Tuesday, September 12, 2017

weeks 13 - 16

Trigger warning: pregnancy discussed.
I just wanted to say that I'll be continuing to share my thoughts on this pregnancy every few weeks. If you are at a place right now where you find reading about this hard or upsetting then please skip these posts by all means and look after yourself. I understand completely. I'm planning to continue to separately blog about non pregnancy related stuff also.

Week 13 thoughts

Some people consider week 13 to be the official start of the second trimester, for others it's week 14. Baby is now the size of a fig! I actually don't have much of a "bump" yet which is probably just as well since only a select few people at my office know yet and I don't want it to be too obvious. Once we have the 16 week scan, provided everything is fine, then I would start telling more people at work. It still feels like such a personal thing though.

I haven't really been doing that much lately. I still get tired pretty easily and evenings after work I often just feel like relaxing with a good book or in front of the telly. Last weekend himself and I spent Saturday catching up on housework and chores and just hanging out. Sunday I met up with some friends. One of them lent me a pregnancy book. There was a section at the beginning about getting pregnant. I had a look through it and felt like laughing as all the information just seemed so basic to me - for people who don't have a clue about fertility. I could easily write a thesis on all I know by this stage! I still feel a little jealous sometimes towards the women for whom pregnancy came easily and without problems. Don't think that will ever go away completely. I joined a group of Irish women on facebook who are also due in February as I heard it can be a nice way to make friends. Quite a few are on their fourth child already! It's not that I particularly want to have four kids, I'm just jealous of how nice it must be to be able to plan and choose how many children you want and when to have them.

I continue to be grateful for this pregnancy. Sometimes I feel guilty too. Sort of like survivors guilt. I know there are so many great people out there who are still trying or have since resolved child free and I'm really sorry when it doesn't happen for them. I'm certainly not in any way more 'worthy' than anyone else. I also don't even know for sure what was the winning combination that helped it work for us this time. It could have been changing clinics and the new approach, it could have been all our healthy eating and the fact I went gluten and dairy free, it could have been the melatonin tablets which improved egg quality or the DHEA I took for a few months beforehand or all the extra prayers! We'll never know for sure.

Sometimes I think the nausea has gotten much better and then I get it again. Brushing my teeth often makes gag and feel like I might need to throw up. I went into H&M and had a look at the maternity section. I felt a little like an imposter, like someone might tap me on the shoulder and ask me what I was doing there. They had some nice things but I didn't feel ready to buy anything yet. So far I've been making do with some jeans I have that are not tight around the waist, plus doing the hair bobbin trick where you put a hair tie around the button and through the jeans hole. And I've been wearing longish tops.

I've been thinking today again how lucky we are. I had lunch with a friend (let's call her J.) who's friends with a fertility doctor at a clinic in Munich. She often tells me stories of her patients. J also told her doctor friend about our story. When she heard about us considering the immune protocol, she was all for it, saying she had seen that help in lots of cases. I'm talking specifically patients who have had immune related issues diagnosed when they got extra blood testing done. Anyway I asked J. if she had updated her doctor friend about our pregnancy. She said she had and her friend was really happy for us but also surprised. She had thought based on what she had heard about me (previous surgeries, poor responder etc) that it wouldn't work until our 8th IVF attempt!

The fact is we wouldn't have done eight rounds. We decided that the fourth would be our limit. We couldn't keep putting ourselves through it. So yeah I was just thinking today how incredibly lucky we are that the fourth attempt seems to have worked so far! Somehow our baby now exists and is growing. Things could easily have turned out differently. I'm not saying that the alternative would have been an awful future or anything, we would have found ways to move forward, but I am incredibly glad that this little baby seems to be a fighter and please God will get born in six months time and join us!

There are plenty of fertile people who take their children for granted. After going through the journey we did (and seeing what other people go through), we are well aware of how precious each life is! The timing is everything too. If we had done IVF a month earlier or later, it could easily not have worked. It wouldn't be this exact unique baby created from that particular egg and sperm. This new person (with a soul as that's what I believe) exists now and there is just something so incredible about it. It began with a bunch of cells which kept multiplying and then started forming things like a head, brain, spine, liver, kidneys. Each cell knowing exactly what it's meant to do.

Week 14

I am officially in the second trimester now! How cool is that? From what I've read this is the most fun time (the honeymoon period) as you are meant to start having more energy, less nausea but don't yet feel uncomfortable. It'll still be several more weeks until I can feel any kicks probably. That seems unreal to me, the thought of it! I have gradually been reducing the steroids and right now I am only taking 2.5mg - barely anything. Unfortunately reducing the steroids also meant my nausea seemed to get a bit worse I noticed! From about 5pm till 8pm I feel particularly crap. Being in the office at that stage isn't fun. Like I mentioned before lots of snacking helps. I had one evening where I was leaving work around 7pm and pretty much had to hurry as I was worried I might throw up in the office! Thankfully it passed and I got home and ate something immediately and was ok soon after.

Hubby doesn't feel comfortable with me flying anywhere so he would prefer for us not to go to Ireland until after the birth. He pointed out that "we only have one shot at this". I don't want to do anything to make him feel uncomfortable and of course our baby's health has priority but it's moments like this where I feel the distance from home. Well, this is my home now of course, but I wish I could see my family more often. However I am hoping they will visit me which would be great. I haven't totally ruled out the idea of an Ireland trip but it's looking less likely at the moment. I also need to apply for a new Irish passport as mine is expiring in a few months so need to get that sorted asap. I already phoned the nearest Irish embassy and requested they send the form out.

It's still two weeks till my next scan and as usual it feels like a long time. I'd just like to know baby is ok in there. But I am trying to remind myself there is no reason to worry. I did use the doppler again last night. This time I was able to find the heartbeat fairly quickly though only for a few seconds which makes me wonder if the baby doesn't like the doppler ultrasound waves and is moving away from it. Every night when I'm in bed, I "talk" to the baby. I'm trying to get him/her used to my voice and already start teaching him/her my accent, haha! I just really want the baby to have a strong Irish identity despite living in Germany. I also looked up some Irish folklore children's books which we could read together one day. Traditional Irish stories have a fair bit of violence though. It's a bit like the Grimm fairy tales. There are lots of battles and superstitions! "The children of Lir" is one story which sticks out in my memory.

Hubby and I have discussed how we would split the parental leave. We are thinking that the first month we would take off together then I would stay at home for about six months after that and then I would go back to work with reduced hours if that's an option (it should be but need to talk to HR) and then hubby would stay at home the few six months until baby is about one. I am delighted that hubby wants to spend that time with our child, I think it will be really good bonding experience.

In other news my little sister got engaged! Yay! Very excited for her. Her and her fiance are thinking about a small beach destination wedding which sounds fab. It's crazy for me to think that next summer we could be attending her wedding with our baby. I still feel nervous sometimes thinking too far ahead about the future, though at the other time it is lovely to imagine. I know it won't all be amazing of course, I'm not totally naive. I've followed blogs of women after they have their baby, plus I've heard from friends and I have seen how hard the first few months can be. The idea of childbirth is a bit scary too!

I already had to try to book a "Hebamme". The direction translation is "midwife" but they don't usually attend the birth. It's all a little alternative. You can go to the Habamme here instead of your doctor for your checkups and your health insurance would cover it. The main thing they do though is come visit you after the baby is there and help out. A certain amount of visits are covered. And they offer classes such as "R├╝ckbildungskurs" with exercises to help put everything back into place after birth! And some offer things like pregnancy yoga too. Anyway they are really hard to get as they get booked up really fast but I've managed to find one a friend recommend who's going to visit in a few weeks to meet me.

I went back to H&M and this time bought some maternity shorts and "mama" tights which were reduced. The shorts are really comfy! The weather has changed from summer so I only wore them once and then started thinking that buying shorts might not have been the best idea. However I tried wearing them with tights which was a cute look.

Week 15 thoughts

My gyno is finally back from his holidays after about a month! We phoned on Monday to try to get our blood test results but the practice assistant said he was busy and to call back Wednesday. Wednesday hubby phoned and it turns out the doctor never did the first trimester screening blood test as we thought! He only did some sort of standard blood test. Needless to say we were rather annoyed about it! When we had phoned the following week we were told the results weren't there yet and the next time we called were told we'd have to wait till after his holidays. If we had known that he didn't do the blood test then we would have gotten it done at my 12 week appointment at the other doctor. Now it's too late as it can only be done between weeks 10 and 14 apparently. I really don't know how the "miscommunication" even happened. We both remember the doctor telling us about the blood test you can get that tells you your risk of gene defects and me saying I wanted to get it done.

There is another blood test I could get but it costs between 300 and 500 euros as far as I know. It's called the Harmony test. They would send my blood off to a lab in the US apparently and it would take about a week. The results are about 98% accurate. I've read that there can be false negatives or positives though and sometimes the blood test can be inconclusive. We are undecided about whether to get it or not. On the one hand it would be nice to get the peace of mind that things are ok but I think the risk of something being wrong are still very low. The measurements taken at the last ultrasound were all fine. If there were some health problems with the baby then we would like to ideally know in advance and plan for it. If there is something seriously wrong then that would be a very difficult conversation since hubby and I have somewhat different views. But I would like to remain positive and have faith that everything will be ok. When we go for my appointment next week we'll discuss our risks with the doctor then.

Week 15 - later that week

Tomorrow is our appointment! I'm excited to see the baby again. And a little nervous too. I think the nerves will always be there a little bit. I've started coming down with a sore throat lately and just feel quite run down. My nausea was pretty bad last week, I had to throw up several times but it has been more bearable this week, or maybe I'm just managing it better. I wonder whether we'll be able to find out the sex tomorrow! I am convinced it is a girl so I'll be shocked if it turns out to be a boy. I just have a strong feeling for some reason. I've had dreams about having a little girl too. We decided we are going to get the harmony blood test done. We probably should have done it weeks ago. It would give us peace of mind to know that everything is ok. Well with 98/99% accuracy.

I'm starting to look a little more pregnant too! It's getting harder to "hide" it at work. I think I'll probably have to start telling colleagues soon. Hubby has been really great. We're married four years now and still as happy as ever. He's been protective of me and the baby which is really sweet. When I'm lying in bed and have heartburn he goes down to the kitchen to get my heartburn tablets or a glass of water. He often cleans the kitchen to help get rid of all the food smells so I feel less nauseous. I still can hardly believe we could have an actual baby next year! I was out with friends for lunch at the weekend and there was a tiny newborn baby at the table next to us. Very cute. I was thinking, "am I really going to get one of those?" So amazing! The only thing that scares me a little is the actual childbirth but I'm trying not to think about that too much yet. I'm not that anxious about the pain, although that doesn't sound fun, but rather scared of something going wrong. The hospitals and doctors here are really good though so I know I'll be in good hands. I'll just need to learn all the relevant words in German beforehand!

The immune doctor send me the printout of the test results from my blood test at week 13. She recommends I get another blood test done at week 17 to check the natural killer cells again. That seems excessive to me. Surely by now even if my natural killer cells were to increase my body wouldn't fight the baby?! I'm considering not doing another blood test but then I don't want to take any risks either just in case. I'm going to ask my doctor tomorrow what he thinks. We decided that we won't fly to Ireland again until after the baby is born. Or fly anywhere. Hubby worries about the baby being exposed to radiation. I know plenty of people fly all the time but if it makes him feel better for me not to fly I'm ok with that. Also the fact that the only time I had some bleeding in this pregnancy was a few days after my last flight to Ireland makes me worry a bit about it also. I do feel sad at not seeing friends and extended family again.

However my family are planning to visit me here which I'm excited about. And I'm planning to arrange some skype chats with friends so I can still catch up on their news. I recently found out another friend of mine here is pregnant too. She's two weeks behind me. It will be nice having someone at the same stage to meet up with. Some friends told me recently that they hated being pregnant. I guess they didn't like feeling sick and uncomfortable. I can honestly say I love it. The hardest parts are the anxiety and nausea. The latter I mentioned already, mine seems to be worse than average but it's still manageable. The anxiety is hard though. I'm often worried that something might be going wrong. Apart from that I love the idea of having my baby with me wherever I go and I don't want to rush this time away.

The Hebamme who was meant to visit me got lost and couldn't find her way to our house! She phoned several times and we gave her directions and in the end she gave up. That was rather disappointing. She said I can "call her when the baby is there". To be honest I would much prefer to meet the person before the birth. I messaged another two recommended Habamme and both were too busy to take anyone else on but I finally found someone and I'm going to meet her in October. Hopefully she's nice.

Week 16 appointment

We had our appointment at the doctor finally. The whole thing took ages. Every time I have to give a pee sample, get weighed and have my blood pressure checked. The latter of which was very low. That probably explains why I've noticed I feel dizzy if I stand up to fast. The doctor's assistant also used a device on my stomach to measure any contractions which took about 20 minutes. Luckily there weren't any as it would be far too early! She also gave us a free pregnancy box which contained a few things for the baby. You get another box after birth. We put it into the green room.

We agreed to do the Harmony blood test. There were three options. One that just checks for the three most serious potential issues. The second would have also told us gender and the third option would check for less serious issues (for instance turner's disease). We are happy to just wait until the gender is revealed at a scan and we just wanted to rule out the most serious and potentially life threatening issues so we went for the first option. We'll find the results out in a week. It doesn't actually get sent to the States, they now have labs in Germany where the harmony test can be done. It only cost 250€ in the end. Totally worth it if it gives us peace of mind.

The doctor wouldn't have done an ultrasound today but said he could get one for 40€ extra. Naturally we wanted to make sure everything is still ok with the baby and have a look. Actually this time the baby didn't look all that different from the previous one, and we couldn't really see so much extra but it was still lovely of course. As soon as the doctor started the ultrasound the baby was visible immediately and as usual I found myself holding my breath until I could see the little heart beating. That anxiety never leaves. At one stage the doctor zoomed in on the baby's genital area and said it looked like a girl most likely, although he commented that we shouldn't go out and buy loads of pink things just yet. However later on he was looking again and then he thought he did see something and was less sure! So in the end it was still inconclusive. That was a little disappointing, it would have been nice to know already. My next appointment won't be for five weeks which seems long but that's how they do it here.

There was one potentially bad thing though. The doctor noticed something when he was scanning me later. I'm not sure if he was looking at the placenta or what but then he said I could be at higher risk of developing pre eclampsia which is a little scary. He told me to buy a home blood pressure monitor and use it three times a day making a note of the values. If the value gets too high on a few occasions then make an appointment with him asap, not to wait the five weeks. He also told me to take drops for my blood pressure.

Hubby and I were a bit confused after since my blood pressure is more likely to be low rather than high. When I got the bottle of drops of which I'm meant to take 20 drops of a day, I noticed it has a high alcohol content! So then I was wondering what's worse for the baby; me having too low blood pressure or consuming small amounts of alcohol? I presume if my doctor says it's ok it is but I'm thinking of just taking 10 drops a day at first and seeing if that helps.

We also got another printout of the ultrasound. I took a picture with my phone and when I zoomed in I thought I could make out a cute little button nose and pretty lips! After everything went well with the appointment I decided to phone an aunt who hadn't heard the good news yet. She was delighted for us and I'm glad I told her myself. She also shared some stories of my Mum and Granny with me which was lovely (both of whom have sadly passed). She told me how wanted myself, my sister and brother were. It was lovely to hear. I know my Mum would have made a really fantastic grandmother. Whenever big events happen in my life, it reminds me again what a loss it is when you don't have your mother around. I have to believe she's in heaven watching down over us all now. I'm going to tell our child all about her of course!

I can more or less accept that I am pregnant now, although I still can't believe that we'll really (please God) have an actual baby with us next year! I feel grateful every day for this miracle and never take it for granted.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale #BookClub

Everyone seems to be talking about "The Handmaid's tale" recently. It was written in 1985 by Canadian author Margaret Atwood but has gained more fame recently after a tv series has come out based on the book. I was intrigued by the premise and happy when it was voted as our next novel in my book club.

I knew that there would be some infertility elements so I was prepared for that. The book is set in a dystopian society in the future. The majority of women are barren and infertile. It seems like a lot of the men are sterile but it is a male dominated sexist society so the male side isn't acknowledged openly. The women who ARE fertile are known as handmaidens and they are first trained and then sent to live with a couple in order to try to conceive a child with the husband which will then be raised by the man and wife. A few months after the birth, the handmaiden will be sent elsewhere and the cycle continues. It is a several tier society. Wives have more power than the handmaidens but not as much as the husbands. There are women called Marthas who are barren that work as housekeepers. There is a strong police presence and spies known as "Eyes". People who say or do the wrong thing get taken away and tortured or worse.

The book centers around the story of one handmaid, "Offred". That is the name that has been assigned to her. All part of losing individual identity. Initially she is a little like a zombie, just going along with the life she has now. Well, it's not like she has much choice in the matter! She often wonders about her ex boyfriend and child who were taken away from her. Without giving too much away, she gradually becomes aware of a secret resistance movement.The husband of the house she's living in also starts wanting to bend the rules with her. As does the wife. Both of which lead to her taking more and more risks.

In terms of the infertility element I found myself often feeling sorry for the wives who weren't able to have their desperately longed for child. It was awful how the handmaids were reduced to baby making machines, which just made me think of how ridiculous it is to base a woman's value on whether or not she can conceive. Women are so much more than that! The book was really good. Not like anything I'd read before. Once I got into it, I definitely wanted to find out what would happen next. I thought the ending a bit abrupt though, a lot is left open. The book has some disturbing scenes and the scary thing is that the world described doesn't seem all that far fetched at times. Let's hope it never becomes a reality!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Weeks 10 - 12 #pregnancyDiary

Week 10 thoughts

This morning I had my ten week appointment at the doctor. It was early so hubby was able to come by for most of it before going to work. I was finally given the elusive Mutterpass (translation: mother passport), which is a booklet pregnant women in Germany get which contains all their relevant information for doctors. This has been categorized as a "high risk" pregnancy due to it being IVF and my 'geriatric' age of 35. That's a joke by the way. 35 is the new 25 don't you know? Anyway, the doctor spoke to us about pregnancy in general, what to avoid doing, what's ok. A lot of stuff I already knew. Some things which are relevant to how things are done in Germany, I didn't. For instance there's an optional test for Toxoplasmosis which health insurance here doesn't cover. It only cost something like 30€ though so I asked to get it done.

Regarding gene defects the doctor said, because I'm 35, the health insurance would pay for an amniotic fluid sample to be taken around week 14 or 16, can't remember now. However he advises against it as it carries risks. He even said that you can end up with a 'dead baby' that could have been perfectly healthy. He certainly doesn't mince his words! I'll be avoiding that test for sure, not taking any unnecessary risks. There is a blood test and based on that plus other factors (my age) will assess the risk of the baby having any gene defects. If it comes back as high risk, such as 1 in 50 then we could consider whether to get another blood check done (this is called the harmony test) which wouldn't be covered by insurance and costs around 450€. The doctor wasn't going to give me a scan at all today as I'd had one recently when I had the scare but I asked nicely! Well I said it would be great just to make sure everything is still ok. Unfortunately hubby had left at that stage as he had to get to work so he didn't get to see it. This time the baby didn't just look like a blob like last time haha! It was great, I could see the tiny little hands and feet moving around!

Oh man, I have so much love for the little baby! I wonder if it will be a boy or a girl. I guess I would have a slight preference for a girl, but honestly either is great! I think hubby prefers the idea of a boy but I also know he would be a great Dad to a daugher. We would like to find out. I'm not sure whether we would tell everyone else or not. Though probably we'd find it hard to keep a secret! I'm delighted to have gotten to the ten week mark. It's definitely starting to feel like a strong pregnancy now!

From around week six I did notice some very mild nausea but not bad at all. Since week nine though it got a lot worse! I also started having a lot more food aversions. The best way to help against the nausea has generally been to eat something pronto, although eating while feeling queasy isn't that pleasant, and it has been hard to figure out what I even feel like eating. Several times I've gagged but not thrown up, but I did end up having to get sick once after brushing my teeth. I've also gone off avocados which I used to love, I hate the idea of fish at the moment plus the dairy free vegan yogurt and ice cream I used to eat a lot of (it's made from a lupine plant) doesn't appeal to me at all anymore. The best food I've found is popcorn! So I end up snacking all day long basically to try to keep the nausea at bay which means I only have an appetite for small portions at meal times. Anyway, overall it is manageable. Being in the office has been a bit challenging as I just get so tired in the afternoons but hopefully it'll be better in a few weeks.

I'm planning to tell my boss and HR manager once I get to the 12 week mark if everything goes well at my check up. I googled something like "when to tell your work you're pregnant" and the first result said not to tell till weeks 16-20 at the earliest and then talk about all the great projects you did recently! I thought, wow, that must have come from a US site. No offense meant to any of my friends from the US. The article basically gave the underlying impression that your job is at risk if you are pregnant. I looked up some German sites and the message there was to tell your work at 12 weeks and the health of you baby has priority. There are lots of great laws here to protect pregnant women in the workplace. For instance you are not allowed to work more than 8.5 hours per day or be expected to carry heavy things or to be on your feet for more than four hours.

The doctors here have no problem giving pregnant ladies sick leave when needed. Sure, there may be women who abuse that for instance I have heard of one who got pregnant and didn't feel like working anymore and asked to be written off for all nine months, but in general that's not common and I think it's great here how the emphasis is placed on keeping you and baby healthy. Your boss is also not allowed fire you until at least four months after you've had given birth. And in Germany there is 14 months parental leave which you can share with your partner. Anyway, there are a lot of benefits to working in Germany! That's not to say that sexism in the workplace doesn't exist here, that's a topic for another day but there is good support for employees. Even when I do tell my boss and HR, I will still tell them that I would like to keep this pregnancy discreet. I would prefer to wait another month or so before other colleagues find out. I'm not sure how feasible that is since people can gossip and maybe I'll start showing at that stage. Right now I'm just really bloated but I think I have the beginning of a tiny bump too! Under all the bloat that is.

I had to phone the immune doctor to ask why my new treatment plan hadn't arrived yet. Turned out it hadn't even been sent! The receptionist sounded embarrassed and said she would remind the doctor and asked if I'd like her to scan the documents and send them by email to me first. I can see why this particular doctor gets such bad reviews, the main complaint seems to be that people are fed up with how slow everything takes! Anyway once the email arrived I had a look. Most things were clear and expected, it gave details on how to reduce the steroids and Granocyte injections. The baby aspirin tablets I'm meant to keep taking until at least week 24. This seems long to me but it's not such a big deal, just taking the tablets so whatever. Two things bothered me. Firstly it said that I have to get my blood checked again to look at the natural killer cell levels. If they are too high still then I would need to keep getting the Intralipid infusions for longer. That is such a pain. I'm so ready to be done with the intralipid infusions! Also I only have one bottle of the stuff left. They only sell it in boxes of ten and it costs about 200€ altogether then about 50€ per doctor visit to administer it not to mention the time it all takes. And the second thing was that it recommended I get a pre eclampsia test at week 13 since I am higher risk due to my missing KIR genes apparently.

I got a little upset about the email. As I was saying to hubby, I just want to have a normal pregnancy like most women and not to be so highly medicated and high risk and have all this extra stress! The thing about all the extra immune stuff is I don't know for sure if it is the reason this IVF and pregnancy is working or not. It could be the thing that made it work or maybe it would have worked anyway. I'll never know for sure. Obviously on the off chance that the Intralipids, granocyte, steroids and baby aspirin are the magic ingredients keeping the pregnancy going, then of course I'm going to keep them up! Anyway a while later I felt better. Getting the preeclampsia test shouldn't be a big deal. I'll show my doctor the letter from the immune doctor and even though preeclampsia itself sounds scary as long as the doctors catch it in time, it would be fine. And the fact that I have to send my blood off to get tested again is a pain but I'll just do it and hopefully the results will show everything is ok and I can stop the Intralipids finally.

My usual gyno is away on holidays for the month of August which was has been awkward. There are two doctors' practices that are helping out. Both aren't that handy to get to from where I live. I phoned them and neither had heard of Intralipids or wanted anything to do with them. It's not an easy thing to explain in German! So neither practice will give me the 12 week intralipid. I phoned the fertility clinic and they agreed to give me the 12 week one no problem so that's great but like I mentioned before it is really far from where I live. I'm going to have to talk a half day off work. The intralipid will be administered by dr. Peppy though, and I'm looking forward to seeing her again!

Week 11 thoughts

It feels like a long wait till the twelve week scan. I've been trying to think positively though and not let myself get too carried away with worries. At ten weeks I realised I am already one quarter of the way through the pregnancy which is a crazy idea! I have also been thinking recently about how lucky we are. I came across some statistics for IVF and the odds of it leading to a take home baby are really surprisingly low in general. It's still early for me and I don't want to count my chickens before they have hatched, but I am so grateful to have gotten this far. This was our 7th embryo. Six other perfectly good embryos were placed inside me over the past two years. One took for a few weeks but sadly wasn't to be and the rest just didn't implant at all for whatever reason. What made the 7th embryo implant and keep growing into a tiny human I have no idea! I wish IVF would work for everyone though. This is most likely going to be my last pregnancy too. Provided it works. I have no idea what we would do if the worst happens. Hubby and I both agreed we wouldn't want to go through IVF again. For many reasons. We have both accepted the fact that we will most likely just end up with one child and we have come to terms with that. Only children are very loved and I have no doubts that our single boy or girl will be happy!

I have a pregnancy app on my phone. It was fun to read today that the baby is the size of a fig now! On my gyno's advice I went for a teeth cleaning at the dentist. I actually always dread it a bit. I was scared of going to the dentist when I was a kid. It's gotten a lot better as I've gotten older but I still don't particularly like the experience. I hate all the noises in the dentist office, like the drill, ah! Anyway the teeth cleaning is normally not too bad just mainly uncomfortable and long. I have sensitive teeth too so some bits like when cold air is blasted on my gums is very unpleasant. But anyway it went fine. And I reminded myself that I'm doing it for a baby. Thinking about the little one moving around in there and growing is a really nice thought. This morning I also feel fine, not nauseous at all! Of course then I started to worry that it could be a bad sign but I googled it a bit and some women's pregnancy symptoms can start to ease off in week 11, so it's probably just that. A lot of women on the forums mentioned their nausea came and went a bit too. Like they'd have a good few days and bad few days again. According to my pregnancy app, you don't look pregnant at this stage just bloated and as if "you've had too much to eat" haha! If I pull in my bloated tummy I think I can still see a tiny bump. Otherwise I haven't noticed any other body changes really. Instead of my hair getting glossier, it's gotten frizzier. I think I'll need to use the de-frizz serum more often!

Week 12 thoughts

Before my appointment I felt a little nervous but not too bad, I had a good feeling that things would be ok. This time we went to a different doctor as my usual one is on holidays and this one was standing in for his patients. I had to do a pee test, have my blood pressure checked and get weighed. Then we went into the room to wait for the doctor. Once he arrived he asked what he can do for us today. I said, well I'm here for my 12 week scan! He looked at my Mutter pass and asked some questions about the pregnancy. I got another prescription for my thyroid meds. I asked about the pre eclampsia test which the immune doctor recommends. He said it's too soon and I can get it done at my next appointment.

He asked about whether we had done the first trimester screening (where they check for gene defects). We said we had done a blood test but then our doctor went on holidays and we hadn't gotten the results. He explained that the blood test alone doesn't mean anything without measuring the baby's neck which hadn't done as far as I'm aware. So that was annoying. The substitute doctor said he would take measurements today. We'll have to wait two weeks till our doctor is back from holidays to ask about the blood test results though. We asked this doctor his thoughts on flying to Ireland around six months and he said it's absolutely fine so that was nice to hear since my usual gyno is against flying altogether. We are still considering whether we might go to Ireland for a week around November.

Anyway then I had the scan. This doctor was a lot more thorough which was great! He showed us the baby, commenting on how great everything looked then proceeded to point out things like the spine and brain. At one stage he said something like "do you see that black dot there?" in a serious voice and in my head I thought, "oh God, is it a heart defect?" but then he said, "it's the baby stomach"! Then he showed the kidneys. He made a joke at one stage about the baby being a girl because she's so "sensitive" (eye roll) but then he said you can't actually tell yet, it's too soon. We'd like to find out the gender but I'm not in a huge rush, I can wait until the next scan. He measured the neck and said it was 1.5mm which is good, they want anything under 3.5mm. That shows a 70% odds of the baby not having down syndrome. You need to look at the blood test results too in order to say with 90% certainty. At one stage he commented that the neck was a little schrag which means crooked or bent! That made me worry as you can imagine. He said that the baby was in an awkward position and sleeping and he would try to wake the baby up to get a better look at the neck. He then proceeded to tap on my stomach! Then we all saw the baby start to move around! It was incredible. He said at that age they sleep every half hour. I felt protective of the baby already and didn't like him disturbing him or her. But I also wanted to get the measurements to make sure everything is ok.

Once baby was in a better position he measured the neck again and it was fine so that was a relief. He/She was also measuring perfectly for 12 weeks. Then baby fell asleep again. So precious! The doctor commented that while 95% of the placenta is in the right position, 5% is a little low so I might experience some bleeding again. He said if that happens, get it checked out of course but not to immediately panic about a miscarriage. He probably noticed I was still a little anxious because at the end of our appointment he told us that the odds of something going wrong are only 3% at this stage which was nice to hear. I then got the confirmation letter for work to say I'm pregnant. It continues to feel surreal that that there's a little baby growing inside me. Still a dream come true! Despite having some nausea bouts and the anxiety, I do love being pregnant and I am trying to enjoy this whole experience. My next appointment isn't for four weeks, crazy! but I guess at this stage everything is ok. Next week I'll get my 12 week intralipid done and then send my blood off to check the natural killer cells again.

Week 12 - later that week

It was strange making my way to my fertility clinic. It's only been six weeks since I had been there last but it felt like so much has happened since then. As I sat in the waiting room, I looked around at all the other couples and really hoped that things would work out for them. My fertility doctor, Dr Peppy set up the intralipid for me. It was really nice seeing her again. She said that the previous intralipid I had gotten at 10 weeks would have taken me to week 12 and I didn't really need to get another one (but I could). I told her that the immune doctor wants me to send my blood again to re-check the NK levels and she said that there is no need to get any more Intralipids done after 12 weeks. By this stage the placenta has already formed. As usual different doctors saying different things! I trust her though and it made me think that unless the NK cells have gotten really bad again that maybe I would choose not to get any more intralipids done.

A few days later I went to my GP to get my blood taken in the vials provided by the immune practice. Then I hurried to the post office and sent it all by express post. A few days later I asked hubby to phone to check my blood vials had arrived at the immune practice and to ask how soon I would get the results. The results were already there! My NK levels have gone down from 18.4%to 14.7%. They are still "borderline" but ok. I can stick with the current treatment plan, meaning I don't need to get any more intralipids. That's a relief! I was a little disappointed that my NK cells haven't gone down even more than that but anyway I'm not going to let it bother me. Some paperwork was missing, I was meant to send a referral in order for my health insurance to cover the blood test costs. I wasn't sure which doctor would give me one since my gyno is on holidays and the substitute doctor had mentioned he doesn't believe in all the immune stuff. Hubby phoned his practice and explained the situation and he sent the referral no problem though so that was a relief. It's nice the blood test is covered 100% by my health insurance this time.

A friend of mine lent me her fetal doppler. That's a device you can use to pick up the heartbeat at home. For some women they can get it to work as early as about nine weeks though others take longer. In my case I finally got to hear baby's heartbeat at 12wks2 days. That was amazing to hear and reassuring. I tried again a few days later. It took longer and I was only able to hear it for a few seconds but it was there. Then at the beginning of week 13 I had been feeling anxious and I tried that night and this time I couldn't find it at all! Hubby tried too but no luck. I started getting anxious but he said baby was probably in an awkward position and not to worry. I tried again the next morning before and after breakfast and still nothing! I found a heartbeat which was probably my own as it didn't sound fast enough to be the baby's. I was sorry then for using the fetal doppler at all. When it works it is very reassuring but when it doesn't it can be scary! Anyway, I tried again that night and finally I was able to find the baby's heartbeat for a few seconds. This time it was on the right hand side instead of the left, so many the baby has been moving around! I put the doppler away and I have decided I won't use it again for at least a week.

Now that I have reached the 12 week mark we are gradually starting to share our news with more people. Telling people makes me a little nervous. I guess it's difficult to feel totally at ease with this pregnancy after the long journey to get to this point. I still have a fear of it all being taken away. However, I have also been making an effort to enjoy each day instead of anxiously awaiting the next scan. I have been trying to stay as calm as possible and I keep telling the baby how loved he/she is! When I told the HR manager at work she gave me a big hug and was delighted for us. That was really sweet. Hubby has also been really happy about this pregnancy and it has been a sweet time. We were joking since the last scan that our baby loves sleeping just like his/her parents! I'll ask hubby "what do you think baby is doing now?" and he jokes back "probably sleeping!". I have also been sharing with him some of the facts from my pregnancy app. Like, I read that starting from week 13 the baby can start to hear things outside the womb! And they can also differentiate between light and dark. I am so amazed that from a bunch of cells a tiny person is now forming and growing. I pray that in six months time we'll get to meet our little one! In the meantime baby can stay put and keep growing and being loved.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Infertility in the news

Since infertility has been a big subject in my life the past few years, whenever I see things in the news about it, it peaks my interest. Recently a study has come out about men's declining sperm count. "Sperm counts in the West plunge by 60pc in 40 years as 'modern life' damages men's health." The decline shows no sign of stopping either. That is crazy when you think about it!

The article also said that poor sperm can be an indicator of other health problems; Aside from the obvious implications for reproduction, the researchers said the declines were consistent with reported trends in testicular cancer, the number of children born with one or both testicles missing, the onset of male puberty and total testosterone levels. This is not something that should be ignored. There were several possible reasons given in the article; chemicals... BPA... processed meats... but I got the impression they don't really know for sure. If there are chemicals in the food that we are being exposed to that are causing problems like this (plus who knows what other issues could be attributed to it such as cancer), something needs to be done.

The same study was also covered in the Daily mail, which is a tabloid paper. They commented about how women are typically "blamed" for infertility when often it is the man at fault. I really wonder when the blame game of women "being career women" and "waiting too late" is going to stop. Anyway, the article mentioned that maybe men and women will have to start freezing their sperm and eggs when they are young for future use! This is not an ideal solution for numerous reason. It's an interesting idea though. I'm currently reading "The handmaiden's Tale" for my book club and articles like this make the book seem not all that far fetched!

The comments under both articles (there and on the facebook pages) were despicable though. Firstly there were lots of people blaming "feminists" and "feminism". That made my blood boil. Come on! Some people seriously think that women having equal rights and being allowed to work and vote for instance is causing men to feel so threatened that their bodies produce less sperm?! Give me a break! The other most prevalent comment was about "overpopulation" and that this sperm issue is hence "a good thing". That also upset me. I can see how over population can be a problem is certain countries especially with poor access to family planning and contraceptive measures but in the western world we have the opposite problem. Germany has an aging population for instance. Many couples these days only have one kid on average, or none at all! And people not being about to have the choice to have children is in no way a "good thing". I wouldn't wish infertility on my worst enemy! It is heartbreaking to go through.

By the way I wanted to add that by using a picture of the manly Jon Snow from Game of Thrones I'm not in any way suggesting that there might be any issue with his swimmers... But if there were, it wouldn't make me think any less of him!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Weeks 7-9

Trigger warning: pregnancy discussed

Things have been a little up and down since our first appointment where we saw the heartbeat. Mainly great but I've also had some very anxious moments.

Dr. Peppy, the doctor at our fertility clinic gave me a plan for how to taper off Prednisolone the steroids I've been taking. It was quite a steep drop. I was to go from 15mg a day to 10mg then three days later drop again to 5mg then three days later to 2.5mg and then stop completely. I reduced the first amount from 15mg to 10mg but then I noticed my glands were slightly swollen and I wondered whether it might be a side effect. I also started to get nervous about going off the steroids so soon. I did some research online and most women who take prednisolone to reduce inflammation stay on them till the twelfth week of pregnancy before then gradually tapering off.

So I decided it best to phone the immune doctor to confirm with her. The treatment plan I had been given just said to reduce once the heartbeat was established but it was vague. When I phoned and explained the situation the lady at the practice seemed alarmed and said I shouldn't have reduced already, that it was too soon! She said that she would get the doctor to email me to tell me what to do. Obviously that phone call worried me! I decided to not reduce any further and to stay on 10mg until I heard from the doctor. It took several anxiety filled days before I got an email from the immune clinic. The email emphasised again that it had been too soon to go down without having my natural killer cell level activity rechecked. I was asked whether I wanted another treatment plan sent out to which I immediately replied in the affirmative. I was freaking out after the email though. Really worried that I might have ruined everything. My sister had also told me all about a friend of hers who had had a traumatic missed miscarriage at 10 weeks recently and I couldn't stop thinking about it which probably didn't help my worries.

Hubby thought we should trust dr. Peppy. Another friend I asked thought I should listen to the immune doc who is the expert in the area. Hubby offered to phone the practice to discuss what I should do. I thought that would be a good idea because I didn't want anything to be lost in translation (remember all the communication had been in German)! The email had come across as very harsh! But then things in German can often come across that way to non native speakers. Anyway hubby phoned and discussed my treatment with the doctor - He said that the fact that I reduced the prednisolone wasn't that bad, the issue was that I had gone down too severely, I should have only reduced by 2.5mg amounts not 5mg. The new plan was that I stay on 10mg for another two weeks (till week 10) and then in one week intervals start to go down by 2.5mg.

I am also able to reduce the Granocyte injections from every third day to every four for two weeks then every five days. I felt very relieved after that phone call! That said I was still nervous for the eight week scan. This time the appointment was done at my local gyno. It went great thank God! The baby is actually starting to look like a tiny person now, not just a dot! It was really incredible to see the head and tiny hands. Everything looked perfect. The doctor also gave me a book about pregnancy. Afterwards I got another Intralipid infusion done.

The only bad thing was that my doctor was pretty against flying at all during pregnancy. He said it increases the risk of thrombosis and miscarriage slightly so we would be taking a risk travelling to Dublin for my brother's wedding. Hubby and I did discuss whether we should cancel the trip but I really wanted to go. Also lots of people have flown pregnant and been ok so I felt like it should be fine. That doesn't mean I wasn't anxious though! I avoided the x-ray machines in the airport and even wore a "belly band" which is meant to protect against radiation which I'd ordered online! We had a great time, it was so nice seeing everyone. I even told a few friends and an aunt who had been praying for us and knew about our struggles our "news" in person, which was lovely. Everyone has been extremely happy for us. It still all feels surreal though to be honest! I wonder when it will actually feel more real. Part of me is scared at times to enjoy it too much in case I jinx it, but then the other part wants to enjoy every second!

I noticed a few more "symptoms" kicked in since week eight. If I let myself get too hungry I will start to feel quite nauseous. My sense of smell is sharper. I've also been feeling more tired and I've been more forgetful too! After the Ireland trip, I felt exhausted. Work was quite stressful too for various reasons. Then a few days later for the first time in this pregnancy I had some red spotting. It happened late at night. It reminded me of the awful miscarriage I had after our first IVF and for several seconds I just thought "Oh no, no, no..." However it was only a small amount of bleeding and it stopped soon after thankfully. I found it hard to sleep that night and kept wondering what I should do - go to the hospital, phone my gyno in the morning or do nothing and assume everything is fine. In the end I decided to call my doctor first thing. When I phoned and explained about the small amount of bleeding (but no cramps) I was told to make my way there immediately. That was quite nerve wracking as you can imagine! It was a different doctor this time but she was very nice. She checked my cervix which was closed and the right length, and she couldn't locate the source of the bleeding. She said that some spotting can be normal in the first trimester. Then she did a scan to check on the baby.

At first it just looked like a blob this time! I couldn't make out where the head was. She said the baby was in a funny position with his/her head leaning over the body looking at the feet. We both stared at the screen and there was no sign of a heartbeat at first. It seemed like it took forever while the doctor kept moving the ultrasound wand around. I was thinking something like "Oh God, oh God, please can the baby be ok". After what felt like an eternity but was probably only a minute, she found the heartbeat and everything was fine! She did comment that the baby was "small". I didn't like the sound of that. It took ages to get a measurement because of the awkward position but it looked like baby is about a week behind in growth. The doctor said not to worry though. She also wrote me off sick for several days and told me to rest at home and take magnesium. If I have any more bleeding or get cramps outside their practice opening hours then I should go straight to the hospital.

Luckily everything has been fine since then. I've just been taking it very easy. Watching lots of The Good Wife again! I go back for another scan early next week. Hopefully the baby will have grown more by then. I'm trying not to worry about the growth thing. I read on online forums that it's normal enough in the first trimester for the baby to measure a week ahead or behind. I also think that the baby's awkward position could have messed up the measurement. So that's a run down on the last few weeks! Only a few more to get through until, please God, I'll make it safely into the second trimester.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Silly question of the day

This question was doing the rounds on social media recently. If you had a choice of taking a blue pill and restarting your life at age 10 but with all you know now, or of taking a red pill and waking up age 45 with 50 million dollars, what would you choose?

I did think about it for a moment but to me it's clear, I would go for the blue pill! Why would I want to wish the next ten years of my life away? Sure I would get a million dollars but so what, to me the years in between spent with friends and family are a lot more valuable! I do realise that being in a position to turn down a million dollars probably also shows that I already have a certain amount of privilege. I have a roof over my head and plenty of access to food and health care. I'm sure there are lots of people who would be desperate for the money for various reasons.

Life is short and the thought of getting more time is appealing. That said, I don't particularly like the idea of having to start at age 10 all over again! I would have to go through the teenage years with all those crazy hormones, immature friends, not to mention exams which doesn't sound particularly appealing. However I have gained a lot of knowledge by now that I think I could manage it!

The main advantage for me of course would be the opportunity to spend time with my late Mum again. She passed just before my 23rd birthday. The idea of getting another 13 years with her would be amazing. And this time I would make sure we have more quality time. The idea of having to watch her get sick again is hard though, but maybe with my knowledge I could send her to the doctor earlier so she could get diagnosed sooner. I would try to be a better daughter this hypothetical time too.

I also wouldn't care as much about what other people think of me. As I've gotten older I've realised how little that really matters and that you should rather be true to yourself.

I would invest in shares, haha! Google, Facebook, Apple... maybe that way by age 45 I'd easily have saved a million dollars.

I was considering whether I would study something different at university for a total change but then I realised that the subjects I picked (German among others) ended up leading me down a path where I met my now husband and moved to Germany. I'm very happy with these decisions so I'd probably be better off studying the same topics and not changing any of the big life choices I made in the past.

It is also possible that maybe I would drive myself crazy trying to stop awful events which I would know in advance about. There's this character from ancient Greek mythology called Cassandra. She was given the gift of foresight but no one ever believes her so it becomes a horrible curse.

Which would you pick if you were given the choice? I guess choosing neither is also an option.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


Trigger warning: pregnancy mentioned.

Firstly I wanted to say thanks so much for all the lovely comments and messages from everyone! It really means a lot to us.

Well I finally the day I've been waiting years for arrived. It was my first pregnancy ultrasound ever! The appointment wasn't till 5pm and it felt like such a long day waiting for it. On the way to the clinic, hubby and I both felt pretty nervous. I couldn't help thinking that either it was going to be an amazing moment or an awful one! Once we were called in to Dr. Peppy we spoke for a few minutes and then she suggested we do the ultrasound. I jumped up, pretty eager to finally see what's going on in there!

She started having a look and pretty immediately found something - the gestational sac with a tiny fetus..and a heartbeat too! I literally burst into tears at that stage! Mostly from relief to be honest. Just all the anxiety had been building up and I was so relieved and happy to know that everything is ok! The doctor also confirmed that there is only one baby in there. I did feel a little sad thinking about the other embryo that didn't make it but we are still absolutely delighted with one. A multiple pregnancy would have had more risks. We would be so grateful for one healthy baby! Once I pulled myself together and stopped crying I was able to ask some questions. It was so amazing seeing the little heartbeat! You can't really see much at this early stage (six weeks), just that something is there. The baby is only the size of a pomegranate seed!

Then Dr. Peppy discussed all my meds. I am to continue taking something for my thyroid plus baby aspirin. The Granocyte injections will be kept up every three days until I reach the 2nd trimester. I will need to continue getting the intralipid infusions every two weeks until then too. Progesterone tablets and steroids I can gradually start reducing now. And then she said that that would be my last appointment there, the next one would be at my local gyno! Wow, gradation from the fertility clinic already. We thanked the doctor profusely for all her help. She could see how happy and overwhelmed we were!

Afterwards I got another Intralipid done. That took almost two hours. The clinic had really bad reception so it was ages before I was able to message my family to let them know how the appointment went! Everyone was delighted. To be honest this whole experience still feels completely surreal. Sort of like I've woken up in a parallel world where our dream is actually coming true. This morning I phoned my gyno and arranged an appointment for two weeks time. I'll be eight weeks pregnant by then, please God.

I don't think either of us will be able to fully relax until the second trimester to be honest. I still have a fair bit of anxiety. That said, I am absolutely loving the thought that there is a tiny baby growing in there right now. I'm praying so hard that it will be a viable pregnancy and the little one will stick around. So far my only symptoms have been increased appetite, sore boobs, tiredness and lots of heartburn! Hubby is excited too. He's even been thinking about how many months he'd like to take as parental leave (In Germany, you get 14 months to share among the parents). It's so amazing to dream and imagine.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Nice high number

Six days after our first blood test I went in for the second one. I had to get up at 5.30am in order to get to my clinic as early as possible so that I would make it back to my office in time. I didn't mind too much though. After all the challenges of going through IVF it wasn't such a big deal and I'm excited to have a reason to need a second blood test. I also got some of my prescriptions renewed while I was there. The clinic told me they would call between two and three pm. During my lunch break I went home hoping the results might be ready early but no such luck. Hubby was going to get back earlier from work that day so we agreed that he would phone the clinic to find out the results but not tell me until I came home just in case the news was bad.

That was the idea. In practice when I didn't hear anything from hubby I started worrying that maybe it was bad news and he was waiting to tell me in person! The time passed really slowly in the office before I was able to get home and the half hour before I got back, I started getting really anxious thinking how devastating it would be if the news wasn't good. As soon as I arrived in front of the house, hubby rushed out to meet me, smiling, and said it was good news! Thank you God!! I burst into tears again, this has definitely been an emotional time for me lately haha! Happy tears though.

He told me the HCG has gone up to 2343. Amazing!! I put it into into HCG online calculator and it said that's a normal doubling rate. We have an appointment in a week's time for the first ultrasound. How exciting! At that stage we should finally find out whether there are one or two embryos growing and if we are lucky see a heatbeat/heatbeats. It feels so surreal thinking about that! I am still on cloud nine and can't stop smiling.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Pregnancy after loss and cold showers

After the happiness and surprise eventually came the worry. Pregnancy after a loss can be a tricky one to deal with. I remember that hard week after our first IVF when I was technically pregnant but with a low HCG value and was told it could go either way. There was a little spotting some days but it always went away. I had some mild symptoms such as tiredness, increased appetite and sore boobs. I kept doing pregnancy tests hoping the line would get darker but it grew fainter instead which was probably a likely indication that it was non viable. The longer I remained pregnant the more I had hope though that maybe it would still be ok. However the miscarriage begun the night before when our first scan at our previous clinic would have been.

I can't help having some anxiety regarding this pregnancy. I found a link online where you can calculate your miscarriage risk and it said mine was about 26% (at four weeks, it goes down the longer you remain pregnant)! That was stupid of me to look it up. However I then came across a more reassuring link and when you take our strong initial HCG value into account it seems promising that this could be a viable pregnancy. I keep reminding myself that there is no reason to assume that everything isn't fine. This pregnancy already seems stronger than my last (which was a year and a half ago. Crazy). I have barely any symptoms though of course it's super early at this point, just four weeks. It just feels surreal most of the time!

I did a second pregnancy test yesterday for some reassurance and there was a strong second line which was nice to see. The next stage is to go back to my clinic for a second blood test and provided all goes well I could have the first scan a week later. Wouldn't that be exciting!? At our new clinic they make you wait a week for the second blood test which seems so long! I have a dentist appointment that day so I asked if I could come in a day earlier (Monday) for the blood test and that's fine. The HCG is meant to be doubling every few days. A slow rising HCG can be indicative of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. A scan at around 6-7 weeks should be able to show a heartbeat and once a heartbeat is present, then the risk of miscarriage drops to around 5%. So if I could get to that stage I can imagine I'll breathe a huge sigh of relief. One minute I feel ecstatic and love thinking about the future, and another I try to reign myself in, thinking I shouldn't get ahead of myself so early.

In other news, there have been some unexpected house costs lately. There's a problem with our water heating. It came to a head the day of the result actually. Hubby was all stressed but I was barely thinking about it. He said, "don't you care if there's no hot water and you have to have cold showers"? I think my reply was something like, "I would gladly take cold showers for all nine months if I can have a healthy pregnancy!" Anyway it turns out the problem has gotten worse so I have been having to have cold showers lately, haha. And I don't mind as long as the baby or babies on board are doing ok. That said, we are getting someone to come to the house to try to fix the problem as soon as possible. We are hoping it won't be too expensive. There have been quite a few unforeseen repairs that have come up ever since we moved in. I don't think our surveyor did a great job at predicting stuff!

I also wanted to mention that I know I have a lot of followers who are still in the midst of the infertility trenches. I will try my best to be as sensitive as possible regarding our news and I certainly don't intend to turn this into a "pregnancy" blog now. Occasionally I will mention it but I plan to write about plenty of other things too. Of course, it's still at an extremely early stage so I don't feel like I am out of the woods yet by any means but I am incredibly grateful to have reached this point!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Is this for real? Overjoyed!

This morning I went to my clinic for the blood test. I told the nurse that I had already tested yesterday and gotten a positive and asked about getting more prescriptions for my meds. I also inquired about when I should get the next Intralipid infusion done. I had brought it with me just in case. The nurse gave me the prescriptions I would need, about one week's worth by the looks of things and then told me they would administer the intralipid for me today!

I was glad to get it done rather than have to come back a different day though I was annoyed at myself for forgetting to pack a snack. I'd had breakfast at 8.30am but I wouldn't end up getting home until around 2pm. I was told the clinic would phone me between 2 and 3pm. Dr. Peppy who had been on holiday was back and it was really nice to see her again. I asked her what HCG value would they like to see today and she said at least 50.

I only got in the door around 2pm, had some lunch and then around half an hour later the phone rang. I was too scared to answer it! Hubby answered and put it on speaker phone. The woman from the clinic sounded happy so I already had a good feeling. She said that it was positive and all the values were great! Hubby asked what the HCG value was exactly and she said...wait for it... 239!!! Can you believe it? What a great value!!

Back during my first IVF, I only had a value of 28. This pregnancy already feels different and stronger, thank God!! I phoned my Dad on skype and he cried, it was so sweet. I was crying too! This is honestly like a dream come true, though it still feels surreal!

Next week I go back to my clinic for a second blood test. No scan yet unfortunately. They seem to just want you to do several blood tests before the first scan. It's extremely early days, like I'm only 4 weeks now. But, I am so grateful and amazed that our fourth and final IVF may be actually working!! Today is the best day!! Thank you so much everyone for all the support and lovely comments.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Happy tears

I had been debating the merit of testing a day or two before the official blood test. A single pregnancy test was in my drawer so it wasn't like I'd have to actually go out and buy any. For several days I went over the pros and cons of testing early. The main advantage being an extra day to "prepare" myself if it were negative. The last few days I have also had quite a few ups and downs.

One moment convinced this hasn't worked as I don't feel anything and with my bad luck in terms of trying to have a baby why would it? I'd even started thinking what we would do if it failed. Places we could visit for instance Barcelona or Malta sprung to mind. I also was wondering whether it would then make sense to make an appointment at our clinic to find out their thoughts and how low are chances are. However then I'd remind myself to stay hopeful a bit longer. The evening before last I started noticing some twinges around my ovaries which I couldn't help thinking could be a good sign. I've also had heartburn quite frequently. Although anything can be a side effect from all the drugs and hormones!

Ok, I'll get to the point... Before breakfast I decided to sneak away and do a test before hubby could tell me not to. Once I saw the dye initially just create the control test line and nothing else I looked away thinking "oh no, I can't bear this if it will be negative" and I started praying desperately while I waited.

About minute later I peeked at the test and to my absolute shock there was a second line. I looked again closer. It was definitely there! I double checked the instructions on the test, I was doing it right. Then I burst into tears! Extremely happy tears. I was shaking from just feeling so overwhelmed. I'm delighted! I am honestly really happy to have come one step closer. When I went back to the bedroom to tell hubby who was only just waking up, I burst into tears again. At first he got worried and couldn't tell whether I was happy or sad! I managed to get out that they were "happy tears" as he hugged me.

This is just stage one. The next hurdle is getting a good strong beta value at the blood test tomorrow. After our first IVF the HCG value was only 28 which implied it could end up being an early miscarriage which it sadly was. A number over 50 would have been better but ideally over 100. Hubby is still very apprehensive and worried. He told me he's anxious I'm getting my hopes up too much. I told him I am just taking it one day at a time and today I can be happy! I know I still have a long way to go. But the amazing thing is that one or both of our embryos implanted and as of right now, I am pregnant!! Please God the blood test will go well tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Blissful ignorance

Right now I'm in a strange place. Our embryos may have implanted and I could be on my way to our dream of having a baby being fulfilled. Or nothing may be happening and it could end up being another heartbreaking negative call next week. Even though I would usually like the "two week wait" to be over quicker so I can just find out already, a big part of me just wants to remain in blissful ignorance a while longer. If our fourth and final IVF ends up being a negative then I'm in no rush to come crashing down. I'd just like to stay hopeful believing this could still happen for us awhile longer. So that's where I'm at now. One week down and scared for the outcome.

Hubby and I also had a discussion last night about what we would do it this fails. I said I know I would come out the other end eventually but initially I could imagine sinking into depression if it turns out all our efforts to have a family haven't come to pass. There are times when I question all my decisions in life leading up to this point. If I'd known all the challenges we would have had trying to have a baby then of course I would have started trying earlier. A few months probably wouldn't have made a big difference though. Hubby commented that even if I didn't have the issues with my fallopian tubes from previous surgeries I could still have had problems getting and staying pregnant due to the elevated natural killer cells or the missing KIR genes which were discovered during the immune blood panel.

This all sounds pretty depressing. Despite everything I was also thinking recently that we have quite an idyllic life in a lot of ways. We both love our house. That was a great decision and we are getting great joy out of spending time in our garden so far this Summer. We have a happy marriage, that's certainly not a given. Life in Germany is nice. We have a good standard of living. Coming from Ireland I really appreciate having a proper Summer here! We both have decent jobs, our health and a circle of friends, not to mention loving supportive families. So I'll remind myself that whatever happens we will find a way to be complete even if our "family" remains a family of two. In the meantime I'll stay hopeful and believe.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Time for the good wife

The day after our transfer I was injection free which was great! The two week wait of IVF always feels a little strange. You go from having numerous appointments at your clinic every few days and being extra busy to all of a sudden having free time and getting radio silence from your clinic. I'm doing well at the moment though. There were a few times where I got a bit emotional/stressed/overwhelmed thinking about it all but I've mainly been happy and positive. I've been reminded by my lovely blog commentators that each cycle and embryo tells a new story. Just because it hasn't worked for us before doesn't mean it couldn't happen now (sometimes I just think I can't even imagine this actually working..)

I'd taken several days off work after the transfer and I've really been taking it easy which has been nice! Hubby and I have done some things around the house; unpacking and organizing where we put things, cooking and eating lots of healthy meals but also just spending time together watching TV or relaxing in the garden. My favourite two shows at the moment are "The Good Wife" and "Call the Midwife". Hubby jokes I love any shows containing the word "wife" in the title, haha!

I'd actually stopped watching "Call the midwife" after our third round failed as I couldn't face seeing all the pregnancies and babies. However I feel fine about watching it now. I love shows set in the old days. "The Good Wife" is something I begun watching after IVF round three failed. It's perfect as it's a court room drama without a plot involving babies or pregnancies. I love watching shows with strong women characters. There are also about seven seasons on Netflix so lots to catch up on!

Oh yeah, I've also been trying to practice "social isolation" and staying away from other men lately, haha! There was a study which showed that women who avoided males other than their partner for three days after and IVF transfer had a higher rate of becoming pregnant. I figure anything is worth a shot at this point!

Last night I had a really sweet dream. In it, I had twin baby girls. There were about six months old and in a double buggy and I was bringing them around the park and shops with me. I was also tickling their chins and talking to them. They were laughing and smiling at me and I felt a strong sense of love. I woke up thinking how nice a thought it is that the embryos inside me could be communicating in some way. Yes, I know that probably sounds pretty far fetched! It could easily be that I have babies on the brain lately and it meant nothing, but it was sweet all the same! During our first IVF I remember having a dream of boy-girl twins.

A few days after our result we'll be hosting my mother in law's birthday party at our place. I'd offered to do it ages ago, not realising the timing. My MIL said if we get a positive result, it would be the best birthday present ever for her. It was a sweet and well meaning thing to say but for some reason I just felt added pressure, like if this doesn't work I'll be letting everyone down. I know I shouldn't feel like that though. Both sides are the family would just love to be grandparents.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Final transfer

It was strange to think that, considering we have agreed this is our final try of IVF, then today was also the last time our embryos would be transferred into me. Everything went pretty smoothly. The doctor wouldn't tell us the rating of the embryos but commented that one of them had grown particularly fast and was the better of the two.

This morning I went to the hairdresser bright and early at 8am! I wanted to get my hair coloured and cut before the transfer. If all goes well, then I would try to avoid dying my hair for as long as possible and then ideally only with dyes containing less chemicals. It seems overwhelming thinking that in two weeks I'll know the outcome! By then I'll know if it's a total negative and our journey to try to have our child or children will be over and it will be time to look towards a different future.

After the transfer hubby and I had a silly argument. The details are a bit stupid but I ended up getting emotional. All the stress from the past two weeks was getting to me. I'm feeling much better now though. And reasonably positive. Once we got home we had a relaxing afternoon. I've taken several days off work post transfer this time and that will be nice to have some time to relax before going back to work.

This is the top I wore for the transfer. I love butterflies and something about them has always made me feel hopeful. As well as the spotty socks I had worn for my first IVF transfer, the only time I was properly pregnant, even though it was short lived! This evening we watched the latest Muppets film which was a bit of fun.

If I start thinking about things too much then it's a little overwhelming so I'm planning to keep up the philosophy I used at the beginning of this cycle and just take things one day at a time. I am also planning to try to hold off for the official blood test if I can manage it this time. If I do any pregnancy tests beforehand I run the risk of getting false positive again (which happened the previous two times from leftover IVF hormones!). And even if it were an actual positive I wouldn't know the HCG value until the blood test anyway and it could end up being a chemical. So best just to wait it out.

Thanks so much to all my online friends who have been supporting and following along by the way!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Disappointing result but still hope left

Today was quite a let down after the excitement of yesterday. The clinic phoned and told me that out of the five eggs collected, only two of them fertilized. So now because there are so few embryos we'll be doing a three day rather than five day transfer as it's just too risky to wait the extra days. We are getting "assisted hatching" done this time though to hopefully increase our odds a little.

I know I should be grateful that we have two embryos, and I am absolutely, it was just a let down. I feel a bit stupid for the fact I let myself get so excited and carried away (as usual). I thought this cycle was turning out much better than the previous ones but it's just the same. We are still only ending up with two embryos after going through everything. During the previous IVF (third round) we transferred two great quality ones, but it failed nonetheless. These will be the sixth and seventh embryos we have created altogether.

I had a bit of a cry about it. I decided it's better to let the negatively out now and then from transfer day onwards I'll try to get the positivity back! I also decided I owe it to our two potential children growing in a petri dish right now to be hopeful and fight for them! I'm excited for the transfer anyway. That's always the highlight of the IVF process for me! Hubby is coming too.

We ended up having to entertain friends this afternoon which wasn't ideal timing wise! It was a colleague of my husband and his wife plus their seven month old baby. We haven't shared our infertility struggles with them as the guy is quite a gossip and hubby wouldn't want him spreading stories about us. They are nice but literally obsessed with their offspring! I'd be trying to tell them about our Australia trip for instance and then one of them would interrupt to point out that the baby had made a "cute" noise or slapped the table or whatever. A bit rude really. They also insisted on showing me several videos of the kid. I hope if this works out for us then we wouldn't be parents like that who don't have anything else in their lives to talk about!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Today was a good day

Normally the egg retrieval day is one of the worst for me as I've tended to have disappointing results. There was the first IVF where six promising follicles only led to two eggs, followed by the second where only a single egg was collected. My previous cycle was somewhat better with four eggs retrieved. At my old clinic we wouldn't be told how many eggs there were until the appointment with the doctor a few hours later and it was always an agonizing wait!

At my new clinic the doctor told us the egg number immediately after! Such a nicer way of doing things. So I was recovering from the procedure while feeling really happy as this time around, I got five eggs!! Best result yet. Such a relief as after my previous appointment I was terrified we might only end up with one or two. I wasn't in any pain after and generally have been recovering well. The plan is that the clinic will phone to let me know how many of the eggs fertilized. If we have three or more embryos then we will go for a transfer on day five, otherwise day three. The doctor told me that if we end up with only three embryos then it is likely only one will survive till day five. So as usual probably no leftovers to freeze.

I enquired about my thyroid value as it was tested at my last visit. And I could hardly believe it but the TSH value has gone down to 0.9?! Isn't that amazing? It had been 3.11 two weeks ago and I'd even considered postponing our IVF start because of it. Today has just been a really good day. The doctor I had this time (there are about five different ones at the new clinic) commented on how much she loves my accent and hearing me speak which was sweet!

I'll be kept busy the next while keeping up with all the injections and meds I have to take at certain times during the day so it's just as well I have an IVF diary where I've been writing it all down to keep track. As you can see from the picture, it has the Irish flag on the cover! I saw it and thought I could do with the extra "luck" of the Irish, haha! It came with a green pen as well.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Ups and downs of an IVF cycle

Well, I've arrived at the first descending part of the emotional roller coaster that is IVF. After my last appointment, I had two more days of injections to try to encourage the smaller follicles to catch up. At my latest appointment, it wasn't looking as good as I'd hoped. I have two big follicles on my left hand side, the rest are still tiny and it's looking less likely they will catch up. There are also two follicles on the right hand side though these are small. The doctor tried to prepare me by saying that worst case scenario is we might only get two eggs at the retrieval. My heart dropped when she said that. I had really been hoping that this new drug, Elonva which has shown promising results for poor responders like me might help or at least that the DHEA I'd taken for the past two months would if not. The doctor said that she really can't tell how many eggs I will end up with, I might be lucky and get more or not. So now I'm worried about maybe even ending up with less than two! Or if I do get at least two I'll be terrified that they might not be mature enough. During my last IVF attempt I got four eggs at the retrieval but only half of them fertilized. Although, the ones that did then grew into very good quality embryos, I still didn't get pregnant. There are so many unknowns in this whole process.

Yesterday's appointment was disappointing. This time I had a different doctor too and she wasn't as nice as the others have been. When I mentioned I was meant to get blood taken to get my thyroid checked she disagreed and implied I must have misunderstood (with the implication being because my German isn't good enough. Although maybe I'm just extra sensitive at the moment...). When she found a slip in my file which was marked that I WAS meant to get bloods taken she still didn't say anything nice and later when I was anxious about the number of follicles she wasn't exactly encouraging. I also started to worry that she might be turning the egg collection wrong and the follicles would be the wrong size, but I eventually decided that it's better not to second guess the doctor as that would just lead to more stress! I'll keep trying to trust that they know what they are doing.

Following the previous scan where I had seven follicles growing, I had started to get my hopes up thinking how amazing it would be if we ended up with six or seven eggs meaning even extras to freeze (and maybe a potential chance of a second child!). I was getting carried away too far on the positivity cloud and now I feel like I've being rudely awakened from the dream. My thought after the appointment was "I'm just so sick of this sh*t". Excuse the language. I don't normally curse but IVF brings it out of me! Maybe it's a good thing we have decided this is our final round as I feel like I've reached my limit. It's so frustrating to go through a week of injections only to not have your body respond as well as it should.

It was also just one of those days where everything that could go wrong did. A good friends at work announced they would be leaving in a few months. After my appointment I went to the pharmacy beside the clinic and they were out of one of the meds I needed. They had the other two but they wouldn't sell me those as you aren't allowed to get items on a prescription from separate pharmacies apparently. On the way home, I was in a bit of a daze trying to figure out how I'd be able to get the hormones I needed in time to do this morning's shots and I went to the wrong platform just as my train was pulling off. The subsequent train ended up being delayed so I missed my connection and had to wait half an hour in a train station in middle of no where. I didn't end up getting home till almost 10.30pm. It was a long day. There was also storm with really loud thunder and I wasn't able to sleep for ages.

So then this morning I had to get up extra early to go to the pharmacy in town which normally stocks IVF meds (at my local pharmacy you have to order them and it can take several hours at least). Once there after waiting in the queue, I find out that one of the drugs I need isn't available at the moment (Predalon). This is for the trigger shot which I have to give myself tonight at exactly 9pm. When the lady at the pharmacy said I would need a new prescription, I started panicking! It just felt like everyone was going wrong. Luckily she was helpful and said she could phone the clinic and get them to fax over the new prescription (for something called Brevacid which is the same thing just twice the price apparently). Crisis averted. While I was waiting for her to get the meds for me, a pretty young mother came in and then the pharmacist ignored me and went over to 'oo' and 'ahh' at the baby for several minutes. At this stage it was getting later and later. Granted the baby was pretty adorable but come on! Eventually I got my meds, raced home, did the morning injections (I've been told to stimm for one extra day to try to give the follicles a chance to catch up) and then just about made it in to work on time.

The GerMann has been very supportive I must say. He keeps reminding me that he loves me whatever happens and says I'm not letting him down (sometimes I feel like I am). He said that he hadn't been getting his hopes up too much and had been remaining "realistic" about it all. He's used to us only getting a few eggs at the retrieval. I know whatever happens, we will have each other. I still really really want this to work though. The egg collection will be in two days. I'd appreciate if you could please keep sending prayers and positive thoughts my way!