Trying to Conceive & Infertility

Our Infertility Journey – Part 5: IVF / ICSI – The Final Chapter

Click here for Part 4 of our IVF / ICSI Journey: The Outcome

If you’ve followed our journey of infertility, through IVF/ICSI and up to my first viable Brodie2pregnancy you’ll recall the following: I went through one ‘full’ round of hormone injections, egg collection etc and from this one round we were granted 5 viable embryos at the blastocyst (day 5) stage.  Our first didn’t take, but we were incredibly blessed when our second, which had been frozen, resulted in our firstborn, a perfectly healthy baby boy.

This meant we still had 3 frozen embryos, for which we paid approximately $250AUD every 6 months to keep them cryopreserved.  At various stages in the future we intended to have each of them transferred in the hope that they would become viable pregnancies and hence add to our family.  We already counted ourselves so incredibly blessed though to have our 1 and my heart goes out to so many who’s journey has been significantly longer and they are still waiting, hoping…

COOPER newborn session (6a)When our son reached about 18 months it was time to try embryo no. 3.  They simply used my natural cycle again and the same protocol: a series of blood tests so they could identify when I ovulated, then the embryo transfer on day 5 after that.  Interestingly, we followed the same pattern with embryos 3 & 4 as we did with 1 & 2… our third was unsuccessful but our fourth took beautifully.  This ultimately led to the arrival of our gorgeous daughter, such a delight!

We knew, of course, that we had one final frozen embryo remaining.  Which we always intended to use.  We had a gap of two years and four months between our two children so, as that gap approached again, it was time to get serious about making our plans for the last time.

For a long while we had been at a place where we wanted to know whether or not our family was complete… it still seems so strange that this is something we essentially have no control over.  We weren’t yet in a position though, at least I wasn’t, to actually try falling pregnant again and, potentially, having a newborn.  To be completely honest, becoming a mum had completely rocked my world, and not entirely in a good way.  Once the initial infertility journey was over and I held that beautiful babe in my arms, an entirely new season commenced and I felt absolutely clueless.  I found myself consumed by worry, self-doubt, a complete lack of control and discovered an impatience I never knew I had.  We absolutely adored our children though and were always, always, going to try every embryo we had been given.

In my head, I’d always told myself the probability was slim.  We’d had a 50% success rate so far: first no, second yes, third no, fourth yes… so following that pattern and the fact that this last one would technically be the lowest ‘quality’…I’d always told myself it probably wasn’t going to come to pass… but I believe that ‘negativity’ was also a coping method of self-preservation the infertility journey can give you.

As the time came though, I really felt challenged and built up to being genuinely excited about the prospect of welcoming another child into our family – though of course there was the ever-present battle of not wanting to get one’s hopes up.

What I find quite hilarious is that my husband had actually undergone a vasectomy months prior.  Given our track record of infertility it probably wasn’t necessary lol, but I’ve mentioned before how meticulous I had always been with contraception!  What a ‘scandal’ it would be were I to fall pregnant again to those who knew only that side of the story (the vasectomy) and not the other side (the frozen embryo), ha ha!

Once the decision was made to have our embryo transferred, it all went quite quickly.  Again my natural cycle was used, a series of blood tests performed, and an internal ultrasound.  What this final chapter did again bring to the forefront was all of those old familiar emotions that hadn’t surfaced in a while.  And boy did they come flooding back.  It wasn’t fun going back there and I was very pleased to be doing it for the last time.

IMG_1086It was exciting to see our embryo again on the screen and watch it being drawn in to the transfer device.  Hubby was with me, as he had been for every single previous attempt.  I am so incredibly grateful for his constant love and support.  Then out of the clinic I walk, technically with a baby inside of me, and the waiting game beings!

 

Before my scheduled blood test though (to see if the embryo had taken and I were in fact pregnant) I started spotting.  Unfortunately my period didn’t come in as quickly as it normally would have so again played with my emotions for several days whilst I hoped the procedure had been successful.  It really rocked me, back on that crazy roller coaster!  Desperately hoping but simultaneously terrified to get my hopes up.

Once we did receive the official notification that no, it hadn’t worked, I needed some time to grieve and process.  This time around, the whole way through, it was probably more raw and emotional than the last because of the sense of finality it brought.  Not that we weren’t perfectly happy, content, blessed etc with our beautiful family… but every other time we’d done this there had still always been at least one frozen embryo ‘in reserve’.  Not this time.  This was it.  Final.  We now knew that our family was complete.  Whilst it felt good to know, and to step off that roller coaster for the very last time, it was also strange because it didn’t really feel as though we had made that decision, but rather that it had been made for us.IMG_1823

I actually wrote this the day we found out:

“When one door closes, another one opens…

 A new day is dawning.

Today I learned, or rather had confirmed what I’d already suspected, that our final frozen embryo transfer, and hence our hopes of a third child, had been unsuccessful.  What an emotional rollercoaster these last few days have been.

To now be on the other side, to have completed a 9 year journey of trying to conceive and IVF/ICSI treatments, to not know how many would or wouldn’t be successful, to not know the size our family would be… I know no one knows in advance exactly what their family will ultimately look like but the what if’s hanging over our heads have been, at least it feels to me, quite significant.

It was bittersweet to walk out of the IVF clinic for that last time, a truly welcoming and beautiful clinic with the most caring of staff – it honestly was a real joy to be looked after there each time – but I can’t say I’m sad that door is finally firmly shut.  As of today, we know our family is complete.  There’s a mum, a dad, a beautiful boy and a gorgeous girl.  The perfect pigeon pair as so many would say, and incidentally, exactly as we’d dared picture our family way back before the journey had even begun.  Ultimately, of course, we couldn’t care less about their genders, only their health, and the fact that they made it here to earth.  Our gifts.  Our treasures.  Our greatest blessings.  There is the four of us and we are family.  It feels that, as of today, a chapter that consumed much of our lives, our time and our energy, has officially come to an end.  And ahead as I look I see our pathway increasing exponentially ever wider and wider.”

We are so incredibly thankful for and so desperately in love with our two babes and so honoured to have been granted the incredible responsibility of helping raise them to become the best that they can be.

One day I hope to be able to have a laugh with our kids about the fact that technically, they’re both the same ‘age’.  They were both conceived/created at the same time but were ‘frozen’ Austin Powers style, one for longer than the other!  I hope they’ll think this is pretty cool!  For us, it was the option that brought us them so for that we are forever grateful.

And you know what, in the end, once you’re holding that divine bundle in your arms, the entire fertility journey, how long it took and how that bub came into being all fades into insignificance… I know it’s so hard to understand this when you’re in the thick of it, but it’s all worthwhile when the time comes.

Brodie Cooper a

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P.S. Should anyone be wondering why, if we really did want more children, we didn’t try the whole entire process again (remembering I only ever underwent one full IVF/ICSI round from start to finish involving hormone treatments, egg collection etc… apart from the first, all of our attempts were with our own frozen embryos from the first round)… well, you see, we were ecstatic with our two and it’s not so much that we necessarily felt a yearning for more children as I know some do… our journey was different to the natural way.  It was the unknown.  Are we or aren’t we having another child?  What does our completed family picture look like?  The main reason I would not have signed up for a whole new round of IVF is that, due to our own personal beliefs, we would again have decided to try every single successful embryo… and that was too much of an unknown quantity and time-frame.  To us, all be they only 5 days old, they were still babies.  We were happy to have them inserted and then have nature/God do it’s thing.  But we could not donate them to science, have them de-frosted on a bench left to die, or even donate them to another couple, as lovely as that would be… I guess they were still our biological children and that was just how we felt.  We were also 5 years older (and had already started this journey 5 years later than we originally hoped to become parents) and this brought concerns about the health of both sperm & eggs.  Each to their own, it was a personal decision, but this was how we felt, and this is our story J.  Thanks for sharing it with us. xoxo

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Family.  So blessed!

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Infertility is one of the toughest challenges a couple can face.  Unfortunately, I have known couples who have paid the ultimate price… a time that should have been one of their most intimate and exciting, culminating in potentially the most joyful day of their lives, has instead resulted in the breakdown of their marriage.  Don’t let this happen to you!  Read my perspective on how to grow stronger as a couple whilst riding that wild infertility roller coaster!

Trying to Conceive & Infertility

A Woman’s Journey… (is unique & we all deserve some R.E.S.P.E.C.T.)

pexels-photo-594421.jpeg“Somewhere there is a woman: 30, no children. People ask her, “Still no kids?” Her response varies from day to day, but it usually includes forced smiles and restraint.
“Nope, not yet,” she says with a chuckle, muffling her frustration.
“Well, don’t wait forever. That clock is ticking, ya know,” the sage says before departing, happy with herself for imparting such erudite wisdom. The sage leaves. The woman holds her smile. Alone, she cries…
Cries because she’s been pregnant 4 times and miscarried every one. Cries because she started trying for a baby on her wedding night, and that was 5 years ago. Cries because her husband has an ex-wife and she has given him children. Cries because she wants desperately to try in vitro but can’t even afford the deposit. Cries because she’s done in vitro (multiple rounds) and still has no children. Cries because her best friend wouldn’t be a surrogate. “It would be too weird,” she said. Cries because her medication prevents pregnancy. Cries because this issue causes friction in her marriage. Cries because the doctor said she’s fine, but deep inside she knows it’s her. Cries because her husband blames himself, and that guilt makes him a hard person to live with. Cries because all her sisters have children. Cries because one of her sisters didn’t even want children. Cries because her best friend is pregnant. Cries because she got invited to another baby shower. Cries because her mother keeps asking, “Girl, what are you waiting on?” Cries because her in-laws want to be grandparents. Cries because her neighbor has twins and treats them like shit. Cries because 16-year-olds get pregnant without trying. Cries because she’s an amazing aunt. Cries because she’s already picked out names. Cries because there’s an empty room in her house. Cries because there is an empty space in her body. Cries because she has so much to offer. Cries because he’d be a great dad. Cries because she’d be a great mother, but isn’t.
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Somewhere else is another woman: 34, five children. People say to her, “Five? Good lord, I hope you’re done!” And then they laugh… because those types of comments are funny. The woman laughs too, but not in earnest. She changes the subject, as she always does, and gives the disrespect a pass. Just another day. Alone, she cries…
Cries because she’s pregnant with another and feels like she has to hide the joy. Cries because she always wanted a big family and doesn’t see why people seem so disturbed by it. Cries because she has no siblings and felt profoundly lonely as a child. Cries because her Granny had 12 and she’d love to be just like her. Cries because she couldn’t imagine life without her children, but people treat her like they’re a punishment. Cries because she doesn’t want to be pitied. Cries because people assume this isn’t what she wanted. Cries because they assume she’s just irresponsible. Cries because they believe she has no say. Cries because she feels misunderstood. Cries because she’s tired of defending her private choices. Cries because she and her husband are perfectly capable of supporting their family but that doesn’t seem to matter. Cries because she’s tired of the “funny” comments. Cries because she minds her own business. Cries because she wishes others would mind theirs. Cries because sometimes she doubts herself and wonders if she should have stopped two kids ago. Cries because others are quick to offer criticism and slow to offer help. Cries because she’s sick of the scrutiny. Cries because she’s not a side show. Cries because people are rude. Cries because so many people seem to have opinions on her private life. Cries because all she wants to do is live in peace.

pexels-photo-755028.jpegAnother woman: 40, one child. People say to her, “Only one? You never wanted any more?”
“I’m happy with my one,” she says calmly, a rehearsed response she’s given more times than she can count. Quite believable. No one would ever suspect that alone, she cries…
Cries because her one pregnancy was a miracle. Cries because her son still asks for a brother or sister. Cries because she always wanted at least three. Cries because her second pregnancy had to be terminated to save her life. Cries because her doctor says it would be “high-risk.” Cries because she’s struggling to care for the one she has. Cries because sometimes one feels like two. Cries because her husband won’t even entertain the thought of another. Cries because her husband died and she hasn’t found love again. Cries because her family thinks one is enough. Cries because she’s deep into her career and can’t step away. Cries because she feels selfish. Cries because she still hasn’t lost the weight from her from her first pregnancy. Cries because her postpartum depression was so intense. Cries because she can’t imagine going through that again. Cries because she has body issues and pregnancy only exacerbates it. Cries because she still battles bulimia. Cries because she had to have a hysterectomy. Cries because she wants another baby, but can’t have it.

These women are everywhere. They are our neighbors, our friends, our sisters, our co-workers, our cousins. They have no use for our advice or opinions. Their wombs are their own. Let’s respect that.”

Credit: Nadirah Angail

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Tears for women everywhere and their individual journeys.  Remember, you will never understand unless you have walked in her shoes, and even then, her journey is still unique.  Let’s never assume to know someone else’s business or place our opinion of what is ‘right’ or ‘normal’ on them.  Let’s not give ‘advice’ unless it’s asked for.  Please, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

be kind

Trying to Conceive & Infertility

Our Infertility Journey – Part 4: IVF / ICSI – The Outcome

Click here for Part 3 of our IVF / ICSI Journey: Egg Collection, Fertilisation and More Waiting

The day had finally arrived when we would find out whether or not our first round of IVF/ICSI had been successful.  Were we having a baby?  We sure were dying to know!  I’d had a blood test that morning and then played a bit of phone tag with the clinic nurse that afternoon… she was ready to tell us ‘the news’ but hubby wasn’t home yet and I desperately wanted us to be together.  So there I was waiting, waiting, trying to keep myself occupied, and had absolutely convinced myself that the result was going to be negative.  I thought I was seeing tinges of ‘pink’ which I believed would lead to a period over the coming days.  So I was preparing myself for a letdown.

Finally hubby arrived home and we made the call.  You could have knocked me over with a feather when she told us that I was, in fact, pregnant.  What a relief!  And yet a very bizarre, surreal, unusual feeling.  There were no screams of excitement or tears of joy, mostly chuckles of astonished bewilderment.  We honestly couldn’t believe it.   We enjoyed a nice dinner out that night to ‘celebrate’, with a lemon lime & bitters for me, but I wasn’t 100% comfortable or convinced due to a discharge that I just wasn’t feeling good about.  It could’ve just been related to the crinone gel I was on and at the time of giving us the news the nurse wasn’t concerned, but over the coming days it turned into more noticeable bleeding.  I had to go back in for a blood test to confirm my pregnancy (hormone) levels were still going up, but received a call that afternoon to advise that they were on the decline instead.  This confirmed my thoughts and it appeared that the pregnancy hadn’t taken. Weary_Face_Emoji_91a42b7e-9581-4fa5-8de4-57481355d505_1024x1024 By the weekend I was experiencing what to me was just like a normal period.  I was frustrated and more than a little ‘annoyed’ I guess because I wished I’d never have found out that I was, in fact, pregnant.  I wished they’d have just let my body do it’s thing and that I could ‘find out’ as I normally did, via a period.  The only reason I knew that I was ‘pregnant’ was because they told me I was.  This made hubby & I wonder how many times in the past could I possibly have been ‘pregnant’, but lost the baby almost immediately, just thinking I was having a normal period, particularly when I wasn’t always that regular and sometimes significantly late.  This first attempt was labelled as a miscarriage.  I’m very grateful though to have not gotten further along and then for it to end the same way.

The nurses seemed surprised, being that my initial levels were very good, but we really just took it all in our stride.  I guess in a way we felt it was almost too good to be true…

As a somewhat means of compensation, I jumped aboard last minute for a trip to the snow with hubby and some friends for a weekend that I hadn’t initially planned being a part of!  A great way to let the hair down!

Plan 590

The beauty was, I still had 4 frozen embryos to use, and we were keen to continue ASAP.  As wonderful as the whole process had been for me, with no side effects, it was still nice to know that I didn’t have to go through the injection or egg collection phases or anything else this time around.

Whilst we were hoping to try again the next month, I had to be monitored to make sure my levels returned back to zero.  I also had to meet with the Doctor who basically gave me a counseling session I didn’t want or need, but had to pay for!  Because my cycle was pretty regular, they wanted to use my ‘natural’ cycle for the next attempt (by regular I mean I had a monthly cycle, even though it was never very predictable).  Basically, they wanted to target my body when it was naturally ready to conceive and carry a baby.  So I had to call them when my next period started (the following month), and then began some serious observation!  Again though, the fabulous nurses at the IVF Clinic were absolutely amazing!  In a space of 10 days I had at least 8 blood tests – talk about feeling like a pin cushion!  But they’d open early for me if necessary, were always on time, and I was in and out within minutes.  They were waiting for me to ovulate naturally, which the blood tests would indicate.  In the end, I think I ovulated a couple of days later than they were expecting, but it all worked out fine.  Once they’d worked out when I had ovulated, they then calculated Day 5 of my cycle, which is how old the embryos were at the time of ‘freezing’, and that’s when one would be inserted.  My only concern was that, seeings as they had used the best ‘AA quality’ embryo the last time (they’d all been labelled in terms of their apparent strength/quality) and it didn’t work, how likely was it that one of these would work given that they were potentially of a ‘lesser quality’ and had to go through the freezing and unthawing processes?  Surely you’d have to be strong for that?!  I was assured not to worry though, that this had nothing to do with the success rates (and later I heard that potentially the success rates could possibly be higher from frozen embryos).

Our embryos were transferred to our local clinic.  On Day 5 we headed into the clinic, and interestingly this time there was no special protective clothing or sealed off rooms or anything like that.  They only unthawed the embryo that morning (it doesn’t take long) and were pleased to see that in the short time since unthawing and before inserting it had already started to grow – of course something only they could see through a microscope but I guess it was the cells continuing to multiply, which they said was a positive sign.  The implantation process was again all very quick and easy and we headed straight to a weekend filled with motorsport!

Again it was time to wait the 10 days, actually even a little longer, but this time I probably felt more like it was going to work, I guess because it did the last time.  The question though was… would it continue?

Hubby and I again took the call together when he got home from work and received the positive news that yes, again I was pregnant!  There was no dinner date that night – we were both dealing with such mixed emotions!

A few days later though another blood test confirmed my levels were continuing to rise… so much so that we were told there was the possibility of a multiple pregnancy!  If that was the case, they’d be identical twins because the egg would have split after inserting.  (I’d told our Doctor several times that he was allowed to insert more than one embryo, but they don’t seem to do so that often these days – it was IVF Australia’s policy not to).  The nurse then confided that, even though my levels were very good last time, they were much higher this time, right from the beginning.

We were flying out to Bora Bora a few days later and she had no issues with that.  She just said to be very careful of what I ate and not to drink the tap water.  It was bizarre… technically I was ‘5 weeks pregnant’!  Provided everything went smoothly, the next step for me/us was a 7 week scan at our obstetrician’s clinic to confirm a ‘viable’ pregnancy… at which point he would resume my care.

Bora Bora was such a blessing!  Firstly, we were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary, and of course were also very much hoping it was our ‘babymoon’.  It was everything we’d ever hoped it would be – exactly like the postcards and travel brochures you see, and it was so nice to get away, just the two of us.  We had our ‘secret’ and we just had to keep assuming that everything was going well and moving forward so long as I wasn’t bleeding.  This time I didn’t have to use the crinone gel (slow release progesterone) as they were letting my body do everything naturally, and I had no signs at all of any bleeding.  We did plenty of activities and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and I at least don’t think I focused on the pregnancy as much as I would have if I were at home.

By the time we got home, we only had to wait another week until our 7 week scan.  When the day came, we were seen by a sonographer.  Normally she said she would do an internal ultrasound but because I was already on the bed (keen much?!) she said she’d try through the belly first.  Well, as soon as she switched it on, there was our baby!!!  The moment we’d been waiting for!  I always thought I’d burst into tears, especially seeings as I’d get a bit emotional looking at an ultrasound of my empty insides in anticipation of what the future held, but I didn’t.  The first thing I said was “Is that a baby?!” quite incredulous, and she replied: “That’s a baby!”  She was absolutely wonderful and made us feel so special.  Of course he/she was only tiny, a blob really, but he/she was there, alive & kicking, inside of me and that was enough!  We had her check thoroughly to ensure there was only one, which there was!  (Hubby’s visions of being a dad of 10 had returned when he learned the possibility of twins!).

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We still had 5 weeks to go though until bub was technically ‘safe’ and it was like I still wasn’t allowing myself to really believe it.  I always thought once I’d seen a scan it would feel real.  Well, it did for the time I was in there, then quickly disappeared again.  I was trying hard not to live in fear, I think it was more just really struggling to believe that we were actually on this path, that it was actually happening.  I was trying to protect myself I’m sure, not getting my hopes up too high.  I know I certainly dampened hubby’s spirits about it all and as such he didn’t feel he could truly express how excited and happy he was… he was certainly more understanding this time about keeping our secret until 12 weeks.  My parents knew from the beginning (but even they were very subdued about it all, especially after the first attempt) and we told hubby’s parents after this 7 week scan but swore them to secrecy.

I reached the 12 week mark with no issues, complications, scares or even morning sickness!  Our appointment though wasn’t for a few more days and this made me feel a bit safer anyway because some people say you should wait until 13 weeks to announce.  We saw the same sonographer and she was as wonderful as ever.  This time we got a really good look at our bub and were told we had a very attractive baby 😉 She even flicked the machine on to 3D and that gave us some really good images and videos.

Mini 12 weeks 3 days 027

Bub was misbehaving though and lying upside down… she was trying to get all sorts of measurements including of the base of the neck for the nucal translucency test and bub was not making it easy on her!  She tried a few tactics with me to get him/her to turn and I even went into the bathroom and did a handstand (don’t tell anyone!) but nothing worked.  In the end though she seemed happy with what she’d gotten and everything was fine.

So here we were!  After all this time!  Bub was safe, strong, healthy… and we could make it ‘official’!!!

That’s when the real fun began!!!  Announcing the news!!!  We are blessed with a hugely supportive community of family and friends and the fact we were trying to conceive was certainly no secret… though the IVF journey we had decided, on this occasion, to keep considerably on the down-low… probably purely because it was all brand new to us and we didn’t want to get our own hopes up, let alone anyone else’s.  Plus I figure there’s not many, all be there some, who tell those around them exactly when they’re going to try to have a baby naturally lol!  So we didn’t feel the need to divulge details either.  As time has gone on though I have become much more open and eager to share my journey with anyone genuinely interested (note: there’s a difference between sticky beaks and people who just want to know what the ‘problem’ is or, more specifically, who’s ‘fault’ it is (the infertility), and those who genuinely care and/or are interested in the process).

But I digress.  For those of you still wishing, hoping, praying, believing… oh I hope with you with all my heart that these deepest desires of yours would be fulfilled.  Sharing the news with those dear to us was a wonderful experience.  There was applause, screams of disbelief and excitement, squeezes soooooo tight, tears, spilled beverages… it was so much fun!  And finally, finally, it all sunk in and we could believe it was real.  This truly was happening.  We had arrived.  We were going to be parents!

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Click here to read Part 5: Our IVF / ICSI Infertility Journey – The Final Chapter

Before commenting please stop & think: is it kind, caring, positive & beneficial?  Please remember that on the other side of this screen, be it the author or your fellow readers, that we are all humans with our own stories: needs, hopes, experiences, opinions &, most importantly, feelings.  This is a respectful & safe place.  I, the author, am not a medical professional.  I offer simply my personal experiences & information gleaned in the sincere hope that it may be of use to another.  This does not mean that I am ‘right’, whatever that means, but it did work for me.  I reserve the right to remove any comments I deem unnecessary, inappropriate or negative.  Thanks for being here.  xx

Trying to Conceive & Infertility

Our Infertility Journey – Part 3: IVF / ICSI – Egg Collection, Fertilisation & More Waiting

Click here for Part 2.

I awoke from surgery to find the number ‘19’ taped to the inside of my right hand – the number of eggs they’d collected (this was a lot apparently).  I was well looked after the whole time, and it was a very quick process.  It was quite a quick trip really.  Once I’d had something to eat and drink (I was ravenous!) I was good to go.  I felt great straight away, so much so that we went shopping for a substantial lunch and to buy a special teddy bear for our baby ‘Mini’.  I felt totally fine.

The clinic called later that afternoon to advise that out of the 19 eggs collected, they’d injected sperm into 13 of them.  The rest were not mature enough.  Those were still really good figures.  Between 50 – 70% generally fertilise and they’d call again tomorrow with an update.

I spoke to my local clinic later and the nurse was pleased I was feeling well, but advised me (as they had earlier) to have heat packs on standby and to take panadol every 4 hours as needed “once the anesthetic wears off”… The following morning however my mum came over to ‘nurse’ me and stood there stunned when I met her at the door then ran off down the corridor to answer my ringing mobile phone!  Never did I suffer any cramping or need any heat packs or pain killers (and they expected my pain to be significant because I’d had so many eggs taken out…I’d been warned of that a few times).  I still had a relaxing day, just because I could, and enjoyed watching a movie with mum (‘The Back Up Plan with Jennifer Lopez – kind of appropriate!)

I received a call to advise that 10 of the eggs had fertilised – YIKES!  But, they assured me, there was still a long way to go and that number would still drop significantly (hubby and I had chosen not to ‘limit’ how many eggs were fertilised, but intended to at some point use every single one of them – but 10 certainly still gave us a shock ha ha!).  They would call again on Thursday with an update.  I ran our church home group that night as normal and no one would have guessed what we’d been through!

On Thursday the clinic called to advise the 10 cells or whatever you want to call them were still plodding along doing their thing – YIKES again!  We were consistently above average, above the norm, every step of the way!  The nurses were pleased because it meant they were pretty hopeful to have one good one to transfer on Saturday.  Meanwhile, hubby & I were thinking we could possibly have 10 kids!!!

They were looking for the cells to behave in certain ways though, to become blastocysts (an embryo which has developed to the point of having 2 different cell components and a fluid cavity).

On the Saturday we went back to the same clinic and this time were admitted to a sterile laboratory style room.  Before we could go into the actual room we had to cover everything with protective coverings: clothing, shoes, hair – we looked a sight!

Again, it was a very quick procedure.  There was 1 doctor and a scientist/lab technician working in the lab next door where they showed us on a screen the blastocyst they’d chosen for us which was pretty cool.  We saw him suck it into a syringe of sorts, then he came from next door into our room and gave it to the doctor who inserted it a very long way.  This was my poor hubby’s first experience of another man being around my private parts, which he wasn’t too comfortable with!  That was it!  We were told they had a potential 5 – 6 blastocysts they were considering freezing, but they’d know more tomorrow and they’d give us a call to let us know.  We wanted to make the time special (because let’s face it, what we’d just experienced was not exactly how you ever plan on ‘making a baby’!) so went to a National Park for some morning tea and a stroll which was just lovely, prior to attending a 5 year olds birthday party back near home.  We even went out for dinner that night – we were all about celebrating!!!

 

Then, the waiting game began.  Just like every other month!  Only this time we at least knew there was an embryo within me.  The question was, of course, would it take?  Would it go the distance?  We received a call the following day to tell us they’d frozen 4 embryos.  Hubby breathed an audible sigh of relief and said “Now I’m a happy man!” – secretly he’d been panicking about fathering 7 children, but 5 he felt was much more manageable lol!  We knew we still had a long way to go, but I think we were quietly confident.

10 days into the waiting game and no ‘tell-tale’ signs of pregnancy.  We’d been advised not to do any at-home tests so I needed to go in for a blood test and we’d receive ‘the call’ later that afternoon with ‘the news’.

I had been really excited but as the time drew nearer I certainly became more anxious and nervous… of course I was thrilled to not be feeling nauseous or anything if I were to be pregnant, but it’s just so hard not having a clue what’s going on inside your own body!  Plus I was concerned that, even if I were to receive great news, what we’d been waiting years for, I’d still worry and be anxious until the 12 week ‘safe’ mark…

Click here for Part 4.

 

 

Before commenting please stop & think: is it kind, caring, positive & beneficial?  Please remember that on the other side of this screen, be it the author or your fellow readers, that we are all humans with our own stories: needs, hopes, experiences, opinions &, most importantly, feelings.  This is a respectful & safe place.  I, the author, am not a medical professional.  I offer simply my personal experiences & information gleaned in the sincere hope that it may be of use to another.  This does not mean that I am ‘right’, whatever that means, but it did work for me.  I reserve the right to remove any comments I deem unnecessary, inappropriate or negative.  Thanks for being here.  xx

Trying to Conceive & Infertility

Our Infertility Journey – Part 2: IVF / ICSI – Acceptance & Preparation

Click here for Part 1 – The Roller Coaster of Infertility

After having done all the necessary health checks, we were advised that IVF (specifically ICSI) was the way for us to go.  I’d always known this was an option, but it came as quite a surprise because I’d mistakenly assumed there would be a number of other options/alternatives tried first.  But there wasn’t.  Our Doctor had no other solutions.  This was his recommendation.  He said it wasn’t impossible (for us to conceive), but that we would need some help.  We had plenty of time to process and prepare for it though due to needing (or so I thought) to upgrade our health fund cover, so it would be at least a year ‘off’ (a note for any Australians: I mustn’t have researched this at all and assumed you needed private health cover… but, if I recall correctly, it’s now all covered by Medicare with the exception of the day stay surgery for egg collection… so in hindsight if I’d known this we’d most likely have gone down this track sooner!). 

Coming to terms with the concept of IVF wasn’t too much of a struggle for us.  We were at the point where we would do whatever we needed to in order to start a family.  I chose to look at it from the perspective of: is it any different to taking panadol for a headache, chemotherapy for cancer or having a caesarean to give birth?  All are man-made, man-driven, man-performed.  How blessed are we to have access to such incredible technology!  I am forever thankful and indebted to those who have dedicated their lives to this area.

I was willing and would have also looked into natural assistance and support (such as naturopathy, acupuncture etc) but hubby wasn’t so open-minded, so direct to the scientific route we went!

The IVF/ICSI journey started with a consultation appointment in a beautiful clinic, obviously specifically designed so.  Very calming and soothing and the staff were just lovely with delightful temperaments and they put me totally at ease.

ICSI stands for Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection.  The technique involves injecting a single sperm into an egg using very fine micro-manipulation equipment as part of an IVF treatment cycle.  We were advised this technique would give us the greatest chance of success.  As opposed to letting the sperm find the egg and then burrow it’s way in… science takes it one step further.  Incredible!  And after all, anyone who has gotten this far wants the very best chances of success as soon as possible!

All I needed to do at first was take a nasal spray twice a day for 10 days.  Simple.  Common side effects: headaches, mood changes (feeling ‘blah’), hot flushes, breast pain… did I have any of that?  Nope.  All I experienced were aching shoulders on occasion which may or may not have been related.  Certainly nothing I couldn’t handle.  (So I may have had one little emotional outburst at hubby, but all women have them, right?! 😉

Next I started a nightly injection in addition to my nasal spray.  This sort of thing doesn’t really phase me and it was no issue.  They make it so easy and it was painless.  It was a busy week so it meant carrying it around with me in a cooler bag, but no one ever knew!  A few sly trips to the car if necessary to ‘inject’ and no worries!  I did however feel like a bit of a drug user operating in secret, carrying around my sharps disposal container!

Common side effects: pain, swelling, redness at injection site, headaches, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, abdominal cramps etc… did I have any of that?  Nope again!

After being on the injections for 6 days I had another follow up appointment.  Another blood test (seems I get one every time I go in, if I ever did have an issue with them I certainly don’t now!) and the nurse was pleased to hear I hadn’t suffered any side effects so far.  “Seriously, I’m feeling GREAT!” I said.  She warned me though: “Be prepared, from hereon you’re going to get very tired and bloated.  It will just hit you.  Probably over the weekend, it will just come out of nowhere.”  She said they had to wait for the blood test results to come back that afternoon to know what the plan was from here, but seeings as I was feeling so good everything was probably going to schedule.

Later that day I was advised my oestrogen levels were through the roof.  “You’re one of the rare cases where this happens and you have no side effects.”  Worse case scenario: ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome which makes you incredibly sick (but I felt great!!!) and they would cancel this treatment cycle.  So I needed to go in the following morning for an internal ultrasound, 3 days ahead of schedule.

Well, it turned out that I had heaps of follicles.  “Do you have polycystic ovaries?” the nurse asked me.  “Not that I know of” I replied.  I’d had two internal ultrasounds before in the lead up to all this and no one ever indicated as such.  “Well they’re behaving like they are” she said, because they were now overstimulated due to the medications.  My body had responded too well to the drugs (if I were to do another cycle, they’d lessen the dosage).  Whilst I had more than enough follicles, quantity doesn’t mean quality.

She started measuring them as that would be the real indicator as to where we were at as they needed to be a certain size in two days to continue as planned… well, they were already that size weren’t they!  “I think they’ll want to admit you to theatre on Monday” I was told, which came as a complete surprise as we’d been working towards Thursday.  It also meant a 1.5 hour drive to a different hospital than our local 20 minutes away as originally planned, but that was fine.  She needed to consult with the doctors though and get their thoughts.  But if I got any symptoms, if I was sick in any way, I was to make sure I let them know immediately!

I got the call late Friday afternoon confirming I was booked in for the Monday.  I rang hubby – he needed the day off!  I was meant to work on the Monday but that shift had recently been changed to the Wednesday – it was evident that the path was being cleared for us and all was falling into place!

I had my last injection and nasal spray on the Friday night, then on the Saturday night I had to give myself one final injection at 9.30pm, specifically 36 hours before being admitted.  It’s amazing what all the drugs are for.  Initially I believe they were lowering my hormones (hence why I could have felt flat & irritable) and this injection reversed it, or something like that.

The ‘extreme tiredness’ and ‘bloating’ never, ever hit me.  It truly was amazing!  If I wasn’t the one who gave myself the drugs etc I never would have known I was on this journey.  My body just behaved like everything was normal.

And I’m excited, really excited, as to how this is all going to unfold!

Click here for Part 3 – Our Infertility Journey – IVF / ICSI – Egg Collection, Fertilisation & More Waiting

 

 

Before commenting please stop & think: is it kind, caring, positive & beneficial?  Please remember that on the other side of this screen, be it the author or your fellow readers, that we are all humans with our own stories: needs, hopes, experiences, opinions &, most importantly, feelings.  This is a respectful & safe place.  I, the author, am not a medical professional.  I offer simply my personal experiences & information gleaned in the sincere hope that it may be of use to another.  This does not mean that I am ‘right’, whatever that means, but it did work for me.  I reserve the right to remove any comments I deem unnecessary, inappropriate or negative.  Thanks for being here.  xx