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

Posts tagged ‘infertility’

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?

Have you always known you’re infertile?

“Right, now the boys are gone, let’s talk about having babies!” said my workmate at the end of a work Christmas dinner after the men had left.

There were just three of us left at the table, all in our late 30s and early 40s, with me being the only one pregnant.

I had earlier said to another dinner guest that I was 42. One of the remaining women, called Faith, overheard and said she was pleased to hear I was 42 and pregnant, as she was 41 and was hoping to try for a baby soon.

Faith said that she and her husband are going to try to conceive in the New Year. She has already had her tests which show she has great egg reserve and quality.

I told Faith and Zoe the story about how we conceived our baby. They were both so interested to hear it and got quite emotional about the sweetness of it.

I said I was pleased to hear that Faith’s eggs sounded so viable, as this is half the battle for women trying to conceive in their 40s.  And I would not be surprised if she conceives quickly as Faith is very voluptuous and sexy and looks like someone who is going to fall pregnant easily. The other woman at the table, Zoe, said that her dog gets very ‘excited’ every time he is around Faith and that Faith is the only person who has ever had that effect on him! I’m not sure that that this is something that Faith is very proud of but surely it is some kind of proof that she has all the right hormones buzzing around in her body, creating all the right smells!

Some readers will take umbrage at the above assertion, but I do believe that some women just look like they are going to have babies easily because of their roundness, and I’m going to back this up by the somewhat dubious fact that I read somewhere that women with high levels of oestrogen tend to be more voluptuous and fertile.

Whatever the case, Faith looks like she is going to conceive easily and most interestingly, she believes that she will. She said she has always known she would have babies easily.  I found this fascinating to hear, as I have never just believed that I would fall pregnant easily. I remember when I was 12 and had just begun menstruating, thinking that I may not be able to get pregnant easily. Goodness knows why as I had regular periods and was hale, healthy and hearty in every other way. But I just knew in my heart that I may have problems – I never just assumed I would make babies easily.

My husband says he is the same; he somehow knew he may have problems (which he did- he has low sperm count).

So I wonder if people who are infertile, know instinctively that they are? I would love to hear from other infertiles about this.

And I will let you know if Faith conceives quickly in the New Year or not!

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.

Does waiting for a baby make the heart grow fonder?

Given that we have waited so long for this baby I am carrying, and that we have had so many disappointments and jumped through so many hoops to get this far; I wonder if we will have a different attitude to sleepless nights, pooey nappies, endless screaming, loss of income and independence etc?

Unlike my husband and I, the vast majority of women I know (apart from infertiles I have met here online) have fallen pregnant at the snap of their fingers. Their subsequent babies are much loved, but motherhood for many is tinged with varying taints of unhappiness, depression and resentment.

I was reminded of this when we met up with a friend and her husband this weekend, who have a one-year-old daughter. My friend was saying that she couldn’t wait to get back to work after her baby’s birth and that, while she adores her daughter, she would be driven crazy if she had to stay home with her because of the challenges involved with having a child.

I am fascinated to find out how we will find parenthood, given our long struggle to conceive. Will we experience the same as what most of the parents I know have experienced or will we treasure every minute of unpleasantness of difficulty?

Does anyone have any insights on this?

IVF vs Adopt: Cutting down the choice of infertiles even more

I heard something this week that made my blood boil; apparently people in Australia (I’m not sure which states) who try to adopt aren’t allowed to undergo IVF at the same time.

How ridiculous! This makes the already difficult journey of trying for a child even more fraught.

I don’t know what it’s like in other countries, but in Australia the average couple can expect to wait up to four years to adopt. If you are already in your late 30s when you begin trying, you also risk getting too old to adopt while waiting (I’ve heard that younger couples are favoured over more mature couples).

Why not in the meantime, try IVF too? This option also has a use by date too as every year that ticks past means your eggs get older and IVF is less viable.

Trying both at the same time makes sense to me – that way you are spreading your risk so that if one doesn’t work then the other hopefully will, and soon. Or perhaps you hit the jackpot and have a child via both avenues.

Can anyone confirm if this is true or not, and if so, what states it applies to?  No doubt it was passed by the same cretins who passed the law in 2009 requiring couples undergoing IVF treatment to prove they are not pedofiles first.