Thursday, January 26, 2012

How we got here

I woke up this morning and for some reason I felt the need to document one last time mine and my husbands journey in full. As I have said I will be stopping my blog with my last entry being the birth of our son. But for today it feels right to write about how we got here. As in the great series "Sex and the City" - Mr Big's actual name was revealed at the end, I feel it right now to reveal my gardener guys name. So sit back and relax and get ready, you may need tissues, or you may laugh but this is the story of how we got here.

On the 14th February 2009 me and my husband Steve got married, while on our honeymoon about a week later we decided that we should try for a baby. The thought had always been there, we had always wanted children but I guess we were just waiting to get married. So as we both decided to start trying, we were filled with excitement, we had just got married and now we were going to try and start a family. It never really entered our minds that's it wouldn't work.

Months and months went by and we were having no luck, It wasn't really a big issue to begin with, things take time, but as every month passed we got that little bit more impatient and I got that little bit more older. After about 8 or so months I decided that it wouldn't hurt to look into things a little more. We made an appointment with our local doctor and had a few basic tests run. My eggs came back as normal for my age, Steve's sperm came back normal and that was it really. We were then told the next step was to look into seeing a fertility specialist, so we then made an appointment at Fertility Associates. I think this was probably the first time we thought, perhaps theres more to this picture than meets the eye. We had our first appointment with our fertility doctor who we would come to know very well over the next few years. From what I remember it was a basic question and answer type appointment, he was trying to discover why this baby making wasn't working which sometimes is a hard task. From the information I gave him about my cycles, our previous test, family history etc, he decided it sounded like I could have a bit of endometriosis lurking around. This didn't really surprise me as my mother had terrible endo and ended up needing a full hysterectomy. I was then booked in for laproscopic surgery and also a procedure called a hysterscopy which basically means they run dye through your tubes to check for any blockages. We left this appointment feeling good that we were going to get a little more information.

I think we waited maybe 3 or 4 months till my name got called up and I went in for surgery. This was the first time for me ever being in hospital so it was all a bit scary. The operation went well and I recovered at home for a few days. We were in the process of moving house so it was all a bit full on and I probably should have taken it alot more easier, but as Steve would say "you can never just stay still"! . But anyhow the operation was done, we had our answer. I had stage 3 Endometriosis. The fertility doctor had removed it all and we were all sorted. We all figured this was the reason why I wasn't conceiving. At our follow up appointment our fertility doctor told us to try naturally for 6 months and he had every hope that after this removal of the endo that we would conceive. 

Away we went, full of hope again. I started using ovulation kits during this 6 months to track when I was ovulating, thus knowing the exact time that my egg was released and ready to be fertilized. I must say I become a bit nutty, these tests make you mental, you want to have sex and this exact time and pushing someone into having sex is not exactly sexy, more mental!!! It became alot of stress to perform and get the timing bang on.

After this 6 months we still were no further, while most people who decide to have a baby had probably already conceived and given birth, we still had got no further. We went back to our fertility doctor and this was when all the real madness began! little did we know this would be the real start of our infertility journey, this would be the real start of the hardest time in our lives where we would have to muster every last piece of strength we had. How could we have ever known how tough it was all about to become. We didn't. 

We were then suggested to start our first round of IUI (artificial insemination), basically I was to ring the clinic on day 1 of bleeding and that was my first cycle day, I was then to start some very unpleasant little pills called Clomiphene, these pills helped me to release more than one egg during my cycle, thus giving us a higher chance of fertilization. With lots of blood tests and scans through out the month I was closely monitored and when the time was right Steve was to give his sperm sample. A task that seemed so weird and funny and just embarrassing to begin with, but ended up being a very normal part of our life. Steve's sperm was washed through a special machine and only the best were kept and put inside me. The actual artificial insemination process was fairly straight forward with some discomfort but really not too bad.

Over the course of this month, the medication I was on wasn't too pleasant, it brought with it some yucky side effects but I managed and we got through it. 

The waiting for the results was hard, this first treatment cycle was full of hope, we kind of magically expected it to work, although we were told that perhaps 3 cycles would be needed. But nah.....we though, it will work for us, maybe just 1 cycle if not then just 2. We had just invested $2000 of our money into this cycle, which at that stage seemed like so so much money, but looking back now it really seems like spare change. We got the phone call telling us it was unsuccessful, it did not work. this wasn't nice but we were prepared to keep going. We did another round and again it did not work. $4000 later and still no baby. Steve wanted to wait a few more months and try naturally before we did the 3rd and final round, I did not. I didn't see the point in wasting more time, It wasn't going to happen naturally and we needed to face that fact.

By round 3 we were experts on the whole procedure, we knew how shitty I would feel, we knew all the crazy emotions we would both be feeling again, we knew the strain it was putting on us, we knew we were up for another $2000 but we kept at it. We went again and prayed that this would work, if it didn't we didn't really know where we would go from there. We didn't have money to start IVF and at this point I don't think we really realized how up the creek without a paddle we were. We didn't think we would need IVF, it never really entered our minds. This had to work, simple as that. All our friends and family kept telling us "this will be the round" it will work this time. Did they really believe that? or did they just have to say that. Round 3 results came in on Christmas eve 2010. The bad news was shattering, This was meant to be a happy time of the year. It was not. This hit me hard, I didn't think a baby was ever on the cards for us. We had spent all this money, we had no baby, we had no hope, we had nothing to look forward too, at that point it all seemed hopeless. All we had was each other, and I must say through out the whole journey that never changed, we were always there together, we had a common goal and we never once gave up. never. I never heard the words "lets just give up, its too hard" come out of Steve's mouth. I never once said lets give up and neither did he.This really surprises me, after alot of hard work and heartache, giving up was just never an option. After every fail we were always in the mind set that there must be something else, this cant be the end, and I really think that's what kept us going. 

After a horrible Christmas/new year we went back to the fertility doctor again, at this point we had become used to the idea that IVF was the only way to go. At $10,000 a cycle we had decided we would get a bank loan, that was the only way. Luckily for us Steve's parents were in a position to loan us the money so now we pay them back rather than a bank, something we are both eternally grateful for. 

We started the first cycle of IVF fairly quickly and this was the start of a new journey, my goodness this was even tougher than before! hormone shots every day, blood tests, scans. It was just all so much. Going home with a bag full of needles and drugs and all these very specific instructions was very full on, my body was about to undergo one rough ride. Steve injected me every day twice a day full of these crazy drugs for a month. The side effects were not nice. I was sick, I was bloated, I was having hot flushes, I was exhausted, I was gaining weight, I was sore and bruised, I was an emotional wreck. But we got through it. The egg retrieval operation wasn't too nice, although I was given an anesthetic and some sedatives so I was very spaced out, but for poor old Steve who was in theatre witnessing it all it wasn't very nice. My eggs were removed from me and put into test tubes and taken straight to the lab to be put in dishes with Steve's sperm. Well that's it in a nut shell, I wont go on too much about the whole thing but really its pretty damn amazing. 

I went home to recover and wait and hope basically. How many eggs were fertilized by Steve's sperm. This job usually takes place inside the body, but here we were waiting for it all to happen in a laboratory.There is so many things that can go wrong here, its not just as cut and dry as egg sits there, sperm goes in and theres a baby made. You can have poor egg quality, not many eggs, poor sperm quality, or even just an unknown reason as to why the egg and sperm didn't become one!

We got a call the following day that 3 of my 7 eggs were fertilized. So there you go, the numbers drop so fast. We had 3 to work with, over the next few days anything could happen to these embryos, things could turn bad really fast. I remember these days waiting for the news on our embryos were the worst days ever, every day all my day would consist of was waiting for the call. I was on tender hooks and to be honest with this first IVF cycle most of the phone calls just weren't that good. From what I remember 3 embryos dropped to 2 and then 2 dropped to 1. I was absolutely crushed when we lost that last embryo, this meant we only had 1 single embryo to transfer inside me and none to freeze. During an IVF cycle you always hope for spares so to speak, embryos that are of good enough quality to freeze for later use, but there you go, I didn't get any to freeze. We had paid $10,000 and all our hope was hanging on this 1 embryo that was going to be transferred inside me and hopefully stick. The quality of the embryo that was going inside me was also not of the quality we had hoped for, I mean it was fine, plenty of babies had become of an 8 cell embryo, but more babies had become of a blastocyst, which is what we wanted. Oh well, this was going to be our baby, it was transferred inside me and there was a 2 week wait till we found out the result.

We waited and we waited and we waited some more, 2 weeks waiting for the biggest news of your life is hellish. We tried not to think about it not working but at the same time we tried not to get our hopes up either. By this stage are emotions were all over the place, we had been through so many treatments and we were really starting to push ourselves to the limit. For anyone who has been through many failed treatment you will know how shit life starts to become and how consumed you become in this one thing. Having a baby is all that matters, nothing else will make you happy, no other fun event matters, you just don't care. It makes me really sad to even write about how I started to feel as its a place I never want to go again, its horrible, sinking as low as I did is just horrid. But as I said we didn't give up. We had decided at this point if this first IVF fails, we will try again. We didn't know where the money would be coming from, until one day Steve's parents told us they could probably just manage to loan us money for one more cycle if need be! this took alot of stress off us in this hard two week wait for our results. We had a plan, we could do one more cycle if need be. 

The dreaded result day came, I can remember this one clear as day, I was standing in the back courtyard of our house and the phone rang, It was my lovely nurse. As the phone rang I bleated out to Steve "come here", the nurse told me it wasn't good news, straight away i broke down, I handed the phone over to Steve and he finished the conversation with her. We came inside and we sat on the couch, Steve held onto me and I cried and cried and cried, those were some pretty deep tears, as I cried, Steve started to cry too. We both sat their on the couch weeping together, he held onto me very tightly and didn't let go. Even as I write this now there is tears running down my face - why? because its a hard sad memory, I look over at that couch and can just see ourselves sitting there and can just feel the pain we were in. 

This failed result took alot of strength to get over, but we did. We had to wait 3 long months till we could start again. The thought of going through everything again was hard, but of course we didn't give up, no matter how hard it was we wanted a baby so much and had the drive to get it that we kept going. 

We soldiered on and started round 2 of IVF. This cycle was even more aggressive than the last as far as treatment went, but I was ready! this was surely then end for us, we had spent $26,000 and we could not go on anymore, it wasn't so much that we were giving up, more that we had no choice, I really think that had I had the money who knows how long I would have put myself through more treatments if I needed too. Round 2 just felt different to me somehow, the break from round 1 to round 2 had given me a new way of thinking, I had been doing acupuncture once a week and we had adapted a new way of eating and who knows if any of this made a difference but I still think to this day that the acupuncture cleared my head and had something to do with our success.

So there we were round 2 and real experts!!! needles, drugs, tests, you name it we knew what was what. We had developed a good relationship with lots of the staff at the clinic and really after all this time going to the clinic was just part of our daily life now. round 2 gave us more eggs, more positive phone calls and more embryos! we were delighted to find out that 1 embryo was able to be frozen, and to this day that embryo is still frozen waiting for when we want to thaw it and hopefully it becomes our second baby.

On the day of round 2's results we were dead nervous, there was lots of deep breathing and pacing around the house. The couch were we sat a few months earlier weeping in despair was soon to become the couch were we would sit crying with joy. The phone call never came, so I decided to call the clinic myself, I reached our favourite nurse and she apologized for being so busy and she would go and check my results. Positive!!!!! The best moment, the most amazing news I have ever heard in my life! I remember shouting "thank you, thank you" and Steve yelled "thank you" to her! we were given some details and a big congratulations and then we hung up the phone. That's when the tears started, I cried and cried, 2 and a half years worth of pain came gushing out of me! I could not control it, I could not stop it!!! Steve tried to get me to stop crying so we could tell everyone the good news, I finally gathered myself together and we made some calls to people that were waiting to hear. That was an amazing day, to be able to give family some good news after ringing them time and time again with bad news was just priceless. 

Now as I sit here heavily pregnant with only 26 days to go till our baby boy is due to come into this world and make us cry all over again, do I wish all this hadn't happened to us? do I wish it had just happened naturally? Well you know what, I don't think I can answer that, sure it would have been a sight lot easier and cheaper and quicker, but on the other hand, would we be treasuring this pregnancy and would we be as grateful as we are, would we be such a strong couple, would we ever know what real pain felt like, would I have been of any help to other woman? probably not. Things can be taken for granted far too easily in life, sometimes it takes a really hard long journey to give you a jolt, to make you realize the meaning of things, the meaning of family, the meaning of good friends. Life can pass by, life can be so easy for some, but when life throws you something hard I don't think necessarily you should wish it never happened, it happened and it happened for a reason. Why we were cursed with infertility I don't know, why we drew the short straw I'm not sure.All I know now is that you can go from feeling cursed to being blessed. Just because something is hard does not mean its impossible.

Our son will be due around almost the same time as we started trying to conceive 3 years ago! one week or so after we got married in Feb 2009 we decided to start trying for a baby and now on Feb 21st 2012 our son will be due to enter the world. 

Happiness fills my heart now, not sorrow. We cannot wait to meet him and will be sure to make him feel as special as he truly is every day. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Baby Shower, Antenatal classes and all my updates at 35 weeks!

Hi all, I am so sorry to anyone out there still following me, I have been so damn slack! pregnancy is wearing me down and to be honest I have been quite busy lately. But here I am, still pregnant, no baby yet! 

In the weekend I had my lovely baby shower, hosted by my amazing friend who I am so grateful too for giving up her home for the afternoon while we all invaded it and made a mess! I had a really nice time and got some very sweet gifts for the wee man. So many photos, so just put one up here of the owl mobile I was given for him, super cute. Was given lots of cute clothes, books, and other bits and pieces, so a big thank you to everyone. I felt very special!!!

The big day is coming so fast, only 35 days to go!!! wow! that's presuming he comes on time. Best do, I'm not so patient, in saying that I think I have a right to be fairly impatient as I have been waiting so long prior to getting pregnant.

I am now just a giant whale, I have gained almost 10kgs, which according to our antenatal teacher (yes we have started classes), isn't bad, apparently the average weight gain according to her is between 11kgs and 16kgs. So I guess over the next 5 weeks Ill be in the middle somewhere.I am certainly feeling all that weight, I am finding it hard to walk, have really sore feet and legs, am sleeping terribly and just generally am fed up. Baby is still moving heaps but when he moves now its like giant nudges, waves in my belly and weird bumps sticking out, making my stomach look very lopsided, he has so little room now that every little movement he does is so noticeable. 

So as I was saying, yes we have started antenatal classes, we have done two 4hr classes with another two to go. To say I am loving them would be an exxageration but I don't hate them, It's fine, I'm learning some things but also hearing alot of stuff I already know.This coming Saturday we are having a tour of the maternity ward, learning about all the different pain medication and its implications on mum and baby and learning some massage techniques, well gardener guy will be learning some massage techniques, It's not likely I can massage myself when I can barely roll out of bed. Gardener guy has never been one for sitting still, so really he's not doing too bad at the classes, the moaning is fairly minimal and he certainly isn't shy at asking questions and letting the whole class know that his wife (me), went and got fitted for new maternity bras and managed to find some really comfortable ones that she feels good in!! . Pretty funny, I may as well stripped off my top and given a demo of the new bra! but to be fair it was in reply to a question relating to breastfeeding and that having good fitting comfy bras that make mum to be feel positive about breastfeeding is important. Funny man!

So yes, antenatal classes are ticking along, baby shower done, and got another midwife visit today. We are going to discuss my birth plan today. I have written up some points I want to discuss with her. All I think are fairly normal. 

Going back to antenatal classes - while I remember, the issue of the placenta came up, and who might like to take it home. Well of course gardener guy being gardener guy piped up and said "as it has loads of nutrients in it, it must be good for the garden"! , and yes it is! so now we are apparently taking the creepy thing home and planting a fruit tree over it! luckily they seal it all up in a bag for you, you don't just have to make room in your handbag for this creepy jelly like bloody thing, so really If he wants it, its fine by me! he has now become obsessed with this damn thing! he may even be more excited about seeing what the placenta looks like than his son! I think he expects to put the placenta in the ground, put the fruit tree over it and wake up the next day to a fully established pear tree in the back yard. But seriously it will be a great growing healthy tree. Maybe we will go all out and put some kind of equally creepy plaque by the tree, [ the organ that grew our son, is now growing this tree] or [ plant a placenta, eat a pear]. hmmmm...... something to think about.

Another thing gardener guy has become obsessed with since our last antenatal class is this funny bit of stretchy fabric. stretchy fabric you may be saying......explain. Well ok, I will. So we got told that when we are in hospital you can take home this stretchy piece of fabric that is amazing to put baby in. Basically its like a boob tube, so you put it on and then tuck baby into it so he is nice and snug by your chest. This can be used whenever, if your doing jobs around the house, your arms are free, if you just want baby to feel safe and secure or whatever, basically its just a hippies version of a front pack. Now we have a very good Baby Bjorn front pack, but gardener guy has become obsessed with this damn fabric. Yes I agree its really good, and will definitely take one home. Gardener guy keeps talking about trying to steal more than one of them, and he even asked if he could shower with the baby with one on. Well yeah you can, but god damn, the 2 of you will be on fire wrapped up tight in one of those in the shower!!!. But there you go, was very cute to see him excited about this simple piece of baby gear. Oh the uses this fabric has! you just wait, ill be sure to post a picture of it in full action. 

Anyhow hope that's enough information to keep the interest around till next time. We are getting so close now till this chapter of my life comes to a close, and my blog ends. I really look forward to sharing my birth experience with you all and introducing our wee lad to you all. It has been an interesting journey to get here and blogging has been a god send and as I have said previously I want to leave my blog on the highest of high notes, the birth of baby (insert name here)............ .