4DP5DT…written Saturday 19 November.

The TWW wait is going OK.  I’ve been feeling calm and have been sleeping reasonably well…always a good indicator for me. The hardest part right now is the clexane Injections! Good lord! I had no idea what they would be like but it turns out that they burn like hell for about ten minutes and leave a bruise. I can actually tell how many days I’ve been taking it simply by counting my bruises. Leaning next to counters or trolleys is very sore. Oh well, nothing to be done and if it helps achieve a healthy pregnancy it’ll be all worth it. 

Today my husband and I were at lunch and I shared something that was on my mind. I know I’ve said that this is my last try but I’ve been wondering if I meant that. I think if it ends in miscarriage then I do, but if it simply doesn’t take and we get a negative result, I’d like to try again with the two frozen embryos we have. My  husband was delighted… he wanted the same thing but didn’t want to push me into another cycle if I wasn’t up for it. Yay for being on the same page!

1DP5DT…written 16 November.

We got news this morning that one embryo made it to day 6 and was frozen. This is the same outcome as our last cycle, the difference being that this cycle we used 8 eggs compared to 16 last cycle, making this cycle more successful. So we now have two frozen embryos and 8 eggs remaining…still hoping we don’t need them though. I’m feeling ok today, although some work frustrations have given me a niggly headache, grrrr.

Transfer day…written Tuesday 15 November. 

Transfer  was booked for 11.30 today but we had to arrive at 10 for the atosiban drip. Everything went smoothly, although they ran an hour late and so my bladder was FULL. The doctor was actually horrified and emptied it a little with a catheter (ouch….it still stings to wee), repeating that he couldn’t believe I had managed with that full a bladder… lol, what can I say, women are just better at tolerating these things than men?! 

What was very nice was that our actual doctor did the transfer for the first time ever. There are four specialists at the clinic and they usually rotate days…We’ve just never been there for transfer on our doctors day. But today he requested that he get called down to do our transfer despite it not being his day, which I really appreciated. He knows how long a road we’ve travelled and it was nice to not be treated as a number. 

The transfer went very smoothly once my bladder was deflated a bit. Today, Day 5 we had 4 good looking blasts, three hatching. We transferred the two best and will know tomorrow whether or not the remaining two will be frozen. I really hope they will be although more than that, I’m hoping that we don’t need any more embryo transfers ever again. We even took photos for the first time ever because we’re convinced that we will never be going back into that room. 

I also did some other things this time around which I’ve never done before. I kept my feet nice and warm. I hear this is good for blood flow to the uterus. I also avoided ice cold water and only drank tea and warm water. I know this sounds odd but I’ve met a lovely massage therapist who also does Reiki. He offered to do distance healing for me…. I’m pretty sceptical but hey, can’t hurt right? He also really helped me to visualise positive outcomes and to get my own energy right, which I did, and felt very calm and peaceful… and even a bit optimistic. From transfer my husband and I went to my naturopath so that I could have acupuncture. This was great and I’m going back again on Tuesday. Now I am just chilling with a warm heat bag on my tummy, warm feet and pineapple ready for dessert! 

Tonight I will start baby aspirin and clexane and continue with the estropause, uterogestane and estradot every second day. (Update on the clexane….ouch, it burns). 

I really couldn’t do much more and am hoping that this is our cycle. Test day is scheduled for 28 November which is 13 days post 5 day transfer. I’ve queried this as it is longer than previous cycles, so we’ll see what they say. 

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.

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:

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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!

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?