Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Peace and Quiet

Hi all,

This morning I woke to the sound of brewing coffee, the faint aroma of aforementioned coffee, and a real sense of peace and quiet. That is such a long forgotten concept for me. I've since "puddled" as Sarah put it, and enjoyed every second of it. I can't remember the last time I had the opportunity to do this... Boy does it feel good!

Yesterday we bought a percolator which is responsible for the brew I'm now drinking, and it is different brew to simply putting it through a plunger - so I'm quietly happy with our purchase yesterday - especially since it was half price!

But there's something different about this morning - it's like I felt the world stop spinning, and the hustle and bustle of regular life was a distant memory. I felt like I connected with God more deeply than usual. Maybe it was the rising sun flickering through the trees, or the deep silence that can only occur at 6am in the morning. It felt really good. 

Sarah is feeling generally better than she did a month ago - still has off days like yesterday with nausea. But we are heading towards 11 weeks, and enjoying reading through www.whattoexpect.com, it is very informative, and gives a glimpse into what is going on inside. Oh hang on, 11 or 12? It's so easy to get ahead of yourself because its so tempting to look at the next week and before you know it your looking two weeks ahead by accident... Hang on I've just got to figure it out... OK, it will have been 11 full weeks, and we will be starting week 12 tomorrow (Wednesday). Wow - the first trimester is only a few short weeks from being history... it does happy all so fast - I remember thinking some time back - 9 months is a REALLY long time to know your pregnant and have to wait for the baby! Perhaps it will pass more quickly than I thought. 


Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

It's amazing - we get to experience Christmas first in the world, and I'm only just wishing everyone a Merry Christmas - on our boxing day (26th of December). We are now at the 10 week stage of pregnancy, and Sarah is starting to feel less sick, but it does flare up from time to time. She's been VERY tired though - some days have been a real struggle for her to get out of bed! I really can't blame her for that - apparently our emby is going through a growth spurt at the moment :-)

We have flown up to my parents place for Christmas this year - the first time in many that I've had the time away from work to come up. I'm beginning to understand why many people really dislike Christmas - don't get me wrong - I'm no Christmas hater, but the stress of catering to the whims of families from both sides of the equation, not wanting to step on any ones toes, buying christmas gifts that everyone will appreciate (although I didn't get to do much of that - thanks Sarah for getting as much done as you did!), and dealing with the fact that many people feel that Christmas is more about family than anything else has started to take it's toll this year. Don't get me wrong - it's a great time to set aside to spend with family, but lets not forget that we wouldn't have Christmas without the real reason for the season - that God gave us his most special gift, Jesus. In TV programs and movies you always see the stress on people's faces, and the fact that they are forced to spend time with people they often don't get on with and make a big scene over it. It's just that I've never experienced a christmas like that up until this year. I've never been one to get too into playing mind games with what I say and how I behave - but my parents are masters - they will say one thing and mean another, and always vie for the moral high ground by strategically conceeding, and using guilt as a tool to get what they want. This year we're playing along, but not getting caught up in it. It's probably best I don't say any more cause I don't want you to think I was brought up by monsters, becasue that's not the case - they are loving and caring parents, but just like things their own way if you know what I mean.

We took the opportunity while we are here to tell family that we are pregnant, and it's been great. It's meant that we've had to tell people a little earlier than we would like, but it's the only opportunity we're likely to get to tell many of them in person. 

Anyhow - just wanted to catch up and say Merry Christmas, and hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Too Busy

HI all,

just putting in a little post to say that all is well, and that life has just found a way of being too hectic, and I just haven't been able to find the time to do my therapeutic blogging. Work has just taken over my life at present, and the time that I do have I spend with Sarah. I once listened to a talk given by Dr James Dobson entitled "Learning where to cheat". Essentially the premise was that we all cheat. It sounds pretty outrageous, but his point was that we should cheat on work before we cheat on our families - i.e. putting time and effort into promotions, or pay rises is a futile effort. Your boss may appreciate the hard work you put in, but pay rise is not going to get you back the time you missed with your wife/husband, son/daughter, etc. Now I'm not enticed by promotions or pay rises, but what I struggle to deal with is leaving my bosses in the lurch - and at the moment I think it would be touch and go as to whether the pharmacy could continue without me. It's not that I'm blowing my own trumpet, it's just that I don't think any of the potential replacements for me have got they staying power to make it work and train my replacement. Reputation is an important thing for me - not that I care too much what people think of me, but more that they know what I stand for. I've been working much more than I should be - and I need to move on. I can't still be doing what I do with the hours I currently do when our baby arrives. That's the bottom line. I've got to remember the lessons I learnt from Dr Dobson - and remember that it is best to cheat on work, than to cheat on my family...


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Scan #2

Hi all,

Sorry, I don't have time for a huge post tonight, but I'll just cover the essentials...

Just been back from our clinic, we're all real tired! My sister and brother in law have arrived back from Tonga and are staying with us, they're stuffed too! They have a delightful 13 month old child that is amazingly advanced, she's practically running, and knows so much baby sign language it's not funny!

Anyhow - here is the real reason for my post...

Our little Emby is still battling away - still has a heartbeat, and apparently the bleed that Sarah experienced last week is still in the picture (which explains the spotting Sarah had yesterday). Our specialist gives us a 1 in 50 chance of a miscarriage which is great news! But he cautioned us that we are not out of the woods yet. I have decided I don't like the woods - give me a grassy meadow any day!

We're all super wasted so I'm going to sign off now.

Take care all,

Friday, November 28, 2008


Sorry for the delay in posting - you have all been really good for us - in that you keep coming back to check how we are and send us little messages to remind us that you are there and praying for us! To put you all out of your misery - the results are all good so far.

We of course had the blood test result mid morning on Monday which gave us some hope that our embryo was still growing. And of course Sarah had prebooked an appointment with our GP that coincidentally happened to be that afternoon. And he'd managed to get us an appointment with an ultrasonographer a little over an hour later...

So after quickly blogging to update you all, we went along to the ultrasound place, and prompt;y meet someone from church in the waiting room - it was relatively awkward, but we made the best of it - It was OK cause we know the guy relatively well, and he knows about our issues with TTC. Anyhow, we went and had the scan - Sarah had been drinking water like it was going out of fashion, and she had about a litre and a half of water in the space of the hour. She was seriously about to explode! So the ultrasonographer did the usual on the belly scan, and found that it wasn't that useful, so he then had Sarah empty her bladder, and go for the intra-vaginal scan, which was a lot more promising. I'd always dreamed about the moment I'd first see our baby on a scan - we'd get pictures to show relatives, and it would be such a special moment... But sadly this was more about just making sure it was OK.  The area of bleeding was easily discernible, but significantly far enough away from where the embryo's attachment was to the uterus. As for what caused the bleed he was unable to tell us. The for the first time we got to see our embryo's heartbeat. Yes, I know it doesn't so much have a heart as it does have two tubes which flutter to pump it's blood around, but we saw it none the less! That was a truly awe inspiring moment - one which I will never be likely to forget. 

So within the space of 36 hours we went from average to good outlook -> Bleak to disastrous outlook -> to being on top of the world. 

Now we know that this by no means that we are out of the woods. Sarah has been on bed rest and taking it easy since then. Which is driving her batty! But the whole experience has given us a healthy respect for the possibility of things going terribly wrong... but I believe that God has an will show himself to be faithful - even though there are times when I fall grossly short of being the man he wants me to be. When I'm not falling grossly short, I'm just generally falling short.

And as for why I've been unable to fill all you lovely people in about what is going on - work has just been crazy over the last couple of weeks. I've not worked for less than 10 hours on any one particular day. My worst day was 13.5 hours, and I'm probably averaging about 11.5 hours I would guess (not including any breaks I might actually find time for). Did I mention that salaries suck? A salary, I've found, never works in the favour of the employee. Remember that!

Sarah had another blood test on Thursday which confirmed that things are still progressing well, with an HCG reading of 45,500. Apparently that is good for a pregnancy at just before 7 weeks. 

Oh,  by the way out due date is July 20. Amazing!

God bless you all for your prayers and concern over the last week(ish) - it means a lot!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Psalm 30

Yesterday morning at church the worship leader was quoting Psalm 30. In the rush of what happened yesterday I don't know quite how it happened, but directly after that reading was read Sarah had her flow of blood begin. I didn't recall this fact until Sarah reminded me this morning. To save you looking it up I'll quote it here...

I will praise You, O Jehovah; for You have lifted me up, and have not allowed my foes to rejoice over me. O Jehovah my God, I cried to You, and You have healed me. O Jehovah, You have brought up my soul from the grave; You have kept me alive, so that I should not go down to the Pit.
Sing praises to Jehovah, O you saints of His, and give thanks at the memory of His holiness. For His anger is only a moment; in His favor is life. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. And in my blessedness I said, I shall never be moved. O Jehovah, by Your favor You have made my mountain to stand strong; You hid Your face, and I was troubled. I cried to You, O Jehovah; and I prayed to Jehovah. What profit is in my blood, in going down to the pit? Shall the dust praise You? Shall it tell of Your truth?
Hear, O Jehovah, and have mercy on me; Jehovah, be my helper. You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have torn off my sackcloth, and have clothed me with gladness, so that my glory may sing praise to You, and not be silent. O Jehovah my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

Once the first song started Sarah got up to go to the toilet. By the second song she'd come to get me. I didn't get to see any other part of the service, but I grabbed a few people I could see who I knew would be helpful to pray for us, and we all withdrew to the privacy of the prayer room.

Prayers were spoken, tears were cried, and God listened. This morning as Sarah and I discussed where to from here, the quoted psalm came up, and I looked it up. Sarah said "Either God's playing a sick joke, or it's going to be a miracle". I asked about her symptoms...

Bleeding stopped the night before, cramping has settled down - but not completely gone. Nausea is still present and breast size has not diminished. No passing of any blood-clot like tissue. I kept thinking to myself - is there a real chance here that Sarah may still keep the baby? Again - hope is a dangerous thing! I couldn't let myself entertain the idea.

Sarah had her blood test this morning for HCG. We had the call back from our fertility clinic this afternoon at about lunch time. Sarah's HCG level was 32,000 which apparently is a good result, so by the sounds of things Sarah is still pregnant, and that maybe we are one of the ones that has a "threatened miscarrige", where bleeding occurs, but the cervix is still closed, and the pregnancy can still go to term and be completely normal. Bear in mind I said "maybe".

Sarah had a pre-booked visit with our GP here in town today, so we both went seeing as I was taking the day off. Our GP wanted to make sure that we aren't dealing with an ectopic pregnancy, as you all know the chances are that little bit higher with IVF. So Sarah has a scan at 5:15pm today (about half an hour form now).

We still need to have another blood test done on Thursday to check that HCG is still at expected levels.

So things have quietened down a little since yesterday's drama, and so far everything is looking as good as you could hope for considering what happened yesterday! That was very scary though! It makes me realise that nothing is a sure thing. Certainly not yet.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

The whole Gambit

It seems that we may be destined to experience the whole Gambit of having infertility...

Sarah started bleeding about two hours ago. Our day started off really well - some friends we hadn't seen for over a year were down to have breakfast with us. We told them our great news because we wanted to tell them in person - see their reaction and enjoy how normal couples react when they tell each other they are pregnant. It seems that they may be the last people that we tell that we are pregnant for quite some time.

We were in church. Sarah had to go to the toilet - not unusual since we'd been out for breakfast and I don't recall her going prior. I was having a great time singing along. Then Sarah came back and told me that she wanted me to come with her. That couldn't be good news. And it wasn't. We've contacted our clinic and they told us that Sarah needs to rest and put her feet up, and tomorrow when the clinic is open again they will talk to us and get Sarah to have some blood tests, and arrange for everything else that needs to happen. 

We are both devistated, but we've been told to continue to take the estrogen and progesterone. I know there is a small chance that it is not a miscarriage, but Sarah has had significant bleeding, not simply spotting. It doesn't look good. But referring to my post a little less than two weeks ago - only God can keep our embryo safe - but if he doesn't then I have to trust him that he knows best. 

Only yesterday we went up town to look at cots, bassinets, push chairs, and all those other baby things - and even a camcorder - to capture all those special moments... 

We both cry completely randomly. But just now I feel the pain, but there is a significant feeling of numbness. I think that completely without really thinking about it I may have compartmentalised myself as a form of protection from this pain. When it was obvious what the situation meant it was like my world stopped spinning. The momentum that we'd built up in believing this pregnancy would end cheerfully meant that we found ourselves being thrown against the figurative windshield in our pregnancy vehicle and we hadn't been wearing our seatbelts... Now I look around and can only see the carnage. Everything that felt right and made sense this morning is shattered glass and mangled wreckage. Someone we love and cherish - my son or daughter is possibly dead or dying, and right now I don't quite know what to do with that.

So please pray for us, and for our Emby.  There is a chance - however small - that it may be ok in the end, but hope is not something either of us feel when can grasp for at the moment. Please just pray. 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Result #2

Sarah had her blood test yesterday, and the result is a resounding BFP again! We were expecting the HCG level to be at least 1000, it was actually about 1800! So we're still on the road towards becoming the next ones in our families to have a full blown pregnancy to announce to all and sundry...

I always thought that seeing I was the oldest in my family, that I would be the first to have a baby, and then with Marrying Sarah seeing as she is the oldest, and we got married at least two years before anyone else in our families that again we would be the first. But it didn't work out that way. In real life we take last place. In a way it was kind of humiliating, very depressing, and all round just didn't seem very fair! But I guess IF is the burden that we've been given to bear. 

I had always kind of decided in my own head, but finally realised that I actually needed to have this conversation with Sarah, that if we only get one baby out of our first cycle of IVF treatment, then we will not bother with a second cycle. Not because we don't want a second of third child that much, but because we don't want to end up with more embryos than we can reasonably use. Apparently here in NZ embryo donation is not really the done thing, and people don't generally want other peoples spare embryos - I guess ICSI and the like means that there aren't many cases where the guys sperm are just completely unusable, or they suffer from azoospermia. That last bit is all speculation though. I imagine that being told that you have azoospermia would be the most devastating thing you could tell a man who is trying for pregnancy. 

Sarah agrees with me though. If this pregnancy goes to term, and everything works fine, then we will try with the remaining 3 embryos later, and even if none of them work, then I think we can be content with only one child. And from what the RE said we still apparently have a 10% chance of getting ourselves pregnant each year. So that definitely wouldn't be the end of it for us. But I'm very pleased that I'm never going to have to use another condom, or make Sarah take more oral contraceptives to ensure our perfect little lives don't get disrupted by the possibility of a pregnancy... To be honest we will jump at the chance to have that interruption in our lives at ANY stage! Just like any of you would!

I haven't blogged yet about how I truly feel about all of this - BFP's and all...

Of course I am over the moon! But it's so much more than that. For so long there has been a continual cloud hanging over my life - there were days I could feel it, and I knew it was there. Other days it was too subtle to pick up - and to an extent I'm sure that I just got used to it and just tried to deal with with it as best I could. But it was slowly sucking the life force out of me - it was something I couldn't change, no matter how desperately I wanted it to change. It kind of felt like we were treading water, and every now and then someone (just for kicks) would hold our heads under for a bit. I think that there have been several significant moments for me in this whole journey. Moments when the fog lifted - even just for a second, and I felt incredible relief that maybe there was an end in sight...

When we decided that IVF was our best shot at getting pregnant. 
When we were told that we had five embryos that were viable, and had our first embryo transferred
When we were given our first BFP On Monday, and our second on Friday

Each of those moments are etched in my mind - for many reasons, but one being that each step meant that it actually was possible, that it might actually happen! 

To those of you who have had all your favourite possibilities come true, and those who have had recent amazingly positive news - I celebrate with you, and thank God with you for what he has given you...

For those of you still looking, longing and desperately hoping for what is so elusive - I pray that your journey will soon come to a wonderful conclusion where the fulfillment and responsibilities you so eagerly long for will be granted to you by the God who only wants the best for you. 

Take care all,

Thursday, November 13, 2008

To be open, or not to be open...

One of the more frustrating things just recently (since our day 12 blood test) has been the balance between trying to tell people who are important, and trying to maintain some sort of privacy. Sarah and I have come up with some basic guidelines that seem to work

- It's always easier to tell a complete stranger that your pregnant (even at our early stage! Sarah tells me that she had told the florist where she was buying the rose from that she was pregnant before she had told me! Not that I mind, I just think it's funny!)

- That close friends who have walked with you along the way deserve to know, and that they generally respond in ways that make you pleased you told them.

- That family tend to be the most curious, and as a direct result of this, ask a number of inappropriate and personal questions to try and get you to confess to being pregnant or not.

- That previous point causes the most grief between us and the rest of the family, because we want to announce to the whole world we are pregnant and be overjoyed with excitement... but we can't afford to be too eager... as a high school friend of mine once coined the phrase "Hasty boys get lashed".

How many couples know two weeks after conception that their embryo has implanted and have a pregnancy that can only be detected by specific laboratory tests on your blood? The answer - only people who have incredibly regulated cycles, or people going though IF treatment. 

The thing we've found best is when someone simply says "We're praying for you, and hope all is going well" - that leaves us with the chance to tell them or not tell them, and it's completely in our court. 

We've had quite a public showcase of infertility and IVF, and perhaps been a little naive with how we've approached allowing everyone to know what's going on, but I don't regret having been that up front, it's just that during this time we want to keep some things to ourselves, and it's not that easy when things actually go right for a change!

So anyhow, we're still over the moon, and waiting with baited breath for the results of tomorrow's repeat test to confirm what we were told by Monday's test. If that is a positive result too, then we'll be heading back to our IVF clinic early December for our first ultrasound scan! Woo Hoo! I'm not sure exactly what they want to look for, but I'm guessing that the only thing they would be likely to be able to tell is whether it's a multiple pregnancy or not. If anyone knows feel free to comment.

OK, enough rambling... 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm trying to get used to the idea...

Thank you to you all for your lovely messages of support! Yeah, God is SO GOOD! And yes amazing things are definitely happening! It's mind blowing to imagine that God is litteraly weaving together cell after cell inside Sarah. It is unfathomably complex, yet so ordinarily commonplace that no one really thinks about it... If my calculations are correct (they probably aren't but it's cool anyway)our embryo now consists of approximately 64,000 cells... Whoa! Again, thanks all for your support. If my story has been any use to any of you then that's awesome, but what's more important is that you have been of tremendous help to me. You all have a special place for me :-)

Don't worry S4S, if you rmember Evan Almighty where Evan does his little victory dance, just imagine that. That's how I feel right now! Yeah, dispite the potential for things to not turn out like we hope - we are soaking up the joy. It is such a pleasent place to be in comparison to where we've been for three and a half years.

Our God is an awesome God!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I can't think of a title...

What a roller coaster! I'll start from where I left off in my last blog...

It's Saturday night, and we are more convinced than ever that yet again this cycle is going to be a flop at best - disaster at worst. Sarah feels that she is continuing to deflate, and her tummy pain is continuing to be a problem on and off during the day. Like every night, we pray that God will help our embryo to continue to grow and implant.

So Sunday morning rolls around. We go to church and our pastor happens to be talking about the Israelites freedom from bondage and slavery in Egypt, and in particular the point where Moses and the rest are hemmed in by the red sea and Pharaoh's army. He talks about those "only God" moments where the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire protect the Israelites, and then the miraculous happens and the red sea parts for them to cross to the other side. At the end he invites people who are struggling with feeling hemmed in and confused and struggling with life issues to come to the front during the final couple of songs. Sarah went forward, and I knew that we had to - I just typically didn't particularly want to. I'd heard her sniffing right throughout the service but keeping it discrete. Now there was no option of being discrete. So in tears we both sat at the front with various others who had their own issues. We (I) sang through the songs, and we cried through the songs too... The songs were really fitting - The desert song ("This is my prayer in the desert...") and You came to my rescue. There were lines like "I am emptied, ready to be filled again", and the like which really got me going... And at the end of the service (with no where near enough tissues to have gotten that far!) our pastor came and knelt in front of us and just gave us both a big hug. He knows our pain. He knows that tomorrow (Monday) is the day we find out what's really going on. I had to hold on to my sobs of mental and emotional anguish cause the whole congregation was sitting behind us - many of them probably watching us (I suppose it doesn't look that good when an elder gets up the front after an altar call of sorts!) He prayed with us and was of great comfort. He asked us where we were at with everything. For me it's not about not trusting God, or shaking my fist at him and asking why, I know he has things planned down to the day and the hour that our son or daughter is born, it's just that I'm incredibly sad that it's not here and now. He had his wife pass away suddenly about four years ago and so he knows all about grief and the process of dealing with it. He led some seminars a few years ago about his experiences and the lessons he learned. I asked him if he had any planned in the near future - and it seems he is considering doing them again - because there is always new griefs being experienced every day.

After that one of the support team leaders came up to us and said that he felt God leading him to tell us that we would have a prayers answered soon. I kind of took that with a grain of salt and almost dismissed it as someone just trying to be genuinely helpful, but nothing could change the way I feel at the moment. I won't be counting my chickens till the hatch so to speak.

So the rest of Sunday was a very quiet and subdued day. We stayed in and just enjoyed being together. I am more certain than not that this cycle is going to be a failure. I'm mentally preparing myself for the looming prospect of the death of another of our embryos...

On Monday morning Sarah had her blood test anyway. Throughout the morning it is always there in my mind - like a splinter... I went for lunch and did my usual wander around one of the scenic routes through town while listening to Jars of Clay - Much Afraid album. with particular attention to songs like Much Afraid, Frail, Tea and Sympathy and Fade to Grey. During my walk I struggle to keep my composure, text some close friends who know what we're going through and ask them to pray for us, they say they already are, and I begin to think - "hey what if?", but quickly tell myself that I can't afford to think like that - I've done that before and regretted it big time! But it's a pleasant thought. If even for a moment - which is all I allow myself.

So I get back to work hoping for a message to call Sarah or something! But alas no. Then out of the blue one of the shop girls tell me that Sarah is here, and I spot her peeking around the front door of work. Needless to say - my heart skipped about three beats! I dropped everything, and went to meet her. She's holding a single pale yellow rose, and has a card obviously for me. And she's smiling kind of coyly... "Is that a smile on your face??!!", "Yes!". So I open the card and it's got a mummy and a daddy rabbit on the front looking dotingly on as their baby rabbit sleeps". On the inside it says "HI Daddy, Love from Emby & Mummy. We love you! xxx". We hugged... and cried... and shared I love you's!

I have often thought about how it would be to be told that we were pregnant, and I can honestly say that in the moment, everything just happens, there's no amount of planning that you can do to have it all come out the way you want it to...

So we are two weeks into our first pregnancy - at the moment classed as a chemical pregnancy because it can only be chemically detected at present, and we are hoping and praying that it continues to grow and develop healthily.

We went and saw our pastor that evening to tell them the great news, and he and his wife were overjoyed with us.

To all this I can say that "only God" could have got us this far - especially considering the negative feeling we were getting from Sarah's symptoms. So we have a little bit of miracle in our own lives - and everything we have ever hoped and dreamed of has started to come true.

We are by no means out of the woods yet. There is still plenty of opportunity for things to go wrong in the next 9 months, but we are quietly optimistic, and feel like we can afford to be just a little bit jubilant.

As Searching for Serenity just said in her last post - I will always be an infertile - this struggle is something we will no doubt have to go through again to have any subsequent children, but that is fine. Infertility is not something you just get over by having one positive HCG test - there is a long road ahead. I pray that all of you who read this and have suffered like we have will come to this point in your journey and have everything change for you in an instant, like it has done for us. The scars of the last three and a half years of journeying will be with us for a long time, but no matter how this "chemical pregnancy" turns out, we know God is working out his plan for us.

Only God could have got us from where we were to where we are. Only God. Thank you - You know how much it means, you've seen every tear drop, heard every prayer, and by your grace given us more than we deserve. Thank you God.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Waiting, waiting, waiting...

Our day 12 pregnancy test is due on Monday. Waiting and wanting! I've discovered though that trying to convey an even remotely positive view on things may have caused Sarah to feel like I didn't understand how she was feeling, and that I may be taking things too lightly. I think I've managed to reassure her that is not the case! But Sarah tells me that she is experiencing abdominal pains akin to period pain, and that it has been happening for three or four days now. Apparently this is precisely what happened last time - and we all know what the end result was from that. On top of that Sarah's getting that deflating feeling - you girls know what I mean. 

So neither of us are feeling particularly positive at the moment - in fact we're both expecting period bleeding any time now - sometimes it's just easier to be pessimistic and expect the worst. I really wonder if there have been any studies out there to see if psychotically optimistic people get pregnant more frequently than entirely balanced, normal and rational people who have the occasional twinge of pessimism when all the evidence points to a failed cycle. Does it really make a difference? Optimism takes so much extra energy at times like this - not to mention the fact that it is dangerous to be unwaveringly optimistic if a result in the negative is so emotionally charged. 

Anyhow we are off to an election party at a friends place - yes we too in NZ have had our election today for our prime minister. We're hoping for a change. But I digress .... 


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Where is God when it hurts?

Hi all!

I just started reading the book with this title from Phillip Yancy. Only read the first chapter, but it's already starting to resonate with me. Don't get me wrong - neither me nor anyone else I know is currently dying of cancer or anything equally traumatic, but this infertility thing is sure taking it's toll. In the first chapter Phillip talks of a friend of his that had been diagnosic with Hodgkin's Lymphoma and was undergoing treatment in the forms of chemo and radiation, and he talks of some of the christian friends of hers that visited all with differing ways of trying to help her through her time of suffering. Some were like "wow what did you do wrong to cause God to smite you like this??!" (don't worry, I'm paraphrasing - any friend that said that should be struck off the list!), or "Don't worry - God's got an awesome plan in all this and if you praise him through it and trust him he will reveal his purpose anad all will be well", or "Just believe and have faith and you will be healed!". As you can imagine none of these responses was really what she needed to hear, or very helpfull. 

Yes she was eventually cancer free, but how should we be supporting our friends/family that go through similar things - or I guess in our situations - how should our friends/family be supporting us through infertility and it's related issues?

As I said - I've only read the first chapter so I'm not expert (YET). But it strikes me that maybe the answer resides in solidarity and just listening to people when they are struggling like we are. Of course I'm a guy, and every guy has a pathological need to fix things. Often these outbursts of helpfulness are completely inappropriate and as I said - pathological. Maybe the best thing we can do for each other is just be there - and I think that's why this whole blogging thing has been really helpful for me - cause I know you guys are out there reading my musings and posting messages of encouragement when you feel led to. 

I think that my family particularly feel a little left out and maybe even shut out of what we are going through. I mean parents in particular - because we tell them very little of what is truly going on. None of my family will ever read the words written here for a number of reasons, but mostly because we know that they will want to help too much, they will want to smother us with affection, understanding, and share the grief. The truth is that you have to let someone into that circle of trust, they can't burst onto the scene and exepect that you will appreciate their words of wisdom and advice. Maybe there is some latent rebelliousness that didn't get expressed in my teens or something. It's just that every time they have come to us with a view to help us through this process it's sounded very much like one of the previously mentioned friends who had all the answers, but none of the tact. 

I initially promised myself that this blog would focus more on the musings and issues that we faced rather than the physcial journey of where we are at blow by blow, but I'm realising that it's too difficult to seperate the two. 

Sarah has just finished her two days of imposed bed rest after the transfer, and after being thoroughly bored to tears, she discovered that she could have been reading "Where is God when it hurts?", so was a little annoyed that she'd spent so much time doing nothing!

Thank you guys for wishing me a good nights sleep - I think I've really had no option but to sleep well cause I've been too tired. But this morning was blissful - the Saturday morning sleep in was great! Although the only reason that I woke up was because Sarah woke me because she could tell I was having a nightmare (I'm sure I would have slept right through it to it's conclusion if she'd not woken me!), and the second time I was woken from deep blissful slumber was from a phone call from work. And after that I couldn't get back to sleep. Oh well.

So we are due for our 2ww blood test on the 10th of November... 


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm stuffed!

OK, we're back from driving 250km to and from the clinic today, having our second embryo transferred, avoiding vehicle accidents, after only having 5 hours sleep because of the work I had to do till 2:30am to ensure there was less pressure on the rest of the guys remaining at work today... did I say I was stuffed??!!

As you know frozen embryo's can experience damage either as a result of the freezing or thawing process. We had decided that if greater than 25% of the cells we damaged then we would have a second embryo thawed and have them both transferred. As it happened our second embryo was undamaged by the process, and I'm told that the chances of it working is just as good as if it were a fresh embryo that had been transferred - so that's great! Now we just have to deal with the whole balancing act between hope and pessimism and hope not to go insane in the meantime! 

Bed beckons ever so seductively - and I can no longer resist!


Friday, October 24, 2008

On track...


We are on track for having our second transfer - this time with frozen embryos. with this opportunity came more decisions and consent forms... We've decided to have 1 embryo thawed. If greater than 25% of the cells are damaged then we will have a second embryo thawed and have both transferred. If no cells survive the thawing process, then we'll have another embryo thawed, and so on until we have an embryo with at least some cells surviving.

I know that there are potential lives in the balance with these decisions, but in some way I kind of feel rather numb to it all - maybe it's just that I've resigned myself to the fact that in this whole process as well as in each individual step that makes up the process - there is very little that I can do either way - to make our chances better, or worse. And in some ways (perhaps a warped and twisted point of view) it's reassuring because it means that God is more in control than I am. I find it's the things that I have the most control over that I screw up the most in life. It's always the things that I have to make decisions about that keep me up at night. If I have no control, then it makes sense in my head that God is potentially more at work - behind the scenes.

So we are another step closer to being, yet again, on the edge of our seats with a 2ww, and all the really dangerous hope trying every so hard to bubble up to the surface. It is easier to be numb - but less real. You know what I mean...

So - so far, so good.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Blessed be Your Name

It struck me just now that I really should have Matt Redman's song "Blessed be your name" on my blog of meaningful songs... If you don't know the song - you are in for a treat! If you do, then you know why it is here...

Again it stems from my reflections on the suffering of Job, and his response to that suffering. I can imagine that if this song was around back then that he would be singing it at the top of his lungs! So often I find it difficult to hold back tears when singing this in Church because it's too pertinent, too close to how I feel. Now I'm the one in danger of being all soppy!

When Sarah and I were in the town of our fertility clinic 250km away from home to have our first cycle of IVF, I had plenty of time to write a wee journal of thoughts about what was going on. I was just rereading it, and decided that I would elaborate on a point I made there. I made the statement that anguish is not a measure of unfaithfulness or doubt in God. He knows that our hopes and dreams correlate to emotions. And I'm a firm believer that he has planted this particular hope and dream deep within me, so it's only natural that I would experience deep sadness over all that has happened in the last three and a half years.

I realise now that we've been trying to conceive for about half of our marriage. Boy I wish we'd started sooner. Maybe we'd be closer or even have a child by now. We could have started sooner, but I think we wanted to get ourselves into a position where we felt confident we could support ourselves, and I think we felt that we deserved to have time to ourselves, you know, to enjoy having time just to ourselves... how things have changed. What we wouldn't give. I saw this youtube video a while ago... it says it all...

Another song well worth adding to the "Songs with Meaning". There's nothing I wouldn't give...

A friend and I had a conversation over lunch last week in which we wondered out loud to each other about the possibility of putting adverts in our local paper simply promoting adoption as an option for people considering abortion. It's apparently against the law to advertise in any way to encourage women to give up their children for adoption etc. The reason it came up was because in our district in NZ, something like 3 adoptions occurred in a period of several years (I don't know the exact figures, but it's single figures anyway). Do you know how many abortions there were in NZ last year? The figure disgusts me. over 18,000. If even 1% of those pregnancies had been carried to full term, and adopted out, then not only would 180 lives have been saved, but 180 families would have been blessed with one of the greatest blessings imaginable. It breaks my heart...


I'll do my crying in the rain...

I found this song and posted it to my "songs with meaning".

I had a meltdown of sorts today. Took the day off. It wouldn't pay to go to work in tears and convulsing uncontrollably would it?

Sometimes life can just get too much. It's happened once before a couple of years ago, had to take the day off then too. I don't have to explain to all of you how something like this comes to happen - you know how it happens. Don't worry, I'm not losing my mind or going crazy or anything, just profoundly sad. I know we are about to start another attempt, but that just means we are again on the cusp of either profound joy or more profound sadness. Simply telling myself not to think about it doesn't do any good.

I watched a number of youtube clips this afternoon with an infertility bent to them. The one that got me was this one

My reaction will be similar in some ways, but I will not be able to stop crying. This is something I've waited my whole life for! I'm not going to be able to contain the emotion of that moment. I also watched various videos of parents being told that they were going to become grandparents. Most people chose to do it by wrapping some item of baby clothing, and it struck me as kind of odd, but I get it. Of course the Grand mother to be bursts into tears like she's just been told sh'es got cancer, and the Grand father sits there with a smug smile - I'm sure he's reacted more jubilantly during his favourite sports game! Both reactions kind of grated on me - perhaps it's just that our journey has been kind of private from our parents because their reactions are difficult for us to deal with. I know my Mum is going to burst into tears (my Dad might too), but it's just that this has been our journey, and though they went through some hardship trying to have me and my brother, I've always felt like they feel that they have all the answers - if only we'd listen! I still remember the time that Mum tried to tell us that all we needed to do was practice the natural family planning method in reverse - this when we are two years into our journey, and seeing an IVF specialist who has told us we have specific issues that need to be dealt with.

Anyway - today is a day to mourn properly. My problem up until now has been that I've not had a decent chance to do it. "How do you grieve for something you never had?" I have asked myself. My answer at the moment is - just the same as any other type of grief - you cry, your mourn, you shut yourself away and let it out. That's what I've done today. And I don't regret it one little bit.

I know God is with me. I'm just trying to allow myself to be broken the way God wants me to be broken. This isn't self pity - this is me trying to let the grieving process happen.

Take care,

Saturday, October 18, 2008

IVF cycle 1 round 2

This Thursday we have to travel 2 and a half hours to our fertility clinic for an ultrasound scan of Sarah's uterus. Sarah is currently on Estrogen Valerate 2mg three times daily to encourage her uterus lining to thicken for embryo transfer sometime the week after. I think both Sarah and I are quite relieved that we don't have to undergo egg collection again unless these four remaining embryo's don't make it. We were lucky enough to have five healthy looking embryo's after Sarah's first collection about three months ago. Sarah is quite glad she doesn't have to go through the injections this cycle. After having done them for a month and a half it's not that injecting herself is scary, but it's inconvenient - and occasionally hurts

As I understand it, in countries like America IVF is not funded, but couples have to pay through the nose for the privilege at being able to have a decent shot at getting pregnant. Here in New Zealand it is funded by the health system so long as the woman is under 40 (I think). We get two cycles (cycle ends once all the frozen embryos are used) of funded treatment. Funding stops if a baby results at any time. Still - if we did live in America I'm sure we would pay for exactly what we're getting now for free.

I'm actually secretly quite happy that I'm having a day off next Thursday. I enjoy the time that Sarah and I get to have together - with nothing to focus on but the future of our family - they are very special times. 

I find myself having to bite my tongue when talking to friends and family about our journey, because the thought crosses my mind "you should really read my blog - I communicate things so much better there", but then think - no, I must keep it anonymous! I almost wonder if it's worth having a sanitised version for family to read - but I don't think it would be worth it because I wouldn't feel free to vent my spleen on as many and varied a topic as I've become accustomed. 

Sarah had a colonoscopy on Thursday this week as she's had unexplained abdominal pain, frequent diarrhoea/constipation. Sarah had an laperoscopy to remove endometriosis just over a year ago, and there was no lesions noted on the bowel then. We have to wait for the specialist to write to our GP, who will then contact us about the results. Man - as if there wasn't enough going on!

Anyhow, I'll have an update ready to post sometime on Thursday or Friday to fill you in on how Sarah's uterus is. Oh, and it'll be my birthday too on Thursday - the scan is at 9am, so why not make the most of the rest of the day aye?!

Take care everyone,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Parent's and In-laws

I know many of you can guess the direction of this post simply from the title... 

Perhaps it's simply best to say that sometimes family can't understand. Sure they love us, and want to support us in any way that they can, but there are times especially in infertility when the concern and grief of relatives is the last thing someone suffering with IF wants. I haven't quite figured out what about IF makes us want to be separate, to hide in the shadows...

Sarah's Dad, just today, said that he and his wife had planned to come over today to share in the grief process with having had our first attempt at IVF fail. They wanted to recognise the fact that for us a life had died, and that it didn't matter that the embryo was never born, it was still a life.  I don't disagree with anything he's just said, and quite frankly no one has ever come to us and said that they understood that that's how we perceived it - so it's great that he understands that, but to be honest that thought does not fill me with a great sense of fulfillment or give me warm fuzzies...

We are about to give it a second go, I'm not saying that we are over the first failure, but it doesn't help us right now to re-live all that emotion and grief. I understand that they will most likely be grieving too at the loss of a potential grandchild - but there is a large part of me that says get off our grief bandwagon - there's only room for two here!

looking at things pragmatically, if we had managed to reach the same stage (and perhaps we have many times!) in pregnancy then no one would know - not even us. The only difference is that we know what stage the embryo was at. To be honest that is a very personal grief. Something we took almost a month to tell our families because at the time I couldn't imagine telling either set of family without dissolving in to a blubbering mess on the floor. But the time came, and we both held it together - both times... But it's amazing. at every stage when we've wanted to keep things to ourselves but really felt like we ought to tell our parents there have only been a couple of times when they have surprised us and behaved the way we hoped they would. Almost every time - the reason we've held off telling them about a stage in the path has been their exact response. Awkward silence, followed by even more awkward words. Having conversations about the ethics of IVF from those who have always made it perfectly clear which side of the fence they stand on. 

I have been thinking though... what would have been the perfect response? How would we have wanted them to respond when we've told them stuff... 

I don't know. I think that there are perhaps some issues that parents are just supposed to stay out of. I know they mean well, and want the best for us, and of course want Grandchildren! But when it comes to your own children - no one has responsibility for them but you as the parent. Sure grandparents are important and have an awesome role to play, but we aren't there yet. 

We are going to be the last ones in both sides of our families to have children. Obviously our parents desperately want grandchildren. Heck it seems that my parents have adopted Sarah's sister's kids as their own grandchildren just cause they are geographically closer to them then Sarah's parents. Actually this probably deserves special mention because it's something that I've brooded over for well over 3 years now... At the oldest grandchild's dedication I noticed on the card from my parents to Sarah's sister and her husband that my parents were calling themselves honorary grandparents! I couldn't believe my eyes! I've never made a big thing of it because obviously they don't realise the implications at our end at discovering something like that! but HELLO???!!! I guess if you are desperate enough you'll get what you want by any means necessary. Perhaps I really don't mean that... But come on... how are we supposed to take that?!

Don't get me wrong, I love my Parents and In-laws, but I guess when it comes down to it we are all guilty of the same thing (yes, even me). We very rarely see anything from anyone else's perspective, and always think that when something goes wrong it's someone else's perspective that needs to change. It's for this reason that I still love my parents and in-laws, and everyone else in the world - because I like to think that deep down there is good in us all (or at least the capacity for it), and that just because I took offense at what someone says or does, it doesn't mean that they intended it to be that way. 

Enough ranting for today??? Yeah, probably :-)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Everyone is pregnant!!!

I want to start out by saying that I don't begrudge any couple their pregnancy. I still think it is one of the worlds MOST amazing things that life can be formed within a woman and grow to become a baby which has it's whole life ahead of it - so don't get me wrong about this post...

But is there anyone out there who's still go the old fashioned inability to conceive anymore??? I mean apart from all the lovely people who are currently reading this blog of course... you guys are great! But it seems every couple I know -who at least wants to conceive - has managed to do so within the last couple of months. 

My wife and I were the first couple in our circle of friends to get married. We sure as anything feel like the last to still be childless. Both Sarah and I are the oldest in our families... all her siblings have had their first and are probably considering more, and my brother and his wife announced about 6 weeks ago that they are pregnant - I think there was a point last week when in 3 days we'd had 3 couples tell us that they were pregnant.  

I must say though that people are generally doing a very good job of announcing their impending bundle of joy in a sensitive way.  But a lot of the time when we get annoyed or feel that deep twist of a knife between the shoulder blade and the spine, it's generally because we are just over sensitive. 

I realise that this whole thing is about give and take, and being aware of the fact that people don't really mean things to come accross the way they do if it irritates me. Perhaps there are people out there that just love rubbing our faces in it - but I tend to think the best of people unless they give me really good reason to suspect they are actually evil, nasty people.

I guess the point of this blog is just to get it off my chest a  little... And to say to God - I realise I'm a nobody, that I'm insignificant, that I'm nothing until you make me something. I want to be a father - But I'm nothing until you make me something. 

People might try to argue to that with IVF we are trying to circumvent what's natural - or even what God intended. No one's been brave enough to say that to my face, but even if they were thinking it - I put it to you like this... God can still prevent us from having our own biological child if he wants. I can't stop that. As we saw last cycle. What I'm trying to circumvent is the curse of infertility - which I don't think is God's doing.

Take care all,

Friday, October 3, 2008

Songs with meaning...

I plan to add to my collections of songs on the right hand side. There's probably plenty of songs that deserve to be there,  but I'm taking my time picking them. Each one of them has significance for me. 

Broken - This could quite adequately describe my current feelings. Like many lifehouse songs it has that haunting sound. It asks questions, it raises doubts, and it very eloquently portrays loss and grief, but it comes back to the sure and certain faith that God is there for me, to hold me when I need him, and to heal me when I break. So I'm holding on too.

Frail - This Jars song is a classic, but has just a certain something about it - I haven't decided what to call it yet, but again its very real, it doesn't pull any punches and deals with feelings of weakness, but somehow (in my mind at least) makes me realise just how hard it is to be truly frail - truly not scared of being broken by life - because in the moment that we feel weakest, in the moment that we are truly frail and ready to give in - it is then that God can lift me beyond my own ability to help myself. It does say in the bible that when we are weakest is when God is at his strongest through us. It is at the point of true submission when we know we can't help ourselves, that God reaches down to pick us up.

Worlds Apart - again a great Jars song. I like this version because it gives emphasis to the fact that Jesus has done it all on the cross for us and truly praises him for it. I appologise that it's 10 minutes long but it is worth it. Once again - it deals with the struggle between living the life we know we should live verses the life we actually live. I'm not likely to ever be perfect in this life, but I'm just grateful that dispite my worst screw ups in life, God is willing to take that world apart from me. 

I don't think I know of any songs specifically dealing with infertility - I've love to hear them if you know of any - please let me know! I'm a sucker for songs with deep meanings!

I'm feeling a little more positive these last few days, but I fear that with all the stress the work is piling on I may have to do something about that.

I may have wondered off topic a little with this post, but the songs still have a big influence on how I deal with the here and now with infertility.

Sarah and I wait with baited breath for her next period so she can start her next round of pessaries and tablets to make sure that the uterus is all ready and prepared for the next transfer in a couple of weeks time - you guys know the drill - there's still that monthly tiny glimmer of hope to contend with (you know - while we're being entirely honest and everything ;-))


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Good Grief... Bad Grief...

Hi all,

Guys are typically more stoic than their female counterparts. We all know this. We expect it sometimes... but there are other times when grief bursts forth like a raging torrent - consuming all in it's path. Maybe that's a bit dramatic, but in many ways it can adequately sum up how it feels when it happens.

I guess there have been a couple of things to deal with in this Oddyssey of mine when it comes to grief... How do I do it? Why is it that there are times when I seem to need to grieve but it feels so inappropriate? 

I've recently been musing to myself, and a few close friends, about this and phrased it like this..."How do you grieve for something that has never been?". We all instinctively know how to grieve for a loved one that dies for instance, but I would argue that this is no different. Granted I have never known the children that we've never had, but the emptiness remains... If someone dies then we hold a funeral, and the grieving process is expected and encouraged, but this grief goes unnoticed by many - those that know can appreciate that there are times when those of us struggling for infertility just want times to ourselves, but I've found that it's only really those who have been there who are truly able to identify with this hidden grief. 

I recently had one of my staff at work approach me because the father of one of her friends had died, and she wanted to travel out of town to be there for her friend at the funeral. I had no problem with allowing this, but it got me thinking - since our first failed IVF treatment I haven't taken a day off specifically for the purpose of dealing with that grief. Should I have? I don't know. 

Sure guys deal with grief differently - in some ways I don't think we deal with grief very well at all. For some of us it's simply a matter of survival - it is by no means because we don't care! I hope that I have been supportive enough of Sarah during this process - but there are times when the grief inside is like that raging torrent I mentioned earlier. As guys we need to find a safe outlet for that, because there are many way in which we could unleash it which would be disastrous

Personally there are times when all I want to do is sit back and cry. Sob my expressions of grief and longing to God. Because only he can TRULY understand what I'm personally going through. There are other times when to be honest I think I'm just down right clinically depressed. But God has been faithful and I know that during the roughest storm of grief God has always been the light of steadfastness which has seen me through. Some may consider that a crutch - to be honest with you, that's fine with me. I need to make it through this and I think he's the only way I am going to make it. We all have to have a foundational statement on which to base all of our other beliefs - for some it's scientific method, for others it's God. Personally I think when testing the theories and theologies of the supernatural - scientific method comes gravely short of being able to qualify or quantify that realm. 

How do I deal with grief? I think I internalise a lot of it. I think a lot. A lot of what goes on in my head is much more emotional than can be put into words or expressed in the usual sense. But I think that this blog and other journaling I've done has been useful as an outlet for that raging sea - so that it's less likely to spew forth and consume anything and everything in it's way.

Of course I'd be interested in reading how any other guys have/are/plan to deal with this type of grief process. And I also think it's useful to have female input on this to because you gals have got this thing so much more sorted out than any of us guys so don't be shy to comment or point out other blogs were this is dealt with.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Where are we at now...

Hi again - just making a wee post in my lunch break - if I'm going to be honest with you, I'm home because I knew that the hard drive I ordered on line would be arriving today - and since I'd all connected and formatting now - I figure I should make another contribution to the ramblings...

I have decided that this will most likely be very therapeutic. It's great that I can talk about these things completely annoymously to a group of people who are at the very least interested in the topic I'm talking about, and most likely have had som infertility issues at some point if not currently. Don't get me wrong, I find talking to my wife is great - and it's necessary to keep each other going, but this is kinda different - this is a previously untapped resource of people who know what it's like and understand. 

So currently Sarah and I are waiting for Sarah's next cycle to begin so that she can then start on Estradiol Valerate three times a day, and also uterogestan pessaries also three times a day. After having been through the follicle collection phase previously, I don't think Sarah's anywhere near as concerned about the effects of these medications - this time it seems like a walk in the park by comparrison!

For me - the last couple of months have been quite hard. In a number of ways really. Firstly of course there is the fact that we've lost a potential life - our best chance at beating this infertility thing so far didn't work. I know in my head that this doesn't really mean very much, because it was never a "sure thing" - but it still gets me every time. Secondly there's the way that infertility has affected both my life and Sarah's. I have found that stress has become a fact of daily life for me - work isn't helping things. 

Speaking of which - lunchtime is coming to a close...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Brief History of Time

Ok,  it might not be so brief, but hopefully it will give you the picture your looking for :-)

For as long as I can recall, I have had only really two goals in life...

Get Married (WooHoo! got that one sorted!), and then have children... (umm, yeah - still working on the recipe for that one...). So anyhow back in December 2001 Sarah and I got married. We decided that it would be prudent for us to wait a few years before we seriously started thinking about kids. So Sarah went onto the combined oral contraceptive and was on that for a total of probably three and a half years. During that time one of Sarah's Sisters became pregnant with her first child. That was fine, but it sort of gave us the impression that when a couple decided that they wanted to get pregnant then they stop taking their OC's and low and behold within a couple of months women get pregnant. By this time many of our married friends were starting to have their first pregnancies - and in time we decided it was our turn.

 We might as well have kept taking the OC's because from that time until now we haven't even had a flicker of hope from month to month. There was the occasionally ridiculously late period, but otherwise no missed periods, no positive pregnancy tests, no real glimmers of hope. Now as you may have realised we are Christians, and I think that there is a perspective out there that good Christians get everything they want from God, and that life should always go from strength to strength with blessing after blessing showering down from heaven as God lavishes his love upon us... I can frankly say that has not been our experience.

The person who tells you that being a Christian makes all your problems go away, and makes life so much better, is probably missing something fundamental in their walk with God. God never promises that life will be a bed of roses, but what he does promise is that he will work through us and in us using his whole tool box - which will occasionally include pain and suffering to produce character and all those other things that he says are important for us to learn. 

Sarah has had to have surgery for endometriosis, and I've had numerous tests. Apparently with Sarah having had the surgery it essentially puts her fertility back into the normal range, however my issue is with a low sperm count, and morphological issues. Our specialist puts our chances at bout 10% per year, and so after 10 years he said we may get 1 or 2 naturally born babies. But that IVF provided some real benefits for us in increasing our chances. 

According to the statistics I've seen, each cycle has about a 50% chance of producing a live birth at the end - that includes the first "fresh" embryo that is implanted directly after fertilization, and also the subsequent embryos that are chryogenically frozen for later use. 

About 6 weeks ago we were right in the middle of our first experience of IVF...

It was exciting, scary, unbelievable... That was a very special time - we really felt that for the first time we were being given a real shot at potentially getting pregnant! Where our chances previously were negligible, they were now real! I distinctly remember the day after fertilization when Sarah answered the phone and it was the fertility clinic calling to tell us how many embryos we had. Bear in mind that up until this point we had no evidence that conception had taken place - for us this was a HUGE milestone! When Sarah got off the phone - I figured out from her end of the conversation that it had worked. I asked her how many - she said "FIVE!", I couldn't believe it! I'd mentally prepared myself for perhaps 2 or 3... we spent the next hour at least in tears of relief, and Joy all because the miracle of life had started on it's journey - and as far as we were concerned, this was the first real evidence that we would ever have kids! 

Apparently it was a good looking embryo that was selected to be implanted, and the implantation process went just how it's supposed to in the textbooks - so those were not the issue... But 12 days later we had the blood test that gives the first indication of pregnancy. Initially Sarah and I were quietly confident that this was our time, and that God would give us the easy road just this once - that he was smiling on us... But towards the end of the time leading up to the blood test, Sarah was feeling that things weren't right. I figured that she couldn't possibly know what it's supposed to feel like and reasonably quickly dismissed her apprehension. But she was right. The blood test was negative - and so we were back with both feet firmly planted in the ground. It's times like that that I feel that reality sucks. We found ourselves in a state of confused disbelief - and apparently even the people at the clinic were surprised that it didn't work. Somehow that wasn't quite the comfort I'm sure they intended it to be. 

Our belief is that there is a point at which the soul is imparted to the embryo - sometime between conception (sperm+egg=embryo), and when the brain is fully developed. I've always erred on the side of earlier rather than later. I've never felt comfortable with abortion at any stage, and that includes the emergency contraceptive (I'm a pharmacist you see - so this is quite topical). I think it is the ultimate arrogance to state that it doesn't matter because it's still in the womb. Who are we to say that a life hasn't been lost in our situation? But I know that we may very well have had this happen to us a number of times before now - but have just never known that conception had occurred. I know that if God had intended that embryo to become a live birth - then he was the only one who could do anything about it - it was entirely up to him - and it still is. 

So here me find ourselves - waiting for Sarah to complete her current cycle so that she can take the drugs which will manufacture the conditions necessary for her womb to be as receptive as possible at the correct time - so we can thaw some embryos and try again... 

I've said it to some of my friends - I feel a bit like Job... in the last few chapters he gets a little indignant and asks God to justify all the suffering that he has had to experience... God has a different approach to getting Job to realise his place in the world.  He asks Job several chapters worth of rhetorical questions like "Where were you when I created the heavens and the earth", and "Can you control the wild beasts of the earth"... basically God's saying - when you are equal with me - then I will explain myself to you - in the meantime just remember that being God means that I don't have to explain myself to you. So I'm trying to learn from Job's experience - I don't particularly want any object lessons like he had!

Abe's Oddyssey is very much in God's hands...

What is Abe's Oddyssey?

HI! My name isn't Abe, but it will do for the purposes of this Blog.

You may ask - "Where'd you come up with a blog name like that, and what is it all about?"

The long and the short of it is that My wife and I have now been trying for the last 3 and a half years to conceive, get pregnant and have children... If someone had told us 7 years ago when we got married that it would be this difficult then we would have started seriously thinking about becoming parents A LOT sooner!

This is going to be a journal of thoughts, dreams, hopes and prayers that one day - like Abraham in Genesis - God will grant us the greatest desires of our hearts. Hence Abe's Oddyssey.

Here's some info about me...

I am currently 28 (29 in October), I am a Christian, My wife (who I will call Sarah for obvious reasons!) is 27 and also a Christian. Obviously there is much to tell from our past three and a half years. Over time I've come across blogs from a number of people who have undergone IVF, and other fertility treatments, and it always seemed that they had such valid stories to tell. Mine seemed kind of boring, and I'm not sure I had the words or motivation to put it into this kind of format. After recently undergoing our first attempt at IVF the floodgates were opened (in more than one sense), and I began to record a little of the thoughts, emotions and struggles that I was experiencing. It was a tremendous release!

Thinking back to some of the posts that I've read from other bloggers, their ramblings always came across as valid, and it had nothing to do with how exciting they were. Their validity and usefulness, for me, came from the fact that they were recording a similar experience, and I felt that I had shared somewhat of their experience. So I hope that someone out there feels similarly at some point. And if I ramble then that's ok - it's likely that it simply helped me more than anyone else. :-)

I want this blogging journey to record the very real struggles of a Christian man that one day has the dreams of his heart realised (no - sorry, I'm not American ;-)). Abraham was a firm believer in the God that created him. He had been promised that he would be the father of many nations. It is easy for us to look back and with hindsight forget that there were probably decades of time that passed from the first promise from God through to the realising of that dream for Abraham. I think I can appreciate a little of what he went through thousands of years ago...