Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Happy Birthday to me!

Mid November 2009. On the day of my 39th birthday I woke to two beautiful little girls showering me with kisses and cuddles and lovely drawings they had done for me. Life was great. I had these healthy little girls, a loving husband, a new house and the sun was shining. There was only one thing hanging over my head that periods were late - I was now up to day 32 again and I was trying not to think about it. I had got to this point last month, only to get my period the next day and hence the roller coaster of emotions had began again.

I won't lie though - it was on my mind all morning. My 5 year old had her kindergarten orientation so I was trying to focus on that, all the while the words were going in one ear and out the other as I thought about what I really needed to do that day. I was either going to have a great birthday or a crappy one - not one where I thought "what if?" all day. On top of that, I was going out with my sister to see Britney Spears in concert that night and I wanted to have a good night so the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to know. As one of the teacher's aides went through what you should and shouldn't pack in a school lunch box (riveting stuff!) I made a decision - I decided once we got out of here, I was going to go and buy a pregnancy test. Just one, so I could get a yes or a no and not obsess about it. If it was yes, it would be a definitive yes so one test would do. After all, could I really achieve the supposedly impossible?

When I picked up my 2 year old from my mum & dad's house on the way through, I mentioned to them that I thought I might be pregnant. It is hard to explain but I kind of just thought I knew I was pregnant. Along with this weird kind of gut feeling, I had really sore boobs - mind you, a common pregnancy symptom though something I never had with my first two pregnancies - so I was thinking that maybe, just maybe, it was a sign. Mum agreed I should go and buy a test as you never know. Stranger things have happened.

I took my little princesses to the supermarket and bought a couple of bits and pieces and ONE PREGNANCY TEST. I was very blase about it all, took my time at the shops, and we even stopped for a babychino on the way home. Even when we got home, I took my time again, unpacked the groceries, got the kids some lunch, fluffed around a bit and then as if an oversight, thought I may as well do the test now. I took the sample, put it up out of reach of little hands and trotted off to work out what I was going to wear that night. Believe it or not, I actually forgot about it for ten minutes or so.

Unlike with all the other tests where I sat and watched the first line come up, desperately willing the second one to magically appear next to it, I had actually not even given it a thought. When I did remember, I wandered into the bathroom, with no real expectation and casually picked it up and glanced down at it. I felt a shiver go all over me for a split second....were my eyes deceiving me? There were two pink lines in front of me, right? It took a few seconds to sink in but when I stared down at the stick, there was no doubt. There was definitely two pink lines there. I called hubby and told him and he was so excited. He asked if I was sure, did I do another test and then I was frustrated because I had stubbornly only bought the one. Either way, I could do twenty tests right about now and it would still say the same thing - blow me down with a feather, I had achieved the almost impossible - I WAS FINALLY PREGNANT! In between IUI cycles and completely naturally.

I phoned the clinic and they were very excited for me and asked me to come in for a blood test in the morning to confirm. They got a message to Dr M for me and she was delighted. She thinks maybe all the insemination attempts she had made perhaps had "opened things up", so to speak and allowed this little miracle to occur. I just believe we are blessed.

I called my parents and they were ecstatic and obviously I told my sister as I was going out with her that night and you couldn't get the smile off my face. Needless to say, the Britney concert wasn't fantastic but I may as well have been listening to two cats howling at the moon for all I cared - I was finally pregnant and our prayers had been answered : )

Happy Halloween!

My mother suggested I try the temperature method to try and fall pregnant, as this is how she worked it out for my sister and I. I scoffed at first but then thought, why not, I have nothing to lose. As I explained earlier, I was told it was "highly unlikely" I would fall pregnant naturally due to the presence of the scar tissue in the way, and since I wasn't on the pill, cest la vie!

It was Halloween morning and roughly when I thought I was ovulating so after taking my temperature, I noticed the spike. Show time! As luck would have it, we were catching up with friends for dinner and my parents were having the kids so we had the night to ourselves. Maybe, I thought to myself. Having said that, I didn't obsess about it, didn't even tell hubby, and just enjoyed the company, good food, good wine and especially the one-on-one time with my hubby for a change. It had been a busy week and hubby and I had not had much "us" time so this one night was our one chance to make it happen. It was nice to not have to get up to little hands in our faces the next morning but once we got them back at lunchtime, it was back to the busy routine and no more "us" time but more mummy & daddy time again for the week. That said, that one time had better count ha ha! Who could ever have predicted what would happen next....

IUI - Take #3

Early October 2009 - one month until my 39th birthday and I was fully aware that my personal time frame was closing in fast. If I want to complete my baby making days by my 40th birthday, time was running out. In my fantasy world, I had hoped to get pregnant in Vegas in January and have had the baby by now and it was frustrating, 10 months later, to still be trying. As the words of the song go, you can't always get what you want...

Our cycle this month was pretty straight forward, much the same as last month. The drugs produced two good follicles, in fact, better ones than last month (again, whatever that really means??) and I was inseminated under anaesthetic once again. The difference this time was that I went straight home and straight to bed for two days. Sounds silly but I tried not to stand up unless I had to ie toilet and shower to make sure that the sperm stayed, for want of a better phrase, "up there".

We had moved into our new house by this stage and were getting ready to take a family holiday up the coast in a couple of weeks time. All things going well, I would get a positive result the week before we left and have an enjoyable time away with my family, contemplating the excitement of a new baby. Either that or the disappointment of a negative result which would be accompanied by lots of margaritas and indulgences that I would otherwise not allow my pregnant self.

I was at a party the night before we left, and I was up to day 32 this time. SURELY this was it..SURELY the menstruation monster could not be that cruel to me this month as well and string me along an extra couple of days more than last time. I drank water at the party, stayed away from the cheeses and went to bed hopeful. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. As I got up in the morning to get into my bathing suit ready for the beach, it came on like a flood. I was more devastated and somewhat angry this time. How could this be happening? I have been able to fall pregnant twice before and these last two times, you couldn't get the sperm any closer to the bloody eggs and they still didn't won't to come to the party! In the cryptic analogy I used for my Facebook status, I wrote "well, the boys are on the dance floor, now get up and ask the girls to dance, dammit!". Well these damn boys just don't wanna dance!

I rang the clinic and gave them the news and they must have told Dr M how disappointed I was as she called me to have a chat. Also in the back of my mind was that due to our holiday, I would have to give this month a miss because the crucial times I needed to come in for blood tests would fall on days we were away so that was just one less month to try. Dr M explained to me that it was probably a good idea to have a month off anyway and I had to agree as it is mentally exhausting to accept what you personally deem as your own failures AGAIN. She told me to wait for the next period and that given the dates, I would be able to get one more cycle of IUI in before Christmas but failing that cycle, in the new year we would have to consider our next game plan ie IVF.

As it had never occurred to me that we would have to go down that road, this was another mental challenge for me. There are so many more factors to consider with IVF, including costs, invasive egg retrievals, what to do with unused embryos etc and I really didn't want to obsess about things that hadn't yet happened. I had a lot of time to think on the road trip there and back and decided on the good old French option - cest la vie - what will be, will be. We had a lovely holiday and returned home to our new farm and for the first time, we got to enjoy our new surrounds with the kids and figured we will worry about the next cycle when the time comes.

IUI - Take #2

September 2009 - two months off my 39th birthday and I was getting a bit anxious about the whole process. I was getting impatient about the whole baby thing and I am sure this anxiety wasn't helping. I began course two of the fertility drugs - half the dosage from our first attempt - and hoped for the best.

Fortunately this month we were given the go ahead with two decent follicles ready and waiting. I asked Dr M if she could do a Pap Test for me while I was under, before the insemination (may as well kill two birds with one stone!) as it had been six months and I was due for another one by now and I wanted to be sure everything was still ok, which it turned out it was. With my family history, I used to always be vigilant with my pap tests, having them annually instead of the recommended bi-annually, and it was the one time I missed having it, having fallen pregnant with my second baby, that was when my problems eventuated.

Anyway, on the day of surgery, I went in for the insemination around 10am, was in recovery by 11am and after a quick sandwich, they let me go home at about 12.30pm. Simple. And I got that awful pap test out of the way too, pain free, for at least another 6 months. When I got home I didn't do anything particularly strenuous but I didn't exactly put my feet up either, especially with a 4 and 2 year old running around. And so, the waiting game begins...

During the following week or so, I was focusing on moving out. We had sold our family home and bought acreage that we were renovating and this week was the big clean up. I hadn't given the insemination much thought - I think I assumed it would just happen and when it got to day 30 of my period (my usual cycle was 26 days), I was starting to get the feeling that it was all systems go. You could only imagine my disappointment when I was planning on going for a blood test the next day and my little monthly visitor decided to finally make it's present felt.


I still went for the blood test to confirm a negative result and though I don't really understand the numbers and levels and stuff, apparently nothing even attempted to happen, whatever that means. Though bummed out about it, there was nothing we could do but carry on and start again next month. After all, it was only our first attempt and you can't expect miracles every time.

I gave a lot of thought to childless women who had attempted IVF several times without success and wondered how they managed to keep it together mentally after the disappointment of a negative result. As my mother kept reminding me, I still had two beautiful little girls and that I should be grateful, which I was, but no one can understand the disappointment and self failing that comes with desperately wanting a child, be it your first or tenth, and not being able to do as nature should allow you as a woman to do. Having said that, we will keep trying and if it weren't to happen for us, I will work out a way to overcome that void and focus on the future and the two little blessings we had.

IUI - Take #1

Flashback to January 2009.

Having endured nearly two years of six monthly pap tests, it was time. Given the all clear, I was going off the pill and finally trying for that much wanted baby number 3 to complete our family. We have two beautiful little girls and had always wanted three children, as my husband is one of three sons. I hadn't had trouble getting pregnant the first couple of times so I anticipated that with my age (38) that it may take a little longer. I also had it in my mind that I wanted to have my family completed before I turned 40 so the clock was well and truly ticking. That, and the fact that my surgeries may also make things a little more tricky.

Hubby and I attended a conference in Las Vegas in early January 2009, which also coincided with his 40th birthday, and it was then that I went off the pill thinking that the holiday setting, minus the kids (plus lots of margaritas!) may help make things happen alot easier. I guess that was wishful thinking so when it didn't happen after that first attempt, we went about our day to day, month to month until July, which is when I began to wonder if there were other factors hindering the process. It wasn't for the lack of trying, that's for sure! I visited my OBGYN and he got me a fast tracked appointment with one of the best fertility doctors in our city, who otherwise had a waiting list of six months and who I will refer to as Dr M.

At our initial consultation, we discussed my history, had blood tests to check on the viability of my eggs and it was determined that IUI was the best option for us to try first. IUI is essentially artificial insemination - my husband's sperm would be inserted via syringe inside of me when I was ovulating, in the hope they would meet up with my own eggs and let nature take it's course. After all, it had happened twice before, why not a third time?

Part of the process is also to decide which way to "go in", so to speak, and it was while Dr M first assessed my cervix and attempted to insert the insemination syringe through all my scar tissue, trying several ways and means whilst I sat in the chair, that I found the pain to be too much to bear. Imagine the worst pap smear scraping pain and multiply it by a million! It was concluded that I would need to have day surgery when it was time and be inseminated whilst under general anaesthetic. This explained alot of things. If Dr M could not even get a syringe that was no wider than the ink tube of a pen through this space, what chance did the sperm have of getting through of it's own accord. We had been trying in vain for six months as it was obvious that I would be unable to fall pregnant naturally ever again.

As it goes, ovulation is determined by blood tests and ultrasounds following a course of fertility drugs that ensure there are viable eggs ready to go. There was nothing wrong with my eggs, except for the fact that at nearly 39, their quality were not as good as say, a 21 year old woman's, but nonetheless, the fertility drugs assist in stimulating the best possible eggs to maximise our chances of conception. That said, I was given the standard dose that most women start on for IUI and on our first cycle, we achieved three good sized follicles. In layman's terms, an increased risk of triplets, especially given my age.


My husband's first thought was "you beauty, three in one hit!", whereas I was fully aware of the dangers this may pose to me and my babies if in fact all three eggs were inseminated. Due to the shortening of my cervix from the cone biopsy, my OBGYN had already advised us that any subsequent pregnancy for me would be a little more high risk and twins would be a potentially higher risk again, let alone triplets. My gut told me that we should not go ahead with insemination this time, instead trying next month with no or less fertility drugs to prevent this happening again. My OBGYN said exactly the same thing so despite my husbands disappointment, it was back to square one, and lets see what next month had to offer...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

2 Pink Lines.....

My story actually begins way back in 2007 - at my 6 week check up following the birth of my second little girl. The result of a routine pap smear sent my life spiralling out of control as I had to have an immediate cone biopsy, then a subsequent D&C following complications. Our dream of a third child was slowly slipping away and mentally this was a hard realisation for someone like me who thought she had her whole family planning schedule mapped out. We always said we wanted three kids and dammit, why can't we?

I will go into more details about the timeline from that dark period to the present day in a later post. For now, however I want to begin my blog with my wonderful news......yes, I am FINALLY pregnant!

It is November 2009 and I did the test on my birthday and to my joy there were two pink lines staring back at me after a long, painful, emotional 2 year journey to get to this point. For my first few posts I want to share with you a little bit of the back story from August 2009, which is the month we began our experience with IVF...