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

Posts tagged ‘oestrogen’

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 It’s amazing what a difference HRT makes – without it a girl can feel so anxious, withdrawn and down.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


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!

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?

Transfer one or two embryos?

We’re heading towards a new embryo transfer. On Wednesday a scan will hopefully show that my womb lining is nice and thick and ready to receive another embryo. I’ve been building it up with daily doses of oestrogen pills so hopefully it will be ripe for the sticking.

We have six embryos left. Deciding on whether to give two a shot in one go has been playing on our minds. Do we try two and risk conceiving twins? Or do we play it slow and steady by transferring one embryo at a time?

We are missing our family and friends in New Zealand and think we would like to move there soon. But our little cache of embryos is keeping us here in Australia. Getting through them as fast as possible would release us to be able to move on with the next phase of our lives – whether as parents or not.  It is tempting to speed things up by toying with two.

But I know from experience that twins are hard work and that I would prefer to conceive one if possible. When I was nine, my Mum had my twin brother and sister (naturally conceived), taking our family of three kids to five overnight. We had so much fun as a family but it took its toll. My poor Mum says she doesn’t remember anything about the first five years of my siblings’ lives as it was all too stressful. If I can, I would prefer not to have twins.

I’ve also read up on the topic and notice that recent research leans heavily on the side of one at a time. My doctor says he would be happy to transfer a duo and thinks it would be safe but I think we’ll just go the one next time.

Anyone out there got any gems to share about their experience?

IVF more successful with one embryo transfer than two, Herald Sun, Dec 23, 2010

IVF Study: Two embryos no better than one, TIME, Mar 30, 2009

IVF – one or two embryos?, The Lancet, 13 Sept, 2008

Disorganised for life

Well today is Day 1 for my sister and I which is great. But we had to go through a gauntlet of thumb twiddling, head scratching and chaotica to get to where we are.

We arrived half an hour late for our 8:45am appointment due to rush hour traffic this morning. Luckily our doctor would still see us and spoke to my sister and her partner about the treatment she was about to undergo and risks etc. Even more luckily, my sis still agreed to go through with it after the chat. I must admit I’ve been holding my breath that she still may change her mind at the last minute. Not because she’s shown any doubt up until now but because I keep planning for all eventualities.

Doc said we could begin our IVF cycle today as our menstrual cycles are synced. In fact, he said, today was the last day we could begin it as our periods started four days ago. However when we saw the nurse later she said we would not be allowed to start as we have not had our final counselling sessions. Hmm that was a bit disconcerting to hear given that we had called twice to check when we should go off our HRT (me) and our contraceptive pill (sis) and that there had been a fair bit of overseas travel and booking of leave involved to get to this point. I said it would have to go ahead come hell or high water.

The doc was also meant to have signed some forms but had forgotten to before he went into theatre. This was after I had asked him if he had signed everything he needed to.  After much gnashing of teeth by the nurse when she heard he had not signed the form, she promised us another appointment with him at 3pm this afternoon.

Then we had to get some blood tests done which should have been done a month ago but which they hadn’t asked us for yet.

So then we went for a lovely picnic in the Botanic Gardens to celebrate my niece’s first birthday, celebrating as one should on one’s first birthday with champagne and cake.

Back at the hospital that afternoon we were still waiting to see doc at 4:30. My poor niece was by then beginning to lose her happy baby persona but all credit to her little self, hardly cried at all for having to spend half her first birth anniversary in a doc’s waiting room.

We finally got the waiver to begin treatment without full blood test results and counselling, plus the prescription for the drugs, at 5:35pm.

Yay! First injection (Gonal F) for sis was administered this evening and I am on oestradial to get my womb lining all nice and plump in hopeful readiness for an embryo in a few weeks’ time.

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 .