The full story

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Post IVF body, uncomfortable, bloated and pumped full of drugs. Baring all to seek to the positive from a ‘Negative’ day.

While in Sweden having a great time, thankful for the friends and family that surrounded me to take my mind off things, my friend mentioned that she had a few home pregnancy tests in her bathroom and that if I wanted to I could use one.

Initially hesitant, on the morning of my blood test to find out my results (AKA my HCG levels and Progesterone levels ), I gave in to temptation and asked her if I could use one and took the test.

It was quite hilarious. Every TV show and movie that you watch shows the woman taking the pregnancy test nervously peeing on the stick and waiting patiently for the results.  It did not conger up any feelings of that for me.  It was nothing like I expected.  It was almost normal, another part of the process and a small step forward.  Sweet step by sweet little step.  Definitely no dramatic waiting scene here.

A few days previous I had noticed that two of the horrendous side effects that I have been experiencing – bloatedness and terrible face acne had miraculous disappeared (well the pimples had cleared but the belly bloat stayed around for awhile but the feeling of puffiness had mysteriously vanished (I have since found out that those symptoms are caused by Progesterone).  I had mentioned this to my brother and said to him ‘I’m not trying to be negative here but I have a feeling that it might not have worked’.  That bloody gut feeling getting put into play again.

A few minutes later and the stick was showing me a resounding ‘Negative’.  There wasn’t even a tad bit of a faded line or a glimmer of hope.  It was a flat out ‘NO’.

Wow.  That was not what I was expecting…with an embryo actually implanted and copious amounts of pregnancy enhancing drugs in my system I expected at least a slight faded line – the dramatic part of the TV show or movie came into play here.  Much to my surprise, apparently it doesn’t work like that.

It was a crazy feeling to explain, mainly because you are warned that you can have a false positive but you are never told that there is such a thing as a false negative.  Maybe there is a reason for that and that is that maybe it just doesn’t exist.  In my heart of hearts I knew and my poor friend had to see me try to take it in and try to hold it together as I waded through uncertainty.  All credit to her (she is a pretty phenomenal person) and she was like ‘Feel it, let it out, do what you need to do and don’t worry about me or others’.  So amazing.

For absolute clarity we ventured to downtown Stockholm to a clinic to get the blood test.  After a lot of chat in Swedish we were able to determine that we could get the results rushed through and while I was waiting to board my plane to Nantes (via Brussels overnight), I could call to get my results.  We then spent a very lovely afternoon riverside eating amazing Swedish food and then it was off to the airport I went.

My amazing ‘brother from another mother’ sensing my distress after saying goodbye to my actual brother in a flood of tears, jumped on the bus with me and helped me locate the next one to the airport and was there to just help me simmer down and get ahold of my emotions.  I really am so thankful to all of my friends and brother through this time.  It was great to have such genuine and incredible people around me, looking after me, knowing me and knowing what I needed without judgement.  True, true friends that I will always treasure.

Unfortunately at the airport there was a mix up and I was not able to get my results (wrong phone number was given), and I had to wait until the next morning to call.

After a good sleep in Brussels (sometimes emotionally exhausted comes in handy), I stood outside the airport hotel waiting for the shuttle and again was denied my results as they told me they had sent it to my clinic (Serum).

Frantically, before I lost wifi, I shot an email off to Penny to tell her what was happening and that I would appreciate it if she could email me my results asap 1. Because I then would know if I had to organise another blood test in Nantes and also someone to do more butt shots for me and 2. because they were my bloody results!

Arriving in Nantes I was greeted by my bestie’s father and luckily with no wifi, a long drive and me trying to recall my rusty high school French (her father only speaks French), I was distracted long enough to make it to the tiny, gorgeous seaside town on the West coast of France.

Unfortunately for my bestie she was now lumped with me on edge and anxiously waiting for the email that would seal the fate of my first round.

It came in 2 forms.  One from Penny and one from the blood test clinic in Sweden.

Thankfully the sereneness and the fact that I had already had over 24 hours to process the absolute negative from the home pregnancy test meant that I could take it on board a bit more easily.  Not too gracefully mind you but much better than I or anyone around me expected I think.  Don’t worry – there was a side of the road melt down a few days later to prove that I actually am human!

So we did the best thing we could do and that was to take my gorgeous friends wee one down to the ocean, where after 2 weeks of no swimming and following all the other ridiculous rules that I had to stick to, I waded out and dived straight into the ocean.

Celebrate the small things and look to the positive, that’s what I am trying to continue to do.

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A toast

 

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A Rose in hand and toasting with them, never a more fitting toast at such a relevant time

In the waiting area of Nantes airport I was catching up on a TV show ‘Kingdom’ and was floored when they did a toast that encaptured exactly how I was feeling. At first I had thought that what I was feeling was just numbness but then after this speech, or in reality a toast (complete with mini bar bottles of spirits), I realised that I was feeling all of these things…except maybe the self loathing part and unfortunately I have no pills to make the pain go away.

The toast went like this:

Woman: To panic attacks…and insomnia

Man: ….and depression

W: ….and rage and loss

M: ….and self loathing

W: …yeah, thats not me, thats you…..but bitterness…

M: I like it, I like it….hopelessness

W: …..oh, fuck, I’m swimming in that

M: …yeah….here’s to all the fuck’n pills that make the pain go away

W: …yes

M: …and fuck you god

Now, I’m not religious so that last part isn’t quite right but I am saying fuck you. I have no idea to who but that’s how I am feeling. I think that is bitterness speaking.

Insomnia and depression are old news, present since the day I found out I had a low egg reserve and a time limit. But rage, loss, pain and hopelessness are all new to the mix. Add numbness and you have Amy Martin right now.

The first round did not work.

Who knows why. I guess there is no use dwelling on things but my mind and body are not in a good place right now.

I seriously was questioning how I could do this all over again. The pain and hopelessness have been at the forefront of things.

Hopelessness has dominated everything and it makes it hard to get to a good place.

I guess with being on holiday all I am doing is looking toward when I get back to Beijing to get my body and head in a good place/space. I’m joining up to exercises classes as soon as I get back to leave no doubt that it was my body that let me down.

I will see a counsellor, no matter the cost, to talk things out, hopefully find acceptance and get my head in a good place.

I will use my obvious easy access to Chinese medicine and start acupuncture (more needles, I know) to help aid fertility – it’s a thing…believe me. Anything to help.

At least then I will have no doubt if it doesn’t work next time that I did everything I possibly could and that it will leave no doubt in my mind that I did everything I could have done to prevent it.

It will work.

See, I can still be positive, even if it is only a timid little whisper somewhere down deep.

I will get to a good place and do it all. over. again. Sometime.  Somehow.

Sweet, sweet company

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Maypole – all about fertility – on ‘The island’ in Sweden

After almost 2 weeks in Athens and everyday filled with some medical procedure, drama or other event I was champing at the bit to leave and was starved for company.

The fact that I had stayed the extra time (I had had to guesstimate my time when I had booked my tickets as I had NO idea how long everything would take – a rough idea wasn’t quite right, so I was glad that I had booked the extra days),  meant I was able to head to Serum every 2 days after the transfer to receive ‘butt shots’ (progesterone), that I was unable to do myself.  After 3 shots, I was very happy to leave.

I must say I was pretty damn ecstatic to discover non-alcoholic beer (thank god!), to get me through the long list of rules that I had to partake in:

  • No swimming (this was a tough one)
  • No baths
  • No excess sun (a bit hard when it is between 38-45 degrees each day)
  • No getting dehydrated (again – a bit difficult…my BPA free, squishy, roll up water bottle became my best friend and was attached to my bag everyday)
  • No penatrative sex (well, I wish that was even an issue)
  • Gentle exercise: no running (definitely NOT a problem…although by the end of the 2 weeks I was desperate for any kind of exercise!)

And don’t forget the myriad of pills and that elusive injection that dictated my schedule each day.

So with a 2 week wait ahead of me and the ‘No fun list’ dictating my every move and being something I HAD to stick to, I was so relieved to be heading to Sweden to meet up with my brother, my brother from another mother and some of my gorgeous friends.

It was the best thing for me to be around so many positive, fun, amazing and caring people and to chat about what I had been through (and was still going through), was a relief in itself.  To be around people was the best feeling.

I was lucky to be busy enough to forget about my ‘ordeal’ and to have time to unwind and be myself again, not some person going through something awful.

I was also very fortunate to be around 2 people who had been struggling to get pregnant (a couple), and to talk about it to people who truly understood was such a blessing.

Sweden offered many alternatives to alcohol and I was spoilt for choice – it will be hard to go back to Beijing where there isn’t much in that respect out in restaurants and bars, unless you want fizzy drink.  I always felt like part of the group and never felt left out – apart from when we went to ‘The island’ and everyone was doing amazing bombs off the wharf and swimming.  My wading up to my thighs technique and dunking my hair in and flicking it back to get wet was perfected to a tee.  Not quite a ‘Wella’ ad but it did the trick.

My gorgeous friends had also helped line up a blood test at the 2 week mark (the day I left Sweden), to see if I was pregnant or not and how my progesterone levels were (basically if I needed the 3 extra butt shot injections I was hauling around to each airport with an ice pack attached).

That second week of waiting was exactly what I had needed – thank god for my brother and those amazing friends.  I am truly thankful to them.  If I hadn’t been with them, I think I may have gone insane.

Next stop: results

***On a side note – Sweden (Stockholm), absolutely blew me away – absolutely loved it and would recommend it to anybody!

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!

Best day ever: Sarcasm at its finest

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The ‘Trigger Shot’ – my hands were shaking even walking with it back to my apartment – icepack and all

8.30am and I was at Serum to get a scan to see how the stimulants had gone with the second egg – not so well and it was another round of stimulants (a shot of Merinol and one of Cetrotide), scheduled for between 3 and 4 pm that day.

Next it was on to the run down of how the egg retrieval would go as that was the next step in 2 days time…

And this is where it all fell apart….

The trigger shot (which helps induce ovulation), needs to be timed so that the eggs can be harvested at optimum time – (36 hours later) and namely be collected in the morning. So that meant that I needed I had to have the shot at 10pm at night and had to do it into the top, right hand side of my butt muscle. Ouch!!!

The mid wife knowing me by now, sensed my panic and her initial thought was to tell me to find a pharmacy that was open until late and have them do it.  Geez – another thing to try and suss out in limited time.  I of course asked her if she knew any nearby – she didn’t as most people come here either with a partner or friend to help them OR do not have an avid fear of needles!  So, I gave in and convinced myself “Amy you can do this”.

Turns out I was wrong and that needle phobia is a thing.

I was completely fine as she told me how to break the viles, draw up the liquid from one vial and then deposit it into the powder vial and then repeat with another 2 vials and then change needle points (to a smaller needle – for my benefit apparently), I even got through the what quadrant of my butt to put it in talk….then as soon as she started talking about putting it all the way into the muscle and then drawing back to check for blood incase it was in a vein….I completely lost it.  I felt like a child having a massive crying/ hyperventilation meltdown.  It came out of nowhere and poor Leah.  I felt incredibly awful.  Straight away she said, “Right, no, I’m going to stop explaining now, you can’t be stressed doing this and someone else needs to do this for you”.

I feel super embarrassed even writing this but I promised myself I would tell the whole story, exactly like it is.  I have convinced myself if someone else was doing it for me or if it was preloaded needles then I would have no issue but I have not had preloaded needles at all so I’m not sure how true that part is until faced with it (I have since been faced with preloaded needles and I am now able to self inject so pretty proud of myself that I called it when I wrote this post awhile back).

So armed with the letter for both the ECG and the trigger shot in Greek I was off (for all I know it read – ‘This great big wimp cannot do this so please give this to her at 10pm exactly!’ lol – but not really laughing so much! haha!)

Leaving the clinic, with poor Leah getting the blame from the receptionist that I was a mess once again – is it fair to blame the hormones at this point?  Are they effective right away? – I was off to suss out where Leto Hospital was.  I was told it was a taxi ride and that maybe I should ring them in advance to see if they could do my ECG before my shot.

Upon getting back to my apartment, super emotional, I called 6 times via Skype on both my phone and laptop with a crappy connection (apparently that is not just limited to China), was hung up on and if I got through no one understood what it was I wanted (there is not many ways to explain ECG apparently). I was again in tears.  I was incredibly frustrated and all alone trying to figure all this out and sick of all the unfairness of this situation and doing it by myself in a foreign country….yes, I still lay blame at NZ’s health system with this one and it definitely came out then.

I decided I need some distraction to calm myself down before I set off to walk to this hospital to sort it out in person, so engaged in some mindless TV show watching.

Luckily, my parents rang at that time – sarcasm at it’s greatest. I was a mess.

Finally I felt calm enough to make the trek to the hospital – a 30 minute walk, so not too bad, unfortunately on arrival the street it was on was full of shops with ‘Congrutaltions its a ___”, bouquets  and baby and maternity shops….turns out it was a maternity hospital.  Just great.

They were fab and right to the point, no appointment needed, I showed them the forms in Greek and the ECG could be done at 9pm and shot at 10pm.  Relief flooded me and joyously I walked back (well joyously is definitely a gross exaggeration…let’s just say I was much happier than when walking there).

Next, it was the wait for my 3pm appointment for my shots (unfortunately 1 actually hurt this time, same spot or increased dose…one or the other.  Once again I am thankful for not having 2 weeks of these), and to pick up ‘the’ shot, which I filled in with grocery shopping – another frustrating feat in itself (turns out I was at a dinky little market and the main one was only one street over! Found it the next day)

Shots went without a hitch – Leah pleaded with me for no tears and preceded to teach another staff member how to prepare shots, which made me feel better that it wasn’t just me that was learning today!  I was given a plastic bag with the needles, vials and ice pack and headed straight home.

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The quickest part of this process so far – my ECG with Greek results – all good!

I cooked to relax (yes, I know that is strange for some) and due to my exhausted and emotional state I set an alarm for 8.30pm.  Another 30 minutes walk to hospital. The ECG was extremely quick and easy, in and out within, I swear, 2 minutes and the results were all good – a super positive as this means I can go under the aesthetic for the egg retrieval. Because that was over so quickly I had a wee wait to dwell on the shot so read my book – clever plan Amy! – and then 10pm came around.  The shot in the upper left quadrant of my left buttock  was quick but oh, so OUCH!!!!! Muscle is not  a fun place to have a shot, bring on the spongy European paunch of a stomach.  Being able to walk it off really helped and it was straight into bed ready for my ‘drug free day’ the next day.

My drug free day literally meant no injections (whoop whoop) but all of the other pills that I had been taking.  Little was I to know that the pill taking would increase by ten fold.  I was just so thankful that my day of being examined, poked, prodded, pinched, injected and inspected in all parts of my body was over.  Next stop – egg retrieval.

Anger, depression and grief..oh my!

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Jet lagged and in my head – thank goodness for great art and good filters.

If you had asked me a month ago if I was looking forward to my summer holidays I would not have been able to answer the question.  Of course, any holiday is fabulous and I cannot complain, however with all the craziness of cancelling flights, rebooking new ones, chasing up accommodation, making clinic appointments, finding insurance, chasing up finances, updating my teachers licence, fixing the hole in my roof, obtaining documents, preparing for my trip and wrapping up a school year I really did not have time to think about them, let alone have time to get excited or worry or freak out or build up to it or prepare for what may come in its entirity.

Fast forward to a week into my holidays and not having any life or work distractions has really played havoc with my mind and emotional state.  It has left me plain and simply with anger.  I have nothing to distract me and to mask the fact that I am in grief mode…well and truly. Definitely no denial phase here anymore.

There are many interpretations of the grief cycle however anger and depression have seemed to come simultaneously for me.  The distractions of life and work had helped to keep me positive and even and had helped me to keep that mask firmly in place…being brave and light and airy, enabling me to tell people what they wanted to hear or wanted me to be.

I had allowed myself to think dark thoughts and look at all the bad things that could happen from this situation…I would be stupid not to, however I had never allowed myself to go too far down the ‘woe is me’ path or the dark and depressive path, choosing instead to move forward and try to work out what I needed to do in a positive (Amy) way.

Having no distractions have turned matters at hand on their head, created bad thoughts and carved a deep negativity within myself.  All things that I cannot allow myself to be when the time comes to actually do this.  I need to be in a relaxed and positive state and right now I am not entirely sure how to do that.

Being in Europe is fun and easy and great and I am having a lovely time however I am looking around and all I am doing is analysing everything…families, singles, couples, relationships, dynamics between people wondering how things will work with all outcomes.  I am very much in my own head thinking about all scenarios and aspects, ensconced in an inner turmoil that if I don’t come out of it soon will drive me completely insane.

But how do I do that when everything is looming and I have to do this yourself?  And how do I do it when thoughts are swirling surrounding the fact that I just feel completely backed into a corner and my hand a little bit forced by something beyond my control.  You always assume that you will have choices in life but sometimes that is not completely true, not when nature intervenes.

Someone told me recently that sometimes my blog may be misinterpreted in terms of how I am feeling about it all and dealing with it because it comes across very light hearted…that was nice to hear but not exactly the truth of my situation.  I thought that if I was to do it and everyone going through infertility justice then I need to be a bit more informative about the flip side too.  It isn’t all light hardness, roses and acceptance and yes….I will get to a good place and I will be positive….that is who I am.  However at this point I am unable to see how.

I need to continuously remind myself: One small step at a time.  One foot in front of the other…..and of course…..the wonders, excitement and the food of Europe helps as a good distraction!

Roll on acceptance.

Living life with no regrets

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Right at the start of this journey my gorgeous friend drew this for me and I have kept it on my fridge ever since. Things like this have been super helpful during the very overwhelming times – which have been aplenty.

I woke up the day after having everything confirmed with clarity.  I knew what I needed to do.  It was weird.  Up until the day before I was going back and forward, flip flopping between decisions.  Do I leave it and adopt later if it doesn’t work, would I now consider egg donation if mine don’t work, would I freeze embryos, would I try IUI by myself, would I do IVF but to be honest it all stood on those results as they would give me a clear picture.  And they did – a dire one.

So taking everything into consideration and looking at my wants and dreams.  I knew what was the right thing to do.

I have decided to go ahead with the egg retrieval and embryo freezing (IVF), of which I will need at least 2 rounds (a small fortune).  What I have also decided to do while I am there is to do a fresh embryo transfer as well, as I may not have any eggs or may only have a small number that are viable and I want to have the best chance possible.  In laymen’s terms, I will try to see if i can get pregnant. Eeeeek!

I was going to freeze embryos in October and January/ February but now because of my situation and results my amazing clinic in Athens, Greece – Serum, have said due to my situation it is imperative that we do something right away and have managed to squeeze me in.  They have been insanely incredible.

I was deadly scared to tell my parents – I mean how does that go down ‘Hi, guess what I want to be a single mum?’  Not necessarily the dream they had for me nor me for myself.  It’s funny as I am sure most parents don’t want to see their children turn into teenage parents or even single parents but how do parents deal with something like this that happens to their child when they are an adult?!  I was about to find out.

My parents and I have always been close, as any family we have our ups and downs but I always know they will be there for me.  This situation however, was a little different, I had no idea how they would take it.

 They have really given me space through this whole process and not really voiced their opinions very much, I guess giving me the room to adapt and take things in without other voices intervening.  So it was amazing that when they rung to check in on me the next day and before I had even begun to tell them my decision they asked if I had considered ‘putting one back while I was there’ and that they would support that or whatever decision I made.  I love the way life works sometimes!

Almost 3 weeks on and I’m dead scared.  Not of what people will think but of the fact that it might not work.  This decision was not made lightly, I have had months to think about it, the pros, the cons, the positives and the negatives and the process and I know it is the right decision for me and me alone but I can’t help but feel backed into a corner.

I have always wanted to be a Mum and that has not changed.  Most people get to choose if they do become one or don’t, I can choose that and I know that it will happen for me in someway or another, however most people get to choose when, how or if they are ready.  I don’t have any of those luxuries.

In my eyes, because of who I am, it is now or never.  If I don’t try now I know I will be thinking about the ‘what if’s’ for the years to come and the ‘if only’s’ will haunt me for the rest of my days.  I count myself lucky as someone who has no regrets in my life and I don’t want to start now.

I do feel backed into a corner on this as I can’t choose when it happens and I don’t have some one in my life to create a baby with.  The life of a single mum….I mean who wants that and asks for it?  So to plan and go ahead to try and become one seems a little ludicrous to me.  But I have no choice…I know I want to be a Mum, I have always known.  I know I want to try everything I can to have my own child first before I pursue other options.  So this is it.

If this doesn’t work I will be devastated. At this point I can only imagine the pain I will go through but I need to try.  What is that saying ‘It is better to try and fail, than fail to try’? or the even better one ‘I know that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying’- Jeff Bezos.

However, I am also scared of the fact that it might work!  All those questions – can I do this by myself? Am I strong enough?  Can I provide? Am I ready to give up my lifestyle? Not to mention all of the other questions I am sure most people go through when they consider having a child. But as I said, I have no doubts that to try feels right, no doubts.

So in exactly 3 weeks time, it is off to Athens overnight to get more tests done and decide on a protocol that will best suit me (medications, stimulants for low quality, reduced egg reserve) and then 1 week later back to Athens for 2 weeks to get that ball rolling.

Now, to try and get over my needle phobia.

My own devastation

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I always remember when the Christchurch earthquake hit, people calling it ‘The devastation’.  I thought I knew what that meant, as I had lost people close to me and also people my own age in devastating ways.  However you really truly do not know the meaning of devastating until you get hit with a full dose of the truth head on.  NO matter how much you think you have prepared for it, it hits you full force leaving you winded and laid flat out on the ground.

That is how I felt at 1.58pm on Friday the 13th….unlucky for some…and that ‘some’ would be me.

2 minutes before my students were back from their PE lesson I was replying to an email from a parent when I noticed my gmail account flip to a higher number.  Knowing this was day 3 after my tests and that some of my test results would be back today, I quickly fired off the email and opened up the email from my doctor.

It started with:

“I tried to call you but there was no answer on your phone.  Unfortunately, I have bad news…”

My heart sank, I read it through, stated “Ok” to myself and afterwards remained eerily calm for the next hour and 20 minutes as I greeted my children, had 7 Middle School teachers (including the Principals), come into my room to observe myself and my students doing ‘Student Directed Learning’ and then played games outside with my kids until I got them safely out the door and on their way home.

Straight away I shut the door, turned off the lights, re-read the email, tried to ring the doctor, it wouldn’t go through, I then tried both my parents and realized that their phones were off as they were on a plane on their way to Wellington, I tried the doctor again, got nothing and then proceeded to have the most adverse reaction that I have had on this whole journey…I burst into tears.  Not the leak out and run prettily down your face kind of tears nor the well up slowly kind….the heavy, can’t breathe, OH MY GOD kind.

I’m an emotional person, I feel other peoples pain easily and process mine calmly (and then sometimes not so calmly…usually that is when tequila is involved), however I am not a huge full on crier, so this caught me by surprise.  Months of uncertainty and waiting and I finally had my answer and unfortunately it was one I did not like very much.  I was truly devastated.

I should have been more prepared and I would like to think that I would have been if it hadn’t been for the doctor telling me that it wasn’t anything to worry about.  I had really tried not to get my hopes up but unfortunately that was easier said than done.  Thoughts had crept in about maybe my next move being to Europe to live for a few years and then going home to NZ or stepping down from my crazy busy role at work and just being in the classroom with the kids 100% and even down to simple things like…this has given me the kick up the arse to try harder with dating and get the confidence up to get out there again.  I had fooled myself and to be honest I really thought I was going to get these results, have a bit of ‘egg on my face’ and actually be ok and have the ‘happily ever after’.

Do not get me wrong, I do not blame the doctor here at all, that is not who I am.  Even when it comes down to the ‘why has this happened?’ question, I am not even interested in finding out the answer to that because what is the point?  All I need to worry about is what I can do now and be thankful that I found out when I have.

Luckily I had plans with a friend to go and celebrate a long awaited win at work straight after school.  I quickly cancelled plans to go a farewell party, all the while landing a friend with a sobbing mess called Amy, until I had collected myself.  I then went and sat next to a lake in serenity while drinking copious glasses of Prosecco and talking about life with my amazing friend.  We talked about everything under the sun except my news until after the doctor had rung, apologizing profusely, and then my parents had rung, and I could tell them.  There were more tears as I explained my situation and how the doctor had told me that they use a different scale of measuring to NZ and that is why she had said what she said.  She also was devastated that she had got my hopes up and even gone back again to check the results that had been sent through from my specialist.  They had no reference to what scale they used so of course she made that assumption and I don’t blame her.

I made it home in one piece watching hilarious Facebook videos – thank you to the people who post those – they really got me through.  As soon as I shut my apartment door, I lost it again, grabbed some wine and then decided to rip off the bandage and send messages to all of the people closest to me who I knew would want to know as soon as I did.

I then sat there, stared at the wall and tried to let it all settle in, while trying to come out of the feeing of numbness that had settled in when I was all cried out.

The AMH level 2.2 on her scale that was “close to 3” turned out to be a 0.37 on her scale….not so close to 3 and well under 1.  Things now have to progress quickly.  My FSH is elevated and my estradiol low both signs of low ovarian reserve.  Thankfully my TSH and LH were normal, which was something less to worry about, so I am grateful for that.  Unfortunately I have since found out that 8 follicles (from my baseline ultrasound), is borderline meaning that it is likely my eggs will not be of good quality, making my prospects worse than initially thought.

Devastating in those initial hours…yes…however there still is hope….it could be WAY worse and all I do is remain positive and extremely hopeful.

In true Amy fashion, I did laugh – A LOT  – when I realized that I had got this news on Friday the 13th.  I mean seriously!!!  Cue the Alanis Morreiste music….’Isn’t it ironic?’.

Don’t you think?

The art of being blindsided

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Take 2: The China Edition

Going through this process and having mastered the art of ‘The wait’ I really, truly thought that any emotional reactions had been beat out of me and being well researched and prepared I would be ready for anything.

Surprise, surprise, I could not have been more wrong, even if I had tried.

Last Friday (now two Friday’s ago), on a bright sunny Spring morning, I walked along the river slightly nervous for my first appointment in Beijing. This appointment would start to get the ball rolling on making sure all my tests would line up and the tests could go ahead on the correct days.  The nerves were coming from the fact that all of a sudden these tests were upon me and here I was on my way to begin the journey of getting confirmation on what path my life will soon take…left or right.

Upon arrival I bumped into a friend – which happened to be a great distraction, especially as he is a boy and talking about girly things like fertility definitely wasn’t going to happen!

A nurse then came to take my vitals and asked me a hilarious question to determine if I needed to be weighed:

“What are you here for?” Hmmmmmm, I wondered,  how to explain that in a sentence or 2? Then she asked me:

“Are you pregnant”  Lol – Well, that’s kind of the whole point of the appointment!  Thankfully I avoided being weighed.

Next it was into the Gynecologists office, a Spanish person and also an English speaking doctor.

After explaining to her why I was there and presenting her with my printed out, organized doctors, specialists and fertility experts notes she turned to me, interrupted and asked:

“But I don’t understand, why you are here?”

A bit taken aback, I said “Well, as you can see my AMH level is 2.2…..”

She cut me off again and said “I can see all that, but I still don’t know exactly why you are here”

Again, a bit miffed, I looked at her in a bit of shock and then she finally elaborated.

To paraphrase she said:

“I’m not sure why you wouldn’t wait a few years to see if you meet someone and then worry about it then.  All clinics interpret these results differently.  My interpretation is that 3 is where your level should be at the moment in relation to your age bracket (she showed me yet another version of the same chart I have seen countless times).  As 3 is close to where your level is (2.2),  I would not be worried. (Hmmm to me 2.2 is not close to 3!).  If your level was under 1, then you should be worried and want to hurry things. I am not sure why you would do further tests with this number however I am happy to give you a referral for a second opinion.  As there is no real fertility experts as such in Beijing, except a guy at BJU (another big and popular hospital here),(she then spouted off his impressive sounding credentials), he sometimes gives appointments about fertility (his specialty/interest), so I could refer you to him”.

As you can imagine my head was reeling.  I have had tears well up before but I have never had tears literally leak out directly.  I was in such shock.  What had just happened?!?!?!

After all this time and from 4 different people I have been told 1 thing and then this interpretation comes along.  I felt completely blindsided.  This was just meant to be an appointment to get all my ducks in a row, not one to completely turn my head upside down.

I walked away in a trance of emotion.

The doctor had gone ahead and booked the tests and I had her personal email so when day 1 of my cycle came along, I could contact her directly to make sure I was able to gain an appointment for the much needed day 3 tests.  If I can give her one thing, it’s that she was extremely straight up and up front with me.

Unfortunately for me, directly after this, I had to go and get my new passport photo taken! Blotched, miffed face and all.

Now, as a couple of my family members have pointed out, this is just one opinion however it is a radically different opinion compared to what I have encountered so far.

I know that in reality this is good news but how do you look at something like this with fresh eyes when for the last 2 and a half months those eyes have only been looking at coming to terms with worst case scenarios and intermittent decisions with weary eyes?

So, what do you believe?  What path do you choose?  How can you make a decision when the same results point to 2 different things?

Well, my plan is to seek another opinion and hope to god that one confirms something OR it is back to the drawing board.

Gut feeling…I think you may be called up for duty again.

Down the ‘Rabbit Hole’

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Tired eyes, worn out demeanor, exhausted shell of a person. Felt like I needed to share this picture taken during a ‘Rabbit Hole’ moment. Not glamorous but truth telling.

I’m not going to lie and say that I sail through everyday with my head held high and positive thoughts wafting around in my head, all the while smiling and dealing with the shit hand I have been dealt. That would simply be untrue and I would not be human if I could. I was due to hit the wall and reach the end of my positive thoughts bank soon and at exactly 3 weeks after the diagnosis, the reality of the situation came crashing down around me.

The weight of the decision, the lack of sleep, the isolation from family and friends, the overwhelming amount of information I needed to wade through, the actual emotions of receiving this news at my age, the time crunch, the logistics, contacting people, learning about something I knew nothing about and didn’t particularly want to know about, processing what had, would and might happen, taking on board and seeking others opinions and experiences and holding down a full time job all the while smiling at small children, speaking politely to friends, unknowing colleagues and parents on a daily basis finally won over and pulled me down that ‘Rabbit Hole’.

In total I spent 2 days down that ‘Rabbit Hole’, submerged completely. I was unable to be around anyone, speak to anyone and could not function. I knew the best place for me would be locked up at home sorting through things and distressing myself by having the time to wade through….well….everything.

The first day I couldn’t do a thing. Every time I tried to even attack anything fertility related I shut down. At this point tears had not come although I sat there and tried, I wanted to get it all out, get it over and done with. Instead I turned to housework. If you know me, you know this is weird, super weird! I sorted out clothes, washing, rearranged some furniture, measured things, hung pictures and did a lot of things that had been on my to do list for a while. I did not feel better per say but I felt slightly lighter. At the end of day 1 the thought of going back to work was panic inducing. I haven’t had 2 days off in a row for, I can’t even remember how long. I swallowed that bitter pill and called in sick for the second day in a row.

Day 2 and still far, far down that hole, it was all about the research, contacting people and wading through that information. By days end I felt incredibly relieved that I had taken the day and tears flowed freely. I was able to better function, could reply to messages from friends and was slowly clawing my way out of the dingy, dark hole and back into the light.

Of course there are other times when I am caught in that hole again however it may just be for a few hours or a day but I am able manage it – well, so far so good.

Music is a strong emotive force for me and I can’t live without music around me. At the moment you’ll find me ruining Jess Glynne’s empowerment song with terribly applicable lyrics to help bring me up and keep me balanced:

“Don’t be so hard on yourself girl, learn to forgive, learn to let go. Everyone trips, everyone falls, so don’t be so hard on yourself girl” screeches out from my mouth down the hallways at work, at the same time as whip lash inducing moves are being done. Not a pretty sight but it makes me laugh. I truly pity my poor colleagues.

In all truth, it is incredibly difficult not to be hard on yourself. Most of us want to be tough and brave and being brought up in a household of strong, independent minded people, emotions weren’t necessarily at the forefront of things. You learned to be strong and get on with life, which can actually be a great quality.

Sometimes though, I have to give myself a break and realize “It’s not an easy road and I’m not alone, so I won’t be so hard on myself no more” all the while doing over enthusiastic and exaggerated moves to accompany these words down the hallway of an International School in Beijing.

What ever gets you through!