17 weeks

Here’s your weekly update!

The size/what features:  An apple, a white onion, creme brûlée, a “big potato”.

Total weight gain/how much this week:  Still haven’t really gained but I know it’s a-comin’. The bump is getting more of a roundness to it and despite being a bit overweight I always had a defined natural waist and that is definitely disappearing. Also by the end of the day I feel like I’m already waddling!

Sleep:  Not too bad but I do wake up a lot to move around and my hips and lower back ache. Most days I feel like I’ve done a big workout or something strenuous the day before to make my joints ache.

Maternity Clothes:  Started wearing a few more of the dresses I had ordered. Also found a new dress and some leggings and tops from H&M this week. I’m letting myself wear some clingy clothing which is new and strange for me, as someone who is quite self-conscious about her stomach. It’s really liberating to show it and I wonder if closer to my due date I’ll even wear a bikini for the first time ever? Would be quite a thing for me.

Food cravings:  Really sugary fruit juice still, and orange Fanta of all things.

Food aversions:  Nothing in particular but I still have no appetite really and am just uninterested in most things. Most work lunch breaks I just wander aimlessly until something sounds remotely appealing. It’s weird not knowing what I want! I make myself eat for the baby but eh. Yeah. Being pregnant has shown me just how often pre-pregnancy I let myself go hungry for a while, too. Now I tell myself to stop being a doofus and eat!

– – –

Symptoms I HAVE:

Nausea – All gone.

Hunger – As above!

Heartburn – Still around, still awful, still needing tablets but I’m managing it okay.

Skin – STILL DRY AND UNFORGIVING. And itchy. I feel like I need to lotion myself all the time, or discreetly get my hand in my bra to itch my chest.

– – –

Stretchmarks:  Nothing new.

Doctor’s Appointment:  Seeing the midwife soon. Another doppler, yay! I love hearing baby’s heartbeat.

Movement:  Nothing yet though occasionally I feel like a popcorn pop or flutter in there.

Belly Button:  Seems less deep? I’ve never paid that much attention though.

Baby’s sex?:  Find out in a few weeks.

Best moment of the week:  Feeling pretty in my maternity dresses.

What I’m looking forward to:  Feeling babe, still!

What I miss:  Not worrying about what I’m eating and if it’s enough. The mum stress is beginning.

Nothing much else to share this week, I’ll be sure to update again after 18 weeks ticks over and of course with our next scan. We have our suspicions about what sex the wee babe is but it’ll be good to know what we’re expecting!

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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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Channeling

I decided that all of this infertility experience and knowledge and pain had to be good for something, so in March/April I took up two new challenges:

I created the Infertility Safe Media Database. I was so tired of being bombarded with hurtful/upsetting content in TV and film, to the point where I’d resorted to watching YouTube playthroughs of horror video games. (Side note: I recommend MrKravin, and John Wolfe).

If every media outlet gives you pain, how do you get through the day? By checking there first. And so far it has been really well received in the infertility community on Reddit and social media. Spread it wide, friends!

I also signed up to be a mentor at Fruitful. It’s a free matching service for people who are relatively close to each other, matching those with experience in infertility to those who need guidance and support. I’ve been matched lately with someone I really like talking to, and it has felt good to share my experience and advice.

They say this affects 1 in 8 people – so the more resources out there the better.

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.

Round 2

Here we go again.

Deep breath. In, out. Quiet your brain.

You’ve got some time yet.

Do some yoga.

Drink more water.

Less coffee.

No booze.

Fewer carbs.

More green things.

Try not to worry about the weight you’ve gained in the last few years.

Try not to worry about any other medical issues they may not have found yet.

Try not to worry about getting time off work, it’ll happen.

Try to think of how to write it down on paper. How to express this anxiety that seems to be coursing through everything.

Mute your watch’s heartrate warnings.

Do some more yoga.

Breathe in, out. Don’t forget to do that.

Focus on work during the day, and being calm at night.

Calm. You’re supposed to be calm.

Don’t try to rid yourself of the worrying thoughts. Just turn them down. Lower their volume. You can worry all you like – hell, you’re going to whether you try to or not. Just try and lower the noise.

Think positively. Or something.

Don’t be scared of the negative thoughts, too. It’s normal.

Think about better success rates for round 2. Think about going into it with experience.

Think about the injections being a breeze, the scans being old hat, the ovaries doing their thing.

You’ve done it all before.

You got this.

Just breathe.