Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I do have good days

It has occurred to me over the past few weeks that people who primarily read my blog to follow what's happening in our fertility journey get a fairly uneven perspective on how I'm coping. My objective in writing the blog was about offering a factual record of the fertility process, for readers looking for details about what happens during assisted reproductive procedures, and to record how that made me feel. This is how I think when I'm writing the blog. As a result, I don't have a great day and think 'today was great - I should write a blog about it', but I do have lots of good days.

Right now I'm doing really well. I'm loving having a break from all things fertility. I'm surprised by how much better I feel having a little break. From time to time I wonder if I'm ever going to want to get back into it. But surely that is rational. So far my experience of fertility treatment is fairly traumatic, both physically and emotionally.

So let me tell you about my weekend - that I thoroughly enjoyed - and on several occasions I thought well I wouldn't be able to do this if we had kids. After Friday night at the footy I stayed up until midnight reading a book, therefore Saturday started with a sleep in! When I finally got up and I had a leisurely breakfast, I then promptly went back to bed to read more book! In the afternoon I broke it up a bit by watching a couple of episodes of a tv series with Matty, before heading back to bed to finish off the book. Saturday night was birthday party time for my sister and her flat mate. Instead of being restrained and going home early I a had a few (too many) drinks and eventually crawled under the covers at 2.45am. Sunday was steady, but I had a lovely catch up with a friend where I didn't look at the clock once, because I didn't have a schedule I needed to stick to whatsoever!

I do have good days even weeks, I just don't write about it much.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Coping strategies: Prepare me for another roll of the dice

Yep, that's right, I signed up to do a mini triathlon.

Regular readers, and those that know me, will know I do not have the body of a triathlete. Far from it. So why am I doing this triathlon?

In February we had our catch up with the fertility specialist to go over the latest pregnancy loss and talk about our next steps. It was another tough appointment. Once again the specialist wanted to revisit all the pregnancies and subsequent losses.

The surprising news to us is that the specialist believes we have an excellent prognosis, with really shit luck. Basically, four out of the five of our pregnancy losses have been completely random events, that can happen to anyone. To have them happen to us, four times, is unlucky (and in the case of the heterotopic pregnancy rare and unlucky). These were the ectopic pregnancies and the 2 trisomy miscarriages. Our most recent miscarriage is the only loss that wasn't completely random or unrelated to anything specifically to do with us. They don't know what caused it, but it was definitely something to do with us - our genetics.

The specialist also explains that our cohort of embryos is the best he's seen in years. They were all such high quality and we were lucky enough to make so many in our full IVF round (a luxury I particularly appreciate knowing how hard many of my other infertile friends find it to get quality embryos).

So I'm sitting there crying wondering if I can go on with it, while I have five 4 cell, grade 4 (on a scale of 0-5 with 5 being the best) embryos on ice. Meanwhile my specialist is saying I'm almost a best case scenario and would be mad not to go on.

Well, it still doesn't feel that way. It feels like the impossible.

It hurt a little bit, but Matt asked about my weight and whether it is worth taking a break and losing more of it. It hurts because it is not like I haven't wondered myself if it really is just my weight that is stopping us from succeeding in this venture and to know that it is clearly playing on Matt's mind. It hurts because of the stupid Biggest Loser story line about single Brenda whose partner left her because they failed to have children. It hurts because we started to trying to have a child over three years ago and I know if I'd just had any ability to think long term in those three years I could have lost a lot more weight - my sister is tribute to that.

In the same amount of time I've been trying to have a baby my sister has lost an extraordinary 55kg and is still committed to getting the last 8kgs off. I on the other hand have lost 7kgs, gained 8kgs, lost 7kgs, gained 2kgs, lost 5kgs, gained 6kgs, lost 7kgs and so on... I can pick the pattern to it - leading up transfers I lose weight, following pregnancy loss I gain it. My emotions are playing a strong role, as they always have, in my weight management.

My specialist is a tubby fellow and appreciates that for those of us that carry the extra kilos how hard it is to shake. He confessed that he'd given up chocolate in 2012. He also again tells us that any weight off will help, not just in getting pregnant, but in general pregnancy health and baby health. Small numbers help, even just a couple of kilos. He is very clear that given my age it is not worth taking a long break to lose a large amount of weight as the advantage of the weight loss will be undone by the disadvantage of being too old. Ughhhh. He says I can get back into transfers after I have my next period, but to take a break if I need it, but not for too long. He also, for the first time, recommends I see one of the Queensland Fertility Group psychologists  given the difficulty I'm having deciding, but also because I am going be extremely anxious when I do get pregnant. This I am of course already incredibly aware of.

It is hard because it feels like my weight is the only factor the specialists can suggest could make a difference to our achieving a healthy pregnancy.

I need to stop thinking month to month, cycle to cycle and start thinking in longer units of time. I decide I need to start planning for things that are months off and stop just thinking about getting ready for the next transfer. I decide I should set a weight loss goal for the short term (4 kgs before a family wedding) and the longer term (10 kgs before my birthday in July).

With my new resolve I set my alarm to get up the next morning and go for a walk. When the alarm goes off I quickly switch it off, ignore it and roll over. A classic problem for me. Motivated the night before, zero motivation when I have to implement the plan.

I mention my lack of motivation to a work colleague who has gone triathlon mad and she suggests I sign up for the BRW corporate triathlon. It is a short triathlon, with only a 400 metre swim, 10km bike ride and 4km run. Despite having almost no running ability I decide I should do it.

As it turns out being signed up and committed to the triathlon is just the motivation I needed and I actually jump out of bed when the alarm goes off. I've been training for about 4 weeks and there are 4 more weeks to race day. I'm not going to win the race, but I certainly am improving my fitness and dropping a few kilograms to boot. I'm actually enjoying doing a the mix of training. We bought new bikes and Matt and I have been enjoying regular bike rides. We both hate running, and since Matt doesn't have a weight problem nor need to run a triathlon in a few weeks he has now given up getting up for running training sessions. I've been fitting in 1 swim a week.

The triathlon has given me a different goal to focus on. My health and fitness and running the best time I can in the event. The baby making mission is still the motivator behind it, but I'm going to wait until after the triathlon to do our next embryo transfer.

I'm also letting myself let me hair down a little over easter. I'm going to enjoy a few drinks and chocolate and then from next week I'm getting back on the wagon to make the most out of my last few weeks of training.

In May we plan to roll the dice again, and give baby making a chance.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The baby making mission break

I know, I've been skiving on the blog. I've been thinking about writing an update for ages and yesterday I read an article in the Australian Magazine that motivated me to get back to it. It was an heartbreaking story about a woman whose 3rd child was stillborn. This woman was a writer herself and had at other hard times in her life turned to books to help her, however after her terrible loss, no book was hitting the mark. In the end she went online, where she found the community of bloggers and in the rawness of their stories she found connections to real people, like herself and finally began to recover.

Her story reminded me why I started writing the blog in the first place. I'd looked for useful information online, but nothing was helping me. I wanted facts and emotion, not just medical information. Once I started writing the blog, I found other blogs, other very sad stories and stories of triumph against the odds. I have cried and laughed reading of the hardships of others and got new perspectives on my own troubles.

My blog has helped me recover from our many pregnancy losses and perhaps in some small way it is helping others, who have their own hard story and find comfort and community in reading what treatments I am doing and how I'm coping emotionally.

Currently I'm the best I've been in years. I've now returned to work full-time and am again enjoying the challenge of my role.  On the fertility front I'm taking a break. I'm looking down the barrel of my 37th birthday and trying not to let it rule me in decisions about trying to have a baby. Emotionally I've been through the wringer. In case you lost count, from February 2011 to February 2012 we lost 1 gallbladder, 2 fallopian tubes, 3 pregnancies and 4 babies. It is a lot to process.

I'm sitting comfortably with the decision to have a break. I think it will be at least 1 more full cycle before we sign up for another FET cycle. Right now I'm thinking a lot more about trying to survive my first mini-triathlon...