Thursday, September 25, 2008

IVF Cycle 2: I'm Okay

I had a realization today, standing at the bus stop: I'm okay.

This happened last time, too. There were a few hours when it didn't feel too bad. That was because I hadn't really taken in the news, yet. Then a feeling of despair and disgust that I could put body and soul through so much and come out with nothing.

The little embryos were not really babies yet. It's not like having a miscarriage. I guess some would say it's more like a project gone wrong than anything else. But they were potential babies. They were almost babies, almost our children, almost my son's brother or sister. If they'd implanted, that's what they would have been. They are a huge loss and I mourn them.

But today, I was walking along to the bus stop, heading off for my swim. Spring has only just arrived in Canberra. The bush outside our house was green, the little yellow daisies I love were scattered through the grass, the sun shone on my face, and I felt the beginnings of a kind of sprightliness and energy returning to my body as the effect of all the IVF drugs wears off. And I suddenly thought, I'm okay. Surprisingly, I am okay.

I'm not old enough to give up, yet. I'm healthy. I can try again. And meanwhile, I am alive and my life suddenly seems precious to me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

IVF Cyle 2: Sadness

My embryos didn't stay. They just melted away.

My Little Dude turned three this week. He was such a happy, laughing boy at his birthday party. He was jumping and dancing with excitement, as if he had so much life and joy in him that he just couldn't keep still.

I have been thinking hopeful thoughts about two other little people laughing and wriggling in my arms.

Now I am thinking morbid thoughts about my body as a virtual graveyard for embryos.

And I feel such sadness that those little ones will never get to live.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

IVF Cycle 2: Transfer with the Wizard of Oz

The transfer seemed to go okay. It was actually done by our specialist, which was a surprise to me.

Our specialist is probably the best in Canberra and one of the best in Australia. When I did this last time, in 2004, he was quite accessible. Nowadays, with so many women my age trying to have children in their mid-late 30s, he is a very, very busy man.

Doing an IVF cycle with him now is like being Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. There are rumours that he is the best person to help you, there are lots of flashing lights and impressive sound effects, you set off on your journey and do exactly what he tells you, despite all the wierd and scary experiences, but you never actually get to see him. You just have to assume that he is back there behind the screen somewhere, making it all happen.

It's been a very frustrating experience to go through this whole thing and not actually see him until now, but he got me pregnant last time. And after a total of six cycles of fertility treatment (three insemination cycles and one IVF in 2004 to get the Little Dude and two IVFs this year), its hard to see how any other specialist could know more about my body than he does.

The embryo transfer is incredibly important, as any carelessness can pretty much doom the cycle. Those vulnerable little embryos have to be placed in exactly the right spot with as little trauma and manipulation as possible.

This transfer actually felt a little rough to me, but as I am quite badly bruised from the egg pickup (it wasn't easy for the specialist to find two little eggs), it's hard to tell. The Wizard of Oz pronounced it had gone very well.

Now, I just have to wait to see if the embryos implant. IVF patients call this phase the dreaded Two Week Wait and think it's the worst part of the whole thing. The optimists among us claim to be PUPO: Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise. Personally, I find the combination of having to simultaneously be confident and optimistic while quietly preparing myself for possible failure pretty impossible. I try to be positive, but mostly I try not to think about it too much.

But I am hopeful. Just say it with me, little embryos, "There's no place like home. There's no place like home..."

So stay with us, okay?

Monday, September 08, 2008

IVF Cycle 2: Three Times Lucky

Both eggs fertilised! Not only does that give us two embryos, but the quality should be good.

And I've stopped bleeding, so we'll do the transfer tomorrow. I am suddenly feeling much more relaxed and optimistic.

All your thoughts and prayers much appreciated.

IVF Cycle 2: Two Egg Girl

I went into the egg pickup this morning, not knowing what I would get. I was still holding out hope for the maximum of four eggs, but equally, after the last few days, genuinely worried I would get nothing.

I got two eggs. I cried for a while, then I was curiously resigned. After all, I always get two eggs. The first cycle, I had nine follicles and got two eggs. The second time, I had two follicles and got two eggs. This time, Ihad four follicles and got two eggs. Two eggs is apparently what my body does, regardless of all the things that are supposed to affect the number of eggs, like drug doseage, number of follicles, personal circumstances, and my state of mind.

So it ain't great, but then, it might be fine. I got pregnant in 2004 with only ttwo eggs, so maybe I should consider two to be my lucky number.

My little eggs will be in a dish tonight, getting aquainted with sperm from a man I have never met. Hopefully, something is happening. Usually, around 70 per cent of eggs fertilise. My personal fertilisation rate so far has been 100 per cent. Can I be that lucky a third time? Pretty please?

Friday, September 05, 2008

IVF Cyle 2: Roller Coaster

Wednesday morning ultrasound and my four follicles are growing beautifully. This is finally going well. I am filled with hope.

Friday morning, I wake up and I am bleeding. This is not a good sign. I go to the clinic, my heart plummeting because not only is the cycle probably over, but there must be something really wrong. I am just a little bit frightened by what all these drugs must be doing to my body. Some studies find heightened risk of breast and ovarian cancer, but some don't. No one really knows. But I am surprisingly calm. I even manage to read the newspaper cover to cover and feel involved in the stories.

The clinic finally tells me I simply have a large cyst left over from the last cycle and it is simply draining as it should do. The follicles are fine and growing nicely. I now have six, although only four really in with a chance. Everything is going so well that they will do the egg pickup (when they take the eggs out for fertilisation) the following Monday: earlier than I was expecting. My unearthly calm cracks and I cry with relief. I just can't stop crying.

I wake up this morning and I'm still bleeding. Really, quite a lot of blood. I probably shouldn't still be bleeding by now. I call the clinic. No one really knows whether I should still be bleeding at all by now or how much. There are a lot of calls back and forth.

Another call: The most likely scenario is that we will do the pickup but not the transfer, as the bleeding would interfere with it. They should be able to freeze any resulting embryos and then I can do some lighter, easier cycles with them. Most IVF patients call these embryos "frosties". I prefer the term "bubsicles", myself.

This is a total roller coaster. Its up to the heights of hope and exhilaration one day and down to despair and grief the next. I am starting to accept that I can't control any of it. All I can do is try to take care of myself and breathe through it. I can feel a kind of fatalistic calm coming over me. This roller coaster is moving and all I can do is hang on tightly.

Have I mentioned that, during all this, an international conference I have been helping another country to hold almost collapsed (internal political issues of their own) and I have cheerfully rescheduled to hold it in Australia next week? These conferences usually take months to organise and I will be making it happen within a week. I've worked until midnight the last three nights.

Also, my father called yesterday, and we all know what that means!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

IVF Cyle 2: Ambiguous

I have been semi-assuming this IVF cycle will be cancelled due to the pathetic results of the first scan.

There has been a kind of relief in the idea of just cancelling this one, giving it up as a bad joke, and getting on with the rest of my life until next time. My specialist increased the dose of stimulation drugs, but I really have been thinking it is too late to save this cycle.

I steeled myself to expect very little when I lay down in the stirrups yesterday.

But in fact, the result was kind of ambiguous. Four follicles this time, and reasonably close together in size, which means they are more likely to mature around the same time.

It's possible that we might get four mature eggs, which would achieve exactly what I originally wanted: two for the cycle and two to freeze for another attempt later, which would give us more chances. The thought makes the whole horrible experience seem worthwhile.

Of course, its also possible that the two smaller follicles won't catch up, giving us only two eggs at most. I genuinely don't know what I will do if that's the case. It sounds okay to say cancel and wait for a better result, but, at almost 37 years old, a better result can't be counted on.

All I can do now is wait, and even waiting won't necessarily tell me the right thing to do.