaller houses to live in, use up less resources and therefore pollute less. If the decision to not have children is due to some sort of insight into their personality being unsuitable for parenting, then, that decision is amazingly unselfish.

But... I digress...

The thing I find annoying is that the happy-ending story you hardly ever hear of is... "this couple struggled and struggled for years with infertility, and sadly, they realised they were never able to have children. It was hard, but they managed to adjust, and went on to lead a fulfilling life. The end"

This story needs to be out there more!

The lack of this story gives us struggling with infertility far less direction, and less hope. Because instead we put all our hopes into the possibility of a baby, and it becomes such a fixation.

I think we have to remember our lives too, and remember that there are many ways to live out our days. Finding meaning in our short lives, and paving our own path is not so easy. In fact, sometimes I wonder if part of the reason that we are often so hell-bent on child bearing that it seems like a ready-made-life-meaning-making answer.

Since there is not really a clear social narrative about childlessness, there are things I am really very unsure of if that is where I am heading. The uncertainty factor makes it seem a scary option. Like... do I have to restructure my life plans?  Is there more expected of me? How do I get my need to nurture met? What if I can't cope doing my job any more, or I no longer appear to have legitimacy there (because I work with parents and children every day)... what's old age like when you have no kids? Do you use your support networks in a different way? I so, how? Is there a bigger search for meaning that needs to happen when you can't have kids? If so, how do people do that, how does it work out for them?

I still do hope, very much, to have a child, although I know that I can be ok if I don't have children in the end. I believe my own story can have a "happy ending", which ever way it heads... just as long as I consider what I want life to mean for me... a given part of the story, which needs to be respected and which I am sure is true for all of us, is that the story will have pain along the way.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

it's ok

Today I'm ok.
My partner and I are in this together.
I have friends who understand.
I have opened up to the right people.
I have a dog who looks at me with love.
I have two cats that need a lot of time in laps.
...and yoga has always got my back.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

the IVF roller coaster

(warning - some explicit language)

Round 1 of IVF. It started in 2016. It went like this.
I was excited!
I was actually really excited.
I love my fertility specialist! He is so lovely and caring and he listens!
Each day I felt like I was injecting with intent. Injecting with a cause.
My eggs were growing!
I had 17 follicles, and they were looking good.
Felt like a super star.
I was getting almost manic.
I had another friend who had just fallen pregnant using IVF. She fell pregnant round 1. I assumed it'd go the same way for me.
I had more eggs than she had! YES. Winning. I have lower doses of the medicines and still more eggs. YES. Winning. I have nice sized follicles. YES, winning.
Lalalala... Everything is all going so well! It's all going to be good!
Surgery day to take the eggs out.
Loved that sedation. BOOM. Lalalalala!!!Loved that pain relief. Yeeeeah.
Even loved the stupid sandwiches in hospital, I was starving. (I still fucking love those sandwiches)
YEs let's GO! let's DO THIS!
I got looked after by my lovely partner. I got so much sleep and felt so goooood! All this work, all this caring from the team. Ah. I have a GOOOOOD feeling about this.
And then I called by the lab the next day.
And I was told.
(That may not have been the exact words used).
That's all we made.
and then I called every day to make sure it was growing.
And it didn't grow so well.
Well, it grew ok.
Enough to transfer at day 5. But it was not even a blastocyst.
All that excitement. All those needles. All those EGGS. For one little "poor quality" emby.
(and by the way- don't talk about my embryo like that! )
Then came the pessaries.
 I really did not think that those pessaries were that awesome.
Transfer day.
The scientists have long faces. It's a poor quality morula.
whatever people, put that thing in there, I have been drinking water like you told me to and I desperately need to pee.
My legs are splayed apart for the fertility specialist, the embryologist, two random nurses and my loving partner to see.
FUCK I need to pee so bad
And it is FREEZING in that room.
In goes my morula.
My partner thought it was awesome. Miracle of life and all that.
I did not think it was that awesome. I felt underwhelmed.
(The PEE I did afterwards. now THAT was awesome.)
still on the Pessaries, twice a day. ugh.
But are my boobs getting swollen? I think my boobs are swollen.
I feel kind of pregnant!
(I have no idea what that feels like)
YES YES YES... They said that emby was not good but I might be pregnant.
I'm sure I FEEEL pregnant.
Is that implantation spotting? that's a thing.
google: implantation spotting.
bleeding more heavily.
The continuation of pessaries until my 2 week wait blood test, even though I totally had my period was also not awesome.
Fuck. Period.
fuck can this whole process just be over now?
I'm not pregnant. I know I'm not
It didn't work.
It was supposed to work
... Just wait till the blood test. Keep taking the pessaries till the blood test. They said "no matter what"
Why do they say that? why do I keep having to use pessaries even if I get my period?
man I hate my fertility specialist, how could he do this to me?
seriously can't they just put me out of my misery?
hm... Well maybe they say it because even if you bleed you could be pregnant? Maybe? Could you bleed this much and still be pregnant?
check google.
Google: how much can you bleed and still be pregnant?
Hm. some people bleed.
maybe. maybe that's me.
Okay. There's still a chance!!
Is there a chance? surely not....??
ok ok ok... stay positive till the blood test.
Blood test.
It didn't work.
I knew it didn't work.
This sucks.
Nothing frozen at all.
I hate my specialist! what the fuck? What went wrong?
A whole other round ahead.
I'm Losing. Seriously losing.

...NOW I think I know what people mean about the "IVF roller coaster".

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

it's the eggs... they're not organic!

This is my favourite piece of unsolicited advice so far!

I was in the midst of a two week wait one day a few months back, and well, I totally had my period. I had a very strong urge to rebel against my infertility. But then, I'm encouraged to persist, sticking those stupid pessaries up my endings until the official pregnancy test because ... you never know... I decided that, given the rebellious mood, I needed a couple of gin and tonics this particular evening, but then got an attack of the guilts. What if I actually AM pregnant? I probably shouldn't drink. I have spent all this money, gone to all this effort. How stupid would it be to have a couple of drinks?

So here was my solution. I went down to the local shops and bought a pregnancy test. I'm pretty sure I was looking like hell, there were probably tears galore throughout that day, and I recall just wanting to get in and out of the shop unseen.  I had picked up a couple of groceries... including the pregnancy test, and went to the self-serve checkout because I couldn't even be bothered to face a real person at the check out....

And do you know what happened? Some random lady at the self serve area decided to comment on the fact that I was buying a pregnancy test. This seriously happened. She came up and said "OH love, are you hoping to get pregnant?" and I have no idea why I talked to this person I was so taken aback with the inappropriateness of her approach, I said "Um...  yes.... but I'm quite sure I'm not". and like I said, I don't even know why I was talking to this person, but somehow I ended up saying "yes, we've been trying very hard, for a very long time". The lady persisted. And honestly, she was nice enough... but I was so grateful when she finally walked off and I could return to my miserable lack of fertility... only she came back a few minutes later as an afterthought to provide some sage advice, "You know love, I had troubles falling pregnant too, and you know what did it for me? I switched to organic eggs. It's a bit dearer, but you should think about it".

Oh right. That should solve my problems. Thanks lady!

Oh and it brings this to mind---  If any of you have not seen the Catherine Tate show's "Egg race" skit,  follow the link and check it out.

Monday, 12 June 2017

no need to panic

The last time I visited my fertility clinic I panicked. I was just sitting there getting a blood test, I looked at the blood coming out of my arm, then I looked at the nurse, and then I said I felt faint, and BOOM... a kind of negative epiphany just hit me right there. That I'm overwhelmed. That I don't like what is happening.

Until that point I was somehow doing ok with it. But the last visit to my specialist, just days before that blood test, was not particularly positive. He basically said that he doesn't really know what is going on. He says on the one hand, what's happening could just be random variability, and maybe we've just been unlucky. But in that visit, he seemed to think that something's up with my eggs, that they are a bit resistant to forming life, even though they score great on the AMH. Until that point I'd had in my head that there was something suboptimal about the sperm, again, they do great on the general tests but a more ingrained analysis has shown slightly higher than normal rate of fragmentation. But I was never convinced that this was a big issue, because it was only ever so slightly out of the normal range. But in MY head, I thought, if we ended up having to go the donor route, it'd probably be with sperm. But at that last visit, he started speaking about donor eggs. I'm pretty sure I just stared at him blankly and remained full composure. I remember him saying - how do you feel about that? I just said, well... we're not ready for that now. That news took a while to kick in. I mulled away on it. And then it suddenly hit in the middle of a blood test. That this is really not good news.

Well... I'm happy to say, no panics today! I visited again for my first check up of my current IVF round. Had a blood test too, same nurse. No panic. I'm good to go. Since that dreaded blood test day, I've had a laparoscopy, dye studies, and D & C to check out whether I have endometriosis. I got the ALL clear. Everyone's talking about how people have increased fertility after this procedure, so I decided, I will take the opportunity of possibly enhanced fertility, and try again with my own eggs.

But this might be the last round I try using my own eggs... maybe, maybe not...  I'll see how I go.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

it's invisible

I met up with a group of friends on the weekend, an old group I haven’t seen for ages, who do not know about my fertility struggles. They’ve all reproduced, in fact, the air was thick with fecundity, and children were running about everywhere mostly at knee height.  It was a situation that made it obvious... we’re missing something… fertility, a child. Someone, in a harmless enough way, said something about babies and sleep deprivation, then a throwaway remark to us “… and that’s why these guys don’t have kids”…  Oh yes, that's funny. True, sleeping is quite wonderful and yes we get plenty of it. I chose to smile and laugh. I didn’t show the grief, because the grief is invisible anyway... just like my child... and the grief may be unnecessary because I don’t even know if I am supposed to be grieving, because maybe our missing child will miraculously show up one day.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

The start

This isn't really the start.

I'm not sure where the start point is.
Maybe it was when we decided to stop using contraception and be "not trying, but not not trying". If so, that was around 8 years ago now.
Maybe it was more like... when I visited a doctor about something unrelated and she said  "You've been trying to get pregnant a really long time, that must be getting really devastating"...  and I thought - no... it's not devastating... because... I'm not trying... I just not not trying... 
Maybe it was after that conversation, when I realised, yes, seriously, it had been a very long time.
Maybe the start point was when I officially tried to get us timing sex. Whenever that was.  You might be able to gather I wasn't keeping track too well. 
Maybe it was when I saw that all my friends were falling pregnant within a few months of stopping contraception, and it dawned on me that... oh... that's normal. What was happening for us was not normal. 
Maybe it was the knowledge of my pending 35th birthday that got me to get out of my little daze of denial and see a fertility specialist.
I know that something definitely started when we made that visit to the fertility specialist and we were told...  your "infertility" is unexplained and you're probably going to need to do IVF.... wait what??  No... surely we just need to time sex a bit better. Ah, my friend denial likes to stay close.

But then again, I feel like it all started at some point far less definable...  when I simply had an idealistic notion in the back of my head that this is how it will all happen... one day I'll just be able to fall pregnant, and it will be from passionate spontaneous love-making with my partner. It won't be timed half-hearted intercourse. It certainly won't be from weeks of injections, surgery to remove eggs, and incubation of embryos in a lab. No, it won't be like that because I won't really have to deliberately force anything, because conception will be an inescapable consequence from all the love taking place... and it will be all be a smooth process, so easy and natural. And I'll have a glowing belly radiant with life. And when the time comes I suppose the baby will just glide out of me and I'll be a perfect parent.

If I am honest with myself, yes. I think I really might have believed that at some level.

But that vision has gradually eroded from the reality of our situation.

So I don't know precisely when this "journey" started. But I definitely know that today is a start of sorts... it is the start of a new cycle, my first day of round 5 IVF. And the start of this blog.