Wednesday, 8 March 2017

The Beast

If I'm running you know that there must be something pretty bad chasing me, because I don't run for no one.  But the beast that is chasing me has the scent of blood and I'm having trouble keeping out of the way of those terrible teeth and claws that, should they dig in, are mightly hard to shake.

My beast doesn't hide under beds or in dark closets, nor in deep holes in the ground or abandoned warehouses.  My beast is a hidden monster that is unpredictable, well hidden and often well disguised.  My beast prays on all sorts of people; young and old, strong willed or not, intelligent or less so, regardless of gender, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of sexual orientation.  It can creep up on the fun loving 20 something as easily as the career minded 40 something.

You could call my beast the great equaliser.

In the interest of good sense I named my beast Bessie, in an attempt to perhaps trivialise her a bit.  It sounds nicer than what it's actually called, but for the sake of you all, I'll just call Bessie Beast what it is.  It is the crippling disease called depression.  The horrid illness called Anxiety.  Two sides of the same coin, inextricably linked.

Bessie and I have been battling for a long time.  She has almost conquered me more than once, but I've always managed to claw my way back.  I thought I'd finally let her go, wishing her all best with a 'F*ck off, Bessie' and an all too dramatic door slamming.

But here I am, waiting and watching, feeling that familiar ache in the pit of my stomach and I know Bessie is lurking.  I thought, given I had achieved my dream of adding another baby to our family, that I might have shielded myself from any further toggles with the Beast.

All this is a rather long winded way of saying I'm struggling a bit right now.  Hugo is here, and somehow he's suddenly 8 months old and too adorable for his own good.  He also has me rather merrily wrapped around his little finger.

I realised things were bad when I was howling and sobbing whilst trying to get Hugo to go to sleep one night not long ago.  I have become an anxious wreck about his sleep and it is making me crazy (er).  I can have all the best intentions about keeping calm, but after 40 mins of him crying, I'm usually bawling right along side him.

Depression and Anxiety are so insidious.  You can't see them from the outside, you can't examine them.  My practical mind likes to find solutions, but when one can't see the equation it's really hard to do.  Years of battling with Bessie have honed my skills somewhat.  I know some of my triggers and I do my best to counter them.

When two of your main triggers are sleeplessness and lack of control over outcomes, and you have a small baby, there's not much you can do in terms of avoidance.

My mood goes in ebbs and flows; deliriously happy hanging out with this gorgeous little human and his equally gorgeous slightly larger brother that we have made, and then horrified that I can't even get him to sleep properly.  Then I get to have a chat with Madam Anxiety, let's call her Annie, just because I like alliteration:
Me: "Just go to sleep, Hugo"
Annie: "What if he's sick/hot/needs a new nappy/hungry? You can't just leave him like that!"
Me: "He has no temp, was fine before sleep, isn't too hot, has a new nappy and isn't due for a feed.  He's fine...I think...maybe he is sick and I just don't know?"
Annie: "I'm sure he's sick.  Probably has a sore throat/ear/ should get him up."
Me: "But he's sleepy and needs a sleep.  I know that's what he needs.  Unless he is sick, and I put him to sleep and he gets worse and something awful happens..."
Annie:  "Something awful might're not immune just because it's happened to you before.  Awful things can happen."
Me: *Picks Up Baby* or *Baby sleeps and I check on him 40 gazillion times despite the breathing alarm and the baby monitor*

Then I feel absolutely shitty that I can't even handle this one, relatively small part of parenting.  I know in my head that it's no big deal, that he'll work it out, but in my heart I feel like a failure and then that leads to depression creeping up behind me and clawing up my only sports bra.

I want to feel better, and I know I can head in the right direction.  Facing up to the fact I feel anxious and depressed is a good start, I know.  Having a village of other supportive mums and another step in the right direction, and having an awesome partner and kids can only help too.

I know I'm lucky.  I know I could very easily have not had any kids, let alone these two beautiful boys.  When Annie tells me that I don't deserve them, that I've battled with Infertility and Child Loss because I wasn't meant to be a mum, I try hard to thank God that I had people who told me I was Brave enough, Strong enough, just Enough to keep going.  When Bessie reminds me that I feel fat and ugly and worthless, I am lucky I have a family who think I'm beautiful even though I'm wobbly.

It's possible that Bessie and Annie will stick around.  It's possible that one day Bessie or Annie might visit you.  Please know, I will come riding in to battle with you.  I'll jump on my glittery, jazzed up charger and strap on my lance and help you fight that Beasts who haunt you.  Because I believe in you, too.  You are strong and brave too. You are enough.  I'll totes vouch for you.

I can and will beat my Beast again.  Because I am worthy, and I know this demon.  I can keep it at bay again.  Maybe I'll offer Bessie and Annie a cuppa?  Maybe they're just scared too.  I know I am.  Being a parent is scary, and hard work sometimes.  But I know it's worth it.  I know that my village can help me raise great kids.

But for now, I'll keep running.

Feel free to wave as I speed past.

And to give Bessie a kick up the wazoo.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Well that didn't quite go to plan...

*Large exhale*


Baby Armistead is here and he's safe.  Master Hugo Sebastian Henry arrived at 12.27pm on 7/7/16 via caesarian section.  None of that was particularly remarkable, except for the fact he was scheduled to arrive on the 25th...

As you've probably already guessed, things went a bit awry in the last weeks of my pregnancy.  Baby was doing quite well, his heart rate remained stable, and the thickening of the ventricles was within normal range for the most part.  We had sighed a huge sigh of relief and I had settled into enjoying the last 4 weeks or so of my pregnancy.

At 34 weeks I noticed that I grew really big, really quickly.  At our scan, Dr Andrew agreed that baby was very big, but as I was having a caesar anyway, no one was super worried.  Xav was a whopping 10 pound 1 oz, and Poppy was a good size for her gestation, so we all just assumed I grow big babies.  No biggy (no pun intended).

By 35 weeks, I was UN-COM- FORT-ABLE to the max.  I felt full term pregnant.  But again, whatevs.  I could put up with it for another 3 1/2 weeks.  Anything to get him here safely. My blood pressure was good, Braxton Hicks were ramping up and there was no sleep to be had for more than an hour or so at a time, but I was up for the challenge.

35+5 weeks, we all went for our 'last' official scan with Dr Andrew.  All looked good, but the small amount of fluid around baby's heart had returned.  The measuring began.  The one thing you don't want to hear from a medical professional: "That can't be right! Wow... What are your dates again?"
Baby Armistead was in fact measuring full term.  At a few days shy of 36 weeks.  Well, he is a super baby after all.

Off we trot to our Obstetric appointment with Dr Lisa, and I think I start to panic. I knew they wouldn't leave him much longer at the size they were estimating, but even I wasn't expecting to hear the words, "We're done.  Let's get him out on Thursday."

As in, in 2 days time, Thursday.

Oh, boy.

Here we go.

Glen goes into an immediate panic, and needed to be talked down a bit. He's generally very easy going, but the imminent arrival of our third child, over three weeks before he was expected to arrive, sent him into a bit of a spin.  Dr Lisa explains that very big babies are just as vulnerable as very small babies.  Placentas don't cope, babies get distressed.  "We've worked so hard to get this far, let's not risk it."

I whole heartedly agreed; though I was possibly persuaded somewhat by how uncomfortable I was, too. The risks to baby were not considered super high.  A possibility of 'wet lungs', or fluid on the lungs which usually rectifies itself quite quickly.  A chance of respiratory distress.  Jaundice. Trouble sucking to begin with.  Maybe difficulties regulating his sugars and his temperature.  All very manageable, but likely a Special Care Nursery stay would be necessary for a few days.

So off we went for Steroid shot 1 of 2 to help prepare baby's lungs for his early arrival. And thus began 48 hours of 'Oh, shit, have we got everything we need for the baby?' If Baby Bunting had a spike in sales on the 6th of July...that may have been me.

I didn't think I'd sleep the night before the caesar but, well, pregnancy.  I was tired, okay?

Somehow I managed to keep dark thoughts at bay for most of the early morning.  We will bring him home, we will bring him home, we will bring him home.  I just kept running that mantra through my mind, whispering it to myself constantly.  By the time we got to the hospital, after dropping Xav off to my sister, the wait was getting unbearable.  Luckily baby decided to be quite active which helped enormously.

Pre op consultation, done.

Anesthetic consult, done.

Meet the Paediatrician, done.

Walk to theatre, done.

Cannula in, spinal in, traditional blood pressure drop and slight vom, done.

Then Glen was there, holding my hand and we get ready to meet our boy.

'Just please cry, baby.'

Our wonderful OB announces he's about to be born.  'Oh my goodness, look at that hair!' she exclaimed and minutes later our sweet boy cried his little lungs out.

The words escaped me before I even thought about it: "He's not dead.  He's not dead." before I sobbed my eyes out because he was here and he was alive and he was safe.  Glen disappeared to cut the cord and talk with the Paediatrician and discover our boy had a full head of bright red hair, before our little man came over for a cuddle with me. We noticed right away he was finding it a bit hard to breathe, so before long he and Glen were whisked away to the Special Care Nursery.

I felt like I was in Recovery for hours and I just wanted to see my baby.  We hadn't settled on a name, we had decided to wait until he was born before deciding, but we hadn't even had time to talk about it before they left.  So I pondered to pass the time.  Sebastian had been the early favourite, but Eli was a late runner which I loved too.  But neither seemed quite right. He was such a big boof of a boy, he needed a strong name.  If only I would see him so I could decide!

Finally, Glen reappeared and came with us as we went up to the ward.  "He was a whopper!  3875g!  8pound 8oz!"  Holy Moly, imagine if he'd been in for another 3 weeks!  Xavier arrived and was typically brilliant and loving and totally gorgeous and cried tears of joy with us that he had a little brother.  Glen took him to meet baby in Special Care and when they returned Glen said 'I think he looks like a Hugo?'.  THis was a massive surprise to me, as I fricken loved the name early on, and despite by very advanced persuasion methods, I couldn't talk Glen into liking it.  So, after waiting for 9 months to see him and decide, we agreed on Hugo Sebastian Henry Armistead basically without me seeing my beautiful boy.

When the night nurse arrived on shift, she found me in a bit of a state because I STILL hadn't seen my baby and I was feeling a bit deja vu-y.  I'd had a baby but the baby wasn't with me.  She very kndly went above and beyond to arrange to have my hospital bed wheeled into the very tiny Special Care space.

And there he was.  Tiny despite being big.  Peaceful despite his panicked arrival.  And well, despite being early.

I held his tiny hand in mine and fell in love with him.

My Hugo.

My rainbow.

My heart.

And now after a roller coaster of a ride, our little Hugo is finally home with us.  For 13 days we learned to manage having a baby in Special Care, but each little hurdle, he conquered.  He got the full assortment of conditions that he could have at 36 weeks, but his lungs got better, his sugars stabilized, the jaundice improved, and eventually he worked out how to feed. Finally we could take our healthy little baby home.

And now we are 5.  Bec, Glen, Xavier, Poppy and Hugo Armistead.

And I would do it all again.

In a heartbeat.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Pause and Breathe

30 weeks pregnant.  For months and months I've waited to be able to reach the point in this pregnancy when bubs could be delivered if something were to go wrong.  Now I'm here, and I have to say 'Thank God for that," 'cause, I tell you now it's been a hard slog over the past few months.

Last time I posted, I may or may not have mentioned I was scared.  Well, F###ing terrified might have been closer to the mark.  If I thought  I was a bit on the nervous side at that point, it was nothing compared to the blind terror we were confronted with at our 22 week cardiac checkup.

We waltzed into the ultrasound clinic in a fairly blaze manner.  We'd been here just a few weeks previous and baby boy 2.0 was looking good.  Heart Healthy, normal rhythm.  Cautiously optimistic, one might say.  Our obstetrician had recommended we get a full fetal cardiac check at 22 weeks, just to be on the safe side, and low and behold if the cardiologist wasn't the same fella who had diagnosed Poppy, and tried so hard to save her life when she was born.  We have faith in Dr Lance; he went above and beyond to help us understand what had happened to cause her death, when we were standing there with an autopsy report and an obstetric care provider who has basically handed it to us and said 'Don't come back.'

Dr Andrew, our ultrasound dude, and Dr Lance began our scan in the most usual of ways; chatting, explaining our history, etc.  Glen and I were a bit surprised that Dr Lance remembered us and Poppy, and even some of the details of her diagnosis.  Then things got whispered quiet.  Glen and I held on to each other for dear life.  'We'll be okay," I reassured, "no matter what."  We knew the whispering was a bad sign.

I peered at the screen, well I tried to, given my already humongous boobs have decided to like double in size.  I examined the little heart on the screen to try to understand what they might be discussing.  This little heart which is the size of a jellybean.  This little heart that has my heart already.  It looked like the usual grey 4 chambered blur that it should, just a bit brighter than normal.  After a little bit more whispering, Dr Lance steps out to wait for us in an office to have a chat.  Dr Andrew, more subdued now, continues to check the rest of our little guy over.  Growing well, placenta good, everything properly formed.  "Just a little something odd about the heart..." he mentions, "Dr Lance is in the back office up the hall."

It's fair to say at this point we were ready for the worst.  Walking along that corridor, I'm surprised there wasn't some sort of Doomsday March playing.  Dr Lance is a super serious bloke, so we weren't surprised when he seemed, well, serious.  He explained that the glowy part of the heart that we'd seen was cause for concern, given our history.  Everything else looked ok, but the left ventricle (the bottom left chamber of the heart for those playing at home) was 'echogenic' and this could indicate that the muscle was thickening.  It could be the first sign of one of the conditions Poppy had.  The worst condition that Poppy had.  The incredibly rare-never seen anymore-almost universally fatal condition that Poppy had.

Either that or it's nothing serious.

Talk about extremes!  On one hand, a potentially fatal disaster befalling our precious cargo.  On the other; nothing much to worry about.

What. The. Hell?

Where was our lovely, normal pregnancy that everyone kept saying we deserved?  The peaceful healing time where we enjoy the fruits of our toil? Fricken gone down the proverbial toilet, is where.  Zipped off the Timbuktu with a Jolly Jumbuck and Elmer the Elephant.

So began our new regime.  Weekly Scans to check our boy's heart rate stayed stable and he didn't develop the other condition Poppy had.  Fortnightly visits to the Obstetrician.  4 weekly checks with Dr Lance.  Second opinions with other fetal cardiologists.  Checks of our hearts and Xav's, to see if it's possibly genetic.  Cardiac Geneticist visits. Telling our story over and over and over, and dealing with the shocked silences and the 'I'm so sorry' again and again.

But like everything else, this became our new normal.  Everything was put on hold while we tried to deal with...whatever it was.  Tried to deal with trying to predict the future with a couple of clues and a magnifying glass.  Totally Nancy Drew.  At 26 weeks, baby was slightly worse, maybe.  At 27 weeks, our second opinion said things looked pretty okay.  At 29 weeks, the time when we found out Poppy was really sick, Dr Andrew was optimistic.  All our checks came back normal.

Glen and I approached our third cardiac scan with a mix of apprehension and hope.  Things have been looking okay.  Baby boy 2.0 is still stable and growing well.  Now we're 31 weeks, if he is not looking okay he will be delivered.  Week by week, day by day, we wait for some sign of anything changing.

Of course, today is that day everyone is running late and we're running early (NEVER happens...) and we have to wait for like 50 minutes for our scan.  I begin calm.  As time goes on, I begin to freak myself out, and I get more and more wound up.  Finally we're called and in we go.  The friendly Doctors arrive and things begin.  There is no whispering this time.  Exclamations of amazement, shocked approval.  Dr Lance steps out and the rest of the checks are done, and baby is still growing well (maybe a little too many cookies on my behalf, he's a week ahead of schedule), placenta is good, fluid is good.  "See you in a few weeks," Dr Andrew reassures.

Glen and I float along the hallway, hoping that we understood what just happened.  Dr Lance greets us with a smile.  If you had met Dr Lance, you'd understand how weird this is. "I can't explain it," he says, "but your baby's heart looks fairly normal now."  He pauses to let this sink in and explains a few more technical things I won't bore you with.  We discuss delivery, and checks after birth.  We make arrangements to see him with baby after he's born.

Slowly, as we pay our million bucks to our friendly doctors, the news settles into my heart.  He might be okay.  Our boy might be able to be in the room with us after he's born instead of being whisked off to NICU.  He might be well enough to play sport like most kids.  He might be born alive.

So there's our roller coaster ride.  10 weeks of crazy.  We're not quite off the hook.  There's still a chance things might go pear shaped, and thankfully no one is taking their eyes off baby.  We ask for your continued good thoughts and prayers because our little miracle baby is even more of a miracle now.  All I'm saying is that if he's born with a cape on, or has issues with Kryptonite, I predicted it.  Super Boy 2.0.

Now the count down to his arrive is a little more sure, a little more accurate.  Hopefully somewhere around 6-7 weeks to go.

But for now, I plan to sit down, relax and enjoy the ride.

A carousel, not a roller coaster.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Ticking Time Bomb

Firstly, let me firmly anchor this post within the "I-am-so-happy-I-am-pregnant-I-didn't-think-I-would-get-this-chance-again-and-I-am-so-grateful" realm.  And I am really, really thankful that we have a chance to bring another baby into the world, for the chance to be a mummy to another little one and for the opportunity to give Xav a brother and Glen another son.  I have honestly gotten to the end of my rope in terms of persistence and then, well, here we are.

But pregnancy after loss is certainly not the joyously blissful journey I had hoped.  There is joy, yes, and there is bliss.  But most of all there is fear.  Crippling fear.  Anxiety like I've not known on a level that I wasn't expecting.

Before this bubba, I had a pretty good handle on my anxiety.  I had learnt to read it, to use positive talk to find a way out.  It took years of grappling with it, of learning from it, of being supported through it to find a path I could walk.  It was uncomfortable, confronting and often painful and scary.  But I found, generally, a way to cope.  I felt like some sort of super hero; Captain Anxiety, ready to take flight (carefully) and save the day (from my own brain).  Bright cape flapping in the wind (Maybe no cape, I HAVE seen the Incredibles and apparently they're a bad idea...)  But you get the general idea.

Then those two pink lines came along.  For a whole week I was so sickeningly positive that I almost made myself sick.  Then I had a bleed and I figured it was all over.  When just minutes before I'd seen my baby for the first time and heard his heartbeat.  But somehow, he stuck in there and kept growing.  But ever since then, I feel like we're on borrowed time.  Like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.  And it's, quite frankly, frightening.

I know that this anxiety is not limited to me.  When I was pregnant with Xav, and even with Poppy (who came along after 4 m/c herself), I was worried.  All pregnant ladies worry, because we don't know what will happen, we don't know what's happening in that cushy uterus holding our precious cargo.  But this time, I know the worst that could happened.  I know that there is always a chance things might not go to plan.

I know in my head that mostly babies arrive healthy and happy and roughly on time.  I know that generally pregnancies are smooth.  But I also know the flip side, and my heart is having a hard time forgetting that side.

Most days I feel super positive.  Last weekend I got out all the baby things and spend hours going through them, reminiscing about when Xav wore this, or one of my sisters boy wore that.  I even bought baby a new outfit or two.  But I can't bring myself to take the tags off, just in case I need to return them.  "Maybe later, when it's safe," I tell myself.  "Maybe after 20 weeks, or 28 weeks, or 30 weeks..."  Truthfully, I'm not sure this pregnancy will ever feel safe.

I am brave.  I have learnt this about myself.  I am not saying this in a Xena Warrior Princess sort of way.  I am not going to battle Vikings or whatever she does.  But I can cope.  I can get through the worst of things and somehow still stand at the other end.  That strength is hard won, and not to be trifled with.  But somehow it is not quite enough.  I'm scared that I will not bring home this baby.  I am scared that something I do will cause him harm.  I am scared I'll make a wrong choice and he'll pay the price.

Most days I can say, 'We're okay.  Right now, we're okay." We've make it through 16 and a half weeks longer than I thought we would.  But the remaining 21 and a half weeks feels like a really long time.  It feels like holding a time bomb that is programmed for mid July but might be a bit faulty.  And I'm not expert, but faulty time bombs seems like a big problem.

All I can do, and all I can ask for, is hope.  I can hope that despite the past, despite my worry, baby will get here safe and sound.  And I can ask for your hope too, if you have any to spare.  Your hope and support and love has got me through the past 4 years, and I know I have no right to ask it of you again.  But, like, please, y'know?  Pretty please?  I'll pay ya back.

I really am a joyously, blissful, HOPEFUL pregnant mother.

Most days...

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The One We've All Been Waiting For

I don't blog much any more.  I wish I spent more time writing, but doesn't time get away?  It was a tumultuous 2015, a massive learning curve, a year of changes and risk taking and new directions.  I tried really hard to just take things as they came and I got better as I went.  I was proud of myself for becoming more aware of my own thoughts and what I was feeling and I felt a real change in myself because I know myself better than I did.  But enough on that, I just wanted to set the scene a bit about where I am just now.

In August last year we decided to give IVF one last hurrah.  We jumped in feet first and decided that whatever the outcome, this was it.  So I became a full on druggy once again, pumped myself full of meds and of course promptly developed Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome for the second time.  I was expecting it this time, and at least I didn't also need to cope with getting a shitty number of eggs and no embryos this time.  After 5 days we had 6 embryos ready to test to check for abnormalities.  Don't get me wrong, we are in no way worried about raising a child with special needs, but the thought is that my body will not grow the embryos if there are chromosomal issues.  After what felt like forever, my specialist rang with the good news that we had 3 good embryos, frozen and waiting for us.  These will henceforth be known as Ice Ice Babies 1, 2 and 3.

Ice Ice Baby 1 was transferred in early September.  I wrote about my ongoing battle with addiction to Home Pregnancy tests in my last blog, and sadly after posting it that sweet second pink line faded.  The cycle ended and I was dubious about going again.  I think I officially lost hope.  If I couldn't get Ice Ice Baby 1 to stick, knowing he or she was perfectly formed, what was wrong with me?  I accessed some counselling through the IVF clinic and I accepted her advice.  Do one more round and then leave things for a good long while.  Make the decision to not make a decision to finish or not.  Sounded like I could manage that.

In early November we started our final round of IVF for a while.  I think I approached it with a bit of a 'let's just get it over with' attitude, but I figured I'd change it up a little and throw acupuncture into the mix.  I find it super relaxing and it was nice to just have time to relax and focus on getting through the round.

Transfer day snuck up on us, and before I knew it, I had my legs in stirrups and once again I was baring my wares to the lady whose kids we've put through very expensive schools, judging by how much we've paid her over the years.  We chatted amiably throughout what would have to be one of the most awkward situations one can find one's self in.

They showed us our lovely blastocyst (Ice Ice Baby 2) on the screen and then we all prepared for take off.  In it went and off we tootled to have a cuppa and go to acupuncture.  "I feel...different..." I whispered to Glen on our way out.  I felt weirdly alien, and I had a funny inkling this might be THE one.  I dared not hope because I've had A feeling before, but this was the first time I had had THIS feeling.  I put it out of my head and went about my business for a week, until finally testing day was upon us.

I peed on my first test about 3 days before the end of my cycle and of course there was a faint second line.  I figured it was the HCG shot still, so I tried to calm the storm of excitement rising in me.  The next day I tested again, and decided if the line wasn't darker I wouldn't test again.  I weed and left the test on the counter whilst I went to find clothes for the day and figured about 3 minutes had gone past.

I glanced at the test.

I did a double take.

I picked it up and gave it a shake.

Two pink lines.  Darker than yesterday.

I'm freaking pregnant!  Well, I'll be damned.

Armistead Baby number 3 is due to arrive on the 4th of August, 2016.

Lucky we gave it one last shot.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Searching for Two Pink Lines

I have a confession to make.  I am an addict.  I have tried to face my issue in the privacy of my own home, but it's time to fess up.  I am addicted to home pregnancy tests.  Not just any brand, either.  First Response Early Response. 3 packs.

I think my unwholesome addiction began about 12 years ago when we began trying to have kids.  As fellow PCOS sufferers might also attest to, my cycle was erratic at best, absent at worst.  So I tested frequently to see if I might have magically, mysteriously fallen pregnant.  Obviously it didn't happen and I curbed my testing to some extent by the time I fell pregnant with Xavier.

After Xavier, my mission to feed my addiction grew.  I hide pink boxes of my favourite stuff into the house and kid them under the bathroom sink, behind the toilet, in my drawers.  I couldn't help it. When I was going through fertility treatments I tested every morning from the middle of the cycle.  I could convince myself that there was a faint line there, indicating I was up the duff.

By the time I fell pregnant with Poppy I admit things had gotten out of hand.  For the first 12 weeks of my pregnancy I tested at least once a week, sometimes more.  And then I discovered the world of digital tests!  Did you know digital tests SPELL it out for you??  Or even tell you how pregnant you are!?  I was in pee on a stick heaven!  Pee and it reminds you you are pregnant.  What could be a better rush for a fiend like me?

These days I'm learning other uses for my First Response 3 pack buddies.  IVF requires taking large quantities of synthetic HCG, which is the pregnancy hormone.  From that first shot of the good stuff, and I can watch two pink lines of various shades emerge on a small window, and for a bit of time I can pretend that I actually am.

'Tis a double edged sword is my addiction.  You see this round I have peed like never before.  Twice a day.  It's costing a fortune (Costco is the cheapest for a hit, but Big W will do at a pinch), but it's the emotional roller coaster that's costing me most.  Those two pink lines from the fake HCG?  They fade, man.  Each time I wee, the line is a shade lighter.  Until we reach the point f no return and we see if the line begins to darken again with real HCG.  That's the legit hit.  That's the real stuff.  So, here I am balanced at the precipice of lighter or darker.  I could just wait a few more days and have a blood test and I'll know one way or the other.  But the lines...I need them.  They are my life line to my dream.

I'd like to say I was motivated enough to give up the hit.  But I can't.  I enjoy the rush too much right now, and I'm hurting no one but myself.  Maybe, one day, I'll see a darkening line again.  But it's too soon to say if this will be the one.  The real deal.

My name is Bec, and it's been 14 hours since my last pee on a stick.  Oh, was an hour ago and I rushed home from work.  Don't judge until you've tried it, okay?

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend

It's been a big few months.  I've changed many things in my life that I thought were constants.  The place I work, the car I drive, our house.  None of these are remarkable, but the culmination of them all at the same time has left me feeling...overwhelmed. And unsettled.  Perhaps that's why I have found the bottom of the deep dark hole again.

Look, this abyss is not the deepest I've been in.  I've been deeper, closer to oblivion.  But still, it's not a place I want to be.  I thought I was strong enough to hold myself up, no matter what.  I was wrong, and here we are, having a tea party for one in my cave of despair.

"What happened?" you may ask? Same thing as usual. Things didn't go the way I planned, as per usual.  I really try not to micromanage my life, my expectations, but I can't help it.  From cradle to grave, I'm going to be bossy and over planned, I just can't help it.  Sometimes it's actually helpful.  Other times, like our seemingly endless journey to conceive another baby, it becomes more stressful.  And the last round was just about as crappy as they come.

After our last miscarriage, Dr Kate finally convinced us that we needed to step things up.  Move on from regular IVF and into the scary world of PGD.  PGD stands for Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis, or genetic tasting.  We've never managed to have any of our miscarried babies tested for genetic abnormalities, but it's one thing that could be causing our losses.  We know G and I are genetically normal (ish), and Xav and Poppy are all clear too.  So we can make perfect babies, but maybe not all of the time.  Kate explained that it's one thing we can rule out as a cause for so many losses, and, keen to find a reason, we decided to embark on a (very expensive) new chapter in our journey.

It's bizarre how quick the whole IVF thing becomes part of life.  Injections are a daily necessity, handfuls of tablets and vitamins are my dessert after dinner, and starting my day with a 6.50am internal ultrasound, have just become the norm.  But PGD?  A whole new world.  So with lots of new information after hours of meetings with PGD gurus, I started the pill.  As in, THE pill.  The irony of this did not escape me.  Of all of the things I've had to do over the past 6 years, standing on my head after, you know... , included, taking the bloody PILL is the stupidest and funniest thing I've partaken in.  If Alanis Morrisette wanted a new lyric for her song, there it is.

Where was I?  Oh, right PGD.  I started with the PILL (seriously....) and then got my date for Egg Pick Up.  The middle of January.  On the anniversary of Mum's passing.  Fabulous.  Transfer will be the date I almost died from my ectopic.  Double Fab.  And, to top it off?  My specialist will be away and a stranger will be viewing my privates.  Just wonderful.

What the hell? I figured.  Dignity was pretty much washed away with the number of times my lady bits have been on show in the name of medical science anyway.  So we began.  Injections at triple my normal dose, bloating to the size of a full term pregnant lady (ah, the irony again.  I should teach Alanis another verse).  Finally we get to pick up day, as full of eggs as a battery hen.  20+ ready to go.  Despite the 7kg weight gain, I was excited.  Surely this was our time.  We might be 5 or 6 good embryos, and hopefully one of them would be our take home baby.

I woke up from the procedure in extreme pain.  This wasn't how it was supposed to be, not at all how it was last time.  Through the haze of the anaesthetic I heard the doctor say that they only managed to collect 9 of the 20 eggs.  9?  I was a bit disappointed but not terribly.  I was totally distracted by my pain.  After hours of trying different pain medications, I was diagnosed with severe hyper stimulation, bruising from the egg collection, and given pethidine to manage the pain (that stuff it awesome!). Then we waited for the results.  How many eggs would fertilise?  Surely half?  We got 10/12 last round, so I figured at least 6 would take. (see that micromanaging coming out again?)

Sitting in hospital, by myself, in pain, waiting for results.  Not my favourite night ever.  By the next day, I could manage my pain with tremydol, and was allowed to go home.  In the car on the way home, I rang to see how our embryos were going.  "Three fertilised," the nurse announced, and my heart sank.  We were told that we may lose more than half in the testing.  Three wasn't enough.  I wasn't enough.  I had failed and wasted thousands and thousands of dollars.

5 days later, we got the news that two of the embryos were no good.  Genetically abnormal. To be destroyed.

One was perfect.  Genetically perfect, growing well.  Frozen for future use.  Our Chosen One. Thank God.

It took weeks to get well, and then weeks to simulate a new cycle.  I was sure that this little Golden Embryo was the one.  Our baby.  Our rainbow baby.  Finally.

So, in it went.  Transferred and healthy.  Then we waited 9 days to see if it would take.  I kept hope.  I convinced myself that all the changes I had made in my life, would bring about this celebration.  I was sure.  I was so sure.

Then the cramping started.  I'm not going to go into detail, but you get the idea.  The Golden Child was no more.  I had failed to keep it safe, failed to keep it here.

So here I am in my pit of self pity again.  I know I need to get out, but I'm not ready yet.  I  need to own my grief that this journey might finally be over.  Not with the ending I hoped, wished for, but finished.  I can't see a way forward yet.   I don't know whether trying again would be foolish or brave.  I always thought I'd know when enough was enough.  But this little Micro manager is currently without a plan.

I know I'll get out of here, climb towards the light and enjoy the good things again.  But for now Light and Tangy Chips and Nutella from the jar are my only solace.  And, as a wise woman told me recently, a block of chocolate makes everything seem better. For now, that will have to do.