Colour me Calm

There comes a point in the infertility journey where it's time to seek out some outside advice for therapy and coping strategies - there's no shame in that, and it's something that's been of great benefit to me since we lost our babies last year. For a while now, I've considered this second journey to pregnancy as being a lot more difficult than it was initially - though the first time around took longer, the actual IVF segment was a lot shorter & we didn't go through the devastating losses that we have this time around. With that said, I'm happy to have found someone who can help me work through it all.

I've tried a few things to help with my anxiety this year - a course of hypnotherapy, and teaching myself to meditate of an evening before bedtime. It helped me to wind down, to sleep better & to learn to switch off my mind instead of over-thinking anything and everything that was going on in my world.

Admittedly, after the first failed IVF transfer this year, I threw a bit of a hissy fit & chucked the hypnotherapy MP3's into my bedside drawer -- what good did they do, they obviously weren't helping matters.

But regardless of whether they helped get me pregnant, I definitely felt a lot more stressed out this last IVF transfer (which also failed) so I decided to dig it back out & try it again this time around.

I've also jumped on the colouring for adults bandwagon, which is really helping me to be a little more zen. I decided on a book of Mandalas, since they signify balance and cosmic order. The more you concentrate on the design, the more you can let go and relax - and the slow and steady colouring allows your mind to focus.

I'm taking my time with the colouring, so it's taking an awfully long time - but I think that's the point. Slow and steady.

What other strategies do you find useful to help you to calm down and be more mindful?

IVF #4 grab 'n stab: day 8

I had my first bloods taken yesterday, where they presumably check on the E2 and P4 levels, and haven't heard anything since - which means carry on as per normal. They wouldn't normally ring unless something was wrong, so I'm hopeful that means that things are progressing at a steady pace. That's what we want: not too fast, and not too slow. Fingers crossed.

In any case, my dose is still the same: 187.5 of Puregon + 250 of Orgalutran. In my last stim cycle, I'd already had a scan done by now & had a rough idea of how many follicles were growing. This time, my scan isn't booked until Monday - so I have NO idea what's going on in there!

I'm hoping for a reasonable bit of growth this time around. As excited as I was for more eggs (13 retrieved, 8 fertilised) last time around, that turned out to be my worst IVF cycle yet. My lowest-number cycle (3 retrieved, 3 fertilised) was our best, with Georgia & our two miscarriages - so quantity isn't always the way to go. I'd be thrilled with a nice happy medium of maybe 7-8 with good fertilisation and good growth. Trying not to be too greedy here but I'm also trying to be positive, so... fingers crossed.

My belly is sore from the shots, as always - it's the Orgalutran that stings and throbs the most. I'm feeling a little fuller & have gained a bit of weight, but nothing like the discomfort of last time. There are still a few more days of jabs to go, so we'll see what happens over the weekend.

Anyone else stimming along with me? :)

Go Your Own Way

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose."
"You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!

I'm excited to see where life takes you, kiddo. You are already so determined, you grab my hand and lead me around to where you want to go and what you want to see. There is so much in store for you & we can't wait for you to discover it.

Lucky vs Unlucky

There's something about getting started on a new cycle that brings about a whole lot of clarity. I always feel more positive and less cynical, and a tiny flutter of hope stirs in my too-often jaded heart.

I think it's partially because we are doing something, and moving forward - because waiting around and having no shot at getting pregnant is agony! I also think it's because it's a fresh try... no disappointments yet, no expectations - just fresh hope that we might just have a bit more luck this time around.

Lately I've been remembering back to when we first started trying for a baby - before the infertility meds, before the IVF, before any of that - just us, some charting & some Metformin for my wonky cycles. Those first few months were full of excitement, followed by frustration, followed by sadness and insecurity about what our future would look like. Watching people fall pregnant around us, even those that we didn't know personally, while we were still waiting. Watching those pregnancies turn into newborns, while we were still waiting. Watching those newborns grow up into beautiful little cherubs, and watching those parents grow their family even further with a new pregnancy, while we were still waiting. Those were some of the hardest moments, when we swallowed our disappointment, shed many tears, and held out hope that we would get there in the end, someday, somehow.

We're at about that timeframe again now, while trying for #2. The ones around us who were trying for another baby have either had that baby, are due for that baby any minute now, or are enjoying pregnancies - while we are still waiting. Does it make them lucky? Of course it does! Does it make us unlucky? I suppose so.

I've been so desperately searching for an answer to why we were dealt these cards again, why we've had so much thrown at us in the last few years... and I automatically assume that we're cursed, that we're unlucky, that we've done something to 'deserve' being the ones always left behind. But what I'm finally learning, after all these years & all these emotions, is that other people's luck doesn't have any influence on our luck. That's all it is, after all: luck.

Don't get me wrong - we have been unlucky. We have strugged, and we're continuing to struggle. Who knows, we might continue to struggle for the months to come; there are no guarantees here.

But we ARE lucky. We have each other, for all of our good and our bad. We have Georgia, who was worth every minute and every tear shed and every dollar spent. We have support systems who 'get' us, who cut us some slack during the tough times, and who forgive us when the emotions get the better of us. We live in a country where IVF is available to us, where we can try again - like we're doing now. We are lucky.

And maybe, just maybe, we'll GET lucky this cycle! :)

IVF #4 - Trying Again

I started jabbing with Gonal-F yesterday - surprise! 

After being told that I would most likely have to go back on the pill and wait for a few weeks before going again, I conveniently got a period the morning of my Synacthen Stimulation Test (the one that was monitoring my adrenal gland function). While we don't have the results of that back yet, my doctor said that we were fine to get started in the meantime - so off we go.
We are doing the same protocol as last time, an antagonist or short cycle. That means I start injecting the Gonal-F for a few days, then add in the Orgalutran to ensure I don't ovulate - and we will adjust as we go. My first blood test is in a week to monitor my response - particularly my pesky raised progesterone. My fertility specialist has slightly reduced my dose of Gonal-F this month (from 200, to 187.5) to try and settle things down during the stimming process, so we'll see what happens.
I'm hopeful that this new round might give us a better shot. They always say it takes a few cycles to figure out a good response.
With my first long/down-reg IVF cycles in 2012 it took two rounds before we got a blastocyst good enough to transfer - and that was Georgia. Maybe it'll take two rounds of this antagonist protocol before we hit the jackpot. It's all such a gamble.
Please let me get in a fresh, 5-day transfer in this cycle. Pretty please with a cherry on top!

A Kiddo Update

Georgia is a delight. Growing like a weed, keeping us on our toes, and going through a gorgeous phase of being snuggly and sweet and empathetic, and oh man, do I love it. Not long after her birthday, we decided to wean her off the dummy and it went amazingly well - the Easter Bunny helped to ease the transition, but really, we were so proud of how quickly she let that go. 
She's been doing a single day at childcare for a few months now and we're seeing her blossom as she learns new things and interacts with her daycare friends. Being that she's the youngest in her daycare classroom, we noticed that her expressive language seemed a little bit behind the other kids - so were referred to a hearing clinic to have her tested. She passed that hearing test with flying colours, so we're just going to keep encouraging her to increase her language a little bit each day.
It's been so sweet watching Georgia fall in love with her little cousin. She's gone from total disinterest, to being completely smitten - she wants to kiss him constantly, she's sharing toys, and she just wants to be near him. I love it, but I'll admit, it kind of makes my heart ache a little too, because I know she would have loved being a big sister to our little ones that weren't to be.
Sleepy kiddos before bedtime. :)
I still can't believe I have a two year old! She's blowing my mind every day, and I'm so grateful that she's ours! 

Five Ways the Kids Can Help in the Kitchen: Sponsored Post

Confession time: late afternoon/early evenings in our household are pretty much chaos. It's usually just Georgia & I, and we're both pretty tired - tired, hungry & lacking patience! What works for us one night tends to fall flat the next night, but we'll try anything once. So far, a little snack helps to keep her calm while I scurry around the kitchen.

Since Georgia's still little, her help in the kitchen is a bit limited, but I look forward to her helping me more in the future.

********

Cooking and watching your little ones simultaneously can create a big headache. You need to prepare the meal, but you also need to ensure the safety of your kids at the same time. Why not solve two problems at once and have your kids help you cook? It will help them learn a skill and give them a sense of accomplishment from helping prepare dinner for the family. Here are some ways to get them involved.

1. Start at the Grocery Store

The grocery store may be the last place you want to go. But for a child, there are many things that grab attention. With your list in hand, have your child help you pick out certain items or help you decide what to eat for dinner. By involving them in the process from the beginning, they can develop a deeper appreciation for what goes into making a meal.
My grocery store helper - she loves the colours and sights at the local shops.

2. Add and Stir Ingredients

Depending on the age of your children, some activities may not be appropriate. Decide what they can handle and what they can be responsible for (using sharp utensils, for example). Have them begin by adding the ingredients and then stirring. The mixing can be a great eye-opener for a child because they can see that, from their efforts, the ingredients have now blended together.

3. Set the Table

A staple in many households is to have the kids set and clear the table before and after dinner. This can help teach your child responsibility through caring for the dishes, but it also forces your family to spend valuable time together while eating, an activity that is sadly becoming more and more uncommon for the average household.

4. Make the Food Easy to Use

Children can achieve maximum confidence when a job they are given works well. Although the task may be relatively simple, their success can build self-esteem. Have them help you prepare their lunch boxes or an afternoon snack. This may involve you preparing the items in advance. Open up the snack drawer and have them help you count out the pretzels (or apples or whatever) into their specific spots. Even if you do the cutting while they put the food on the plate, this small step can go a long way towards raising their ability to take care of themselves later on.

5. Get Creative

The kitchen is a place where you can get creative. Let your children unleash their imagination by experimenting with ingredients and playing with tastes. Make it a game by guessing whether the dish will taste good or not! Either way, you’ll have a fun time testing the waters. Cultivating creativity can also be helpful for children who are picky eaters; it lets them figure out what they may actually like.
This little lady is a fussy eater, but she's beginning to enjoy new tastes & textures!
The kitchen is a place for families to spend time together by working towards a common goal. Before you invite the kids to get crafty in the kitchen, make sure it’s a child-friendly zone by fitting it out with top-of-the-line appliances from a specialist such as ASKO. With the right gear, an open mindset and some creative kids, who knows what delicious (or deliciously disastrous) feasts might get cooked up!

This sponsored post is in collaboration with ASKO - all images are my own. If you are interested in a product review or sponsored post content appearing on Breathe Gently, please email me.

Both Sides Now

I've been an infertile for quite a few Mother's Day milestones now. It never gets any easier. You never forget.

I've been on both sides now. Desperate sadness, and the devastating longing for a little one to call my own. Utter joy, when I spent my first Mother's Day as an actual mum myself. Since then, the emotions sway back and forth. I'm so proud and grateful to be Georgia's mummy, but I'm missing my two angels & grieving the 'should have beens' as I sit here with an empty womb. It's tough when your mood swaps from celebratory to sad in a matter of minutes.

This Mother's Day, I'm going to soak up the love I have for my daughter, breathe in the scent of her sweet toddler hair, feel my heart soar when she plants a smooch right on my lips and says 'miss you, mama'. I'm going to do artwork with her, capture her 2-year old handprints in paint, and feel so lucky that I get to keep her, that she's mine, she's ours. But I'm also going to remember those two other little ones who were also mine, even just for a short time. They were our babies too.

My heart aches for my lost ones, and for the women I know (and I don't know) who are Mothers with children in their heart and soul, but not in their arms.

I'm remembering for you, and for us, today.

Hormonal Imbalances & More Waiting

This morning's appointment totally floored me. You might recall that we've been researching and trying to decide between sticking with our current clinic, or trialling a new clinic for our next fresh stim cycle. We've had appointments with both, and were waiting on their protocol information before we made a decision. Turns out that both specialists have recommended the exact same protocol... a short antagonist cycle, exactly the same dose of Puregon (187.5-200 with plenty of monitoring of progesterone levels) and additional progesterone support post-transfer.

Unfortunately though, it turns out that my routine blood-work done on CD3 this month, showed some concerning levels. I've been referred for further testing - they are worried that I may have congenital adrenal hyperplasia (late onset/non-classical) - which is basically an overload of male androgens that never regulate properly, too much testosterone and free progesterone floating around my body throughout my cycles, and symptoms that go hand in hand with PCOS.

Because my current doctor is an Endocrinologist as well as a Fertility Specialist, she's recommending I go and have a Synacthen Stimulating Test at the hospital as soon as possible, where they will get a better idea of what's going on, and whether it IS just the PCOS going nuts, or if it's an adrenal issue causing problems. They'll still do IVF of course, but I may need things tweaked if it comes back positive. Treatment is with steroids, and lots of additional monitoring, I believe.

Hopefully I'll get that booked in soon.. and once the test is done, I can go on Provera for 10 days to end this stupid rest cycle and get started! I've requested that I do NOT want day 1/2 embryo freezing if we have progesterone issues in future stim cycles, I want them all grown out from the get go. My specialist said that it's against their protocol so she'll take it up with the scientists - but conceded that she thinks frozen cycles aren't really beneficial for me with the stresses of ovulating for a natural FET/progesterone issues on the HRT.

She's also recommending endo scratching for future frozen cycles if that becomes necessary. She is also organising testing for the bloodwork that goes with endometriosis, though she doesn't think this is an issue for me.. I suppose she just wants to rule things out. She mentioned that I've never had a Laparoscopy before, but I've never had any reasons to - so I'd prefer not to do that if there's no cause for concern there.

So now, we try to book in for this CAH test and see what the results are. I'm frustrated at the waiting around AGAIN, as time keeps on ticking... it has been so hard watching everyone else decide to start trying for a baby, falling pregnant, and even having their babies or going back for seconds, while you're still waiting - despite our journey beginning earlier than theirs. I'm really worried that we'll have a whopping age difference between kids if we do get lucky again in the future... which is not what we wanted. Hopefully ruling this issue out will mean we can get back to business and get prepared to try again.

(I still think we're cursed.)

#MicroblogMondays

Watching the entire world freak out over the royal baby being named, reminds me of when you're infertile & everyone else gets to use your baby names before you.

#justsaying 





All content (C) Breathe Gently 2006-2015
Blog Design by Splendid Sparrow