IVF #1

Welp.

Turns out CD1 arrived unofficially today so we are all go on Wednesday.

This is both good and bad news, of course. We are finally underway with this next stage of treatment and it’s good to be doing something. But also, I can’t believe we are actually here and it’s been a bit of a smack in the face reminder that this hasn’t just magically happened on its own over these 4.5 years.

I suppose a small addition of grief to this whole process, where I finally have to accept that we are in this place for a reason.

I know some people find some excitement in the start of a cycle, but I’ve felt my mood drop slowly as we’ve crept closer. I mean, maybe that’s PMS talking too but I know that’s not all of it.

Here we are, knowing what grief feels like, knowing what loss is like, and still opening ourselves up to that again. It’s life, I know. We have to be vulnerable in order to open ourselves up to the good in life. We open ourselves up to love others, love pets, spend our loves with a spouse, even knowing that nothing is guaranteed. But I guess most of the time the odds are stacked up a bit more positively.

My husband and I are in a really good place at the moment. We’ve had more than our fair share of stuggles over the last 9 years of our marriage and I feel like we are both in a good space and on the same page. Im hoping that whatever happens we can cling onto each other and continue picking up the pieces and fitting them together to create a good life with each other.

Well, wish me luck I guess!

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The one about guilt

Things I feel guilty about with IVF looming (even though they’re unreasonable and my brain should shut up).

Why haven’t I been for a run everyday?

(I don’t run! That’s why!)

If I really wanted this to work, I would eat healthier.

(Healthy eating is good for you – treats are good too. Eat in moderation)

My uterus is probably going to be all shriveled up because I don’t drink enough water.

(LOL)

I am not at my goal weight!

(I am a healthy weight, being a few kgs lighter is not going to make The Difference)

Why did I say yes to buying chocolate/that drink/takeaways?

(Because I felt like it, and I probably enjoyed it. Fuck yeah!)

My house is too messy. My desk is messy.

(Left over guilt from my mum telling me how terrible I am – my desk having work on it is irrelevant to my reproduction or lack thereof)

I keep yelling at the parrot to SHUT UP AND STOP SCREAMING NOBODY LIKES YOU. I can’t even stop the parrot from screaming in the first place, let alone react calmly.

(Ok, but seriously, it’s so loud and shrill and she just. won’t. stop. Spend an hour at my house and try not to lose your shit! Also, she doesn’t speak English, so when I tell her I’m going to punch her in the face, I’m joking and she doesn’t know what I said)

I hit my brother when he was younger.

(I was imitating behaviour modelled to me. I like to think I learned from my upbringing. Yes, I’m still worried being abusive anyway).

I forgot to take my folic acid today. If it doesn’t work it’ll be my fault.

(Yes I should try harder here, maybe I need to set an alarm. But it’s a mistake and it’s ok to make mistakes sometimes)

I need a haircut/my clothes aren’t that nice

(I’m not 100% sure, but I think this feeds into “you can’t even organise your life, why do you think you could do it with a kid”. But, it’s ok to organise things one at a time)

We are only going through all this because I’m broken.

(Well, yes that’s probably true. But I didn’t choose this either and I didn’t bring it on myself)

To be continued..

Triggers

TW: miscarriage

I’ve always been aware of miscarriage. My mum had a miscarriage during her first pregnancy, and for some reason I’ve always known about it (even though she’s never really talked about it).

In some ways, it felt inevitable.

After 14 months of trying to conceive, I took a test while waiting for my next cycle to start so I could start my first round of clomid. The cycle I was least expecting it, I was pregnant! Those thoughts of miscarriage were right there, but I hoped that I’d paid my dues to the fertility gods and that infertility (just!) was my cross to bear.

But of course, I was wrong. It feels incomprehensible to me that it was over 3 years ago now. I thought that first year was long, but here I am wondering how 4 and a half years have passed and I’m still here.

People feel differently about miscarriage. I know my mum hurts about that loss, but she had 3 children after that and we are the bandaid that makes the situation ok. We hear that miscarriage is ‘bad luck’ or ‘not meant to be’ – some may feel like that. Over time, some may come to accept that it all works out in the end.

Infertility is a double dose of grief in this situation; the loss of a potential child, without the hope of future children to soften the blow.

For those 2 weeks I knew I was pregnant, I was a mum. My husband was a dad. My job was to care for that bunch of cells that should have been turning into my baby. To nurture, to love. I ate the right food, my husband shielded me from our large, boisterous dogs. We poured love into the situation and hoped that our love was enough. It wasn’t of course, because love, desire and positivity aren’t the antidote to loss.

Some women feel like they are mums with their babies in heaven but I don’t feel like that. I feel like a non-mum. (It’s ok if you feel differently too)

At the time only my husband and I knew about it. It wasn’t until some months later that we told our families, and later still it was mentioned to some friends. None of them have mentioned it since then (if they even acknowledged it at the time). I know it’s a minefield to navigate, but it’s hard to grieve for something when it makes people uncomfortable.

As an aside, I’ve found great friends who have walked the same path and aren’t afraid of being honest about it. Get some of those.

I guess I’m thinking about this as we are a month or so off starting IVF.

However you feel about conception and the beginnings of life, I’m facing the prospect of hopefully being able to put something that’s alive into my uterus, and then statistically speaking, it will probably die. The only other time I’ve known I had something alive in my uterus was January 2015 and that did not end well.

The energy going into IVF is something I hadn’t really given consideration to. My husband got his blood test done which was a lot of emotional energy used, and now we have moved onto the appointments coming up, which he again is very anxious about. This takes a huge toll on him and also me. I don’t have the energy to plan much further than this.

I should be very clear about this – he is very supportive and he wants this. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s putting himself in a situation that he doesn’t want to be in.

Complicated by having to drive 300km on the day, being in an unfamiliar environment, the office being upstairs (further away from the door), being left alone before hand in an unfamiliar motel room as I will be going to the first part alone, being shut in a room with a medical person (even if it’s just talking), the potential for having a panic attack and someone medical trying to ‘help’ and him being unable to say no.

I haven’t even begun to think about injections, which I’m not too concerned about but which is no doubt daunting to a first-timer IVFer. I haven’t got the energy to hope that we will get a good number of eggs, or to think about how I’ll feel when the numbers drop from fertilisation and beyond. I definitely don’t have the energy to think about how to deal with a phone call from someone bringing news of failure at any moment.

Maybe it’s sort of good that my brain is preoccupied!

I see people talk about having embryo’s frozen, and I’m reminded that in New Zealand they aim for one good embryo (the clinics statistics say 30% of people have an embryo/embryos to freeze). Will I be grateful for funded IVF? Of course! But the thought of doing two rounds with only one embryo each time is pretty disheartening.

When you’ve had 50 something cycles all end in failure, 2 doesn’t sound like a lot (even with science leading the charge).

I would be lying if I said I thought this will work for us. But what can you do except take one step after another anyway?

The Big Update

It’s been a while. It has felt pointless to update as for so long we have been stuck in limbo. There has been lots of feelings and lots of discussions, our conversations have daily gone around and around in circles. But finally, finally, it’s time to get moving again.

At the end of October last year, I went for my appointment with Fertility Associates. Some things were resolved around working with my husband, but some things weren’t. Regardless, we were accepted onto the public waiting list in November, and our 12-18 month wait time was going to be used to see if we could come up with a solution for the Big Blood Test Hurdle.

On good days, he was confident. He would say that he could do this, that we should accept that IVF was coming and we’ve got another chance.

On bad days, he would tell me he’d rather die. He would tell me that it was beyond him, that he wanted to run away. He would tell me that sometimes he hated me (but not really!)

So we were on the waiting list, either to go ahead or pull out, and it felt pretty 50/50.

Other than that, things had been improving. No crazy hormones meant I was coping well. While the limbo was stressful, it did also mean we had hope. We made plans for making day to day life better, my husband finally found some drugs that improved his coping abilities, and we were clawing our way back up out of the hole we found ourselves in.

A few days ago, we received a letter saying we were nearing the top of the waiting list – 6 months instead of the 12 months I was expecting. We weren’t ready. The husband wasn’t prepared, we hadn’t finalised a plan. We had 4 weeks to get things sorted or we we’re bumped off. Pressure!

Long story short – after lots of back and forth over the last few days, today some lovely ladies at a private lab accommodated us, and with a double up of anti anxiety meds, a familiar setting, and a lovely calm nurse, the blood test was done!

Words can’t express my feelings, in fact I’m tearing up a bit now that the day is winding down and it’s settled in. My husband basically walked through fire today purely out of his love for me. It was his total worst nightmare, and he fought and fought until he made it.

I can’t be the only one in this position, and not everyone is going to be able end up with a good resolution. I didn’t think we would. But I’m so proud of him, and if it hadn’t worked out I would be equally as proud. The result was up in the air, but that doesn’t change the fact that he tried his absolute hardest during this whole thing. If he told me today he couldn’t do it, I could never have blamed him for that.

So what’s next? Well, all I need to do is book our first appointments (drug teach, consult), and then get our start date. By all accounts, we could be mere weeks away.

Over 4 years of thinking IVF was not in our future, and yet here we are.

Someone pinch me.

More later, this is all so new.

Maybe, Maybe Not

I haven’t been much fun to be around lately.

It all came to a head a few days ago when a work thing was going wrong. My response was rage. Not shouting or throwing things or beating my bed with my fists and feet (as much as I wanted to). Just silent anger, simmering beneath the surface.

Completely throwing off-balance my marriage.

It’s difficult because my ability to cope directly affects my husbands ability to cope. My rage throws him into turmoil, which throws me deeper into turmoil. I have to be the strong one, but it’s really hard to keep two people afloat when you’re struggling on your own.

I know I can’t always be the rock, but I don’t want to be that angry person. I don’t want to be the person who is one thread away from snapping all the time. I grew up in an angry house and I don’t want that for us.

I know why I’m not coping. An upcoming appointment – the make or break one.

Can we make IVF work?

The truth is, I’m leaning towards no, which means I’m very nearly at the end.

We could maybe make it work, with cooperation, with some understanding about freezing sperm in advance. But then I stumbled across the blood test and that’s going to be a very hard brick wall.  We may come unstuck over a blood test.

I know the reality behind it. It’s not the needles he fears but it’s a build up of trauma, bad experiences, feeling powerless, strangers, feeling unsafe, unknown environments. It’s not a blood test it’s Everest. I can understand this but people who don’t live with the effects of mental illness every day can’t fathom it.

And this is more stress added to a stressful situation, because I have to go in every time and defend my husband. He’s a good man, he loves so completely, he would be a good dad. He deserves this. But he’s used to be put to the side because he doesn’t fit in the box and that is what things like World Mental Health Day and all of this inclusiveness doesn’t address. If you can’t go to the Doctor, tough. If you need heavy medication and need to see a psychiatrist, but you physically can’t go because of your mental health, you are stuck. The sickness keeps you sick.

I went off on a tangent, but what I mean to say is, I have to go in there and fight for my husbands medical needs to be accepted as medical needs. Mostly, they don’t seem to be recognised as such.

Not only all that, but additional information about our fertility is looming. My husbands SA – how fertile is he? My AMH, how fertile am I going forward? Worst case scenario, we could walk away with no further options and our hopes of a maybe-someday-miracle-if-we’re-lucky dashed. Its Schrodinger’s Cat: I’m simultaneously living in a world we have options for having kids, and one where we have none. 

It’s no wonder I’m losing the plot!

My husband says that we’ll end up on a lifestyle block with another little dog (my arms ache to carry something) and he’s sure we can be happy together, just us. It’s not so bad. And I nod my head and smile and I want that to be true so badly. I want us to be enough but I don’t know if I can do it.

The one about… IVF!???

Nothing has changed but everything has changed.

Last week we were driving along and my husband was becoming increasing anxious. He had been internalising some worries about my next appointment because he was concerned that there could be a possibility for more surgery.

I don’t think I’d mentioned anything to him, but I guess he hadn’t quite processed that there was little to no options left for us as it stood.

He’d clearly been mulling over what I’d been told before surgery last year, which was that my options were surgery or IVF. We had already written off IVF as being too much for him and so we went with surgery and he didn’t want to make that same choice again.

He thought we might be choosing IVF or surgery again.

He wanted to choose IVF.

He was telling me that he didn’t want to get 10 or 20 years in the future and be disappointed that we didn’t try.

For four years almost, we have had that as a no-go. Being that my cycles were wonky from the start, I knew we were facing fertility issues off the bat so we had these discussions early. I wanted to shelter him from any guilt so I never pushed or suggested, it’s felt like a long time of us dealing with infertility, but not being able to go through regular processes and treatments.

And so we had our first real discussion of making it work, and actually, we both think we could make this work.

My mind is blown.

I was trying to transition my brain into thinking about moving on, into not being stuck until my menopause years thinking “maybe we’ll get lucky”. I didn’t want to keep living in limbo. But I won’t lie and say that I didn’t wish this the whole time.

I know there seems to be a general idea that if men are resistant to a treatment option, eventually they’ll come around or they’ll feel guilty enough to give in. I don’t want to give that false impression – that eventually all roads lead to IVF. Men are capable of deciding what *they* are willing to go through as well, and that should be respected. Had I not respected my husbands decision all this time, we may never have got to this point. In fact, it would have been severely damaging to our relationship.

In my last post, I mentioned that we moved from saying, “when we have kids” to “if we have kids” – and then finally, to not really mentioning the possibility at all. 

This last week has been different, and it’s so hard to try and keep the hope in check. I mean, it’s good to have hope, but it’s also dangerous to let yourself go there. Not just about IVF outcomes, but also whether we do actually get to the point of gong through with it.

I’m scared of getting my hopes up and us not going through with it. I’m fucking scared of doing IVF and it not working.

I’m also scared after reading my surgery notes and realising that the Adenomyosis suggestion wasn’t just a throwaway “maybe” comment, and how that means IVF is less likely to be successful and increases risks for if I ever did get pregnant again.

So what next?

My appointment next week will be my last with my specialist, either way. But I will organise a SA for my husband and talk through some things. It will be a good test to see how my husband handles the pressure without officially starting down the IVF route.

If he’s still feeling confident, I’ll be making an appointment to get the ball rolling and get us on the public list.

If he’s still feeling confident, we will also look into doing a privately funded round.

What a week!

The One About “Knowing”

I know how you feel.

Someone said that to me the other day. I don’t know them, they’re just a person I spoke to briefly to assure them a clomid symptoms was normal. I spoke to her enough that she thought she knew where I was at.

I’ll admit, I was a bit uncharitable. I just thought, no actually, you have no idea.

Because I remember being in that place. About 18 months in, it was hard. I don’t know if I cried a lot because I was still processing a miscarriage, or if it’s really hard in general at that time, when you realise things have changed and you have a real problem here.

But it was hard in a different way.

It was still “when we have kids” back then.

After 2 years, that was hard too. You are now double the “12 months”. The time when you should start seeing a doctor because of fertility issues has passed twice. You are double as unlucky.

Around that time, after 2 years, it became “if”. If we have kids. If we are so lucky. Still hope, still possibility.

We are nearly 4 years now. I have an appointment coming up and it’s likely to be my last. A last ditch hope that maybe after the surgery and the meds he might have some other thoughts on why I’ve still never had a regular cycle since coming off the pill.

We don’t even say “if” anymore.

We don’t talk about the future with that possibility, it’s too hard. Our plans for the future are for 2 now, even though we desperately wish otherwise.

Me at 18 months-in cried more than me now, but she wouldn’t understand how it feels. 

And I don’t know how it feels to be my friend who has done everything and has come to a new chapter in life she never wanted.

And other people don’t know how it feels to read surgery notes and see “IVF recommended”, and know you can never take that opportunity, even if it’s the one thing standing between you and having kids. Knowing you would do anything, but it’s not up to you alone.

None of us know how it feels, not really. Because we are in this shitty, god-awful situation together but all of our paths are different – even if they intersect sometimes.

I don’t know how well you coped or if it hasn’t been so bad yet or if you’re at the end of your rope. It’s not a matter of how far you went or what procedures you had or if, like me, you’re stuck at the beginning (but it’s also the end). So I won’t say I know how you feel.

I’ll just say, “that’s bullshit”.

The One About Body Image

As many women know, body image is one of those things most of us struggle with. Right or wrong, we often wish things about our bodies were different, and our self worth is tied up in what we see in the mirror.

I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately because my 30th birthday is racing up on me. My hair is getting speckled with greys (thanks mum!), I’m getting lines in my face, my body doesn’t look like it used to. 

I know I’m young, but 30 is a big number for me. I didn’t think I’d still be having children in my 30s, let alone still trying to have one. Me turning 30 also means we are at 4 years trying to conceive, nearly 10years married (all of that time, I would have been happy to have started having children). 30 is the decade when “they” start talking about dropping fertility. 

I know I’m still a healthy weight too, but the weight that has crept on thanks to eating my feelings and feeling overwhelmed is a bit upsetting. Because I wouldn’t mind not having a flat stomach if there was a reason. I wouldn’t mind feeling bloated and uncomfortable if my tum looked 4 months pregnant because it was.

I’m finding it really hard to have a good attitude about my body when my thoughts are often taken up with what my body isn’t doing. It’s so hard finding acceptance in a body that lets you down over and over again.

Not only do I feel like I’m fighting my body each month to conceive, I’m also fighting an army of endometriosis that wants to invade my body. Not just my reproductive organs either, although the that is my main concern currently.  For whatever reason my body has decided to fight itself, to create sickness and pain where there is no reason for it. 
How can I love my body when it seeks to destroy my dreams? When it seeks to cause pain and misery? 

How do I even find the energy to put the care into eating well and starting exercise, when I feel like nothing will change? 

Two Resolutions

I didn’t make any New Years Resolutions this year. I feel like I have a direction and enough focus to not need to get too bogged down.

But it’s now June so maybe I’ll do 2 half year resolutions. These are things I’ve been thinking about and needed to hash out get them firm in my mind. Two things I need to stop doing for my own sanity.

First, I’m going to stop telling myself that “of course I’m happy for them…”

I’m really not. Well, maybe if it was someone I was really close to, but as a general rule I’m not.

I have a large extended family so there are a lot of kids. No, I’m not happy for my cousin, having a 4th baby to a 4th mother. 

No, I’m not happy for a friend who was always competing with me and asked me out of the blue about having kids one day. I knew that meant she was comparing our relationships because they were “ready”… Well I was 18months in with a miscarriage under my belt, so no, I win that one. And I wasn’t happy for her that she was pregnant straight away either.

No, I’m not happy for strangers on the internet.

I wish I could be that person that roots for everyone, that is happy for people because their fertility doesn’t speak to my infertility. But I’m not, and that’s ok too.

I don’t have to guilt myself by saying that I *should* be happy for them, because I can process their news in the best way that works for me – sometimes that may be being happy, and sometimes not.

And secondly, I’m going to stop using parenting as an excuse for shitty friends.

I recently met up with someone for the first time, and their pre-schooler was also there. Nice kid, single mum, no problem. I’m not a kid-hater, so I was pleasant and patient. I asked him questions about his trip and activities, then moved back to mum to ask when they were heading back home.

Mum hears my question, but instead of replying to *me*, turns to the kid and says, “we are going home tomorrow, aren’t we?”. I mean, I thought I asked the question but whatever.

However, this type of exchange lasted the whole visit! I spoke to mum, she spoke to me through her kid. Again, I hadn’t ignored him in the slightest, and often he was busy in his own world eating or drinking and not needing to be engaged.

I left the café and drove home in tears, because I don’t have many friends and this person who wanted to meet with me (and wants to again!) couldn’t even treat me like a valued person. 

I always made the excuse that having and loving their kids was why people couldn’t maintain normal, adult conversations and friendships with non-parents. Their world revolves around their kids and it can be hard to break out from that.

I have now decided that’s bullshit.

Having a conversation with somebody is not hard. Empathy, listening and being social are all things we learn throughout our lives. When we don’t know somebody we talk about the weather or ask them about their job, this is something we have learned.. When somebody isn’t a parent, it is rude to talk about the intricacies of parenting. I don’t mean talking about the kids, I mean nappy changes and feeding and clothing layers. There are many topics where you both parties can join in with the conversation, to hijack conversations to be only about one topic is poor form and selfish.
Ok, how about those for mid-year resolutions. Maybe I’ll do some more in January that are a bit more upbeat!

Unmagical Mother’s Day

I’m not superstitious.

I don’t look for signs that *mean something*. I don’t really believe in special not-quite-coincidences or everything working out perfectly at just the right time, or pinning my hopes on special numbers or dates.

So then why am I getting worked up about Mother’s Day?

One (or half?) a pregnancy in nearly 4 years is an abysmal success rate, why would a cycle ending probably on Mother’s Day be the magic recipe? Just like the cycle that ended on Christmas day wasn’t magic and the cycles that ended every other damn time haven’t been magic either.

So why does my mind play these ridiculous tricks where my subconscious thinks it knows better than what I really know – what my rational brain and experience have shown me?

I’m trying to be ok with this not happening, and  trying to be ok with the world going on around me, but this upcoming Mother’s Day feels hard. Harder than last year which ‘should’ have been my first Mother’s Day, harder than the year before when I ‘should’ have still been pregnant.

Maybe because by all accounts, this year is do or die. This is the last year before we try to close this chapter and move into something else. The last year of still having hope (even if I try to suppress it).

Also, Mother’s Day is a shitty day for your uterus to tell you you’re still not pregnant. Screw you uterus.