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

Posts tagged ‘sister’

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.

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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!

My sister – aunty first and egg donor second

My sister's gift of her eggs are what made it possible for us to be pregnant now.

Our families overseas are already making plans to come and stay with us after our baby is born, although my sister says she doesn’t want any special treatment, even though she is our egg donor.

My sister’s help is what made it possible for us to conceive – we wouldn’t be pregnant without her eggs. I would therefore really like for her to come visit as soon as possible after our baby arrives. I mentioned it to her on the phone the other day, and she said she would love to come visit. But she also reminded me of our arrangement – that she is the egg donor only and doesn’t want to be treated any differently from my other siblings.

It startled me a little me when she said this, but then I was grateful for her outlook. That was always the understanding – that she will be the aunty first and the egg donor second. That her being the egg donor wouldn’t give her any special standing with our child. I love that she has this outlook. It gives us the freedom to be the parents of our baby without worrying that my sister wants to assume any type of role with him/her other than being his/her aunty.

Those good ol’ (young) eggs of my sister’s

Janis Joplin,  Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Michael Hutchence are forever frozen in time at the ages at which they died. Forever young.

Similarly and fantastically, the embryos made of my sister’s eggs and my husband’s sperm are frozen in time too – they will always be embryos made from two people in their mid 30s.

So, even though I am knocking 42, the little embryo inside me is seven years younger. Apparently the chances of my pregnancy continuing with embryos this youthful are around 95% – (touch lots of wood).  If the embryos were made of my eggs, it would be a different story with a much higher chance of miscarriage.

Even so, every time I go to the loo I brace myself in case I see blood but to date (apart from the first bit of spotting a few weeks ago which the doc put down to the progesterone pessaries I take) there has been nothing. I am now 7.5 weeks – still early days but further than we have ever been before.

If we are lucky enough to have this child and decide to try again for another baby at some in future with our remaining five embryos, they will still be frozen in time at around 35 years old. How brilliant is that?

I love the miracle of IVF plus of course the wonderful benevolence of my sister and brother in law who have allowed for this dream of ours to gradually be coming true.

Be still my beating heart

My husband and I listened, gob smacked, to the quick whoosh, whoosh  sound. It was the sound of our little fetus’ heart at its six week scan this morning. We could see it on the screen too, a rapid tiny flickering pulse.

I never expected to experience this. A year ago we were resigned to being childless. We were getting ready to celebrate our lives in a different way sans kids. We were going to sell the house, hit the road and head to Europe to work and live for a few years.

But with my sister’s help we are now suddenly looking like we will be parents (providing our pregnancy continues without a hitch – touch wood!).

It has taken us five years to get this far. It still doesn’t seem true.

So now I am in a dilemma about what to write about.  In the past I have stopped reading blogs by some (but not all) women who have conceived. Photos of pregnant bumps and effusive ramblings about the joy of being pregnant struck me to my hurting, infertile core. Their success highlighted my desolation.

I want to keep documenting my journey as a way to help others who may read my blog and for the self counselling it gives me. But I intend to write my blog without shoving my pregnancy down anyone’s throat. My own difficult journey and anyone reading this who is having a tough time will always be at the forefront of my mind.