Making Lemonade…

So our baby was chromosomally abnormal. In this fucked up world of infertility this information makes me happy as my Fertility Specialist tells me in our appointment.  Afterwards, I’m in the car processing everything we had been through and the information I’d been given,  what kind of person have I become where this type of news makes me happy? But it has to, because if they found nothing wrong with the baby, then why did I miscarry? It is one less thing to worry about before we get on a 22 hour flight to do this cycle.

I didn’t realise how tense I was about this appointment until this morning.  I’ve been waking up at 5.30am for the last two days which is not like me at all, normally you have to kick me out of bed after I’ve hit snooze 10 times, so I knew something was up.  It wasn’t until I was driving to see her this morning with my stomach churning that I realised I was apprehensive and nervous about the conversation that was to come, a lot was resting on this appointment.

Thankfully she cut to the chase once I was in her rooms as I was a bit of a mess, the baby had abnormal chromosomes related to aging eggs, Trisomy 9 and 22 and the baby was a boy. I don’t think I needed to know that second part, but I saw it on the paperwork.

The biggest part of our appointment was running through the list of medications from South Africa and tweaking to suit my particular needs. I’ve had time between the miscarriage on November 25th and now to think of every possible question and scenario to throw at her, so in I went with a list as long as my arm.

Should I be on Dexamethasone instead of Prednisilone? Should I be on a stronger dose of Prednisolone for longer?  Do I need Intralipids? Can I take the pill with clexane? (All answers were no by the way). So the long and the short of it is I’ll omit the contraceptive pill from my donor cycle due to Factor V Lieden and be doing the same immune protocol as my last cycle,

  • Doryx antibiotic 100mg daily for husband I both for 10 – 14 days prior to EPU
  • Synarel twice daily to downregulate my ovaries
  • Prednisolone 10mg from when I start Estrogen
  • 40mg Clexane daily from when I start estrogen until BT
  • gestone for progesterone support post embryo transfer

She didn’t want me to do intralipids as I already have vein/clotting issues and she sees no benefit in them, I know that many disagree, but I’m just going to go with what she says for this cycle… all things point to the immunes I’m already on being enough.

All I need now is my period so I feel like I’m getting some where, I’m currently on cycle day 59. Yes, 59. I did a random OPK about 10 days ago and it showed positive so I’m hoping she shows tonight or tomorrow. The specialist sent me for bloods to see where I’m at and I have a script for Provera should nothing happen….

I’ve come away from this appointment incredibly positive which is great. I’m emotionally ready for this cycle now and just want to get things under way.  We’ve just found out the husband has to go to Brazil, Mexico and Toronto on the 11th Feb so he’s going to have a lot of travel under his belt before we hit Cape Town in March… pity we can’t use his points towards our flights, but I think it will be too late. I’m hinting at using them for an upgrade to Business for our return sector but so far it’s fallen on deaf ears.

I’m choosing to see the positive in this miscarriage outcome, her words to me as I was leaving were “You will get pregnant on this cycle if you get a good egg… that’s all you need Em”. So I’m buoyed by that – she also gave me a referral to an OB such is her confidence which felt totally bizarre, but you know what? I’m going to roll with it.

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Limbo.

I’m currently in fertility limbo. Anyone who has done IVF would know this situation well, you know what you have to do and you’re itching to do it, but you have to wait… and wait.  Normally it’s waiting for AF, but for me, I’m waiting for February.  Waiting sucks.

I’m trying to forget that we have this donor cycle coming up, but I can’t. I’m trying to put it out of my mind and just throw myself back into work, but it’s proving impossible. All things hinge on this trip. A customer wants to make an appointment to see me in March, I mumble something about taking leave then, but we’ll pop it in my diary and I’ll cancel if I have to. My boss wants me to do a presentation in March, I have to remind her that I’ll be taking leave but will confirm the dates as soon as I can.  All of these sort of things stress me out no end.

During an IVF cycle I would be a mess due to this kind of stress and trying to fit my workload around an estimated egg pick up date. It bought me to tears more than one time.  One of my favourite memories of IVF (cue sarcasm) was being scheduled to drive quite an important author around Melbourne for bookstore meet and greets while I had a massive synarel migraine. I had to run and be sick countless times throughout the day. Or the time I had to attend an awards dinner to represent our company and my alarm for Synarel went off during the very pompous speeches that dragged on for over half an hour, I had to shuffle my way to the back of the room, pretend to rummage through my handbag for something and take a big snort of synarel on the spot because I couldn’t get out of that room without causing a kerfuffle. Oh yes, IVF, there have been some great times. I’m going to miss you.

So things are happening in tiny increments now. When I first started the DE journey it was all grand gestures; choosing a donor, chatting with my fertility specialist in South Africa about the nuts and bolts of things, getting my tests up to date and researching Cape Town.  Now that all the big things are done, it’s like I’m redundant. Now I am waiting for little milestones that will get me closer to our departure date (which I might add, I still don’t even know, I’m just aiming at some random date in March).

Next week is my appointment with my fertility specialist here, I rang the office yesterday to see if they had received the results of the ‘products of conception’ aka. the miscarriage so everything can be discussed in that appointment rather than going back later. The results are in so next week I’ll know ‘why’…. hopefully. If there is no reason, ie no trisomy issues I really don’t know what I’ll do. I guess I will have to trust my fertility specialists advice and take it from there.

We are having a mini break starting on the 27th and going to the Sunshine Coast to see my parents on the beach. We really need this as we’ve not had a holiday since this time last year. There’s nothing to be done while I’m away, but literally on the day I return, my donor has her medical testing and then it’s all systems go. I should have my treatment plan the following week. Until then, I make appointments I’ll likely have to cancel.

PS. cycle day 53 today. Yep. 53! Thankfully I have ovulated a few days ago so AF should be on the way next week. Just an aside I ovulated 3 days after I stopped Vitex. This is the first time I’d tried it to regulate my cycle. I don’t think I’ll be trying it again.

Putting a Face to the Name…

So I didn’t really want to see what our donor looked like, but now I have much more of an idea than I probably wanted.

Call me fickle but I’d rather be in the dark of how she actually looks – I didn’t want that image in my head as any (fingers crossed) baby/ies grow up. When I saw her profile, there was one photo of her as a baby at about 6 months of age, and then about 3 of her daughter at the same age. And lets face it, you can’t tell much from a 6 month old of how they are going to pan out.

So with all this waiting that I’m having to do, I’m getting a bit bored so I went back onto the donor site to see if there had been any progression  (they update via the secure recipient log in with things like follow up testing dates etc. ) and lo and behold they had added about 8 more photos of our donor at various stages of her childhood. So now I know what she looks like…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way disappointed with our choice of donor, she’s a real cutie as it turns out, but I just kinda didn’t want to know.  I bet if I see her in the waiting room now, I’ll be able to pick her out really quickly and I really didn’t want that.

Hubby walked into the room as I discovered this new cache of photos and I asked him if he wanted to take a look. ‘No thanks’ was the response and he kept on walking. Me? I pored over those photos for a good hour.

I’ve come to the conclusion now (4 days later) that it’s good to have more photos, I’m thinking of any potential children here and assume they will at some stage of their lives be very grateful to have more of an idea what the donor looked like. So it’s not all about me any more, all decisions have to factor in this ‘potential’ person of the future… how bizarre!

In other news. I am now 45 days into my post miscarriage cycle with no sign of AF at all. I was really hoping to get two natural cycles under my belt before undergoing the donor cycle, but at this rate I don’t think it’s going to happen.

Sign of the times…

I never wanted to be one of those women.

When you first realise you may just be ‘infertile’ your world kind of crumbles a little bit, and if you’re anything like me, you decide to research the bejesus out of anything and everything to do with ‘unexplained infertility’ to find out…why?

Why is this happening (especially to me)? What can I do to change this? Who is the best doctor? What crack pot remedies can I undertake to make things right?!  (trust me – I have had EVERYTHING done including a ridiculous phone call with a Shaman – don’t ask!).

And you take to the internet forums (well I did – not sure if you have). You dip your toe in, cautiously at first, you normally stumble into the general IVF section and join a monthly cycling thread, it’s great! Lots of support! Everyone is excited, nervously talking about the anxiety of injecting, the migraines from synarel and they are filled with hope and optimism. Now everyone is cycling and their betas come rolling in. Suddenly 90% of the thread are getting their Big Fat Positives and you’re staring at a stark white HPT and booking your What The Fuck appointment with your fertility specialist.

I put myself through this special kind of hell a couple of times and then promptly moved my ass to the over 40’s  IVF thread where it belonged. But when you’re fresh, shiny and new to infertility and IVF you honestly (and rightly) believe it will happen within one or two goes, surely three max! And for the younger girls, it mostly does.

But once in the long term threads, or the over 40’s,  you see it. The six line signature which symbolises years of trying for a woman, line after line of repeated IVF attempts and you feel pity. That will never be me, I’ll never be that woman with such a huge signature…. never.

And now I am.

In the bubhub forums that I frequent I’ve tried to scale my signature back. It now reads something like

Me- 41 – Him – 37
6 x IVF Cycles- 1 × FET over 19 months with 3 FS.
Last OE cycle Oct 13. – BFP – MC 8.5 weeks
Next Step: Egg donor – Cape Town March 2014

Truth is I had to edit my signature because it wouldn’t fit within the word count. That’s when you know you’ve reached that point.

I’m toying with the idea of just wiping that bloody signature because donor eggs are a whole new ball game, but at the same time I’m proud of my ivf war-wounds and all I have been through. It is testament to my determination and reminds me of how strong I am.

Hurry up and wait…

I’m trying to find ways to fill in time in the slowest part of the year. I’m working through Christmas and New Year in a bid to save up my annual leave for our trip (or God forbid trips) to Cape Town. The trouble with this system is that I’ve had approximately 10 emails drop into my inbox in 7 days and 5 of those were automated reports.

I’ve gone from the busiest time in my job, to the quietest, just when I’m wanting time to go quickly.  So I’ve cleaned out my work car, sorted my emails, organised my meeting schedule for next year and even gone into the office to tidy my bookshelves and empty my recycling bin and lets face it, dicked around on the internet in a bid to ‘keep myself busy’, but time is still dragging.

I’ve figured all I can really do is to look at accommodation in Cape Town for ‘around about’ when we’ll hopefully be there. This in itself is causing me conniptions because everything is seeming to be booked out or getting close to booked out already. Example: I found a great little guesthouse that looked so lovely, close to the clinic, with a small pool and a patio to sit outside and have a sundowner, they even had a resident dog to keep you company,  so I thought maybe I’ll check if they have availability in March just generally, you know… The owner was great and got back to me straight away, but unfortunately she’s already got one confirmed booking from a lady from Israel who is coming to go to Cape Fertility and then two more women on the waiting list, also patients of CFC.  So I’m getting nervous about accommodation now – we’re trying to keep this trip fairly frugal, simply in case I need to go back. In the mean time while we are waiting flights and accommodation are going up.

So some of you might be interested in how the process of doing a donor cycle in South Africa works. Compared to the Australian system, it’s pretty straight forward and easy.

First you pick your donor through one of the accredited donor agencies in South Africa and a list of them can be found on this website http://www.fertilitysa.org.za/ or you can contact Cape Fertility directly for a list of their preferred agencies (that’s what I did).

Finding a donor is a hard choice for some, and it can take weeks. I’m not sure why but I found it quite easy and quick. That may have just been luck though that my donor just got listed and had all the attributes I wanted as must-haves. Maybe I’m just so jaded after all this IVF that I just want to get the show on the road?

There is a big difference in cost with these agencies they currently start from $1469 AUD upwards and they pretty much all seem to offer the same services. I found all of them more than helpful (and I did contact all of them) when I wanted to know the basic terms and conditions of their donor/recipient contracts and for what it’s worth they all seem very similar as well.   We ended up going with the AbabySA agency, simply because they had the donor we wanted. Some offer discounts on second cycles, some don’t so it’s worth inquiring.

Once you find a donor you love, you simply contact the agency and they check to see if the donor is available and is willing to donate to you. For us this process was overnight. Then you pay your fee to the donor agency stating which clinic you would like to use for treatment. There’s more than just Cape Fertility in Cape Town, but this is the Clinic I’ve researched the most and read the most positive reviews of other ladies experiences. There are also clinics offering donor cycles in Johannesburg and Pretoria, but I honestly didn’t research any of them.

Next step is to pay your deposit to Cape Fertility which at the time worked out to be $4k AUD (I’ll put the total breakdown of fees below) and they then screen the donor medically and psychologically before sending out your treatment plan. You pay the remaining fees at your first appointment in Cape Town.

This is the bit we’re stuck at as our CFC doctor is on holiday over Christmas so all this will happen in early Feb for us.  Once you get your treatment plan and you can book your flights / accommodation etc. and off you go!

Approx break down of costs (bear in mind these will change with exchange rates and yearly fee increases etc.).
Fertility Clinic fees for donor cycle $ 5876.000 AUD give or take.
This total includes embryo freezing and storage for 12 months – I’m being positive here! ($323 AUD) and Sperm Sample Freeze for 12 months – in case I have to go back alone for another cycle ($122 AUD) – I’m being negative here!

On top of these costs you have your donor agency fee and miscellaneous fees for medications before you travel approx. $300 AUD this includes the Synarel, Estrogen tablets etc. that are required while synching my cycle with the donor.  I also need prednisolone, clexane, antibiotics as well so this is slightly higher than it would be for most. Not to mention flights/accommodation for 12 days. We figure the whole trip will cost us $15-16k AUD (depending on how decadent we are while in CPT).

My first (and probably last) appointment with my Fertility Specialist here before I leave is in three weeks on the 22nd Jan. Given she is impossible to get in to see I doubt I’ll get another appointment before I go in March.  I’m hoping by this stage we will have the results of the testing of my ‘products of conception’ aka the miscarriage. I’m really hoping they found a reason because if they find the fetus was normal then why the hell did I miscarry?

But for now, I try to fill in time. I’ll actually be very glad to have everyone back at work next week and to be back to my normal appointments and schedule, it can only help with the slow march of time.

Goodbye 2013

I love my husband. He is the second daggiest, funniest person I know, and he’s never actually trying to be funny, he just is. I am the daggiest person I know, so it’s a match made in heaven.

We’re a pretty boring couple. Years ago I was a bit of a party animal, I worked in the music industry and would often review bands or festivals so would be out until all hours partying and when I wasn’t out at shows, I was at the pub with my friends or out to dinner, I was never sitting at home. Then I hit 35 and a switch went off and I became a homebody and I love it. He is also a home body so it works incredibly well.

So it came as no great surprise to the both of us that we had no plans for New Years Eve this year, in fact we were pretty happy about the fact. I HATE New Years Eve. Probably because I hate being around really drunk people and like to go home when I want to go home, not be wandering the streets trying to hail a non-existent cab at 3am.

What’s that? Set in my ways? Me? Never…

We barely made it to midnight last night to see the New Year in, we looked sleepily at each other and managed a kiss. “It’s our year this year” he said.

We woke up this morning and one of our dogs came to accost us to make us get up (and if you’ve ever been accosted by a Kelpie you know there are lot of theatrics involved),  in the process the dog hit his head and hubby starting singing It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring… nursery rhyme to to dog (as you do) and he forgot some of the words. Then he said to me, “I’m going to have to brush up on my nursery rhymes aren’t I? I’ll get on google…I’ll save the beans and farting ones for when the kid is older though… “. My heart melted. He has just as much invested in this as I do and I sometimes forget that as I’m caught up in my blood tests, ultrasounds and immune protocol research.  He hurts in all of this too and he holds the same hope as I do as well.

So we are in 2014, about 11 weeks off our trip to Cape Town.  We have so many hopes for this year because 2013 was not a great year for us with the death of someone I was really close to, repeated IVF failures and then the miscarriage at the end.  I think we both breathed a sigh of relief when the calendar ticked over to January to begin a new phase in our lives.