An update

Hi blog friends. I know I have been very quiet of late. It’s something I’ve been aware of but I haven’t felt like writing and I’m not really sure why. Everytime I turn my head towards writing a blog post I feel deflated and can’t seem to find the words. Even more strangely this writers block is not due to being in a bad place emotionally or otherwise, in fact, I have been in a good place. Perhaps this has something to do with it…a desire to not over-analyse, to just ‘be’? 

So we are expecting a daughter! We found out at our 16 week scan and the image was really clear so we were confident that she is indeed a girl. I couldn’t be happier, which is weird as I’d probably be just as happy with a boy. Knowing her gender has made it more real though and allows for more specific fantasizing, which I’ve been loving. 

We had our full anatomy scan today at 25w3d. Our last scan was at 21 weeks and so I knew that there were no major or obvious issues with baby girl and so today for the first time I was more excited than nervous about having a scan. She is growing perfectly and her anatomy is 100% normal. How absolutely miraculous and wonderful. I couldn’t be more grateful. 

I’ve also been feeling her move a lot in the last day or two which has been really awesome. I love every kick and every roll. I have an anterior placenta which has meant that I’ve had to be quite patient with regards to feeling movement… more waiting, who would have guessed, lol??!!! My husband still hasn’t been able to feel her move but that should happen any day now. 

Today we booked our hospital bed, set our caesar date and paid our hospital deposit… it seems like this is seriously happening folks! Baby girl will hopefully make her entrance on 2 August at 5am! She will share a birthday with my late grandfather who I adored, so that’s really special. Next week I will go and have a routine glucose test… fingers crossed that all the easter eggs I ate will not come back to bite me!

We have begun getting ourselves ready. We’ve painted the nursery, cleared out some closets and bought a pram and a car seat. My sister in law gave us her old cot and compactum and so I am busy painting them… slowly I must say as I do a bit each day. I no longer feel too terrified to do these things and in fact  have been really enjoying these acts of preparation. 

Apart from heartburn in the last week or so I have felt really well physically… no aches and pains, no headaches, no weird food cravings. My mood has been generally relaxed and happy and the crippling anxiety of the first trimester has definitely faded. I never expected to have an easy pregnancy! I kind of assumed that since I was so crappie at falling pregnant and then staying pregnant, that I would also be really crappie at being pregnant. So to feel well is actually a big, happy surprise… long may it last! 

Do I think about the fact that my little girl is here due to donor eggs… for sure, occasionally. For example today at the anatomy scan we were told that she is quite tall, which was a suprise because I’m not tall and neither is my husband and so I never expected a tall child. The donor must have tall genes somewhere in her family as she herself is about my height. Does this bother me? Nope. When I try to picture what baby girl will look like and what she will be like, its really hard… harder because she doesn’t share my genetics and because we don’t know what our donor is like as an adult? Maybe, probably….I wouldn’t know. But I’m not sad about this. She has the freedom to pop out and be uniquely and simply, herself. Does she feel any less mine? Not a chance. 

Rambles 

Here we are at 15 weeks tomorrow. I still have a hard time believing that it is real and I wonder when the reality will start sinking in. Luckily I have been able to find baby on the home doppler I bought and so when I have an anxious moment I just tune into my little one’s heart beating away…it’s enormously reassuring.  

In terms of treatment I have weaned myself off the prednisone over the last week. I think I managed the withdrawal process ok although I did feel exceptionally tired, which I put down to part pregnancy and part prednisone withdrawal. On a side note, it is advised that you not go on prednisone if you have a fungal infection anywhere on your body…who knew?! Unfortunately for me I had a fungal rash on my face prior to falling pregnant which I was treating but has just got worse and worse….lovely. Apparently this is because your immune system is too suppressed by the prdnisone to fight off the infection effectively. I’m hoping that now that I’m off the prednisone I can treat this rash for good….it’ll be nice to NOT have a rash on my face!  

On the topic of appearances, I decided not to colour my hair during the first trimester on the advise of my RE. I do have quite a few greys and dark hair.. making the greys noticeable. I’ve felt slightly self conscious about this and so was very glad to finally get my hair done this last week…having my roots done and a good trim has really made me feel more myself. Now if only that rash would go away. 

One or two people have commented on what they think is an emerging bump. Interestingly I’ve felt very self conscious about this too, which is strange as I wasn’t expecting to feel that way. I think the attention on my body is just about bit overwhelming! I personally think I look the same but it’s hard to tell as the weight I’ve gained over the course of ivf has made me look pregnant for about two years now! I’m looking forward to being able to distinguish between fat and baby…hopefully soon.

Yesterday I wondered around some baby stores for the first time. Again, I had a slightly unexpected reaction…a feeling of being completely overwhelmed and not even knowing how one would start getting everything ready and making choices..slowly would be my guess!?? I eventually picked up two cute and warm onsies but ended up putting them back and grabbing a toasted sandwich and cup of tea instead. Three years ago, we had, had a full year of medicated cycles and were onto our third and final IUI. We had the IUI done on my birthday and I felt so strongly that the stars and universe had aligned and that this was our time, that I bought this little onesie… 

I’m afraid I don’t know how to rotate it but I’m sure you can read at an angle! My naivete and optimisim is obvious and when I see this onesie I feel slightly foolish, but also quite sad. The reality would turn out to be so much harder and longer than I ever expected. In a strange twist of timing, this year we’ll be finding out our baby’s gender the day after my birthday…the stars and the universe have finally aligned. Anyway, I think these feelings are making shopping currently too difficult and I’ll just have to wait until I’m in a different place.  

On that note, I have a younger cousin who is also pregnant. She’s two weeks ahead of me and her baby shower is already organised and we have received a spreadsheet of an exhaustive list of baby items to buy from. I was really taken aback. Firstly, I didn’t realise that this is what one does for a baby shower. I always thought you just chose a gift you felt inclined to buy, rather than working off a registry.  Secondly, I’m only two weeks behind her but there is no way I would even be able to start a list, let alone one that is so comprehensive…right down to ear buds and nail clippers. On the upside I might use her list later on to help guide me, lol. 

Our next scan is in two weeks time and we really hope baby will cooperate so that we can find out the gender.  I’m really excited for this.  A brief poll of the family suggests that 90% of us (including my husband and myself), believe baby is a girl…I guess we all have a 50% chance of being right!! 

12w3d and meeting our gynae for the first time

Today was the big day when we met the doctor who will deliver our baby and we had the NT scan. I had been feeling very anxious prior to this appointment. In fact I have been in a weird space….anxious, slightly down and depressed, emotionally flat and very tired. I tried to describe it to my therapist and I guess it’s a case of having held myself together for the first trimester reasonably well but as we reached the end suddenly feeling as though my coping resources were wearing pretty thin and just feeling exhausted by the whole thing. You know that pressure cooker feeling when a big cry might be just what you need? That’s been me.

So going into this appointment wasn’t easy. I slept badly and woke up at 4.30am with a headache. Fortunately I fell asleep for another hour later on and so felt a bit better by the time we left the house. Unfortunately when we got to the appointment we were told that there had been an unexpected delivery (2…as it turns out…sisters!!!!), and the doc was running an hour late. So we waited and waited and waited some more….isn’t that one of the defining experiences of infertility though? The endless wait. Eventually we were called in and of course there was a lot of information that she needed to gather. The doctor seems nice…a slightly quirky sense of humour that I didn’t always get, but an essentially nice person who seems to know what she’s doing. She also seemed familiar with my protocol and was quite happy for me to stay on clexane for the rest of the pregnancy, up until 6 weeks post partum. This was a relief as I assumed I’d have some convincing to do. Finally it came time for the scan. The whole time we were talking and planning I wanted to say ‘well of course this is all irrelevant if my baby has died’. Isn’t it awful that, that’s my thought process…but there it is, that’s just the reality.

But my baby hadn’t died! There he or she was in all its splendid glory, snuggled in my womb sucking his or her thumb. The epitome of cuteness. All the measurements were good and we will hopefully get our risk profile by Monday. I’m not too concerned as the donor eggs are 23 years old and so our risk should be reasonably low. 

So that’s the good news for today. It still feels totally and utterly surreal …after 4 years of struggle and pain we may finally take our baby home in 6 short months. 

9 weeks 5 days

To say I was nervous about our scan yesterday would be a gross under statement. I slept poorly the night before and had a really bad headache – part estrogen, part stress I think. I’m not used to good news and scans have their own particular trauma that I seem to relive every single time. The few minutes between getting onto the table and waiting for the doctor to come into the room have to be the worst by far. My heart pounds and I feel sick to my stomach. My head is filled with memories of past experiences… ‘I’m sorry but there’s been no growth, there’s no heartbeat’. My husband and I tend to hold each other and I know that he prays while I take deep breathes and try to still my racing heart. Yesterday was no different, except that simultaneously, there was a part of me that could imagine a different outcome. Could picture a tiny baby with a big head and a strong heartbeat. Could imagine the sigh of relief and the wonder of a new life.

Immediately as the doctor inserted the wand he said ‘baby’s fine’. I breathed an enormous sigh of relief and he laughed, saying he felt exactly the same. My husband grabbed my phone to take a video and he just kept saying thank you, thank you. We’ve never seen an actual baby before and it was truly magical. Baby was measuring two days ahead at 10 weeks exactly and has a heartbeat of 159bpm.

After the scan we went through to consult with the doctor as this would be our last appointment with him. This in itself is hard to believe after three years of treatment with him. For the first time ever he was confident in our little one saying that all good things come to those who wait, and that we had waited more than most. He told us to bring the baby to show him and to include him on the birth announcement list. I literally couldn’t believe that we were having this conversation. I also went to say goodbye to our nurse who has been a great support through this whole journey and has replied to untold emails with untold questions, with great patience. She hugged me and wished us well and also asked to be kept updated.

So now, I have been told to come off my hormones – the daily progesterone injections and the estrogen. Whilst I am excited in a sense as I think my headaches will improve, I am also terrified. There is a part of me that just wants to continue doing what we have been doing until we have this baby in our arms. I’m so afraid that stopping anything could halt the wonderful progress that we have been making. But my doctor assured me that at this stage the placenta is producing more progesterone than we could ever artificially provide my body with and that staying on it would be purely for my psychological benefit. I’m actually not opposed to the placebo effect but I decided to trust my doctor on this one – I know he would not do anything at this stage to jeopardize this pregnancy. For now I will remain on the clexane and the prednisone, weaning myself off the prednisone slowly once we hit 12 weeks. He felt we could come off the clexane at 12 weeks but I would prefer to stay on it for longer  – there is no risk to the baby and it would provide enormous peace of mind. My doctor firmly believes that it was the 2 months of lucron prior to transfer as well as the clexane that were the deal breakers this time and I’m inclined to agree.

We have an appointment with a regular OB on the 25th January at the hospital where we would like to deliver. My doctor has written a referral letter and we have some basic details of our donor (age and blood group) to hand over. Interestingly, my doctor asked if we would be telling our OB about the donor eggs. I hadn’t even considered NOT telling her, as it seems medically relevant. At 38, they will treat this pregnancy very differently to how they will knowing that the eggs are 23 year old eggs. Apparently some women choose not to tell their doctor – to each their own I guess, but I firmly believe knowledge is power and so my new doc will definitely be getting this information.

SO the next challenge is to find a place of peace and hope while we wait for the next scan in two and a half weeks. This will not be easy, but I’m going to do my best.

Impatiently waiting…written 5 December.

5 weeks and 4 days today and I’m convinced that my breasts are a little less sensitive than yesterday. I keep prodding them and trying to conjur up the sensation of yesterday in a desperate attempt at comparison. I’m almost tempted to Google. 

And this friends, is the craziness and torture of very early pregnancy after loss. In our last pregnancy I had heavy bleeding at 5 weeks 3 days. I was anxious the whole day yesterday and checked my underwear a  million times. I know this is not rational and that the odds of things recurring on the same day are basically zero but I guess that is what trauma does to you…it skews your thinking, creates emotional triggers and hypervigilance. Having  got through the day unscathed I feel a sense of foreboding… surely we can’t be so lucky? When will the next hammer fall? How will it happen this time? 

10 more sleeps until our first scan at 7 weeks exactly. Sadly, even if everything is 100% on track at that point there will still be anxiety as last pregnancy we saw a great healthy heart beat at 7 weeks and then the next week…nothing. I have to keep reminding myself that this is a different pregnancy and that we are doing things very differently to sustain it. Please may the next ten days fly by!

5 weeks today… written 1 December.

So here we are again. My third pregnancy. So far I have fallen pregnant 100% of the time that we have done an embryo transfer. Impressive hey? I just wish I was as good at sustaining a pregnancy and really hope that this third time is the charm.

Today I had my second intrallipid infusion. This sounds crazy but it was reasonably pleasant. They gave me a bed to lie down in, wrapped me up in a lovely soft blanket and put a hot water bottle on my arm to ease the discomfort. I felt so cosy and comfortable that I ended up falling asleep! Meanwhile the poor lady opposite me was crying in pain from the same procedure…I guess I was lucky?! I’m not too sure when the next one will be or whether or not there will be a next one but I’ll speak to my doctor soon to gain clarity. 

Today my mouth is a lot better after taking the prednisone and I hope the 10mg the doctor put me on is sufficient.  I really feel like keeping this pregnancy is a battle that I have to fight with everything I’ve got and I have to listen to my body and intuition. 

On that note, I’m  continuing to follow my gut when it comes to my health and body. I’ve  continued taking baby aspirin despite being told that I could stop yesterday. Last year I miscarried days after stopping the aspirin and with my mthfr  (undiagnosed at that time), I’ve always suspected a blood clot caused the pregnancy to end as we tested the baby and it was 100% healthy and normal. So, I will be staying on the aspirin and will continue with the clexane (which is still hurting like a bitch!). The other thing I did which was met with some disapproval by my doctor was that I self tested my progesterone. I just ticked it off on the blood order form when I went to have my beta done. It was on the low side, which my doc explained was due to the protocol I had been on… lucron as well as the fact that the pessaries cause progesterone to be absorbed directly to the uterus and so testing progesterone in the blood is not an accurate reflection. Regardless, my doc switched me to injectable progesterone which I feel more comfortable with, although my stomach is really starting to take strain with all the injections. 

Last night my husband said the sweetest thing to me. He thanked me for all the hard work I’ve put into this journey, how much I have fought to understand my body and all the painful procedures I’ve been through in order to be in an optimal state for pregnancy. He thanked me and expressed his pride in me. It was sweet to hear and I felt very validated. 

 

Dreaming…written 29 November.

Today I have been feeling optimistic. We’re doing things so differently this pregnancy: we’re using clexane and intrallipid infusions; I know about my mthfr mutations and so am on the right supplements and I have cleansed my body of mercury which could have had a detrimental impact on a developing baby. We know so much more than we did during our last two pregnancies and I hope and pray that this is what we need in order to actually carry a pregnancy to term. 

In my optimism I’ve done some dreaming. I didn’t think I would do this as I have lost so much faith in happy outcomes, but I couldn’t help myself. I know this means that if everything crashes I’ll probably fall even harder… but then I think, what if it doesn’t crash? I want to enjoy this pregnancy and I defininitely don’t want to spend it feeling anxious and scared. 

So I downloaded a pregnancy app. It says that I am 4 weeks 5 days pregnant and the baby is the size of a poppy seed. I also did some browsing of nursery furniture online. Years ago my sister in law very generously gave us her used cot and compactum.  It’s very nice but not what I would choose for myself. It’s also been sitting in our garage for years and somehow feels cursed. But mostly, after all these years I really want to enjoy every aspect of pregnancy, including choosing my own style of nursery furniture. I found a gorgeous eco friendly cot made out of bamboo, that also converts into a toddler bed once the baby outgrows the cot. It’s simple and modern and elegant. I also looked at some beautiful linen and I have some fun ideas in mind. It was so much fun to dream and to imagine finally having a baby.

I also downloaded this, which is very useful…

I can’t belive we could be out of the first trimester by the end of January and I’m hoping that the holidays helps these early weeks pass more quickly. I know this dreaming is dangerous but I figure it’s not going to affect the outcome and instead of bathing my developing baby in cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones), it will provide a better environment for the fragile nervous system that is busy growing. We’re having a third beta done tomorrow, another intrallipid infusion on Thursday and the first scan is booked for 15 December. Grow baby grow!

13 December 6weeks 5 days 

Bleeding, bright red. I ran out to put the car undercover as it started hailing. 20 minutes later I could feel warm discharge and checked to see bright red blood…just like last time. I’m trying very hard not to panic and to remind myself that the bleeding last time did not cause the miscarriage and that we still saw a healthy heartbeat…the miscarriage came later. Still, I’d love a boring pregnancy if I could get one.

**update**. Our first scan showed evidence of a vanishing twin, which we think was the cause of the bleeding.

 

Beta number 3…written 30 November.  

1043. A doubling time of 33 hours and another small milestone crossed. Today I suddenly realised that my mouth was sore and that it had been sore since yesterday. I have an autoimmune disorder called lichen planus that affects my tongue and throat. I freaked out a little and posted on a secret Facebook group of well informed ladies who have all dealt with immune issues and pregnancy. They all felt I should be on prednisone. Now I had actually asked my doctor about prednisone prior to transfer and he had said that there is no research to back its usage. Anyway, I asked him again today and he agreed to prescribe it for me, which I am grateful for…. I’ve learnt to follow my gut and to advocate for myself and will not sit with any feelings of regret over being too shy to speak up. So I have taken 10mg of prednisone and sincerely hope this is enough to suppress any immune response that might be occurring. Tomorrow I have my second intrallipid infusion, which although not fun, is not too bad provided I charge my kindle and eat before I go.