A thought this Mother’s Day

Last year’s Mother’s Day was the third that we were trying to conceive. Little did we know I was a few days away from a successful FET. This year I’m so blessed to share the day with a family of my own.

It’s a bittersweet feeling. In the back of my mind I think of all those who are struggling with grief, loss and infertility. My heart breaks for you. Those bombarded with all things Mother’s Day this year. Those who have waited months or years. Those who got pregnant but never heard a heartbeat. Those who grit their teeth from comments and advice from people who will never really understand. I’m sorry for your pain, the time and money spent, the doubt, anger, sadness and tears. You are not forgotten this Mother’s Day. I hold a place for you in my heart and hope that next year you are proudly parading a big belly or holding your little bundle of joy.

It’s ironic that last week was National Infertility Awareness Week and we received a bill in the mail with a fee for our five remaining frozen embryos. The storage fees will continue for as long as we keep the embryos (up to 5 years, in some cases 10). We were reminded that our journey may very well continue with baby #2 and that one day we may be faced with the agonising decision about what to do with any leftover embryos – use them all, donate to research, donate to another couple or destroy them.

As Mother’s Day approaches this year, I will be thinking of those who are still struggling on their journey. Take a moment to think of them too. Remember that infertility is a silent disease affecting 1 in 6 Australian couples and you probably know at least one of them. It does not discriminate. Everyone’s journey is different and Road to Mummy has been ours. I will continue blogging to educate people, raise awareness, change perceptions and remove the stigma associated with IVF.

Infertility is a loss. It’s the loss of a dream. It’s the loss of an assumed future. And, like every loss, it will be grieved (author unknown).

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mummies and future mummies xox

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My birth story

The road to motherhood is such a different experience for every woman. I’m blessed to be able to share my positive IVF journey with you, which resulted in an immense reward – the birth of our healthy and happy little boy. This is my birth story.

At about 36 weeks, it hit me that I was going to be full term very soon. I had three fears of labour – my waters breaking in public, episiotomy/tearing and the crowning stage. I never had a birth plan and was open to doing whatever needed to be done to deliver our baby safely. I was also open to using pain relief if I felt I needed to but also looked into natural pain relief options, and came across a book called Birth Skills by Juju Sundin. It included stories of women who had a range of birth experiences – those who used pain relief, had caesareans and vaginal births. The book explained how you can use a number of techniques in labour such as movement (walking, stomping, using stress balls), breathing, vocalisation and visualisation which I found did help in the early stages of labour and probably had a positive impact overall as I ended up getting through it without drugs.

Early labour

Due to my IVF pregnancy, I was going to be induced if I went over my due date (as the placenta ages differently in IVF pregnancies). In the final week, I still felt quite comfortable but did begin to experience lower back pain and more frequent cramping. At 39+3 I had my final appointment with my obstetrician. We had discussed having a stretch and sweep the week prior, however on examination my cervix was long and closed so no sweep could be conducted. At 39+6 I lost my mucus plug. That night (Friday, the day before my due date), my contractions started. Initially, they were 15 minutes apart, lasting about 30 seconds then continued consistently every 10 minutes for about 35 – 45 seconds. At 2.30am on the Saturday morning I had a bloody show so I was sure that bub would be arriving very soon. Turns out that baby wasn’t ready to make an appearance and over the weekend, I was in and out of hospital a number of times in early labour. By Sunday afternoon, contractions were 6 – 8 minutes apart. I can’t put into words what contractions feel like. I had heard they feel like period cramps on steroids but I don’t agree! For me, it was a very intense all over pain and tightening in my tummy and lower back that literally took my breath away.

Examination

On Sunday night my ob examined me and found I was 2cm dilated. Due to the dilation, I no longer needed to be induced and my waters were going to be broken the following morning. We were told to go home and get a good night’s sleep for the following day. We arrived home at about 11pm Sunday night. We hadn’t slept since the Thursday night due to the contractions so we were not thinking straight. For some silly reason we went home only to return to hospital an hour or so later as the pain quickly intensified. I realised the pain was now unbearable while lying on the bathroom floor crying. I knew it was time to go and this was it!

The birthing suite

Soon enough, I was back in the birthing suite and only 3cm dilated. I wondered how the pain could get any worse. For the next couple of hours, I was in and out of the bathroom trying to pee but nothing was happening. The midwife assured me that it was because of the baby’s position. DH kept buzzing her in for help but she kept insisting there was nothing that could be done. I begged her to do something to relieve the feeling of my bladder about to burst and she agreed to try a catheter which was unsuccessful. She suggested I try the gas to take the edge off the pain but one puff and I vomited. I then tried a tens machine which was basically two patches placed down either side of my spine that released electrical stimulation each time a contraction started. It was a nice distraction and I can see how it would be helpful in early labour but it wasn’t providing much relief and I soon gave up on it. DH buzzed the midwife back again, and on examination she found I was 7cm dilated. My urge to pee was actually an urge to push the baby out. My obstetrician was called and it was at this point I asked for, actually demanded, the epidural. Turns out there was a 20 minute wait for the anaesthetist to administer it. By this stage I was begging for pain relief, in fact I think at one stage I turned to DH and said ‘just give me a caesarean!’ Not long after, my ob arrived, so cool and calm (which is why we were so drawn to him) and told me the epidural was on its way but that because I was so close, he thought I could get through it without the pain relief. I remember hearing in the birthing class that if you can get through the transition stage of labour without pain relief you could get through the pushing. It was now about 7.30am and I was ready to push without the epidural.

Pushing

Firstly, my waters were broken. I didn’t feel the actual breaking, just warm water coming out. Thinking back I don’t even know what they did with the fluid as I don’t remember lying on a wet bed. Then the pushing started. Pushing really is exhausting and you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. It was the first time during my pregnancy that I desperately wanted the baby out. I had heard about the ‘ring of fire’ when the baby’s head is crowning and this is what I feared most about labour. As the name suggests, I felt an intense burning and stretching sensation but it was still such a relief from the pain of contractions I had in the lead up to this moment. My ob guided me through every step, directing me where to push, how hard to push and how long to push for. At this stage I was glad I didn’t have the epidural as I think it would have prolonged my labour and I could have been pushing for hours.

Once the baby’s shoulders were pushed out, my ob told me to get ready to finish the delivery and lift my baby out. It was such a surreal moment and a feeling that will stay with us forever. With bub on my chest, DH cut the umbilical cord.

I have no doubt that my ob is the reason I didn’t tear, didn’t need an episiotomy or have any stitches even though I was only pushing for 30 minutes. I never did the perineum massage during pregnancy or pilates or yoga. I just had an amazing obstetrician.

Baby Jayden

Our beautiful baby boy Jayden arrived into the world on 5th February 2018 at 8.15am weighing 3.54kg and measuring 50cm. We fell instantly in love with our precious little angel and he has brought so much joy to our family.

It’s true what they say about forgetting the pain of labour. Although I found the contractions absolutely horrible, all the pain magically disappeared when I looked into Jayden’s eyes for the first time and our long journey to get to this day was truly a distant memory. My road to mummy had finally became a reality.

Third trimester

The home stretch! I’m currently 39+6, due tomorrow!

Where has time gone!? Everyone says the last month or weeks of pregnancy go slow but this is definitely not the case for me. I feel like I could continue this pregnancy for a while longer. I’m still quite comfortable and I think baby is too.

Between the last few weeks of the second trimester and early in the third, I’ve has the standard whooping cough vaccine, Group B Strep swab and gestational diabetes (GD) screening. Having PCOS puts you at higher risk of GD so I knew there would be a chance and my results ended up being borderline. The diagnosis is made if the fasting blood glucose level and/or the one or two-hour glucose level is raised. If my 1 hour result had of been 10, I would have been diagnosed with GD. My results were; Fast: 5.0, 1 hour: 9.9, 2 hour: 5.4.

We had a growth assessment / kidney check at 32 weeks (bub approx. 1.8kg [+/-15%] 42nd percentile). The scan showed no change to the mild right pyelectasis so bub will be assessed by a pediatrician and have an ultrasound a few days after birth.

Bub was breech early on and turned sometime between 34 and 35 weeks. Bubs spine has been against my left side for a little while too, so hoping it doesn’t end up posterior.

At 38+5 we went into hospital with reduced movement. As soon as we got there, bub decided to have a party and wouldn’t stop moving, with an elevated heart rate. In fact, bub was moving so much that they couldn’t get a baseline heart rate. I was monitored for three hours and returned the next day for CTG monitoring where all looked well.

I finally returned my leftover IVF medication to the fertility clinic. Unfortunately most of the meds can’t be donated to other women so they needed to be disposed of and the local chemist wouldn’t accept them. I had some almost boxes full of meds and some full syringes. The thing with IVF is your med dose can change within a few days and usually this would require you to purchase a fresh box with the new dose.

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I have not gained weight since about 14 or 15 weeks (fluctuating gain of 4 – 5kg) however I did start with a higher BMI and had gained a decent amount during fertility treatment. If you include the fertility treatment weight gain it would probably be around 16 – 18kg.

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Bump update

Looking forward to updating you on baby’s arrival soon 🙂

Second trimester

I can’t believe that I’m a few days away from being 27 weeks pregnant. This time last year we were contemplating having a break from fertility treatment following a number of failed ovulation induction cycles, and starting fresh after Christmas. Our lives were so different. So much of our time was spent at appointments, waiting, testing, feeling the effects of different drugs and being so disappointed month after month. As I sit here now, I can feel kicking and movement from the life inside me. We are so damn lucky! I wish I could say something to help those who are reading this and still struggling on their own journey but we can only embrace the hand we’re dealt. Remember that the most difficult roads often lead to the most beautiful destination. Anything is possible!

Symptoms
The second trimester ‘honeymoon’ period has been just that…well almost. I’m feeling completely different to the first trimester. Since 14 weeks I have only vomited once and I’m sure it was because I was in a warm environment and felt all hot and stuffy. Other symptoms have been migraines and nocturnal calf cramps. Sleep has been pretty average and I do get tired but it really doesn’t compare to how exhausting fertility treatment was and the pain of OHSS. Overall, I’m feeling great!

Scans and movement
We have continued to have frequent scans. Our 20 week scan showed normal growth and anatomy, however a mild right pyelectasis (enlarged kidney) that will need to be reviewed down the track. We are told that most cases fix itself as pregnancy progresses.

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Ob always tells us that our baby is ‘loving life!’

The average person feels baby move in their first pregnancy between 16 and 22 weeks although this can vary quite a bit. I first felt bub move a little later at 23 – 24 weeks due to an anterior placenta (placenta positioned against the belly, at front of womb).

Exercise
Since my very inactive first trimester, I’ve tried to get back into exercising and making it to the gym regularly. Before I was pregnant I would usually exercise 5 times a week…now it’s 3-4 times (sometimes much less depending on how my week pans out) but at a lower intensity and shorter period of time. It’s recommended that you exercise at a moderate intensity for 150 to 300 minutes each week during pregnancy or exercising for at least 30 minutes most days.

My gym workouts include use of the treadmill, elliptical cross trainer and weights (less reps or lower weight) and if I’m not feeling like getting to the gym I’ll try fit in a home workout – either a walk, or going on the stationary bike and boxing.

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Boxing session at home, 26 weeks. “Believe you can and you will”

One thing that I needed to invest in when I started growing was a good sports bra. Well bras all together. By about 20 weeks I had already gone up 5-6 cup sizes. Do you know how difficult it is to find something that fits!? Luckily I came across this store which has been a lifesaver – Brava Lingerie, which stocks sizes D and up. I highly recommend checking them out but be warned that most bras start at $100.

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Bump update

 

First trimester

My morning (all day) sickness kicked in at around 6 weeks with nausea and vomiting. During this time my very nutritious diet consisted of crackers, toast and biscuits. Exercise was off the cards as the nausea and vomiting would strike at random times during the day and night. I took Elevit morning sickness tablets, consisting of ginger and vitamin B6, as soon as the nausea started and it did take a bit of the edge off. They were effective for me after the first couple of months, once the nausea started to settle. I do recommend trying them.

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I continued taking 4 x progynova tablets a day and 4 x pessaries each day until 13 weeks. Pessaries were costly to be on for an extended period of time. One pack of pessaries lasted me 3.5 days and cost $60 compared to a pack of progynova which lasted 13.5 days and cost $20. A lot of people don’t realise how costly the process really is. In addition to one IVF cycle setting you back over $10,000 up front, medication is an added cost.

I knew that the medication and morning sickness would soon be a distant memory just as the whole IVF process has become. When TTC I would always hear pregnant women complaining that they were ‘over it’, drained, wishing it would all just come to an end, and I try to sympathise with those who have had a really tough pregnancy but then I think of the many people I have connected with over my journey who would love to be in their position – experiencing all morning sickness, all the aches and pains, and being the ones to embrace every minute of it.

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I came across this meme some time ago and thought it was fitting to post it on my blog. It’s a bit of humour that is just so true – what some friends think, what DH thinks, what it feels like, what society thinks and what it really looks like. I still get lots of questions about our IVF experience and I’m more than happy to share it with people. I know we are one of the very, very lucky couples and we continue to count our blessings every day.

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Genetic screening

I’ve been asked many questions about genetic screening and prenatal testing so thought I’d write about it and share our experience.

We were offered genetic screening before we commenced fertility treatment. Genetic screening is the study of DNA to identify your susceptibility to various diseases and abnormalities. The purpose of screening is to inform couples about whether they have an increased risk of having a child with a genetic condition. Some couples may choose to carry out screening so they are prepared for the future if they know their child will be affected. Others might screen for peace of mind. It’s a very personal decision and before making a decision there are a number of factors to consider including some pros and cons that now, looking back, stand out to me. Here are a few:

Pros of screening – peace of mind knowing things are ok (if results come back favourable), finding an unknown problem if you never knew you were a carrier (can also be a con), knowing your risk can make you better informed about the future, the test is a simple blood test and there isn’t a long wait for results.

Cons of screening – stress and anxiety of knowing something may be wrong, being faced with the decision of whether or not to share this info with your family if you’re in a high risk group – they may not want to know if they could be a carrier, tests are not 100% accurate – it can tell you that you’re a carrier when you really aren’t and vice versa, you don’t know how genes will affect your baby or how severe their condition may be.

Pre-pregnancy genetic screening can screen for specific genetic conditions including Cystic Fibrosis (CF), Fragile X (FX) and Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Screening costs close to $1,000.

CF is a life threatening disorder with no known cure, affecting the lungs, pancreas, liver, kidneys and intestines. 1 in 25 people are carriers. If both partners are carriers, there is a 1 in 4 (25%) chance of having a child with CF.

FX is a genetic condition causing intellectual disability and has no cure. 1 in 150 people are carriers. A woman who has the test will be found to be at low or increased risk of the gene. Regardless of her partner’s genetics, if a woman carries the increased risk gene, she could have a child with FX.

SMA is a rare neuromuscular disorder with varying degrees of severity. The prognosis is generally not good with the most severe type of SMA causing the death of a child by the age of 2. Both partners need to be carriers for a child to be affected. If both partners are carriers, there is a 1 in 4 chance of having a baby with SMA. 1 in 70 people are carries, and I was one of them. As a result, DH was tested and fortunately he was not a carrier. After we did the testing, I did regret doing it. We were never going to let the outcome stop us from trying and were never going to terminate a pregnancy but it did put our minds at ease.

There are a few options to consider if you find out you’re a carrier through pre-pregnancy genetic screening: undergo genetic counselling, continue trying to conceive and take no action or investigate further with testing. If undergoing IVF, pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS) can be conducted to screen embryos during treatment to ensure that affected genes are not implanted. A biopsy is taken from the embryos to tell you how many (if any) of them look chromosomally normal and are most likely to survive.

The Harmony/NIPT test is another optional test offered at about 10 weeks and costs $400 – $500. The results tell you your risk of Trisomy 13 – Patau’s syndrome, Trisomy 18 – Edwards’ syndrome and Trisomy 21 – Down syndrome. Again, we were never going to terminate so I guess at the time we decided to do it for peace of mind. The test only tells you the risk level and can’t guarantee the outcome. Further invasive tests can be conducted to tell you for sure, but there’s a slight chance of miscarriage – a risk we wouldn’t have taken. My ob told me I was at low risk of carrying a baby with these syndromes because of my age. The chance of Down syndrome and other conditions increase over the age of 35. I think the decision of screening and testing is a very personal one that ultimately depends on how you’ll act on the outcome of your results.

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Threatened miscarriage

The wait for our first scan which was to be at 6w3d, was far worse for me than the 2WW. Partly because I actually had to wait the whole two weeks, but mostly because we had now gotten excited after being told I was pregnant. We had already told our families and a couple of close friends about our positive result and had started thinking about the months ahead – my sister’s wedding where I would be 18 weeks pregnant, our due date in early Feb and cleaning out our spare rooms to make space for a nursery. There was no way of knowing if things were ok or not. Up until this stage, I had not experienced morning sickness or any other symptoms apart from tender breasts and tiredness, which had been happening on and off with all of the fertility drugs for a while.

5w came around and still no morning sickness or new ‘sign’ that I was pregnant. Although I hate to admit it, Google was my best friend during these weeks as I began to analyse every little thing I felt or didn’t feel. Blood tests had confirmed that I was indeed pregnant but the first scan would confirm if the pregnancy was:
a) viable – pregnancy is visualised in the uterus and a heartbeat is detected
b) ectopic – pregnancy is located outside of the uterus ie. Fallopian tube
c) blighted ovum – embryo does not develop even though the egg has implanted in the uterus
d) biochemical pregnancy – hcG is detected in the blood but fails to rise – embryo fails to develop further

I decided to POAS for piece of mind, to make sure the line was continuing to get darker. The last time I did this was 10dp5dt and it was now 22dp5dt.

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Early pregnancy bleeding
6w1d – It was the Sunday of the Queen’s Birthday long weekend and we were in the Yarra Valley catching up with some friends at a winery. I had been urinating frequently the last week or so and after lunch went to the bathroom. As I looked down, I saw blood in the bowl. My heart stopped. As I wiped there was bright red blood – and what seemed like a lot of it at the time. I felt instantly sick in my gut. We left in a rush and headed straight to emergency as the clinic was closed for the long weekend and we weren’t going to wait until the Tuesday scan to know what was going on. At this stage we didn’t think to page my FS.

I tried to remain calm but the drive felt like an eternity. We were driving from the Yarra Valley to the other side of Melbourne with the thought of a miscarriage at the back of our minds. Once we arrived at the hospital, I was taken through emergency pretty quickly but waited a little while for tests to be conducted. A blood test would verify my hcG levels. If levels were over 1500 they would be able to do an internal ultrasound to see if they could detect a heartbeat. Over an hour passed as we sat twiddling our thumbs. The doctor came back to do an internal examination which involved checking my cervix and taking a swab. She said there was ‘old blood’ and that I was no longer bleeding. hcG levels came back confirming once again that I was definitely pregnant and they could try the scan to detect a heartbeat. My FS was going to do my first scan in two days time but we were here now and the doctors wanted to check if things were ok.

In all my Googling and YouTubing, I knew how a heartbeat would appear on the ultrasound. The doctor told us not to worry if it couldn’t be detected at this early stage, however as soon as bub appeared on the ultrasound, I saw the heartbeat before the doctor had a chance to announce it!

As I didn’t go to my clinic and didn’t see my FS, any hospital you end up at, is meant to contact your FS with details of your stay. My FS just happened to call me the next day, on the public holiday, to see if we could change the time of my ultrasound the following day. As we started talking, I mentioned my hospital visit and realised he had not been notified. I told him about the bleeding scare (I wasn’t home at the time) and he told me to go straight home and insert a pessary immediately, another three hours later and another before bed. I couldn’t believe that the hospital didn’t pick up on this. They had not checked my progesterone and other hormone levels. I had just had a threatened miscarriage and their explanation was ‘bleeding is common in early pregnancy. You’ll be fine.’ My FS explained that I should not have any trace of blood on the medication I was on. It turned out my progesterone levels had dropped and I needed to increase my dose of pessaries to four a day until 13 weeks. Luckily I was able to take two at a time – first thing in the morning, and at night before bed.

All is now going well and this is our first ultrasound photo from 6w3d measuring 0.77cm. It’s hard to believe how clear the heartbeat was at this very early stage, 125bpm!

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2WW and BT result

The dreaded 2WW follows the embryo transfer. This is the time when you’re advised not to do a HPT before the BETA as you could face a false BFP or BPN.  It’s the time where you literally can’t do anything to make time pass quicker, you question every little symptom you feel and it can be very nerve racking because you won’t know the outcome of your transfer until BETA confirms it. The nurses will tell you to keep a neutral mindset about your result in hoping for the best but being prepared for the worst.

I read this on a forum during my 2WW and had a giggle to myself. It couldn’t be more true!

“The degree of insanity a woman TTC experiences is inversely proportional to the number of days remaining in her 2WW.” 

Of all the cycles we had done previously, I truly felt like I wasn’t pregnant this time round. There had been many occasions before where I had convinced myself I was pregnant from all of the symptoms but it wasn’t meant to be, being negative every time. This time I didn’t feel pregnant and just had a gut feeling that it wasn’t going to be a successful transfer. I caved in and tested at 5dp5dt. I knew that because I was doing a FET I didn’t have any trigger medication in my system that could give a false positive.

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I thought testing at home would be the easy part. But it wasn’t. Because deep down I knew that this would be the first time I would POAS knowing it would be our best ever chance of having a positive result. Seeing the two lines that I’ve never legitimately seen before. A simple 3 minute test. I leave the test and set the countdown timer on my phone. 180 seconds.

My mind starts thinking…what am I doing? The clinic told me to wait 11 days before the official pregnancy blood test. To resist the urge to test at home for a false result could appear. Who am I kidding!? I’d rather know in the comfort of my own home if the result was going to be negative. It would be easier to face now then to receive a call when I’m at work breaking the bad news to me.

I’m interrupted by the alarm on my phone. I look down at the test. The tiniest, faintest, thinnest line, barely visible to the eye – a ‘squinter’ in IVF forum terms. At this stage I wonder if my mind is playing tricks and I’m just seeing what I want to believe is there. I call DH into the bathroom and ask him to look at the result. “There’s no line. I can’t see anything.” I tell him to look again and he squints firmly, his eyes still adjusting to the light at 4.30am. “I think I see it but I don’t know.” We felt a glimmer of hope but convinced ourselves that for some reason it could be false and we could just be ‘seeing things’. If I really was pregnant and this was a positive result, the level of hcG in my system would increase each day, producing a darker line. That’s when I decided to test every day until BETA.

6dp5dt: The line was so so faint but slightly more visible than the previous day. DH could see it at first glance. I could definitely see it now but still didn’t believe it deep down.
7dp5dt: There’s no denying what we can see. We get a little excited but DH keeps his cool and says we should just wait for the blood test before we start celebrating. Days felt like weeks and trying to fall asleep at night felt like an eternity. It was difficult to sleep in the days leading up to the blood test. I was still doubting myself because the symptoms I was feeling could have been as a result of the transfer or AF. I honestly believed it was AF as I had experienced the exact same symptoms prior to my failed cycles.

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BETA – the moment of truth
11dp5dt: The clinic opened at 7am and I arrived as the doors were opening. I was fifth in line of all the eager ladies I assume were waiting for the same test. I was told I would receive a call from the nurse with my result at around lunch time so off to work I go. I hoped for the busiest day I could possibly imagine and got stuck into work to distract myself from the long wait until lunch time.

I left my phone on vibrate so I wouldn’t miss the call and took my phone with me any time I left my desk. At 10.39am ‘MIVF’ flashed on my phone as it began ringing. I’m caught by surprise as they’re calling so much earlier than I expect. I power walk away from my desk and get outside as quickly as I can, answer my phone and rush through the identification questions. I couldn’t believe my ears.

“We’re so so thrilled to say you’ve had a positive result! Congratulations, you’re pregnant!”

Although we had already seen the two very clear lines over a number of days, I was still in total shock and disbelief. The nurse said my hcG levels were very convincing at 386 and that I was 4 weeks and 2 days pregnant. She told me that my progesterone levels were still looking good and just to be safe, they would repeat the blood test in two days time to check hcG levels are continuing to increase. At 13dp5dt my levels increased to over 1000. Your hcG levels should double every couple of days, but don’t go crazy analysing these figures and comparing them to the results of other women. Everyone’s results are just so, so different.

It’s now official! After six failed rounds of ovulation induction, 193 needles, 25 eggs collected and 1 embryo transfer, our bub is due in February 2018!

Embryo Transfer – PUPO

Embryo transfer day finally arrived. I was told there would be a 90% chance of a successful thaw.

I received a call from the nurse the day before the transfer. She instructed me to empty my bladder one hour before the transfer and that I would need to have bloods to check my progesterone levels. If levels were too low, daily dosage of pessaries would need to be increased.

We saw the nurse upon arrival. She told me to continue the medication I was on – progynova, pessaries and folic acid (pregnancy vitamins) and advised me that if any bleeding occurred in the next couple of weeks I would need to contact the nurses as soon as possible. I’m told panadol is safe to take, no alcohol, no hot bath. She explained listeria – foods to avoid, food storage and rules around reheating food. You can find detailed information about this online.

I was advised that my pregnancy blood test would be in 11 days time. A positive pregnancy test is confirmed by a level of hCG 150iu/L or greater. A negative test is a result under 5iu/L. If the result is somewhere in between, the blood test will need to be repeated in two days time to see whether hCG is increasing or decreasing. If a negative result and no bleeding occurs within 7 days, the blood test will also need to be repeated.

The procedure
We made our way to the waiting room where I signed some paperwork and did all the identification checks. You will soon come to realise that anyone you come into contact with during any appointment or med pick up will ask you for three points of identification – name, address, DOB or for your patient identification number. A nurse then took my blood pressure and temperature before we were to wait for my FS. Once called in, it was bottoms off, gown on and onto the reclining bed. The procedure was so quick – under 10 minutes in total. It all seemed too good to be true considering the long haul it took to get to this day. The procedure was painless, just a little uncomfortable like a pap smear.

During the procedure an abdominal ultrasound is used to guide a catheter into the uterus. A moderately full bladder is required to ensure good ultrasound visualisation of the catheter. The embryologist and FS go through identification checks again and showed us our embie on a screen before loading it into the catheter. The catheter is then passed through the cervix and once in place, the embryo is released. The embryologist then checks the catheter under a microscope to ensure it has been released successfully.

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Image: Reproductive Medicine Wagga

That was it – straight in and out! It was a little strange getting up and leaving so quickly. I felt like I was walking a little funny and didn’t want to empty my bladder – I know this seems silly but you just think it could fall out! I was told I could continue with normal day to day activities. I took the day off work and DH treated me to a nice lunch and new perfume 🙂

I received a call a few hours later with my blood test results. My progesterone level was 54.8 so I could continue my two daily doses of pessaries for now.

Side effects
That evening, I felt crampy and bloated – both side effects of the transfer. I also had mild waves of nausea in the next couple of days, mainly at night when I went to bed, a little bloating, pelvic pain on my left side and cramps that came and went on the same left side. I know these could be side effects from the transfer but also a sign that our embie could be implanting. I’m not going to think too much of it because these are also symptoms I can get before AF, and usually did get before a failed cycle. In IVF/fertility terms I’m currently PUPO which is pregnant until proven otherwise. The waiting continues…

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We are 1 in 6: putting assumptions aside

I’m baffled, yet not surprised by how many people in this day and age make judgement towards the choices made by new parents and those TTC. It seems like EVERYTHING has to be up for debate. Obviously I’m yet to face most of this but I can tell you of many friends who have.

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) vs ‘natural’ conception, public vs private care, caesarean vs vaginal birth, breast vs bottle fed.

Strong opinions left, right and centre. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be on the receiving end of this. But for now, instead of engaging in these debates, we’re confronted by something that 1 in 6 couples will understand.

The thoughts of going to places that are buzzing with families – breakfast at our local café, walking through the park, doing our weekly grocery shop, going to the beach for a day in the sun. Baby boosters are out, monkey bars are in use, prams are being pushed and children are playing in the bay.

And there we see them. The couples just like us who could fit into the statistic of 1 in 6.

The mother who is feeding eggs and soldiers to her fussy toddler while being sure to pay attention to her five year old could have had secondary infertility, the mum with her baby in one arm and pushing the trolley with the other could have gone down the path of surrogacy, the family kicking the footy at the park and cheering as the little ones kick the winning goal could have adopted their children, the parents in competition as to who can build the best sandcastle could be foster parents. And you can’t forget the couple who are sitting quietly at a family gathering coming to terms with their recent miscarriage.

The reality is this. 1 in 6 Australian couples are struggling with infertility. You don’t know someone’s story until you’ve stepped in their shoes. Please don’t make judgement and assumptions based on face value – you just never know what’s going on behind closed doors and how someone got to where they are today.

Be happy for first time parents and the fourth time parents. Be happy for the couple who are finally pregnant after years of TTC. Be happy that in this day and age we are all free to make our own choices. So let them make theirs…

infertility-ivf-australia
Image: IVF Australia