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

Posts tagged ‘miscarriage’

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


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.

To have or not to have an amniocentesis

Wow, amniocentesis is one hard word to spell!  Although it hasn’t been too hard deciding whether to have one or not, following our 12 week ultrasound yesterday.

Maybe we’re being irresponsible and turning a blind eye, but I don’t really want to risk miscarrying the baby we have taken five years to conceive with an amniocentesis, which apparently carries a 1 in 150 chance of causing a miscarriage.

Yesterday’s ultrasound married with last week’s blood tests show we have about a 1 in 428 chance of having a baby with Down Syndrome. That’s if the results are compared with a large database in London. But if compared with a database here in Victoria, Australia, it jump ups to about 1 in 130 – that’s quite high odds.

But the Victorian database is much smaller and doesn’t include the existence of a nasal bone, which the London database does. And the scan shows this little baby has a nasal bone which is apparently of good length. In Downs babies, sometimes the nasal bone isn’t there or it is very short.

So having an amnio would put our baby at more risk (1 in 150) than the odds that it is a Downs baby (1 in 428). We therefore easily came to our decision not to have an amnio.

But you know what? If the nasal bone hadn’t been there, or the odds had been higher, I really don’t think we would have gone near an amnio. This little baby is moving and kicking in my womb, and if it is a Downs baby, then so what? We wouldn’t abort it. These days many Downs people grow up happy and healthy, to live long and fulfilling lives. A healthy happy baby, child and adult would be a wonderful thing, whether it had Downs or not.

Bleeding is womb weeping for lost love

I was listening to Reproductive Biologist Prof Roger Short on the radio the other day, and he said something which struck me as very poignant.

He said there is a definition that when a woman bleeds, it is seen as the womb weeping for its lost love. How achingly sweet is that?

I think this is very apt for every one of us who has bled after hoping they were pregnant. The pain and aching of the bleeding hurts in your womb as well as in your heart. It is also fits very well for those of us who have miscarried. The bleeding and discomfort is often much more, signifying the weight of this loss.

And what about those lucky enough to have a baby?  Some mothers have told me they felt bereft when they were no longer pregnant after their child had been born. The bleeding then is long and copious.

Now I am pregnant, I really hope that the next time I bleed will be after I have my baby at full term. I have a wee while to wait as I am only five-and-a-half weeks pregnant. But this morning I woke up and there was a tiny amount of spotting.  It’s only very faint and a light brown colour (I think bright red is considered more problematic). But eeeek!! this is not what I wanted to see. It has stopped now so I’m hoping that will be all.

Nevertheless, my doctor has asked me to go in for a blood test tomorrow to see what’s happening. Oh gawd – this is going to be knuckle gnawing stuff. There is no way I’m going to be able to take that results phone call at work tomorrow in case it shows my pregnancy is on the skids. Therefore I’m going to have to ask my lovely husband if he would mind taking the message again and then letting me know the results after work tomorrow night.

Read transcript of radio show: Interview with Roger Short on ABC Science Show, June 2011

My nonchalance – will it work?

I keep forgetting I could be pregnant following my embryo transfer five days ago. I have been lifting heavy things, stupidly ate a cold baked ricotta pudding on the day of my transfer (I forgot I should avoid this!), and have not been taking it easy at work.

Last time, on the day of the transfer, I went to bed for the day and rested. I didn’t lift any heavier than a jar of peanut butter, and adopted a lazy, ‘yeah, man whatever’ type of persona at work to avoid getting stressed.

I don’t know where my devil-may-care attitude is coming from. I desperately would love to be pregnant so why does it seem I am almost daring the pregnancy to go ahead?

Perhaps I want it to be strong this time, rather than the weak pregnancy that I eventually lost in miscarriage. I want to test it by doing things I would usually do (rather than wrapping myself in cotton wool), to ensure it is hardy and here to stay.

Has anyone else been like this following a transfer?

Infertility myth: No real loss so no real grief

Having a miscarriage was what it took for us to get the support we needed for our infertility.

Our miscarriage (last month) followed five years of infertility after I was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure. I was told I had already gone through menopause when I was 35. A horrible diagnosis – with the added horrible side effect of infertility.

Being infertile is weird as there is massive loss but nothing tangible to grieve over. You can’t tell a workmate you feel dreadful because you are infertile. You don’t labour with your friends or family over feeling empty and broken-hearted as it just gets boring.

On the other hand, having a miscarriage gives you something to cry over. Our yoga teachers knew; our bosses knew, our close friends and family knew. Their sympathy and thoughtfulness bouyed us in our grief and helped mend some wounds.

Infertiles you know may seem to handle everything just fine but they need your support and help in the same way anyone grieving a loss does. Being asked how they are or acknowledging their loss goes a long way towards comforting infertiles in their (long) time of loss.

For a basic understanding of infertility
What is infertility? Resolve website

Background on National Infertility Awareness Week® (NIAW)
National Infertility Awareness Week (US) April 24-30

For those interested in taking part in the infertility myth challenge

Our little water child

Our beautiful little mizuko kuyo or 'water child' is a tangible representation of our lost embryo

We received our little mizuko kuyo in the post last week. It has a beautiful face, a lovely shaped head and a serene demeanour.

Mizuko kuyo means ‘water child’ in Japanese which I think is very apt, given our little embryo would have been in fluid inside me before I lost the pregnancy.

Yesterday we held a little ceremony with the mizuko kuyo to remember our embryo, following the Japanese custom. As we walked out to our garden, I cradled its head in my hand and I imagined what it would have been like to have done the same to our baby, had it been born.

My husband wrote a little message on card from us both and folded it up underneath its base. I put an old bracelet of mine around its neck and encircled the ground around it with an old neclace.

Goodness knows if it was a wee boy or girl we lost but we figured that if it was a boy it would probably wouldn’t have minded the jewellery, given that I love adorning myself and my husband is quite in touch with his feminine side (I should add here so as not to smite his masculinity, that he also loves football, cycling and many other manly things!)

We then laid some flowers around it in a new rock garden which my sister and I built while she was here donating her eggs to me. We thought that was very fitting. The flowers nestle around the little figure and give it the grace and reverence of a tiny little buddha.

This little figure gives us something concrete by which to remember our little lost offspring. It may have only been tiny but it was a live being and part of us both.