Blog about having premature ovarian failure and trying donor IVF with my sister's eggs

Archive for the ‘HRT and premature ovarian failure’ Category

Anxiety and postnatal depression

Apparently anxiety is a symptom of depression. I’ve been anxious for years now and my doctor says it’s possible I could have benefitted from antidepressants a long time ago.

First I was anxious and upset about having premature ovarian failure which I was diagnosed with about six years back with no follow up support or counselling.

Then I was anxious due to the biological effect of my premature ovarian failure ie: not having any oestrogen actually made me anxious and gave me insomnia. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) helped alleviate some of this but only after about three years of living on my nerves without it.

Then, my husband and I moved from the UK to a new country  (Australia) without jobs and minimal social connections. We made our way on our own but it was tough going while trying to come to terms with premature ovarian failure and the ensuing infertility. It was our own doing but sometimes I think you bite off more than you can chew!

Then we tried IVF as a doctor believed he could get my ovaries working. When nothing happened it was devastating and very anxiety inducing. Once again that doctor offered no follow up counselling or support.

We began working through our infertility and accepted we would be childless until three of my beautiful friends came forward to offer us their eggs. While this was amazing, it was still a very anxious time trying to work out how and whether to proceed with these kind, kind offers.

Then my darling sister offered and we decided to move forward and try. But that whole process was also very stressful as I wanted to give her room to back out at any time and the thought of that happening was terrifying. Then I felt anxious putting her through the physical ordeal of egg donation, as well as splitting her family while she travelled from NZ to Australia to undergo the treatment.

Getting pregnant the first time as a result of her donation was massively exciting but also very nerve-wracking. When that pregnancy ended in miscarriage we were devastated. But somehow we got back on the horse and tried a second embryo transfer with no luck, before I fell pregnant again on our third attempt with our beautiful daughter.

All through the pregnancy we lived on tenterhooks. Would I miscarry like I did the first time? What if the baby had something wrong with it? When I began bleeding early on it was horrendously anxiety invoking but luckily that stopped and we now have our gorgeous girl.

All the while I was working in a job with a psycho boss who demanded far more than I could deliver and played with my emotions in ways that disgust me when I think back to it.

So anxiety has been my constant companion for a long time and is it any wonder that everything just mounted up and landed me in a big heap now?

The great thing is that I’m finally getting treatment for a depression that may have been lurking for a long time as a result of our trials – and hopefully anxiety will be a toxic shadow I can discard forever.


Everyone loves a pregnant woman

I have been overwhelmed by everyone’s excitement abut our pregnancy but I can’t help feeling a little guilty.

It seems so unfair!  Firstly, I am pregnant – yay!  And because I am pregnant I don’t have to take HRT (which I usually have to take as my ovaries don’t produce oestrogen but now that I’m up the duff, my placenta is producing copious amounts of oestrogen) -yay!  And now I’m starting to get lots of lovely special attention that people give pregnant women – yay!

One of my workmates pulled me aside this week and asked me if I had something I wanted to tell her, pointedly looking at my swelling belly. When I confirmed her suspicions she almost jumped up and punched the air in a congratulatory response! My boss asked God to bless me (I’m not religious but welcome anything that will help sustain this pregnancy). And all the hairdressers at my salon sent up a collective whoop when I quietly told my hairdresser that my thick hair would probably be getting even thicker soon.

You might wonder what’s unfair about all this? Well it’s definitely all great, but I can’t help feeling sad that I didn’t get any of this lovely stuff when I needed it most – those five years of not believing we’d ever be able to have a baby and grieving for what I perceived to be my lost womanhood – why can’t there be more upsides to be infertile?

I guess the majority of people don’t know how to deal with someone who is grieving (about anything). And only infertiles know what it is like to be infertile so that makes it hard for fertiles to offer sage advice and comfort. But I wish we could have an ‘International Infertiles’ Day’ on which everyone would honour and recognise those who are infertile. Everyone needs to be recognised and treated specially for whatever their condition in life is and infertiles are one group who generally suffer in silence with little public celebration.

Things to do with placentas

Ever eaten pate made from someone else’s placenta? I haven’t, but my sister and brother in law did unwittingly when their friends served it up to them over dinner once. Yuck yuck yuck!!!

Placentas come in handy in other ways too – mostly notably that they house and nurture a baby during pregnancy (no kidding Einstein!). I’ve also heard of people planting trees over them in their gardens etc.

I’ve also recently found out that another fantastic use for placentas is as a temporary replacement for HRT (hormone replacement therapy).

Apparently your placenta begins to produce oestrogen at around 10 weeks’ pregnancy, meaning the ovaries sit back and take a break for a while (until you stop breastfeeding after you’ve had your baby). I guess they stop producing any eggs to stop any new babies being made while you’re pregnant.

The very cool thing for people whose ovaries have stopped working (like me) is that we don’t have to take HRT during pregnancy as we have oestrogen swimming around in our bodies, care of our placentas.

I am delighted! I love that my body can magically do this. I wonder if there will ever be a way to harness our placentas in this way when we aren’t pregnant, so we don’t have to take HRT?

Reasons to be cheerful

I always feel cheerful being anywhere with lots of greenery, birds and beauty. London, UK, apparently has the most green open spaces of any big city in the world. The parks are huge and beautiful and full of hidden delights.

One delight I discovered on my wanderings there was a solar-powered park bench in Richmond Park.  The bench has inscribed across the back with ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ and was put there in homage of Ian Dury, an iconic musician from the 80s who sang a song with that title.

Ian used to sit in that area in his quiet times. The cool thing is that if you take along some headphones you can plug them into the bench and listen to his tunes!

Ian was disabled as a child by polio so could have felt very sorry for himself but instead he chose to look on the bright side of things.

My reasons to be cheerful are many:  I have a gorgeous, generous husband who I am in love with; a loving family and friends; a stimulating job with good support and resources; a lovely home and garden and a car called Ginger who goes everywhere with us.

Another reason to be cheerful is that I detected the early signs of osteoporosis in time to stop it. Had I not done this I would have been consigned to a crumbling back in my 50s, which was my Grandmother’s fate – she had to wear a kind of corset to literally hold her back together in her later years.

Sometimes I feel devastated that I didn’t have my children in my 20s when my ovaries were still working (I have premature ovarian failure). But had I done so, there is a chance I would have had a hysterectomy – what some women opt for after they’ve finished having their family.

If this had happened then I would never have noticed that my periods had stopped and I never would have known I had gone into early menopause, which often causes early osteoporosis due to low oestrogen levels.  My daily doses of HRT and vitamin D are now steadily reversing the effects of osteoporosis, so hopefully I won’t end up disabled at an early age.

So that is one very good reason to be cheerful.

Today’s blog is inspired by the blog from Journal of a Childless Heir .

Those happy pills – HRT

yellow pills with happy faces coming out of red containerOne of my dearest friends is responsibly hitched with two beautiful little girls.  But she used to be a wild child and always made me laugh with her impetuous hedonism. She would put half a gram of coke up her nose and drink a bottle of tequila on a work night but the next morning would refuse aspirin for her headache.

I admired her will power but I was and still am the other way – happy to pop pills when the occasion demands.  Usually it is paracetamol for a headache although in the past it was sometimes the harder stuff for fun.

It’s just as well I’ve never shrunk from drug taking as I’m now a daily long-term user of HRT.

But I don’t mind the commitment; I’m very grateful for those little babies.  They have helped me sleep through the night again, drastically reduced my anxiety, fixed my wobbly moods and most importantly, are reversing the early stages of osteoporosis which showed up in x-rays last year.

They are replacing the oestrogen which my now defunct ovaries fail to produce due to my premature ovarian failure.

HRT has received bad press in the past with claims of increased breast cancer in users but what’s a girl to do?  Suffer from crumbling bones at the ripe young age of 40 or run the hazy risk of breast cancer?

Both sound pretty hideous but my vote is for the pills which make me feel human, vital and confident again, after being deprived for some many years of the vital hormone which most women take for granted until their menopause.