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 ;-))