9dp5dt & Thinking Ahead

You know what sucks even more than a random puking bug in the middle of the night? NOT BEING PREGNANT.

Seriously, I spent hours in the bathroom this morning, sick as a dog (with no idea what caused it) & no, I'm definitely not pregnant from this cycle. Being knocked up is about the only time when I wouldn't mind having my head in the loo for a few hours. Being as infertile as ever & still barfing? That's just plain mean.

All lurgies aside, we're still just plugging away. Tomorrow is my official blood test, so as soon as that's done, I'll be quitting the progesterone & the progynova. Can't wait to have a break from those two things, to be honest. Bring on a bleed!

I've been in touch with my new clinic, who you might recall, we swapped to in May after another disastrous stim cycle at our previous one. With all the time we've spent chatting to them, we've still not had the opportunity to do a full stim with them yet; we were busy moving over & dealing with the frozen embryos. Now that those options have fizzled out, it's time to look ahead and plan what to do next.

Originally, they had designed a protocol for me that looked a bit like this:

*antagonist (short) cycle, starting with jabs day 2
*200iu of Gonal-F
*orgalutran as the antagonist.

That was all well & good at the time - but that's the EXACT same protocol I followed in the last stim cycle, that led to increased progesterone levels pre-egg retrieval, and a freeze all. And if you go even FURTHER back to our previous stim cycle in November (also antagonist), we had the same results again: stupid, too-high too-early progesterone levels and a freeze all. You guys, I haven't had a fresh transfer since Georgia's cycle. And we've been back on this IVF train for 18 months now. That's ridiculous.

I ended up contacting them & vented my concerns about the same issues coming up again. They've decided that we will give the original cycles a go - long, down-reg protocols. I'm not sure of what dosage they will have me on yet, but it'll mean going back on the pill first & then injectables a little later.

Sure, the impatient part of me wants to do another antagonist cycle and stim NOW NOW NOW, but the logical part of me is telling me that it's a good idea to try something new. It might take longer, but hopefully the end results will be worth it. After all, it got me my little girl, you know?

The only downside apart from the longer cycle time, is that I always got less eggs retrieved doing it that way. (5 eggs/ 3 eggs respectively in down-reg vs. 13 eggs/ 10 eggs respectively in antagonist.) I'm trying to remind myself that it's quality over quantity; what good is getting more eggs when NONE of them could make it to blastocysts? But it's still scary. I'm 5 years older than I was when we started IVF.

Anyway... that's where we're at right now. Being patient. Being positive - or at least trying to be.

I mean, we're due for something spectacular soon, right? 

7dp5dt

I know I said I wasn't going to pee on a stick... but yeah, I figured I'd protect myself and get it over with.

No surprises folks; it's a negative.

You'd think I wouldn't be that disappointed, since I was feeling so let down after the experience at transfer day on Monday.. but this one still hurt. Deep down, I think we all still hope for the best, for for the chance to be the 'miracle' BFP that we're always told about. It wasn't to be.

I need to get my head back in the game for yet another stim cycle, which terrifies me. All these hurdles, and then all these negatives and failures - I'm starting to doubt that we'll ever get to be parents again.

That scares me more than I can say. We love being parents, even on the hardest of days - and we have so much more to give. I want Georgia to have a sibling, someone to grow up with. I don't want her to be alone.

I just wish we had a crystal ball and could know how much more is ahead of us - to have an end in sight.

Onwards & upwards, I guess.

4dp5dt

You can tell that it's not my usual TWW when I had to stop and actually count backwards to figure out how many days past transfer today was. That is SO not me. What day is it again? Right. 4dp5dt.

Normally I'd be peeing on sticks by now. Not this time. I honestly don't want to waste any more money than I already have on this entire crapshoot of a cycle - the stim itself, the $$ in moving the embryos, the cost of the frozen cycle. All this to rest on one dodgy embryo.. yeah, not worth it.

I'm still undecided about when to go for my blood test. Do I do it on my birthday, like I'm supposed to? Or do I do it the day before, since I don't particularly care for a BFN on that day. Do I pee on a stick that morning, just to prepare myself for the worst that I know is coming? I've never waited out for a blood test before. I don't know what to do.

I wish you got your money back when you had a failed cycle. It would make things just that little less crappy.

FET #6 - A Disappointing Transfer

We were pretty giddy with excitement this morning on our way to the new clinic. Nervous, yes, but excited. We hadn't heard anything - and were hoping that would mean we'd have a good embryo to transfer. That wasn't to be.

In all of our IVF cycles, I've never sobbed my way through an embryo transfer before. Today was a first.

All of our embryos died, bar two. Both of those two were behind. They transferred the better looking of the two (still a morula, not even a blastocyst yet) and the other one we found out this afternoon was unsuitable to freeze, so that was binned. Out of 8 embryos, we didn't get a single good one.

This was our pity transfer. It's not even ROUND for pete's sake - I've never seen such a sad looking embryo. I'm supposed to have a blood test on my birthday in 11 days. I can't think of anything worse than getting a BFN, just as I age another year with no baby in my belly.

I don't blame my new clinic. They did everything they could - at the end of the day, these weren't their embryos. They weren't frozen the way they would have done, they weren't grown out at the optimal time, and they were from a cycle that was frozen due to crazy hormones. But I honestly thought we would get at least one nice looking embryo; surely one wasn't too much to ask for?

It's like being kicked in the guts, all over again. And worse, having nothing left over means planning for another stim cycle, emotionally & financially. I just want a baby; I want off this rollercoaster.

FET #6 - Almost at Transfer

No news is good news, no news is good news, no news is good news. If I say it enough, hopefully I'll start believing it!

It's Saturday, which means my embryos are now thawed & hopefully at Day 3 stage. I don't know how many are still going; I don't know if any will be alive on Monday at Day 5 - let alone be up to par. I don't know much - I just know I'm hopeful. We just need one. One strong, healthy, blastocyst. One shot at this, to make the embryo move, the clinic switch, all worthwhile.

The last few days I've been full of anxiety. Is my lining going to be too thick? Are the embryos going to make it? Will we ever get pregnant again? So many questions & so much uncertainty, and my body started paying the price. I came down with a horrible case of heartburn and indigestion - both things I've never had before, even while pregnant - it was so bad, I honestly didn't know what to do with myself. It was nothing I ate, and there was no other reason for it to happen, apart from stress.

So... it's time to destress. Today I bought some warm, fuzzy socks to wear for transfer.. a fresh pair for a fresh start. I have my creative colouring book full of inspirations to keep me going. I'm going to sleep with zen music on my iPhone, with an eye mask on - trying to be calm. I'm drinking loads of water, flushing out as much anxiety as I can.

And even though my heart is already protecting itself from disappointment and assuming the worst for these embryos, a little piece of me is sending them positive growing vibes every day & cheering them on from afar. Come on embies... you've got this.

We're almost there.

Reasons You Shouldn’t Get Synthetic Grass: Sponsored Post

I come from a family that is pretty proud of their lawns - my dad is a perfectionist, my brother has made it his personal challenge to have perfect grass, and my hubby is pretty proud of his green backyard - until the arrival of Spencer pup all those years ago, that is! In my mind, real turf is a must for a family backyard, though space and costs may prohibit its use.

*******

Synthetic grass is a trend that is sweeping the globe. Brought on by the desire to have bright green lawns, even if your region is currently in drought, many people are now turning to plastic lawns. These lawns can sometimes look very realistic, don’t need maintenance, and will always stay the same. But with synthetic grass also comes a whole range of issues and negatives. Here are four reasons you shouldn’t get synthetic grass.

1. Aesthetic Appeal

While synthetic grass can resemble lawn, it certainly does not identically match it. There are a great many types of grass to choose from, each with their own unique look. Any turf specialist, such as Hancey’s Turf, could easily show you how much nicer genuine grass can look (and feel!). While the artificial alternative might not require the same amount of work as the real deal, what you lose in aesthetic quality has to make you wonder if the trade-off is really worth it.
Our turf in its prime - and the cause of its destruction!

2. Supporting Small Business

Because real turf is complex and requires a bit more care, there is a whole network of small businesses dedicated to the installation and maintenance of lawns. If too many households were to opt for synthetic grass, this industry and network could severely suffer – or even crumble. This would affect both tradesmen and gardeners, and it even has impacts stretching to companies producing lawn care products, nurseries and gardening tool companies. If suburbs at a time switch to synthetic grass, this will have disastrous effects on the local economy and industry.

3. Environment

Synthetic grass is not particularly good for the environment. It is equivalent to concrete in the (lack of) habitat it provides for native animals, and it also harms the soil. By laying a thick mat of plastic over the ground, water and nutrients are not able to get through, thus stifling any life in the soil beneath. This causes problems for the ecosystem and creates yet another obstacle to make it harder for nature to thrive in urban areas.

4. Health Concerns

Synthetic grass is like to laying strips of concrete around your house in that it reflects and increases heat. If you are living in a warm climate, this is only going to serve to increase the heat in and around your home, potentially causing multiple health problems. This is especially an issue if you have babies or young children. By playing on the synthetic grass, they can overheat and become more burnt than they would on normal grass. The chemicals used in synthetic grass can also be potentially harmful to your kids and pets. Make sure to look into this risk thoroughly before investing in an artificial lawn.

Synthetic grass can seem like a convenient option, especially for busy people who are always on the go. However, is it really worth all the negative effects that it can have? What are your thoughts on this debate? Why do you think homeowners should or shouldn’t get synthetic grass? Have your say in the comments below!

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

Books I've Been Reading

I've been struggling to get my groove on with reading over the past few months - it's becoming very obvious that my patience for novels has waned quite a lot. When you only have a few spare moments in a nap time, or at bedtime, I feel like I don't want to waste them on average books. And lately, it hasn't only been poor novels that have missed out - anything long or requiring large amounts of concentration has also been put to the back of the pile. I'll get my groove back, I know it... but for now, here are some of the great books from Harlequin Australia that I've been reading and reviewing. Check them out!

Normal - Graeme Cameron

I am an avid thriller fan, both novels & film/television, so hearing about this new book up for review in this genre, I was VERY excited to read. First things first, I powered through the book. It was a quick read & with a toddler clinging to your legs, that's something I value - fast and easy is the way to go.

It's a different kind of a novel, largely due to its different perspective. Having the story told from the eyes of the serial killer is an interesting premise. As absurd as it sounds, you really do find yourself pulling for the wrong side - though I wish that there were more back story as to why he acts the way he acts. I even found the victims intriguing, as random as they were fitting into the story.. and knowing their time in the short might have been short lived.

The only real criticism I have with the novel (aside from a rather open ended finish) is the police presence - it wasn't very believable, and felt a bit contrived. They have perfect opportunities to catch our author, and yet, silly mistakes and over the top personalities seem to thwart their efforts. Understandably this is good for the killer, but not so for the police themselves.

I'd definitely recommend this novel to others - maybe not teens, though! 


Mother Zen - Jacinta Tynan
I started this book with a fairly naive perspective: my only daughter was born in 2013, so I wasn't particularly tuned into the parenting world before that time.

That said, it was fascinating hearing about the media circus that erupted over Jacinta's parenting beliefs from several years back. Even then, social media loves a good story - and it's so much worse now. Reading about the experience through the author's eyes was interesting, though at times came across as a little self indulgent.

I would describe my feelings towards Mother Zen as being love-hate. Actually, I wouldn't even call it hate - it's more like love-frustrated.

In one regard, I thoroughly do enjoy reading about women enjoying motherhood. It's a breath of fresh air, amongst the comparisons, the one-upping & the complaining. In another regard, yes, some of the comments do come across as glib or smug - not that they were intended to do so, perhaps it's just a tone. As we all know, it's very hard to be accurate about emotions when you're writing a column, or a blog, or a book.

I will say that it was hard reading about such easy conception stories and about not enjoying the pregnancy aspect - only because of my own background with infertility and pregnancy loss. That said, we all have our unique stories, and Jacinta is very lucky to be parenting two beautiful boys.

I suppose my review fits somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. I appreciate the good vibes and positive energy (and will be doing some research into meditation myself) & it was certainly an interesting read.


The Road To Hope - Rachael Johns
It took me a while to really get invested in 'The Road to Hope' but once I was about a quarter of the way in, I was officially converted.

I read this novel as a stand alone piece, and feel that the background crossovers were explained well and weren't confusing at all. I felt for the lead character, Lauren - and the way the rest of the characters in Hope Springs really helped paint a picture of the town itself.

The hot doctor thing - well, yeah, it's a little cliché (of course he's hot!) - but he's got a lot more to him than his looks!

The theme of moving on/away vs standing still is pretty pertinent all the way through the book, even as it reaches its conclusion. I do feel that it ended in a way that made sense, and made me wish both of the lead characters luck on their journeys.

Makes me want to go and hunt down the first book now, too! :)


What have you been reading lately?

How to Avoid the Flu this Winter: Sponsored Post

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Back to flu avoidance. What can you do?

Stay Warm

It’s important to dress warmly in cold weather. By rugging up and staying warm, you can lower the likelihood of contracting flu, coughs and colds. It is interesting to note that the immune system is depressed when you are shivering and the act of shivering increases the risk of catching a cold or the flu.

Nothing like a froggy beanie to keep you warm on a cold winter's night!

Commit to Hand Washing

Infections can readily be passed from person to person through physical contact when a person sprays their germs by sneezing and coughing. Wash your hands thoroughly and often and ensure they are dried on disposable paper towels or hand towels that are regularly washed.

Watch out for Moist Weather

When weather conditions are dull and misty, germs tend to increase. In such conditions, viruses are able to survive for longer as they are more readily able to hang in the air that is attached to water droplets. Dull and cloudy conditions mean there is less breeze to blow germs away.

Keep Some Space

During winter, people tend to be physically closer and, when people huddle together, infections can more easily be transmitted from person to person. This is a particular problem on crowded public transport, in busy shops, and in a wide variety of places where people generally gather in close proximity.

Try Herbs

To make your immune system robust and ready to protect you from winter illnesses, the herb Echinacea may help. Echinacea is widely used to bolster the immune system against the flu and colds, and also to support the healing of infections that are both viral and bacterial.

Consume Zinc and Garlic

The mineral zinc is critical to fighting colds and strengthening a compromised immune system. Zinc-rich foods include: eggs, meat, seafood, oysters, tofu and wheat germ. Zinc and vitamin C are often consumed together to help the body combat the flu and colds. Garlic is also known to decrease the frequency at which an individual experiences colds and the flu, and it can help to remedy chest complaints.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water is good for your health generally, but keeping well hydrated when you have a cold or the flu helps flush the infection out of your system.

Staying well and avoiding the flu this winter can be achieved by following a number of practices. Many of the best ways to avoid colds and the flu are simple to do and are excellent ways to protect and boost your health any time of year.

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

Slow Freezing vs Vitrification

Still here, still popping three progynova pills a day & waiting for the next week to hurry up and pass by.

As I mentioned in my previous post, our new clinic only just discovered that our old clinic used slow-freeze methods on our Day 1 embryos, and as such, needed to push back the transfer to ensure that a) they had the correct mediums in place to thaw them and b) the personnel skilled in the older methods of thawing.

I researched the methods of freezing embryos online, and found this:

The process used to freeze the embryo dictates the process that must be used to thaw the embryo. That is why when frozen embryos are shipped between labs, thawing or warming instructions must accompany the embryo so that the receiving lab can recover the embryos successfully. -Fertility Lab Insider

It seems that vitrification is used in nearly all clinics now - so not only were our embryos frozen at Day 1 against our wishes, they were frozen in a way that will likely affect their thaw. It might explain why our last batch of Day 1's all did so poorly with thawing/growing, and is making me very realistic about any good coming from these ones.

It also appears that our old clinic didn't pass on any/enough information about the methods of freezing to the new clinic - and/or the new clinic didn't pay enough attention when they were received, so it's just little mistakes all round at the moment.

Anyway, I'm trying not to dwell on that - apart from being paranoid that these embryos have already been ruined from the start - and focus on the week ahead. They are being thawed on Wednesday, so all my energy is going towards at least having that part go right. The goal is not to get any refrozen; the goal is just to get a beautiful, healthy, 5-day blastocyst this time. Surely just 1 of those 8 embryos can make it that far.

FET #6 - Waiting, Waiting, Waiting

It's been quiet around these parts lately as I haven't had much to report. I've been taking Progynova three times a day, and waiting for a scan to let us know how things are going.

That scan was today, and I was pleasantly surprised to have a lovely thick lining that looked ready to go. It was 12mm, and looked beautiful! I went and had bloods earlier this morning too, so was waiting to hear from our new clinic. I won't lie - I was hoping that after such a positive scan, we'd be all set for a transfer next week.

Instead, they are waiting on a blood hormone level that apparently didn't come back today, so will have to get in touch with me tomorrow. And when I questioned whether I should start the progesterone yet, so that we could get going on having our embryos thawed, I was told that the transfer has been scheduled for the 20th.

Hold up.... what? As in, 11 days from now.

That threw up alarm bells, so I queried to make sure she was talking about me - she said yes, HRT cycles can be delayed and that a thaw on the 15th/transfer on the 20th is what was scheduled. That makes no sense to me, since I'm ready to go now - that beautiful 12mm lining could become TOO thick in 11 days time - so I've gone into panic mode. I'm hoping to speak with one of the doctors in the morning, because this just doesn't sit well with me.

I moved clinics because I didn't feel confident with my treatment, and I have to say.. considering that this is my first go around with this new clinic, today's conversation has thrown me for a loop. Trying to keep fingers crossed that this can be sorted out somehow, because if not, I feel this cycle will already have been ruined.


Update: They've rearranged things & we're back to a transfer next week, thank goodness. No idea as to why they were initially pushing it back - but regardless, I feel better now. Next challenge is to hope for some good thawing and growing. 
Update AGAIN: Nope, we're back on for a delayed transfer on the 20th. Apparently old clinic used outdated slow freeze methods to freeze the day 1 embryos, and new clinic only uses fast-freeze, so they need to order in the right kit/cultures to ensure they thaw them properly. Unbelievable!!!

Another Month, Another Due Date

Today is my due date for our second miscarriage - it highlights the last time I was pregnant, getting a positive test after a FET back in October. That pregnancy didn't last as long as the first miscarriage. It ended the week before we were due to have our viability scan. I've always felt a bit disconnected from this particular loss. Still sad, still disappointing - but we were less attached to this one, knowing that it wasn't progressing as it should have from levels very early on.

Aside from the actual reminders of our losses, the milestones that make us stop & remember, the hardest part about all of this is that we're still not pregnant again. In my heart of hearts, I always thought that after we lost our first pregnancy, that I'd be able to get pregnant again - that my body wanted to be pregnant, but that it simply wasn't the right embryo. After we lost this second one, I began to have doubts; especially since we've had several more transfers since then and all have been negative.

I knew this date was coming up, and lately I've seen reminders everywhere. Two blooms on our memorial rose bush. Two planets in alignment in the sky. I suppose I'd like to hope that if there really is something after all of this, that those two babies are together somewhere. Think what you like, but that notion gives me a bit of comfort.

Do I think we're done yet? No, I don't think we're done yet. I think we have another baby in our future, even if it feels like it's out of our reach right now. But today, I'll shed a few tears for the little ones who weren't ours to keep - and hope that my gut is right, and that we'll have happier endings one day soon.





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