Endless Mindgames

So, since my last post I had my positive pregnancy confirmed by blood work (a nice solid number). I think the happy/relaxed part of my brain is malfunctioning. I immediately started worrying about the next one. The next one had increased nicely, and seems to be *just* about double the first one (well within normal limits of doubling time) but I just can’t seem to shut off the worry and negative thoughts.  I think following too many IVF forums with women posting and it almost feels like a competition (whose beta is highest, how fast it can double etc). I think it is at times making this process more anxiety provoking because I am comparing myself to others which is completely irrational especially when it comes to beta levels as there is such a wide range of normal levels.

Through all the ups and downs I have been going through my husband remains away for work and I just need him with me. I think my heart and mind will feel a lot happier when he is by my side. It has been a long few months without him,

So for now I am waiting to hear when my ultrasound will be and trying to remain present and feel grateful that we have made it this far. I will say again having not traditionally been a super anxious person I am surprised how hard this has been for me to not let my mind spin and worry. It is a work in progress!

I have been listening to Fleetwood Mac on repeat and I’m connecting with this song today:

I never did believe in miracles
But I’ve a feeling it’s time to try
I never did believe in the ways of magic
But I’m beginning to wonder why

 

 

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Letting Go

So I caved and POAS a few days ago and it was a BFP. So many emotions have been running through my mind. Of course I was very excited and felt the immediate desire to tell everyone and anyone. I managed to bite my tongue, at least a little anyway but I did share it with my DH, mom and a couple close friends who knew the details of what we have been going through.

After the initial shock/excitement I also experienced fear and worry. What if I miscarry? What if this is ectopic? What if the beta doesn’t double appropriately?

I think infertility has changed my perspective and unfortunately caused me to react with more worry than I really should. I think that is probably a very normal response given that for us this means so much and it has taken so much time to get this much desired result. It is hard not to fluctuate between thinking about names and due dates to the crushing possibility that it could all be torn from under me.

I am trying to let go of the worry and planning and focus on the present. Sometimes it is not working that well but I will continue to try. I went to yoga today and yesterday. The theme was transformation yesterday – we spent 5 minutes chanting Om Namah Shivaya in unison (trust me I was skeptical too but it was pretty powerful when you stop thinking and just do it). Loosely translated this means “to bow to the inner self”. The instructor encouraged us to open our hearts and prepare for whatever transformation we were currently experiencing. I thought this was quite relevant to my current situation. It is a peculiar place to be, on the precipice of pure joy and yet also guarding my heart out of fear for the possible down fall. I read this blog post that I think summarizes some of the problems with holding on to worries and fears, I think she is right that it does come out of a place of trying to control the outcome of what is going to happen. Take a gander if you’re interested:

https://tinybuddha.com/blog/letting-go-worry-weighs-us-down/

Although I would not say that I suffer from anxiety, I will say that this infertility journey has tested me more than anything else ever has. It has brought out sides of me I am not proud of but also reminded me that I am resilient and that my relationship with my husband is solid and continues to grow.

So, all that to say, for now I am a little bit pregnant. I am trying to relish this time and hoping that we continue to get good news in the coming days. Thank you for letting me use this as a tool to unload my worries and fears, it has definitely been helpful for me.

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Either Way

This song isn’t really about infertility at all but the raw emotion in his voice really hits me in the gut. I think I see everything through a lens of my own experience so I can relate to some of it, sometimes it would be nice to just be able to walk away from the whole process, to be “…past the point of give a damn”. Mostly I just like this song though. I never used to be a country fan but in the last few years its been growing on me.

I will say that I am fortunate that through all of the stress infertility has put on us I think we have remained united and for the most part still happy and definitely in love. So I know I am fortunate and I can’t wait to have my DH back home (he’s been overseas for the last few months with the military). It has been lonely here without him.

And, I have a slightly major update. I have a little embryo on board. It was transferred yesterday. It survived and was expanding when they transferred it. I have a different feeling this time. Although a million things are going through my brain at times I do feel more calm this time. I am sure when it gets closer to the end of the two-week wait I might be singing a different song but for now I am feeling happy and hopeful so I will take it for now. My friend joined me for the transfer (didn’t come in the procedure room but waited with me and we went for breakfast afterwards). It was nice to catch up and it made the process less stressful having her there. If this works it will be quite the story – DH is in another continent and my friend was with me when I get pregnant ;).

And….it if it doesn’t work I’m going to be very sad….BUT, I have almost convinced DH that we should get a puppy. I know the puppy won’t fix everything but I do think it would help to ease the ache and the need to care for something. Anyway, I have a back up plan so that helps.

Happy Wednesday all.

 

Kintsukuroi

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This weekend I was lucky enough to complete a challenging and fun road race in the beautiful “cottage country” area in Ontario. This race was special because it also incorporates music and live bands along the route and after the race there’s a concert. The race was fun, it wasn’t easy and I wish I had trained more but I was glad I was able to push myself and finished my second 10 km. Now I’m looking at doing another one in a couple weeks to see if I can beat my PB from last year :).

The concert was really good too, the band Hey Rosetta! are really talented and they totally stole the show. I first heard of the concept of Kintsukuroi from them via CBC radio 2 (it’s the title of a song from their label). It is inspired by a Japanese art form that involves piecing back together broken pottery with gold lacquer – creating a more beautiful piece as time goes one with more cracks and imperfections. Its a nice image and message. Maybe the things that break us can make us more beautiful versions of ourselves, and hopefully stronger and more resilient.

Either way, I do like the song even though I’m not sure how much the song has to do with the message.

Anyway. Happy Monday.

 

 

 

The Bliss

 

If this is all there is,

Maybe that’s ok..

Believing in the Bliss,

Wishin my time away

A tender-hearted sadness pulls me through the day

But that’s alright.

My heart is ok.   (The Bliss, The Fortunate Ones)

Connecting with this song today. These last few days my confidence is waning. I think I am probably being overly pessimistic but also probably building up my defences, protecting my heart from an epic fall…Still, I can’t help but feel that aching hope that this is our answer.

I am not unhappy. Am I happy, fulfilled? Some days I would say yes. I love my husband and I do feel this is bringing us closer. I am so lucky to have him. I am lucky for my career and my family, my house, my friends (all though most are far away), my health. Still, it is there in my heart – a longing. I haven’t had the courage to really visualize it yet – to really picture my very own baby…because you know, what if?

Going to try to enjoy the sunlight and channel some positivity as I wait (?patiently) for my PGS results this week….

The Bliss

Waves

So, the last few days have been pretty eventful. As many of you already know, the process of IVF is full of ups and downs.

I had my egg retrieval on April 8, it went well – we retrieved 26 eggs, 21 which were mature. We had 19 fertilized with ICSI – which I was very happy about. Unfortunately I also developed early ovarian hyperstimulation  syndrome (OHSS) and had to go on a “shut down”protocol which means I can’t do a fresh transfer this cycle. I knew going into this cycle that this could be a possibility since I had a pretty vigorous response to medications during IUIs but I was still disappointed as this means I won’t be pregnant for probably another 8 weeks minimum. After the retrieval I had a lot of pain/pressure from my swollen ovaries – finally 5 days later this is starting to settle down. I have mostly come to terms with not doing the fresh transfer but I am still a little sad that I would be pregnant right now if we had been able to….Nothing can ever be easy right?!

On day 3 we still had 19 embryos developing. I was very surprised and happy. I made a last minute decision to do pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS) which will involve taking a cell from the trophoectoderm of the blastocyst on Day 5 or 6. This is not technically indicated for my case but even in women less than 35 up to 30-50% embryos are genetically abnormal (less than the full 46 chromosomes). This is a big reason why up to 50% of of transfers do not result in a pregnancy or result in a miscarriage. I hope by doing this we will dramatically improve our chance of a successful frozen embryo transfer

BUT…today I found out only 3 blastocysts have matured enough for biopsy so far (insert expletive). This is much less than I was hoping/expecting so I was definitely disappointed. The only upside is that we still have 11 little embies which are still developing and a few should mature enough for biopsy/freeze tomorrow. The nurse told me they hope another 3-4 will make it. I am anxiously waiting to hear how many little snowflakes.

For now my emotions are fluctuating between fear, hope, frustration and feelings of gratitude. We are getting closer to our goal. I am hoping a little break from this rollercoaster will be a good thing for my mental health. Theme song: Bahamas – Waves

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Top 5 Things Not to Say to an Infertile Friend

So, I have always wanted to make my own TOP 5 LIST.

First, can we talk about the label of being “infertile”. It’s just so final and negative. I sort of refuse to identify with it. Hence forward I will refer to myself as fertility challenged or perhaps sub-fertile if I am feeling very fancy.

Anyway, here goes!

  1. Are you sure you’re doing it right? You’re kidding me right? No, there is no evidence that doing a handstand for 30 mins after you baby dance helps you conceive. I don’t care what your aunt told you. Yes, I am sure I know a whole lot more about how to do it right than most people. Let’s just leave it at that.
  2. If you just relax, it will happen when its meant to happen. Ok, I know people are trying to be helpful but as most of us know telling someone to RELAX usually has the exact opposite effect. I used to be relaxed about 30 or so cycle ago, now I’m getting a little edgy ok? Maybe what we actually need is science now but thanks.
  3. I can be your surrogate! My lovely sister in law, who is a bit oblivious and very clueless about our TTC issues, actually said this to me when I told her we were going to have to go through fertility treatments. Really, that is not helpful and highly unlikely to help our situation – I know she wasn’t meaning to be hurtful but I was just pretty shocked by the comment. She’s never even been pregnant – so like, thanks but really no thanks.
  4. My cousin’s sister’s best friend got pregnant after they were told they could never conceive. Well, first of all I feel like almost no one these days is told flat out that they can never conceive unless they lack the necessary anatomy or are completely lack sperm. I know that these stories are meant to be comforting but I don’t really feel very comforted by stories of women that took 12 years to conceive and were in their 40s before if finally happened. I am sorry, but I just don’t find that reassuring!
  5. You guys aren’t getting any younger – you shouldn’t wait too long. So many people continue to ask me if/when we are having kids and then go on to point our that “even over 30 is pushing it”….I usually just try to brush this off but it’s usually coming from men or people that are completely oblivious. And I know my eggs aren’t getting any younger. Thank you for that. Sometimes I just want to tell them we can’t to shut them up….maybe I will try that next time!

I am sure other people have many more good ones. That’s all I can think of for now.

Infertility Diaries

Well,

Sorry to anyone who is reading this – this is the background to this shitty story of how I got here and it might be a little long. I hope by blogging I will be able to process the ups and downs that come with this rollercoaster ride.

So – here goes. We are over 2 years (maybe closer to 3..gross) into this “journey” (that word feels super cheesy to me). Honestly like many women I never anticipated I would be here. Growing up my mother always told me she and my father conceived on their first try (again, a little gross but also super comforting) – both times. So, at the age of 29 (younger than my mom was) when I stopped the pill I really thought a few months later I would likely be expecting without too much effort.

Well, newsflash – it didn’t happen. At first I chalked it up to stress, timing, etc (which was fair) – my hubby (or “DH” as I have learned from reading lots of forum posts) and I were not living together and realistically we weren’t really “actively” trying for the first several months. I started to take things a bit more seriously probably 8 months into the process. Tracking my ovulation and trying to plan intercourse around this.  For those of you who have not tried it, “timed intercourse” is probably one of the least sexy things ever. Not so great for the sex life, you’re having a ton of it but all of sudden it loses a lot of its allure! AND it didn’t work for us. Enter a little bit of panic…

A year into things I decided it was time to look into the next step. For years my DH knew he had a varicocele so I had a inkling that there may be an issue with fertilization or sperm qaulity. I went through a battery of tests – hormone levels, ultrasounds, a hysterosonogram  and AMH level – they all came back normal. My husband had his semen analysis (much to his dismay, I guess forced ejaculation isn’t really that fun) – the first lab report read “abnormal morphology (less than 1% normal) unlikely to result in fertilization” with the counts right on the edge being on the low side. We were pretty heartbroken to read that.

After meeting with our local Ob-Gyn with an interest fertility he seemed optimistic about things. He felt that we should go ahead and start intra-uterine insemination (aka IUI – not as fun as it sounds, I know it doesn’t sound that fun). He wasn’t too concerned about my DH’s abnormal semen analysis, he felt we had a reasonable chance with IUI (about 20% after 3 attempts). I felt fairly optimistic (of course we would be that 20%) so when we had things in place and I was able to re-arrange my work schedule we did our first one last April.

It turned out to be a bit of gong show – I had to go in for early morning ultrasounds and bloodwork 6 times – each time lasts about 2 hours. For those not familiar, these ultrasounds are extra special because they involve a long probe inserted right up in your lady garden. This gets less and less fun as you get closer to ovulation because your ovaries swell and become quite tender. I was using an injectable medications (Gonal F – an FSH analogue) for “controlled ovarian stimulation” to push my body to make more than one possible follicle for fertilization. This whole process also happened to fall during a weekend when our entire family was visiting so not the best timing wise. I got 3 good sized follicles, but the sperm counts were low and… it didn’t work. Even though I knew that the odds of success were probably closer to maybe 8-10% of success, especially with male factor, it was still a pretty tough loss. I think whenever you invest that much time, effort and money it definitely makes it hard to swallow.

After picking myself up and trying to dust myself off and regain the initial optimism and positive attitude I went back in for an ultrasound to see if we could try again. Unfortunately my body was still not ready, I had a few left over cysts that were producing estrogen – this meant I couldn’t start a cycle. Oh, but I got to go on the pill for 2 months (makes a lot sense when you’re trying to become pregnant, eh?). After 3 months the little cyst guy was still hanging around.

We took a little break – which was a good thing for me. I couldn’t really believe the emotional toll this process was already having and we were still early on. Part of me wondered how much I even wanted to keep going and how much did I really want a baby…deep down if I am honest with myself I know that I really want to be a mom. So, onward and upward – or whatever. In October we did another IUI – this time I had 4 follicles (eep – risk of quads!?), again – BIG FAT NEGATIVE (BFN). And again, cysts delaying the next cycle.

After the second failed IUI I arranged to meet a “Reproductive Endocrinologist” (RE) who comes to our town from Toronto. He also agreed that we should do 3 IUIs but thought that we would be very good candidates for IVF with ICSI (can get around any problems with morphology/acrosome which may affect fertilization rates). After such long breaks between my previous cycles and the relatively low likelihood of success we decided to take the plunge and pull out the big guns.

Now, here we are – getting very close to our first IVF cycle. It still feels a little surreal. Such a mix of emotions – excitement, fear, hope, ambivalence, frustration, impatience. So many FEELs. I am currently on birth control and waiting to find out when we can finally begin this process. I am so hoping this works but I am not naive and I know that it doesn’t always happen or sometimes it takes more than one try. I am hoping that one day we can say this was all worth it.