Two eggs retrieved at pick up.

We were up before the sun today, showering and getting ready while fighting off the nerves. Oscar’s daycare opened at 6am and the poor kid was the first child there. That’s never happened before but I think he actually liked it as it meant he had everything (including attention) completely to himself. As he dove into a basket of toys, we hugged and kissed him goodbye. One daycare lady in particular is always really complimentary of Candice and myself, and the way we parent. She was there when we dropped him off and just her positivity and lovely words to us about Oscar really helped pick up the sombre mood.

We left and made it to the hospital on time, with minimal traffic. Once I was admitted, Candice was told she could leave and that they would call her 30 minutes prior to me being ready. I got changed into the hospital gown and sat and listened to my stomach rumble loudly, in the waiting room. I realised that I hadn’t eaten since 5.30pm the day before so I was beginning to feel nauseous.

Just before 8am, I was called in to meet with the anaesthetist before heading into the surgery. Everyone is always so warm and friendly when I come to this hospital, I honestly have so much respect for these people. I went in, climbed up onto the bed and the scientist came to speak with me first. Once that was sorted, my doctor came to sit by my side as the anaesthetist placed the needle in my arm. I’m so grateful to have such a kind doctor, she sat there stroking and gently ticking my arm as they placed the mask over my face and I went off to sleep.

When I woke up in recovery, I was told that they got 2 eggs. It wasn’t unexpected at all, I knew that best case scenario was going to be 3 eggs. A few moments later however, a male doctor came up to my bed. He started telling me that he got 3 eggs as he roughly grabbed my arm and began writing ‘3’ on the back of my hand, my wrist and my shoulder. I was still a little groggy and became really confused as I didn’t know who this guy even was. A nurse came running over and told him that I wasn’t his patient. Honestly, what kind of doctor doesn’t even recognise his own patients?! The nurse was apologising for him as she scrubbed the pen off. The emotions got the better of me and I started crying. Once again, the nurses were just so damn warm and friendly.

Candice arrived back in the waiting room and once I was awake enough, I was taken to meet her. It was good to see her face. I was able to come home and go to sleep which was amazing. Sleep is something I never take for granted these days!

Tomorrow morning at 10am, we find out if either eggs have fertilised. I don’t think I want to call, so I’ll see if Candice will do it. Fingers crossed!

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Injections, scans & a scheduled retrieval

On my 34th birthday, Candice and I drove into the city to collect 3 full bags of IVF drugs. Since then I have been injecting daily, hopeful that I would get more eggs than last time. I’ve been having quite a bit of ovary pain, particularly at night when I lay down. It’s very mild and I haven’t been at all worried about it, in fact I thought it may have been a good thing. I didn’t experience any pain during my last IVF cycle when we ended up with 4 eggs so I thought that maybe it meant this time there would be more.

I went for a scan yesterday to check follicle growth but unfortunately my left ovary just hasn’t come to the party. It’s doing absolutely nothing. My right ovary has 3 follicles – 2 are 16mm and 1 is 18mm. The Dr seemed to be about as unimpressed as I was. She explained that usually at this point she would up the dosage of gonal-f but given that I’m already on the maximum dosage, there is nothing else we can do. She then explained our options.

Option 1 was to cancel the cycle. It would mean waiting a minimum 6 weeks before starting the next one and she said she feels there is a good chance that the result would be the same if not worse. Producing only 3 follicles matches up perfectly with my low ovarian reserve so it would be a gamble to cancel and start again.

Option number 2 was to go ahead and schedule an egg collection. She explained that one of the follicles may be empty so we may only end up with 2 eggs. I had pretty decent fertilisation results last time so she is hopeful that even if we do end up with 2-3 eggs, we should get at least one that fertilises. Then we cross everything and hope that it makes it to transfer date. So she said that this option is also a big gamble.

It’s a lot of money to place on such a risk of such an unknown but what else can we do. I feel like this is as good as it’s going to get so we have decided to move ahead with egg retrieval this Thursday. That means I’ll do my trigger injection tonight and then 36 hours later I’ll go into day surgery. I am assuming that if all goes well then transfer date will be the following Monday morning.

It feels so stressful. As hard as I try to relax, my shoulders are so knotted up. I know this isn’t helpful which only makes me feel more tense. I should just be focusing on the idea of a positive outcome from this cycle but I have to confess that I’ve been going further than that. It sounds weird but I have actually started a mental list of all the things we can do if this cycle doesn’t work. The things we can do if I don’t get pregnant. I’m planning a trip to Japan for later this year. I’m planning house renovations. I’m planning private schooling for Oscar. I’m planning big overseas family holidays each year. I’m even planning a half marathon. That’s not to say we couldn’t still do most of these things with a second child, it just means it would be pushed further back. Years and years back. I’m trying as best I can to see the positives of whatever the outcome may be.

But damn, I want this baby so badly.

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Here we go again…

Well, we made a decision. We are now officially signed up for an IVF stim cycle next month. We had no more embryos to continue transfers and if we want another baby, this is our best bet.

It’s been exactly 4 years since the last Gonal-F/Orgalutran injections so there are a few nervous feelings but overall, we feel positive about it all. Having a 4 month break has helped get my mind out of the fog it was in for so long. I also think that we are much more prepared now for a negative outcome. One thing that we are both 100% certain of, is that we will not be buying anymore donor sperm if this IVF cycle fails.

Now that I’m closing in on my mid-thirties, we don’t want to keep trying for years to come. We don’t want Oscar’s childhood to continue to be tainted by our attempts to have another child when we already have this amazing kid. We really are so lucky. Oscar is as close to perfect as you can get.

I’m curious to know how many embryos we will get. I’m on the same Gonal-F dosage and meds as last time and the same schedule. Our doctor explained it to us as, “I would like to use the same recipe, after all we did get Oscar plus 2 pregnancies out of the last batch!”. She’s positive which is nice. She reminded me that I’m only 34 and she doesn’t think the quality of my eggs are the problem.

I have decided to document the process on this blog. It might help keep me sane over the next few months! Fingers crossed anyway.

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When to call it quits.

I didn’t anticipate how different or challenging trying to conceive a second child would be. And as the name of this post suggests, we’re now at a point where we don’t know whether to call it a day and move on or continue this heartbreaking process. At the very minimum, we will be taking a break.

For some reason, this time around, I didn’t have much desire to document all the steps to getting pregnant like I did when we were trying for Oscar. Partly because I simply didn’t really have the time but also because it didn’t seem necessary. I honestly thought it would be a very similar story to conceiving our son. Of course, I was wrong.

At the start of the year when I first stepped foot back inside the fertility clinic, I was hit with the familiar smell, exact furniture and many of the same faces, that I was years earlier. All the memories came rushing back. I was excited and confident because I knew the process, I knew what to expect.

But as time went on, the butterflies and excitement left me. They were replaced instead with a feeling of numbness. I would pass women in the corridors of the fertility blood clinic, some looking nervous, some excited but most of them looking just like me. Forlorn and sad, feeling a bit like cattle in some sort of processing line. Getting in and out as fast as we could, hiding our anxiety and trying not to show any emotion. The nerves I had on each drive to the hospital felt crippling and the tears I’d shed throughout embryo transfers were humiliating. Always desperately hoping that this would be the one that would bring us a positive pregnancy test.

Well, as I sit here, I am currently just over 6 weeks pregnant. Though, it’s not something I can celebrate as I’ve been told it won’t be for much longer. I’ve had bleeding, cramping, lower back pain and although my HCG continues to rise, it’s not doubling in the correct timeframe. My OB frightened me by saying that she strongly suspected an ectopic pregnancy so I was sent for an early ultrasoundat the beginning of the week. The scan was able to rule out ectopic pregnancy, which has been a huge relief but something is still very wrong. The sonographer said that the gestational sac IS in my uterus but it is measuring out of range and is appears ‘irregular’ for how many weeks I am. It was too small at that stage to see anything inside so we left with no real answer.

Of course I went home and consulted Dr Google while I waited for the actual doctor to call with her interpretation of the scan results. I found in my search that the term ‘irregular’  when speaking of gestational sacs if often used when it is likely that the sac is close to collapsing in on itself. When the OB finally called, she basically said that it is very unlikely that this pregnancy will be ongoing for much longer but until the HCG starts to decrease, I am to keep going with the oestrogen and progesterone meds and continue blood tests every few days. Unless of course I have a massive bleed, at which point I am meant to go to the early pregnancy unit at the Mater Hospital to confirm miscarriage. If I make it to next Thursday, another scan will be done but it is extremely unlikely that it will be positive. The OB thinks the end is near and when you combine the bleeding, cramping and low rising HCG, I have to completely agree.

I’m feeling really frustrated. There’s nothing I can do but wait. I can’t explain how much it aches to be stuck in this limbo phase of not even being able to start the healing process and move on. Physically, I can’t do anything too strenuous as my lower back and abdominal area are so sore, cramping on and off constantly.

We don’t have any frozen embryos left. So if we do decide to continue after having a break, we will be starting from the very beginning which scares me. I’m currently 4 years older than I was at my last egg collection, nearing my mid thirties now. A huge part of me worries that waiting and taking this break is risky but an even bigger part simply can’t continue with it all right now. I’m so drained – mentally, physically, emotionally, financially – you name it, I’m drained of it. I’m not ready to risk more heartache and pain right now so for the foreseeable future I’m going to try my best to focus purely on what I already have – my wife and the beautiful little boy that made me a Mummy.

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Photo by LJM Photography

So what next?

We’re pretty much back into the normal swing of things around here and it feels strange and sad. Working. Parenting. Existing.

It’s a weird feeling to be here right now. In the time leading up to last months embryo transfer, everyday life felt different. There were nerves and excitement. We were making plans. It felt like we had an end game, we were heading in some kind of direction. And now we’re not.

A few days ago, we briefly spoke about when the right time might be to start another cycle but no decisions were actually made. It feels odd to not have a plan, not in a ‘I feel free’ kind of way but in a ‘I feel lost’ kind of way. Candice seems fine with not having any plans which makes sense as she already has so much on her plate. I can feel distance between us but with the way our life is structured at the moment (my work schedule, parenting Oscar, busy weekends) I’m not sure what we can do. So we’re just shuffling along, one foot in front of the other.

Oscar has been cute as always. His vocabulary continues to explode and his tiny sentences are getting longer and more frequent. He understands so much and it’s making our day to day lives easier. If I say we’re going to the park or for a walk, he says “I need my toots, Mummy” and will run and find his gumboots. He’s also become really familiar with emotions and recognises them in himself and in others.

One thing that we do find a struggle is convincing him that it is time for bed. He has no problem staying asleep once he drifts off and will deeply sleep right through until morning but that initial stage of getting him to stay in bed is long and painful. Candice has had enough and I think she has reached breaking point this week because she has to deal with it on her own due to me being at work. I’m talking 2+ hours of laying with him in the room, coaxing him to sleep. It hasn’t always been this way, for a while there is was taking closer to 30 mins. I’m not sure what but something has changed. Perhaps his daytime naps need to be shorter as at the moment he averages about a 2 hour midday stretch which is quite a long time. Now that he is able to understand us when we speak to him we are going to start leaving the bedroom lamp on and leaving the room for short periods of time. It will need to be a strict bedtime routine and will likely be – dinner, bath time, book, explaining that it is bed time, saying goodnight. Once he’s in bed, we’ll kiss him goodnight and tell him that we are going out now and will back in 5 minutes to check on him and that he needs to close his eyes and go to sleep. We 100% expect tantrums but at his age we know that he understands us and we’ll let him ease into this next phase. He’s so good at fake crying that if you hear it from another room, you would swear it was sincere. But the jokes on you, buddy. Just because you pull that whiny face and make the crying sound, you can’t force actual tears no matter how hard I see you try. Don’t worry, as soon as you do manage to squeeze out one tiny teardrop, I’ll be there to wipe it away in a heartbeat. We’re not thinking of this as a cry it out situation but more of a communication/negotiation situation. There will be no actual tears (I hope) and no lights out. There will be soft lamp light to begin with and eventually a dimmer nightlight. If it all fails, then we go back to laying with him until he falls asleep and try this again in 6 months when he is able to communicate even better. I have faith in him though, I think he’s a clever little kid.

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Sadness

I really wasn’t sure if i was going to share any of this. It’s all so personal and fresh but I think in some ways it might be therapeutic to write it all down and get it all out of my head.

As I mentioned recently, we have been ready to start trying for another baby. We decided to jump right in and do a February cycle. In retrospect, it was a terrible idea. I think we both knew deep down that it wasn’t the right month but for some reason we let the wheels keep turning and went ahead with it.

The first curveball was that my cycles have been so irregular for the past few months and so cycle day 1 came almost a week before we expected it to. It really took me by surprise and I didn’t quite feel ready but I went ahead but made the call to my doctor so she could start tracking ovulation via blood tests. Four blood tests later, we had our embryo transfer date booked and the nerves and excitement were setting in.

Throughout this, we had some awful news. Candice’s Mum was told that the doctors would be stopping chemo for the terminal cancer she has been living with as it was no longer working. The timeframe that they’ve given her Mum is devastatingly short at 6-8 weeks. We decided that Candice would go down to part-time at work, working 2 days a week so she would be able to spend those days off with her Mum. We should have called off the cycle at that point but again, that ball kept rolling.

Another set back we faced was that the childcare rebate for Oscar had reached its cap for this financial year, meaning that we are now paying full daycare fees which isn’t cheap. In fact, it’s the same as our weekly mortgage repayments and with Candice now working part-time, things are extremely tight. Still, we didn’t call it off. We reached into our pockets and handed over the $3000 for the cycle and transfer fees.

The next hurdle was realising when the due date would be if this embryo transfer worked. It would have been very early November and because I foolishly changed health insurance fund at the end of last year, all my waiting periods had reset. Meaning that if that baby came before the 31st August, my insurance wouldn’t cover me and we would be slapped with $8000 in hospital fees. So I was feeling quite tense about that. But again, we didn’t call of the cycle. The fees were paid, the date was set and our excitement was too much.

Finally the morning of the transfer came. We were relieved to find out that we still had 2 remaining embryos as the one they chose to transfer survived the thawing process. The actual transfer was horrendous. My doctor had a really difficult time getting through into the entry of the cervix as for some reason it was really tight. It felt like an eternity and they had to send the embryologist back into the other room with our embryo to keep it warm because it was taking so long. After a painful 5 minutes of her trying, she got through and they brought the embryo back and transferred it. I had been on night shift all night so I was able to go home and sleep for the rest of the day which was great but when I woke up, my throat was sore, I had a temperature and flu-like symptoms. I took paracetamol for the next few days to keep any fever down but I felt like absolute rubbish and was scared that getting sick was going to mess up any chance of the embryo sticking. When I took a home pregnancy test 10 days later and saw that there was a positive line, we were shocked. We actually didn’t believe it but a few days later the official blood test confirmed that yep, I was indeed pregnant.

The joy was short-lived though and it wasn’t long before we found out that the embryo stopped growing, my HCG levels started declining and I had lost the baby. The next few days were awful, just waiting for the cramps to start. For it all to be officially over. Yesterday morning it started and late last night it reached its peak. I had constant cramping and lower back pain that was so intense it had me in tears. Not because it was unbearable but because I was scared and didn’t know how long it was going to last. Candice wasn’t home as she was staying at her Mum’s place for the night and as I lay there doubled over in pain on the couch I thought about how fucked up this entire cycle was. It was as if the universe was trying to tell us it wasn’t the right time but we didn’t listen.

We’re going to take some time. We aren’t sure when we’ll try again but I think emotionally, we’re so spent at the moment. There’s just too much going on. I find myself asking if we would be okay with an only child if it came down to it. If our remaining 2 embryos don’t stick. If we are faced with having to start an entire IVF round again. It’s not something I really want to do but at the same time I can’t quiet the voice in my heart that wants a sibling for Oscar. It’s out of our hands anyway, clearly the universe is in charge.

 

Little boy, Oscar

In 6 weeks, our kiddo is going to being 2.5 years old. What a ride it’s been. I’ve haven’t done a general update for a while so here is a quick run down.

Overall, things are easy.

He communicates well and is a happy, active child. His health has been great and I actually can’t remember the last time he was sick. He’s an inconsistent eater but somehow he has an amazing immune system! He goes through periods where he is a bottomless pit and I’m shocked that he is able to fit so much into his tiny toddler body. I think it’s during these times that he must be having a growth spurt because he really does demolish a LOT of food during those periods but they only last 3-4 days. The rest of the time, he doesn’t appear to eat enough but maybe I offer food too frequently or too much of it. He is a healthy weight for his age and height so that’s all we need to focus on. Speaking of height, he’s a tall kid. He’s in the 95th percentile for height at the moment so one day we expect he’ll tower over his parents. His Mumma is quite tall though so maybe it’ll just be me that has to look up.

He loves playing with his matchbox cars and you will find him with 1 (or 3) squeezed in his little fist almost all the time. We can’t seem to leave the house without him needing to take handfuls of them. They’re scattered everywhere all over our the place, in backpacks, in our cars, in his sandpit, in the bath. I actually have 2 of them in my handbag right now. Matchbox cars are a true love of his.

As are books and nursery rhymes. Reading books with him is one of my favourite things. I love that the house is quiet and how he cuddles in really close. I love how when we finish a book, he takes it off me and turns the pages, ‘reading it’ back to me. I love how when I ask him if he wants to go get another book, he says, “Yeaah!”.

He continues to sleep through the night which we are so grateful for. Getting him to sleep in the evening is never easy but once he’s asleep we know he’s down for the whole night. Nap times on the other hand are a breeze! He will easily sleep for 2+ hours (generally 11.30 – 2) and it’s never really hard to get him down for them, usually under 10 minutes.

Call this age what you will; terrible twos, terrific twos, boundary pushing age. It’s actually not as bad as it seems in the moment. I’ve done a lot of head scratching, head shaking and head holding over the last few months but as I said at the start of this post, things are over all easy.

So what better time to start work on having another one. We’re early in the process but the ball is rolling and baby number two is in our plan for this next year. Obviously we’re hoping to get lucky and be pregnant in the next few months but at the same time, it all feels less urgent than the last time around. We have already decided that if the first cycle that we do doesn’t work than we will have a 2 month break before trying again. We already have a kid that keeps us on our toes so we’re not rushing this next one.

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