A rollercoaster in early pregnancy

We finally did it! After a second FET we made it to pregnancy. WOOOOOO friggin HOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Our beta was due during the holidays when the clinic was closed, so I did a home pregnancy test and it came up immediately. Amazing stuff. It was actually very, very surreal after all this time, to finally see those two lines. My husband cried. I was pretty speechless. You’re always hoping for the best but prepared for the worse during a journey like ours.

A few days later, my beta came back at 5 weeks at a massive 25,000 or thereabouts. We were on cloud 9 and booked our scan in for a couple of weeks later. I was feeling similar to how I felt with Little One, pretty nauseous at times and extremely tired. We were on our way.

I had a couple of days where light brown spotting occurred. I wasn’t overly concerned. With my first pregnancy, which was natural, I had that from 4 weeks right through to week 9. Then last Thursday I felt terribly nauseous all day, which I take is a good sign that things are going well and hormones are raging, but that night brought us the worse fright. I stood up and felt a warm gush. Yep. Blood. Yep. Red. Yep. Bright. Through the following few hours I had several more substantial gushes with a couple of clots too. Scary shit. I tried not to panic, especially as hubby was not holding it together (he had finally let the emotion of this journey in on seeing the HPT). I centred myself, knowing there wasn’t much I could do if the worst was happening. In the morning I phoned straight through to my specialists rooms. I reported the events of the night before and that I hadn’t bled since, had no cramping during the episode or after but was spotting brown and red. I couldn’t get scanned that day and had to wait the entire weekend to know more!!! I was told to go to the local hospital if I had anymore bleeding or things became worse.

That weekend was hell. We literally just willed time to pass. My husband was a wreck. He couldn’t sleep or eat. I was in a bubble. Refusing to feel anything. I had another slightly smaller bleed and another clot on Saturday afternoon which stopped as quickly as it had started. I lay in bed or on the sofa, doing nothing and feeling empty. We feared the worst. We were pissed. This was a chromosomally normal embryo! What were the chances?!

Monday morning eventually arrived. We were up and out the door when it was still dark and the first people at the clinic. The nurse warned that at just over 6 weeks it might be hard to see what was happening exactly. But there on the screen was our little 6 week 3 day old baby with a strong heartbeat a 128bpm. Unbelievable! Wow! It was what I had hoped for not allowed myself to belief would happen. The nurse checked everything possible and spotted a, I quote “small”, area where the bleed had come from at the back of the uterus. She reiterated how small it was and that everything looked good. It baffles me still as the bleed was certainly not insubstantial. We saw the specialist too, and both reassured us things should be fine and that this does happen sometimes. I don’t want to get ahead of myself yet, so I don’t want to encourage anyone that has bleeding like mine. But it is somewhat reassuring to know that bleeding doesn’t always mean the end immediately.

Later that day my blood work came back from a test I’d had whilst at the clinic which indicated falling progesterone. It was down to 26. I wondered if that was linked to the bleeding. My HgC though had risen well to 90,000ish. At that point my specialist switched me to daily PIO injections with the one pessary at night. We have been following this protocol for a few days now. My husband does the injections and so far so good. They really aren’t bad. I’m still spotting though. Pretty much just brown now, with the odd spot of red.

It was a massive relief to see the baby on the screen. It looks strong! But our anxiety is certainly creeping slowly back in. I’m now wondering if progesterone has been the problem all along even though test results have come back normal in fertility investigations. I wonder if there is a case for normal ranges not applying to all individuals? With my suspicions of failed implantations all those years ago when we began TTC #2, to spotting before a period, to a cancelled fresh transfer due to progesterone rising before it should and to a failed FET on a lower progesterone dosage there seems to me to be some strong indicators. All this is floating round in my head and now with the continuing spotting we are worrying about whether my progesterone is going to stop us holding on to this pregnancy. I’m nearly 7 weeks. I need another 3 weeks to get to safer waters when the placenta starts doing its thing.

My specialist has sent me on to an Obstetrician now. After the scan and the progesterone adjustment I guess she felt happy enough to. I see him in a few weeks, so I feel like we are in a weird limbo until then. I can go to either in an emergency, but in the meantime no one is really tracking us which feels very strange after all this intervention and poking and prodding. I’m going to request a progesterone test again for my piece of mind. I want to see that it is rising back to where it was again now I’m on PIO. Maybe I will do a second pessary too?

I hope the spotting disappears so I can relax a bit more. I’m developing a fear of going to the toilet right now! I hope PIO is good to me. I hope my baby is still happily growing in there. I hope my body helps us out. I hope for the best at this time of anxiety and fear, where I feel so happy but also afraid to be joyful. I hope for dreams come true when I’m afraid to look too far ahead.

Wish me luck folks. It’s going to be a tense, rocky few weeks!

 

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IVF, disappointments and a story still to tell.

In July 2015 I snatched back control of this life of mine. I feel like I have been playing tug of war with something unseen for years now, so it felt oh so good to flex those muscles and do some thing that would bring us the closest we have been in a long time to the “p word”.

We began our ICSI cycle (our specialist felt this would be the best approach despite decent sperm analysis as our unexplained infertility means we are all left guessing what may or may not be happening) sailing smoothly through the stimulation injections. Well, as smoothly as you can when you inject your stomach several times a day, forcing it to puff up to ironically pregnant looking proportions, ovaries are tender, your hormones are a-raging, tiredness is overpowering and you are wrangling with strong emotions. By the time I was ready for egg collection, which fortunately didn’t take long, I could sense how full those throbbing ovaries had become. Even sitting down needed some preparation time just to get in the right position to be comfortable. With the help of gonal f I created 24 mature eggs. I was a bit of an egg heroine apparently, and I came away feeling I could hit this infertility thing across the head and never see it’s ugly face again. The only downer was that my progesterone levels were raised, and meant my lining was out of sync with the growing embryos so a fresh transfer was cancelled. I was annoyed and disappointed, but in hindsight realised how much my body had been through and felt it was good to have some recovery time before a transfer.

It’s a weird time when you wait to hear about fertilization rates. How many mini forms of life have we made? We willed every one to hang on and literally fight for life. One day passed and we found out that 18 had fertilized normally. Amazing! Big sigh of relief. It seemed my body had done me proud and I gave myself permission to relax a little. It is hard to not become attached to these bundles of cells; thinking about how our daughter also began life this way. The overwhelming, mind blowing possibility that one of these early embryos could be the one, left us in a spin of both excitement and fear. At day 3, 13 of our embryos were looking good and we had every reason to feel positive that, finally, we were on the right course. We were nailing this ICSI cycle! The lab rang me on day 6. It was so late in the day, I was seriously worried something had gone very wrong. They delivered the news that 3 had made it to blastocyst stage and they were happy with how they looked. In all honesty we were a little disappointed that our numbers had dropped so rapidly. The embryologist told us that with our initial numbers, they would have expected around 6 to make blastocyst. Our specialist had also put us forward to have any blastocysts PGD tested, so we froze all and had several weeks to mull over questions, disappointments and fears. Do we have a chromosome issue that caused so many to arrest before day 5? Will we be left with any useable embryos? Do I have an egg quality issue even though I have a high reserve? Does my husband have a sperm quality issue despite his count and motility looking normal? Can our ICSI cycle be diagnostic in anyway?

3 weeks passed and I thought I was coping well with the uncertainty. Another call from another embryologist brought a surprising flood of emotion when I heard that 2 out of the 3 blastocysts were absolutely chromosomally normal and one was inconclusive for chromosome 6 (which puts the ball in our court as to whether we use it or not. They don’t know either way if it is normal or not). To know we had 3 useable embryos and that we went through the stimulation round with something to show at the end was a massive relief. I realised how totally spent I was emotionally with all the drugs, the waiting and the desperate hoping. I would not have been ready to throw myself into another stim round at that point, so was grateful for this ray of sunshine. The eye of the storm. A medicated frozen transfer was scheduled for my next cycle. For a few weeks life was good and full of possibility again. We allowed ourselves to dream.

We were ridiculously excited at the arrival of cycle day 1. After several months of waiting (thank you to my mild PCOS for a 45 day wait) I felt close to finding the end of this journey. I even felt I sensed somebody was close by, on their way to us even. I felt that this was it. After years of unexplained subfertility, overcoming stress and anxiety, acupuncture, becoming healthier in mind and body, clomid, ovulation induction and now IVF, surely this would be the moment? Surely we have done everything to prove to the universe that we are ready? My body responded well again to the drugs and my lining thickened up nicely. The transfer of a excellent looking, already hatching blastocyst went perfectly. I remained calm and positive, visualising what was happening inside my body until 7dp5dt. Pink blood. One spot. Fuck. My mind went into a spin. I talked myself down, telling myself if could be a good thing but after that the anxiety just took hold. I was afraid of what the following few days would bring. Two days later some more spotting. Hardly anything, but red. It was over. My period was coming. But, hold up! And here is the mind bending shittyness of this experience … all spotting disappeared. 10dp5dt and I was all clear. I didn’t feel like my period was coming and I allowed myself to feel a glimmer of hope. After all, with the two week wait any symptom could mean ANYTHING. Perhaps I was still in with a shout. We couldn’t take the suspense anymore so we decided to take a home pregnancy test. I was due to have my beta the following morning and wanted to be prepared for that anyway. It was depressingly stark white. I was red with anger. I made a sound that I can’t describe. A scream or a growl. I was green with bitterness and envy. I wanted to message my friends and tell them how lucky they were and how they would never know anything close to what I was experiencing. I was black with sadness. How can this still be happening? How can I have not learned my lesson? How am I still naïve enough to think things will be different?

I’ve done this so many times that I can run through the emotions in break neck speed and get myself functioning again. But it is so much harder when you’re doing all that science can offer you, the stakes are higher, you believe once again and yet the result is still fucking negative. What do I have to do?

I felt hope and belief leave me like a river flowing down a valley. Can I put myself through this again? I don’t know. Probably. Maybe. Can I walk away from it? Yes. No. I wish I could but I don’t think I can. Can I leave my frozen embryos? Certainly not. But I’m not sure I can stop the rush of hope leaving me either.

My specialist was surprised we didn’t have a successful round. With all our results and stats, I think she thought we were going to be a big success story. I don’t think failure is in her vocabulary though, so we are doing an endo scratch next week to increase implantation chances during this next transfer. This is good I think. We aren’t doing the same thing expecting a different result. I have learnt my lesson there. But, sigh, more questions. Is implantation our issue? I always felt in the early years of this journey that we were having failed implantation, but we were also very stressed out at the time. Miss Acupuncture tells me not to let that worry take hold. She thinks we are simply unlucky and that it is a numbers game for us. ‘One day you will hit jackpot,’ she encourages. I wish I had the same unquestioning faith.

In the meantime, wish me luck as I jump aboard the FET train again. Our journey is unfinished. Maybe we will reach our destination this time …

An unexciting no news update

… but I hope it helps you, amuses you or gives you something to do in your spare 5 minutes. An email notification arrived in my inbox from wordpress. I had a comment on an old post. Oh yes! I remember I have a blog. Sometimes, what I have been through on our journey helps someone. I felt inspired to write an update post and this time, I’m doing it not because I need to put my thoughts somewhere, but in case someone out there in the world needs a little bit of understanding. Secondary Infertility is isolating. Secondary Infertility is lonely. Secondary infertility makes you different to the rest of your Mummy friends. Secondary Infertility is a confusing, guilt splattered, faith destroying rollercoaster of a journey that tortures you, flashing visions of your aspirations and desires everywhere you have to take your child and that can shatter your enjoyment of what you already have. I hear your cries and I hold your hand. It has been my demon for 3 and a half years until I chose not to dance with it anymore. I’m still not pregnant. I still find things hard at times. But I know I have all I wished for 10 years ago. I think I’ll focus on that for now. So hello blog and hey you guys. Wow, it feels weird typing away here again. It takes me back to a time when I was exhausted, anxious and metaphorically floating in zero gravity, not able to grasp on to anything. I just looked at my entries and I last posted in October 2014. A whole human gestation period. I could have grown a baby in that time. But I didn’t! Haha Bloody ha. I haven’t even checked in on you guys since then. Sorry. I hope it has been a good and joy filled time for you. I took time out of infertility. We went on a big holiday over Christmas. It was nourishment for the soul. On returning, normality resumed. Husband went back to work and Little One started back at school. Did I tell you about the first day of school? Oh man! What a moment. A moment I felt joy, celebration, pride, excitement and sadness about all at once. Sadness because my baby was off, taking her first steps into the big world without me and I didn’t know if I would get to do it again. So slap a little bit of self pity into that pile of emotion too. So my days have been quieter and emptier now that I’m no longer a full time mum to a preschooler. We spent a few months at the start of this year being quiet and still on TTC. We did nothing. We expected nothing. We got nothing; except, actually, a little bit of silence and rest from the noise and emotional chaos that has been around us for so long now. It was refreshing and I felt better than I had felt for quite some time. I got a job and now actually focus on something else a few days a week! It is blissful. When we felt ready to get back on the horse, so to speak, I saw my specialist again and had a laparoscopy done to determine if there was anything undetected. There was nothing. I don’t mean there were no ovaries or uterus. I just mean, again, all looked healthy and good. That means I’ve pretty much had every fertility test possible done and passed. Yay! Go me! I get a prize or something now, right? No. of course not! Because life is that harsh. Truth. But hey, really, I remember I’m being all positive and shit, so that’s great news. There really is still nothing stopping us getting pregnant (and we are going to book another holiday. Even more good news!). My specialist tells me ovulation induction is still a good option again for us. So another several hundred dollars and some needles down and yet another failed cycle. Ho hum. On a positive note, my periods are loads better since the laparoscopy. I can be out for more than an hour or two and not worry about where the nearest lavatory is! Every cloud and all that. I began to doubt if I had the patience or possibly faith, I’m not sure which, in ovulation induction and instead took some more time out and began to get my head in gear for IVF. However, dark clouds were gathering. And like that, two friends tell me they are pregnant with their third child. Third-fucking-child. Greedy mother f….. Seriously, I feel like I am being tested and tested and tested some more. I’ve counted up that I know of about 80 people who have become pregnant and had their baby OR BABIES in the time we have been trying. Some of those children are over two years old! Granted, some of these people I know are people I knew more than 15 years ago at school, now live on the other side of the world and I only see their lives through Facebook. But a handful are close friends that I have supported despite my own longing and pain. I’ve smiled and cooed at their newborn. I’ve taken their older child for them so they save some sanity. I’ve listened to how hard it is to have more than one child and how they didn’t realise how tough it would be. I’ve pushed their babies pushchair around the shopping mall to soothe them to sleep so they can try on just two more dresses. I’ve had their girls overnight because they are in desperate need of a date night. Surely, I’ve passed the bloody test?! My one pregnant friend is especially close, knowing all I go through on my journey. This makes it particularly hard for me and at this point in time I’d be lying if I said it’s not affected our friendship. Not because I’m not happy for her. I know that everyone deserves to have the family they want. But that’s exactly it! Everyone deserves the family they want, including me. So, I just need some space. But we will be good again, no doubts. Right now, on the eve of IVF, with the forms all ready to be signed by my specialist, I can not be there for my third time pregnant friend in the way I would like to be and have been to others before. It has taken me 3 and half years to reach the point I am at. I can not focus on anyone but me. I can not help her because I need to put myself first. I don’t want to meet for coffee in a park on my day off so her kids can run off steam. I don’t want to pop around whilst (not so little) Little One is at school, whilst her kids run around, screech at each other and come begging for another snack. I don’t want to hear about anyone else’s complete family today because I am being utterly selfish, staying emotionally level and focusing on completing MY family. It is MY turn. Offer me a catch up in a local bar with a glass of bubbles though, I’ll be there. No really, I have 3 priorities: I pledge to go to work and feel valued, enjoy time with the family I already have and feel loved and, get pregnant and feel the amazing rush of new life inside my belly. I can’t bloody wait.