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

Archive for the ‘IVF’ Category

Hello HRT my old friend

One of the great things about being pregnant was that I didn’t have to take HRT (hormone replacement therapy) as my placenta magically produced oestrogen which was otherwise lacking in my body as my ovaries stopped making it when I was in my mid thirties – hence my premature ovarian failure.

While I was pregnant I asked my IVF doctor and my obstetrician when I would need to begin HRT after I had my baby. Both said I should wait around six months and then go back on it.

Well given the state of my poor old head, we’ve had to bring that date forward somewhat.

I restarted it about five days ago after my psychiatrist contacted my endocrinologist to confirm it with her. And I’m already feeling better. It’s amazing what a difference HRT makes – without it a girl can feel so anxious, withdrawn and down.

Upping my oestrogen means any remaining breast milk is drying up but breastfeeding my wee babe was already out of the question since I began on the antidepressant Pristiq last week.

So my mood is gradually lifting and I’m slowly feeling a little better. It can only improve I hope.

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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.

Welcoming our daughter

Our daughter conceived with my sister's donor eggs arrived safe and well on February 13 - much to the delight of my husband and I, after six years' trying to conceive

Our dear daughter is now 11 days old. She is absolutely beautiful and perfect in every way. She hasn’t even inherited my one-eared deafness which I mentioned in my last post, which I inherited from my own aunty.

She arrived safely via c-section on 13 February and every day since then has been wonderful but hectic – hence my tardiness posting this news.

We still can hardly believe she is here. I forget all the time that she was conceived with my sister’s eggs as she is very much my husband’s and my baby. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t tell her about her genetic heritage – we are being open about this with everyone we know well and will tell her of her special conception and birth story from as soon as she can understand.

Thank you to everyone for your love and support leading up to this – I just hope that everyone else in hope and need of donor IVF is as lucky as we are.

Monday’s child is fair of face

Our beautiful baby, conceived with its aunty's eggs, arrives by c-section tomorrow, and I can't wait to see who he or she looks like and to welcome it with open arms into our family.

Tomorrow we will have our long-awaited-for baby and I keep trying to imagine who it will look like – my sister, my husband or me?

Of course we won’t be able to see who it looks like until it is much bigger.  And some people will tell us that it looks like itself and that we shouldn’t try to make it look like anyone else.

But I’ve always loved making genetic links between family members. It’s something to do with a sense of belonging or clan, and understanding where someone comes from.

For instance – much to my mother’s consternation – two of her four grandchildren have her eyebrows which stick straight out rather than lie flat on her brow. They are very distinctive and obviously very dominant! (thank goodness I inherited eyebrows from my father which lie down flat and have a lovely shape, if I do say so myself).

And my aunty is deaf in one ear, as am I although no one else has this special feature in our family.

So given this baby is conceived from my sister’s eggs, what will she/he be like?  Is there a chance it too will be deaf in one ear like its genetic aunty (me) who is actually its mother?

Will it have my sister’s beautiful freckles and green eyes or will it have my colouring which is darker hair with blue eyes and white skin prone to moles?  Will it be tall and gangly like its Dad, with curly brown/red hair? Or will it be a throw back to someone else distantly related?

If we had conceived our baby with help from someone unrelated, I would still be having these thoughts. Traits are fascinating and are a unique part of everyone and something to be noted/proud of/mulled over/celebrated.

Whatever, this baby has been born out of much love and is/will be truly treasured – and even if it inherits its grandmother’s unfortunate eyebrows (sorry Mum!) it will be beautifully fair of face in our eyes.

What a difference a year makes

Four-Seasons-Trees

Waiting for a baby can seem interminable but it only takes a year - sometimes less - for things to change completely

Waiting to conceive a baby can be unbearably long, lonely and painful but things can turn around so quickly.

In just a year, we have undergone donor IVF with my wonderful sister from New Zealand; conceived, miscarried, had a negative transfer, conceived again and are now awaiting the arrival of our first baby in five days’ time.

Conception and pregnancy followed six years of grief, uncertainty and personal growth, all of which began with my diagnosis of premature ovarian failure at 35.

I grieved then for my young womanhood (going into premature menopause made me feel like an unattractive old crone), my periods (truly!), the children we would never have; our first IVF cycle that yielded zilch eggs and for the life we’d had before my diagnosis.

More recently, we grieved for the little baby we lost last year to miscarriage – it felt like our hearts had been ripped out.

But all the grieving and uncertainty helped us to become more thoughtful, empathetic and kind. It made us rethink what being a beautiful, sexy woman or man really means (it doesn’t mean you have to be fertile) and what life would be like childfree (books called Silent Sorority and Sweet Grapes were particularly helpful).

So what a journey it’s been!  It has been truly remarkable for which we are very thankful.

If it can happen for us, it can happen for others too.  I can’t wait to read about other people’s success stories – I know they are out there, or about to begin.

An extra special dinner and a tribute to all egg donors

I bet that the dinner I went to on Saturday night in Melbourne was the only one of its kind happening at that time – in the world.

It’s not that the food we were eating was unusual or that the venue was strange – it was the people who made it unique.

We were all (nine of us) either egg donors, people looking to match up with a donor, or people pregnant with a donor egg.  Unfortunately, I was the only one in the latter group. It made me realise how lucky my husband and I are to be pregnant with my sister’s donor egg; it doesn’t happen for everyone.

Our group met for the first time having traded recent stories on a forum called ‘Egg Donation Australia’. This is an extra special forum.  It was established by women who are donors. Women needing donor eggs can go onto the forum and get to know potential donors and vice versa. Close relationships are formed, especially between those who decide to team up, and sometimes a baby is conceived.

At the risk of sounding cheesy, I think the women who set up the forum are angels.  They established it voluntarily to help other women – strangers – in need of a donor.  I still can’t get over how altruistic these women – and egg donors everywhere – are.

So to be eating dinner with some donors in Melbourne on Saturday night was fantastic. It was equally fantastic to be able to talk to others in the same boat as me: women who have tried and tried to have babies in every which way possible. These women and their partners are all so brave as they just keep getting back on that horse even though it keeps bucking them off – often with horrible, painful bumps.

And then there are the women who are doing it on their own. There were two at the dinner.  To do it with a partner’s support and love is tough but I imagine doing it solo takes true grit.

So this is why I think Saturday’s dinner was so unique. I challenge anyone to tell me of a similar dinner that was happening at the same time. In fact, I would love to be proved wrong.

An unnnatural conception – and delivery

Like the clouds from this spray can, my pregnancy is completely manufacturered and quite magical

The only thing unmanufactured about my pregnancy is my pregnancy itself, which explains in part why I am expecting to have a cesarean delivery.

The conception of our baby was entirely aided by synthetic hormones and IVF. I took oestrogen to thicken up my womb in readiness for the wee embryo I received in June, while my sister took drugs to stimulate her ovaries and release her eggs to donate to me. During the conception period, I filled myself with progesterone pessaries to create a welcoming environment for the embryo to settle into, and hey presto, after lots of manufacturing and unnaturalness, we have a pregnancy!

The pregnancy itself is chugging along nicely without any drugs – my placenta has now taken over that role. So that is natural and normal.

I love that something so fantastic can come out of something so manufactured – it makes me feel very borg-like and connected to the future. I am eternally grateful to have the science available to us to be able to create life within us – to me it is a real crossover between science and magic.

So why not continue the artificiality with a cesarean – it only seems natural (!).

My obstetrician brought up the subject of delivery on our last visit, saying that given this could be our only baby, we should consider a cesarean to avoid any potential birthing complications. And having watched several knuckle-biting episodes of One Born Every Minute, I’m very happy to accede to his recommendation!