Birth Stories

My Firstborn: A Calm, Natural & Pain Free Birth

In May 2013, after over 5 years of waiting/trying, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy!  He came 8 days early so he surprised us and as a bonus I got to enjoy my first Mother’s Day a year early which was so special!

My labour was absolutely incredible and honestly pain-free!  I know that for many this is hard to comprehend, so I’d love to tell you our story.


Relishing my first mother’s day with my baby boy, 1 week old.

Of all nights, hubby and I had stayed up late watching two back-to-back movies, something we never did!  Hubby had always said that he’d hoped when I went into labour that I’d have had a good night’s sleep the night before… well that wasn’t to be!  We had literally just gone to bed and within minutes, at midnight, my waters partially broke.  It wasn’t a huge flooding, but certainly something I hadn’t experienced before and I called the hospital to let them know.  I didn’t have any contractions or anything.   They said to go back to bed for an hour then call them back and let them know what was happening.  I was still losing fluid so I rang and, after much deliberation from the midwife, who straight away asked me whether I’d done Calmbirth® due to the terminology I was using and how calm I was, she said that protocol stated that I needed to come in for monitoring.  She was reluctant because she was worried that once I was in they mightn’t let me go and the possible interventions this could lead to (the hospital I was booked in to has, I’ve been told, one of the highest intervention rates in NSW).

I took my time getting ready thinking we were most likely going to be sent home anyway… I just figured my waters breaking meant something was possibly going to start happening in the next few days (not stopping to think about the risk of infection and that I would likely be induced if nothing happened quickly anyway!  I was reminded of that later…) We finished packing and got the house in order and got to the hospital about 3am.  Before leaving home I’d said to hubby that maybe I was feeling ‘something’, certainly not what I considered to be signs of imminent labour but I was feeling a little ‘different’ so to speak…

At the hospital (we never even brought my hospital bag in!) they strapped a monitor to me which of course meant I was flat on my back in bed… which if I was in labour wasn’t what I would have wanted but it didn’t bother me because I didn’t think I was in labour!  The first thing they told me was that the baby’s heart rate was dropping with every ‘contraction’ – which they were concerned about and started talking induction and even cesarean as the baby could have been in distress.  My doctor was away for the weekend – his one annual weekend away a year!  So much so that in our antenatal classes the nurses were explaining how it’s possible your doctor mightn’t be available when your time comes so to be prepared for that… “Except Doctor F” they said, “He’s always here!”  So the midwife went to speak to the on-call doctor about it.  By the time she came back and re-checked the monitor, everything was perfect.  They needed about an hour and a half of ‘perfect’ results though before they could send me home… they then started doubting whether my waters had actually broken or not as the symptoms could have been related to something else… but she did comment that my contractions were getting stronger.  “Your face isn’t telling me that though” she said, “the machine is”.  So I just stayed relaxed and let them monitor me, in my eyes everything was fine.  Even if I was in labour, I still figured it was the very early stages and that we were surely still 12 – 18 hours off having a baby!  The midwife said that I probably would be sent home to labour saying “You’ll know when to come back in”.  Then I was told that the doctor was coming in any way for another patient and that he wanted to observe me in the morning before letting me go, so she took the monitor off and just said to get some rest.  She’d done an internal examination on me and said I hadn’t even started dilating, which is why she was sure they would just send me home.  The contractions were getting a little more intense, but still nothing I would even have referred to as being in ‘labour’.  I never understood how people said they “just breathed through them” but that’s exactly what I did, with very little effort.  Whilst I didn’t actually fall asleep, I was perfectly calm and relaxed and don’t think I even did the real deep breathing I’d learnt in Calmbirth® and practiced in the preceding weeks.  I don’t think I needed to, but I’m not sure.  Hubby didn’t even know, he was trying to sleep on the couch.

I got up later to go to the bathroom and all of a sudden felt quite sick, like I was going to pass out / throw up.  The doctor came in at this time and did an internal examination, which the midwife said he needn’t bother about because she’d already done one and I hadn’t even started.  He looked at her perplexed while he was doing it, “She’s about 9cm dilated” he said.  She couldn’t believe it, and neither could I!  His words were like music to my ears because I’d read all the testimonials of this happening to women in the Calmbirth® book and had said to myself “I want a story like that!”  I honestly said: “So does this mean we’re having a baby?”, still totally disbelieving!  Apparently it did lol!  My contractions still seriously weren’t anything to speak about, but I decided that if this was happening I wanted to start moving around etc, because up until this time I’d just been lying in bed.  My student midwife said she’d never seen anyone at 9cm so calm, but honestly, it was so easy!  I felt sick again and this time I did throw up, which they later tell me was probably the transition stage, and hubby thinks this kicked everything into gear.  The contractions potentially became a bit more intense, but they were never long or painful, then I reached this big lull and said to the midwives, “So are we basically just waiting for me to get the urge to push?” and apparently we were!  The fact that neither of them were leaving the room and were getting everything in order made me realise that this was actually happening – it was still all so surreal because it wasn’t anything like I ever expected labour would be!  The urges did come and the one thing I was surprised about was how much I did need to push.  The Calmbirth® training had me thinking that my job was to stay cool, calm and collected and let my body do the work, but you really do need to push your baby out!  I was on my knees with my arms/head resting on the bed head.  I just did what they told me and really you just feel pressure in your bottom (using the Epi-No really helped prepare me for this, but that’s another story).  It wasn’t until the doctor came in that I realised we must’ve been close!

Now, this is very interesting… pay close attention ladies!  At one point the doctor asked me to turn around and lie on the bed in the more traditional pose.  Even though I questioned him he somehow made me think it was for the best… well, that stopped everything didn’t it!  I think it was a combination of stage fright (you know, a deer caught in the headlights, I’m looking at them and they’re looking at me and my private parts…) Eventually the midwives said “You need to put her back the way she was”. Then he started talking about giving me a shot of one of the hormones because baby was so far down that we couldn’t leave it down there for long, but thankfully my body kicked back into gear when I was back in the original position (the midwife later said obviously I knew what was best and she was annoyed with him for changing me then talking about needing to give me an injection because I’d been doing so well!).  My contractions were quite far apart so I had heaps of time to rest in between (I mean, I didn’t even work up a sweat!) and they weren’t for very long… this probably just meant I didn’t push him out as quickly as others would have and in the end they virtually pulled him out (manually though, no forceps or vacuum or anything like that) and although that was a weird feeling, all of a sudden he was out and I’m like “what did we have?” – then it’s all a surreal blur from there holding on to his tiny blue slippery body then placing him on my chest… it truly was magical!

If I’d have laboured at home at all, which I was planning on doing for as long as possible, I don’t know if I would’ve made it to the hospital in time or I would have been fighting the urge to push as hubby was driving because I really don’t think either of us would have realised how far in labour I was as we never met the ‘technical requirements’ of contractions… you know, ‘3 – 5 minutes apart lasting for at least one minute for at least one hour’ etc etc like they tell you in the antenatal classes… I really only ‘worked’ for about 2 hours… bub was born at 9.07am.

So even though I had high hopes for Calmbirth®, my labour was even better than I possibly could have imagined or hoped for!  For days, every new midwife that came into my room talked about it, word had obviously spread!  Even the pediatrician had heard about it: “So you’re the one everyone’s talking about!”  I’d done other preparations in the lead-up as well including using a product called the ‘Epi-No’ and as a result had no tearing (this earnt me a hand-shake from my obstetrician who checked up on me a few days later), I could have gone home that afternoon!

The midwives couldn’t believe it when, after my skin-to-skin time with Mini B and a shower, I’d gone for a wander out of the birthing suite to orientate myself and let them know we were ready to have him weighed etc and be moved to our room… apparently they’re not used to women who’ve just had a baby coming to find them!  The use of drugs never even crossed my mind during the birth and I haven’t even had a panadol since!

I shared the above with my Calmbirth® facilitator and closed my letter to her with:

“It was everything I’d hoped it would be and even better… I’d read so many real-life stories in the Calmbirth® booklet about people who dilated so quickly and I was determined to be one of them – and I was!

Personally, I didn’t end up visualising really or anything like that, I just used the breathing a little but didn’t even need to do that much – the entire experience was that low-key, it just happened!  It really was amazing and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!  Not once did it cross my mind that this was too hard or that I couldn’t do it or that I hated my husband lol or anything like that!  I still can’t believe it!

Thank you for your class – it must’ve helped me incredibly.  Coming in, I’d heard so many horror stories and as a girl had grown up fearful of the labouring experience and I was determined to change my outlook… You helped me do that and I am ever so thankful.  Even so, leading up to the day it was still such an ‘unknown’, what was it going to be like?  Well, all of a sudden I found myself on the ‘other side’ oh so easily, and now life begins as a family!”



Click here for my 2nd birth story.



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 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!).


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!

MINI (7)


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

Trying to Conceive & Infertility

Our Story – Part 1: The Roller Coaster of Infertility

***If you are experiencing difficulties falling pregnant please read on… I promise you’ll no longer feel alone, and you might even have a little giggle…***

Our journey started in January 2008.  It was supposed to be a joyous 9 month journey of pregnancy and the commencement of our own family.  It wasn’t supposed to be (according to me) a journey of infertility, heartache and confusion.  It wasn’t supposed to be a roller coaster of emotions, of poking & prodding, injections & doctors appointments.  The medical receptionists weren’t meant to know me by name because I wasn’t pregnant.  That wasn’t part of the plan.  My plan.

After over 5 years of marriage (& a ‘5 year plan’) and having established ourselves well into our careers, built our own home and traipsed around the world, my husband & I were ‘ready’ to start a family.  We knew you could never truly be ready, truly be prepared for the incredible change a child would bring to your world and your relationship, but we were ready to find out.

Naivety was my first ‘mistake’, for want of a better word.  After having been absolutely meticulous with contraceptives for the last 5 years (wasn’t that a waste of valued dollars in hindsight!) and having seen one too many friends fall pregnant by ‘accident’ it seemed as simple as having unprotected sex.  I barely even knew about ovulation or timing or the ‘obstacle course’ that sperm had to battle through to reach an egg.  All that was yet to come.  But January 2008: unprotected sex.  Done.  Several times ;-).  Tick that box.  Again, again, & once more to be sure (not all on the same night!).  We even had the hide and the audacity, dare I admit, to hope & ‘try’ for a baby of a certain sex first…hubby had always felt that any daughter needed an older protective brother, and having never had one myself I thought “Sure, why not?  It can’t hurt.”  So we tried a few ‘techniques’ (old wives tales more like) and were pretty pleased with our efforts.

Then we started the waiting game, all along feeling quietly confident.  Much to my delight, I missed my period, and I was always ‘regular’ (ish).  Not always did my period start on the same day, but it was regular none the less.  I had literally one tiny spot (enough to make my heart skip a beat in the fear that I wasn’t pregnant) but that was it.  It certainly wasn’t my normal period, so I had to be pregnant, right?  The first pregnancy test came back negative and I put that down to it being too early, because we were so eager to find out.  Then the second test also came back negative and I started to become less confident, but came up with another excuse.  I figured that as my mum didn’t find out that she was pregnant with me until a blood test revealed it at 3 months (urine tests kept coming back negative), I thought the same could happen to me (all be it 27 years ago and no doubt technology has improved since then, but I didn’t dwell on that!).

We entered the second month and tried again to ‘seal the deal’ so to speak, to make sure & certain…but then my period came, and with it, a flood of tears.  I later learnt that you can actually trick your body into believing it’s pregnant and in hindsight think that’s what I must’ve done to skip a period previously, because that had never happened before.  Not intentionally, but simply out of the sheer expectation, excitement and certainty that I would be.  That it was that easy.  Why wouldn’t it be?

Still, we both tried to justify it with stories of people who’d still menstruated once they were pregnant (talk about grasping at straws!).  There was still the possibility we told ourselves…  Tears after the second month of trying now seem ridiculous after another 54 attempts, but those were the emotions at the time.

I’ll admit to at this time feeling pretty disillusioned and confused as to what was happening.  Everything else in my life had gone totally according to plan, so why not now?  I decided though that this just a minor deviation and I was secure enough in my faith to know that God’s plans were always better.  Besides, people had infertility issues didn’t they?  If you looked at our group of friends and the children appearing from everywhere, it almost made sense that someone had to have ‘issues’.  And that was us.

As time went on though, it started to become apparent that this ‘journey’ wasn’t going to be as easy as I’d expected.  This certainly wasn’t going to ‘plan’, so what now?  We consoled ourselves with research and the reassurance that falling pregnant was actually quite a difficult feat, that the odds most certainly were stacked against us.  How ironic then all the teenage pregnancies, the unwanted pregnancies, the accidental pregnancies.  One begins to feel surrounded by pregnancy.  All of a sudden there’s what appears to be a ‘baby boom’.  There are more pregnant women around than you’ve ever seen in your life.  You can’t escape them.  Everyone’s talking about it and can’t seem to talk about anything else.  Friends whom you didn’t even know were trying, or who weren’t trying, are suddenly telling you they’re pregnant.

I’d dreamt previously with one of my best friends about falling pregnant at the same time, raising our kids together etc.  When she’d found out that we were going to start trying she laughed apologetically and said I was on my own, they weren’t ready yet!… Of course she fell pregnant and had two beautiful boys before we had our first!

So then began the monthly cycle: period, attempt, waiting game, period, attempt (different style perhaps), waiting game, period, attempt, waiting game, period (sometimes a little rant “Why God, why????!!!!”), attempt (daily, every second day, morning, night?????), waiting game, period (sometimes a few tears), attempt, waiting game…the waiting was the absolute hardest, by far.  Particularly with a cycle that could vary generally between say 24-32 days…quite often I’d have to wait a week after I was ‘due’ before I’d see signs of my period coming and that was always so hard.  The “am I / aren’t I?” game.  You’re desperately hoping you are, but don’t want to actually get your hopes up.  I’d pray: “If I’m not, just give me my period, don’t keep me waiting like this.”  Hubby never said much, but I knew he was also waiting, hoping….  He was just as in tune with my cycle (which suddenly I’d learnt so much about, no naivety there anymore!) as I was, if not more so.  One month it was 46 days from one period to the next and that almost drove me crazy.  You go that long and you actually start believing “Could this be it?”  “It has to happen sometime right?” “One of these days I’m going to do a pregnancy test and it’s actually going to read positive (which is so hard to imagine at this stage), so it could be now, right?”  Then, waiting with baited breath as you take another pregnancy test (you rarely do them now because you can’t bear your heart breaking when the reading comes back negative) but alas, nothing.

When I found out that I wasn’t pregnant, I’d react in different ways.  Every now and then it was a tiny temper tantrum, once or twice I had a good cry, sometimes it was just a shrug of the shoulders and a “let’s just try again” mentality, sometimes it was a shake of the head and an “I knew I couldn’t have been anyway” attitude and other times it was just “whatever”…..

Generally this didn’t last long though and then life would just carry on as normal again until the next waiting game commenced.  Never though did I believe that I wouldn’t one day fall pregnant.  I can honestly say I had no doubt I would be a Mum to my own biological children.

All this mumbo jumbo though about mucas and ovulation tests (lick a stick and wait for fig leaves to appear), what the????!!!!  They weren’t for me.  I’m sure they must work for some, but they didn’t work for me.

Then there’s the awful world of miscarriage and friends who’d suffered through that and a stab of guilt runs through me as I think “Well at least they know they can fall pregnant”… not that I’d wish that on anybody.  That’s one set of emotions I’ve never experienced and I always say no one can truly understand unless they’ve been through it themselves.  That emotional roller coaster is one I can’t even comprehend, my heart aches just thinking about it.

There were other triggers to contribute to the roller coaster and it was never consistent.  It probably largely depended on where I was at in my cycle and the hormones that coincided with that.  Like I said, I was literally surrounded by babies.  Some baby showers would get to me, others wouldn’t.  Some Christmases would get to me, others wouldn’t (pregnancies announced at Christmas weren’t fun).  Some get-togethers would get to me, others wouldn’t.  One bad one in particular was a reunion for a friend visiting from the U.S. made up of my childhood friends, many younger than me, all of whom now had at least one, if not multiple, children.  That was really hard.  What a blessing came out of that day though when a random Facebook message came from one of the husbands who knew a bit about our ‘situation’ and whose wife was just pregnant with their 2nd.  They commended us on our outlook, persistence and genuine excitement towards those expecting or with children and that meant so much to me.  Because behind that sometimes fake smile, behind the eyes that were trying to shine (or were they glistening with tears?), behind a protective guard, was a heart that was breaking.  There was a definite yearning and desire to have what they all had, to have what I considered to be rightfully mine, but when would the time come?  Always, always though, was there genuine joy and delight for those friends of mine who’d succeeded.  Bitterness and resentment were not permitted in my heart.  I’d have friends afraid to tell me they were pregnant (what, as if I wouldn’t find out lol!) simply because they felt bad that for them it came so easily, and they knew for me it didn’t.  But I knew that our time would come.

I found it easier to be relatively honest with people.  They didn’t need to know everything, but they could know we were TTC (ha, “trying to conceive”, an abbreviation you pick up from reading online forums!)  It kept them off my back with their incessant “when are you going to have a baby?”  They usually then felt quite sheepish for asking and that shut them up (or they had their own story to tell about how long it took them or someone they knew…everyone has a story!)  Oh, and suggestions!  If I hear one more person tell me to “just forget about it” (if anyone out there has successfully done this I would LOVE to hear from you!  Tell me, how do you ‘forget’ that you’re trying to have a baby!!!!????) or to “go on a holiday” (of which there have been plenty!) I’ll……… well, I don’t know, but it won’t be pretty!  “Don’t stress” (yeah, that’s a good one too), “Quit your job” (tick!), “Put your legs up over your head” (done that!)…any more suggestions anyone?  I almost even got sucked in to buying some surefire, 100% guaranteed online self-help book but hubby talked me out of that one… desperate times call for desperate measures people!

Would you believe, despite what it sounds like, I actually wouldn’t call myself ‘consumed’ with this whole pregnancy thing.  I wanted to carry on with my life, focus on my marriage and relationship with my husband, work, socialise, have fun!  Some people can get so obsessed with it that it consumes who they are and everything they do.  I didn’t want to be that person.  Besides, I knew my time would come…

It’s probably become ‘easier’ as the journey’s progressed because no longer do you really think you could be pregnant.  You’re more expecting not to be.  I do however keep waiting for that ‘milestone’, that ‘answer’, that will lead to my pregnancy.  “Yes, it was while we were on holidays”.  “Yep, it was because I quit my job.”  “Yeah, it was because of some lesson I learnt.”  But alas, nothing yet…

Click here for Part 2 of our Infertility Journey: IVF / ICSI – Acceptance & Preparation



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