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

Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ 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 It’s amazing what a difference HRT makes – without it a girl can feel so anxious, withdrawn and down.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.

Advertisements

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.

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.

Rubbish at conceiving but great at pregnancy – dispelling my concerns

Having no eggs with which to conceive a child made me doubt my body and ability to carry a baby (I thought that perhaps I’m not meant to have a baby if my eggs are used up?) – but this pregnancy has changed all that.

My pregnancy has been fabulous with no afflictions (yet). My skin has been clear, my back straight and strong, my abdominal muscles elastic and still holding up without the need for support pants, the skin on my belly is stretch-mark-free and I have no varicose veins.

Even being long in the tooth for a first time mother (I’m 42) has not caused me to crumble under the physical strain of pregnancy.

The only complication is that my baby is lying sideways and showing no inclination to move its head down like all good, compliant babies should (!) but as I’m having a c-section, it doesn’t matter.

This makes me feel a little smug when I hear about much younger and more fertile women struggling with pregnancy aches and pains. I know – it sounds like a bad case of schadenfreude but I’m so pleased that FINALLY,  I can do something well in the reproductive area!

But it’s also good news for all those other infertiles out there who may have the same worries about pregnancy, should they conceive. Just because you may not have good eggs, or for whatever other reason may find trouble conceiving – it doesn’t mean you’ll have a troubled pregnancy – isn’t that great news?

Sixteen days to go

Laura and Daisy in sunset at Port Albert

Walking our dog Daisy - I'm big but still mobile

“Oh my God – you look great! You must be due very soon!,” said my hairdresser yesterday. And she’d be right as there are only 16 days until our baby arrives by c-section – unless he/she decides to come early.

At 36 weeks, the only ailment I have is really sore feet – my heels are swollen, hot and bruised. When I get up every morning I hobble around on them like how I imagine the little mermaid walked when she traded in her tongue for feet.

I’ve been so lucky this pregnancy – many women suffer from bad backs, bad skin, varicose veins (in your bum and your legs!), stretch marks and other delights. But I’ve just got bigger and bigger – and I haven’t even started waddling yet. It’s sounds like I’m gloating but it’s just so nice to be able to do being pregnant well – especially when it was so hard for us to fall pregnant.

But much more exciting is feeling and seeing our baby move in my belly. It literally looks like my stomach is having a mini earthquake when the babe gets going – my belly rolls, dips and jerks. The thought that there is a little being in there moving spontaneously around is just amazing.

I wish everyone had the chance to feel these sensations – it is such a privilege.

Protecting my pregnancy from my boss

My current manager of four years is very tough and I am now finding myself having to protect my pregnancy from her.

In the past she refused to give me time off work as sick leave to do IVF, comparing it to plastic surgery.

And since I’ve been pregnant, she has given me no extra support or help. Even as my pregnancy has progressed and I have got bigger and more tired, she has shown me no leniency.

Up until two weeks ago, I was working 12 and 13-hour days to get all my work done. This is because the team of five that I manage has, over the past year, inherited several projects but we have been given no extra resourcing. I have pushed back to protect my team but she hasn’t listened to me. The projects we have inherited are very public, both within the organisation and outside, so we do not have the option of not doing them.

When I told my obstetrician I was working such long hours two weeks ago, he instructed me to tell her that I would only be working seven hours a day from now until my maternity leave begins in January. Today she said something about it that has left me feeling so upset and heartsick. She said she would be docking my salary accordingly as I am no longer working a full day.

I looked at her incredulously and said that that would be very unfair, given that I have never worked less than a ten-hour day for her and that over the four years, my overtime worked equates to literally hundreds of hours. I said I would be very upset if she went ahead with her plan.

I have now come home feeling so broken hearted. I have tried to protect my team over the years, as well as myself. I have built up the function that I manage in our organisation from nothing to a fully fledged, professional and operating department. I have supported her and been loyal to her and this is what I get in the end. Our team has barely been holding it together and now that I am going on maternity leave, two have resigned saying that they no longer want to work there given the intense work levels.

The most upsetting thing for me is that she doesn’t respect or support this very precious pregnancy. How dare she?  I can feel an anger brewing that is going to replace this sorrow very shortly.

Can I ask what others have done in this situation? I know that many other women reduce their hours in the latter stages of their pregnancy and would like to know how their workplaces have handled it and if anyone knows of any legal, if not moral obligations of employers towards their pregnant employees.

Daisy dog; pregnant woman protector

Our dog Daisy, in the sea with my husband on her first swim, during which she kept me rejoining me on the bank to protect me from any other dogs or people.

My mother in law told me recently that when she was pregnant with my husband, her dog used to act differently: “He used to come and lay his head on my lap, just looking at me.”

I hadn’t thought that our dog Daisy was treating me any differently until yesterday, when we took Daisy for her first swim at the beach.

Ross waded into the water and kept enticing her to go out to him. But she would only stay out a little while before she’d come back to me.

She did this eight or nine times and we thought she was just being fussy and not wanting to get wet.

But after a while, we realised that it was because she was coming out to protect me whenever another dog or person came near me.

After I waded in the water, she was very happy to go out deeper and happily paddled around us.

How cool is that? Has anyone else felt protected by their pets while they’ve been pregnant?