A year later – to the day

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One year ago today I was given some pretty confronting and devestating news.  Over the course of this year I have had to do some pretty big soul searching, make some life changing decisions and face some pretty epic emotional, financial and physical roller coasters. But it was all worth it and like so many amazing people kept reminding me – it only takes one…I’m pregnant.

The above photo was recently taken in Greece where I had my IVF journey and where the donor is from, holding an egg, symbolising that it only takes one egg and because I am due in the Chinese Year of the Rooster. The 1 represents the single embryo that took and again to reiterate the fact that it only takes one.

Another long catch up but here is how I found out and how the last few months have unfolded.

The 2 week wait

During the 2 week wait, as I mentioned previously, I had plenty of things to keep me busy however things started to feel different than the first time.  In the second week I felt a stitch like pain in my lower left side.  At first I was panicked and worried about this but with no spotting or blood and after doing some googling (I know googling is bad but it really is the only thing to do apart from bombard the doctor which I was not prepared to do!), I soon realised that this could be a good sign and that the embryo or embryos were attaching themselves.  Fingers crossed!

With the pregnancy test at the 2 week wait, I needed a blood test to measure my HCG levels.  Now, it didn’t just end there, I then needed another HCG test 2 days later to ensure that my HCG levels were doubling meaning it was a viable pregnancy.  Sometimes HCG levels give a positive and then 2 days later have not doubled which can mean a variety of things, all not so good.  The HCG level is what gives a positive pregnancy test.  I also needed my progesterone levels to be measured, as if they were low I needed to have a series of 3 more butt shots to try to (as they call it), rescue the pregnancy – meaning your body does not have enough progesterone to support the pregnancy, so it needs help to do so.

I had been warned by many forums not to do any pregnancy tests prior to the 2 week mark as it could easily give a false positive due to hormones left over in your body from all the stimulants however the day before my test, a Sunday, I did one anyway, thinking that at least if it was a negative or a faint line I could at least be prepared.

This is what I saw:

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Test number 1

HCG test 1 and 2

On the day of the test in the morning I used the second test to make double sure and this is what it showed:

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Test number 2 – just to make sure…darker..woohoo!

So hopeful, but of course in true Amy style -still realistic, I went after work to get my HCG blood test and progesterone test.  On Halloween it was confirmed that I was pregnant with an HCG level of: 256.1

Now I had my fingers crossed for a doubling in the next 2 days.

2 days later and after reminding them that I needed the Progesterone test (they had not done this the first day, so this was another added stress as I was not able to confirm if I needed extra help from the butt shots), I finally had my results from my HCG and they had doubled “as expected”, my doctor here said (Yay, for positive people).  My HCG level was 561.5.

This then lead to lots of speculation and sneaky googling to try and find out if these numbers indicated twins or a single pregnancy.  Unfortunately it was another wait for me as the numbers mean nothing for the number of embryos that may be present.

After a few days and a lot of nerves I finally got my progesterone levels back and my doctor told me that the clinic thought they were abnormally high, so wanted to retest them.  This did not sound like good news to me.  This was 5 days after my first HCG test and the weekend was looming, so I did not get any answers until the following week.  I was super thankful for a forum I had joined for current Serum people and turned to them for help as all the literature about progesterone levels talked about the low side but none on the internet (can you believe that – none!), talked about abnormally high results.  Thankfully they all had great advice and told me that high doesn’t matter it’s the low that is a worry.  So that got me through until finally I was able to have an electronic report and send them through the Penny.  The high number and the great HCG levels meant that I did not need any more butt shots! Celebrations all around – although I have some pretty expensive meds still sitting in my refrigerator!

A good progesterone level for me should have been 29.6 – 109.6 mol/L.  Mine was 385 mol/L, hence the anxiousness from me and the panic!  This was what it should be in the third trimester according to my doctor.

So after Penny’s reassurance I was finally able to relax and try to let the reality settle in that I was officially pregnant.  One step further on this journey than before.  This also meant that because of the IVF process I was now 4 weeks pregnant.  It was nice to have one small short cut in this long and arduous process!

Scan 1 – 7 weeks

After my first official vomit – yay me – I was off for my first scan and hopeful that that was a good sign.  It had hard for me to get excited about anything and it would not seem real to me – a very visual person – until I saw the scan and what was happening.  Also, who knew how many there were!

My gorgeous friend offered to come and at first I was about to turn her down and then I realised that I had done everything else alone, I was not going to do this alone.  She has been incredible and come to every appointment so far.  It has been so wonderful to have her support.

It was all amazing news, everything looked great.  I know what my feeling was about the single or twin situation – my sister had joked that I would end up with twin boys just like I had said I wanted for years and years when I was younger.  I had thought that it may be twins – it would be just typical if it was, however I realised that I hadn’t been that sick and was showing no sign or symptoms really except that 1 vomit and the stitch like pain so in reality I thought it would be just one.  I did wonder how many bets were going on surrounding this scan and if I should of had an ‘in’ on them to make some money! Haha!

It was a transvaginal scan as the embryo is still very small and after a bit of searching and another bladder empty, it was confirmed that there was a single embryo there.  A fabulous little ‘Lone Ranger’.

The Lone Ranger measured 1.1cm (which showed it at 7 weeks and 2 days, gaining time again!), making the due date scan-wise July 7th but IVF-wise July 9th.  We will have to see which was more accurate when the time arrives.

All else was also great – my cervix had closed and measured fabulously and the uterus was looking good.  A few follicles in the ovaries were still lurking around probably due to all the meds I was still taking and would disappear when the placenta kicked in later.  Apparently it had implanted in a great spot too, so wins all around.

The best bit was hearing the heartbeat!!  It was nice and strong at 138 beats a minute (it should be between 110 and 170).  It was pretty cool to see it moving.

I was so relieved and finally able to let myself be excited….well until the next day when I reigned it in a little until the 10 week scan – a high risk point for IVF patients.

My friend had captured a video of it all so it was great to be able to send this to my family and friends.  My parents were especially happy as it made them feel like they were there.

9 weeks

Still early days but the best news ever – I was finally down 2 pills.  So I went from 13 pills and an injection per day to 11 pills and an injection – woohoo!

I had been extremely lucky with no more morning sickness however had been diagnosed with extreme fatigue…lucky me!  I had insomnia, limited appetite and a lot of light headedness.  Plus my F sized boobs had already busted out of my bras – boohoo!  Luckily they weren’t tender though – whew!  Due to my fatigue and insomnia, my low immune system (apparently this is another stunner of a thing you get with pregnancy), had me very sick with a cold, so I was miserable.  Looking back I had no idea how I got through those weeks working full time with no sick days left and no sleep – I had quickly learned how much I cost on daily basis from my leave without pay days, so it was no days off for me, just ‘battle through it’, putting all the energy into being with my kids and all break times and frees trying to hide and recover to do it all over again.  Survival mode people!  No one tells you any of this about the first trimester.  It truly sucks.

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This truly sums up my first trimester and the daily struggle – pregnant women are my new heroes

Scan 2 – 10 weeks

It has arms and legs, it hiccups/jumps and is very squirmy! So super cool.  What a way to end a rough couple of weeks.

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Floating upside down and waving to the camera – my ‘real baby’!

It was measuring 3.29cm, you could see the umbilical cord and the placenta has started to develop.  Again – a strong heartbeat.  I was so taken aback that it actually looked like a ‘real baby’ – I actually say this in the video, as it technically is still an embryo so I expected it to still look more alien-like not baby-like yet!

I had to have 2 more sets of blood tests to finish up testing that wasn’t done through IVF.

I had lost weight but no one was worried due to my illness and because everything was looking healthy.

As I would be in New Zealand for the 12 week scan (it needed to be done between week 11-13 and for that entire time I was home in NZ), I got the run down on  the chromosomal testing and all the things I needed to relay when I was back. My parents and sister were able to come so that was exciting (for me and them), and Christmas eve was the 12 week mark so that was a bit special.

Apparently it will double in size in the next 2 weeks – crazy!  Looks like the start of the bump will come very soon.

I left just feeling extremely lucky to be able to get to this point.

Scan 3 – 12 weeks

It was a bit of a big week in New Zealand.  I was finally off the hard stuff – I had taken my last steroid pill.  Thank god – I had no idea how much it was effecting me until I came off it and noticed so much bloat disappear from my face and body and a bit of the cloudiness dissipate.

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My last ‘little white pill’ – steriod

Having my family at the 12 week scan was great.  6cm long (crown to rump), and all moving and shaking.  It really does not like being pushed around by the ultrasound wand (finally I was up to having on top of tummy scans!).  It all got a bit real for my family, which was really nice to see.

(Laid back and chilled out – hand behind it’s head and leg up)

Visually all looks good in terms of the chromosomal elements – neck measurement, nasal bone, bladder, brain development and stomach are looking amazing.  These are all good indicators for no defects.  I got the bloods done the next day for that extra 10% assurance.  The ultrasound is an 80% assurance.  To this day I still do not have the blood test results back from the NZ laboratories – it is not a test they usually do.  God knows where my blood is and if it has been tested yet!

2017

The first day of the New Year was an amazing one for me as my progesterone suppositories were halved.  Because the China and NZ equivalents were only 100mg instead of 200mg my pills had increased to 17 a day and 1 injection, so halving these was amazing.  It also meant I had to take them twice a day and not 4 times…I could smell the freedom!  I was also down to 6 more injections to go – in 1 weeks time I would be off all meds and the injections, bar 5 (multivitamins, folic acid and baby aspirin – all of which I needed to continue throughout my pregnancy).

I was still ill and getting nauseous during the day but small afternoon naps and carrying around small energy bites helped that along.  Naps are an amazing thing that I have never been able to do – it was the only thing that was helping me to get through my days, so I was loving the hell out of the 10 or 20 minutes I was getting during the day.

A friend of mine calls the baby ‘the parasite’, as it sucks everything out of you.  She was talking about her own pregnancy but I have to agree!  It is seriously what it feel like.  I was a shell of myself in the first trimester.

Along with no more big meds and injections in a weeks time, it also changed into the second trimester…I was dying for things to improve as everyone had told me they would and even having a tiny bit of energy restored to me would be amazing!

Back to Beijing

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It was very fitting that due to timings and time zones, my lucky last injection had to be done in a plane toilet, midway between NZ and Singapore.  No more injections, so I had to get a celebratory photo.  I seriously do not miss those daily buggars!

Thank you

I will be forever grateful for the love, support and messages that I have received throughout this journey, they are what have got me through.  It has been and still remains an incredibly tough journey and all the messages, words of encouragement and advice have helped twofold.  Thanks for being so amazing and supporting me on this roller coaster journey.

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Non alcoholic New Years – cheers to 2017

Here’s to my next adventure – due July 7th

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The verdict

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Putting a face to the name – introducing Serum

Overwhelmed and shattered emotionally I spent the next day in bed feeling a little under the weather – some mild cramps but nothing too unbearable.  I had felt so good the day of the procedure that I had even organised to visit some friends who were moored at a neighbouring island, however I was incredibly over ambitious thinking I would be able to do this.  I think the fact that with too many orifices being violated, a myriad of pills, being told to do limited exercise and that I couldn’t swim sealed the deal.

Because the day after the egg retrieval was a Sunday, I had to wait until Monday to visit the clinic to find out how my eggs had done and if they had fertilised.

Holy moly – some pretty important things these eggs were going through at this point and I had no choice but to try and relax and watch the hunky men of Chicago Fire (my new found binge watch TV show) to get me through.

2pm on Monday I got up the courage to leave the house and make the journey to the clinic.

An embryologist was called and came down to meet me in the waiting room.  She then started to tell me how they were looking.  The fact that I wasn’t taken away to a room and was talked to in a public waiting room had to be a good thing right?

I’m not so sure about that!!  If there is one thing that Serum needs to work on it is not delivering their news in a public area.

Unfortunately (but fortunately), only 1 egg had been fertilised.  I had a massive pit in my stomach but had prepared myself for maybe having heartbreak so was also relieved that I have 1 fertilised egg – it only takes 1.  I later asked and found out that it had been my natural egg that had survived/ been fertilised – nature is a pretty awesome thing.

Well, no need to further agonise over the decision to put 1 or 2 back. 1 it was.  At least that decision was taken out of my hands.

The embryologist then went on to tell me that they had looked at the embryos yesterday and as they don’t like to pull them out and disturb them very often, they would look at it tomorrow.  This would allow them to see the grading and the transfer would more than likely happen then, as I only had the 1 and they didn’t want to risk it by waiting until day 5 (something they usually try and do).

Grading?!?!  What the hell was that?!?!  She proceeded to then go through that with me (still in the waiting room)

Basically:

Grade 1 – means the embryo is in excellent condition, no fragmentations

Grade 2 – it is usable but has some fragmentations

Grade 3 – it is useless (well, she didn’t exactly say that but it is pretty much a summary of what she said),…they wouldn’t use it.

So, it was a quick chat to the mid wife to confirm which pills I needed to stop before the transfer, just incase it did happen the next day, and an appointment was made for 2pm the next day and it was a dazed walk home to hope and think as positively as I could that that little embryo made it.

I never want to be a Mum that strives to have high achieving children or puts pressure on her kids to achieve but this is one time where I was absolutely in need of nature and that 1 embryo to be high achievers.

C’mon little embryo – you can do it!

A brief run down of how it all works

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A friend was heading to the supermarket one day at work and asked if I needed anything, I told her no. As she was leaving I yelled out down the hall “Actually, can you pick me up some good eggs?!?” We both laughed. Next minute she’s back with these and telling me they are good eggs and it’s even better because they are different. So happy I have hilarious friends!

I have been lucky enough to have a community of support surrounding me both near and far and in-between through all of this.

 I have had a lot of questions about when I am doing this and how it will work exactly.  As I am flying out of Friday to Europe, I thought it best to share on here before I leave as I am not sure when the next post will come.

On the 29th of June I fly to Athens, arrive mid afternoon and head straight for Serum.  On arrival I will have another ultrasound and some tests done so that they can get a clear picture of what they are dealing with and how to proceed.  They will prescribe the medication I need to be on (my ‘Protocol’).  I will then stay overnight just incase anything extra needs to happen – sometimes they need a better look or more information – or if they need to locate the meds from around Athens.  On the 30th I fly to Berlin to meet back up with my parents.

I have been told that on day 2 of my cycle is when I will start injections and any other medications I need.  I am unsure of that day right now as it is up to my body but I am hoping it is when I am around my parents so one of them can pay me back for all those sleepless nights I gave them as a child and inject me!

On July 6th (thankfully I will be with my parents on my birthday and not traveling!), I will fly back to Greece for 2 weeks.  Most days I will be going into the clinic for check ups, to see how I am responding, blood tests, tests etc.  I have found an Airbnb close enough to the clinic to walk but far enough away to separate myself from it – it also has a hammock on the balcony so I am looking forward to that! It’s the small things!

On day 7 of my cycle is when I need to back in Athens so they can start monitoring things and then day 9 is usually the day they extract the eggs, however it may depend on other factors.  These dates are all within the 2 weeks.

When my eggs are ready to be extracted I will be put under a general anesthetic, they will extract the eggs and then start to develop the embryos with the donor sperm depending on if there are any viable eggs.  Once the extraction is made they can then tell the quality of the eggs.

Then it is a wait in the hope that the embryos last 3 days or even better 5 days, as they would have developed into blastocysts.

Once they are ready to go, if there are any viable, I need to go back in for a procedure to implant an embryo.  It is then rest for a day or 2 – roll on the air con and movies!

After that it is a bit of a wait to see how it all goes and if it will work due to the hormones and different levels in my body going a bit haywire due to the medications.

This is obviously a very brief and rough guide to what is about to happen but hope it helps.  Soon I will be a bit more of an expert in it and can talk about it a bit more in-depth.

Let’s hope I don’t turn too crazy on those hormones!  Fingers crossed.

Happy holidays everyone!

 

 

 

When timing takes over

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With one option in New Zealand down the tubes (pun intended), I turned to the other: egg freezing.

After emailing Oxford Woman’s clinic to remind them to send the PDF of pre tests to me, that I hopefully could get done in China, I was put in touch with an incredible fertility nurse Kate.  She sent the list of tests directly to me the same day she received the email.

It was a super scary looking list of tests I might add, anything that lists HIV and involves needles is always going to be a heart attack inducing list to me.  Unfortunately for her, she then told me not to hesitate to contact her if I needed any help with the list or anything else.

Big mistake lady!

Because my mind was racing about all the possible scenarios, outcomes, timings and unknowns I replied straight back to her to see if she could answer the following questions:

  • Because my specialist recommended that I have at least 2 rounds of freezing done due to my low AMH level, how long in-between times can I wait until I have the next round?
  • As I only have set holidays, I may be able to come back to New Zealand from these dates (dates listed), would this work for at least the first round?

People often (sometimes a little too much), have me on about the holidays teachers get.  Now, I will not go on to justify why we deserve it or need it or work our arses off for it but what I will say is that unfortunately this means that we are only able to have holidays or take time off at these particular times.  The excruciatingly hard part about this for me now, is having to try to time procedures around these times, which is not an easy feat.  Especially when these timings are also governed by the procedure I choose.

 For egg freezing with IVF I will need to go on  the pill so that they can control things a bit more and that means I then need to count backwards from holidays to make sure that I start the pill at certain times.  If I am not accurate, I will start costing myself money and have to take more days of leave without pay or miss the holiday window altogether.  This implicates flights as well as days off, so, it is best not to screw that one up!

OR if I decide to go with IUI or something similar that means I have to go off the pill and it is up to my bodies timing when I have to be, where I have to be.  Meaning who the bloody hell knows what dates that will be and what flights I need to book and when.

Throw in the time crunch of a year, a useless mathematician (that’s me). and an even more less knowledgeable person about cycles (again…that’s me), and you have a complete scheduling nightmare.  Believe me, it is headache inducing.

Putting it plainly – it is just not a simple thing to plan or organize.  It means leave without pay, when this is already going to be a pretty costly experience in itself, which ever way I go.  Most people only have to factor in tests, meds and procedures which is horrendously costly in itself.  Unfortunately for me, I also need to add to that, ridiculously expensive flights and time crunches.

Luckily the nurse was incredible and I no longer had to deal with 3 week waits.  The very next day she had written an incredibly long and detailed email explaining how we could do the freezing and how it would work, and asking if I could extend some dates as I would need some recovery time before flying…oh yeah…there’s another thing I have to factor in.

As the clinic is closed at Christmas time for cleaning and holidays etc, I was told that I would not be able to do my second round then and as it were, she stressed to me how important it was NOT to wait that long because of the levels of my AMH.

These factors were extremely stressing for me and with people telling me time was of the essence and that they could cater for me during this time (July/August), it seems like this was my only option.

Unfortunately what made me most upset was the fact that I was in the midst of planning an epic trip to Europe to spend time with my brother and when my parents caught wind of the trip they were keen to jump on the band wagon.  3 days before I found out from the specialist the extent of what was going on and the time implications, my parents had gone ahead and booked non refundable tickets to our chosen destinations.

So with most of my family overseas in Europe while I was going to be going through this in New Zealand, it was looking less and less appealing.  With only my sister in town, and she doesn’t know this yet, she was first in line for daily injection duty.

The cost alone was enough to be sending me for the hills and now most of my family weren’t going to be there for support.  This really did not seem like the option for me at all.

 And it turns out I was right.

The first door slams shut

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At a friend’s birthday a few days after the 1st door was closed – No time to worry or get bitter, it was time to move forward and enjoy normalcy with friends for their celebrations….and eat ‘Fairy Floss’!

Unfortunately, I had my first set back the very next day after sending ‘the weirdest email I had ever written’ to Fertility Associates in New Zealand.

Summer holidays and the Christmas period was over and ‘Island time’ no longer existed in ‘The land of the long white cloud’ so I had an email waiting for me by 10am, my time, the next day.

It held the following information:

  • There is a huge waiting list and due to that fact, they have a policy that states they only accept patients onto their waiting list who reside in NZ.  First strike against me –  but I COULD move back…
  • …or not…Currently the waiting list for a single women is 2-3 years,  Strike 2 – I ain’t got no time for that! My window is 1 year.
  • My AMH is low so I should consider egg freezing – now THAT I already knew.
  • I could access sperm quicker in the USA, as they have plenty of donors as they pay them for their donations – o.k, now there is some direct and honest advice.

No strike 3 , however I think both strike 1 and 2 collectively keep me out of that game.

So…onto the next.

I am sure that this will not be my first set back and there may be many more to come.  However, I didn’t bat an eyelid.  Yes, the news sucked but it did not effect me.  It was apart of my step by step (ooh, baby), process and it was now thrown on the ‘tried and died’ pile. No time to get bitter and worry, for me it was just onto the next option.

Whatever or wherever that may be.

 

NOTE:

***To anyone who is thinking of using Fertility Associates, even though I was only in cahoots with them for a matter of days, I was super impressed by their website which gave me copious amounts of information and even the best thing (in terms of paper work), I have found to date – an absolute break down of all the treatments, medications, procedures and what they cost and what you would expect to pay, complete with break downs of payment plans and options.

Money has by far been one of the biggest implications of this process and by having that information at your fingertips laid out and not having to chase people or timidly write an email about it was a god send.

In the words of New Kids on the Block

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As soon as I was off the phone from the specialist and after a mini break down, I was straight onto thinking about how to best tackle this situation.

I broke down what I needed to do into tiny step by tiny step parts.  Partly because this is who I am and partly to not deal with the enormity and many facets of what I was just told.

From my conversation with my specialist my 2 clear next steps were:

1 – Wait for the PDF of pre tests to be sent from the fertility nurse in NZ (and when I received them I would send them to my local clinic to check if they could do them and the cost)

2 – Write an email to Fertility Associates to find out about my option in New Zealand for sperm donors.

After 4 hours sleep and receiving this news, number 2 was hilarious to me.  It was the most f*%&@d up thing.  So I did what any normal person in their early 30’s would do when just told they may be able to improve their egg quality by eating and drinking in moderation.

I took myself off to the pub (the one with amazing burgers and fries with aioli),with my laptop to write the weirdest email of my life to date, to a place in New Zealand to ask all about sperm.  You had to laugh…as it is super bizarre when the day before you are lying poolside in 35 degree heat without a care in the world and now sperm is high on your vocabulary list.

Believe me a few beers in the sun and being in a public place really helped to damper down the enormity of the news and just helped to make me laugh my way through it.

What I have found during this process so far is that you just get on with it and trawl through each option and I have learned that the best way I can deal with it without actually getting checked into an insane asylum is to compartmentalise the hell out of things and attack things small step by small step.  Things tend to come crumbling down again if I skip a step or start hearing options that are past where I am now…freaking me out, overwhelming me and being way too much.  I think New Kids on the Block had it right all those years ago…..Step by step….it seems to work.

 

In the interest of a little fun…

Yesterday morning being overtired and slightly delerious I was cracking myself up by answering the lyrics to the NKOTB song as I sung it and as I wouldn’t want to put anyone through listening to my horrid singing voice, here’s what I was doing…all the while laughing really hard and also thinking I was slightly insane!!! Haha

NKOTB – Step 1, we can have lots of fun

Me – Hmmmmm, would we call turkey basting fun?

NKOTB – Step 2, there’s so much we can do.

Me – Well, there’s 2 options, I guess that will do?

NKOTB – Step 3, it’s just you and me

Me – Hmmmm, yep, just me on that one

NKOTB – Step 4, I can give you more

Me – Yep, well, I suppose you can but ‘man in a can’ doesn’t come cheap

NKOTB – Step 5, don’t you know that the time has arrived

Me – Well unfortunately I brought that one on myself by finding this out. So, ‘now’ it is!

Dada, dada, dada,dada, done!

You’ve got to have fun in your life and if poking fun at the situation works for me…that’s the road I’m taking….step….by….step.

2 options are better than none

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I actually have no qualms with Valentines Day whatsoever, unfortunately this was the day I found out my options, now the date is forever etched in my brain. So, for me, the message truly applies.

At 20 weeks old (even before you are actually born), you have 2 million eggs, 2 million!  This is just one of the crazy facts that I have learned in the last 2 weeks of my life.  This particular fact I learned during my conversation with my specialist when we were discussing what my results actually meant.

He started off by telling me about egg reserve in general and then told me more about what AMH actually tells us.  He then went on to tell me what my AMH level meant for me.

Most women who do a round of IVF, because of their eggs being hyper stimulated will produce between 16-20 eggs per cycle.  Half of those would be able to be fertilized. With my results it means that I would only produce 6 eggs or less, half of which may be able to be be fertilized.  Not great, however, not nothing.  He also told me that this number could possibly be an indication of early onset menopause….eeekkkk…..let’s not even go there yet!

The specialist then stated that if I was in a relationship, he would tell me to ‘Go ahead, and try to get pregnant’.  However because I am single, it was more of a social (my god, seriously, in this day and age?) and a financial decision.  I had him stumped.  This obviously made my blood boil but being in shock and faced with all of this jargon and the news being relatively new to me , I held it in to process it, all the while thinking ‘If you would tell someone in the same situation who was in a couple to go and try to get pregnant, why wouldn’t you be telling me the same thing?’  Granted I am single but from my limited experience at the time, there are ways around that.  Ways I hoped that he would talk to me about.

That left us with a bit of a stalemate….we went around and around talking about things until I finally was able to get 2 clear cut options out of him.

Option #1 – Egg freezing

This would involve having IVF, retrieving the eggs, freezing them and storing them.  Sounds simple enough however due to my lack of eggs I would have to do AT LEAST 2 rounds at between NZD$11,000 – $13,000 a pop (then you would have to factor in the pre tests and flights home). Also he informed me that when you thaw the eggs they are not as good as ‘fresh’ ones.  Who’s the chicken now?  So if all went well from 2 rounds of IVF I would produce 12 eggs, 6 would be viable and then when I unfreeze them maybe half or all would not be good quality.  Not such good odds there.

The specialist told me this option would obviously be time and money heavy.  I would have to be on the pill so they could control my cycle, I would have to have a battery of tests to ensure everything else was ok (around $NZD2000), then I would have injections to turn off the natural body signals, then injections of hormones.  The whole process taking around 2 months and I would have to be in Christchurch for at least 2 weeks.

I then went on to ask about ‘the oven’.  My worry, after reading a few articles on egg freezing over the summer, was that it isn’t just the egg factor, it is the age of the body factor as well.  Brilliantly I had some great news there – he reassured me that it is overwhelmingly the age of the egg that is the biggest factor not the ‘oven itself’.

The timing issues because of me living overseas and only having set holidays would involve a lot of pre organization – ovulation tracking with scans, counting and planning date for harvesting, more blood tests, pelvic exams, ultrasounds – all the fun stuff.  Luckily I have a great clinic nearby in China, with great staff and fantastic turn around time.  My specialist could send a PDF of the tests that would be needed and I could check with my clinic if they could do it, saving time and ensuring that when I was back for the 2 weeks, all would run smoothly.

The specialist was also quick to tell me that the fertility nurses on staff were amazingly knowledgeable and dealt with a range of scenarios and sorted all the timings so they would be in contact soon.

Option #2 – Sperm Donation

Two weeks in and that still makes me laugh whenever I talk about it or say it because it comes so naturally now and is so weird that I talk about it in regards to me!

It took awhile for my specialist to really put out this option. I had had enough of stories of single women going it alone and it not working out successfully e.g. in the words of him ‘having a romanticized idea of parenthood’, ‘a mentally challenged child’, having to quit work and stay at home etc.  I understand I need to be told both sides of the coin however ‘My god!’, this is the first conversation we are having.  I just need the options.  Save your negative stories and scare tactics for later when it has all sunk in.

After I finally got up the balls to tell him that I really wanted to have my own child and that I wanted to explore all the options I had to do that before I even looked into other ways to become a Mum, he finally started talking.  He told me that this (sperm donation), would be the cheapest option however I would be committing myself to having a child on my own (well, obviously!).  It would involve artificial insemination (AI), I could do it immediately, it would have to be timed with my natural cycle, I would have to be off the pill for 2-3 cycles to check ovulation, then timed for natural egg release…and then it is pretty much for lack of a better explanation as he put it ‘a substitution for intercourse’, (AKA ‘turkey basting’). Lovely.

Because his clinic did not have a ‘back catalogue’ of donations, they could do AI however I would have to find my own donor or use a donor bank (he suggested Fertility Associates).  The problems being: the request for sperm donors is not high, there is a long wait, certain legalities and now donation is open meaning the child can find out about their father later on (this, I really, really liked to hear).

So with 2 options at the ready I felt better prepared and just damn right relieved that I now had a direction to go in and that I actually was a lucky one who had some options.

I also asked him a few questions that some friends had suggested I ask.

#1 – Does the pill effect the result of AMH?

I was told that the pill is not harmful or does not effect the result of the AMH test.

#2 – Is there anyway to improve egg quality?

I was told no, just the usual things like not drinking high levels of alcohol (damn it!), no drugs (easy peasy), eat well (oh man! There goes those yummy Great Leap burgers and it’s back on the Weight Watchers band wagon I go), exercise and to make sure I am getting the right nutrients.  Well that sucks, doctors orders to get healthy, you can’t really argue with that.

One of my final questions was:

#3 – Going off the results of the AMH, when would I have to do something to ensure that I have the best chance?

His answer (and the answer I have had from most specialists over the last few weeks) was:

‘Within the next year, as every 6 months things decrease’

Yay, fun!  Roll on the next few months of playing fact finder, scenario builder and putting the puzzle pieces together to form an answer.  This is not how I pictured my 2016 when I was calling it in on New Years.

I have always wanted to be a Mum but I have to be honest I have always thought I would have a child with Mr Right.

So, over the next few months I really am faced with trying to answer the most monumentous questions I have faced yet, because in reality I have limited time and need to make a decision soon.

Do I want to be a Mum now?

OR

Do I still want to wait for Mr Right?

At this point, who knows.