Thursday, December 15, 2011

Slow news days

For the first time in pregnancy I have experienced slow news days. Literally nothing is happening.

Last Thursday I did my follow up blood test and my HCG levels had more than doubled to 420 - which is great and exactly what should be happening in those early weeks. In my three previous pregnancies I had spotting/bleeding to different degrees by this time. But this time, I have nothing.

This week Matt even asked when my next test will be. I had to tell him I don't need to have any tests because nothing is going wrong. We were both kind of laughing about it. How strange it was that I wasn't running in to do blood tests every other day and then waiting for the result. I told Matt that I actually don't feel like I'm pregnant because my experience of pregnancy has always been so stressful and worrying. Without the worry, it feels just like normal.

We do have a viability ultrasound referral. Unfortunately due to the Christmas holidays I can't go into the specialist's office for the viability scan. The good thing about going to an ultrasound place is they have better equipment so we should be able to see the baby (or babies - slightly freaking out about that now it seems it could be a real possibility). The bad thing is if something is wrong I then need to track down a doctor to interpret the scan.

I know exactly what I want to see during the ultrasound. A great big strong heart beat. A baby (or babies - still freaking out) that measures within a day or two of the size it should be. I want to see a conclusive result so we know the baby (or babies...) is well and doing what it should do.

Occasionally I catch myself and I know I am really excited. It feels like this time it is for real. Then I have days, like today, where I wake up and think "maybe it's blighted ovum, I've never had that happen and that would be just our luck." There is no reason to believe this is blighted ovum, I just can't believe that finally this could be it.

Today I am 5 weeks and 3 days pregnant and everything is looking good, although it is still super early days.

The old adage no news is good news rings true.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How long can the lady resist?

I out did myself, in my opinion, making it all the way to Saturday before home pregnancy testing. I forgot about testing first thing in the morning, so I peed without the test. Then a few minutes slipped past and I remembered I was going to test. For about 1 minute I thought, oh well, I'll just wait until tomorrow. Then for the next 10 minutes I couldn't stop thinking about it.

Once again I decided to stretch one of my rules, the don't test on anything other than first thing in the morning pee rule. I figure if I can squeeze out a little more pee right now, then it is still really first thing in the morning pee and will still contain the stronger hormone. Back to the loo I go, with my expensive in stream pee test. As I'm trying to squeeze out my last bit of morning pee I start to worry I'm not going to get enough pee on the stick to get a result. Damn. I will have wasted one of my tests by getting a tiny bit of wee on it. I resort to the old school cup collection method, so that the precious first thing in the morning pee wasn't just wasted.

With my cup balanced in the sink I dip the fancy instream test. The test screen starts to change immediately. I'm so pleased I went to pee capture mode, I would never have got enough pee on stick otherwise. I see the control line appearing straight away, quickly followed by a faint positive pregnancy test line. The faint line is becoming stronger. It is definitely there.

I can't believe how good this test was. The result came up so quickly, no need to discard and pull back out of the bin later. The expensive test was so worth it.

I tell Matt and I'm reasonably excited. He smiles, but doesn't seem too excited. It is too early. I want to be excited, like I was the first time we were pregnant. A little part of me is. The rest of me feels nervous.

On Sunday I started to think perhaps my test was wrong. Perhaps because I got a little bit a of pee on it, and then went for pee capture mode, maybe the test got confused and counted my hcg twice. I'm not even sure if this is possible, but I decide I must re-test with first morning pee on Monday.

On Monday I decide not to mess around with in flow and go straight to pee capture mode to prevent loss of precious early morning pee. I'm convinced the more expensive in flow tests are better, but then fail to use them that way (hmmmm...). The test quickly returns a positive result again. I'm reassured, I'm definitely pregnant.

I decide I have to speak to the fertility specialist as mid week last week my belly button started leaking out a small amount of yuk again. I confess to him that I've done a home pregnancy test and that now I'm worried about the return of the ooze somehow impacting the new pregnancy. We again discuss the colour, smell and amount of yuk coming from my belly button. He decides I should do my blood test on Tuesday so we know where I'm at (yay! Blood test brought forward 4 days!) and I should pick up a script for antibiotics. I don't need to take them right now, but hold onto the script in case the ooze picks up.

My blood test result today confirms I am pregnant. HCG was 178. That's fine for 4 weeks pregnant. Clearly it is way too early to tell anyone I'm pregnant, so shhhhhhh, it's a secret. Let's hope we make the 12/13 week hurdle and then I'll let the cat out the bag.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Obsessive much?

Transfer was less than 1 week ago. When do you think I might have started thinking about home pregnancy testing? I'd say, about 1 week BEFORE transfer!!!!

I just can't help myself. I'm a terrible home pregnancy addict when I reach this point. Having been through a full cycle recently, I have had some learnings that I'm already trying to implement.

Firstly, no more cheap pregnancy tests. The day after transfer I invested in an expensive pharmacy (no more crappy supermarket) 3 pack of pee on a stick tests. These ones are supposed to pick up traces of HCG at fairly low levels. Why do I need a 3 pack? I held the 2 pack in my hand for some time, but then I thought about how long it was between then and the blood test. I also thought, even if I do get a test that is positive, I will no doubt need to test again the next day just to be sure. And if I got a negative test, I'd definitely need to test again, and then if the second test was positive I'd still need to do the third to be sure. What if I got two negative tests? So you see, there was no way around it, I needed the 3 pack or two 2 packs. I felt I showed restraint. I hope I don't end up buying more to feed my addiction!

Secondly, don't test too early. Testing too early made me feel really bad last time. That first negative rocked me, and then I became crazy bin diving test re-check lady. Today I resisted a very strong urge to test. I had that packet open and was looking at the three tests, but said no, not yet. I initially told myself I could do my first test on Friday after transfer, that's tomorrow. I'm wondering when should I test. Blood test is still a week from tomorrow. But by the numbers, tomorrow will be 11 days since ovulation. The test packet says 99% accurate for test taken from 1 day before period is due, that would be Sunday. Because I'm using progesterone medications, I shouldn't get my period even though it would be due, so I can't just wait for a period to show up. Can I wait until Sunday? Should I go with my original plan and test Friday and then re-test on Sunday? That is sounding like a plan to me. That way if Sunday is negative, I can retest on Tuesday (trying to obey my 2-days before re-testing rule).

Maybe I should have bought two of the 2 test packs...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Transfer completed

On Friday, I decided to postpone transfer.

In the morning I rang the Queensland Fertility Group Lab to check on my embryos and was shocked to learn the 7 cell embryo was still just 7 cells, and the 8 cell embryo was now 12 cells. I got nervous, and thought it unlikely that the embryos would be viable given how slowly they were developing. The embryologist told me the 12 cell still looked okay, but the 7 cell was being downgraded, not because it looked bad, but because it was developing so slowly.

I rang my fertility specialist and he didn't seem all that excited by the results either. He mentioned we could move the transfer to Saturday, so we could see how they go. I decided that was a good idea. I'd rather not transfer unviable embryos. So at the last minute we decided to wait.

My anxiety levels crept up and so did Matt's. On Friday afternoon I rang the lab again and asked them to have another look at the embryos. Only 5 hours later the 7 cell embryo had suddenly kicked on to being 12-13 cells and the 12 cell embryo had started compacting into a morula. This is all good news. It is amazing how quickly it all changes. At 10am I think I might not even have any embryos to transfer, or at best 1. By 3pm everything is rolling well again.

Saturday transfer was early. Technically the embryos are just about 5 days old (based on when they made, and how long they've been thawed). Ideally they would be blastocysts, but when we see the embryologist he said in the morning when they looked at them they were both morulas. He then said he'd another sneaky look just before transfer and one looked like it has started cavitation, meaning it was turning into the blastocyst. Super news again!

My fertility specialist asks if I'm sure about putting them both in. Logically one healthy baby is the desired result, but I've had so many not work, my brain does not compute that two embryos going in could genuinely equate to two babies out. I can't even really perceive one baby out. I say yes to two embryos. My fertility specialist looks a little nervous for me. I'm glad he has so much confidence about the success of this transfer!

Matt and I slip out to the patient lounge and sit for 30 minutes and then it is back on with life as normal - like embryo transfer was just a trip to the dentist. I had lunch and movies with a girlfriend planned and Matt and I had a few errands we wanted to run before then.

I've got nearly 2 weeks before I do the pregnancy blood test.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The night before transfer

I'd be lying if I said I felt great. This week a few things have happened and I've felt waves of anxiety with every thing that has not gone quite so smoothly.

Firstly, yesterday morning I rang the lab to find out how our lovely little embryos went through the thaw, only to find the lab didn't have my paperwork. A few hours later my fertility specialist rang me and explained there had been a clerical hitch that resulted in my thaw instructions not being faxed. My paperwork was sent immediately and the thaw started a day later than planned. 

Today I rang again to find out how the thaw had gone and was pleased to learn I had 2 good looking embryos, one had 8 cells, the other 7 cells. I then learned that three embryos had been thawed, as one of my embryos didn't survive the thaw. 

I'm still booked for transfer tomorrow, but I need to ring first thing in the morning and make sure the embryos are still okay. If anything is looking iffy, the transfer may be moved to Saturday. I'm hoping that the two thawed embryos just keep on growing overnight and that tomorrow I will have only good news.

On the good news front, Matt has arranged to leave work early to be able to make the transfer, so he will be with me and we will both leave a hope in our hearts.

With the small setbacks, I admire my fertility specialist even more. He rang me personally to tell me that the thaw hadn't gone ahead and discussed all the options at that point with me directly. Again today he spoke with me about the result of the thaw and went out of his way to make a transfer time that was more suitable for us and making it a lot easier for Matt to make it.

Frozen embryo transfer (FET) eve has a very different feel than it did in August when we did our first  FET. Last time everything pre-transfer ran smoothly, however everything after transfer went pear shaped. I'm hoping these little set backs before transfer bode well for smooth sailing post transfer.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Frozen embryo transfer take 2 - Booked!

When I rang to get my blood test result it was all on! Being 'monitored' is a funny thing. I ring after so many tests and it is so dull, but when it's happening even the receptionist seems pumped! She rapid fired out instructions:
  • you don't need another blood test
  • transfer is on Friday
  • start luteal phase support tomorrow
  • how many do you want back, 1 or 2?
  • call on Thursday to find out what time your transfer will be
  • organise to pay your cycle fee
  • do you know what you need to do?
  • Okay good luck.
So my frozen embryo transfer is officially booked. Tomorrow our embryos will be defrosted. I'm pretty sure it is a more sophisticated process than a few minutes on low in the microwave. Over the next few days I will be able to find out how they are progressing right up until they put them back in.

On Friday Matt has the last day of school with his students - he's going to be getting wet and wild, Queensland waterslide theme park style. Meanwhile in a hospital room 100 kilometres away, I'll be with a doctor, and a number of strangers, getting knocked up -  well at least we both hope so. 

Thoroughly modern conception.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Excitement as a new cycle begins

Let's face it, I've had a crazy year. We've had a crazy year. Getting pregnant has been happening. Damn fallopian tubes have been a problem, but they are gone. I wonder about the babies that got stuck in the tubes, maybe they were okay, maybe they had the same chromosomal problems the babies that have miscarried did - I don't know. But surely out of eight shiny, beautiful embryos there must be a couple of good ones.

I've already started with blood tests, looking for ovulation this cycle. Based on the results that I'm getting, the fertility specialist thinks that is going to happen in the next couple of days and when it does, we are taking two shiny, little embryos out of the freezer.

Given our history, I don't think that both will take. All I want is one to do what it is supposed to do. And if somehow both stick, I'm ready to cope with double trouble. As ready as anyone - who has no kids and no idea just how hard that could possibly be - can be.

In the past couple of months I've been surrounded by people having babies, my neighbour, three of my work colleagues, my in-laws. I feel like I've cuddled more babies in the last month than I have in my whole life. And each cuddle seems to give me more hope.

I have such hope for this cycle I can barely contain it. Every once and a while I catch a glimpse of my own enthusiasm and I start to think about how having so much hope means I'm also potentially in for a big fall if it doesn't work. I'm throwing caution to the wind. I just don't want to put the breaks on my enthusiasm. I really want this cycle to work and I can't see any reason why it shouldn't, so why shouldn't I be hopeful, excited and positive.

All positive baby making vibes are welcomed over the next couple of weeks.  :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Work is just a necessary evil

This week I feel I could quit and never work again.

While I may have from time-to-time dreamed of being independently wealthy and not needing to work, the desire just to throw in the towel is a foreign feeling for me. I've always gotten some level of enjoyment out of my work. Right now my job is like a love affair turned sour - I'm going through the motions, getting the job done, but the passion has evaporated.

For a while there I thought it must have been the job so I was looking, looking, looking for something else. A new, exciting, less stressful job. This week the penny dropped. It's not the job, it's me. You see, I've gone crazy. Rational thought has left the head, all that remains is a relentless body clock ticking maddeningly chiming hourly "you need to get yourself a baby a get yourself on maternity leave".

I wish I could soak in the many thoughts and recommendations that everything will be fine and that we will have children and once we do I'll wish I hadn't wasted all this pre-children time being a nut case. While I don't mind people saying it and some days it may even make me feel better, most of the time it simply washes over me. It just doesn't matter how rational your arguments are, I can't hear you. You see, all I hear is tick, tick, tick. I think once you want to have a kid and you've had years of set backs, all the amount of rationality in the world doesn't help. I've actually gone crazy. Sorry. Rational discussion on the topic doesn't matter anymore.

When I think what would I do if I didn't work, the picture gets much worse. All that time to sit around and feel sorry for myself and think more about wishing we had children. No thanks.

I've realised it is more likely my personal dissatisfaction, versus my job dissatisfaction, that makes me not want to go to work. With this revelation I've come to a decision - I'm going to stop looking for, thinking about, applying for other jobs - and I feel really good about that.

Work is a necessary evil. Once I've got this part-time balance right, I'm sure it will be excellent. Just the right amount of distraction and time to do things I enjoy or that are good for my health.

I've also made another decision this week. As I'm clearly getting nutty again, I'm not going to wait to do my next frozen embryo transfer. I've spoken with my fertility specialist and he said physically there is no reason I can't try again straight away (I heard the subtext - but you may be getting a little nutty, so perhaps need to calm down a bit).

Nutty or not, I'm lining up again.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Back to life as we know it

A month has passed now since the curette and I'm in my fourth week back to work. I'm finding it hard to get the balance right with my part-time hours and my project's deadlines. Without a doubt I'm working less hours, so that's good.

What I've noticed over the last week or so is that I'm finding it really hard to get back on track with the discipline around what I eat and getting some regular exercise. On top of this, after months and months of not drinking, I've got a taste for post-work vinos again.

It seems that earlier in the year my motivation was the best chance of IVF success, then with the gallbladder issue I had no choice but to be good. My frozen embryo transfer cycle came straight after and I was still on roll at that point. Even when everything turned pear-shaped, I was doing a couple walks a day on the beach. The post-op infection led to a range of other problem that meant everything went straight through me. Now that discipline is required to keep the weight from creeping back on, and preferably still going down, I just can't find any. Everyday I wake up with the best intentions and nail it, until about 6pm and then there are snacks, desserts, wine and all things calorie laden. Urrrghhhhh.

Last week Matt and I discussed when we should try again with our next frozen embryo transfer. I've already reached the point of wanting to try again as soon as possible and Matt is happy to try again if I feel up to it. I can't remember when the fertility specialist said I'll be to do another transfer, but I'm hoping it will soon.

This part-time experiment was about being and feeling healthier but it just isn't feeling that way. I've even caught a cold this week making me feel more run down. I've been trying acupuncture and while I'm happy with the needle component, I struggle with the chinese herb and dietary recommendations (ie no dairy), so I'm thinking about dropping it.

I guess I feel uncertain, about work, about my health and about the chance of success with our next frozen embryo transfer.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Three years of wedded bliss

This post reminds me that I started this blog more than a year ago. Last year I was forcing myself to remember that trying to have a baby wasn't all that has happened in two years. This year, despite everything that happened in the past 12 months celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary has been a very happy event.

In the office this week one of the younger blokes (29 years old - really not that young I guess) asked me and another married colleague what was good about being married. Put on the spot I don't think we did our best to sell the institute of marriage. With a little more time to think about it, here's what I've come up with.

My 10 favourite things about being married:
1. Even the small things are more enjoyable with company, a cup of coffee, meals, reading the newspaper.

2. I'm always thinking about something and it is great to have someone to bounce ideas off. Of course, this isn't one of Matt's favourite things about marriage. We call it talking in draft. Matt sometimes wants to know what's draft and what's final.

3. Planning together. It is really nice to work toward common goals and achieve them. Things that make our lives better together.

4. Creating shared rituals. Matt and I have discovered our own perfect holiday location. We've been there three years in a row, and I look forward to when we will be able to say we've holidaying there for 20 years.

5. Emotional support and back up. I remember when I broke up with a very serious ex-boyfriend I was devastated. I was so bad I was unable to eat (for me, that is bad), I couldn't laugh or have fun, I was relentlessly sad. I remember my uncle saying to me at the time, "this is not the worst thing that you are going to have happen in your life, you will get over this". I've thought about this statement a lot this year when I've had much worse things happen in my life and thought, my uncle was so right. The funny thing is, it hasn't seemed as bad, with Matt to help and support me. You can deal with so much more when you have the right people in your life.

6. Financial flexibility. We don't argue about money in our household, which is great. We've both had opportunities to improve ourselves individually with the financial support of the other. Matt's had a year off to study and quickly secured a better job and now I have the opportunity to work part-time. I guess this is a little like achieving our common goals - we decide what's best for us and do what we must to make it work. Even it that means cooking a million different varieties of dinners with mince meat  :)

7. Affection. My young work colleague thought one of the perks of being single was surprise kisses on the dance floor, which I guess would fall under the same heading. Wedded affection may not always be spontaneous, but you can pretty much be sure, you'll get the hug when you need it most and a snuggle on a cold night.

8. Having a fall guy. Sometimes you just don't want to go to the work christmas drinks or other such events. Now if I want to weasel out of something I get to blame the husband for pre-booking us to some other social occasion without first consulting the calendar.

9. Sharing the chores around. I think I am a good wife but I'm undeniably a very bad housewife. Now some of my least favourite chores Matt doesn't mind doing (eg the laundry) and some of Matt's least favourite chores I don't mind doing (eg the grocery shopping and cooking). Then there are the rest of the chores we both hate doing, but with the hour of power system, we both hook in together for 1 hour each week (or so....) and just get it done. What ever doesn't get done in the hour, we have agreed to live with.

10. Even more family. I've always been close with my own family, but we are pretty small. With Matt I got a much bigger family. I have newphews, so I still have the joy (and occasional trials!) of having children around me without yet having my own. Family can be trying sometimes, but I like the way you can bounce back and all is forgiven. I love having a bigger family with a whole new range of characters.

I've really enjoyed writing this post.  :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Taking a step back

Most people who know me, know I work pretty hard. I am reliable. If I have a job to do, it gets done. I take my work very seriously and while I love to have fun at work it would never be at the expense of actually performing my role to the highest standard.

This year I've had two unexpected lengthy drop outs of the office for ectopic pregnancy surgery and recovery and one shorter planned drop out for my gallbladder surgery. I am grateful that because I have been a hard worker with the one employer for a long time I have a large sick leave balance, that even now (after 50 sick days since February) has a few weeks left in it. So I'm not on sick leave stressing about getting back to work for the money, I'm stressing about letting people down and not getting to complete things for which I was responsible.

With the curette confirmed I decide to meet with work and ask if I could return to work part-time. I feel so distressed about the idea of returning full-time to the same role. I just don't have the same stamina to manage the pressure of the day-to-day work load. I'm so lucky because I know just in my asking that my workplace will do practically anything to help me out. The Acting CEO is more than happy to arrange a 3-day week for me and to have me oversee a few smaller, special projects instead of the state-wide role I'd been performing.

Phew. It is a massive release to know for at least 3-months I will return to work only 3-days a week. More days off than in the office. Excellent.

The next day is curette day. It is uneventful, fast and painless when compared to every other surgery I've had in 2011. It is also sad. I remember my first one of these procedures I had back in 2009 when we lost our first pregnancy and I know I'm nowhere near as sad and that I'm emotionally dealing with this better. I guess so much has happened since then.

The following week I finally get to have a follow up appointment with my fertility specialist. It feels like months since I've seen him, but it only a few weeks. When he sees me waiting in his rooms he looks sheepish and says "I don't think I want to see you." I tell him too bad, that I have a massive list of questions so he is just going to have to suck it up. As we walk down the corridor he puts his arm around my shoulders and says "I'm so sorry".

I wasn't joking about my list - I had written one as I was worried when I got in there I would forget everything. The first thing he answers is the result of the curette. They test the products of conception to find out if there is a reason the baby miscarried. Like our first miscarriage there was a chromosomal problem, the fetus had two extra chromosomes. So it wasn't the drugs, or the surgeries, or the infections that caused the miscarriage, it was nature.

The rest of the list is pretty straight forward, except for my belly button wound - which is STILL OOZING! Not as badly as the initial infection, but just not healed. My specialist takes another swab and armed with the results of my blood cultures from when I was in hospital he send it off to be tested. He gives me a new antibiotics prescription that I am only to fill if he rings me with the result of the swab.
It turned out I was still infected, so I needed to go back on the antibiotics.

Now it is a waiting game where only my emotional health will determine when we get back in the IVF saddle. Thankfully there are eight little frozen embryos ready and waiting to be transferred, when I think I'm ready for another go. Initially I was thinking 3 months off, but we'll see...  with no chance of natural conception, I think I will find myself wanting to get back into it sooner, especially while I'm able to take a step back at work and focus on myself for a while.

Monday, October 17, 2011

More ultrasounds more tears

My first impression of the alternative specialist I am booked into is good. He is really understanding of everything that has been going on and helps me feel at ease.

He goes through everything that has been chased down by his receptionist and my fertility specialist's office, tracking back through all the medical incidents of the past few weeks. Dates, dates, dates. We agree the baby should be bigger than the 6 weeks it measured at the ultrasound. He then adds, the heartbeat is a little slower than he would liked. He asks if he can do an in room scan.

I'm across the hall in a foreign ultrasound room. It is fancy! There is a big TV high on the wall, so it is easy to see the screen when reclined in the bed. Matt is with me, standing next to the bed. I'm looking at the TV and even though the doctor isn't even scanning I'm looking at the big screen thinking I'm going to be looking at the baby up there and it might be dead. Oh crap, this is going to be hard. I'm already getting choked up.

I am just holding it together when the doctor comes in. He is quickly getting on with the scan, another internal scan. He is poking around I can't see anything of note on the screen, then the doctor starts talking me through it. There is the gestation sack, there is the baby, there is no apparent heart beat. The baby measures 6 weeks. He says he is sorry, but there doesn't appear to be a heart beat. He leaves me to get dressed and come back across the hallway to the other office. I am crying as I get redressed. Matt is angry. He says he is just sick of it.

The specialist explains that the in-room scan is not as good as the diagnostic ulstrasound, and although it doesn't look good, he would hate to recommend a curette (to clean out the uterus) without getting a diagnostic scan done. He refers me to have another scan done. I feel it is all over, but I'm hanging onto the little bit of hope, perhaps the diagnostic scan will miraculously see an 8 week old fetus with a strong, fast heart beat.

The next day Matt and I again roll into an x-ray centre. In the diagnostic ultrasound the sonographer says the baby is still the same size as our earlier scan (which was nearly a week ago) and there is no longer a heartbeat. Even when you are expecting it, it is horrible. I am weeping on the bed. I want to have a private and dignified grief, but here I am stuck with a stranger in a clinical little room and I can't contain my sadness. And I know I have to pull it together enough to get up and go out and pay (I had asked if I could pay before I went in, given the expected result, but apparently this is not possible). We ditched waiting for the scan films - all those baby ultrasounds of babies just look freaky to me these days, let alone knowing it is your dead baby.

As this was the mostly expected outcome, the alternative fertility specialist had tentatively booked me in for a curette on Friday. A curette to remove the products of conception (this is now the medical term for what was only days ago called the baby). In just a couple of phone calls the procedure is confirmed.

I don't understand my own thinking through all of this. In part I'm relieved it is almost all over. This has been such an incredibly traumatic experience and if the pregnancy did continue, I don't know when, if ever, I would have stopped worrying about the damage all the drugs I had to take early on might have caused. In part, the much larger part, I'm devastated. Why has it been so hard? Why have we had so many pregnancies, but no babies? Why all the loss?

For certain, the whole of me is worn thin. I can't fathom going back to work as it has been for the past few years.

Something's got to give.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Antibiotics, ultrasounds and patience

IV anitbiotics are the business! After a full night in the women's ward I am only oozing a bit and the smell of the ooze has disappeared. My temperature is also under control. By this time I've had IV antibiotics for more than 24 hours. Of course I am stoked when the consulting specialist says he is happy with how the infection has responded and I can be discharged. Again, given that my specialist has already referred me for the ultrasound, which is now only two days away, the consulting specialist says just to go in for it as planned.

Matt was coming in to visit in the morning and as it turned out he was able to take me back to the beach house. I'm given a prescription for a some serious oral antibiotics that I need to take for the next week.

Back at the beach house Matt and I settle in for a quiet week.

I try not to think about the upcoming scan too much, knowing there is absolutely nothing I can gain from worrying about it.

On Thursday morning we drive to Byron Bay for the scan. Again, only the gestation sack can be seen through the abdomen, so we need to do the internal scan to see how the baby is going. To my great surprise the sonographer starts saying here is the baby and this little flicker you can see here is the heartbeat. It is beating at 91 beats per minute, which is normal for a baby measuring six weeks old, which is the size your baby is measuring at. The baby is 4.3 millimetres long from crown to rump.

I'm stunned. Matt seems pleased.

We ring all our family who we know are waiting. I'm cautious to tell everyone that while the heartbeat is good news, that the baby should be about eight weeks old by now, so I'm concerned it is developing too slowly. We discuss whether this could just be because of all the other things that have been happening and hope it will simply catch up in the weeks to come.

I wait until Friday to ring my fertility specialist's office - they still hadn't received my scan results. I hope even though my specialist is on leave (still!) that they have someone lined up who can give me a clinical opinion on the scan. I have to explain to the receptionist why I'm concerned about the scan result. I'm also concerned about my expected return to work. I'm supposed to be going back Monday week, however I can't help but think, if the baby isn't developing as it should, then next week I'm going to need more tests and at the worst I'll physically miscarry, or need to go in for a curette. All of these things will mean I will need more time off work recovering. I just don't want to go back to work and then again be off on more sick leave. The receptionist tells me she will chase up the scan results and contact some of the specialists from the group to see if she can have someone see me, or look at my scan.

I'm lucky another doctor from the group can fit me in on Tuesday but I start to cry on the phone. I was hoping to get an opinion on the scan today.

That afternoon I'm crying. Matt says "I don't understand why you are upset". I know he doesn't. I know I should be happy, but I'm not. I wanted the scan to give me certainty. Certainty the baby was kicking arse and well or certainty the baby was not viable.

I tell Matt that I've spent the whole day trying to get an opinion on the scan and arranging appointments with other specialists. I was hoping that the scan would put an end to it. I secretly hoped there would be no heartbeat and I would know it was over. This result of a heartbeat, but a small baby just seemed so uncertain. The baby just seemed too small. Now we had to wait until next Tuesday to know for sure.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sand, sunburn, infection

On the drive down to the coast I tell Matt that I'm feeling pretty tired and that perhaps I've over done it in getting packed up to head to the beach house. Don't get me wrong - I haven't done much. Matt has done all the heavy lifting and I have just packed a few grocery items and my own clothes, Matt has then transferred everything to the car. Just quietly - I wish it was like this all the time. My lazy side loves it! Matt and I agree I should take it really easy on the weekend just resting inside. I'll get to the beach during the week.

Matt's sister and her family are already at the beach house when we arrive. They help Matt unload the car and have got things set up for us, so all I need to do when I get there is heat up the pre-made dinners we bought in advance (knowing that I wouldn't be my usual self in the kitchen this holiday) and settle into the couch.

The following day is a Saturday. The weather is AMAZING! But I stick to the plan. Matt and everyone else head off to the beach and I settle in at the house. My belly button wound is annoying me because it is still oozing. After my other surgeries I didn't have any ooze. This one was oozing while I was at the hospital and hasn't stopped. My sister in law and I decide it would be a good idea to get some sun on it to try and dry it out a bit. So I sit on the deck with my belly slightly exposed to try to get some sun on the belly button.

I'm not here long before Matt comes back to the house and says he thinks I would like it the beach. He will carry a camp chair down for me and walk slowly with me (the full 100 metres) to the beach. I think this sounds completely manageable and quickly apply some sunscreen to all my exposed limbs and face.

The beach is beautiful. It is a really warm day for spring. My nephews are having a great time in the surf, digging in the sand and playing beach soccer. Our dog, Rocky, loves the beach. He is greeting all the other dogs on the beach and then running back to sit under my camp chair in the shade. I'm still trying to get some sun on my belly button and other wounds to try and dry them out a bit.

After an hour we head home and I head to bed. I need about two hours rest before I'm up again. That afternoon Matt's Dad and his partner arrive too. I'm grateful everyone else is taking care of meals. I'm able to take it very easy.

The following day, based on the success of the earlier beach trip, Matt convinces me to join the family in a trip to the nature reserve, where everyone can fish, swim and play in the sand (except Rocky - no dogs allowed). It is only 300 - 400 metres into the reserve. I'm slow moving, but get there. In my attempts to dry out my belly button wound I've managed to get a ridiculous sunburn on a portion of my belly - making me even stiffer when getting in and out of chairs. After a couple of hours sitting in my camp chair enjoying the view, I need to get home. I feel so tired. This time, after we are home I sleep for three hours.

That night I say to Matt "I feel like I'm going backwards". I pull out my discharge information forms and look at the things that might happen and require further medical attention. The only thing I have is a sore abdomen - but I can't figure out if it just recovering normal sore, or extra sore.

Overnight, this changes when I wake up and feel wetness around me in the bed. At first I think I'm bleeding, but then the smell hits me. My belly button has started super oozing and it is super disgusting. In what is now a Paterson~Prior family classic I ask Matt to "smell my fingers" that are covered in ooze. He is suitably grossed out.

Offensive ooze from wounds is definitely on the seek medical attention list. During the day I had looked up the hospitals - just in case we needed them. I ring the Byron Bay emergency number and explain my symptoms and my surgery. They tell me I should come in. I then tell them that I'm still pregnant. With this information they recommend I go to the Tweed Hospital instead as they have ultrasound equipment. I then ring the Tweed Hospital emergency to see if they think Byron would be able to handle it, or if I'll need the ultrasound. The triage nurse tells me I should just see a doctor tomorrow. I decide to ring 13 HEALTH. The nurse strongly recommends I get to the Tweed Hospital and says if the pain is too much in a car, we should call an ambulance.

At 2am ish Matt and I head off on a 40 minute drive to Tweed Heads. As I hobble into emergency the triage nurse is up on her feet and asking if I'm okay. As I get closer her I explain the situation and she says "I remember you from the phone". I'm through to her little office, she is taking my temp - it is high. I'm literally oozing. It really is disgusting. Within minutes I'm in an emergency room bed. I can't believe it, only an hour ago this same nurse told me I could just see a doctor the next day.

From this point it is a bit of blur. There is again needles in and blood out. This time they have these two weird glass bottles. I say to the doctor "I've been in hospital a bit lately and had a lot of blood tests, but those bottles are a bit different, what are they for?" The doctor tells me the that the bottles are for blood cultures. They will literally put those bottle in ovens and see what they grow. Gross.

Physical inspection of the infected area, that is my belly button, is a problem. The best indicators of infection (other than ooze) are hot areas and redness. Of course my sunburn has meant neither of these symptoms are detectible as the whole area is red and hot. It is a bit of laughing point for the medical staff. They are all curious as to how I sunburned just that one area.

The emergency room doctor has arranged for some pain relief (more morphine) and is searching for IV antibiotics that are safe to give during early pregnancy. Because I am worried about all the drugs I'm being administered she explains that some drugs that are okay when the baby is developing in early pregnancy are not ideal in late pregnancy - morphine being an example (apparently you can suck that stuff down in early pregnancy, but at the end the baby gets the same effect, so basically comes out asleep - that can be a problem). Matt is convinced to go back to the beach house as I'm going to be in emergency until the gynaecologist can see me. The doctor thinks I'll be in for a couple of days. At one point the doctor tells me I may even need another surgery to wash out my abdomen depending on the extent of the infection.

My belly button is pouring out this stinky fluid and I keep folding up my hospital gown to absorb it. I'm running out of gown. The nurses change over and I ask my new nurse if I can new gown and perhaps a dressing to absorb the ooze. Once this is taken care of I can rest.

I'm eventually wheeled out to ultrasound. I am disappointed that the sonographer only has instructions to look for the infection collection and not to see if the baby is still okay. He finds a collection, deep under the belly button, but it isn't too big. He thinks now that the ooze has found a way out that I should improve.

Back in emergency it is a few more hours before the gynaecologist comes in to see me. He takes a look at my wound and cleans it up again. He asks me all the questions about the other symptoms. Since I woke up with the infection I've started bleeding more heavily again, including some small clots. The gynaecologist  advises he is going to have me admitted to the women's ward so that I can have more IV antibiotics and see a surgeon consultant.

Matt arrives back at the hospital just in time to come with me up to the women's ward. I meet my new nurse and ask her about changing my dressing. I ask her if there is possibly a way we can dress it with something with a little less stickiness. My damn sunburn is killing me every time the dressing needs to be changed! She immediately understands and provides me with my very own supply of not so sticky tape and sterile bandages that are just big enough that the tape doesn't need to touch the sunburn! Brilliant!

Matt hangs with me for a few hours and then head back to the beach house. I settle in for the night.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Truly, irreversibly infertile

Within a couple of hours I am awake in the Mater Mother's ward, Women's Health Unit. They seem to have two floors, one for the mothers with new arrivals, and one for women with all the other gynaecological problems. I'm in a shared room, with another girl who was also admitted to emergency during the night. It seems she also has an ectopic, but is waiting a lot longer for her surgery.

When I wake up I learn I have a catheter - something I haven't had the previous two laparoscopic surgeries. I'm not sure why the doctor's decided I needed one this time. It is a bit weird and I still feel like I need to pee, even with it in. The nurses relocate the bag that my bladder is emptying into and I feel a bit better. It is still weird. The nurses convince me I'm better off keeping it in overnight. I remember how much it hurts to get up and move around after surgery - and that I need to go to the loo every hour because of the drip continually adding fluid to the system - I decide being able to rest would be better.

It is at times like these I appreciate how lucky I am to have such a caring, loving and supportive family. My husband is of course back by my side. My sister comes in to visit soon after. And my aunt and uncle who have lived through the same heart ache visit later in the evening. I'm pretty much exhausted (as is Matt). We have barely slept the night before and I've been pumped full of a range of serious medications. Once Matt knows I'm okay and that I'm basically in need of sleep he decides to head home and get some rest.

Late in the night my room mate is wheeled off to surgery. I have asked the nurses to open the curtains and I snoozily look at the view of the inner city suburb as I drift in and out of sleep.

In the morning the surgical crew is in to visit me. They have images to show me of my insides. It is a little surreal. My urterus looks like a smooth, round, red balloon. My fallopian tube on the other hand looks like an angry black sausage that is about to burst (of course it had burst!). They explain I needed an extra port for the surgery, so instead of three I have four wounds. The extra port was needed to help protect the uterus. I had lost some blood into the abdomen, but not too much. The tube is now gone. My wounds are glued not stitched. I can't really remember much else.

There is no doubt, I am now truly, irreversibly infertile. Still processing that. I'm also still pregnant. Infertile and pregnant. I've been a little paranoid about all the drugs, pain killers and so forth, but what can I do? I ask the ob/gyn that performed the surgery whether it is a problem that the gestation sack is measuring a bit small for my dates. He firmly believes it is too early to tell and that while it is still there, that is a good thing. He agrees that the best thing I can do is wait the additional week and day and get the diagnostic scan my fertility specialist recommended.

I'm discharged late in the day after being checked to see if I have a urinary tract infection (UTI). I'm running a bit of a temperature so that is what made them think it could be a UTI. I'm cleared of the UTI and pleased to be home. My fertility specialist rings me. He is again so sympathetic. He is on his holiday and ringing me to discuss how it all went. He is really sorry he missed the ectopic on the scan in his rooms and he is sorry he wasn't there when I needed surgery. He asks what has happened to the pregnancy that is intrauterine. I tell him it is still there, but that the gestation sack is only measuring 5 weeks and 1 day. He seems so surprised that the fallopian tube ruptured given how small the pregnancy is. He tells me he will look up my file as soon as he gets back from holiday to check on the progress of the remaining pregnancy.

I physically start to recover very quickly. I'm surprised by how well I'm moving and how little pain I have. I was really sore after my first ectopic pregnancy laparoscopic back in February. Only two days after I'm discharged we are leaving for the beach. The holiday has been planned for a while, so even though I'm going to be a bit steady, if you have to rest, where better than by the beach.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Baby 1 and Baby 2?

My scan appointment is for late in the day so that Matt can be there too. Waiting, waiting, waiting all day. I've come down with a terrible cold so I've had the day at home resting up and waiting, waiting, waiting.

Early scans like these are all done internally, so when I get into the ultrasound room I've given a few minutes to strip off the lower half and then recline on a funny half bed covered in a sheet. It is a lot more modest than the embryo transfer, so I don't mind too much.

In strides the doctor and he quickly gets to the scan. Within a minute he has ultrasound probe prepared, inserted as required and is showing us a gestation sack that is firmly in the middle of my uterus. Good news! He tells us it is little too early to see anything else. He takes a bit of a look around just to be sure the other embryo that is transfered hasn't taken up residence in my remaining fallopian tube. It looks all pretty good. The specialist leaves me to get dressed and asks me to come across to his consultation room.

Matt and I are really happy - one baby in the right spot. Really it is the best outcome. The safest for the baby and for me. Our best chance for a healthy baby.

We sit down with the specialist and I ask about the bleeding. It has been going on, just very lightly for nearly a week and a half. The specialist tells me (again!) that it is really, really, really common in early pregnancy. He goes on to say that placentas are very complex and that they are continuing to implant and establish for the first 10 or so weeks, so that is the most likely cause. I just have to hang in there.

As my specialist is about to head off on about three weeks leave he gives me a referral to have a diagnostic ultrasound done. He says I should get it done in about a week and a half. By this time we should definitely be able to see a heartbeat and the like if all is progressing well. The diagnostic scan timing falls for when we are on holidays too, but we won't be to far from a major regional centre, so we are confident we will be able to find a radiology clinic to do the scan.

Matt and I are super happy. It is only a few days until our holiday, we have a little baby growing in the right spot. And the bleeding is normal. My new mantra - the bleeding is normal.

That night I drift off to sleep happy and thinking about our one little baby.

At 10.45pm I'm awake and in pain. It is very localised on the right side of my lower abdomen. I wake Matt and tell him I'm in pain. I decide to ring the 13 HEALTH number - a new service introduced in Queensland where you can ring and speak to a nurse about your symptoms. I'm on hold, the pain is not improving, no matter what I do. I hang up and go into the bedroom and say "that's it we are going to emergency."

Matt quickly gets dressed and we are on our way. Really, I was only ringing 13 HEALTH to get permission to go to emergency. Why do I need permission? I'm in pain, I know I'm pregnant, I know I had two embryos implanted and only one is in the uterus, the pain is on the right side (and radiating down my right leg) where an ectopic would most likely be, or it could be a miscarriage. I should be in hospital.

We go straight to the Mater, because we know where that is, and they have a big mother's ward - so I assume obstetrics is in their specialty. I actually rang the Mater Private emergency to ask if I came there if I would be able to see a specialist of my choice, given I have a number of doctors who are involved in this pregnancy and a whole fertility specialist group that my specialist is a part of. They say no, so we figure we may as well go to the public hospital.

At the public hospital emergency I'm admitted to a bed immediately. They are asking what I give my pain out of ten. Now, only two months earlier I had the same question with the gallbladder and it was really high. I think my pain threshold was confused because this was so localised to one spot and I kept saying maybe three or four.

Once again I have the needles in (a cannula to be precise) and blood coming out.

I couldn't sit still. I was rocking on the bed, and then I was crouching on the floor, trying to sit in the seat beside the bed, pacing around. Nothing helped. The nurse kept suggesting I should take some pain relief, but I didn't want to, I was worried about the baby being affected. This went on for the hours. The nurse trying to convince me, me rejecting the offer.

I feel the bleeding is picking up. I panic that it is a miscarriage. I go to the bathroom to change my pad to a hospital issue surf board size pad and have to leave my old pad wrapped up for the nurse (a male nurse) to inspect. Again, modesty is not a helpful trait when needing medical treatments. The nurse assures me that it isn't too much loss, not really all that heavy at all. Really? This is like 100 times what I've been having everyday and has been sending me into a panic and they don't think it is too bad. Crazy. How much blood does there need to be for it to be bad?

A doctor comes in to see me and immediately asks the nurse to bring me some pain relief. She doesn't even ask if I want it, just tells me I need it. I swallow down the pill. We discuss all the things I know about the IVF cycle, the pregnancy, the dates and the pain. I cry because I tell her I think it is miscarriage. She says she will do an examination of cervix to determine if it is a miscarriage once they have my blood test results back.

I'm again rocking and rocking on the bed. The nurse comes over and says to me "you see, you don't look to me like you are not in pain. You look like you have a lot of pain. What do you say to me giving you something that will make it possible for you get comfortable and maybe get some rest." I finally agree. I get a shot of morphine straight into my IV. It hits me instantly and I say "whoa - I need to lie down".

It is a lot better without the pain. Matt is wide eyed beside the bed. I keep telling him how glad I am we came into the hospital.

The doctor comes back and has a tray of instruments to look at my cervix. Basically the duck beak thing they use for pap smears and some long skinny tong/tweezer things and dressings so she clean up the cervix (of the supposedly not too heavy bleeding) and have a good look. She tells me the cervix is still closed. If I was miscarrying this probably wouldn't be the case. In her opinion it is not a miscarriage. She also doesn't think it is an ectopic - just because of my symptoms and my pain. To her the pain I describe and exhibit seems more like stones, kidney stones. She is poking around my sides and back asking if I have any pain.

Once she goes Matt and I are kind of in disbelief - more stones! This is getting ridiculous. How many things can possibly go wrong with me. At least we are a little more at ease that it isn't likely we are miscarrying. Our one little baby is still tucked away in there.

Whenever I see my nurse I ask if my blood tests are back and if he can tell me my HCG number. I want to know it. I manage to snooze a little, but Matt is on guard by the bed.  He gets no sleep at all and is looking weary. I ask my nurse again about the HCG and he looks it up. It is in the mid 7000s. The nurse doesn't know really what it means, just that it is in the normal range for how far along I am. I know it is okay based on my other HCG results I can quickly calculate that number is fine.

The morning shifts are changing over. We are meeting new nurses and doctors and I am advised we are waiting on an ultrasound to have a good look around my pelvis. I decide I'll let my sister know I'm in the hospital. She lives just up the road and will be a good place for Matt to have a rest, once we know what is going on.

Time flies in the hospital. There is so much going on and I'm half out of it on morphine. Around 10am I'm wheeled off to ultrasound. The external scan doesn't show anything, so we need to do an internal again. Pretty quickly the sonographer is onto the issue - there appears to be a second pregnancy and there is bleeding in my abdomen. A ruptured ectopic. The pregnancy that is in the uterus is measuring 5 weeks and 1 day by the gestation sack. This seems a little small to me. By my numbers gestation wise I should be around 6 weeks and 1 day, but this is not the issue right now.

The sonographer leaves to speak with the doctor for radiology. The doctor comes back with her and has a look at the scans. He tells me we have an heterotopic pregnancy and that even though they are more common with assisted fertility, they are still pretty unusual. He says unassisted heterotopic pregnancies occur only 1 in 30,000. With assisted reproduction (like IVF) heterotopic pregnancy occurs in about 1 in 3000 pregnancies, which is still reasonably unusual.

I'm wheeled back to emergency. The emergency doctor tells me the gynaecology registrar will be down to see me and discuss what needs to happen next. Within 15 minutes the gynaecology guy turns up at the end of my bed and tells me again, that I have an ectopic pregnancy. He asks a few questions about why we started doing IVF. I'm surprised by the question and respond "to try to get pregnant".  After a couple more questions it turns out, what he is getting at is that this surgery is likely going to result in my losing my right fallopian tube. I've already lost my left fallopian tube. Losing the right tube means we no longer can conceive naturally at all. He is trying to ascertain how we feel about that and whether we would prefer to try to save the tube.

I'm still coming to terms with what our decision will mean for us. Matt and I quickly discuss it and decide we'd rather not have the chance of having another ectopic pregnancy and as we are firmly down the IVF path we tell the guy to just take the tube. My aunty had three ectopic pregnancies, all at around my age. In her case the tube that they removed the pregnancy from and stitched back up just caused her to have another ectopic and then they took the tube anyway. I don't want that to happen. I really don't want to be back in hospital for this again. See ya later fallopian tube and last chance at natural conception in the future.

Before midday I am being wheeled up to surgery. It really is happening very, very fast. Matt says goodbye just outside theatre. An orderly takes Matt up to the gynaecology ward, so he will know where to find me after the surgery. Thankfully Matt has arranged to go back to my sister's and get some rest while I'm in surgery and recovery.

I'm wheeled into theatre. A whole stack of new faces. The anaesthetist is asking me questions - my asthma is always the issue - I haven't taken my medication. A new ventolin inhaler appears and I'm inhaling puffs, just to be careful. The consulting gynaecologist introduces himself - he is doing the surgery. They will do everything they can to protect the baby that is intrauterine. I'm sliding across onto the table. It is some different bean bag thing, I'm rustling into position. I already have the cannula in my arm so the anaesthetist is injecting me with what ever and I'm out to it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Now I know is it any easier?

I was pleased when I arrived for my blood test that no other ladies were waiting...speedy processing for me! Just as I jump into the chair the fire alarm starts to go off. Thankfully the nurse is as determined to get me through as I am and she brushes off the nurse that pops her head in the room to tell her to evacuate. In a  jiffy my blood is in a test tube and I'm out the door.

Once again I wait an hour and half and ring my fertility specialist's office. The receptionist has a look for my results - they aren't yet in the system but she goes looking on the fax. She comes back and says she needs to speak to the specialist about the results. I'm on hold for a minute and then she says "Congratulations, you are pregnant."

I'm pleased, but not overjoyed. Let's face it, this is my third congratulations, and still no babies. I ask what my HCG level is. It is 180. I'm happy with that (not that I really know what the number means). I'm instructed to go for another test in two days to check the HCG number is increasing as it should be.

Damn it, Matt is on camp. I try to ring him, but he is out of range. I leave messages hoping he will ring me back. I've got no one to tell. Matt and I have been keeping this cycle on the quiet and I don't really want to tell anyone until I've told Matt.

I secretly tell one person - Matt's cousin. She has experienced similar difficulties conceiving and has been especially supportive of our baby making mission. I also remember the words of a friend when I was stressing out about the last pregnancy. She said well shouldn't you just enjoy knowing you are pregnant now and worry about it if and when you need to.

The next day I'm my tiny bit of pregnancy joy is crushed by the sight of some light bleeding. I can't believe it - one day of enjoying it (kind of) only to start with the bleeding again. I tell myself to wait and see what the numbers say tomorrow when I get the second blood test. I remind myself a high number of pregnancies have bleeding in the early stages and try to calm down about it. Try to enjoy just knowing that I'm pregnant. Try to remember the first time, when I was genuinely excited at this stage and when the doctor told you spotting was normal and you believed them.

Matt rings me on Thursday night and I tell him that I'm pregnant. He is excited. And then I tell him that I'm spotting again. All Matt can say is "you're joking" and not in a ha ha kind of way.

On Friday I go in for my second test. Again when I ring the specialist my result is awesome with my HCG having more than doubled to 440. I speak to the specialist about the bleeding and he again tells me it is common and not to worry about it, unless it is gets heavier or comes with abdominal pain.

Matt gets home from camp and we decide that we will tell our immediate family - explaining that there is still a chance that there could be problems, but that the numbers look good. I can tell even they are getting used to the loss. They want to be happy for us, but we are all tentative.

The best thing for me about this pregnancy being IVF is that unlike my other two pregnancies, where basically there is no monitoring, an IVF pregnancy means I have access to as much monitoring as I can reasonably book. With my concern about the bleeding, my specialist sends me a fist full of blood tests so that I can get tests and check my HCG results as often as I need to keep my mind at ease. Also, it is standard to book an in rooms ultrasound with the fertility specialist for about two weeks after the blood test to make sure the baby is in the right place and hopefully see a heart beat.

Given my specialist has leave booked for when my ultrasound would be due, I'm scheduled to go in a few days earlier than is ideal. While I'm waiting for the ultrasound I get two more blood tests and my HCG numbers are kicking arse.

I'm definitely pregnant, but I don't feel great, and not in a morning sickness kind of way. Just more worry, new worry. I just have to hang in there until I can do the ultrasound and if that is good news, hopefully then I will be able to relax and enjoy it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Waiting - the home pregnancy test addiction

Not even 2 weeks, only 12 days to wait for confirmation. If you haven't already figured it out, I'm a home pregnancy test sucker. Despite my good friends warning against it, I just can't help it. I must test.

Having a home pregnancy test addiction is expensive. I used up the last of my bulk online order during my first IVF cycle. In preparation for this cycle I bought a three pack of the cheapest I could find when doing the grocery shopping. I have well and truly given up on the expensive in flow tests, these days the pee in the cup and test do the job just fine, or to date they had.

I started home pregnancy testing 1 week after transfer. 1st test - negative after a few minutes. I immediately discard. I have a tiny bit of home pregnancy test discipline, in that if I do a test that is negative, I am capable of waiting 2 days to the next test.

Two days later, 2nd home pregnancy test - negative after a few minutes. Again I immediately discard.

Matt is going away for the week of the blood test and I was hoping that I would have a positive test that I could tell him about before he leaves. Unfortunately, given my 2 day rule, I'm not due for my next test until Tuesday, a day after he has gone. Matt has told me he'd rather not know and just wait for the blood test - I can't understand that, surely if you can know earlier, you'd want to know.

In a new home pregnancy low, I find myself hours later pulling the test out of the bin. To my surprise I find the test is now indicating positive. This of course does not make me happy. All the rules in testing say do not read a result that appears after 10 minutes (clearly this needs to explicitly be added to the instructions for all the crazy women who dig tests out of the bin). This is well after 10 minutes, but I immediately discarded after about 2 minutes, so did a line appear somewhere between 2 and 10 minutes?

Clearly I now have grounds to retest after just 1 day breaking my only home pregnancy test rule.

The next day I test after a couple of minutes there is still no line. Instead of immediately discarding I wait. I have a shower and start peering past the shower curtain every minute to see if a line is appearing. Eventually the test is in the shower with me, of course carefully held out of the way of the shower. I stare at the test. I think there is a line. It is faint, but faint is sill positive. I think it is positive, but I'm still uncertain.

Stupid three pack of cheap tests. Now I've used them all up and I still don't know if I'm pregnant. I decide not to tell Matt - just in case.

Another day before the blood test and I'm so nervous.

Last cycle I convinced myself I'd prefer to know before I went in for the blood test, or at least have an idea. I've learned this cycle that having the positive home pregnancy test doesn't make you feel better going in to your blood test. All it does it bring you to a new range of worries.

Friday, September 30, 2011

My first frozen embryo transfer

I was astonished by how quickly I recovered from my gallbladder surgery. Within a couple of days it was as though it had never happened. My fertility specialist was happy for me to proceed in my next cycle with a frozen embryo transfer.

Given that my cycle is reasonably reliable, the specialist is happy for me to do a natural cycle. I'm stoked that I don't need to take any drugs at all for the first half of my cycle, I just let my body do what it does naturally.

Once my period started I let my fertility specialist know. It is then a case of monitoring. I need to go for regular blood tests to check my hormone levels are where they should be and need to have a couple of ultrasounds in my specialist's office to confirm my uterus lining is appropriately thick. It was doing these scans that I discovered I was ovulating on the left side, the side that lost the fallopian tube as a result of the ectopic pregnancy in February. I'm kind of pleased about that. Although it is possible for the right fallopian tube to pick up the egg from the left ovary (that is freaky right, but those fallopian tubes are apparently limber little suckers with fingers on the end and can just sweep over to the other side of the uterus to pick up the egg!), I figure it isn't all that likely, so feel extremely justified in my decision to proceed with IVF treatment.

Once we know I'm about to ovulate, we have to make the decision about how many embryos to thaw - 1 or 2. The specialist is all about 1 healthy baby is the ideal outcome, and therefore a singleton pregnancy is the best chance of achieving a healthy baby. However, I'm thinking, I've just put 1 embryo back in and nothing happened, and I've already had one miscarriage, perhaps if I put 2 back in, I'll actually get the 1 we all want.

Matt and I decide we will thaw our best embryo and our worst embryo to put 2 back in. We also decide that if one succumbs during the thaw, that we won't thaw another, we will just put the 1 back in. It is pretty exciting at this point, every day I get to speak to a scientist in the lab and hear how my embryos are progressing. Both are developing well, however 1 is a little slower than it should be.

Come transfer day I go to work as usual, and then a half hour before I'm due at the hospital I log off and let my team know I'll be on mobile for the rest of the afternoon. It is a beautiful mid August Brisbane day. It is ekka time and the days are stunning, clear blue skies and warm. I walk up to the hospital in Spring Hill, stopping in at my specialist's office to drop off some paperwork.

Matt is meeting me there, but I have time to get changed into my gorgeous hospital gown before he had arrived. When Matt arrives he quickly slips on his hospital attire over his clothes and before you know it we are being lead into the theatre. Thankfully there is only my specialist and nurse in the theatre so I can assume the transfer position without too much embarrassment. Matt is in the husband chair holding my hand.

The scientist comes in and tells us that both embryos have progressed to morula stage. They are 5 days old and ideally should be blastocysts by now. My specialist tells me not to be too concerned and the scientists assures us they were both still developing well and could literally be blastocysts in a matter of hours.

A quick turkey baster job medical style and 2 tiny embryos are inside trying to make themselves comfortable. I have hold the transfer position for another few embarrassing minutes while the lab quickly check the turkey baster under a microscope to ensure the embryos actually did make it out. Given the all clear I'm off the table and covered up in moments.

My doctor walks us out and wishes us all the best. He lets me know I can do a blood test in 12 days to confirm if I am pregnant.

I slip back into my normal clothes and then sit for the compulsory half hour rest period in the recovery lounge sucking down ginger ale - that I kindly share with Matt  :)

Again the wait begins.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Full IVF cycle part 4 - waiting

Two weeks doesn't seem like that long to wait, until you have a lot invested.

As it turned out, I could handle one week with ease. I didn't even really think much about whether or not I could be pregnant. But as soon as I hit 8 days of waiting I started to seriously wonder. It doesn't help that there are early pregnancy that state they can pick up pregnancy hormones from as early as 7-10 days after conception. IVF means you know exactly when your egg was fertilised, so 8 days seems like a good time to start home pregnancy testing.

First home pregnancy test - negative.

At about this time I also had my first cut loose day from my pre-pregnancy weight loss diet. We had a friend that was celebrating their 40th birthday and there were many delicious treats to be had. Later that night I had weird pain in my chest. I was trying to get to sleep and this ache was throbbing away. I didn't want to take any pain killers, just in case I was pregnant. I checked out the time, thinking if I needed to go hospital I would need to know how long the pain lasted. Next thing I wake up in the morning pain free and I didn't really think much about the episode.

Queensland Fertility Group must know that about about a week after transfer all their patients start going a bit crazy, so they schedule a call to see how patients are going. When the nurse rang she asked about the ovarian hyper-stimulation symptoms I'd experienced. I mentioned the chest pain, which the nurse puts down to possibly having fluid in my lungs as a result of the hyper-stimulation.

I make it through the second week wait, with only taking three home pregnancy tests - all negative. I convinced myself that I would prefer to have an idea of the outcome of the blood test so that my hopes aren't too high.

When I head in for my blood test, I'm confident that I'm not pregnant. I'm told it should only take an hour for the result to be through to my specialist. I wait an hour and a half and ring to find out the result - they aren't there. I'm told there has been a problem in the lab and to ring back in an hour. An hour later I sneak off from my desk and ring again - still a hold up in the lab. My anxiety is rising - I tell myself, you are not pregnant, why is this stressing you out. As instructed I ring back in another hour and still there is a hold up in lab. When they ask me to ring back in hour I say no - I can't - I've rung three times and have meetings and work to do.

I ring the Queensland Fertility Group (QFG) head office to find out what the hold up is - they have no idea. I fire off a nasty email to QFG about the general lack of service, given that I just shelled out $7,000 and am emotionally invested up to the eyeballs.

Hours later when I have time I ring my specialist's office again - finally the result are in - I'm not pregnant. They tell me I should have a chat with my specialist in the coming days to discuss what I want to do next.

The next day, which happens to be a Saturday, my specialist calls me. He is so nice. I don't know how he does it. He seems so genuinely sorry it hasn't worked out and also apologises for the stuffing around the day before. He reminds me it didn't all go bad and that I'm in the enviable position of having 10 high quality frozen embryos. We discuss when I might want to try again. He tells me there is no physical reason I shouldn't try again in my next cycle, depending on how I am coping emotionally. He refers me to his website patient login area to read the information on the different approaches to frozen embryo transfers and asks me to call him on his after hours number the next night.

Matt and I discuss what we want to do and decide we are prepared to go again straight away. The next night I have dinner just before I'm supposed to call the specialist and as soon as I put down my cutlery I start to get the chest pain like I had experienced a week earlier. I ring my specialist to let him know we are keen to go again and ask him about the chest pain given that it started through the IVF cycle. He tells me it sounds like my gallbladder and that I should get it checked out before we proceed.

Once I hang up the phone the pain becomes even more intense. It feels like my chest is going to crack open. After about 20 minutes of me writhing around the house and crying, Matt decides it is time to take me the hospital. Just as we pull into emergency the pain ceases. I feel completely drained and am broken out in sweat. We decide I should go in anyway.

Presenting to emergency at 8am on a Sunday night is not ideal - unless one is actually dying. It is busy. We aren't urgent now the pain has ceased it looks like I shouldn't even be there. We wait. Nearly four hours later a doctor can see me. She gets me on the bed and feels around my abdomen. We discuss all the IVF dates the type of pain and other symptoms like sweating and nausea. She orders blood tests and xrays and asks me to head back out into the waiting area. An hour later I'm called back in and am seen quickly by the head doctor and sent off with a diagnosis of reflux and with instructions to take some mylanta next time I experience the pain.

Turns out I wouldn't have to wait long to experience the pain again. The following week our entire team was going away for a two day conference at Caloundra. As soon as I finished lunch on day 1 I felt the beginning of the symptoms with which I was now becoming familiar. I didn't have any mylanta on me, so I asked one of my colleagues to drive me to a chemist. By the time we got to the chemist I was in the full swing of the pain. My chest felt like it was going to split in half and while I felt like a could vomit I knew I wouldn't. The double strength mylanta does nothing. We go over to the doctor's surgery that is in the centre, they say we should go to the hospital. My colleague gets some quick instructions and a map and we are on our way.

In the car the pain eases and then increases again. I ring Matt to tell him it is happening again. It seems worse than ever. When we get to the hospital I'm a mess of sweat, but my pain has eased a little. The triage nurse asks me to rate my pain, I only grade it a 6. She takes some quick vitals. All of a sudden the pain is getting more intense. I bump up my pain number to 8 and a half. By now I'm groaning and I can't stand or sit still. I can't get comfortable. I hold my chest and rock. The triage nurse brings me some tablets and tells me to calm down - I think that is because of the groaning. My poor work colleague is back on the phone to my husband and filling in the admission forms, digging in my purse for my medicare cards.

Soon enough I'm the emergency ward and being asked to drink a 'pink lady' - a disgusting, thick pink drink. The nurse is sure I have reflux - I'm thinking you've got to be kidding this cannot be reflux.

I'm in a bed, the needles are going in, blood going out, and at last the good drugs are being administered. It took two IV shots of something to finally bring the pain down to the point that I could start talking normally. A doctor comes to see me and ask lots of questions about the pain - in particular is it squeezing type pain. I'm not sure. It is really hard to describe my own pain. The doctor sends me for an ultrasound of my abdomen. The sonographer tells me my gallbladder has stones, but so do a huge percentage of the population, and that it looks fine to her.

Back in the ward the doctor comes to see me again, he seems to think it is reflux, and then he is away again. My pain is now completely gone and I'm told I will be discharged soon. Matt is on his way up to Caloundra, he was planning to either pick me up, or stay at the hotel I was supposed to be in for work if I had to stay longer in hospital.

Just as Matt gets there the doctor comes over and tells me he thinks it is my gallbladder and that he wants me to make an appointment with my GP to referred to a surgeon. I'm discharged with my letter to my GP and prescription for a hard core pain killers. The emergency doctor advises me to take the pain killers with me always and if I really want to prevent further episodes to cut fats from diet.

It turns out that heightened oestrogen levels created through the IVF cycle, plus my weight loss, conspired to cause my gallbladder malfunction. My surgeon tells me gallbladders often play up during pregnancy and given that is what I'm trying to achieve that I should just get it out as quickly as possible, so we can get on with the IVF.

Once the problem is diagnosed it didn't take long to get it tended to. Instead of doing my second round of IVF, within a couple of weeks I was scheduled for surgery, my second laparoscopy for 2011.

On 19 July I said farewell to my gallbladder and within a couple of weeks I was talking to my fertility specialist to discuss when I could do my first frozen embryo transfer.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Full IVF cycle part 3 - the big days

Given that I have an laparoscopic surgery in February, that involved actual incisions in my body, the idea of being knocked out while the doctor needles me a number of times to suck out my eggs seems pretty low key.

I roll in to the day theatres an hour or so before I'm due to have the egg pick up procedure. I'm given my hospital gown, slippers, hair net and undies and a plastic bag to put my normal clothes in. I get into the hospital gear and am lead into a communal lounge room, all the while carrying around my personal possessions in my plastic bag.

The anesthetist leads me to a pre op consult room and proceeds to scare the bejesus out of me about all the things that can go wrong under general and then asks me to sign a disclaimer that states I've been advised of the dangers. My fertility specialist then comes in and asks if I've got any questions. He has the complete opposite effect to the scary anesthetist. I feel calmed and excited at the same time.

I walk myself, towing my plastic bag of personal possessions, into the theatre. My personal possessions are put on a trolley in the corner and I jump up on the bed.

While I've been preparing for my procedure, Matt has been preparing his own contribution. After much consideration, he had decided he would be able to provide his specimen at the hospital, meaning it would be done close to the exact time required. When I was lead off to get changed Matt was walking down a hallway with a brown bag of hospital porn dvds and a sterile jar.

As I'm getting comfortable on the theatre bed the room is filling up. There must be 6 or so people in there, the only 2 I know are my fertility specialist and the scary anesthetist. A scientist introduces themselves and advises they have Matt's specimen and that it was excellent. She tells me in the labs Matt has been declared 'stud of the day'. I laugh and say Matt is going to love that. My doctor is laughing too. Scary anesthetist hasn't cracked a smile. My fertility specialist says I shouldn't tell him as it will go straight to his head.

Next thing the anesthetist is saying 'a little sting' and I'm off to sleep.

I wake up in the recovery ward with my plastic bag of possessions on the bed beside me. After a half hour I'm up and racing, well as racing as one can be when they have ovaries the size of oranges. I change back into my own clothes and head to the communal recovery lounge. Matt arrives pretty soon after. We learn the procedure has picked up 14 eggs and Matt learns he was 'stud of the day'.

We head home just a couple of hours after we arrive. I'm a bit steady, having many of the hyperstimulation symptoms, but I'm operational.

The next day our fertility specialist rings to tell us that of our 14 eggs an incredible 11 have fertilised and that embryo transfer will go ahead as planned the following day.

On the day of the embryo transfer the embryo lab call me and say I have 11 embryos, all either grade 3 or 4 (on a 5 point scale with 5 being the highest). Some of 4 cells, some are only 2 cells. Basically, this is awesome. I have a lot of really good quality embryos to choose from. I let them know to pick the best looking one to be transferred back in.

Throughout the IVF process you are reminded about natural attrition. My specialist has advised me that every step usually only 50 - 70% progress. Therefore, of 14 eggs, I'd hoped at least 10 would fertilise. I hoped we would have 6 viable embryos at the end of the full cycle. To have 11 embryos, and of such high quality, was exceptional.

Matt and I head back into the hospital where we both suit up into the medical gear. For the transfers the husbands/partners are invited to come into the theatre. We head in together and I jump back up on the bed. Matt takes a seat in the well placed husband's chair so he can hold my hand but not see the medical component.

Transfers are basically painless although they are a little embarrassing. No anesthetic is required and it is all over in a matter of minutes however, one does have to bare all. Modesty is not a helpful quality when it comes to embryo transfers.

Afterwards we get changed and rest for about a half an hour in the recovery lounge. The first half hour of two weeks of waiting before we will know if the physical and emotional roller coaster of the injecting, tablets, pessaries, bloating, nausea, scary anesthetists, blood tests, prodding and scanning delivers the result we are hoping for.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Full IVF cycle part 2

When starting IVF I thought it would be a simple case of complete step 1, step 2 and step 3 and ta da here are your embryos.

What I've learned is that like all of our bodies are different on the outside, they are also different on the inside. When it comes to faking your body into a hyper fertile state, there are so many variables and each fertility specialist has a different approach and drug regime to try and get you to reach an appropriate level of hyper fertility.

In addition to following the prescribed drug regime, there is a stack of monitoring. Monitoring involves blood tests and ultra sounds to ensure hormones are increasing appropriately and that the all important follicles are developing.

My daily injection is going fine, as it turns out I'm a professional. The monitoring is showing that each ovary is developing 5 or 6 follicles of about equal size. This is really good news. The follicles need to be developed to certain size for the eggs that come out of them to be mature. My doctor said that my body is doing exactly as it is supposed to do and wishes all his patients were as well behaved.

Some women have the case where early monitoring shows they don't have enough follicles, so their injection medication level is increased - however this can lead to follicles that develop late, and therefore are not mature by the time eggs are harvested.

I keep doing what I'm doing. I'm injecting at just after 7am and getting blood tests and scans as instructed. Finally my doctor tells me my follicles are all the right size and it time to do the 'trigger' shot.

The trigger shot is the hormone that tells your body OVULATE. Apparently after this shot it takes about 37 hours to ovulate. Therefore, about 36 hours after you do this final injection it is important that you are having the eggs harvested from the follicle.

The doctor tells me I'm booked for a 2pm egg pick up on Wednesday, this means that at 1am on Tuesday morning I need to wake up and give myself an injection. Clearly this timing thing is a little confusing. The doctor tells me, that is like Monday night you need set the alarm - it is really important that I get the timing right.

Given my policy on anything that will increase my chances of IVF success is on the to do list, I was awake at 12.45 am on Tuesday prepping the injection (that this time isn't in one of the easy to administer epipens). Once I administer the injection I'm straight back to sleep.

The next two days are great. No drugs at all. After 4+ weeks of nasal sprays and 2+ weeks of daily injections a two day drug break is a luxury. The break also means the business end of the IVF cycle is around the corner.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The year of medical interventions IVF part 1

I've been completely cheating on the blog. It is funny what comes out of the wood work with friends, family and strangers when you start writing some of your inner most thoughts and publishing them for anyone to read. In April I was hit by a few comments that led me to decide to take a break from the blog.

A lot has happened since I last blogged and I thought it was worth getting back to publishing.

May and June were all about IVF. I hoped July would be about first trimester musings, but as it turned out July was all about my gallbladder.

It will take me a few posts to catch up on everything. In case you have been wondering my first IVF cycle was unsuccessful in the sense that I still do not have a bun in the oven. On the other hand, the cycle was very successful in creating multiple viable embryos (essential for future attempts at achieving pregnancy) and for improving my mental health, where for the first time in a long time, achieving pregnancy seems imminent and therefore an overarching panic about not being pregnant has diminished.

In late May I left the fertility specialist's office with my very own cooler bag, filled with legal drugs in their own epipens for easy administration. I remember as I stood at the lift thinking 'I can't believe it has come to this'. It was overwhelming to think that now my conception chances were all about injections and nasal sprays, and not intercourse.

It just felt so unnatural. All those ingrained ideas and fears float around my mind. Perhaps as some suggest I am only a holiday and a bottle of wine away from getting up the duff (which for the record, I would like to state did not work on all attempts tried). Even worse I get all martyrish and think perhaps if you can't have children naturally maybe I'm not supposed to. And worse again I start thinking perhaps I'll finally get to have a baby, suffer from relentless post-natal depression, hate the baby and wish I had remained childless.

I sneak the drugs back into the office and hide them in the fridge on another floor of our office in an attempt to avoid any questions and try to conceal that I am doing IVF from my colleagues (ironic given that I write and publish a blog for anyone to read). Back at my desk for the afternoon I am distracted by continually reminding myself to not forget drugs in upstairs fridge. Must remember drugs, must remember drugs, that design looks good, must remember drugs upstairs.

Thankfully I remember the drugs when I'm leaving and get them home safely and into my own fridge. By this stage, I've already been taking a nasal spray for about a 2-weeks and I've had 1 blood test, just to make sure all my hormones are where they should be if the nasal spray is working. Tick - all go for commencing injections.

A few weeks ago Matt and I sat through a 90 minute session with an IVF clinic nurse in which we were shown how to administer all the different drugs. My doctor also has made me use one of the epipens in his rooms. He makes me dial up the dosage and over the bin I push down on the end of the epipen, hold for 10 seconds to witness how the release of drugs is a little delayed. When I get home I put my drugs in the fridge and find they've come with another DVD with instructions. I tell myself 'must watch instructional DVD to ensure correct procedure is followed, therefore increasing eggs produced and all chance of IVF success'.

In fact everything I'm doing at this point was about increasing chances of IVF success. Must not drink wine to increase chance of IVF success. Must exercise and eat well to loose weight to increase chance of IVF success (fertility specialist had again mentioned that any amount of weight loss would help, even 2 - 3 kg - which I decided was achievable and as would increase chance of IVF success was on the to do list!). Must get 8 hours sleep to help stay relaxed and stress free to help chance of IVF success. Must take multi vitamin, pre-conception vitamin, iron tablet and fish oil to increase chance of IVF success.

The next morning I have my set time for injecting. I have to pick a time that I can consistently meet everyday, including weekends, workdays, potential flights. I pick just after 7am as the most achievable consistent time for 10 - 16 days of injections. By this time I realise I don't have enough time to watch the instructional DVD (should have done so night before) and blowing caution to the wind proceed with first injection. I was extremely pleased with the ease of injection and zero pain and decide no longer need to watch DVD as clearly I'm a professional already.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Diagnosis delivered

The diagnosis - idiopathic infertility, or unexplained infertility. Does it make me feel any better? No. However it also doesn't make me feel any worse. For the first time in some months I'm feeling quite excited about my infertility because we've been recommended to undergo in vitro fertilisation - IVF.

Initially I was a bit shocked when I attended my post-surgery follow up that my specialist recommended we move quickly into IVF. I'd geared myself for moving onto intra-uterine insemination (aka the medical turkey baster) for the next few months, before moving into IVF if that was unsuccessful. But then the doctor started showing me all the scary charts and percentages of conception and live birth at my age. 

I turn 36 in July. All things fertility have been declining since I was 25 and basically after 38 things start going rapidly downhill in fertility terms. So my specialist, who is clearly a pretty clever guy, is already thinking about my chances of having a second child if we keep taking the less invasive path. 

IVF involves stimulating the hormones that make women create an egg, while suppressing the hormone that makes the body actually ovulate the egg. This means a woman can mature a lot more eggs than in a natural cycle. These eggs are then harvested and fertilised in fancy little dishes. I will have my very own embryo technician who will monitor the embryo development and advise how many - if any - are looking good for transfer back into my uterus or to freeze for later use. 

It means a lot of cash out and a lot of drugs in. Yay! I get to inject them myself too. Double yay!

The treatment gets underway soon, starting with two weeks of nasal sprays to suppress the creation of the hormones that make the mature egg ovulate. If all goes to plan I expect we will be undergoing the egg harvest and embryo transplant in late May or early June. 

Once the embryo gets transferred back in there is two weeks to wait before we know if I am pregnant. Unfortunately given our history, there is then another 2-3 weeks to wait before we can have a scan to see if the baby is developing normally and in the right location. 

I'm excited about the possibility of it working. And I really hope it does.

As for my ectopic pregnancy, the lab tests of my fallopian tube confirmed I definitely had a pregnancy in  my fallopian tube. I also had a 2cm serous cystadenoma. A non-cancerous growth that really shouldn't be there. I'm not sure if the growth caused the tubal pregnancy or not, but either way that was the outcome. 

The ectopic pregnancy is behind me now. My eyes are firmly fixed on the next step.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Post surgery blues and brightness

It's been two and a half weeks since the surgery to remove my left fallopian tube, with ectopic pregnancy. I'm lucky they could perform the surgery laparoscopically, which means I don't have any big wounds. My doctor explained to me before I went in for surgery that because I have a little extra padding (yes, that's what he said) that it may not be possible for him to perform the surgery safely laparoscopically. If he couldn't it would have meant much more invasive surgery, a longer hospital stay and more painful recovery. So when I came out of surgery, I was pleased to find out laparoscopic surgery was possible.

I only had an overnight stay in hospital. By the time I got out of surgery and came to, it was late at night. Matt was waiting for me in the hospital room. The doctor had called him to let him know all had gone well through the surgery. I was zonked out, so Matt went home.

The whole process was very stressful him. My sister had visited in the hospital before the surgery and had organised for Matt to have dinner with her and wait at her place, which is only 1km from the hospital. Matt told me he was okay while he was with my sister and Aunty, but when he went on his own to pick up dinner, negative thoughts started to creep in. Surgery is inherently dangerous and Matt was worried something might happen to me.

Even with just three small wounds I did have a lot of pain for the week after the surgery. I had terrible bruising around my belly button (where the biggest cut is made) and on my arm from the anesthetist but by week two things were settling down. I still get a little twinge from time to time and I still have stitches. My anesthetist may have been rough with the needles, but he was also very generous with the post surgery drugs! He sent me home with the good gear which lead to a few zippy afternoons jumped up on prescription drugs.

As I entered the second week of my recovery I started to take less less pain killers and as I came out of the drug haze feelings of sadness overwhelmed me. I remember how devastated I was when we lost our first pregnancy and the sadness I am feeling this time around is very different. It is sadness about everything, I'm sad to still not have a child. I am sad about how hard it has all been. I am sad that I can't keep up with my work anymore and that for the first time in my life I've had to ask for some leniency as I step up my fertility treatments. I was just so sad.

Coming into week three the sadness is under control and I'm starting to get excited about the next step in our fertility treatments. I am hoping that having recently managed a natural pregnancy - that perhaps our chances will be better with a little medical assistance.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pregnancy prognosis - written about 25 February

On Friday morning I leap out of bed at 6am to swallow down a quick breakfast and then go back to bed for the 30 minute progesterone medication wait, now known in our household as tea and toast (despite Matthew never having prepared my tea and toast!)

My pelvic scan isn't until 10am, and I have to drink a litre of water from 8.30 - 9.00am. But before this I need to duck into town to get my blood test. Matt has taken the day off from work to drive me around and really, just in case I do need to go into surgery.

We run into town at 7.30am. Matt grabs a quick coffee while I race in for the blood test. We get home in time for me to start drinking my litre of water. It takes about half an hour and I need to pee....but I can't!! By the time we leave here at 9.20 to get to the hospital and find a park, I am in agony. I think I am going to pee my pants. It takes us a good five minutes to find the women's diagnostic centre. I tell the receptionist about my 1 litre consumption and that I don't think I can hold it. She tells me I can go to the loo, count to 10 and then stop. Oh my!  That was the best 10 seconds I've ever spent on the loo. I was impressed with my restraint and just how much relief I got from the short pee.

When I get back to the counter Matt and the receptionist have figured out my appointment is with the regular Queensland Xray centre. We find our way there and wait. By 10.15 I was busting again. What can I do? I go to the new receptionist and ask permission to pee again! This time I've got a 5 second count limit.

Finally I get into the ultra sound room where the sonographer does an internal and external scan. As he is scanning he isn't saying too much. Eventually he finds the spot that lead to the referral. He explains it does look suspect and starts pushing and prodding in the area and it hurts! I get dressed and the sonographer tells me the result it isn't certain. He is going to have a radiographer take a look at the pictures and the report will be with my doctor in an hour or so.

Matt and I wait for images to be ready and head home to wait for a call from the doctor with the verdict. We figure we've got time to kill so we stop and rent a couple of videos to try and take our mind off everything. Once home we settle into the couch. It was only about 15 minutes into the movie when the phone rang. The doctor already has the report. He asks if the sonographer gave me the result, I explain he was sitting on the fence. The doctor tells me the report says I've got a highly suspect 2cm growth in the tube, which they believe in that clinical setting is an ectopic pregnancy.

Yesterday the doctor had explained to me that ectopic pregnancies can be life threatening. If they rupture they can cause you to bleed out into your stomach. Needless to say, the doctor is keen to prevent any of this and asks me to be at the hospital and checked in by 2pm for immediate surgery. I need to pack an overnight bag as it is likely that I'll be in hospital overnight to make sure I'm okay after surgery.

We decide it's time for us to ring our family and let them all know. I start getting a bag packed. I have to ring work and let them know that I will out of the office for a week or more. It is like a whirlwind and we are back in the car and headed back to the hospital.

I'm sad. Matt's sad too. But I'm also glad it's over. No more uncertainty.