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.

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. 


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.

A funny thing

The other day I went to collect my medication from the pharmacy and the pharmacist asked if I was pregnant…. I can’t even remember how the conversation went but somehow I ended up telling her that we had done ivf and that it had cost a lot of money (I don’t normally volunteer this information but she asked some pretty direct questions). She also didn’t know what ivf was, so I told her… At which point she looked at me with great confusion and asked why we didn’t just try ‘the old fashioned way’. Thinking I had surely misunderstood her, and feeling equally confused, I asked if she meant why didn’t I just have sex with my husband, to which she replied ‘yes’…. with a big smile on her face, as though she had just solved all my problems. No words.

Spotting and freaking out

Last week Wednesday I had a tiny bit of spotting. Of course I panicked and phoned my clinic. The nurse talked me down and reassuranced me that everything was fine and that 30% of women spot in pregnancy. I couldn’t help being fed up with this… I always seem to fall on the wrong side of statistics!  Yesterday we flew to Cape Town and met up with friends for lunch. The setting was beautiful but instead of enjoying it, I was in an absolute state of panic as I went to the bathroom and there was what I would consider a lot of red blood for a pregnant lady. Not like I would get on my period, but almost. I called my clinic and asked if I should see a doctor or try and have a scan. They felt that going for a scan would make my anxiety worse as at 5w3d’s there wouldn’t be much to see and that would be worse. Again she said that it can be normal and to try and take it easy (physically). The spotting stopped towards the evening but there has been a small amount again this morning. Has anyone else had this experience???

Infertility, grief and acceptance… I was wrong. Maybe time does heal?

I’ve had some thoughts churning around in my brain for a while now, and I wanted to try and crystallise them by writing them down. I don’t know if I will be able to express them adequately – they feel rather like wispy vapours drifting around on the edges of my brain, and I fear I might not be able to gather them into a coherent concept. But let me try.

These thoughts started with my own experience of finding myself in a better place this year, despite the fact that I still do not have a baby in my arms. I said for a long time that the worst thing about infertility was that it just got worse and worse over time. It wasn’t like a once-off traumatic event where, despite the devastation of the event, time would pass and with it would come healing. Infertility felt like a bad event that just kept happening over and over again – like being caught in some kind of warped Ground Hog Day where time did not heal but rather, the more time passed, the worse things got. However, my own journey has shown me that this is not necessarily the case. From a personal perspective, my husband and I have moved beyond the absolute devastation of our miscarriage last year, into a space where, through giving up on using my own eggs, we have been able to find a new sense of hope. This has been an interesting experience for me. If you had asked me a year, or two years ago, how I would feel about using donor eggs, I would never have anticipated feeling relief, or being able to view it as a positive experience. I remember vividly sitting in our previous fertility clinic on Sunday 23 February 2013 for our last attempt at Artificial lnsemination. I remember the date because it is my birthday and I was convinced that this amazing alignment of the universe’s timing would result in a take-home baby. We were sitting waiting for our sperm to be processed and we got chatting to a young couple next to us about why we were all there. They had recently received the diagnosis of Diminished Ovarian Reserve and I remember feeling absolutely horrified for them. I remember walking out the clinic, turning to my husband and saying, ‘thank God that is not us’. Famous last words. If anyone had asked me on that day, how I would feel about using donor eggs, I would have reacted with absolute shock and horror. I could not have imagined a future self that would not only feel OK about using donor eggs, but who would feel relieved and hopeful. I guess what I’m saying is that I was wrong. Time does heal. Events may get worse and you may not have a baby in your arms, but somehow if you keep moving forward, the darkness can lift. You may even find yourself embracing options that might at one point have felt unimaginable.

These thoughts extend to my experience of other ladies who I have met through blogging. Recently I have been struck by the enormous courage of the women whose blogs I read and who I feel have become my virtual friends over the past months. There are women here who have suffered unspeakable losses – physical losses, like the loss of their babies, due to miscarriage or pre-term delivery. And then there are women who have not been able to get pregnant at all and so have suffered the loss of hopes and dreams, the absolute heartache of unchosen childlessness. These women have been through hell and back. There have been days where they have cried, wailed, suffered, raged and questioned. But over time, I have witnessed them working through these emotions…. and coming out the other side. Certainly not unscathed, definitely not unchanged… but they’ve made it. Some have made it with babies in their arms, some have not. Some have had their own biological children through sacrifice and perseverance and enormous amounts of courage. Some have been equally courageous by admitting that their dreams for a biological child are over and they have found a new way forward – whether (like myself) through egg donation, sperm donation, adoption, surrogacy or choosing to remain childless. For each of these women, the journey has been different and the way through the darkness is unique for everyone. For some women, the journey is circular – finding a way forward and reaching a point of acceptance and then circling back again into the darkness due to some kind of change, be it external or internal triggers. I fully accept that although I have found renewed hope, I may very well circle back into despair depending on what happens next. But I do hope that I remember this newfound perspective which is:

1. Time does heal. Emotions evolve and the storm does pass. There is no way of knowing how long the storm will last, how long it will take to pass, or what it will take to get through it. But trust that, Somehow. It. Will. Pass.

2. The storms make us stronger, and I truly believe that we end up better people and better parents as a result of the challenges we have faced. In trying to make sense of some of these thoughts I turned to the work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, whose work with the dying has helped inform a lot of understanding into the experiences of loss in more general terms. I read a beautiful quote that made me think of many people I know in real life, but also a lot of the ladies I have come to know in cyberspace. I’ll end with it:


Transfer day

A transfer after a donor egg retrieval process is a different ball game completely to a transfer after your own retrieval process… In my humble opinion that is! Last transfer I had been in severe pain since the days following retrieval and had a stomach bug to boot. This time, I felt strong and healthy and my mind was at peace knowing we have eggs in reserve. We had two grade 4.11 embryos, which in sa is the best grade that they give. One was hatching and the embryologist predicted that the other one would hatch within a few hours. There was one embryo that would be frozen today and 3 others that they will monitor overnight and freeze tomorrow if possible. So we may be in the ridiculously amazing position of having 4 frozen Day 6 embryos and 16 frozen eggs. For a person with DOR, this is manna straight from heaven. Now we wait!