Tag Archives: infertility

How to Get Up Again

3 Feb

Resilience.jpg

I’ve been contemplating resilience.

resilience_def

A word often used to describe me. As if this is a special personality trait that I have which is admired by others. I’ve heard this word a lot over the past few days.

The truth is: that whilst I rise rather quickly from a fall, it is actually the shell of me going about business while my soul is slowly putting the pieces together. Does this make me a damn good actor or does the body have to get up before the heart and soul is ready to repair and come to the party? Well whatever the answer, it works for me. I don’t know if it is resilience or actually just survival though.

This is what I do to get back up again and prepare for the challenge in front of me:

1. Clean up. I feel more motivated and worthy in a clean space. I find if I let my house turn to shit, it creates an inner dialogue of how crap I am and how crap the situation is. Crap creates crap, if you know what I mean. When I get rid of the external crap I find it easier to control the inner crap.

2. Write a list. It’s comforting for me to have things to do. Mapping it out gives me purpose to get up. And crossing things off the list creates a sense of achievement. Positive!

3. Make an effort with my appearance. I can be a total feral at times and not brush my hair for days and wear my pajamas like a uniform. This is a favourite past time of mine however, when feeling low this past time turns from free spirit to down and out. When times are tough, if I can look in the mirror and not cringe, that’s a very good thing. I actually got four cold sores on my forehead, so you can imagine how beautiful my hair was to counteract this hideousness!

4. Walk. Walking is a great way to practice mindfulness when meditation seems to hard. I’m lucky that I live in an area with lots of bush walks but any walk is good for the soul.

5. Eat some healthy food. Once I’ve inhaled the toxic Doritos, ice cream and toasted cheese mountains – Forcing myself to make something healthy sends a message to myself that I am worth the effort and that my body deserves better.

6. Accept invitations (conditional). I would prefer to talk to no-one when I have taken a fall but after a few days it is important to get back to friends, even when I dont feel like it. Willingly creating isolation is a fast track from bad to worse. This is however conditional in the early stages. I hate pep talks, especially from friends/family who have children and think they understand what I’m going through. If you have children then you do not understand. Sorry, that may seem harsh but the real pain for me is the prospect of not having a child. I dont begruge my beautiful friends/family who have children, they just can’t possibly understand how I feel, that’s all. Friends mean well but I’m in survival mode at the moment and can’t deal with the pep talk. Just send me your love and if I want your advice, I will ask you.

 

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Festive Season Survival

25 Dec

Christmas is tough for people experiencing fertility challenges. It’s all about the kids, right! Everywhere you look there are families enjoying the glorious wonders of Christmas. A harsh reminder that this is something you don’t have.

Even the lead up is a torturous time; you can’t turn the television on without being bombarded with adverts involving gorgeous children with their equally gorgeous mothers having the time of their lives!

In fact, these messages happen all throughout the year but it just seems more poignant at this time of the year. Why? Because this time of the year is all about family and any woman who desires a family has fantasized about this festive season with a child.

I find myself daydreaming about the bigger, more elaborate Christmas tree I would have. Oh and the presents I would buy and the food I would make and the smiles we would share. What fun we would have!

When the daydream stops and reality sets in, so does the absence of the child you so desperately want.

This is a call out to all women struggling over this time: Please know that it is okay to experience these emotions. Acknowledge them, feel them and move on so you can creatively visualise the family yet to come. Getting stuck on focusing on the absence will not help you create.

What helps me to not get stuck in focusing on the absence is:

  1. Practicing mindfulness. It’s difficult to remain in a negative thought pattern when practicing to be present in the moment. I use a great app called Headspace which has emergency guided meditations when the mind is really in a spin.
  2. Spend time alone in nature. This is very important for women as we are very intuitive and nature helps us connect with our inner knowledge.
  3. Don’t feel obliged to attend all festive events. If it’s getting too much for you, say no. Your emotional well being is more important than pleasing others.
  4. Try to stay away from social media during this time. No explanation required.
  5. Focus on what’s good in your life. I keep a vision board which I use to focus on what is good right now, as well as what I want in the future. Some people keep a gratitude journal.

For those of us actually undergoing fertility treatment over this period – it is so important to remain as positive as possible. Put yourself first and let your emotions guide you in how you should spend your time. If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it!

Women-Nature-Outdoors-Sunlight-Meditation-Fresh-New-Hd-Wallpaper-

Sending you much love and positivity over this time. May the new year bring you everything you desire.

All I want for Christmas…

10 Dec

So begins another IVF cycle.

All I want for Christmas is obviously a successful IVF cycle. However, in taking one day at time what I would also really like is to not offend or kill anyone.

This time I have decided to start the cycle with Synarel (Syna-hell) which I took in the first two cycles I did. I then swapped to Lucrin in the other cycles. Now I remember why.

Lucrin and Synarel are both GnRH agonists which act on the pituitary gland to stop ovulation occurring before the egg retrieval in an IVF cycle.

Synarel is a nasal spray and Lucrin an injection. My decision to try the Synarel again was based on the fact that I tend to have long cycles and get really sick of all the injections toward the end. I have also been getting a lot of bruising from injections.

I am now regretting this decision. A week in and I am getting headaches, hot flashes and  mood swings. I am worried about whether the mood swings will get worse and therefore I will no longer be fit for public life. I’m not the most patient person at the best of times so I could get myself into some serious trouble here.

I realised it was all turning to shit when I started to sob at a Current Affair advert. Uh Oh! And then my husband informed me that I was being quite snappy. Double Uh Oh!!!!

Hold on tight family and friends! This is going to be an interesting Christmas.

Common side effects:

Nasal irritation, headaches, hot flashes, mood swings, decreased sexual interest, muscle pain, acne, vaginal dryness, or decrease in breast size may occur in women.

Not everyone gets these side effects and for those who do, the severity seems to vary greatly.

 

The age game

11 Aug

My sport of late is peering into the faces of women pushing strollers down the street without looking totally psychotic. Well they don’t have to be pushing a stroller actually, they just have to have a young child, or baby, or both.

I’m searching for lines, any signs of aging really.

The conversation in my head goes a little like this “She must be in her early forties I reckon and the baby is under one so that means she would have fallen pregnant around my age.” Bingo! I seem to feel a lot better knowing this. If she can do it, I can do it – right?

Perhaps she is the child’s nanny or grandmother but who cares. It’s my game and therefore my rules. And unlike most other sports, no one gets hurt or bored.

I don’t linger long on the young ones. I simply acknowledge my envy as my mind flicks to a vision of them looking terrifically young at their child’s 18th birthday party. But then again I bet these young looking mothers of said teenagers didn’t travel the world running amuck in their late twenties and early thirties. That’s how I make it okay for myself. Like I said – my game, my rules.

I also play this game whenever I hear of someone falling pregnant or having a baby. My first question “So how old is whatshername?” I just love hearing about women in their forties falling pregnant.

The game’s objective is clearly to justify and give hope to falling pregnant with 42 year old ovaries.

I can’t pin point when this obsession started. I wasn’t always so focused on age. Don’t get me wrong, I have been very conscious that as each year passed it was going to impact on my fertility. But I think because I knew I had fertility problems anyway, that in itself was the main focus.

I have a low ovarian reserve. I am 39 but my ovaries have apparently time traveled and got stuck a few years ahead of me.

We have all read that fertility starts to decline for women from about the age of 30, dropping down more steeply from the age of 35 blah blah blah.

Celebrated author and medical professional Christiane Northrup believes that whether or not a woman in her thirties is more at risk of fertility problems or a difficult pregnancy must be completely individualised. A certified obstetrician and gynaecologist with vast experience in women’s health, Northrup writes in her book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom:
“I’d much rather take care of a 40-year-old in excellent health who had planned her pregnancy than a 25 year old who smokes two packs and quaffs a gallon of diet coke per day. Too often the medical profession “hexes” women who become pregnant in their 30s and 40s by lumping them into a statistically high-risk categories that are not necessarily applicable.”

Hear hear! I’m not just trying to justify my own cause, this time. I truly believe this is true.

I may need a little help to fall pregnant but I am a nearly 40 year old in excellent health and I will be pregnant very soon 🙂

If you are woman in your late thirties/early forties and have a young child, you may wonder why some crazy woman stares at you in the cafe and walking down the street. That’s me. Sorry. I’ve now made a pact with myself to give the game away. You are now safe to go about your business in peace.

May the urine of a thousand pregnant women bring me much success

24 Jul

Well, perhaps not a thousand. Actually, I have no idea how much urine is needed and thus how many pregnant women it takes to make one vial of the wonder  fertility drug Pregnyl. I’m not sure I want to know. In fact, I think I know too much already. And now I feel it my duty to burden you all with the same knowledge.

HCG Pregnyl (human chorionic gonadotropin) is a hormone that is produced by the female placenta during pregnancy.  It is in abundance in the urine of pregnant women during the first four months of pregnancy.

The fertility drug – “Pregnyl (chorionic gonadotropin for injection) is a highly purified pyrogen-free preparation obtained from the urine of pregnant females. It is standardized by a biological assay procedure (whatever that means!) It is available for intramuscular injection in multiple dose vials containing 10,000 USP Units of sterile dried powder with 5 mg monobasic sodium phosphate and 4.4 mg dibasic sodium phosphate.” http://www.drugs.com/answers/is-pregnyl-made-from-urine-or-placenta-108843.html

In english this means that the hormone is extracted from the pee of ladies who are preggers, it is then purified and made into a fertility drug.

Somehow I seem to conjure images of beautiful women with fat bellies, wearing chiffon in an elaborate garden being worshipped for their magical pee. Perhaps that’s all about the gratitude I feel for women willing to do this for their less fertile sisters. Or perhaps I am trying to go to a happy place with all of this 🙂

Really, I can get past the fact that I will be injecting urine, but I am a little concerned about the process. I have to mix the drug myself and inject it into a muscle!? As if injecting yourself into the fatty bit of skin on your stomach wasn’t stressful enough. Oh dear!

So you have to snap off the tops of these two bottles, pour the liquid into the powder to dissolve it, put the mixture into a syringe and then inject it into the muscle (which muscle it doesn’t say). OMG OMG OMG OMG! I really think I should get a nurse to do the first one for me. I am feeling a little hot and sweaty just thinking about it.

From what I am reading about Pregnyl, it is well worth the stress though. I didn’t get many eggs the last time I did IVF – three. My fertility specialist thinks this may help me produced more this time whilst protecting the integrity of my eggs. I can’t very well argue with that now, can I? I was told that Australia and America had run out of Pregnyl in the last couple of months so I skipped the last cycle to wait for it to come in. Fortunately it did. So I have high hopes for this drug and will just have to toughen up and get with the program *shudder*

All jokes aside – I am very grateful for this technology and to the women who have helped make it possible. So grateful that I feel like I want to pass it on and donate my own pee when I am pregnant. But, you can’t do this in Australia. It looks like the Dutch have a project called Mothers for Mothers, where the pregnant woman can donate their urine from the sixth to the 16th week of their pregnancy – see here Mothers for mothers and Pregnyl | Human and health: pregnancy …

Seems like they need a lot of urine to make this drug. No wonder they ran out of it – see here CogniBrain – Dutch urine for export

 

Grieving Pregnancy Loss

18 Apr

Choosing to walk the path toward single motherhood can be a liberating experience. It is not a decision taken lightly by most women. A lot of thought and angst goes into taking this step. And it is a very courageous step to take by yourself.

Sadly though, one’s aloneness is bitterly highlighted when you face the kind of loss that a miscarriage brings. Suffering (and that is a perfect word to describe it) from a miscarriage can be very traumatic and sad for anyone, irrespective of their circumstances.

While a woman’s body can heal and recover relatively quickly from a miscarriage, the emotional injury can take much longer to heal. I believe that it is important to grieve after a pregnancy loss, regardless of whether it happened early in pregnancy or later on. Facing the loss and grief can help pull you through it all and even see you emerge a stronger person.

When doing some research around this sad topic I was surprised to find that it is a common problem that women do not want to talk about their feelings surrounding pregnancy loss. I started think about why this may be the case. I am fortunate that life has taught me to face emotional issues head on so this is difficult for me to understand. Why are some women not comfortable to talk about their miscarriage? I’m sure there are many reasons including the notion that there is something wrong with them as creating life is meant to be easy (a hideous misconception).

Well, another possible reason occurred to me one day when a well meaning friend kindly reminded me that miscarriage is common, particularly as you get older. Oh really? Like this was news to me! I was told by this friend in fact, that miscarriage was even par of the course. Okay, this may be the case and although this didn’t really upset me, it got me thinking. This wasn’t the first time I had heard that. The lovely lady at the ultrasound clinic told me this, the doctors of course told me this and the various leaflets were sure to get this message across. I even noticed myself reciting this mantra too. Yes, yes, miscarriage is common – but it doesn’t make the actual loss any easier.

Could being told how common miscarriage is at every corner induce some kind of guilt about feeling sad and spending time to grieve? Maybe, maybe not but regardless I really don’t think this friendly reminder, although well intentioned, is very helpful.

Bonding with a pregnancy can begin very early, especially for women going through fertility treatment. It may be the day you jump the hurdle of actually having an embryo to transfer or even the day you do your IUI or when the sperm is put into the Petri dish. It is different for everyone but the bond does start very early. And then once a pregnancy is confirmed, you begin to identify with your potential baby. When a woman goes through fertility treatment there is so much anticipation and when success is achieved the elation is high. When faced with the loss it is a very sharp corner to turn.

In my case, being 39 years old I am well aware of the facts surrounding miscarriage possibility. I don’t need to be reminded of this. Possibly, all this reminder really does is threaten to disqualify natural emotions of grief because I should have expected and been prepared for it. Hmmmm? Maybe I’m being too harsh? Comment and tell me what you think people. Isn’t this what blogs are for – to express thoughts and create conversation. Talk to me – I know you are there.

Anyhow I think you get my message here. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how high the risks are or how common miscarriages are, it is still painful. Loss of pregnancy is worthy of taking time out to grieve.

Fuck You FSH

22 Jan

As if a level 14 FSH wasn’t bad enough! My recent day 3 FSH fertility testing of ovarian reserve came back 20.5. It is true that when I do something I usually take it to the extreme, so well done!

When I got the result, yes I wept. But I am over it now. There is simply no point in dwelling on it or getting trapped in a state of defeat.

So what’s all this FSH stuff about:

FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) is synthesised and secreted by gonadotrophs of the anterior pituitary gland. It regulates the reproductive processes of the body and is the main hormone involved in producing mature eggs in the ovaries. FSH is released to get a follicle going at the beginning of every menstrual cycle.

FSH is the same hormone that is contained in the injectable gonadotropins which are used to produce multiple eggs for infertility treatment.

When a woman is running out of eggs the brain senses that there is low estrogen. This signals the pituitary to make more FSH in an attempt to stimulate the ovaries to produce a good follicle and estrogen hormone. The woman’s body never gives up trying to produce follicles and will continue to create FSH its whole life (this says something about the biological clock that clangs at a certain point in a woman’s life perhaps).Women in menopause have high FSH levels above 40. As women move toward menopause their baseline FSH levels will steadily increase.

Yep, this is meant to be FSH.

By measuring FSH on day 3 of the cycle an indication is gained as to how hard the body in working to get a follicle growing. Basically, the higher the FSH the lesser the quantity and quality of the eggs.

Some doctors also believe that as levels go above 9, a reduction in response to ovarian stimulating drugs is also seen.

With so much focus on my aging body (amount of and quality of eggs), I can’t help but recognize how young I feel in every other way. I’m fit, healthy and energetic. And truly, I could give 20 something girls a run for their money in many areas.

I’m also fun. Some might see it as immature which, is totally premeditated and on purpose. I mean who really wants to grow into a serious and boring middle age woman? Well, some women may, but I don’t.

Seriously, in many ways I have really just begun living my life. I’m now over most of the trappings and baggage from my childhood.

So fuck you FSH. You are just not pulling your weight and following suit! You are the loose screw in an otherwise well performing engine – okay, that is dramatic! My FSH isn’t going to lead to it all coming undone but it is fucking with the grand plan.

Many doctors don’t even bother to take FSH levels when starting IVF. My doctor is of this school of thought. The only reason that I had the test was that the nurse from the fertility clinic where I did my orientation advised me to do so and then advised me not to proceed if my FSH was over 13. She said it would be in my best interest to wait for the next cycle and see if my levels were lower then.

When I research this for myself I find no proven benefit in waiting for a menstrual cycle with a lower FSH level and then stimulating straight away for IVF. As in any other profession, all doctors are different and I just have to accept that.

When choosing a doctor many factors come into play. I chose my doctor for several very good reasons and I trust him. So I wait for him to return from holidays on 31st January and we will make the decision together.

Let’s face it, I only need one good egg. Well, I would like two really because I want to put two back (no, I am not scared of the prospect of twins).

Conclusion:

Don’t get caught up on the FSH trip like I have. There are many factors involved in reproduction. FSH is just one of them.