Thursday, June 23, 2011

How to retrain the brain. Seriously, how?

The internet should and must be avoided at all costs, except for blog reading.

We lost our baby at 16.4 weeks last September and I am now three weeks pregnant, the first time I have been pregnant since that horrible time.

I cannot begin to list the emotions racing through my heart and head at this point.
Lurching. That’s a good word. I am lurching all over the place, from a diluted type of joy and happiness that doesn’t last long once the anxiety and palpable fear takes hold.

And it takes hold 98% of the time, both in my conscious and sub-conscious.
Everybody tells me I will be ok this time and I have to believe it will all be fine, and that’s great. But that’s exactly what everyone else told me last year. I even believed it.

And look how that turned out.

You can’t know, you can never know for 100% sure that things will turn out well, not well or in between.

I get that, but I really do need to know this time and it’s not fair that I can’t.
Coupled with all of these emotions is another feeling, or rather, a distinct lack of feeling. I don’t feel overly pregnant. I know that’s perfectly normal, but it does not help mitigate the anxiety!

When you go through IVF, you are keenly aware of times, dates and places. You know when the embryo went in, you know exactly when you can get a blood test and you are in permanent count-down mode.

As soon as I was able, I tested – both at home and at the path lab. And as soon as I was able, I knew. We knew. Most people at work knew.

So when most other women are blissfully ignorant of the tiny being forming inside them – happily consuming vast quantities of coffee, wine and soft cheese (bitches!) - I am trudging drearily to the kettle with my decaffeinated tea bag in hand.

I know, I shouldn’t whinge...I am drinking decaf tea and shunning leftovers for a bloody good reason. A bloody fantastic, happy reason.

Back to the internet. I started reading the What To Expect book a little and had some awful flashing back at the part about testing for abnormalities, Down Syndrome etc. I read and re-read the lines that said abnormal results were extremely rare, or complications were almost unheard of in most women and mentally crossed my fingers.

At work I have been distracted these past few days with internet sites that show foetal development week by week.

On one I read today, was this: Do not panic if you do not have pregnancy symptoms, although you should contact your care provider if you suddenly lose your pregnancy symptoms.

That sentence is two things: written by someone of Irish persuasion and THE VERY DEFINITION OF AMBIGUITY!

Read it again. If you can make sense of it, please comment below.

I shall now stop time-wasting internettery and keep counting down until our first scan on July 11.

After then, no doubt the count-down will be until our 12-week nuchal scan, and after then, a new count-down will take its place, and so on. Little milestones along the way.

I can’t get too far ahead but that doesn’t mitigate the anxiety in between each one!

And the whole time I feel scared that the stress will harm my baby and worried that I am somehow sending it a biochemical message that I am ungrateful because I am spending far too much time freaking out as opposed to enjoying this wonderful news and enjoying the fact that it is there and growing.

For the first time since we found out, I actually felt tingles of warm excitement as I was going off to sleep last night, about how cool this was going to be. The first time.

It has been like I cannot allow myself to fully let this great news wash over me completely. I’ve got glad wrap over bits of me that I need to protect and keep dry.

I’ve used duct tape and plastic bags to waterproof my heart. Which is stupid, because this is good, it’s great, it’s amazing. Why wouldn’t I want this all over me, drowning me?

Simple. Because it might not last. It might not last. And no one can tell me that it will or it won’t.

But I have to accept that and just hope for the best.

So far I have been too focused on the stress and the fear and telling people “hopefully everything will be alright this time” to stop and respect how incredibly lucky we are.

Lucky for now, at least.

I told our little boy’s day care lady and another mum this week. Instantly both of them put their hands up to their faces and sort of held their breath while twisting their faces into a worried sympathy.

No congratulations, no real broad smiles.

It must be said that these two women were also there last year when I collapsed in tears while picking up my son, as it was just after we had the awful news confirmed.

They no doubt had that raw memory in mind. As I do.

My mobile rang at work today. It was a nurse from the fertility clinic following up on the transfer.

“I am pregnant,” I told her.

“Oh, that’s wonderful! You needed that good news, especially after...well, you’ve had a hard life, my dear,” she said, no doubt casting a glance at my file, sitting open on the desk in front of her.

We have to hope for the best. What is the alternative?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

News - on the day the Dalai Lama visited my town

I am pregnant.


I found out just after 1pm today. My HCG is 300 and something and I am pregnant.

I am still a bit numb and not quite sure it's real yet.

Our little boy wet the bed at 2am so, as we were up, we decided to do the test then.

It showed two lines after an eternity, but the second line was quite faint and I went back to bed not thinking anything of it really. (And also preparing myself for bad news.)

I had always said whatever the home test result, I wouldn't place too much weight on it, and wait for the blood instead.

Then morning came, the sun rose, and I noticed the lines were a little darker, but still not conclusive. Then I read the bottom of the box, it expired in April.

I started to allow myself to feel some glimmer of hope again.

I had a blood test and what would normally have taken literally three minutes took me 35 minutes as the universe conspired to put four people suddenly ahead of me in the queue. And then when it was finally my turn, this crazy old lady's wallker wheel thing was blocking my way and it took, oh, about 17 YEARS FOR HER TO MOVE IT. I was quite breathless with nerves and anticipation by this point. Particularly as I wanted the test to be done ASAP, so it could get on the earliest courier to Brisbane so I could get the results, um, ASAP!

The blood guy looked sceptical as he wrote Urgent on the form and said the results normally take a couple of days. My face dropped, I told him that I was sure he could appreciate that we would be sweating on these results.

He circled the word Urgent, but I could not relax. I scurried back to the car, thankfully warmed from its morning chill after being parked in full sunlight, and burst into tears.

I think I had been counting down so fervently to this day, being 14 days and all, that I expected a result as soon as the sun rose. And to hear that I may have to wait another day, or even through the weekend...well, it broke my heart.

I went to work, tried unsuccessfully to concentrate and watched the clock tick over every hour.

At 1pm, I couldn't stand it any longer and took a punt by calling the doc's office in Brisbane.

"Hi there, I know this is a long shot, but just wondering if you have any results back yet." Wait, expecting a dismissive "Oh no, we wouldn't see those results on a Thursday until at least 3, maybe later."

But instead, a curt "Yes, we've got something here."

I held my breath. What followed was five minutes of utter confusion on my part, but I imagine total jaded going through the motions on behalf of the doctor's receptionist. She started going on about my HCG number, how they hadn't sent the progesterone results with the HCG results and wasn't that strange, did I still have enough pessaries, let me just put you on hold while I check with the doctor... WHAT????!!!!

She came back on hold and continued with this gibberish until I stopped her, exasperated and said point blank: "Sorry, am I pregnant or not?"

"Oh yes," she said, sounding temporarily self-conscious. "The doctor is quite happy with those numbers and we will see you for a scan in three and a half weeks."

I could barely utter goodbye before I crouched to the floor near a remote exit at work, where no one could see me, and cried my heart out.

Oh, my, god. Thank god. It has happened. What a relief, what a joy, what a fright, what a brilliant bloody result.

Each night for the past 14 terrible waiting nights, I have laid in bed just before I went off to sleep and placed my hand on my lower belly. In the still and the quiet, I have repeated the same words over and over in my mind: "Stay safe, healthy and strong, all the way to the birth and beyond."

Please god, make it so.

Friday, June 10, 2011

And time drags on

There is a stack of books sitting on one of the tallboys in our bedroom.

There’s Kaz Cooke’s Up The Duff and that classic, What To Expect When You’re Expecting.

They have stayed there untouched and unnoticed since the awfulness of last September.

This week I have longed to creep up, take one in my hands and tenderly wipe the fuzzy film of dust from its cover.

I have really wanted to flick through the pages once again; I yearn to have been given cause to do so.

I almost did that last night, but then I checked myself, and told myself to be patient. To wait.

We are just over half-way through our two-week wait and I am longing for so much.

Of course, longing to be pregnant this time and longing for caffeine and red wine on these cold winter nights; but also longing for some feeling in my belly, screw how early it is.

The first four days after the transfer I felt sick, and then this Monday afternoon,

I went back to normal. I have felt fine and completely normal ever since.

And I don’t like it.

I wish to be nauseous, vomity and bone-weary tired, thank you very much. Stat!

I can’t remember if I felt anything during the last two-week wait. I don’t think I did, just worry and vulnerability.

They are certainly back again, but I wish I felt more. Alright I don’t expect baby kicks per se, but something would be nice.

Plus I am also still taking progesterone, so even though I might get abdominal tiny twinges, every time I pass them off as some weird effect of that stuff.

I am due for my period in the middle of next week, and we can do a test on the Thursday. I also wonder what effect the progesterone will have on my period, if it will delay I am cautious not to think about getting to excited if my period doesn’t come.

During some moments in the day, I will temporarily forget the limbo we are in, and then it will flick back into the forefront of my mind.

When that happens, a little part of me is disappointed because I wish I was back in that blissfully-ignorant state from a few seconds before.

The problem is that we know the precise minute the embryo is implanted.

The problem is that we have been counting the hours and the days since...a practice that only makes them hitch a ride with the Torture Tortoise.

No alternative but to wait.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rule of three

I could be pregnant right now, as I sit here typing these words.

But I won’t know for sure until 13 more days have passed.

We went to Brisbane yesterday for a frozen embryo transfer (FET). It happened just before 12.30pm.

They thawed three embryos.
Earlier, we happened to randomly choose locker three to secure our stuff while we changed into hospital theatre garb, and we were in hospital theatre three.
Later that night when we went out for dinner, our table number was 133 and our son is 3. He often notices it on street signs or on TV and will proclaim it is “his” number.

Just sayin’.

And you know the other completely freaky thing? The transfer that resulted in our son happened on June 2 also. The very same date. We had no idea until T looked in her phone calendar last night.

One of the embryos didn’t survive the thaw, the other two did.

One performed ok, but the clear “leading embryo” had divided into eight cells and was a Grade 4, which the scientist told us was above average.

Five minutes later when he came in with the long white syringey thing containing the embryo, he said it had divided into another cell just that it is very strong.

As for the remaining embryo, I will ring on Monday to see if it will survive another freeze, as they like to wait until about day five before making that call.

The mood was quite jovial in the theatre, with many a joke about the speculum, Noosa, car parks and idiot former patients our doctor had had.

And if you can’t laugh about a speculum, what can you laugh at?

In a few minutes it was done, and the scientist’s voice through the theatre intercom signalled the end of the procedure: “Catheter is clear”.

Well I suppose you wouldn’t want to hop down and leave without some check that the minuscule embryo had in fact been ejected from the syringe to its womby home.

My head is certainly spinning to be back in this position again, shouldering the burden of losing our baby last year.

I wish I had a camera inside me so I could monitor it and see what it’s doing. That is reality TV I would gladly watch! 24 hours. A day.

But I am excited. I noticed yesterday that I often absent-mindedly started speeding while on the highway to our appointment.

I am taking progesterone pessaries, one at night, and will most likely go straight for a blood test in a fortnight, as the progesterone can confuse the home pregnancy test kits and I really don’t want to have my hopes unfairly raised!

In the meantime, it’s no coffee, alcohol, sushi, soft cheese, barbecued chicken and all that other good stuff.

It’s suddenly remembering the whole baby phase that toddler-hood evaporates from memory...the nappies, sterilising bottles, smashed food, lack of sleep, injections, crawling and tiny humans that cannot talk to you. Holy shit!

While we wait.

God I hope this one sticks.