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.