The unjustness

Life is not fair.

This is a lesson that should be taught to children early on in life, but for some reason we are instead taught that if you’re a good person and do the right thing you will achieve all of your dreams.

I call bullshit on that one.

At the risk of seeming especially bitter today, I can’t help but wonder about the unjustness of the folks around me who keep falling pregnant without even trying while I’m literally doing everything and some to make it happen and yet here I am at nearly 38 and childless. I mean, I can kind of make peace with those folks who are studiously attempting to make a family and of course other bloggers who are going through their own uphill fertility battles (although even then sometimes I can’t follow bloggers after they fall pregnant as it hurts too much). But people who literally find out one day that they’re pregnant and it’s by surprise and they weren’t intending of having a baby now – I turn into a one-woman raging fairness barometer with only one reading and that’s “UNFAIR”.

So where I’m getting at is that I found out today that a colleague in my team is pregnant.  She’s a good 10 years younger than me and has just started working at our company a couple of months ago.  She sits approximately 2 metres from me in an office space that may technically be considered an open space, but a very tiny open space at that!

How am I going to bear it?

And the irony of all of this is that I thought I was feeling pretty good about myself the past few days.  The physical symptoms from the OHSS have all but disappeared and I got my period today so I feel like one of the checkpoints has been passed as we head towards the next transfer. Today was going pretty great and then this speed hump.

I tried to be brave about it and pretend like it doesn’t matter, but it does matter because now have to watch someone else every single day as her belly grows bigger with life while mine stays empty with no life. It’s not like I even have much of a relationship with this girl as she’s new (and 10 years younger than me).  If it was someone I knew already and could kind of feel their happiness maybe it would be easier (maybe not, who knows?!).

Now I just feel that pit of emptiness in my stomach again and that urge to want to cry forever. It’s not fair.  Someone send the memo to Disney.


Filling up the freezer

The final embryo count is in and I am delighted to report that we are freezing 15 blastocysts! I honestly NEVER anticipated  such a high number and it has blown my mind! 

Of the 15 embryos this is the quality rating:

  • 8 x 5AA
  • 3 x 5AB
  • 2 x 4AB
  • 2 x 4BB 

This news has really helped me to feel more relaxed. Now all we need to do is fix my thyroid and take some advice from the haematologist and then we will be all set for our first transfer before Christmas. 

I am also feeling proud of myself. It’s been a tough year and I’ve made a lot of changes and been through a lot. Even I thought most of the changes were batshit crazy (hellooooo acupuncture) but I’m starting to change my mind. Hubby is also 100% convinced the expensive vitamins helped both of us. 

As for the physical stuff, although I do miss the gym and my running, if it means we get to take home a baby at the end of it then it will all be with it. 

Today is a good day. 

Swimming against the tide

Let’s start off with some cheering news today. Our 25 embryos that fertilised were checked this morning and all 25 of them are still viable! Of the 25, 10 of them are considered good quality at this stage, 10 of them are considered average and 5 of them are considered poor.  We have almost zero hope that the poor ones will make it, but I hope a good number of the other 20 will turn into beautiful blastocytes.

More importantly, I hope that one of them is my golden egg/embryo that turns into a baby.

My recovery from the egg collection has been just as slow and painful as I expected. Three days later and I still have a giant blob belly that is uncomfortable and unsightly.  For the past couple of days I have struggled with digestive issues and very painful gas, which I am confident is related to the anaesthesia more than the collection itself.  I have had similar issues with anaesthesia in the past.

My doctor did tell me to continue to take a low dose of the downreg meds (Suprefact, in my case) for a week or so to try and help keep the OHSS at bay.  I have had some pretty painful days and have not been holding back with the painkillers, but I think it is getting a little less painful as time goes on. I’m hoping by this time next week I am going to be feeling almost good again, or somewhat close to it.  I’m running out of loose clothes so I had better improve fast!

The past couple of days I have been working on feeling better about myself generally so on Thursday I had a fresh hair cut and colour and yesterday I went for a manicure and pedicure. I genuinely believe there is some logic in trying to make the outside of you look a bit better if the inside is feeling quite crap. It has definitely helped and also my hairdresser knows everything so I don’t have to suck in my giant belly when I see him (this is important!!).

Today was the christening of my husband’s brother’s baby, and I’ve not been looking forward to it. I think I mentioned previously that after every procedure I’ve had (IVF and miscarriage-related) there has been (by coincidence) some kind of important family event I’ve had to attend and pretend like nothing is wrong. It’s a weird offshoot of karma I think.

Everyone is completely besotted by this baby as he is the first grandchild on both sides. He was also unplanned, or a surprise, which I believe is the more polite way of saying it. He seems much loved and so who cares, but as a member of infertility land, the concept of just having sex and BY ACCIDENT conceiving a baby continues to blow my mind.  But anyway, lucky them.  I’m sure they have other hopes and dreams that have not been fulfilled so you never know if you’ve got it better or not than someone else.

I was dreading the christening in general, and also so was hubby actually – maybe more than me. I managed to find a dress that was structured and chic while, very importantly, hiding my blob belly, so actually I think I looked alright (good hair etc always helps). On arrival at the church I saw one of the couple’s friends who is obviously in the early stages of pregnancy (they got married 12 months ago). Of course that made my backbone just a little bit more rigid than it already was – what a start!

Then it was in to the church for all the obligatory greeting of family members, blah, blah, blah. Most conversation was very superficial so I got through that fine.  Then halfway through the ceremony, one of hubby’s aunties turned around to talk to us.  I need to qualify here that she is approaching 80 years old and a very nice and kind woman.  She also is not diplomatic.

She turned around to me and patted my knee and said, “This time next year I hope this will be you.  I am praying for you.” Well, you can imagine my fury and hurt. She has prior form with these types of comments, but I had no patience for it today. Not to mention I was sitting next to someone who didn’t need to be privy to that conversation.  So I sat very straight upright and replied “Please do not say that. It is very offensive. Don’t say that again please”.

This is BY FAR the most direct I have ever been with anyone who has said such a comment to me before.  The only disappointing element is that her English knowledge is not so strong so I actually do not think she understood me. I am now going to start practicing a local language version of this for maximum impact in future.

Unfortunately, this then meant I was thrown off a bit from my zen state.  It’s hard to come back from something like this and be relaxed afterwards.  There is some other family stuff going on as well, which I don’t want to write about here as it’s not my business, but safe to say it was a very stressful situation.

Normally after these things it’s customary to mill around afterwards and engage in chit chat. Hubby was so ready to go we left almost immediately afterwards.  This did not go unnoticed I am sure.  Although there is most commonly a lunch after a christening, this time a dinner has been organised at a restaurant in the evening.  So aggrieved and just generally over it was hubby he has subsequently declined to attend the dinner.

This is probably going to cause the most huge family rift imaginable, but I am proud of him.  It’s not easy to swim against the tide and he has his reasons for not wanting to go. tonight.  It would be quite easy for us to turn up and smile and nod (and endure insensitive comments) but he has put his foot down.  My hubby is such a tough nut, sometimes that I want to burst with pride.

I am 100% certain that we have offended most of his family today.  That is quite an accomplishment (maybe not one to be proud of though). Sometimes you have to put your foot down though and say ENOUGH!

It’s all about the numbers

One day later and I’m still in a kind of shock that I managed to produce 29 eggs. It’s great for sure but I also wonder how good this really is for the human body. Leaving those worries aside for now, I’m overall delighted. 

Yesterday I started to go bananas at home with nothing to do and feeling pretty average but not bad enough to be bed bound. So today I decided just to go to work and see how I feel. It’s not far for me to travel and I go by car so if I’m really struggling I can go home later. I’m currently taking all the painkillers and doing ok. My fashion however is very much focused on anything without a waist band! So glam! 

As I was getting ready for work I got a phone call from the clinic’s embryologist to tell me the fertilisation results. We went only for ICSI this time as we had a much better result with that method last time. 

So… The numbers are… We started with 29 eggs and a massive 25 of them fertilised! WOW!! Hubby is taking full credit for this claiming it is his quality swimmers. Haha!

I’m not sure what the difference in cycles has been. I’ve been on the same protocol so it’s not the drugs. I’ve gone from a 50% attrition rate at fertilisation to 14%. Admittedly I’ve learned a lot in the past 12 months and have made the following changes:

  • Stopped all gym workouts and running
  • Started doing yoga and walking only
  • Started regular (usually weekly) acupuncture sessions
  • Very little caffeine (maybe 1 weak cup of tea per day)
  • Very little wine (none during the medicated period; 1 glass of wine per week otherwise)
  • Started taking specialist vitamin pills by Zita West (very expensive!!) – this was for both hubby and me

Until the embryos have developed a bit more we won’t know anything about the quality of the embryos but I’m feeling more positive than I have in a long time! 

How do you like your eggs?

I like mine golden.

I’m freshly home from my egg collection and the total egg collection number count is in: 29.

I made 29 eggs in one cycle! Yikes! No wonder I’ve felt so uncomfortable!

The process was pretty straight forward and I was in and out pretty quickly. It is a bit sad that I’ve been in this clinic so many times (both for the IVF and miscarriages) so everyone knows me there. This is not something to be proud of!

While I was under, hubby dashed off to his office (which is close by) to pick his laptop up so he could work from home later. I was so quick to come around after the anaesthesia that I was actually awake before he came back – I was not pleased with him for that!

I did my usual post-anaesthetic babbling on which was exacerbated by the fact that actually I was in some pain (helllllooooo 29 eggs!). Before hubby arrived I asked the nurse if they found a golden egg (see previous posts) and after some clarification as to what the hell I was talking about she said for sure I had more than one golden egg. I then heard her chuckling about golden eggs to her colleague outside!!

I also told hubby that this was absolutely the last time I was doing this* and if we don’t make a baby from this lot of (golden) eggs then I’m giving up and we are going to live a fabulous life back in my home country without kids. He was wise enough to agree.

Hubby went off to make his contribution to the process and so in the meantime I got to have some camomile tea and some pretty average toast.

We checked out shortly after that and are now home. Hubby has gone to bed as the very early start and his “contribution” have clearly taken a lot out of him. Who is the patient again?

I’m settling in for a day of painkillers, excessive TV watching and multiple cups of tea. I would normally have applied a heat pack to my belly but this is the current situation instead:

*Anything said directly after an anaesthetic is not to be held against me at a later date!

Hello my pretties!

Today my doctor came back from his holidays so I got the first scan of my stims round. Yes, you got that right… 11 jabs in and I get my first scan. Anyway, I’ve been feeling uncharacteriscally calm about this round of treatment although I am resembling a hippo (see previous post). I have been confident that there was some good egg growth going on but then when I was in the waiting room the fear crept in that maybe I didn’t have so many eggs this time. 

Well that was silly. 

When the doctor checked me he made the rather un-doctor like exclamation of “Whoa!!” I did not find this comforting so I asked him to clarify what that actually means! His next answer was “There are millions in there!”

Millions actually turned out to be 25. Yes. TWENTY-FIVE potential golden eggs!  

Last time I had 20 follicles with 18 eggs. He did qualify that about 10 of my follicles look a little smaller/immature but that’s still a good number. I know this game is all about quality not quantity but the doctor actually seemed amazed at my performance. 

Go ovaries!

This means that it’s trigger shot tonight and collection Wednesday morning. We had an extended conversation about OHSS because 25 follicles puts me at quite a high risk of it. Last time he was all yeah whatever about it but this time he’s going to prescribe me some Suprefact to see if that calms my ovaries down a bit. 

I won’t lie that I’m a bit nervous about after the EC because I was quite poorly last time for a couple of weeks and I had a bunch less eggs. Oh and this weekend is the baptism of the brother-in-law’s baby. Perfect timing as always! 

Feeling like today is a good day! Bring on the egg collection! 

A turd in a pool

I am a big fan of the hippopotamus. I like the water and I like horses which is what the name hippopotamus translates to be in Greek – water horse. I also like that they have really big mouths and scary looking teeth. Plus, I took a really great photo at the zoo when I was in high school of a hippopotamus under water (through glass) and the photo makes the hippo really just looks like a giant turd swimming in a pool. That is some serious camouflage. I kind of hope technological advances have not since changed this photographic phenomenon because others should get to experience the same joy as me when they flick through old photo albums and see multiple images of a giant turd in a pool (or a hippopotamus, depending on how optimistic you’re feeling).

Anyway, I’m feeling like a hippopotamus today – the animal.  I’m not feeling especially like a turd in a pool so that’s something positive at least. I took a photo of my belly in knickers and a tank top for my best friend and sent it to her with the caveat that she should delete it after viewing.  She kindly responded by saying my belly looks normal to everyone else and it only looks huge to me, which was a) kind and b) not true.

So I reckon something is going on in ovaries land.

The reason I don’t know precisely what’s going on in ovaries land is because my doctor is crap (maybe he’s the turd in the pool?!). He’s currently on holiday and due back on Monday, which is when my appointment is.  Given that my egg collection is preliminarily scheduled for Wednesday this means that I’ve not been supervised at all throughout the stims process.  I read other people’s blogs and how they have to go to their doctor/clinic every 2-3 days and then I wonder why my doctor does not observe me at all? He doesn’t do tests. I am none the wiser as to how many follicles are potentially growing.  It’s all a big mystery-surprise.

If I had not done this whole shebang a year ago and experienced the hippopotamus side effects I would be properly freaking out right now. I am pretty confident that my giant belly is about the same size at the same time as last year and I got 18 eggs, nine of which fertilised and four of which made it to five days blastocyst stage.  I’m not so focused this year on the overall egg count, but am keen to get my embryo count up a bit this time.  Hubby better bring his A-game swimmers!

I had my appointment with the endocrinologist on Friday and that was pretty good, as far as these things go. It was a lady doctor (yay, feminism!) and she did an ultrasound on my neck (got to leave my clothes on for once which was a nice change) confirming that my thyroid is smaller in size than normal, but also confirming no other nasties like inflammation and nodules and whatever else hell thing can exist.  This means that my thyroid issue is probably pretty new. I asked how I came to suddenly have a thyroid issue and she explained that one of the most likely causes was the large spikes and drops in my hormones caused by two pregnancies and two miscarriages in the space of five months.

Any normal person would have been very sad about this news, and lets face it a thyroid problem is not exactly ideal, but I actually felt a bit relieved about the diagnosis.  I have been feeling entirely devoid of energy for MONTHS now and perhaps this at least partially explains it. My lady doctor was entirely confident she could get my thyroid reading under 2.0 before November, the likely month of my first transfer all things going to plan, and so on to more meds I go! For those who love this stuff, I’ve been prescribed Euthryrox 50 mg, which has the active ingredient of Levothyroxine sodium. Fun times! I get to take one a day, six days a week (Sunday is my rest day).

I also had my first session with a life coach / counsellor who I recruited in one of my dark days earlier in August. By the time the appointment came around I almost cancelled it, but hubby insisted. Anyway, it was good actually. She came to my house, played with my baby kitty, listened to me pour my heart out (it was sooooo good to say some of the stuff I did), and then told me which things I was being overly harsh about and validated some other stuff.  It was actually all very healthy and I liked her a lot which might have been helped by her telling me she thought I was highly intelligent and a high achiever (flattery!)…. although 100 EUR is a lot to pay for what I would probably have gotten from my best friend if she was just down the street rather than on the other side of the world.

She gave me some homework, one of which is that I – literally – have to count my blessings (one of them that I volunteered was my long legs, because I have a really short sister and I genuinely know how difficult she finds some stuff, but the counsellor lady did think that was a pretty unusual blessing to count). She also gave me some notes to read through to remind myself of some important stuff.  Here is one of them which I think might have some relevance to some of my blog friends who I regularly correspond with:

I accept that not everyone is the same, not everyone is able to show empathy in the same way, nor to be supportive in the same way. Some people are limited in this respect. This has nothing to do with me. Other people’s incompetence in being highly sensitive or empathetic has nothing to do with me. I accept their limitations along with their good intentions. I acknowledge the their “offensive intrusiveness” is something that I dot have to take personally. I choose not to take other people’s limitations personally. I am not responsible for them; I am responsible only for myself. 

That last part is really good. I choose not to take other people’s limitations personally. I am not responsible for them; I am responsible only for myself. 

Yes. I am only responsible for myself.

Only. For. Myself.

Love, the Hippopotamus.