IVF #5 - Another Freeze All

So after all the excitement and positivity, we had the shock of our lives at egg retrieval today. We were expecting 6-8 eggs, based on the scan & the blood test results from last week. In the end, we got 19. I honestly don't know how that happened, or where they were hiding, but 19. It was a pretty long egg retrieval.

The bad news? The high egg numbers combined with the size/swelling of my ovaries (and the sheer amount of fluid they retrieved) puts me at risk of OHSS. They also had several follicles that they couldn't aspirate because of the enlarged ovaries, so they had to leave them untouched. As such, they've ordered a freeze all again for this cycle.

Just when we thought we were clear sailing for a fresh transfer... nope. Once again, I spent my recovery time in tears - why do we keep doing this over & over, why do things keep going wrong? This whole thing is so frustrating.

Even through the disappointment, I'm trying to be positive - and focusing on those 19 eggs. Word this afternoon was that they looked okay - so let's hope hubby's swimmers do their part of the bargain, and we have some good fertilisation results tomorrow.

I feel pretty rotten tonight, very sore and bloated, so they may indeed have made the right call on no transfer... but I'm still sad. It means more months of waiting around, more $$ on a frozen cycle, more time spent watching seemingly everyone around me get pregnant while we're stuck in limbo yet again.

I just wish we had a crystal ball that could tell us that there was a positive end in sight.

IVF #5 grab 'n stab: day 9

You guys, we're a-go for egg retrieval!

I was so nervous for this morning's scan - but it looked okay. A nice lining of 12mm. Many small follicles, as per usual, but then some good numbers for measurements. The lady counted a 20, a few 17's & 16's - which is fairly large for only day 9 of stims. Usually I go back in for a second scan a few days later, but my numbers aren't normally this advanced. I had bloods taken afterwards and nervously waited to hear from my clinic.
I just got the call:
E2 was 6845
P4 was 1.6 - say that again, 1.6! TOTALLY UNDER CONTROL. Amazeballs!
I'm not even kidding when I tell you that I was dancing around the lounge room when I heard those numbers.
Tomorrow morning we'll do our last jab of Puregon + Lucrin, then trigger tomorrow night, and then it's all systems go for our first egg pick-up at the new clinic on Monday morning!
MONDAY! Argh! This is happening!
Of course, this is just the first of many hurdles - but after being cancelled to freeze alls after my last two scans from the stim cycles, this feels like the best news in the world. :)

IVF #5 grab 'n stab: day 8

Tomorrow we have bloods & a follicle scan to see how this cycle is going. To say I am petrified is an understatement.

IVF #3 was an antagonist cycle, which was converted to a freeze all because my progesterone hit 5.3 after 11 days of stims.
IVF #4 was also an antagonist cycle, which was converted to a freeze all because my progesterone hit 6.3 after 11 days of stims.

This cycle is NOT an antagonist cycle - it's a long down-reg cycle. I'm really hoping that it can keep my progesterone under control {please work, Lucrin} but I'm scared that my body is broken.

My first two IVF cycles (also down-reg) produced smaller egg numbers, but lower progesterone. I'm hoping this is the case again for us this cycle. I'd take quality over quantity ANY day - especially because all we're aiming for is a fresh transfer.

I'm starting to feel a bit uncomfortable already, which makes me happy/worried at the same time. Happy because the Puregon might be working, but petrified that the movement from the follicles will also trigger a progesterone surge, and that might lead to us being cancelled again. :(

To some folks, a freeze all isn't the end of the world - but we've been told by two different fertility specialists that frozen cycles aren't great for us. Add in the extra waiting around between cycles, as well as the additional costs of a frozen cycle in a few months time, and really.. it's the worst case scenario in our eyes. Surely we can't be that unlucky three times running!

Please universe, just let us have a beautiful embryo and a smooth, fresh transfer this time around.

First things first though... we'll see what tomorrow's scan shows us.

Disney Junior The Channel & The Book of Once Upon a Time: Sponsored Post

This sponsored post is brought to you by Nuffnang and Disney Junior The Channel - all images are my own, unless otherwise specified. If you are interested in a product review or sponsored post content appearing on Breathe Gently, please email me.

As a primary school teacher, reading books to/with children has always been an important part of my life - and this is something which I continue to treasure now that I have a daughter of my own. Reading comes in many different forms, especially in today's world where our kids have access to so much more than traditional story books.

The Disney Junior channel is a big favourite in this household, and we've already been watching their newest series, The Book of Once Upon a Time, for the last few weeks.

Airing in the early evening, it fits in perfectly with Georgia's schedule - we watch the story of the day, snuggle in tight, sing the 'Land of Once Upon a Time' lullaby {sha la la la laaaaa} and then it's off upstairs and into bed. It's the perfect accompaniment to a bedtime routine!

Image via Disney Junior
So what IS Disney Junior's The Book of Once Upon a Time?

It's a locally produced interactive story-telling series, hosted by Australian actor Kate Mulvany that airs every weekday evening. The program encourages children to get creative with their imagination, showing bright illustrations & animations, combined with traditional story book imagery and character re-enactments.

It's perfect for those of us with little people who have a short attention span, because it's bright & colourful, uses characters that we are already familiar with, and the narrator always keeps things interesting.

The stories feature important learning components, such as early language and math skills, moral values, creative thinking & healthy lifestyles, with an emphasis on social and emotional development. They're all cleverly disguised within fun and exciting stories, so kids won't even know they're being exposed to all those hidden educational extras!

As I mentioned earlier, The Book of Once Upon a Time ensures that storytelling is an important part of children's bedtime rituals - so it quickly and easily becomes a part of the day that your little one will remember. And best of all, if you miss a story, you can find them online at the Disney Junior Story Room.

The stories that are featured in The Book of Once Upon a Time are also available as eBooks from the Disney Story Central app, which is available to download from iTunes.

There will be all new stories premiering in Book Week which begins Monday 24th August from 7:10pm on Disney Junior The Channel. Stories from this upcoming second season include “Snow White and the Great Jewel Hunt” as well as other exciting Disney stories from “Winnie the Pooh”, “Aladdin”, "Sleeping Beauty” and “Frozen”. 

Disney Junior The Channel is where magical storytelling comes to life! It's available in all Foxtel subscribing homes on channel 709, and easily accessible online.

                                                  Here's a sneak peek of one of the newest episodes from Season 2 - enjoy!

Without Even Blinking

This cycle feels like it's taking FOREVER.

I forgot how drawn out the down-reg protocol is. First the pill; and this time, my script was for a different brand of BCP. I basically spotted every day of my pill, and it was awful - I won't be using that one again.

Then comes the Lucrin, which is where I'm at now. It still blows my mind that this tiny little bottle which is only a quarter full of liquid, has enough in it to last an entire cycle. I have no real side effects from Lucrin {luckily} so this part of the injection process just feels like any other day. It gets more real when we add the Puregon stims on top of it, but we're still a good few days away from that yet.

It blows my mind that as a kid I was terrified of needles - and now here I am, willingly paying thousands of dollars a pop to stab myself on a daily basis & have enough blood drawn to last a lifetime. The things we do for family, huh?
Written as part of Microblog Mondays @ Stirrup Queens

Irony is...

Keeping your fertility medications in the fridge... right next to the wine.
Bring on Round #5!

Toddler Discipline

Little miss almost-2.5 is in a 'testing our patience' phase right now.

Parents, I'm sure you'll know the phase I mean; deliberately doing something naughty (usually in slow motion) while watching you like a hawk to see how you react. Or doing something she's not supposed to and then running at top speed out of the room. Just general cheeky stuff that she knows we don't want her doing.

I've always liked the 1-2-3 form of reinforcement, because it gives them a chance to react/change their behaviour - it's what we were encouraged to use while teaching in primary school. It seems to work better on older kids though, because we've gotten to 3 here plenty of times... so she hasn't quite grasped the concept of it yet.

I know persistence is the key. We'll keep working on it. Especially the 'what comes after 3' part.

But dude.... how hard is it not to laugh when you're trying to be serious? Especially when she does something cute, pulls a face, kisses your knee, lets out a fart; anything to make Mummy happy again. Toddlers, man.

Written as part of Microblog Mondays @ Stirrup Queens

The Day Our World Was Rocked

Today was the day that we found out our baby had died. The day that our dream of a sibling for Georgia was crushed. The day that we discovered that everything had changed.
Sometimes it feels like the slowest year in the world; other times, it feels like it's just flown by.
The overwhelming numbness that spread over me when my doctor performed that routine ultrasound... I can still remember every moment of it. Walking myself out to the carpark and sitting in the winter cold, no tears, just nothing. Waiting for Jason to come and collect me, because I didn't quite trust myself getting behind the wheel of a car. Trying to figure out how to tell my family, especially my poor sister-in-law, who had just found out she was expecting herself, due a week after I was. Just complete shock.
All this time later, and I'm only just feeling like myself again. Grief does crazy things to you, and it's true that we all process things differently. I've had people not quite sure how to react towards me, who seem like they can't understand why I've been such a different person since this all went down. I've had people surprise me with how understanding and supportive they've been, who have let me process things at my own pace & haven't judged me for the way I've coped.
It's certainly made me appreciate how good I had it with Georgia. I never thought I'd say that; but really, a couple of years of infertility, a couple of cycles of IVF, and a pretty smooth pregnancy; that seems like a dream now, compared to all the rubbish we've faced since getting back on the bandwagon. And if I never get pregnant again, I'm so glad that we had a safe and happy pregnancy the first time around - and most of all, a baby to take home at the end of it. She is worth it all.
Am I the same person I was this time last year?
Infertility changed me. It made me into a person I didn't particularly like at times, and brought out some really terrifying emotions. It made me stronger though, and that's something pretty incredible when you think about it. 
But loss? Loss changed everything. When you've lost a baby, or babies, no matter how early or how late, your life is irrevocably different. The things you thought you knew, the things you expected to happen, they all flew out the window. Loss automatically puts you into a club that you never wanted to be a member of - and one that's pretty difficult to remove yourself from.
If you had asked me twelve months ago how I would feel about it all a year later, I honestly don't know how I would have answered. Part of me thought that I'd be pregnant again soon, that we'd do another round of IVF if we needed to, that we'd just get on with things. Another part feared the worst; what if that was it? What if we were destined to have two babies - and that was that. What if there was something wrong with us, or the baby, that made it difficult to conceive again? 
All I know is that I naively thought that the grief would pass a lot quicker than it did. For the most part, I'm doing okay. But sometimes, a memory or a reminder can steal the breath from my lungs. When I hold my nephew and snuggle his sweet little fluffy head, I'm so happy that he's here.. but I'm so sad that our little boy isn't. When I see Georgia doting on babies, and mothering her dolls, it breaks my heart that I can't give her the one thing we all so desperately want. When friends and strangers alike announce pregnancies, or have their babies, that same familiar feeling of sadness flutters in my heart. You can swallow it down, you can put on a brave face, but you'll never forget.
When it feels like everything is going wrong, it can be hard to pull yourself together and be positive. How do you stay positive when it feels like your whole life is falling apart, when everything that could possibly go wrong DOES go wrong? I don't know the answer to that. Maybe it's to protect myself - because hoping for a change, for something positive, can turn around and bite you on the arse when it all goes pear-shaped. But I've grown tired of being in this slump.. and whether people can see it or not, I'm trying really hard to keep things moving forward. 

Books I've Been Reading v2

Welcome to August! Here are some of my picks this month - impressively, I managed to squeeze in a few reads these past few weeks, despite falling into bed by 9pm most nights, totally exhausted.

Pretty Baby - Mary Kubica

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can't get the girl out of her head… 

I recently finished 'Pretty Baby' and I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In summary: We meet Heidi, a kind woman from a comfortable life, who observes a young girl & her presumably infant daughter, popping up in various aspects of her life. Unable to resist her conscience, she invites her to stay at her home - and thus, we meet (and hear from) Heidi's extended family - husband Chris and daughter Zoe. Through several perspectives, we find out more about each character's history.

The theme of social responsibility - particularly in regards to homelessness and the care system - rings out loud and clear in the book. Mental health issues are also raised, meaning the novel could be an uncomfortable read at times, but that's understandable.

I really felt that Heidi was the true lead of this novel. Yes, Willow and baby Ruby were an integral part of how the story panned out - but ultimately it was Heidi whose past and present (& potentially future) were highlighted. She spiked my interest early on, and certainly towards the end of the book.

I'd recommend 'Pretty Baby' as I feel it was a story that hadn't been told before - and it was told very well. A great read.

Never Always Sometimes - Adi Alsaid
Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they'd never, ever do in high school. 

Sometimes we all need a book that we can read without thinking too much - something that isn't life altering, but is smart and easy and a happy escape from reality for just a little while.

That's what 'Never, Always, Sometimes' was for me. And I definitely needed it!

The story revolves around two best friends and their final months of high school. They find a list they had made in the early years of their friendship, that revolved around things they would NEVER do - but decide to spice things up by doing the opposite.

It's a sweet tale, written in two perspectives - his and hers. We meet interesting characters along the way & see the world through their eyes for just a little while.

A great little novel, and a nice way to remember the old school days. (Side-note: I feel old.)

What have you been reading lately?

Life with a Toddler

It's so many things. It's:

  • Loud. All the time. SO LOUD. The singing, the chattering, the yelling, the screeching. 
  • Dramatic. The world is ending on an hourly basis in our household. Fed her the wrong breakfast cereal? Put the wrong socks on her? Asked her to wait five seconds for something? OH MY GOD NO. She's mastered the art of throwing herself face down on the nearest surface and wailing.
  • Snuggly. I didn't think the snuggles could beat those early years, but toddler hugs? They're a beautiful thing. When she willingly chooses to wrap her little arms around your neck and cling on, or climbs into your nap to nuzzle in for a cuddle - those are the moments I never thought I'd experience as a mum, and make me so happy.
  • All about the food! My kid has a bottomless pit in lieu of a stomach right now - seriously, she puts away more food in a day than me. Two breakfasts, snacks throughout the day, a thoroughly hearty lunch and dinner - she is a machine. Must be all the running around all day long.
  • Messy! If it's not related to the aforementioned food, it's boogers, or mud, or craft stuff. Or heck, even while in the BATH, we make a mess. Life is short... it's fun to get messy.
  • Time outdoors. Even though it's the middle of winter down under, outside is where her heart lies - so that means rugging up & playing in the sunshine. Spencer loves it! I'm so glad that we have a backyard that's perfect for exploring and playing.
  • Mine, MINE MINE MINE. Everything is hers. Sharing is something we're working on - but so far failing miserably. I wish that I could help her to understand; for now, we'll keep plugging away.. with plenty of apologies to her little friends when she snatches and grabs and runs away with all of her 'stuff'. 
  • The best. This kid is my whole world and I love her guts. :)

The Old Fashioned Way

I'm not entirely sure why those four little words sting so much; that's all they are, really; words.

Maybe it's because I'll never have a baby that way.
Maybe it's because it implies that the 'newer, medical way' is a bad thing.
Maybe it's because I'm on the pill & it turns me into a hypersensitive freak.
Maybe it's because I'd not-so-secretly love for that to happen for us.

They're only words, yes.. but they hurt.

Written as part of Microblog Mondays @ Stirrup Queens

CD1... Again

When will this crazy merry-go-round ever stop spinning? I would so very dearly love to NOT still be here. I'll be back on the pill for a few weeks, so there won't be a lot of exciting things happening.

I just turned 31 and while I'm never keen for another year to go by, I'm especially happy to leave my 30th year behind.

It started with such promise; I was 9 weeks pregnant, had seen our baby a few times & was so excited and thrilled to be able to have a second baby in my 30th year. That was my dream come true, made even sweeter since those babies were hard fought infertility ones. I had a great birthday, celebrated with friends and family, and Georgia was a delight - she had just turned 16 months old, was preparing to finally walk, and life was good.

That all ended 11 days later, when our 11 week ultrasound shocked us all... and the year just went pear-shaped from then on. Dealing with the loss of the pregnancy, finding out we were expecting a boy with Down Syndrome, gearing up to use our last embryo - only to have the joy of another pregnancy shattered with another miscarriage; it was a tough few months. Follow that by cycle after cycle of disappointments and negatives, as well as job craziness for hubby & the death of my Nan, well, I can't say I'm not glad to leave that all in the past.

Thank goodness for Georgia, and for family & friends. We're trying to move forward now, and try not to look back so much - easier said than done, but I'm trying. And that's all we can do right now - try.

Honesty is a hard attribute to find, when we all want to seem like we've got it all figured out
Well let me be the first to say that I don't have a clue; I don't have all the answers 
Ain't gonna to pretend like I do 
Just trying to find my way; trying to find my way the best I know how
Trying - Lifehouse

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