Since we last checked in I feel like things with Sally and Dexter are going well. They have had an exciting few weeks really! Between more visits to see Kristie the acupuncturist and our day to day life, Dexter and Sally have been to see Melissa play for the demons, been to an ADELE concert, been to the football, the ballet to a comedy show and quite a few other exciting adventures! A pretty good start to life! We also had our school photos, and while that is a pretty exhausting day usually, I think it will be one to remember this time! I officially don’t have much to report other than being a work in progress! I doubt we will have any more embryo transfers for a while though, I haven’t been feeling very good lately, it might be the end of term exhaustion…. we will just have to wait and see!
Well, this slack lady has done a deplorable job of keeping this Blog up to date, but I will try and catch up to where we sit today! Unfortunately despite the A teams best efforts there was no positive result for us. The disappointment is never easy to take however it was made easier this time knowing that we weren’t on our last embryo and that we still have a great chance with the remaining embryo’s we still have frozen!
I spoke with Dr Abe after the news and he suggested that maybe my body is seeing the embyro as a foreign object and rejecting it. Sure it was mine when it when it came out but has been changed with foreign DNA so it kinda makes sense. How do we fix this? Pregnistalone! if you have ever taken this drug you will know that it can have some really strange effects on your mental health so I was quite hesitant to take it considering I am being asked to take it for over a month! But lets be honest, I am on so many different drugs right now…. whats one more? This particular drug is supposed to lower my immune response, which has been fantastic for me because since I have been taking them I have not needed one drop of my usual asthma or hayfever medication (woo hoo go me!) what a lovely break that is! So my current drug regime looks like this; Pregnistalone three times a day (to lower the immune responce), Prognova (hormone replacement therapy) three times a day (to keep my hormone levels up), asprin once a day (to keep my blood thin and luscious), MTHFR pills once a day (to counteract my body’s inability to process folate) I also have to squirt Crinone Gel up my girly bits twice a day (to be honest I actually have no clue what this does but it is progesterone and it sounds kinda important) and finally now that we have had another transer I have to inject myself with pregnol ever other day (no clue what that does either). So I am quite the walking pharmacist. Yet somehow with all this going on in my system, I have been feeling pretty normal! (I don’t know how)
Anyway like I said we have had another Embryo transfer but some interesting things happened before we got to that bit. Firstly I went to see an Acupuncturist, Kristie Hayden out at the Logans Beach spa and retreat. I must say that I think I am in love with this woman, she has an energy and positivity about her that is completely contagious and I instantly feel happier and calmer when around her. During our first appointment she asked me lots of different questions about life and our IVF journey so far, about my eating and sleeping habits, a few awkward girly parts questions etc. She had me lay down on the bed, at times she performed raki type movements around my chest and pelvis area and I am not convinced that that does anything however during that first session she hooked me up to different wires and electrodes (to balance out ions maybe?) and after a while letting these do their thing she put her little pins in different points around my feet and legs, and at the back of my head. I can’t guarantee that this will work, but I am sure it will do no harm to me or my health. It was a completely relaxing and recharging experience to go through this and needless to say I was keen to come back for more. Kristie suggested that I come back for a session the day before our next embryo transfer and then again the day of the transfer for best results.
Unfortunately our transfer was booked in for the Tuesday after the Labour day long weekend. Kristie (the saint) agreed to take time out of her day to see me on the public holiday and then again on the Tuesday even though on the Tuesday afternoon the business was officially closed for staff training. I felt pretty guilty about that so collected some tasty things out of the garden for her as a little Thank you. During these next two sessions I felt more and more relaxed to the point of almost reaching a medative state (to be honest I have never meditated so not exactly sure if that is what I was doing but it felt close) and Kristie told me that the pins she was placing were designed to improve my blood flow to all the baby making areas. I hope this is the push my body needs to let this round be a success for us.
Anyway Tuesday the 14th was transfer day and as usual the appointment was intolerably early (8.30 in Geelong) so we were up as sparrow’s fart to get there on time. When we got there Dr Prue Johnston was the one preforming the procedure, we got chatting and I was telling her how surprised I had been because she had come up earlier in the week as a ‘people you may know’ on Facebook, I wondered how that was possible considering we had only ever met through the IVF, but as it turns out she knows Trish and her family, I am not sure if that made her hanging out in my girly bits easier or a bit strange but I choose to take it as a good sign that we were connected by only a few degrees of separation. What I can say with complete certainty however; is that she is by far the gentlest physician I have had perform this procedure, she also talked things through with me while it was happening which is a lovely distraction. She was a little worried however that I have become all to familiar with this process, in her mind no one should ever have lots of experience in embryo transfers. The other big news is that this time we decided to put two embryo’s back in, this will hopefully double our chance of success and having discussed the reality of potential twins with Erin, we think we will do just fine. Let’s be honest I suspect there would be quite a period of freaking out involved too! I feel confident though that with the support of my parents and our great network of friends, that we would do ok.
I am not sure if you can see what is happening in the ultrasound but it goes a bit like this, the clear blob in the middle left of screen is my uterus, the thin straight line in the middle of the blob is a placement tube, this guides the needle/syringe carrying the embryo’s into the exact position they need to be in for the embryo’s to implant, the needle slots straight into the middle of that tube, squirts out the embryos and wallah!!! Baby making is happenine (hopefully!)
So two lovely little embryo’s have been implanted, Kristie has spoken with me at times about connecting with my uterus, and that feels a bit strange but Erin and I decided that we did need connection but maybe to the embryo’s , so I would like to introduce Dexter and Sally (my favorite names as a child) I hope they are settling in nicely to their new home and growing into some lovely little critters.
The positive feel from the last few weeks seems to have continued with our egg harvest. Once again we arrived ready for our procedure at 8am at the Geelong private hospital, we walked in to sign the paperwork and me being my usual self tried to crack a few dad jokes……unfortunately all I got was crickets from the staff at the hospital! Funnily enough another patient walked in when we did, she thought my jokes (and the staff responses) were as hilarious as I did and we instantly became buddies! Anyway so Andrea and went in for our egg harvests. I was quite distracted going in because as well as egg collection day it was also super bowl. When I woke up I was very pleased to find a smiley face on my paperwork! 15 eggs!!! Such an improvement on our last attempt, and the good news was that 9 fertilised, by day 3 we still had 8 and 6 made it to blastocyst!! Blastocyst it a pretty cool thing, it basically means that at 5 days old the cells begin to be allocated
So this is what my blastocyst embryos look like, the cells on the right that are in focus are the cells that could eventually form into a foetus,the out of focus cells on the outskirts on the left could potentially form the placenta if it takes.
So at day 5 one little sucker was put back in. I was reassured by the team, Sam Sabari and Rebecca that they were the A team and we were definitely in for some good news soon. The bonus is that we were lucky enough to cross paths with Andrea again!
I don’t know if I feel pregnant yet however Erin is feeling pretty positive about it all, she has been feeling pretty crappy so she thinks she is having phantom morning sickness! lol I can only hope that it truely is a sign.
After a glorious break spent traveling NZ among other adventures, we are ready to go again! When we decided to take a break from baby making, it was done on the proviso that we run some tests and I try and lose some weight, the weight loss wasn’t perhaps as successful as I had hoped, I have lost weight but not heaps. We did have better success medically though, I was sent by Dr Abe to have numerous tests done. I was pleased to find that out that I had one test come back with a positive result! Why was I happy? Well, I think it would have been harder if there wasn’t anything found, not knowing why our previous attempts hadn’t worked is far harder to take than knowing (even if only retrospectively). I was diagnosed with MTHFR, the unfortunate thing is that every time I see it I read mother f#&ker. So MTHFR basically means that my body cannot process folate, all the pregnancy multivitamins and folate friendly food has had absolutely no effect on me at all. So now each day I have a mother f#&ker tablets which is an activated version of folate, hopefully this means success in the future!
Before we were able to head off on our wonderful adventure Dr Moses suggested I have a little procedure called an endometrical scraping, a procedure that must occur approximately one week before my period. Perhaps fortunately that happened to be the exact day that we were flying to NZ. If anyone has ever had one of these… it is a highly unpleasant experience made exponentially worse by the fact that you can see it all happening on a video screen! Yuck!! Thankfully we didn’t have any side effects or pain after the procedure and our trip to NZ went off without a hitch.
Australia Day marked the beginning of our next egg harvest, it couldn’t have begun on a better day or with a better friend than Sharon at her annual Australia Day party! So once again my tummy looks like a pin cushion, puragon each afternoon (hormones) and in the last few days orgalutran each morning (this one is an ovulation blocker) and at exactly 9:30 tonight we will be taking the trigger injection! At 8am on Monday morning we will be signing into the Geelong private hospital for the egg collection. I am quietly hopeful that we will collect more eggs than our last attempt mostly because we found over 20 folicles fattening at our last ultrasound, that’s twice the number we found after our last attempt. I can’t possibly complete this post without sending my heartfelt thanks to Lisa our radiographer. I booked our last ultrasound on Friday at 4pm And was told unequivocally by Monash IVF (on the day) that it was way way way to late to get the results in time. I rang the radiography unit in a complete panic but that wonderful Lisa allowed me to come in on her lunch break to get the ultrasound done! I owe her big time! Anyway we have a few exciting days coming up! I can’t wait!
Well unfortunately for us, our latest embryo transfer didn’t work again. While I was better prepared for how that may feel this time, in general both Erin and I are worn out, we are so tired of driving to Geelong, tired of hoping, tired of taking all these medications, tired of feeling guilty for the money we are spending treatment so we have decided to take a break for the summer. We need a chance to rest and recuperate. I also have a horrible feeling inside that my weight is the reason this isn’t working, so from the moment we decided to rest, I have changed how I have been eating with the aim to lose at least 5kg over the next 6-8 weeks. I am not sure how I will go seeings losing weight over Christmas is a difficult thing to do. I have however discovered a new plan! Erin and I used to have a tradition that each Friday we go to Pronto’s and get some cheese (obviously not a healthy choice) but if I switch the cheese for prawns it costs the same and is way healthier! So every time I need a special treat I am heading to the seafood shop not the deli!
I also think that I don’t want to keep trying something that isn’t working, so I am hoping to speak with the doctor soon to discuss some further testing we can do to count out any other issues that may be occurring inside my body preventing a successful pregnancy.
It has become such a shame that our time has become so clinical and not the romantic experience we were both hoping for. Maybe that will come when we actually fall pregnant instead of being so focused on medications and appointments all the time.
One thing we do have to look forward to is a trip to NZ, we are heading there in January for a friends wedding, this is also another reason why we have decided to take a break for a while, this is booked in and IVF schedules don’t work around holiday schedules.
So this is my prediction for then next few months! I will be relaxed, skinnier and rested ready for some new adventures in 2017.
When going on a journey like the one Erin and I are on, it is such a journey of hope; everyone you speak to is so excited for you to be having a child. Everyone promises to cross their fingers and toes, they tell you that they have a feeling that this time it will definitely work, that they know it will only be a matter of time before we hear some good news. I love hearing this, it makes me believe that ‘yeah!! We can do this’ but the unfortunate part for Erin and I is that so far it hasn’t worked. Each negative result gets just a bit harder to swallow. When we were doing the direct insemination instead of IVF there was a far lower expectations, so while it wasn’t good news, it also wasn’t devestating. This month however we had our first embryo transfer, and when that didn’t work I was not expecting to feel as crushed as I did. This wasn’t a case of squirting some sperm up there and hoping for the best….. this was a seven celled living being (all be it a minuscule one) that was being implanted and I couldn’t keep it alive…. to make matters worse I always get these phone calls while I am still at work…. all I want is to run home to Erin but mostly it just isn’t possible. I have a very wise older brother who once told me that sometimes you just have to fake it till you make it and that was what I had to do.
I bet you are saying to yourself that I am a silly duck for getting my hopes up in the first place, but that is the human conditions isn’t it, I told myself every day that there is a less than 50% chance that this will work so don’t get your hopes up, but hope just kept creeping in, every time I saw another baby on Facebook, in the supermarket or spent time with my nieces and nephews hope just sneaks in… that little glimmer that maybe…. just maybe that will be us soon.
Wow, it is quite the pity party I am throwing myself today. I don’t really want to dwell on the negative it is not how I generally operate but the last thing I will say on this matter is that the final icing on the cake here is that with some many hormones and drugs in my system we go through all of this while feeling sick and/or in pain the whole time, after the egg collection and transfer I felt short of breath, I had lots of pains in the stomach, I developed a yucky cough, I was constipated and hardly had any energy to function. So I is easy to understand how my emotional resilience had become highly compromised throughout the last month or so.
When we get bad news, I find it much easier to deal with when I know what is coming up next, for me that means having a good conversation with Dr Moses: for me this particular conversation was a huge lifeline he told me that medically there was no reason for the embryo not to take, my uterus and hormones were doing everything they were supposed to do, my blood work was all normal. To him this meant that the issue wasn’t with my body, he thought that maybe the embryo may have had some chromosomal abnormalities, when the body senses this it will flush the embryo out which is what Dr Moses thinks has happened. Yes!!! Maybe this means my body can do this!! He prescribed me some estrogen to take three times a day (to make my uterine lining luscious) and we will attempt to transfer our second embryo later this week.
One silver lining in this process is the amazing people we have met along the way! Most of my teacher friends will understand this when I say that sometimes you meet parents of your school students and you think to yourself ‘if we had met under different circumstances I bet we could be good friends’ and I certainly feel this way about some of the people we have met along the way! Jenny is one such woman, she has had the sometimes unfortunate job of being the bearer of bad news for us, she was the one who had to break the news to us that we were going to miscarry and that our first IVF transfer didn’t work, but she also shares with us with 100% sincerity the hope and sometimes joy that we have also had along the way. This job would be that much harder without her unwavering support. The other one who stands out to me is Lisa our radiographer, I am pretty sure I am the only person on the planet who in some ways looks forward to those awkward ultrasounds. She is relaxed and confident and makes what could be a very scary and dawnting procedure into a fun and fascinating experience! She also has a habit of unleashing her students on me too, which I find to be a great source of pride, these students are fantastic, gentle and soooooo darn excited to have someone who will let them practice and improve their skills. So far I have had Mohammad and Angela practice on me under Lisa’s expert tutelage and aside from them gaining valuable experience, I have also learned lots about the inside of my body! Did you know that your ovaries hang our very close to your intestines and sometimes they get hidden in behind them, making them very hard to find! I was telling Lisa about our blog on Monday and we have made a deal, when I do fall pregnant that’s when we will do a selfie for the blog!! I sometimes imaging bringing our baby back to all these wonderful physicians, I can’t wait for that day!
The embryo transfer happened three days after the harvest. And I have to say it was really fun, once again it meant a long drive to Geelong for fifteen whole minutes in with Dr Moses! I was still feeling a bit icky from all of the hormones but while in th appointment two amazing things harkened, firstly we got to see what our little embryo looked like, seven cells in a little sack, HOW COOL IS THAT!!! I can’t believe a human being grows from those seven little cells, I can imagine what it will be like to show this picture to our child when they are big enough to understand what it is! I was able to get a copy of the picture from the lovely receptionist Donna from Geelong Gynaecology so many thanks to you lovely lady!
The second fascinating thing was that unlike the IUI, they used an ultrasound machine when implanting the embryo, this meant that I could watch the needle as it entered my uterus, I couldn’t see the embryo but it was still cool to watch! The only down side is that for this type of ultrasound I was required to have a full bladder, I took this job very seriously and drank the whole trip down! I have never been so happy to find a toilet in my life!!!
Now begins the awkward bit, morning and night I have to have a progesterone shot, now needles don’t really bother me but unfortunately this one isn’t a needle, this one is a vaginal shot!!! Twice a day I have to go through this!!! And if the pregnancy test comes back positive, I have to continue this for 7 weeks!!! There are just sooooooo many icky situations when it comes to making this baby!!!