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...