The REAL egg retrieval story

Before I start, thank you to everyone who has commented on my last two blogs… Thank you for your kindness, encouragement and support. I will reply individually to each of you when my head is not so full. On top of the egg donor process my beloved 91 year old granny has taken a bad turn and we have had to move her from her home of 25 years, to a frail care unit… A story for another day but it’s been sad and exhausting but also a stark reminder of the circle of life and how important family is to me. Anyway… On with the REAL story, which we only found out this afternoon.

So it turns out that they retrieved not 20, but 40 eggs!!!! When the doctor phoned me unexpectedly this afternoon and asked if I was sitting down, I immediately assumed the worst. But no, for once in this whole long depressing journey, there was some good news. Having said that, I so convinced myself yesterday… With the help of you guys…. that quality was better than quantity, that I am not sure whether to be elated, dismayed or worried. I will decide once I have processed it a bit more.

Anyway, they didn’t tell us because the lab was very busy and our doctor instructed them to process 20 as a start and see what happened. As we know, 16 were mature, 9 fertilised and as of today we have 5 ongoing embryos. They processed the remaining 20 later yesterday afternoon and there were another 16 mature eggs which have been frozen as eggs (not fertilised). He said they don’t like to waste embryos??

The catch is that the cost of freezing so many eggs wasn’t included in the original fees, and so there is an additional R12 000 freezing fee. Apparently eggs are frozen on (Japanese) paddles, and they freeze two to a paddle as this has shown to secure the best thawing rate… Similar to fresh. So we need to pay the cost of 8 paddles. We also have the option of selling these eggs to our clinic at the cost of freezing them.

I don’t even know what to think. Obviously I would prefer as many eggs and embryos as possible to enable us to have the two children we want. If on Monday our transfer yields two babies that grow healthily for 40 weeks (maybe less with twins), then we don’t need any more eggs. If this doesn’t happen though…if we get a negative result or God forbid we miscarry again, or even if we have a singleton, then more eggs is better. I also feel a bit funny about our child having too many half brothers or sisters wondering around in our city (like we should move when they become adolescents incase they unknowingly fall in love with a sibling)…. Do you see my ability to worry coming through here? I’m a bloody superstar worrier at times. The point is, we aren’t sure what to do with all these extra, unexpected eggs. We have the weekend to decide and can decide after transfer on Monday? Thoughts or opinions my blogging friends?

Work, Holidays, Health, Eggs and other things

I  recently realised that it’s been a while since I posted about our egg donor process and I guess there are a few reasons for this. Mostly it’s because I have tried to approach the entire experience very differently from how I approached our IVF cycles last year. Specifically, I have been consciously trying to be more detached from both the process and the outcome. Whilst this may not be ideal, it is the best, and in fact the only way that I can maintain some semblance of sanity whilst trying AGAIN to have a baby – with all the many hundred’s and thousand’s of soul agonizing fears that this entails.

To this end, I have made very conscious efforts to focus on other things in my life besides trying to have a baby. Whilst last year was completely and utterly consumed by IVF and a miscarriage, this year has been very different. I have put a lot more energy into my work and have found this to be slightly exhausting but also rewarding. An upside to this has also been that I have earned a bit more money and have done some nice things such as buy myself a bicycle and book a long weekend for myself and my husband in Cape Town, which is coming up soon. I have also booked flights to go and visit my mom. She lives in Grahamstown and I will be going over the annual Grahamstown Arts Festival – so I have already booked a few shows and am much looking forward to them. My sister and niece will be visiting simultaneously, which is AWESOME!

Alongside this we have also limited the number of people we have told. Last year we were very open about our IVF cycles and whilst we so appreciated the outpouring of love and support that we received, we also became exhausted by answering the millions of questions and messages of concern – especially when things went from good to bad…to worse…and even more bad. So this time, only our immediate family know what is happening and they have been under strict instructions to keep the information to themselves. I have explained to all our other loved ones exactly how we feel and why, and they have all been very respectful of our decision to be more private this time. This has certainly helped me to maintain the level of detachment that I want and need.

I also realised with some horror the other day that I had neglected some important non-fertility health-related issues. Simple things like going to the dentist and having a pap smear and breast exam. Isn’t that ironic in so many ways? I am happy to report that I have now been to the dentist, had two fillings and have a bite guard for night time as I am grinding my teeth. I have had a pap smear and breast exam and all is good and healthy. And I have also had a whole lot of routine blood tests – sugar, glucose, liver and kidney function etc etc and I am in great health. My cholesterol is 1.5 which is awesome. So, I am ready to be a good oven.

And this is a good thing, because our donor  had her egg retrieval this morning and we are currently sitting by the phone, waiting with baited breath to hear how many mature eggs were retrieved. Transfer will be done on Day 5, which is Monday! A huge part of me knows how big this is, but another part of me is like, meh, whatev’s. Physically, the donor process has been like a walk in the park compared to my own stims and retrievals last year. It is very easy for me to forget that anything is actually happening! I went for a scan last week and my lining was 8mm and expected to grow more, so they were happy with that and I was told there was no need to go back again until transfer. So for me personally, this process has involved one injection, one scan and some daily oestrogen tablets – child’s play I tell you! I’m sure things will start feeling real once we get that call to tell us how things are going. I will let you all know!

Message in a dream

Last night I dreamt that I was found guilty of murder and given a life sentence. The legal system was deeply flawed and the whole court case was a complete joke. I knew that I was innocent but as much as I tried to prove myself and to argue my case, it didn’t help and I was jailed. In jail I raged. I cried and screamed and grieved. I said I would rather die than live out my days stuck in this prison. Eventually I decided to escape. My husband and I fled to Italy and sought refuge there. It was wonderful. The liberation was intoxicating and we spent hours on a gondola with the wind blowing through our hair drinking in the beauty of the world outside my prison.

I love dreams. I am always amazed at how creative our psyches are in our sleeping state. Yesterday I wrote of feeling completely stuck, feeling desperate and not wanting to live like this indefinitely, feeling the unfairness of the whole deal. And then poof… That dream. What interests me is that my psyche offered me a resolution, a means of escape in the form of my husband. My husband is Italian and it is therefore symbolically relevant that we escaped to Italy. Although my husband also suffers a lot of the feelings I do related to our infertility, his Catholic faith is very important to him and he therefore has faith that even if we don’t understand why this is happening to us, god does and god has a plan for us. This helps him to not feel as despairing as I do and it gives him a lot of hope. On the other hand I have never been religious in a mainstream sense although I am spiritual (but that’s a conversation for another day). The bottom line is that I think my dream was telling me to have more faith, even if I have to lean on my husbands faith for now. Thank you psyche, I will try my best. So today I am going to stop moping and take my beautiful dog for a walk in the sun whilst being grateful that my flexible job allows me to do this.

Let me introduce myself….

I wrote the below paragraphs as the content for my ‘About’ page (which btw I really hope I have done correctly as I am still trying to successfully navigate WordPress, being a complete WordPress/ blog, novice). Anyhow, I thought it was fitting as my first post, by way of introduction…

I am a 35 year old clinical psychologist from South Africa and have been working with children for the last ten years. I love working with children and families and have wanted my own children since I was about 15 (I’m not even kidding). I am married to a wonderful man who I know will make a great father and we are both blessed to have good and close relationships with our families. When our childen finally arrrive, they will be born into a lot of love. We are both very responsible and so waited for the ‘perfect’ time to start a family…. strong marriage, financially stable, lovely house with plenty of space…. turns out the perfect time for my body would have been about ten years ago, according to my latest doctor (cue heart break).

We have been trying to conceive for two years now. For me though, I feel like I have been childless forever and the last two years have felt incredibly long. I knew early on that there was a problem and we have been under the specialist care of a fertility clinic for 18 months now. It has been a frustrating journey which started with the diagnosis of multicystic ovaries (similar yet different to PCOS), then endometriosis (at which point I had a laperoscopy). We have had numerous medicated cycles (clomid and femara) which were successful in getting me to ovulate but did not result in pregnancy. I then developed hostile cervical mucus (apologies for disclosing too much information but that does seem to be the nature of infertility) as a side effect of the medication. One round of IUI on clomid and femara and one round of IUI with injectables were the only IUI’s that our doctor was willing to do as he felt that our chances of success with further rounds was not good. He recommended IVF. At this point we decided to get a second opinion and I was diagnosed with Diminshed Ovarian Reserve. A huge blow. After raging at the first doctor we realised that regardless of the diagnosis, both doctors are recommending the same treatment and so we have put the first clinic behind us and are having our first round of IVF in my next cycle with the doctor who diagnosed DOR.

I have felt extremely alone at many times during this journey despite having a good support system. There is something so intensely painful and isolating about infertility which is hard to express to people who have not experienced it. It is also such a looooonggg journey and I have become tired of always being in the same place (childless), and always telling my friends and family the same thing. Because of this I have been lurking in the shadows of the blogging world for a while now, finding immence comfort from realising that I am not alone. I have finally decided to take the plunge and start my own blog…. whether we fall pregnant on the first or third (or fourth or fifth….you get the picture), I know that it will be good to share the journey with others.

I initially wanted to call the blog simply, ‘between the lines’. I have never had the pleasure of a positive test, never had the joy of seeing two pink lines, be it a pregnancy test or even an OPK. I long with all my heart to see those two pink lines. In the meantime, I live in limbo between them. Between the lines also encapsulated another dynamic which is relevant to me….I spend my days reading beteeen the lines of the stories of the children and families who I work with, trying to understand what cannot be said or is too painful to express. Unfortunately ‘ between the lines’ was taken and so ‘Waiting between the lines’ was born. I hope to give birth to something a little less one dimensional sometime soon.