Friday, 23 December 2011

Green-eyed monster... now, hang on a minute!

This will probably come across as a weird post to write on Christmas Eve, but I guess it's as good a time as any to have an IF revelation. (But I'll keep it short....)

A good friend here in my new city home gave birth to a beautiful baby girl 1 week ago. Her and her husband also had some fertility treatment to achieve and maintain this pregnancy after TTC and miscarriage. I saw them in the week and am over the moon for them and their new family. They have started a photography project to follow baby girl's early days and post a photo of her online each day.

I was just looking at the latest photos and, guess what, I felt jealous... real, stone-cold jealousy that they get to hold and love this gorgeous little girl. The same jealousy that I've felt so many times over the last few years. And I felt this whilst sitting here, 36 weeks pregnant, with a bonny baby boy kicking and wriggling away inside of me.

Don't get me wrong.. I realised what was going on and I.....well....decided to write this post and am now feeling completely back to normal.  But I guess IF never does really go away, does it?

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

IF Hangover

Just when I thought I was in a place of complete peace and calm about this pregnancy and even the route we took to get here, IF jumps up to bite me on the ass.  Don't get me wrong, I am still enjoying this pregnancy and very much looking forward to the arrival of our baby baby in (possibly) a few weeks :)

But, as I've suggested in previous posts,  I've not quite left behind the uncertainty, fear and grief that occupied so much of the years it took us to get here. And how do I know this? Because I cried on our Doula today as I told her about our infertility struggles. I hadn't intended to tell her at all... We had a routine pre-natal appointment and were reviewing some of my answers to the questionnaire all her clients fill in to tell her about themselves, their pregnancies and their hopes & wishes for their baby's birth. I had mentioned that one of my concerns about the birth (and reasons for hiring her) was potentially feeling out of control which leads me rapidly into panic... this was a big element of our infertility that I tried to combat with research, spreadsheets of follicle sizes and blood test results and, of course, blogging.

All she had to do was mention this answer, which reminded me of my reasons for writing it and I dissolved into puddles of tears. (I should add that her trainee Doula was also there in our meeting!) I explained our journey briefly between sobs and she was very understanding and supportive.

But this post is not about her and the details of my sob-fest... it is, yet again, my way of trying to get some of my feelings out of my head and into a bigger, more forgiving place.  Why is it that I can't just be grateful and happy to be in this amazing place?  Why can't I really leave all those feelings of fear and submission behind? And is the fear from those so-recent days going to interfere with and take over the calm, relaxed and joyful birth that I'm hoping for?

For now, it is enough to write this post to help me stop sniffing and whimpering and to acknowledge that I still need to work through some of 'my issues' if I want to be able to look back and also look forward to the unbelievable image of me holding our baby without bursting into tears (and there I go again with the crying!...).

Thursday, 24 November 2011

So much to be thankful for....

As you probably know, I'm from the UK so Thanksgiving is not a holiday I would normally celebrate. Throw in several years in Asia and, although I have many friends who do celebrate this special day, there are not usually many outward signs that this past Thursday means anything at all.

But a gift from my fellow blogger at Mac & PC has inspired me to write a little something about what I have to be thankful for this year.  Thanks so much to Miss Mac for the Liebster Blog award.... Miss Mac's was one of the first blogs that I followed when we were starting our IF journey. We ended up having similar treatment types and our IVF cycles happened around the same time. It was reassuring to be able to follow her cycle as it progressed just a little bit ahead of mine and compare notes! Then came her wonderful BFP, shortly followed by my own :)  It has been equally reassuring, but somewhat more joyful to be able to follow her pregnancy and I look forward to continuing to follow the story of her new and long-awaited family.

The above says a lot about what I have to be thankful for this year. 2 IUIs, a laparoscopy/hysteroscopy and and an IVF cycle in the past 12 months (not counting the tests and treatment before that) brought us the BFP and the pregnancy that we wanted so desperately and had been waiting for. The last year also brought my Bloke a new job and resulted in our move from China to South Korea. My last post describes my current feelings of happiness, joy and calm, but it didn't say how thankful I still am and will always be for being in this fortunate position.

Now it's time to spread the love and recognise other bloggers that I follow by awarding them the Liebster blog award. Instead of the suggested 5, I'm just picking 3 who could really do with your love and support at the moment as they face different challenges in their IF and pregnancy journeys:

  1. Princess Wahna Bea Mama
  2. Cats with Passports
  3. New Year Mum

Here's how to spread the Liebster Love (if you have chance... I know you all have a lot going on right now):  
  • Copy and paste the award on your blog
  • Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you
  • Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Hope that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

30 weeks... aka 'How did I get here?'... aka 'Did all that really happen?'

I hit 30 weeks last weekend and it feels like such a milestone. Now we'll be counting in 3- something weeks, it makes the arrival of our baby boy seem so much more imminent. And how are we doing? Very well, I think. As I write, baby boy is stretching,  which seems to involve feet pushing under my ribs on my right side and fingers poking very low down on my left side which always makes me jump! He seems to be at the stage where he is big enough for me to feel every movement in a major way, but not so big that his space to wriggle around is limited.  And I'm doing well - have been taking iron supplements for the anaemia which are hopefully working, but I'll find out at our monthly check-up tomorrow :)

Lately I've been feeling so well physically and so happy and settled emotionally that all we went through to get here almost seems like a dream.  Did I really go through all those tests and surgery?  Did I really give myself all those injections? Did I really have all those blood tests? Did I really spend all those hours (and hours and hours) sat in that Chinese fertility clinic?  Did I really go to that clinic every morning for 10 weeks after the BFP for the progesterone shots they wouldn't let me do myself?  It all seems so far away and so long ago...

That's not to say that I've created some alternative reality for myself where this baby was conceived naturally. I know that we are still infertile. I know that, should we want another child, I'll more than likely be returning to China for our precious frozen embies.  I know that this baby boy is a precious miracle and this pregnancy was worth every injection, blood test and minute in that clinic.

But I do feel that our infertility is no longer defining this pregnancy. The angst and fear of the 1st trimester has been replaced with a feeling of calm and confidence that my body can do this. We've recently started our pre-natal Hypno.birthing classes (they're another post in themselves) which (amongst other things) involve listening to positive affirmations about our pregnancy and future labour & delivery. I no longer flinch when I hear the affirmation talking about how my body was designed to conceive, carry and deliver this baby naturally. Maybe we needed some help getting here, but I feel I can now trust in my body to do the rest.

That's not to say that there won't be any complications or unexpected issues in the next 10 or so weeks. That's not to say that I won't end up having pain meds or other interventions, rather than the calm, natural delivery we're hoping for. But I no longer feel like they're more likely because of how we got here.

On re-reading this post, I wonder whether I sound like some born-again fertile... I don't want to minimise the struggles that we went through or that others are going through right now - whether in their IF journeys or in their post-IF pregnancies.  But I do want to enjoy every moment of the remainder of this pregnancy and I finally feel like I'm able to :)

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Things I've discovered this week

In no particular order:

  • Baby boy has hair! We could see it on our ultrasound which is amazing to me :)  He also likes sucking his toes - lovely!
  • I'm a bit anaemic - my haemoglobin levels came back a little low, so I'm on iron supplements for now. Maybe this explains why it takes me an age to walk up a flight of stairs!  
  • I'm emotionally unstable when hungry and/or tired and have a tendency to take it out on my Bloke :(  To be fair, this is not really a new thing... my Bloke has always said that I'm like a baby when I need food or sleep - nothing else matters until I'm satisfied!  Pregnancy has just made it 100 times worse! Sunday was spent eating and napping interspersed with periods of pestering my long-suffering man to bring me more food/complete tasks I'd set/be quiet so I could nap! But once fed and a bit less sleepy, I was back to my usual (?!) cheery self!
  • I seem to be looking bigger than my now 6 months (27 1/2 weeks)... yesterday my yoga teacher asked me how many WEEKS I had left! We both agreed that my bump has expanded significantly in the last week and I have felt it in the last couple of days - I have felt stretched and tight around the bottom of my bump and baby boy has been moving less which seems to correspond with growth spurts. This morning I feel more comfortable and baby boy is back to his usual breakfast acrobatics :)
  • I have started nesting early... this weekend I was seized by an uncontrollable desire to order a lot of baby stuff online. Partly this was prompted by a great sale on the JC Penney website (one of the few sites that ship internationally as standard) and partly by hormone insanity... 'I have to have that rug and I have to have it NOW' :)

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

On the downhill slope & picking up speed..

Again, it's been a long time since my last post. I've been away from our new home in Seoul for most of September, but am now back and not likely to be going anywhere else in the next few months :)

I was posting a comment on a forum the other day and realised from my little 'ticker' thing that I've known about this pregnancy for longer than I've got left of it - does that make sense? Basically, I'm more than halfway through, even taking into account those first 4 weeks before you actually find out.  This took me a bit by surprise - the past 20 weeks seem to have gone so fast. I have about 16 weeks left (hoping that all goes to plan) and I can't imagine how quickly that time will go by!

I had intended to keep a pregnancy diary or at least document the milestones along with some photos but, like so many other good intentions, I have failed to make good on it so far. So this seems like as good a place as any to make a start...

18 weeks - hired our Doula, Lisa :)

18 + 4 weeks - 2nd trimester anatomy ultrasound and gender reveal.... We're having a boy!!

19 weeks - first flutterings of movement :) The exact moment when I realised what I was feeling was at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, whilst waiting to transfer for the final leg of my journey home. I drank a lemonade in the lounge and felt a tickling sensation all over my belly :)

20 weeks - first 'serious' shopping for baby whilst back home. Got our pushchair/travel system, baby monitor and most of baby layette along with other bits and pieces. Plus got some gifts from family and friends - mostly clothes, including some knitted items from my Mum and her friend :)

21 weeks - first big kicks and somersaults :) I was back in Seoul for a few days before our babymoon to the beach. I had the doppler out for the first time in ages and had managed to find bub's heartbeat, no problem. Then I felt a big kick on the doppler! Our little boy certainly didn't seem keen on being prodded!

22 weeks - first time my Bloke felt his son move and I started seeing more defined movement from the 'outside' :) My Bloke still finds it strange that there's a living being in my belly! He can't get his head around the fact that I don't find the movement strange or freaky! But knowing that we're having a boy is definitely helping him get used to the idea that there will (hopefully) be an actual baby here early next year. He would have been happy either way, but just being able to see him as a boy, rather than an 'it' seems to be making it easier.

23 weeks - started pre-natal yoga... first 'real' exercise since before starting IVF in April :) This goes along with the increase in energy I've felt in the last week or so, since getting back from holiday. I've finally had the energy to sort out most of the stuff in our new apartment and am hoping it will continue for long enough for me to do some more shopping for the nursery.

Coming up:
24 weeks - viability
26 weeks - 3D scan

Thanks to those who've kept following me and for your comments and hellos! I'm keeping up with everyone's news even if I haven't been commenting that much :)

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Messing with my head...

In a follow-up to yesterday's pitiful post, I'm now starting to feel less and less guilty about forgetting my Bloke's birthday, as I think he is up to something...

I'm almost 100% sure that he is pretending to have told me stuff, then pretending I have forgotten, just to get him out of trouble when he has forgotten to tell me something (that's a lot of pretending and forgetting)...

For example, yesterday afternoon via email:

Him: Remember that I'm out bowling tonight with people from work...
Me: It's not called remembering if you never told me in the 1st place...
Him: I definitely told you...
Me: No you didn't...
Him: I did - maybe not that it was bowling but definitely that I was out...

Don't worry - there was no antagonism in this exchange. I'm quite happy to have an evening of eating stuff for dinner that my Bloke doesn't like and watching rubbish TV, plus not having the AC set at 'frost' level (I seem to be over the overheating meltdowns that plagued my early pregnancy).

But it bothers me that I have might have completely forgotten yet another thing... still thinking he's messing with my head....

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Worst pregnancy brain (and worst wife) ever

So, if forgetting my Bloke's birthday yesterday wasn't bad enough, I managed to forget despite:

  • hearing the doorbell ring early (I was still asleep) & getting up in the morning to find a bottle of wine on the table (from my husband's driver) - then proceeding to ask my Bloke over email who woke me up ringing the bell and why is there a bottle of wine in the living room?
  • scrolling past my phone calendar reminder of his birthday to check where I was meeting a new friend later that day...
  • talking to him on the phone for 15 minutes and still not remembering...
I finally remembered at lunchtime and sent him a message.  

In my defence, my Bloke doesn't like to celebrate his birthday - he thinks greeting cards are a waste of money and paper (after 10 years together he has gradually come round to getting me a card, most years). We have also been in the midst of apartment/hospital/furniture-hunting chaos and my brain was fully occupied with finding us somewhere to live.

OK, there's really no excuse - he knew he probably wasn't getting a gift (he doesn't mind about this usually) but might have expected a 'Happy Birthday' at some point... what can I say? I'm the worst wife ever :(

Sunday, 14 August 2011

A week of firsts

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the 'firsts' for the week was getting offered a seat on the metro due to my bump (I am hoping it was the bump and not the general look of exhaustion on my face that prompted this act of charity)...

The exhaustion was due to me being on my way back from my first mother & baby fair which had been very handily arranged for my 2nd week in Korea, so I could start getting to grips with the baby stores and products available here and how much they all cost. The kind Korean people seemed to conspire to let me completely buck the system and jump the massive queue to get in the fair immediately and without paying... this wasn't intentional on my part - it just seemed that the people I asked at the gates didn't speak enough English to explain that I should join the scarily long registration queues and let me walk right in!

I went on a weekday to try and avoid the chaos that I'd heard about, but it was still pretty frantic in there - where did all these hugely pregnant women and mothers carrying babies and toddlers in slings get the energy to cover 2 football field-sized halls? Though, to be fair, I too felt a surge of energy from being there - maybe that's a little investigated side-effect of pregnancy hormones.... the ability to shop for baby-related goods for hours, yet barely have enough energy to get off the sofa to wash the dishes!

I ended up wandering round (for wandering, read pushing my way past thousands of pushchairs, baby bumps and sling-suspended youngsters) for about 4 hours. And my overall impression of the baby-product market in Korea?
Pretty much everything you could want and might find back home is available there (unlike in China) including organic baby clothes, cloth nappies and pushchairs & car seats galore.
Pretty much everything is scarily expensive compared to back home!

I already knew from China that this would probably be the case and had already planned to buy a pushchair in the UK on my next visit home and get my Bloke to bring it back here on his next trip - that seems to be the big ticket item that we could save most money on in this way.  But the fair made me realise how much else there is to buy that I haven't even thought about yet and how little I know about where to get all this stuff! We're also going to have to bite the bullet over the cost because there's no way to bring back everything we need from the UK in one trip and shipping costs would probably make it pointless.

But, to make a start, I experienced another 'first' and bought my first item for baby. I discovered a couple of English guys on a stand and one of them was the CEO of a British sling company - it was so nice to have a chat with someone from home and, as a sling was high on my list of essentials for our newborn, I allowed myself to get talked into buying one. Slings and carriers are hugely popular here - I don't really know how much they're used back home, but I was amazed by how many parents use them here.  I also had some fixed ideas about what I wanted and didn't want from talking to friends in China about theirs... the one I bought seemed to tick all the boxes and was only a bit more expensive here than in the UK, so I went for it.

I also bought some maternity clothes from a US company that had a stand there which was surprisingly affordable... I fell in love with a pair of maternity jeans (who knew that was possible!) and also with the reflection of myself in the changing room mirror wearing a 7 month baby bump cushion to try them on :)

Today will be another 'first' - my Bloke and I will take our first trip to department stores to check out baby products 'in the flesh' as opposed to my hours of online browsing. I am preparing myself for:

  • having to stop my Bloke wandering off to other departments at every opportunity
  • my Bloke passing out when he realises I haven't been exaggerating about how much everything costs
  • my Bloke explaining to me (for the 10th time) how he doesn't see the cost-benefit rationale in paying hundreds of pounds for something that will only get used for a finite and fairly short amount of time
  • possibly me experiencing another round of my newest pregnancy symptom - bursting into tears at the slightest provocation and then not being able to stop snivelling for about 2 hours
But I'll let you know which of these occurred another day!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Where to begin? A new country, perhaps?!

It's been a while since my last post so I thought I'd better  stop being so lazy and reassure a few of you who've been asking that I'm still here and all is fine :)

And 'here' is now South Korea! My Bloke and I have been here a couple of weeks and it's gone really quickly and, so far, really smoothly. The move seems to have helped me relax as far as this pregnancy goes - it seems to have been the new start that I needed, which is rather counter-intuitive when moving house (let alone country) is supposed to be one of the most stressful life events, along with bereavement and divorce. But then, I don't think fertility treatment has it's rightful place on that list yet, and to me an international move seems like childs-play compared to that!

So, this new state of calm, along with my increasingly large belly is helping me to accept that this pregnancy is real and (still hopefully, but in all likelihood) will end with a baby, our baby. Talking of my belly, it is getting more and more obvious that I'm pregnant rather than chubby, depending on what outfit I wear - I'm currently favouring maternity pants and tops that seem to hug my belly and make it more obvious... after waiting so long for this bump, I am milking it for all it's worth quite shamelessly :).

One 'first' this week (there were a few) was getting offered a seat on the metro for the first time. The people here are generally very polite and good about standing up to let older people, pregnant women and mothers carrying children sit down... this time, an older lady stopped a younger girl sitting in a vacant seat on a packed train to allow me to sit down - my saviour!

Because the only downside of the my current state of health is my ongoing back/hip problems. The pain that started at 12 weeks has continued and is really no better, plus I now have a line of hard lumps/nodules along the sides of my back and round to my hips. The whole thing is really slowing me down in my exploration of my new home - walking for 15 minutes leaves me sore and standing for 30 minutes leaves me feeling faint and in need of a lie down. I'm also still struggling with sleep because turning over is painful unless I lift my butt and try not to let my hips touch the bed. An assortment of pillows is helping, but is not ideal. I saw a physio before leaving China and he gave me some strengthening exercises and talked a lot about how the muscles compensate for any instability in the pelvis caused by ligament loosening/stretching, which I'm more prone to because I have hypermobile joints. But he also said there is no sign of instability in my joints at the moment... I never really felt that I got a solid diagnosis but I only saw him twice before moving, so figured I'd get a more definitive answer here... once I work out which kind of Doctor I need to see - a physio, chiropractor or acupuncturist?.... but that's a post for another day!

But, to end on a positive note, all is generally great. I gave in and bought a fetal doppler and enjoy listening to the little one's heartbeat every few days or so (I have managed to avoid obsession so far!). He seems to be wriggling around a lot so sometimes it's harder to find than others, but hopefully that means I might start to feel some of those wriggles and kicks soon :)

Thanks to those that were asking after me and sorry for my absence in commenting on your blogs... I will make more effort to keep up to date from now on (though there might be another lull when we move into our new home until I get internet connected and/or work out how to change my new phone into English and update from there!). xx

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Getting ready for the move...

I realise it's been a pretty long time since I've posted. I guess this is for a number of reasons, but none of them really conscious decisions. Perhaps because I can only access Blogger on our PC in our office and not on my laptop (due to the censorship in China - need special software to access blocked sites) and have been too lazy/tired/stiff to go and sit on an uncomfortable office chair rather than the sofa! Perhaps because I've been trying to stay out of my own head a bit and blogging doesn't help me with that. Perhaps because of the spate of bad news on blogs I follow recently - I've still been reading them, but my own craziness seems so unimportant and inane in comparison.

So what has been happening in my life over the last few weeks?

  • Got our screening test results back at about 12 and a half weeks and they were fine :)  Not amazingly low, but not at all bad for my age (34). This was the milestone at which we'd agreed that we would start to tell more people (including most of our family)...
  • Skip to freak out by me brought on by aches and twinges in my back, hips, belly and occasionally legs. I couldn't get the thought out of my mind that something might have gone wrong between the scan at 11+2 and the 13 week point when we were supposed to start telling people.
  • Jump to me calling my hospital and getting an 'emergency' appointment with my temporary Ob/Gyn (she deserves a whole post to herself.... and not in a good way). Everything was fine - got a quick, extra scan and all looking good :)  Growing pains in my belly eased off and I relaxed a bit.
  • Still no resolution to the pain in my back/hips - I don't know the name for this area, but it's those muscles at the bottom of your back/top of your butt. If you've been through IVF, it's the muscles where you have the IM progesterone shots! The soreness had eased off after stopping injections at 10 weeks. A week later, my Bloke and I had sex (1st time since egg collection!) and the next day these muscles were really sore. I presumed I'd used some underworked muscles but, 2 weeks later, the discomfort is getting worse. I can't lie on my back, the whole area is sore to the touch and even sitting down is uncomfortable. Have finally managed to get an appointment with a physio tomorrow, so hoping I'll get some answers then.
  • My Bloke went back to the UK for work (he's still there) and told his parents and siblings our good news. He randomly decided to tell his folks we're having a boy!! Much excitement because there are currently no boys to carry on the family name at the moment! Seriously, Men!
  • Told my Big Sis and Bruv - managed to stay calm at the odd jibe/insensitive comment from my sister, but have saved up some very honest responses that I can blame on hormones for next time!
  • On Sunday, I have a leaving lunch with about 20 friends.. still deciding whether to tell them about our pregnancy...
  • On Monday, our movers are in and we leave our house... it can't come a minute too soon because I am so sick of sweating all day with our lack of aircon (long story cut short - rats in the central air vents last winter, so I'm refusing to turn on the aircon).
  • Next Saturday, fly to Seoul!
That wasn't as brief as I'd planned! All in all, I'm doing fine. I am really trying very hard not to obsess about this pregnancy and relax and enjoy it. I know I'm not quite there, because I know my fear of telling more people is based on the fear that something will go wrong and I'll have to tell loads of people the bad news. I do know how unlikely that is now. Maybe my reluctance is due to a little niggly feeling that I might be dreaming this whole thing and people will just laugh when I tell them I'm pregnant! Oh, how I wish I had a huge baby bump already (still no sign of it - just fat and bloating still)...

Time to go before I waffle any more. I'll be off the blogosphere for a week or so between packing up our PC and getting to Seoul and the land of uncensored internet :)  Will catch up with you all from our new home!!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Fab scan :)

Today was the big day for our (early) 12 week scan. The focus of my nerves in the last few weeks has been gradually changing. After the last scan, my thoughts turned to the screening tests and all my worry-energy went on those and the possible outcomes. But as the days have gone by and the scan date approached, that same old concern reared it's head again... 'please, please, let the baby have a heartbeat - let the little one be there and be growing'.  I think I've done pretty well keeping that worry in perspective - well, if refusing to read any potentially negative outcome posts on my usual birth club forum counts as keeping things in perspective. I guess my reasoning for that is that I know what can go wrong - at this point, I need to remember how likely it is that things will go right.

Anyway, today all did go right! Our little one has certainly grown in 3 weeks :) He/she was mostly lying on his back chilling out, but waved his arms and legs and wriggled around from side to side a bit. He* also seemed to have an attack of the hiccups at one point (might have to Google if that's possible...)! We could see fingers and toes and the baby's profile - both my Bloke and I have larger than average noses, so we had a bit of a laugh about the size of his already :)

He's measuring a couple of days ahead and had a heart rate of 171 bpm! Wow, that's fast! We got to hear the heartbeat briefly which made me cry again - there's something about that sound that makes it so real for me :)

The NT measurement came in low which was reassuring. We have to wait 2 weeks now for the blood results - after being told it would take 1 week, that's a bit annoying and means the results might not come back before my Bloke goes to the UK. But there's nothing we can do about that, so I'm trying to relax.

And that's the weird thing, isn't it? If all goes smoothly, we won't have another scan for 9 weeks... That's a long time with no 'evidence' that baby is doing well. I guess a growing belly and then feeling movement are the next signs - can't wait for those to appear!

*You may have noticed that baby is usually referred to as a boy. No real reason for this, other than the fact that my good friend predicted that our IVF would be successful and that we would have a boy back in the midst of my cycle. Actually, the ultrasound tech said she thought she could see something between the little one's legs today when I asked about gender, but I know it's too early to tell :)

Friday, 1 July 2011

A forgotten gift...

The other day at the maternity/babywear store, I realised that, despite my refusal to buy any maternity clothes or baby stuff until the 2nd trimester, I already have my first baby gift awaiting our little one. My friend pointed out a toy in the store and said 'You have to have one of these' and I realised she was indicating Sophie the giraffe. At this point, I remembered that we already have a special Sophie awaiting the arrival of our little one.

This gift has been waiting patiently for a while now. It was bought by a friend who knows about our struggles and our treatment. This friend has been through so much more than I have or hope I ever will, but her story is not mine to tell -  I will just say that, at the age of 42 she conceived naturally and now has a beautiful 1 year old baby girl, after being told at the age of 17 that she would never have her own child. She bought a twin pack of Sophies when she was replacing her daughter's much-loved one that had been lost. She told me that the 2nd one was for me and my baby, whenever he/she arrived.

At the time, I didn't know how to feel. Part of me was almost arrogant, taking a 'What does she know?' approach - how can she know that we will ever have the miracle that she was granted? Another part of me was so grateful - grateful that someone had the hope and faith that I was struggling to get hold of and generally failing to hang on to. I think that gift was the moment when I genuinely did start to hope and to believe that this could happen for us. There's no rationality or logic in hope and her faith helped me make the change from 'Why is this IF happening to me?' to 'Why shouldn't I be one of the 'lucky' ones?'  (Strange how 'lucky' now involves success after years of tests and several rounds of treatment!).

My friend doesn't 'officially' know our good news yet, though she has a pretty good idea from a couple of clues here and there. I'm looking forward to being able to tell her in a couple of weeks and to accepting my first baby gift with love and gratitude.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

First maternity purchase!

I have bitten the bullet, shrugged off the superstition and made my first pregnant purchase (not counting my pregnancy book). I made an excursion to a couple of maternity wear shops at the weekend whilst having my energy spurt and was not inspired. The Chinese stores were as I feared... radiation smocks and huge, ugly dresses galore. They certainly made it easy not to spend too much/any money! I did find one western brand shop which had some really nice stuff, but I felt that it was a bit expensive... plus I'm just not quite ready to commit to proper maternity pants or skirts with the big elastic 'pouches'.

But a thorough internet search threw up one shop which was rumoured to stock Bella Bands! The excitement! My alternative was to order them from Hong Kong at a vastly inflated price. When I eventually found the store, I was very pleased to see they do stock them... 'them' being the key word - they had 2 in stock! Both were 1 size too big, but my friend persuaded me that one would come in handy at some point, even if it was a little big now. So I did it! I bought one! Haven't tried it on yet as the maid is here and, for some reason, the thought of trying on maternity clothes with someone else in the house makes me feel guilty... but she'll be gone in 20 minutes :)

Sunday, 26 June 2011

No more shots!

Yes, today was the day of my last progesterone shot! I do feel very glad to be done with them, particularly as I accidentally got the last 2 days' shots in the same hip, so am feeling rather sore!  I went to the ER to get it and am sincerely hoping that I never have to go back there :)

Thanks everyone for your lovely comments yesterday. However, it seems I spoke a little too soon about the lack of symptoms, as neglecting to have a nap in the afternoon meant I got really tired and headachy at about 5pm - the now usual consequence of trying to stay awake for a whole day like a normal person! I was asleep by 9.30pm after giving up the fight to stay awake and ignore my headache and slept for nearly 12 hours!  But that's fine with me :) It meant I missed a girl's evening out, but I don't have anything to wear that actually fits anyway!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Feeling good :)

Physically, that is! Not that I'm feeling bad mentally, but I thought I should specify! Today is one of those days when you realise how bad you must have been feeling before, because of how good you feel now that you are back to normal... does that make sense? So, in a large nutshell, I feel normal. As long as I discount the huge, bloated belly which is not subsiding and the enlarged boobs, then normal it is :)

Of course, there are always the niggles at the back of my mind that pop up when symptoms subside - is everything OK? Am I still pregnant? But those are taking a back seat today because it feels so good to feel normal! I haven't felt sick all day. My stomach actually rumbled loudly without the ever-present nausea for the first time since 6 weeks along. And, did I mention, I'm 10 weeks today! Double figures, at last! (even if my ticker at the top of this page stubbornly refuses to move to the figure 10...)

I also have a bit of energy - I've been for 2 walks today, as the weather has cooled down in anticipation of a huge storm that's on it's way. Admittedly, I could feel my thigh muscles pulsating when I got home after my walks - that's the most exercise I've done since I gave up boot camp before my IVF cycle. And these weren't hikes or anything. Just slow walks around the neighbourhood doing a few errands.

Today was also my last visit to my fertility clinic (for now, at least). My last progesterone shot is tomorrow but, as you might remember, I have to go to the local ER to get it on a Sunday. I spent a few minutes sitting at the clinic today waiting for my shot to stop bleeding and taking it all in. It's over a year since I started going there, which is not long by many couples' standards. It's strange how 'at home' I feel in a public institution where I don't speak the same language as the majority of the staff and patients and in which, when it comes down to it, I wish I had never had to set foot. But I did feel at home there. Now I'm just hoping the next time I need to go back is next Spring when I can visit with my baby to let the staff know that all their hard work and patience was worth it :)

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Hot flushes...

I have always loved the heat. We lived in Malaysia for 3 years and I loved every 35 degree day and 25 degree night of it. My Bloke and I's most common fight was over the air-con because I could always live without it, whereas he was melting away into a puddle in a corner. Coming to Shanghai and facing Winter again for the first time in several years, coupled with a lack of heating in most buildings, was not fun for me. Teaching class whilst wearing a coat, hat, scarf and gloves was not uncommon during Winter months. And many evenings have been spent watching TV at home under a duvet whilst wearing a woolly hat. Have you ever tried making a baby whilst taking off the minimum number of items of clothing? Hang on... maybe that's where we were going wrong...

The thought of moving to Seoul where the Winters are much harsher has been the least appealing thing about our new adventure, though I believe everywhere is much better heated which should soften the blow. In short, I have always said I was born in the wrong country and should have been born somewhere tropical.. until now, that is.

The Summer rains have hung around for a while this year and it's been a bit cooler than usual. Of course, I've been complaining about the storms and not being able to go out without getting wet feet. But no more! The rain has stopped, for today at least, and the sun is out. It's 35 degrees outside and I'm struggling. Our house is usually cool and we've rarely needed air-con. (Our central air vents also seem to have been inhabited by rats this Winter, so I am refusing to turn it on at all.) But now it's me melting. I can't get cool wherever I go. I'm sweating and getting little hot flushes every few minutes. I know this is a pregnancy symptom... my body temperature is higher and I guess I just can't adjust to the fickle weather as easily as in the past.

So, until this weather changes or we move to our new place in Seoul with clean air-con, I will be sitting around in indecently short shorts eating sorbet. Now there's an image for you!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Counting the cost... Part 1

At the outset of this post, I'd like to say that this post is in no way meant to be a complaint. If anything, I have always appreciated that one of the major advantages of pursuing fertility treatment in China is the reasonable cost - at least, reasonable for us considering our decent expat income, though considerably less reasonable for most local people.

So, if you haven't guessed, I wanted to post about the costs of our fertility treatment to date. I was adding up the totals for myself and figured some people might like to see how the costs compare with their own situations/countries.  Our insurance covers infertility testing but not treatment, so the HSG, MRI and lap/hyst, plus some of my basic bloods were all paid for - I might have had to think twice about some of these procedures if they hadn't been! The cost of treatment at expat hospitals out here is ridiculous and I probably wouldn't have been willing to have surgery at a local hospital (yes, I know that sounds like a crazy, contradictory thing to say given that I've been through 3 IUIs and an IVF cycle at a local hospital!).. but surgery seemed like such a scary thing at the time - turns out the HSG was more painful!

We probably could have claimed back the cost of some of our blood tests and my Bloke's SAs done at the local clinic, but we haven't tried - trying to get translations of the receipts, plus expecting our overworked Doctors to fill out insurance paperwork just seemed like it would be a nightmare.

Anyway, here are the costs:

Initial tests at clinic plus non-medicated IUI #1
Chinese RMB 5,129
GBP 492
USD 793

Medicated IUI #2

Chinese RMB 3,783
GBP 363
USD 585

Medicated IUI #3
Chinese RMB 3,575
GBP 343
USD 553

IVF Long Protocol
Chinese RMB 30,437
GBP 2,920
USD 4,705

Chinese RMB 42,925
GBP 4,118
USD 6,636

What do you think? Compared to a natural conception... (30 quid for a bottle of wine and a takeaway?..), yes, it's a lot of money. But compared to other countries, I'm guessing it's pretty good. Obviously this doesn't take into account my loss of earnings since I had to leave work in September 2010 to pursue treatment! Best not to think about that, I reckon!

Part 2 to come in a post about the cost of pre-natal & maternity cover overseas...

Monday, 20 June 2011

Welcome to ICWL!

My story is pretty much explained in the timeline on the right, but I guess this might be a good time for a disclaimer. This blog started as a record of our journey through fertility treatment in China, where we've been living for nearly 4 years.

In the time since I started blogging, our story has moved on... from fertility treatment to pregnancy and soon, from China to South Korea. But, while the title of this blog might seem a little inaccurate, it's not. We're still infertile and still struggling with the hangover of the last 3 years of TTC, whilst trying to celebrate and enjoy this much-desired pregnancy.

Thank you for stopping by - if you leave a comment, I'll come and visit your blog and say Hi!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Starting to feel real :)

Yesterday's OB appointment was a strange, but very joyful experience. I realised that I had not been back to my 'regular' expat hospital since having my HSG and pelvic MRI there about 18 months ago. I opted to have my lap/hyst surgery at a different hospital because of the reputation of the surgeon there and I luckily haven't had any other health issues in the meantime (discounting infertility!).

As I was ushered into the nurse's room for the pre-appt questions and basic checks, I remembered all the times I'd sat there saying that my period was (very) late, but I wasn't pregnant. I remembered all the times the nurses would look enthusiastic and hopeful and say 'Well, you never know!' and then make me take another pregnancy test, just to tell me it was negative. I remembered crying as I told more than one Doctor how long we'd been trying to get pregnant and receiving a variety of answers, including the ever-helpful 'Relax and it'll happen'.

Yesterday was different. The nurse asked why I wanted to see the OB/GYN... 'Just a check-up?' and I got to say those words that still felt fraudulent 'Well, I'm pregnant!'. I got to soak in the congratulations, followed by a concerned frown when I said it was via IVF. Not sure why this was.. maybe they just don't get many IVF patients there. This theory is backed up by the nurse shouting out 'IVF, IVF' several times to the Doctor as she picked up my chart from outside the consultation room I was waiting in!

Anyway, the Doctor was nice. She is German and has the stereotypical brusque nature of this nation, but I appreciate someone who gets to the point and she was kind and listened to me which is all I ask. Before I had time to argue that I didn't want a dozen blood tests and an internal exam after having them so many times at the clinic, she pre-empted me and said she saw no need to repeat all those tests after I'd already been through so much... I was in love with her by now! (Especially as it's a private hospital and I worry about them tacking on extra tests just to make some extra cash.)  She just checked my belly, asked a few questions, explained about the pre-natal tests and got me into the ultrasound room.

I then had my first abdominal ultrasound! It was so ridiculously exciting, not to have to take my pants off... does that make me weird?!  The picture wasn't super clear, but there was definitely a more baby-shaped baby in there! The little one looked more like a baby with a heartbeat, as opposed to a heart attached to a blob!  He/she was also measuring spot-on, at 8 weeks + 5.  The highlight though was hearing the heartbeat. It brought a joyful tear to my eye which I'm sure would have progressed to full-on blubbing, except the technician moved on very quickly, so I was able to recover!

It really was amazing and the combination of that and all the above is finally making this sink in and I'm finally beginning to feel like a real (dare I say, normal?!) pregnant woman. Of course, I know there is still a long way to go and the topic of pre-natal testing is hanging around in the wings, waiting for my Bloke and I to discuss it this weekend. But all in all, yesterday was a good day!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

OB appt tomorrow...

As the title says, my first non-fertility clinic appointment is tomorrow and I'm staying pretty calm. My symptoms are still coming and going - the morning nausea is a bit better, but I seem to be more tired this week. Napped on the sofa for 2 hours Monday afternoon and went to bed at 8pm last night after being out in the afternoon and missing out on a needed nap. Also felt sick all yesterday afternoon after a rather large cheese omelette for lunch (with extra bacon - please don't judge me!) - I think it was just too much cholesterol and grease for my stomach at the moment.

I still find the change in symptoms disconcerting but am hoping that my acupuncture is partly responsible for improving the nausea - after all, that's what I'm paying for!

My main concerns are now moving onto the issue of prenatal testing. Tomorrow (assuming all goes well) I will find out what kinds of testing my OB offers and we will need to make a decision about which tests, if any, we want. I've been doing some research about the different options, but still feel fairly in the dark about it all. This research inevitably leads on to speculation about what we would do in all possible outcome scenarios.

Part of me wants to know nothing at all.. to have no tests and go for the 'ignorance is bliss' approach. But realistically, that is not really me. Not having any tests would not make me stop worrying about this pregnancy. And I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be my Bloke's choice, though we haven't discussed it yet. I'm sure he would want to know if all is OK (or not). But I also worry about what he would want to do if things weren't OK and whether I would feel the same... but maybe I shouldn't post things like that when we haven't discussed it yet and I really have no idea.

Of course, the best outcome is to have the tests (some of them at least) and be told all is fine and we are low risk. But other outcomes are so possible and so scary. Of course, I am leaping ahead here. Maybe I should just focus on getting through tomorrow with good news and move on from there.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Twiddling my thumbs...

I hope this title crosses the language/cultural barriers of my readers! But basically, this weekend is the first since finding out that I'm pregnant that I haven't had some major milestone appointment to occupy, worry and eventually, reassure me. 2 beta tests and 2 ultrasounds down and I have a weekend free of the rollercoaster of anticipation and panic, followed by relief and happiness. Of course, this doesn't mean that I can't manufacture my own rollercoaster to replace it. After pretty consistent morning sickness for the last 2 weeks, I have been feeling much better since Friday. The joy of not feeling sick is quickly replaced with the worry of symptoms waxing and waning and what that means (probably nothing in my most logical moments).

As for other symptoms, I'm still experiencing dizziness quite often, though that horrible near-fainting episode has not been repeated, thank goodness. I also seem to be randomly developing small patches of spider veins (or spider navi to give them their technical term - sounds like something out of Avatar to me) on my face. Thursday brought a small patch under an eyebrow which was odd, but I thought nothing of it. Only yesterday when I spotted a patch under my chin did I connect the dots (not literally, though that would have been quite fun) and realise that these could be the spider veins mentioned in my new, fabulous pregnancy book.  My Mum claims that she never got them during any of her 4 pregnancies even though they can be genetic. From my reading, it makes sense that they are linked to the change in my blood flow due to the demands of the baby, which is also bringing the dizziness. My Bloke is calling the baby a 'greedy bugger' for taking so much of my blood! (I should mention here that the baby will always be a boy to my Bloke until he has physical evidence to the contrary!).

This post is in danger of drifting into nothingness... basically, my symptoms are coming and going a bit and I still find that stressful. I have my first OB appointment on Thursday and, after thinking that I had mastered this positive thinking and didn't need the reassurance of extra ultrasounds, I'm now planning to ask for one if it's not offered. At 8 weeks and 4 days, there should be interesting stuff to see :)

I still feel in a weird kind of limbo - partly because I still haven't really accepted that there is a new life growing inside me. Also, because our move to Korea is on hold until the end of the 1st trimester, I feel like I'm treading water till we get to that point. Consequently I seem to be spending a lot of time on the sofa, watching bad TV. This is fine most of the time, but kind of embarrassing when our twice-weekly cleaner comes round and I let her clean around me! Though I think she's spotted the pregnancy book with the big naked belly on the front, so I hope she's cutting me some slack!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Going old school...

This morning I almost fainted on my way to the clinic for my daily progesterone shot. I have never fainted in my life and always wondered what it felt like, but now I'd be pretty happy not to find out! I was stuck at the back of a packed elevator on my way up to the 17th floor and feeling a bit nauseous, but that's par for the course these days. Then I started getting weird prickly feelings all over my body, followed by worsening nausea. I was pondering whether I'd need to get out of the elevator early to throw up or if I could make it a few more floors when my vision went a bit odd and I had to keep opening and closing my eyes. The fear of throwing up on the crowds around me and/or dropping to the floor made me push my way out on the 13th floor. Luckily there were chairs by the elevator and I put my head between my knees whilst a cold sweat passed over me.

After a few minutes I felt better and made my way up for my shot. I contemplated finding a Doctor to tell them about it, but remembered reading that dizziness/fainting are a relatively common pregnancy symptom, so decided against it. Just after I got home, my new pregnancy book arrived by courier and that said you should tell your Doc if you feel faint or dizzy! Oops!

I figure that if it happens again I'll tell someone. What do you think? I mean after all, swooning seemed to be a diagnostic tool to tell if women were pregnant in costume dramas so it must be pretty common... or was it wearing a corset whilst pregnant that caused that? To be honest, my trousers were a bit snug so maybe that contributed...

Hooray for a heartbeat!

As you can guess from the title, it was good news at today's 7wk 3day scan! After a tortuous hour-long wait at the clinic, I was into those stirrups in a flash once my name was called and my Bloke assumed his position at my side. As soon as the Doctor got the dildocam in, there was a clear difference from the last scan at 6 weeks. The gestational sac was bigger and you could clearly see something inside it, whereas last time I couldn't see anything at all. The Doc pointed out the heartbeat and it was easy to see and flickering away nicely.. oh, the relief! It seems that they don't do any measurements at this stage at my clinic (yet again.. surprise, surprise - things are done differently here in China!) so there was no measuring of baby or heartbeat rate or any of that. She didn't point out the yolk sac and fetal pole that others have talked about, but said everything looked good.

She then 'discharged' me after giving me my instructions on how to reduce my progesterone shots and other meds over the next 2 weeks. Of course, for the time-being, I'll still be going back there every day to get my shots, so I won't be free of the place for a while yet. But I know this is a milestone and an exciting one!  Knowing myself,  I will probably worry a little when I finally stop those progesterone shots at about 9 and a half weeks, but generally I am feeling much more relaxed than I have been recently.  It's time that I accept that this is happening. I am pregnant. And although it's still early days, I need to start being positive in my actions as well as my thoughts. For me, this means finally buying that pregnancy book and looking in the local maternity stores for belly bands. I know I'll still feel a bit of a fraud in a maternity-wear store, but maybe getting in there and making some purchases will help change that :)

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Another week down...

Tomorrow morning will be our 2nd scan, at just over 7 weeks and it's a big one. This is the one where we need to see the heartbeat to know that everything is OK - I've read the odd story that says some people only see a heartbeat at 8 weeks but I think that's rare and I can't imagine another week of limbo if things don't go well tomorrow.  Generally I've handled this week better than last and am feeling calmer than before our first scan. That's not to say that there haven't been bad days.. I cried over mani/pedis with my best friend here in Shanghai as I told her about the 6 week scan and how hard I am finding the uncertainty of pregnancy after IF. God knows what the salon girls thought but their English wasn't every good, so hopefully they didn't know what we were talking about!

I also managed to spoil a good part of yesterday, one of the two precious days a week that my Bloke and I get together, by crying and getting angry with him.. I'm not even sure why now, but I know I had a good reason at the time! I think it was generally about him not seeming as interested in this pregnancy as I would like. Which I know is ridiculous because, when I'm having trouble accepting that it's real and these changes are happening to my body, how can I expect him to have really absorbed it yet?! I've also always known that it will only really be when he sees and holds our baby that he 'gets it', but I still can't help making the odd dig and jibe at him. Anyway, I'm sure there'll be time for another post on how I take out all my hormones on my Bloke on a regular basis so, for now, I'll leave that topic there!

Physically this week has been an interesting one. There have been definite bouts of morning sickness, though mostly not in the mornings. Mine are definitely linked to hunger. I am still ridiculously hungry, virtually all the time and find that, if I don't eat the moment I feel hungry, I feel really nauseous until I do eat. Lunchtimes have been the worst, though it has happened in the morning and evenings as well. I am also being very picky about what I eat.. I have been mostly eating chicken and potatoes/rice this week in a variety of combinations! I have also ordered takeaway a couple of times because I'm sick of trying to work out what to eat and cook it myself. Oh, that reminds me... one of the things that sparked off my fit at my Bloke... him saying that he didn't mind not going out to dinner if I didn't feel like it because he has to eat out all week in Seoul. Great, I said.. he could cook us something :) The response of 'I'm not spending my time cooking!' didn't go down very well and initiated many complaints about how he should want to take care of me at the weekends because he's away all week and I have to do everything myself whilst feeling sick. Ah, what memories!

Besides the nausea, I've also been having a few little twinges at the sides of my belly in the last couple of days. I'm hoping that this is my uterus stretching and making room for the little one. I'm also hoping that all these things combined might indicate a little growth spurt and give us something 'real' to see tomorrow at the scan. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Hormones from hell...

After re-reading my last post and reflecting on my behaviour overall yesterday, it's become clear that it was not a good day for me yesterday! After the ultrasound I spent the rest of the day (till mid-afternoon at least when we went to the cinema) either in tears or really angry and snapping at my Bloke. He didn't know what to say that wouldn't make me cry or get angry, so didn't say anything. This just got me more frustrated because, somehow, I wanted him to be able to make all my worries and concerns disappear and he just couldn't and can't.

Once we'd watched a fun movie (including a little nap for me), I did feel better and I'm feeling better again today. I'm still disappointed that we couldn't see more on our scan, particularly seeing some of the other blogger's pictures that are at around the same stage as us. But I am trying to be positive, take solace in how happy the Doctor seemed yesterday - to be honest, she looked more excited than either of us! - and try to 'believe' that everything is fine until someone says it isn't, which may never, and hopefully will never, happen.

I'm also glad that my post rung true for a few of you yesterday. As always, you reassure me that I am not alone and my feelings are not so very strange. I'm hoping that yesterday's outbursts were partly pregnancy hormones, but I know they were stress-linked as well. In some ways, I wish I had more symptoms to reassure me, but I recently realised that I am still going to acupuncture designed to relieve symptoms!  I guess that's about as logical as I get right now! I'm still feeling very hungry, pretty often. My Bloke described it as 'hungry to the point of distraction' meaning that I can't do anything or think about anything else until I've eaten. I also feel a bit nauseous if I get hungry. I'm hoping this is a good sign though I always wonder about it being 'imagined'...

This morning I went to the ER as usual for my Sunday morning shot. The nurse who speaks English was on duty and remembered me from previous visits. She asked if I was having all these shots to keep my pregnancy. Then she said 'You tolerate a lot of pain to have a baby'. And for a moment, I felt maybe a little proud or maybe just pleased to have someone acknowledge all that I'm going through (and that so many of us are going through) and I thought - Yes, I am and every shot and scan and poke and prod is worth it. :)

Friday, 27 May 2011

1st ultrasound

Today has been a strange day so far. I woke up freaking out about our 6 week scan this morning and actually started crying during the 3 minute walk to the clinic. I tried to explain to my Bloke that, despite our 'success' so far, I will still be worried, at least until we get to the 2nd trimester. He didn't really get it, as I'd anticipated. He said that we have to think positive and if something does go wrong, we'll try again. Needless to say, at that point, that was not what I wanted to hear!  I pulled myself together a little and we made it to the clinic.

And the scan went well. But I feel like 'well' describes it perfectly.. it wasn't amazing or mind-blowing or life-changing. I could barely see anything. I saw a black circle surrounded by a white ring. We couldn't see anything inside it, but the Doctor was perfectly happy. She said they only see heartbeats 50% of the time this early on and, in some ways, I'm not surprised... the ultrasound machine doesn't seem to be as high resolution as others, judging by the photo she gave me and those I've seen on other's blogs. So, when I should be over the moon at the implantation being in the right place and that the Doctor is now weaning me off the progesterone and other meds, so must be happy with my progress, all I can think about is that I wish I could be one of the 50% who could see a heartbeat. How ungrateful and wrong is that?!

Our next ultrasound is in just over a week, by which time I'll be 7 weeks 3 days. Until I see that baby in there with a heartbeat, I still can't relax completely. When will this start getting easier?

2ww?.. How about the 12ww?!

Tomorrow is our first scan - I will be 6 weeks and 1 day. And, as ever, I am getting more and more nervous as the day approaches. I'm feeling physically fine - I dither between feeling that my current relative lack of symptoms is good or bad but, logically, I know it doesn't really mean anything.

My Bloke thinks I'm crazy for being worried at each stage of this journey.. the 1st and 2nd betas, this upcoming scan... and that's even though I've managed to keep him pretty isolated from my craziness - partly due to him being in Seoul Monday-Friday and partly because I don't know if voicing my fears will help my state of mind or hinder it. Would it help to tell him all the things that could go wrong? Would it help to warn him about ectopic pregnancies, missed miscarriages and stillbirths? Would it help him understand why I still can't relax and accept that this pregnancy will actually lead to a baby? Or would it just result in two of us worrying all the time? Not that I'm a nervous wreck... I'm not. I just can't really relax and enjoy this pregnancy yet.

I'm finding it hard to plan. We need to schedule our move from China to Korea and I'm finding it hard to commit to a date. I've decided not to fly at all before 12 weeks so that's our current timeline, but part of my brain is still calculating whether, if necessary, I could fit in an FET before we leave, if we just delayed our departure a little. I haven't said this to my Bloke... he definitely would not understand this kind of negative outlook. For him, we had a goal and we've achieved it. Now it's time to move on to the next goal.. a new home for our new family.

So I've been wondering, do non-IFers who conceive naturally feel any of this? How can they remain calm when they have to wait until 12 weeks for their first scan?! It's seems absurd that you might get that BFP at 4 weeks and have to wait another 8 weeks for any real examination/confirmation.. it seems that most places in the UK don't even do a blood beta if you want your pregnancy confirmed, just an HPT.

How lovely it would be to spend these 8 weeks assuming that everything will be OK...To start picking names and designing a nursery. I'm still holding off on buying a pregnancy book and a belly band until after this scan - I just don't want to jinx it or something. And I'm not even superstitious!

Or maybe all women feel like this after seeing those 2 lines. Maybe non-IFers just don't know about the extra monitoring we receive or they would be asking for it too!

I hope this post hasn't come across as too depressing and negative. I'm not spending my days wracked with fear - I've spent most of today watching crappy TV and loving every minute! But those worries just won't leave me completely alone, particularly with such a big milestone to come tomorrow...

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Happy Birthday to me!

Before starting this post proper, I'd like to say that I am not usually an attention-seeker, at least as far as my birthday is concerned. I rarely do anything special and don't demand an array of presents, unlike some friends of mine!  But if I can't mention my birthday on a blog which is entirely about me and my life, where can I?!

So today I am 34. Birthday activities so far:

  • Breakfast in bed (made myself as my Bloke is in Seoul) whilst opening a few cards
  • Trip to clinic for injection
  • Emergency visit to H&M to buy something that fits me... I am absurdly bloated, partly from the IVF and presumably from fluids/gas. Anyway, I have a couple of pairs of linen trousers and some skirts that I can get into, fine for the summer. But I woke up to a colder day today (temperature has dropped 20 degrees C in the last 3 days!) and realised I had no pants I could do up.  I managed to button some combat pants on the wrong button but couldn't zip them up, so had to cover and hold up with a long top. I'm reluctant to buy maternity pants - it just seems too early, both physically and mentally/emotionally. I'm still getting used to the idea that this pregnancy is real and hopefully here to stay... Anyway, in the end decided that a couple of long tops/shift dresses worn over leggings will probably be OK. Tried to stay away from anything too 'smock-like' as that is not my usual style and people could start getting suspicious!
  • Lunch by myself at one of my favourite restaurants, having my absolute favourite greek sausage dish. I could eat it all over again just thinking about it :)
  • Nap at home after lunch
  • Now just waiting for the removals company to come round and assess how much crap we have to move to Seoul.
Hope that doesn't sound like a bit of a sad day!  I have a lunch with friends and book club evening planned for tomorrow and that's enough of a celebration for me.

Now back to something I mentioned in my last post... telling my siblings. I had decided not to tell my older sister and brother yet.. it's still so early and it seems too soon. My little sister lives with my Mum, so she knows, but will not say anything. They all know about our IVF, but only my Mum knew the schedule. Then I realised that my big sis usually calls me around my birthday. I remembered this when our home phone rang on Sunday night (a rare occurrence!) and I couldn't hear anything but echo when I picked up the phone. This could only be my sister having technical trouble! I panicked and turned off my mobile phone quickly as she was sure to try that next. I felt a bit stupid after in case it was just a cold call, but then the email arrived Monday morning - yes, it was her and which number should she try me on to wish me Happy Birthday?

That means I have a choice - lie or tell the truth, as she will inevitably ask about the IVF. This is a more complicated decision than it sounds (isn't anything involving family!). My sister is in her early 40s and single. It would be a cliche to say she's been unlucky in relationships... this is what I would've said in the past, but recently it's become clear that she is suffering from some level of depression and is struggling to come to terms with her life, both now and her past. Some of her angst is related to our childhood. That really is a saga long-enough for a week of posts and I can't be bothered going into it now. In a nutshell, we didn't suffer any hideous trauma, but my sisters and I are all in-fact half-sisters and we didn't have a stable father figure around for most of our childhood. I've dealt with my Daddy issues over the years and have realised that parents are just people, equally entitled to make mistakes as anyone else. But it seems my sister hasn't and still blames our Mum and her Dad for not having the picture-perfect upbringing. Somehow, she also seems to think that I had and have the perfect life. This despite the fact that her Dad is still in her life (however imperfect he may be), whereas I've had no contact with mine since I was 18 months old.

Imagine then her feelings as I met my Bloke, fell in love, moved overseas, found a vocation and eventually got married. Over the years I have faced some anger and resentment from her, sometimes hidden, sometimes more open as her mental status became more unstable. I have dealt with it, knowing I am lucky to have the life I do, though I have had my struggles to get here. In some ways, the infertility seemed to almost start to even things up between us - 'at last, something in my life wasn't perfect!'. But she wants children and is aware that her time is running out (her words, not mine). So, in the end, I still 'win' because at least I've got a husband to have fertility treatment with!

So how is she going to deal with my news? I had planned to tell her in an email, followed up by a phonecall once she had time to process. This is how I've liked to be told when a friend of mine got pregnant and I think the situation here is the same. But if she calls, I will have to be upfront. I can't lie. I would have to do it outright and there's no way I can do that. So I guess really, I have no choices. But that doesn't stop me being afraid of seeing her name come up on my mobile phone.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Radiation shields and keeping secrets..

Thanks everyone for your lovely comments on my 2nd beta :)

This post is a bit mixed in terms of content, some of it makes slightly difficult reading, so just wanted to give you a heads-up...

My partner in pregnancy was also at the clinic on Saturday getting her 2nd beta (this is the girl who had her collection and transfer at the same time as me). I was a little surprised to see her already wearing her maternity smock. But in China, this is not uncommon. As soon as women get pregnant, they begin to wear a 'radiation shield' smock.

There is some debate about the make-up and purpose of these delightful items of clothing. At first, I thought they were worn to announce your pregnancy to the world and encourage people not to push and shove you on the subway/bus. Also, it makes it more likely you'll get a seat on public transport!  But people have also told me that they are made of some kind of metal fibre that protects the wearer from radiation.. imagine the lead aprons they wear to shoot X-rays. I've done a web search and there does seem to be some evidence to back this up... evidence that they are sold as radiation shields that is, not that they actually do anything!

But this all got me thinking about announcing pregnancies. It's clear that, here in China, lots of people do not keep this secret to themselves until the 2nd trimester. It's public information from the start. This is backed up by an awful example of an Chinese ex-colleague of mine (CAUTION - sad story ahead). She and I were supposed to attend a meeting together one day. She sent me a text message saying she couldn't attend, because she'd had an abortion and would be off work for a week. Once I picked my jaw up off the floor, I presumed that there was a translation problem and she meant a miscarriage - after all, she was recently married and I knew she wanted children soon, though I hadn't known she was pregnant. I was surprised for her to share something so personal and as it turns out I had presumed wrong. I later found out that there had been a problem at a scan and she'd been advised to end her pregnancy. This was backed up by her email auto-reply, also stating that she'd had an abortion. I was horrified.. horrified at what she was going through, but also that it was now public knowledge all around our large company and possibly to external clients.

But should I have been so shocked? Should the biggest events of our lives, whether happy or sad, be kept from others? Why do we choose to keep this particular secret, yet other societies clearly don't? Does it come from living in such close proximity to one other in countries like China, where privacy is hard to find and not necessarily desired? I mean, in the olden days (and still in some parts of the world), several families lived under one roof and 'bodily functions' such as sex, just went on under the cover of darkness, not in a separate room. 

This doesn't mean I'm about to run out and buy my smock (though I have considered wearing one to my clinic, because seeing them seems to give others hope)... I'd not even planned on telling my siblings or my Bloke's parents yet, though that might be difficult to avoid this week for reasons I'll explain in another post. But this certainly got me thinking...

Saturday, 21 May 2011

2nd beta :)

I'm back from our second beta HCG and it's looking good at 2835 :)  This is a doubling time of 41 hours and well within the average figures for 5 weeks. The Dr was happy with this too. She knows me well now and, once all the IVF girls' test results were handed to her by the nurse (they all come back from the lab together), she saw me loitering and quickly passed me my result paper - I guess she knows by now that I know what I'm looking for!

I needed this reassurance today. Most of the week has been fine but, when I woke up this morning with less sore breasts than usual, I did start to have a minor panic. I gave in to Google and it seems that it's common for symptoms to come and go. I am trying my best to stay calm and think positive, but it is still difficult.

The good news is that we get our first scan next week instead of 2 weeks from now, as originally scheduled. This is only because I don't have enough meds left for 2 weeks and I don't think the Doctor could be bothered giving me a new prescription and having me traipse around the hospital for the sake of a couple of boxes of progesterone and estrogen!  Anyway, I am very pleased that we only have 1 more week to wait until we get that extra confirmation that everything is happening as and where it should :)

Monday, 16 May 2011

Getting used to the idea

Not much to report here as I'm still waiting for my 2nd beta blood test on Saturday. I'm feeling fine and my stomach problems are finally calming down, which confirms that they were due to my overactive nerves.  I don't think I feel any different... it's so hard not to 'imagine' symptoms. Things that I might be feeling if I'm not imagining them:

  • Feeling warmer.. yes, the weather is quite warm but I generally still feel cold when I'm indoors, particularly my feet. This last week I get hot much quicker than usual and my feet are staying warm :)
  • Feeling a bit more hungry... this could also be due to my stomach feeling better and getting my appetite back, so not sure about this one.
  • Still have bigger, sore breasts but this is probably down to the progesterone shots still. This has not been helped by getting 3 mosquito bits on my right nipple (can you believe that?!).. which I can't scratch. Have you ever tried scratching your nipples? Actually, not sure I want the answer to that one ;)
I gave in and did another HPT this morning. I just woke up thinking about it and thought 'why not?!'. Pretty sure the line is darker and it definitely appeared much more quickly than at the weekend, so happy with that.

Other news.. I told my Mum the news on Sunday night. I wasn't sure whether to tell her yet or not. I didn't want to get her hopes up in case things don't go according to plan. But I'd kept her up to date on our IVF cycle and felt that I couldn't lie at this stage, because she was pretty sure to ask about it. Also I decided that, if anything did happen, I probably wouldn't be able to keep that from her anyway, so she might as well enjoy the good news. I also thought telling her was in line with the positive attitude I'm trying to cultivate :)  She was very surprised when I told her (no fancy news-breaking here... just asked her if she was sitting down before I told her!). I did point out that, since we were doing IVF, it shouldn't be that much of a surprise, but apparently she had no idea how long the whole process took, so wasn't expecting news yet. Of course, she was happy!  This will be the 1st grandchild that she is able to have in her life (long story, for another day). 

Questions from Mum and my answers:
  • When's the due date? January 21st
  • Will we still be in Korea then? Yes... I hadn't told her exactly how long my Bloke's contract was.. actually, still not sure myself but at least 2 years! You can see my Mum's chain of thought here.. any chance we'll be back in the UK by then?! Sorry Mum!
  • Will we find out the gender? My Mum has always said she thinks people shouldn't find out the gender because it spoils the surprise. I've pointed out that, when you find out at the scan, it will be a surprise then instead! She didn't really say what she thought we should do. I've always imagined I would find out and I said this to her, but I've no idea of my Bloke's opinion. Personally, I think we can hold off on this decision for a little while!
She's agreed not to tell my siblings yet if she can avoid it. We'll see how that goes! She managed not to cry until we said goodbye and then I could hear her starting to crack... aah!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Day after HCG... Revised post

Thanks everyone for your lovely comments yesterday. At a time when I've only told 2 'real-life' people (my best friend here in Shanghai and Dr F), it's so nice to be able to share my joy with all of you.

Revised post:  I'm removing my HPT picture because I've been reminded how hard seeing them can be on others. Thanks again for your comments xx

A couple of people suggested, very sensibly, that I could go to another hospital and get a beta blood test mid week. This is definitely possible.. I could go back to my expat-type hospital and get a test there, but I don't think I'm going to. Why? Well, I'm trying to start as I mean to go on and take a relaxed, positive approach to this pregnancy. I had a freak out on Thursday (before even knowing I had a BFP) about all the things that could possibly go wrong and I know I can't spend the next (hopefully) 9 months like that. So maybe I should practice regaining my zen and wait... 

Today I'm feeling fine. I couldn't get to sleep last night and woke up early this morning. But how amazing to wake up and have that happy realisation that I'm pregnant :) Of course, those happy thoughts were then followed by an anxious check for potential symptoms! I'm still having problems with my digestion but the Dr didn't think it was connected to the pregnancy. So now I'm focusing on getting rid of this bug or whatever it is, so I can be sure any nauseous feelings are the reassuring symptom I'd like them to be!

At last :)

Despite the trip to crazytown and the lack of positivity in the past few days, it has happened. I got my BFP!!

This morning started out very stressful (I feel so stupid saying this now..). I woke up at 5.30am when my alarm was set for 7. I got to the clinic at 7.10am, not realising that they don't really get going till 8.30, not 8am on Saturdays. So I was first in the queue for my blood test and had lots of time to freak out whilst sitting alone (I hadn't made my Bloke get up to go with me). I had stuck to my plan of not testing, but was now desperate to get home and do that test, whatever news it held.

I basically ran home almost in tears after the test.. my Bloke was awake and asked how I was doing.. bring on the waterworks! After crying and telling him how scared I was, we did the HPT together. Watching that window was the strangest sensation. The control line was clear and dark immediately. Then I thought I saw a test line... my Bloke agreed. We watched it develop and darken over the next couple of minutes, with me repeating 'Crap, crap, crap' over and over again (you wouldn't believe I actually have a great vocabulary, would you?!). By the end of 5 minutes, there was no doubt there were 2 lines. I apologise, but I was intending to post the picture because it's the only BFP I've ever had and I still can't believe it's real. But it won't upload so maybe that's the world's way of telling me that the blog-reading public don't need to see a piece of plastic that I've peed on ;)

After more swearing and hugging, my Bloke and I just looked at each other, stunned. We decided to try and stay calm until the results of the beta came in (here, please interpret 'stay calm' as me watching Glee whilst staring at photo of HPT every other second).

At the clinic, the Doctor confirmed it "You have pregnancy". I pretty much snatched the test results out of her hand:

Beta 1: 176!

She seemed very happy with this, but then came the inevitable China moment. I don't get another beta test for a week! I can't get another till next Saturday! Can you believe that?! This actually prompted me to say the words I'd always sworn not to... "But in the UK and US...". My pleas for an earlier test were ignored. Apparently if the beta were lower then they would repeat it earlier, but as mine is considered good, it's routine to wait a week. I know that's reassuring but still.. I wouldn't mind a bit more reassurance, earlier!

So how am I feeling now? Stunned really. Happy, definitely. I don't think it's sunk in yet. I called to tell my best friend in Shanghai and have yet to tell anyone else. I'll probably tell my Mum this weekend because she knows we should have finished our cycle and I haven't spoken to her for a few weeks, as she's been away. In some ways I wish I hadn't been so open about the cycle with her, as I don't want to get her hopes up too early. I'm still considering bending the truth a little and telling her next week if the 2nd beta is OK. Because I know there is so far to go yet. I know there's so much that could go wrong. Having to wait a week for another beta and then 2 weeks until a 7 week scan will be difficult. But all I can do for now is be happy, hopeful and positive :)

Thanks so much to everyone who posted comments and sent emails saying that you were thinking of me. It really does mean a lot and makes the waiting more bearable and the joy of today even more special. I am thinking of those who are yet to see their own BFP and know how difficult these announcements can be. But I have always (OK, most of the time) taken joy from other's IFers success stories, so I hope this will help more than it hurts. That, at least, is the intention.  xxx

Friday, 13 May 2011

Brace, brace, brace...

Disclaimer... this is the post I wrote yesterday and couldn't post. Update on results coming later when we're back from the clinic... keep everything crossed for us!

Thanks everyone for your supportive comments and advice on my last post. I’ve been finding the last few days pretty tough to be honest (when am I ever anything else in this blog!). I know that this is not unusual.. Zita West has a survey of 2ww diaries in her book, where women rate their level of positivity on a 1-10 scale over the 2 weeks and the vast majority of women feel less and less positive as the days go by.  But it’s hard to cope with because, although I know nothing is different now compared to 1 week ago, that there is no less chance of me being pregnant now than then, my emotions don’t follow logic!

I’ve also been feeling off physically which hasn’t helped in a number of ways. Warning -TMI approaching…  I’ve had pretty horrible diarrhea for about 3 days which makes me not keen on eating, although I still feel hungry, when I’m not feeling a bit queasy.  Of course, I am analyzing every twinge and unusual bowel movement (not literally, in case you were wondering how far my crazy has gone…) in the hope that they are early pregnancy signs. I still rationally know it is unlikely I’d be feeling so bad, so early. I also have a nervous stomach in general and these kinds of symptoms are the first thing that happen when I’m stressed out.  And this bout did start around the time that I started mentally flipping out. So, in all likelihood, nerves are the cause and those are not going away until tomorrow at least.  But, of course, this hasn’t stopped me Googling the hell out of every possible symptom combination! And, of course, there are plenty of women who have these as early symptoms, but they are also side-effects of progesterone so, what d’ya know? Nothing means anything, as always!

As you know, my Bloke has been away nearly all week. When he went, I was pretty sane. In the days that he’s been gone, I’ve traveled into crazytown. Hence his surprise when I started crying down the phone to him last night. He hates it when I do this (we did 2 years long distance, so it’s happened before!). He hates that he’s not there to comfort me. He never knows what to say and knows that only a hug will stand any chance of making me feel better. He doesn’t understand how I’ve gone from so positive to so negative in a matter of days. He thinks that being positive and saying it will all be OK, will make it so. Failing that, he offered to buy me something nice… in this case, that’s just not going to cut it! He’s back tonight and is probably currently bracing himself for the emotional onslaught awaiting him.

Meanwhile, I am bracing myself for tomorrow. I will probably go with my original plan and POAS before getting my blood test results. At that point, whatever the outcome, I need to start calming down because my heart (in more ways than one) can’t cope with this constant feeling of panic for much longer…

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The calm before the storm.. uh, what calm?!

My calm and zen has been gradually slipping away over the past few days.. I've been busy and having fun with friends and I'm sure that's helped during the day, but my main panic moments come in the mornings and evenings when I'm not occupied and, at the moment, mostly on my own. The last 2 days I've woken up and it's all I can think about before I'm even properly awake. I wake up anxious, my heart pounding, my brain running through all possible success and failure scenarios. Yesterday I woke up so anxious that I felt sick, which then prompted a whole bout of 'morning sickness during 2ww' internet searches. I'm still pretty sure that it's physically impossible for me to have morning sickness at 7dp3dt but that didn't make any difference in the craziness that my mind is fast becoming.

This morning there is no nausea, just pure panic. I have been away from blogs for a couple of days, but woke up this morning desperate to get to the computer and find out how everyone else in their 2ww was doing.  I was so excited and happy to see Marilyn's and the Princess's tentative BFPs :)  And then the insanity hit and I've been thinking 'how likely is it that we would all get BFPs this cycle... someone has to get that BFN and it will be me'. Oh my god, typing that has actually brought me to tears. How could I have thought that I could get through these 10 short days calmly and rationally?!

So, what to do? Well, there's nothing to do, is there?! I could test early but everything I've read says that, even if the embryo/s implant, I'd only start producing HCG today and there's no way a normal, Chinese HPT would pick it up. I could test to start coming to terms with that BFN.. in some ways I'd rather get that out of the way on my own whilst my Bloke is away in Korea. But I have lunches planned for the next 3 days and I don't know how I'd cope with seeing that test result in the morning and then putting on my smiley face and meeting friends, all of whom know about my cycle and will be waiting for news.

My original plan had been to test on Saturday morning, after getting my blood drawn and before going back to the clinic for the result. I could then prepare myself for the worst in private (with my Bloke there for support), but still be pleasantly surprised if the blood shows up positive. But that was before this craziness started. Would it be better to test earlier to give myself more time to get used to the idea that this may not be the cycle for us? Or should I just delay the inevitable as long as possible?