the two month wait

I never blog. This isn’t news. After a few feeble blog attempts I even forgot to update after IVF no 4.

The news was good. I have one normal embryo. When I transfer it I will have a 35-40 per cent chance of a pregnancy which is so much higher than past transfers. I came out of egg collection with two embryos for testing. The other embryo had a genetic abnormality (I can’t find my notes to recall what kind). Of course it would have been wonderful to have had two normal embryos because it leaves a lot riding on the one and only but I was really happy with this outcome.

Around the same time as I was doing IVF I had bought a house (which was so exciting and so stressful – and the pay off for a very long commute to a better paying job while living with my parents) and got a job in the town where we will be living. So I didn’t want to do the transfer straight away and miss out on getting maternity leave. If I am so lucky to get pregnant again this time I will have my life a little more sorted than it was when little S was welcomed into the world. Financially things were a bit tough back then which is what you might expect after doing IVF for two years. My parents and sister were incredibly generous and organised to move into my sister’s house where S and I could live downstairs in our own area so that I could afford to both have maternity leave and to save. The commute was two hours there and back some days so I would be away from little S for twelve hours which was hard although again my family was extremely generous and provided all the childcare. I am really lucky. At times, and often at the start, living with my family in my thirties, while sleep deprived, drove me nuts. I love my own space and I was extremely independent even as a young teenager. I never got to set up a nursery for S before we moved in because my sister had to wait for tenants to move out. And tenants had made a mess of the place and it was full of old furniture so that had to be deal with. She was the poor colicky, refluxy baby who never slept so I tried to unpack here and there between feeds and when I should have slept but it was basically a mess for a long time. It was all fine but it wasn’t what I had imagined. I want it to be different if I get another chance.

So we’ve made it through the hard times. I now have a gorgeous little nineteen month old who is determined, funny and the love of my life. She sleeps! Not every night and rarely past 6am but I can live with that. It’s harder being here on my own with family and friends about an hour and a half away in different directions. But it’s what I needed to be the one doing. My parents and sister were great and saved my life with all the support they provided but I often felt undermined as a parent.

So here we are living on our own in the country. We actually see kangaroos in the street which is so exciting for a city person. I actually nearly cried the first time I saw some giant ones hopping down the street as I was driving by. S is in childcare and family day care now and after many weeks she has adjusted and is attached to her carers now. My new job is a lower grade and different type of work but I don’t care because I leave on time and get to S less than ten minutes from when I finish.

I qualify for maternity leave one year after my start date at my new job (14/05/19) so I’ve calculated that I can do the transfer in early September so be safe. So now I have two months. I really need to stop eating so much chocolate (I eat serious amounts, I’m very tired, I think that’s it) and other crap and start getting healthy. Perhaps I’ll do some acupuncture. Maybe blogging about it will motivate me. Or I might forget to blog for another six months.

I hope you’re all well xo

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I have embryos!

I waited so long. I clarified with the nurse on Monday and she said that they generally don’t check on the embryos until day five so as not to cause unnecessary harm. On day five and six they are still assessing for the embryos suitability to freeze and then they are biopsied. You get a call on day seven. Day seven came and I was up at 5am thanks to little S. She fell back asleep but I didn’t. I had to wait until around 12:30 before I got the call from the lab. I had two! My mum came downstairs while I was on the phone – I just happily held up two fingers.

After the call, I ran upstairs and my mum and sister hugged me then I hugged little S who was excited too, obviously not knowing what was happening. It felt like an actual possibility that I might have another baby. I really expected to have no embryos to freeze like the last time. I am older now. But this result is nearly as good as my second IVF round where I got three embryos (with the third poorest quality being the surprise little S).

The lab said that the quality of one of the embryos was normal, but the other was outstanding! Outstanding! This is not a word that has ever been uttered during my history of fertility treatment!

So I have hopes. But I’m not getting too carried away. I have ten business days to wait for the genetic testing results (March 2nd). And if I come away with anything after that I will wait four months to do the transfer unless my doctor advises against it. Two hurdles down (egg collection, embryo development), and a few (million) more to go to making baby number two!

IVF number 4!

IVF number four was stupidly delayed. By me. I’d seen my doctor only a few months after having little S to plan for my last IVF. Yep, I’ve called it, the last cycle. This is my attempt to make a sibling for S because as a single mum I feel she needs more family than me. And I want one more chance. Maybe I’ll do a better job next time (I’m sure everyone thinks that). Anyway, in the fog of extreme sleep deprivation (S’s sleep was shocking for seven months until I begrudgingly went to sleep school) I forgot to do a genetic test that was needed before I did another cycle. So when my period came back after finishing breast feeding at ten months (because I went back to work) I found I’d forgotten to test for SMA and needed to get on to it. The test was optional but the donor hadn’t been tested for it and if we are both carriers I could pass on a genetic disorder with significant ramifications to a baby. I put it off for nearly a month. I’m a single working mum who is still kind of sleep deprived so I function at about half capacity. The test results took over two months to come back. So by the time I did IVF again, S was nearly fifteen months old. I wasted about four or five months. In that time I got older, and my eggs got older. And already, I was not optimistic about my chances of being able to make baby number two. I am not optimistic. I try to remind myself that it would be an incredible gift to have one more, but if I can’t, it is what it is and I’ll remind myself of the benefits of not having another. Like not having to take more time off work, not having to again experience the misery of debilitating sleep deprivation, and not having to be pregnant ever again.

Two weeks ago, I got my shit together and was back at the clinic for round four. I was on a new follicle stimulating hormone, gonal F, after having an okay response to puregon and a terrible one to menopur in the past. The self injecting was okay although I don’t remember hurting myself as much last time around. This time I was older, more tired, and trying to jab myself whilst supervising a toddler whirling around the room. I let myself have sugar, trans fats, caffeine. The days of fertility treatment as an extreme sport are over for me. I can no longer deprive myself even though at the age of 37, nearly 38, it’s probably more crucial for egg quality than before. I did take melatonin and coQ10 for around three months prior to doing the cycle. I did no exercise. None. I chased a toddler trying to get past the baby gate to the stairs and that’s it.

Egg collection day was Friday. I was a lot less nervous. I got in at nine. I left my mum and dad and my beautiful little S in the waiting area. Then I was taken to a cubicle, changed into a hospital gown, and repeated my name, date of birth, and address multiple times to different health professionals, until I was lying on the hospital bed closing my eyes so as not to focus on the anesthetist looking for a vein. It was all the same as before but I felt braver and calmer.

I woke to find they had collected ten eggs. I had expected much less. At the last ultrasound my doctor said she expected 6-8 but I was pessimistic. Afterwards, I had pain and grogginess but it was nowhere near as painful as other times.

On Saturday I called as soon as the clinic opened to try to find out the fertilization rate.  They told me to wait for a call from the lab or the on call doctor. This was a new protocol so I was worried that it meant bad news. I called again at midday and was fobbed off again. By 2pm, I finally got the call from the lab to say that I had six embryos! No information on the quality was available, apparently I have to ask my doctor for that, and I was told I’d be called again in seven days. I don’t know if it’s my clinic or an Australian thing but they seem to just have no empathy for how difficult it is to wait. I mean, seven days? I’m doing genetic testing on any embryos that make it to day five and beyond and are suitable for freezing (my doctor’s plan, it makes me nervous I have to say). I’ve done a round where PGD was planned and in those seven days I lost them all so I know that this is a possibility, and a likelihood really. But six! This is better than I expected.

So now it’s the seven day wait. Followed by the two week (testing) wait. And if any of the six actually make it that far, it’ll be a couple of months before the actual two week wait for a range of boring reasons. So I’ll keep myself busy. And I’ll keep you posted.

(Oh hey, by the way, it’s me – notpregnantinrezza – now a single ma, out here in the suburbs – siberia – I hope you’re all doing well xo).

the birth story

Baby S was born on Saturday November 12th one week before her due date.

I had gone to stay with my family for a night or two because I was feeling extra tired and unwell. On Wednesday I’d had acupuncture but not with the intention to bring on the labour early, but to just encourage her to be on time. My doctor hadn’t even examined me yet at any of the weekly appointments and I was due to have a sweep four days after my due date.

On Friday night I felt a gush and my waters had broken. I called the hospital who told me to call back in an hour, then told me to come right in. I’d planned to stay living in Melbourne to be closer to the hospital but as it panned out I had an hour plus trip to get there after all. I didn’t go into active labour so was induced in the morning.

I’d hoped to be able to labour with the least amount of drugs and to burn oils and use water for pain relief. I’d gone to classes and learnt birthing positions but in the end I had to stay flat on my back attached to a monitor for the baby and the shower of course was not possible.

In terms of drugs, I ended up having the lot, starting with gas and air (and the TENS machine), then pethidine, then epidural. I actually don’t remember the pain that well but my mum and best friend who were there seemed to be in shock afterwards and from what they say I must have looked bad. My doctor wasn’t on call so I had another obstetrician. I’d never discussed my birth plan with my doctor (she never asked) so the on call doctor and the midwife asked my drug preferences and at a certain point I remember the midwife saying “I think it’s epidural time”.

The labour and birth is a bit of a blur. There must have been some worries about the baby’s heart rate but that wasn’t clear to me at the time. My mum said the first shift midwife kept saying “we’re not too worried” but never really clarified what that meant. My birth support people were very caring and supportive. I remember lying is the dark and silence in pain with them at either side of me stroking my arms. The pethidine gave them great entertainment as I blurted out slurred comments on everything from Trump, my thoughts on various people and my explanation of the Chinese revolution in the 1920s. The pethidine felt like the kind of illicit substance I might engaged in at a debaucherous party in my early twenties. Lucky I didn’t say this to my mum.

I was slow to dilate and despite being the right way around up to the end she had turned too far to the side and the doctor gave me a fifty percent chance of an emergency caesarean. After hours of labour I felt a big contraction despite being numbed by the epidural and she must have turned.

The midwife checked and she was there! She could see her head. They called the doctor and the midwife helped me to start pushing. I hadn’t realised how difficult that would be with an epidural- I couldn’t feel what I was doing! The doctor hadn’t arrived (although I felt fine with the midwife. She was young but did an excellent job) so eventually another midwife arrived and they shouted at me to stop pushing.  But baby S popped her head out and stayed there, looking bluish, eyes shut. It was such a strange sight. She looked like those aliens from the Simpsons. I stopped pushing but baby S decided to come anyway and my memory was of her suddenly turning and then the mirror was dropped and I could no longer see while they delivered her.

I was given my baby to hold. I remember being asked her name. I made sure I got a proper look at her face to check if the name I’d already chosen suited her. I held her and she gripped my finger with her whole hand. She seemed tiny. I didn’t get that hormonal euphoric rush but I blame that on the drugs.

I held her while they stitched me up. I had third degree tearing. The doctor arrived at some point and I heard him unfairly tell the young midwife off for not performing an episiotomy. I doubt that there was any time. When the placenta was delivered the doctor got excited about it being what I later found it is called a battledore placenta (umbilical cord is attached to the placental margin). Apparently this can be picked up at the 20 week scan and due to the risks associated an earlier elective cesarean is usually performed. It’s funny because I always felt anxious about my pregnancy and my OB was always very dismissive of me when she probably should have picked this up.

The birth was like science fiction. Nothing prepared me for how surreal it was. Then I was relieved and happy to have her. I fed her twenty minutes after she was born with the help of the midwife. My family came in to see her and she was weighed and dressed. I couldn’t walk for quite some time having had an epidural so I stayed on the same bed I labored in. My mum laughed that I was sitting up eating lasagna not long after it was all over.

The night turned bad for me after everyone left. A new midwife started her shift and she grumbled a little at me for not having the right things (I did have them but I was so tired and confused I couldn’t remember what I’d packed) and helped have a shower. She insisted on taking S to the nursery. I was exhausted and tried to resist this but agreed to it. I regret this now. If I had my time again I would have asked a support person to stay with me overnight to help me with S so that I didn’t have to be separated from her. I spent too long once alone in my hospital room thinking dark thoughts. I worried that I didn’t yet love this baby, who was a total stranger to me. I worried I would never love S and that I would develop post-natal depression.

The next day it felt lighter and visitors were around making things feel more normal. Both my mum and my best friend said that they felt kind of weird and hadn’t slept.

Four months on I certainly do love my baby and my thoughts have never been as dark. My memory of her birth has faded a lot and I wish I wrote about it back then but there really hasn’t been the time. Four months on I now know this little person for who she is. She’s an extrovert, smiley and social, adventurous and determined. Occasionally I’m reminded by her determination that she was the little embryo that every nurse and doctor insisted would miscarry. My friend reminded me the other day when I was complaining about her reflux (which is severe and very difficult to cope with still) that she was a ‘miracle baby’ so having something wrong is a fair trade. I feel proud that I brought this little person into the world and very lucky to know her and to be her mum.

She’s here!

Yesterday evening baby S made her arrival! She weighs 6 pounds 15/ 3150 grams. I’ll post my birth story soon. She’s healthy and happy. I’m learning how to be a mum and looking forward to our future. I just realised we are a family, S and me ❤️❤️

39 weeks – she’s on her way!

Ah so waters have broken and here I am in hospital! Baby is doing fine. I got a surprise to suddenly feel a little gush when I was spending some time down at my family’s house (over an hour away from hospital- so not the plan to go into labour there). I never lost my mucus plug so was not prepared for my waters to break. I was pretty stressed in the car on the way up but now I’m here and all is fine I feel okay. My best friend and parents were all here but I sent them home, have been given a sleeping tablet and if I don’t go into labour naturally tonight I’ll be induced in the morning. Might be another day or so before I meet her but it’s surreal to think she’s nearly here!

37 weeks and 4 days

It’s been a few weeks since I last wrote but finally I am on maternity leave! Coming up to that was exhausting. I gave a talk at an activist conference and the stress of trying to prepare for this plus trying to finish at work was ridiculous. On the day of the talk, my blood pressure was low and I was coming down with a cold and couldn’t talk or breathe that well. I think I got away with delivering something just okay and people could tell I was quite pregnant but if I had my time again I would not have agreed to do the talk. I was asked to do it and didn’t want to be the person that says no because they’re pregnant. I guess sometimes pregnancy can take over everything and there’s not much you can do about it.

At work, I was killing myself trying to finish everything and my boss decided to be mean about a few things to just make it all harder. Given the hormones and sheer exhaustion, I broke down in tears a couple of times. When it happened in front of a couple of workmates, they rushed to get one of their students to help me with something. One of my workmates grabbed me and kissed me on the head, which was unexpected but sweet. I actually had to go back in twice to finish things when I was officially on maternity leave, which kind of goes against my unionist principles. But knowing that I’ll be either away from that workplace for a year or for good, I feel better to know that I haven’t left things unfinished. If there’s a next time I will plan to go on maternity leave a little earlier as well, working fulltime in my job until 36 weeks was much harder than I expected.

My best friend and I went to the hospital run birth education class. Everyone else there was a hetero couple which is fine, and not unexpected, but I was surprised at how unrelentingly heterocentric the content was. The nurse gave some quite useful information. I definitely go a lot out of it and my friend said the same. But the nurse just constantly referred to “mummies and daddies” and what “daddies” would be doing during the birth, never once using the phrase birth partners or any other alternative instead. My friend introduced herself as my birth support person. She looks quite obviously gay and I wasn’t sure if people thought we were a closeted lesbian couple. Some of the questions directed to her seemed like it but it could have been that the nurse was just entirely inflexible in her questioning. Either way, I was so glad I didn’t go alone, but still I felt more socially weird as a single mum by choice than I ever have before. That said, almost all of the male partners there seemed like real dopes. Every comment from them seemed to be around how they were much less educated than their partner without any sense of needing remedy that situation. One guy at one stage started interrogating a woman about why  she would opt for less pain relief. A lot of the nurses instructions seemed geared around preventing the man from acting like a useless dick in the delivery room, e.g. give eye-contact, be understanding, don’t yell at your laboring partner. So on the upside, I guess not fitting the norm means I don’t have to contend with some socially inept tool causing me more stress whilst I’m trying to have a baby.

Everything is going fine with the baby. She weighed 6 pounds 6 last week (3kg) so she’s actually getting big and I see my OB tomorrow. She keeps moving but mainly just seems to be stretching and hiccuping sometimes. She is head down and in the anterior position and I think maybe starting to descend a little because I feel a little more pressure on my bladder.

Last Monday I saw my OB. I asked about the baby’s weight because when I’d left my last appointment a fortnight earlier I realized that she had told me the same weight as she had the fortnight before that. She seemed annoyed that I would question anything, saying she didn’t check the weight every time (although she always had with me so how would I know that) and that if there was a problem she would have said so. I was basically in tears by the time she was doing the ultrasound and was so busy trying to contain myself that I hardly looked at the monitor. She was running behind and obviously wanted to rush me through. I noticed that she apologized to the couple before me for being late but never apologized to me. During the appointment she also got annoyed that I hadn’t had the tests that she requested and the second anti-D injection yet (although I said I was planning to do it there that day to minimize my trips to the hospital whilst still working full-time) and that I didn’t understand the order in which I was meant to do them. I felt kind of at the limit of how much rudeness I had to take from her and said she never explained that to me (which I’m fairly sure is the case as I’ve never got any directions wrong in over two years of fertility treatment). The doctor couldn’t let it up, coming back with something about how she always says the same thing so I would have received those instructions.  It sucks. I’m usually on my own at these appointments. I get very little information from her, and get shushed or now attacked for asking a question. I wonder if she treats all her patients like this or whether she disapproves of me in some way. Or sees me as just a low risk patient wasting her time? Who knows.

I guess being a bit more emotionally vulnerable I get focused on stupid stuff but not feeling trust in my doctor isn’t great. I just have to remind myself that there would be something seriously unethical happening if there were any problems and she didn’t tell me. For all I’ve been told, my baby is well. Now that I’m free from work, I’m just trying to rest, eat as well as I can, and try to manage my low blood pressure. How do others cope at this point? I get tired so quickly that I can only do a few things with my day at this stage. I keep saying aloud that the baby could come at any time, but I don’t really believe it. My Braxton Hicks have been stronger so that may or may not be a sign of things progressing? This post has been a massive long whinge, I’m sorry, but all is actually good. Now that some stress is behind me, I can rest and I am starting to feel human again. I’m going to get on to reading some of the baby books that I’ve left to maternity leave to read because I’m sure I’ll be too exhausted for them when the baby gets here.

Hope you’re all doing well xo