6 weeks

(Thoughts written at the time):

We reached 6 weeks pregnant and I waited for the dreaded morning sickness to come. None came, but shortly after beginning the week, I was hit with a nasty cold. It’s the total worst – as much as I’m embracing being pregnant, it’d be nice to be able to take something to speed up my recovery. Instead, I must rest.

The bloating has begun, and my boobs are already ridiculous. Other than that, I’ve been doing okay. Every day is a day closer to the scan, which I’m most excited about. I know that hearing that heartbeat gives us a 90-95% chance of taking home a baby. Oh how I want to hear it.

For now, have a picture of our weird little moon crater offspring:

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Isn’t that wild? That’s a picture of our embryo freshly thawed on the day it was transferred to my uterus. It blows my mind to have such a tangible reminder that this future person started as this tiny clump of cells.

Today, at 6+4, our babe is the size of a chocolate chip, a pea, a ladybug, a grain of rice, a smartie. The apps all have different cute size reference points, and I have all the apps.

The baby is growing organs and has eyes that can’t quite see yet, and may already apparently be waving its little nubby arms and legs around. This is all super surreal to me. Apart from the little bloated belly (which to be honest, I’ve always had a fat tum), and the tiredness, I don’t really feel any different. I’m still on estradiol and progesterone for 4 more weeks, and I’ve just started separate folic acid and iodine instead of my expensive prenatal, so I currently take about 11 pills a day.

I can’t wait for the first scan, and to reach that 12 week point, too. I think I’ll be forever counting milestones until we feel like we’re “in the clear”. But maybe I’ll never feel really in the clear. It took so much heartache to get here, there’s a part of me expecting failure and devastation.

I pray every day that this pregnancy continues.

Betas

To update you on last week’s very exciting post, our home tests were followed very quickly with a blood draw: the only one I haven’t dreaded.

I knew we were pregnant, I needed to know how pregnant – that number would tell us if this pregnancy was likely to continue or just a blip on the radar.

Thankfully, our first number was 260. 5 days later we were followed with 2300 – an excellent “doubling time”. HCG should double every 48-72 hours, mine had doubled in 38.

Then test number 3 followed a week after that one, with 14300. I finally felt like I could breathe a little bit. All we had to wait for now was the scan: once I’d heard that wee heart beating, we felt like we could tell our close friends and wider family.

It felt like the longest wait of our lives.

Testing time

In an unprecedented move, I did not take a home pregnancy test until 8 days after my transfer (8dp5dt) which is the equivalent of 13 days past ovulation. I am usually a hardcore tester, often starting a few days earlier than this point, and getting more and more disenchanted with every line-less test.

Usually you have a very definitive idea by 9dp5dt (also known as 14 days past ovulation, when for many, periods are due) and I never wanted the call from the nurse to be a painful surprise. So testing beforehand is always my choice.

Maisie requires so much of my energy and brainpower, that I just didn’t bother this time – I honestly was too distracted. I didn’t have any symptoms either than my usual tiredness, my super sensitive nose (which happens every time due to the progesterone) and the only one I hadn’t had before: I was running a slight temperature.

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So when I came home 8dp5dt with a full bladder, hot and moody as hell, I decided to just bite the bullet and get it over with. I pulled out one of my old cheapie sticks, peed on it, and took it immediately into the bedroom while I changed into my usual comfy clothes, refusing to look at yet another stark white negative. I was used to testing without telling my husband, and throwing them away.

When I finally could bring myself to check it, I could see the faintest of second lines. I squinted at it, knowing that I’d “seen” a second line many times before (in desperation), but this time it was definitely actually there.

I ran through to my husband and by now I’d started to cry. His first thought was that someone close to us was dead, and so was very alarmed at how hysterical I was.

I made him check that there was in fact a 2nd line and that it was pink. It was definitely there. Once I’d calmed down, we let ourselves get a little bit excited.

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And then I tested the next morning with 2 sticks (cause what if one is faulty right?!) and they both came up with stronger lines.

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And then the morning of the blood test:

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(Sorry if pee sticks creep y’all out).

It’s pretty hard to believe – but lucky number 5 worked.

I am pregnant.

We didn’t celebrate just yet, we were waiting on the beta (first blood test), so I was holding my breath until we heard a good number. Then holding my breath until we heard a heartbeat, and then we decided we MAY start to relax (but I doubt it).

It has been very hard keeping this to ourselves. I immediately told my closest infertility buddies (because I had to tell someone immediately), and then when we got them face to face that weekend, we told our parents.

This was all 9 weeks ago – I hit 13 weeks on Thursday and all is going well. I’ll fill you in on the thoughts you have missed in upcoming posts very soon.

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I cannot thank you all enough for your endless support and love. Pregnancy after infertility never comes with the greatest of confidence – you are always waiting for someone to snatch it all away again. But I want to do the cute things that have always made me so jealous, and so my social media is about to become a bit excited. Please feel free to take a little distance if you need it.

For now all I can think is:

thank you

thank you

thank you.

All our dreams might just come true.

Transfer day

Transfer number 5 was set for day 22 this cycle: way later than any other transfer I’ve had. When I queried it, they explained that they just schedule you in where they could fit you, and it was a particularly busy schedule for this month! So no scan until day 17 and it felt like I was on the estradiol (estrogen) so much longer, despite it only being 4 more days.

Because of this different timing, transfer day fell in my week off. I booked it because we were hoping to have a holiday, and I also never work on my birthday. And then of course we were getting Maisie, so it was really helpful to have the time at home with her.

 

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It was super weird knowing that we would transfer an embryo, and then 2 days later, I would turn 34. We started trying when I was 30 (a few months shy of 31), and all through this process, everyone has been telling us how young we are, how much time we have. Now we’re suddenly a year away from being “less likely to succeed” in any of this, and with limited embryos/finances to fund more IVF, we are looking at a single child (if that).

However, if that’s the outcome, we embrace it. “Spoiled” single child coming right up.

 

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On transfer day, I channelled the above image: I was calm and collected. I surrendered to the process and believed that the dilatation would make it the eas(ier) transfer we hoped for. I was scheduled later in the morning so that my specialist could do the transfer himself. He wasn’t due to be doing many transfers that day but wanted me on his schedule.

And like an idiot, despite having done this 4 times already, I let myself get distracted by Maisie and didn’t drink all of the water I needed to to get a clear ultrasound for the procedure. I ended up lying on the table for 40 minutes (and drinking some more water), before they had a clear enough view. I was usually an A+ student at this and super full by our arrival at the clinic. I was so embarrassed, but luckily being the last on the schedule, I was able to lie there (albeit in the rather warm room – embryos like it toasty) until we were ready to go.

Unfortunately, it was still difficult. Different catheters and rods were used, my cervix was clamped and pulled down (always fun), and it still hurt. But way less than the others (#4 was particularly traumatic), and with no cramping, and no bleeding. I was deflated but still hopeful.

And the wait began. Oh how I am tired of waiting. But wishing and praying and hoping as hard as I can.

 

Number five

After what felt like an interminably long wait, my cycle finally started and away we went. The hysteroscopy totally confused my body, obviously, and it was frustrating to say the least.

Back on progynova, it didn’t take long for that familiar exhaustion to set in. I met with my specialist a week in to discuss my surgery, and he was happy with the results and my very quick recovery. Apart from the haze that is general anaesthesia, I had no pain or adverse side effects. Always nice to have a win.

Just under a week later, I turned up for my standard blood test and quickly learned that I was an idiot who had made stupid clothing decisions that morning, having picked a dress with sleeves that don’t roll up. It’s the first (and will now be the last) time I’ve had to undress unnecessarily in a medical office. Luckily the older nurse who was taking my blood was more bemused than anything. “It’ll just have to come off!”, she exclaimed. Well okay, thanks. Off it came.

I think I’ve met everyone at the blood clinic at least twice now. There’s only one same day clinic close to my work, and they open at 7am, so that’s when I go. Sometimes there are 10 people already waiting there (especially on a Saturday as they are the only one open) but sometimes I am the only one there. I’ve gone from a slight needle phobia to just shrugging it off. Which is also funnily enough now my reaction to transvaginal ultrasounds.

Speaking of which, my scan was less eventful. I was at 11mm lining (they like you over 7 or 8) and it had the “triple stripe” appearance, which is best for implantation. We were all set for transfer in 5 days. 5 days til transfer of number 5.

Lucky number 5?

 

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Holding on

So I took a hiatus. From social media, from reading and obsessing, from tracking and counting.

It was good for my heart and soul.

 

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The sadness after transfer #4 was all-encompassing. Going into round 2 we felt so sure that this had all been terrible luck, and we just needed to go again, and pinned far too many starry-eyed hopes on that embryo. The negative result was crushing.

I’d go through my day in a numb haze and then find myself getting into bed at 8pm to cry. I’d try and fill my waking moments with podcasts and YouTube; there wasn’t going to be a moment free to think about the emptiness. My uterus felt heavy and hollow and my chest hurt. Everything hurt.

 

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In early March, I went back to the specialist, and he assured me hope was not lost. He was impressed with our 2 remaining embryos and he felt we had a good chance. But my continued difficulty with transfers was probably affecting our chances, and it was time to do something about it.

We scheduled a hysteroscopy and dilatation. And with my health insurance, we could do it in 2 weeks. It was all go.

Right before I went into hospital for the surgery, we put down a deposit on something very special. And then there was Maisie.

 

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I wasn’t trying to be that infertile woman who gives up and goes and gets a dog, but we decided it was time and we were tired of waiting. Maisie is a spoodle: half poodle, half cocker spaniel, with soft downy fur and sweet eyes. She veers between wild excitement, holding our house hostage with her feistiness, and sleepy puppy. She took over our lives and made us totally forget all of this mess.

Surgery went well and took about 26 minutes, with my surgeon/specialist considering it a success. My uterus looked good, my tubes were clear, and everything was dilated as expected, to help future transfers.

Now, he said, we could get going again. Once my cycle restarted, we’d be back on the drugs. One of these embryos would be thawed and we’d give it all another go.

And so the wait begins.

It’s not fair.

It’s a really hard time for us right now.

We were so grateful and excited to start our 2nd round of IVF last month. I was on a slightly lower dose of medications – the discomfort was lower, the process was easier, and we were blessed to get a good number of eggs again. As usual, we had our typical drop-off, but still had embryos to work with.

Then everything started to crack a little. Despite feeling confident we would be lucky this time, the pregnancies started to happen en masse again. In my infertility group, in my RL friend groups. 2nd children were planned and conceived.

Just like that.

Oh how I envy those with the luxury of being able to plan. Of choosing a time of year that will be convenient for them.

* * *

Almost everyone we know going through treatment is finding success. That magic fix of IVF that they needed? Bam, worked like a charm. First or second embryo transfers, there were the two lines. The positive blood tests. The excited announcements. IVF worked! Like it’s supposed to.

It felt like everyone else was finding it so much easier. And despite our usual: good embryos, awesome lining, responding to everything like a champ? No luck. Embryos just won’t stick. Four in so far, and none want to stay. My transfers are difficult, but the odds surely should eventually be in our favour. Everyone in our team is confused, and my brain is just:

why.

the.

fuck.

not.

This is all we want. We’re ready. We’re trying so hard.

It’s so emotionally exhausting and physically draining. I don’t want to be a negative statistic. Every day I wonder how many cycles we can do it without it just irreversibly changing me.

But then again, I can’t ever stop. I can’t bear the thought of giving up – something has to work sometime, right? We have these frozen transfers, then we try another stim cycle/egg collection, and whatever transfers come from that?

Then what?

Do we pay privately again? Bankrupt ourselves? Borrow money?

Go on the adoption waiting list for the next however many years? (NZ has a tiny number every year).

Try and adopt internationally, for thousands more?

Get an embryo donor? A surrogate?

None of these options feel good right now. None of them feel right, right now.

But the one thing I can’t see myself ever coping with is being childless. I don’t think I could just “get used to” being a couple without kids. Learning to enjoy life without our own family. It’s just not on the cards for me. I don’t want that to be my normal, because it probably will never feel normal.

It’s hard not to feel utterly defeated and that treatment won’t work for us. If we can’t figure out why, then what do we do? Try more transfers and hope it’s a numbers game? Feel like we’re running in circles without a result? It feels futile and heartbreaking and wrong. And so. damn. unfair.

So unfair.

I’m so tired of it.

I’m so scared that it’ll never be us.

We keep being told we’re so young, but we’re 3+ years in and I’ll soon be 34. Yes, we have time, but how much time? How many more years do I mess with my body to try and get just one baby?

* * *

And then the advertising began. I don’t know if it’s my age group or who I follow or what, but instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube… all they serve me are Clearblue test ads, baby lotion ads, nappy ads, and the worst? An ad for my own fertility clinic.

I want to throw my phone in a lake and go live in the woods.

My current plan is a social media hiatus, which I started yesterday. It’s actually kind of refreshing not to be checking and reading obsessively all day. I find myself opening my phone to look and then realising I’ve moved all the apps, and putting it down. Maybe I’ll start actually reading books again.

So for now, I don’t know.

What do I write about?

Everything sucks.

Everything hurts.

We are still failing.

I don’t know what else to do.

But hopefully soon I’ll not feel so broken, and be ready to try again. Right now, no thank you. I am off the hormones, I am off the restrictions, I am off thinking about it constantly.

I’m trying to enjoy life as it comes. I’m trying to focus on work, and losing some treatment weight, and thinking about everything except my empty uterus.

I’m trying to breathe.