A great morning… written 14 November 2016

Today was a big day in my family and I have been anxiously staring at my phone waiting for two very big pieces of news.

This morning my sister gave birth to her second daughter. It  hasn’t been an easy pregnancy at all and there was concern that the baby might have Down Syndrome. I have just had news that my sister has delivered her baby girl safely, and that she is perfectly healthy. What an immense relief. Of course we would have loved her unconditionally but I am overjoyed that my sister and her husband do not have this challenge to face.

We have also been waiting for news on our embryos, having not heard how they are doing since Friday.  I have just had the call from the embryologist and all 6 have continued to grow normally over the weekend.  We are so thrilled. Transfer is booked for 11.30am tomorrow but we have to go in at 10.15 to have an atosiban drip administered. This is new since our last transfer and is now standard with all IVF protocols at our clinic. Apparently research has shown that the uterus contracts very subtly, sometimes slowly and sometimes fast. If they can calm the uterus down and ensure that the contractions are minimal, the chances of implantation are better. I’ll take better chances of success any day. 

What a great morning. 

Nupogen wash….written Saturday 12 November 2016

This morning I had the nupogen wash. The procedure itself is similar to having a pap smear, so no big deal really. The worst part is that you have to have a full bladder. My appointment was for 8am and the doc kept me waiting until 8.45. Honestly, procedures requiring a full bladder should  always be  punctual…it’s just not fair to keep a lady with a full bladder waiting. And then you have to lie and wait for the nupogen to do its thing for 20 minutes…sob! And to make matters worse I have a slight tummy bug, so was having to keep things extra tight, if you know what I mean. Anyway, it’s over now and will hopefully help the embryos stick and implant. Here’s hoping!

We were told not to expect news of our embryos over the weekend so we won’t know how they’re doing until Monday.  To be honest it is actually better for me…somehow time passes more quickly and less anxiously when I’m not waiting for news. So on Monday morning we hear how our embryos are doing and my sister has her baby…Kismet. 

Fertilization report…written 11 November 2016

So you may or may not remember that we had 16 donor eggs and one embryo frozen. We have decided to transfer two embryos and so the decision was made to thaw and fertilise 8 eggs and then to use the best two embryos. 7 of the 8 eggs survived the thaw and as of this morning 6 are developing normally. We won’t hear back until Monday as they don’t report on the weekend.  So let’s hope those 6 have a blessed weekend. Grow babies grow.

The gift of hope this Christmas

Blogging friends, a lot has been happening in our lives which we were unable to share up until now. I’ve actually blogged the whole way along but they are all in my drafts folder…I’ll be making them public shortly for those on a similar journey who might find comfort in the details of someone else’s process.

For those who prefer to skip straight to the end…I am 8 weeks pregnant following a Donor Egg Cycle we did in November. So far, this pregnancy has been very different from our previous two in that it has been entirely ‘normal’… implantation bleeding, beta’s doubling in 33 hours, a strong heartbeat of 132bpm at 6 weeks 4 days and perfect growth a week later and an even stronger heartbeat of 160bpm at 7 weeks 4 days. Listening to the sound of our baby’s heartbeat was perhaps the most beautiful thing I have ever heard. There were no tears, just enormous grins, laughing and thank you’s.

Medically, we have done several things differently this cycle, including a neupogen wash, an atosiban drip on the day of transfer, intrallipid injections, clexane, prednisone and progesterone injections rather than pessaries. I have also continued with acupuncture and chinsese meds. As we had decided that this would be our last attempt, we decided not to hold back and to do absolutely everything we could think of to maximize our chances.

Emotionally, we didn’t tell anyone about the cycle. This was actually very helpful in facilitating a calmer process. Whilst we have so appreciated the enormous love and support we have received over the years, the flip side of it is coping with a lot of concern and questions during cycles. This is especially tough when things are complex and there is a lot of uncertainty. This cycle we had only our own emotions to deal with and I lent on my husband and team of professionals for support during the key aspects of the process. By far the most beautiful part of not telling anyone was that we were able to ‘announce’ and surprise our loved ones for the first time ever. The joy and shock when they found out was beautiful… a wonderful memory that we’ll always treasure.

On the whole I feel peaceful and optimistic. There are moments of anxiety and fear, but I keep reminding myself that this is a different pregnancy and that we are doing things very differently… in the hopes of a different outcome and a baby in our arms sometime around the 6th August. This is the only gift I want this Christmas.

 

A funny for my American bloggers

Just so that you don’t feel alone in having a president who you are ashamed of. Here in South Africa we have a completely corrupt liar and thief as number 1. He faced more than 700 counts of fraud before he was even elected (but hasn’t been prosecuted because he is protected as the president!), was charged with rape but acquitted in a very shady trial just prior to his election and has 6 wives and I’ve lost count of how many children. A report has recently come out which implicates him in absolutely unimaginable corruption during his term in office and yet he still sits in power, refusing to step down despite numerous calls  for his resignation. We feel your pain. South Africans also have a good sense of humour generally (we have to). And so here is a funny meme that came out yesterday.

A slight shift in perspective

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to comment on my blog post yesterday. I really appreciated all the different perspectives and it’s given me lots of food for thought. I will reply to each of you individually but just wanted to send out a general thank you and to provide an update – more to get my own thoughts in order than anything else.

Yesterday I called my therapist and asked if she could fit me in at the last-minute. I had been seeing her regularly up until a few months ago and so currently do not have a weekly, standard appointment. She managed to squeeze me in and I saw her this morning. A few things came out which resonated with me.

My therapist has known me for a long time and I think what was helpful is that she could see my current experiences in the broader context of who I am and the kinds of issues that often crop up in my life. Without going into too much detail, one of these is that I am the eldest child, very responsible and born with a high level of attunement to the feelings of those around me. One of the ways that this plays out in my life is that I am generally the peace keeper and have a tendency to put my own needs on the back-burner in the service of nurturing others (hell, I even made a profession out of it). Eldest children commonly have feelings of displacement or deprivation stemming from their early displacement when siblings came along. Although I am not conscious of this, and would not have made the link on my own, I have definitely been aware of these feelings at various times in my life and within various relationships…. I just didn’t understand why. One of the questions I was asking my therapist is why now? Why do I sudently feel this way RIGHT NOW, when I have been feeling pretty calm and peaceful lately.

Significantly, my younger sister is pregnant with her second baby – in fact she gives birth next Monday. Although I have been feeling OK about this, my therapist suggested that perhaps I have some unresolved feelings that I am not processing… that perhaps it is arousing feelings of deprivation and displacement that I am not in tune with. That not only this, but it triggers enormous feelings of helplessness and despair… causing me to try and take back some level of control in an attempt to mitigate against this despair. Hence the sense of urgency, and wanting resolution on the adoption issue RIGHT NOW. That’s the first part. As she was speaking I just started sobbing…so perhaps she is onto something.

The second part is that being the natural peacekeeper, I have a lot of fears around what might happen if I force my needs onto someone else. I tend to hold back and keep these needs to myself or find some way of meeting them independently. Due to these fears, she susggested that I might be catastrophising the implications of my husband not being on board with adoption currently and what might happen if I were to take a much stronger stand… things like, maybe it wasn’t meant to be, maybe we were never meant to have children, maybe it will end in divorce. She kindly reminded me that we have no idea what the future holds and we also don’t know how my husband would react in the future if I were to be more forceful with my needs… for example, booking an appointment with a private adoption agency and getting him to come along.

Because – to answer two of my lovely contributors from yesterday – we have tried couples counselling specifically to work through this issue of adoption. Twice in fact. The first time was after my first miscarriage two years ago, and the second wast a year ago after my second miscarriage. Both times I became frantic around adoption and we went off to therapy. The therapy was helpful in that it did hold space for both of our feelings and certainly I was able to calm down to a mild panic and soldier on. But I do feel that my husband used these sessions to kind of ‘weather the storm’, and was just relieved when I calmed down and continued to do everything possible to fall pregnant. In this way no actual resolution on adoption has ever been made. But my therapist reminded me that I don’t have to deal with it this way, and that I could be more proactive in terms of exploring adoption and asking him to do it with me. She reminded me of the story of our furchild…

4 years ago I wanted to get a puppy. We were finally living  in a home with a garden and I had wanted a dog for years but never felt it was fair on the dog due to circumstances. My husband was not keen at all and we went back and forth for ages and ages. Eventually, I told my husband that he had two options – he could help me choose a puppy, or he could accept whichever puppy I brought home. He didn’t help me choose a puppy, but he did come with me to fetch him and they have shared the most ridiculous love ever since. My husband tells me about 5 times a day how much he loves our dog and often says it’s the best thing I ever did for us.

Now… I am not going to go out and choose a baby and bring it home. But if this next transfer is not successful, I may set up an appointment with a social worker, or ask if we can go and spend a morning at a local Baby Home. I have no idea what would happen. He might say no. He might still feel the same way. He might realise how much is at stake and something might start shifting inside of him. Or he might not and I might end up leaving him. No one knows… but I guess that’s the point. I don’t know and so assuming doom and gloom is not helpful. Being more proactive with my needs is helpful, and allowing myself to be very sad and even have a good cry, about the fact that my sister can have babies and I haven’t, is also helpful.

 

 

I couldn’t be an Ostrich

So in my previous post I wrote about my epiphany that I would never adopt with my husband because it would always feel like second best or settling. In my heart I know this is true – I wouldn’t want our family to be seen as less than, or something other than amazing and blessed and chosen….something that we both embrace every single day and feel grateful for. If we ever do adopt I want us to feel lucky and fortunate, rather than disappointed that our first prize didn’t work out. I spoke with my husband about it and he admitted that I am right, and that right now he would indeed feel that way – but that he doesn’t know how he would feel in the future.

I also said that I wouldn’t think about the consequences of this, because that was too scary. I said that for now I would be an ostrich and stick my head in the sand. But I lied to you and to myself. I’ve thought about it a lot and it’s scaring the living daylights out of me. Worse than that, it’s putting so much pressure on our last transfer…. I feel as though not only is this my last chance to be pregnant and carry my own child, but it could also be the deciding factor over whether or not my marriage fails or succeeds.

So I’ve decided to reach out, and to write about it, rather than keep it all inside of myself and make myself sick with worry. These are some of my thoughts:

  1. If he’s not prepared to adopt, that means the only option to have a child is surrogacy. Whilst this is amazing, I’m not 100% sure that I have the emotional reserves for this and I am 200% sure that I don’t want to spend so much money on it and the ensuing life limbo that, that causes.
  2. Is it fair for me to deny him the chance of a biological child if he can? There is absolutely nothing wrong with his sperm – he could father a flipping nation and the only reason he can’t is because he chose to love me with my crappy eggs and endometriosis and underlying immune issues and and and. Note – I do not feel guilty about this as I didn’t choose this, I’m more trying to figure out what is fair vs unfair.
  3. Is it fair on me? Is 4 years not long enough? In fact it’s longer than 4 years. We’ve been together ten years and after two years together we had been living together for a year and had just bought property together. I was very ready for children but he wasn’t – so I waited until he was ready. And then it didn’t happen so I waited another four years. I’m pretty tired of waiting.
  4. Adoption in South Africa is much more financially manageable and there is a guarantee of a baby at the end… we could be 100% assured of having a baby by next Christmas vs the fact that even surrogacy doesn’t guarantee a baby.
  5. What does it say about his character that he isn’t open to adoption? I’ve tried not to judge him and to understand where he is coming from, but I guess there is a small part of me that does. Does it make him unkind? Lacking in generosity? Narcissistic that he can only see himself loving an extension of himself?
  6. Is it fair on me that I have had to give up my genes and potentially even my ability to carry our child and yet he isn’t willing to consider adoption? I resent this.
  7. And then the big one. If we can’t resolve this, what does that mean for our marriage? Does it mean we will have to divorce? And then this is where I really start going down the rabbit hole… does it mean we should never have gotten married in the first place? That it wasn’t ‘meant to be’? Does it mean that the reason we haven’t been able to fall pregnant is actually because our marriage wasn’t meant to last and we weren’t meant to share children together? Does the fact that our sex life has taken such a dive mean that there is no longer passion for each other and a slow decline to a sexless marriage is inevitable and one or either of us will eventually call it?

Guys, I need help.  The truth is that we have a strong marriage. We’ve held each other through immense pain over the last couple of years and have a deep love and commitment to one another. He is my absolute best friend and the person I look forward to coming home to each day. We make each other laugh and choose to spend time together over anybody else. Over and above that, the whole aim of putting everything into this next transfer is that it will be successful and all of these ‘what if’s’ will have been for nothing. I don’t want to go into our last transfer sitting with all of these anxieties. I need to claw my way out of the rabbit hole. Has anyone else had similar experiences or feelings? It would be helluva reassuring to know I’m not the only one. Even if you haven’t, please feel free to throw your two cents in – as you can tell, ANY and ALL insights or advice would be appreciated right now!

 

 

Thoughts on stopping

Firstly, I’m really sorry about my silence over the last few months. WordPress tells me that I haven’t posted since July (gasp)!!! I’ve been mulling over a few things and have several posts in mind but today I want to engage with the concept of stopping trying… something that has been very much on my mind recently.

We have decided that our next transfer will be our last. We’ve been trying with my body for four years now… our entire married life. Thankfully we were together for 6 years prior to getting married so we did have a lot of pre-infertility time together, but it is rather sad that married life has been such a struggle. Anyway, I am tired. So very tired. What am I tired of?

Although I have continued to work through this whole time, my work has definitely suffered. I haven’t gone to any training workshops, I haven’t done much reading, I haven’t engaged in proper supervision… it’s as though my mind has been in an infertility fog. So consumed with the whole process of infertility that there hasn’t been room for anything else. I would like to get back on track professionally – go to some workshops, gain some new ideas for therapy, find a great supervisor and start reading again.

Travel. Although we have still managed to go away on one or two holidays over this time, we have spent SOOOO much money on infertility that there hasn’t been money left for any great adventures. Ironically, over the last four years we have both done pretty well financially, better than we ever had done before. Had we not been spending all our savings on infertility, we would have been able to go on several awesome holidays. I don’t begrudge the money we spent as I could never go through life knowing that we didn’t try everything we could – but still, limbo. I’d like to stop spending money on infertility and start spending money on one or two great adventures as I’ve always loved travelling.

Hmmm, what else… our sex life. I won’t even go there but suffice to say it’s taken a major dive.

Relationships – I’ve withdrawn from a lot of my friendships. Over the course of the journey it has been for several reasons. Sometimes because I didn’t have the energy to put in the effort, other times because my infertility gave me a new perspective on certain friendships (realizing that they weren’t the friendships I thought they were), and still other times because my friends were blessed and I wasn’t and the ensuing emotions were too difficult to handle. But I’m tired of this – I want to live again and to enjoy my friends.

Family. My family don’t live locally and so in order to see them, they have to come to me or I have to go to them (obviously). Due to infertility treatments…time and money, I haven’t been to see them as much as I would like to. This saddens me and is another thing that I am tired of. Although we are all in touch daily, I want to go and visit my family more and feel more a part of their lives.

My body. I’ve put on 14kg over the course of my treatment and have gone from being pretty fit (I was with a personal trainer prior to my wedding and was fit and strong for the first time in a long time), to being very unfit and weak. My back is really playing up and I know I need to shift some weight and get my core strength back. But I find infertility treatments so consuming – time, money, energy – that I have little motivation to exercise. I would like to get my body back and to feel fit and strong again.

Those are some of the reasons that I can think of right now, but I know there are others. I’m not entirely sure what we will do if our next transfer does not work. My husband is not open to adoption and I had an epiphany about this yesterday. For the longest time I’ve tried to persuade (read beg) him to figure out what the block is and to do something about it. I’ve raged and got mad and sad and desperate. It may pass but my current feeling on it is that if he is not open to it, I will not do anything more to try and change his mind because it will always feel like second best, like settling… and I couldn’t bear that. I have no idea what the implications of this are and they scare me so much that I am not even going to engage with them right now. I’m going to be an ostrich and assume it never comes to that. Because I would love to adopt – would have done so four years ago and can definitely see myself adopting in the future… but not with my husband. So yes, scary stuff.

A lovely friend out of the blue offered to be a surrogate. This is an absolutely amazing offer – the kindness and selflessness just blows me away and we may very well take her up on her offer. The dilemma is that it means many of the above points become null and void and I’m not sure yet how I feel about that. So much uncertainty guys! But isn’t that one of the defining features of infertility… uncertainty and waiting… and my tolerance for both is almost done.

A friendship dilemma

Dear fellow infertility friends and warriors, I need your advise.

So this year is my twenty year school reunion. I went to the ten year and it was pretty diabolical… All the same school dynamics and cliques ten years on. I’m not the only one who felt that way and two good friends of mine from school who I keep in touch with plus one other who wasn’t such a good friend, all decided not to go. We started a whatsapp group and usually share inappropriate jokes and be rude about people from school. It’s been light hearted so far. Two out of the four of us have children and two of us don’t. The other one who doesn’t has chosen not to have children and they all know about my struggles. Recently the group dynamics have shifted with the one girl sharing posts and articles about mothering and then various discussions ensue. For example last week she messaged ‘you know you’re a mother when you mouth fuck you behind your child’s back ‘ (her daughters is 18 months). Yesterday she posted a long post about how awful the world is and how much she worries about her child and they all agreed you need fellow mother allies in this terribly journey of motherhood. Now, I know you need allies… Of course you do and I know mothering is hard and I’m sure there are times when you want to shout expletives behind your toddlers back. But given that there are only two mothers in the group, why on earth can’t they just sms eachother directly?

One of the (many) worst parts of infertility for me has been that it is so utterly isolating and ‘othering’. I feel like I can’t connect with my peers, as though I am different and don’t have anything to offer on one of the primary shared experiences of women my age. I don’t get to talk about breastfeeding and sleep and teething and first days at school and birthday parties and and and. And now I feel the same way on this group and I don’t like it. But I am also a peacekeeper and hate to be melodramatic about this whole thing. I’ve considered just leaving the group, but know that will cause confusion and concern. I’ve considered asking them to limit their discussions but I feel immature doing that. I’ve also considered just sucking it up and ignoring the messages (ie. Continue what I have been doing). Sadly the truth is that when I suck it up I avoid rocking the boat but am left with the all too common experience of internalising my own emotions. What to do?! What would you do or what have you done?

My husband is hurting

For the first time in 3 years my husband broke down. We had gone to lunch with an old friend of mine who is younger than me and lives overseas.
We hadn’t seen her since her wedding three years ago (where I didn’t drink as we had just had an IUI and we were still hopeful we would be pregnant). She is now 26 weeks pregnant and just the loveliest vision of a beautifully fecund lady. I enjoyed our visit but they left before we did and I was aware of a sigh of relief at having endured something difficult. All of a sudden a well of emotion opened up in front of us and we were swept into it rather unawares… Anger and frustration with eachother without knowing why. A latent sadness and disappointment at our own situation. So many confused feelings. My husband turned on me in anger. Unjustified, unfair, unreasonable but raw. Ending in tears and apologies…’I didn’t mean to be angry, he said, it just hurts so much’.
I get it, I feel the same.

We have to call it one day. To make a decision that will end this phase of our lives. We can’t live like this forever. One day we need to awaken to a new reality where life feels different. We have no idea where to start, what this means or how it will evolve. Time will tell.