Monday, February 11, 2013

How is it February Already?!

I am writing to you in shock and disbeliefe that it is already February! Where did January go? I was just getting used to writing 2013 instead of 2012 and we are already almost half way through February? How did that happen?! 

It has been a while since my last post, I’m very sorry for that. It has been a busy time with me starting a new job and all the other things in life that make you feel like you have absolutely no free time. I hope all is well with everyone and that January treated you well.

So here are some of the highlights from the last month or so:

  • Bio Mum and I have taken up mountain bike riding, which I thought I would hate but am actually enjoying. The problem of course is my extreme clumsiness and the fact that I bruise very easily. My lower legs are a mess of bruises at the moment which don’t seem to want to go away!
  • Moo the dog is recovering well from her knee surgery last year. She now thinks that she should be able to return to her previous way of life, including her border patrols of our fence. She is not quite grasping that the vet has ordered confinement and gentle exercise for the rest of the month!
  • I built my wonderful Harry Potter Lego constructions which Bio Mum got me for Christmas! Yes I am a bit of dork, but it was so much fun I can’t bring myself to care!

  • I have settled well into my new job and am enjoying the new, challenging work. It’s a change from what I was previously doing and I am really happy to be learning something new.
  •  Furthering on from my extreme clumsiness, I was walking with some friends on Sunday and fell over, grazing and bruising my left leg quite badly. It was a mix of embarrassing and quite painful! Between my mountain biking bruises and my walking injuries, my legs are a bit of a mess. I also managed to hit the back of my leg with the car door so that was another bruise. I think I need to start wearing a suit of bubble wrap. 
  • Bio Mum has been diligently studying the last month or so, which has not been overly fun for her. Poor thing has an exam coming to recertify for something for work. As a result of the studying I have been finding new ways to occupy my time like, walking Moo (she is in physical rehab post surgery), reading a lot of books and exercising...there may also have been some lazing around in front of the television too. 
  • I am on a bit of an exercise kick with my goal to be able to run 5km without dying. I am pretty unfit at the moment (and have always been) and it would be nice to reach this goal and get my body in the best possible shape I can before Bub finds his or her way into my uterus. I figure the better health/shape I'm in when the implantation occurs the better chance I have of a healthy pregnancy. So I am doing a program (just a free app I downloaded onto my phone) called couch to 5km. It's tough so far, but doable. The program goes for 9 weeks and there are 3 runs per week. I did Week 2, run 1 last night. I'll let you know how it goes! 

And to add to all that, a couple of weeks ago I started acupuncture for fertility and have now had two sessions (the third is later this week). 

Basically my cycle is all over the shop and the acupuncture/Chinese medicine is supposed to help with that. I know of quite a few people who used acupuncture to fall (and stay) pregnant with great success so we figured we’d give it a go. So far, no major issues aside from the truly revolting taste of the Chinese medicine herbs I have to drink twice a day. They taste and smell like sweaty feet that have been boiled in dirty water and seasoned with some kind of fertiliser. It is kind of disgusting. The only way I have found I can drink the herbs (and keep them down) is to add 2 heaped teaspoons of Milo.

They recommend starting fertility acupuncture/Chinese medicine 1-3 months before trying to get pregnant and then continuing once the embryo is implanted to maintain the pregnancy. So for the next month or so I’ll see my doctor once a week, then drop it back to around once a fortnight for a month or so before ramping it back up to once a week in the month prior to implantation. Then on the day of implantation I go before the embryo transfer and then again afterwards. After that I’ll go every second day or so to maintain the pregnancy. Fingers crossed all this works!

So in my last post I talked about the fun tests that Bio Mum and I were subjected to, this time I thought I’d tell you about the funnest part of the process to date…Bio Mum on hormones and then the egg extraction!.

Oh wow let me just start by saying that I love Bio Mum so much and think she is the greatest thing to ever happen to me. She is the warmest, funniest and sweetest person I have ever known. I am lucky to have her. However, Bio Mum on hormones was kind of…well scary. The word crazy comes to mind.

So in October last year we went to our fertility clinic and signed the unending pile of paper work and discussed the next step. We talked about the hormones Bio Mum would have to take and what the next month or so would be like. We also got to take home an instructional DVD and the first lot of hormones Bio Mum would need, Synarel. Now Synarel is a nasal spray to be taken twice a day about 12 hours apart. Basically the purpose of Synarel was to assist in decreasing the amount of oestrogen produced by the ovaries. This provides a more controlled situation for stimulation of the ovaries to produce eggs.

So ‘Day 1’ of this process was was 9 October 2012 and because Bio Mum had been on the Pill (clearly not for birth control, if we could get knocked up naturally it would have saved us a bucket load of money) she then had to 'down regulate'. Meaning she had to take the Pill in conjunction with her hormones for a while so that the hormones (and the fertility clinic) could be in control of her cycle. Bio Mum took the Pill until 28 October and then no more Pill!

Bio Mum started Synarel on 23 October. It wasn't long before the lovely side effects started to happen. The big one for Bio Mum was headaches and hunger. Bio Mum was getting daily headaches in the afternoon. The big one for me was the mood swings. Bio Mum became a little…angry. Her temper was often pretty close to snapping (this was especially apparent in the car where her road rage got out of control) and there were times where I just didn’t know what to say that wasn’t going to get me in trouble. For the most part it went well and we managed through the process. I just kept in my mind that she was doing this so that we could have our Bub...that and that she would suffer worse while I am pregnant.

Then on 2 November the self-injecting began. Bio Mum was on Puregon (which then got changed to something else and much harder to use). Now I am not a fan of needles so I left the injecting to Bio Mum and made my eyes look away. She was pretty good at it actually (although there were a few small bruises at injections sights from time to time). The next two weeks were a blur of blood tests, ultrasounds and injections (mostly impacting on Bio Mum who was fronting up to the fertility clinic every second or morning). Bio Mum was not a happy bunny during that time. I tried to be as supportive as humanly possible. Understanding and patience are very important for anyone who's partner is on hormones!

Then after all that Bio Mum self injected two trigger injections to bring on ovulation, 36 hours after this on 14 November she was in surgery to have her eggs extracted. We headed off to the clinic early (we are obsessively early for everything, which I don't see as a bad thing) and finally after quite a wait Bio Mum was taken into surgery. 

In all the actual extraction only took about 6 minutes and then Dr D, our specialist OB-GYN, came out and told me that they had extracted 18 follicles! Dr D said it was a record for her. We had expected we'd get 12 at most so to get 18 was amazing.

Bio Mum was brought back out to me about an hour later, still pretty groggy from the anaesthetic. After a while we got her home (stopping for some pain killers and chocolate on the way) and spent the rest of the day watching DVDs so she could rest. I took the following day off work as well as Bio Mum can be a little stubborn and push herself too hard too fast. I had to be home to make sure she behaved herself.

Silly thing went back to work on the Friday and was not in a good way. Oh and then on Saturday, after being told repeatedly not to do anything, she tried to help the neighbours build our new fence. She ended up curled in a ball in intense pain. I was actually really scared for her. It is awful watching the person you love hurt like that and not be able to do anything. 

Eventually the pain lessened and things got back to normal.

Happily I can report that of the 18 eggs extracted, 15 fertilised (using intracytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI as our sperm did not wash as well and we would have liked). They were then frozen so there are lots of little Bubs just waiting for us to implant. Below is a diagram of the ICSI procedure.

And for the record I have put my foot down, I will not be birthing all 15 of those babies! Two is the maximum this uterus is willing to house!

So that was the fun of hormones and extraction. It was all part of the amazing journey to bring Bub into our lives. The next part of the journey started this week.

Yesterday we headed off for an appointment with Dr D. As always I instantly felt comfortable in her presence. She is just so kind and seems so excited about what we are doing. She is very much on our side and keen to see Bio Mum and I realising our dream of having Bub. I get the feeling she genuinely cares about her patients.

After some confusion about what time the appointment was booked for and Bio Mum and I being unable to call Dr D's office to confirm, we made it there and sat down with Dr D. We went to discuss what the next step in the process would be for us. 

Now that we have 15 frosty embryos waiting for us we are ready to start the next step. The next step of course is implantation and hopefully pregnancy. I thought this step was going to be quite complicated with cycle tracking and drugs/hormones to be taken. Instead it is all relatively simple.

Basically when we decide we are ready to go ahead we will call the fertility clinic on day one of my cycle and tell them we want to do a frozen embryo transfer that month. We went over a plan with Dr D which is now on file and will be ready for us when the time comes.

From what Dr D told us, on day 8 of the cycle I'll have a blood test to see whether ovulation is on its way (it more than likely won't be), then on day 10 I'll have a blood test and internal ultra sounds to see how things are going in there. Then once they see that ovulation is about to happen I'll be given a trigger injection to stimulate my ovulation and they will then thaw 3 embryos to grow to blastocysts (Day 5 embryos).

Once the embryos are at the blastocyst stage I'll be brought in to have 1 only implanted. They will look at the 3 embryos they thawed and see which will be best to implant. Apparently they can then refreeze the others if we want depending on the quality. According to Dr D, should we get a really nice looking, healthy blastocyst there is a high chance I will end up pregnant! 

Wow is it all so exciting. I keep having images of telling people that I'm pregnant and those images make me so happy. I see me and Bio Mum bringing home Bub and fumbling our way through sleepless nights, spit up, dirty nappies and all that good stuff. 

Oh Bub, we can't wait to meet you!

Until next time, thank you for reading.

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