Wednesday, September 30, 2009


When Monday afternoon finally rolled around, I was so nervous I thought I would burst. Half a litre of water in my system? Check. Requisition forms? Check. Directions to the Maternal/Fetal Health Centre? Check. Husband on the way? Check. I was ready to go.

We sat waiting for the loooongest time in the waiting area, and as I looked around at all of the other couples, my nervousness grew. We were first called in to speak with a nurse, who asked us questions about our IVF - apparently, they do factor that in when they calculate a woman's risk of having a child with chromosomal abnormalities. Of course, one of the reasons I was so nervous was due to the reason for our infertility - my bad eggs. Which, of course, can lead to chromosomal issues!! But in any case, following the mini-interview, we were sent back out to the waiting area once more, and waited another 20 minutes or so before they called me in to get my blood drawn. Shortly thereafter, DH and I got to go into the ultrasound room.

Wendy, our ultrasound tech, was chipper, which actually put me more at ease. But as I lay there with tummy exposed and gel slicked on, I held my breath as I concentrated on the screen. What would the scan show?

It showed a squirmy, active baby! I started to cry. All of this worrying about my baby, and here he/she was - rolling around, kicking and punching. Wendy kept calling the baby a "little turkey" and she giggled a few times as our baby continued his/her shenanigans. But her feedback was so positive - heartbeat of 153 bpm, measuring right on time. She said she could already see all four chambers of the heart, which was "...amazing..." (her word) at this stage. The stomach looked clean, the skull appeared normal and you could see its arms and legs. The best part was watching this baby move...and finally believing that maybe, just maybe, we were going to get our happy ending!

Our nuchal results were terrific - came back with a negative screen, and my risk is apparently lower than for a 20 year old woman!

I followed up with an appointment to see my GP today, who was obligated to remind us that we could have an amniocentisis, if we wanted to. She has also recommended that we go to see a genetic counsellor to discuss our risks, considering we had ICSI performed during the IVF (ICSI patients have a 1-2% increased risk of chromosomal disorders over natural conceptions). I am more than happy to sit down and learn all of the facts and risks - but I doubt we will proceed with the amnio. DH and I talked about it already - but I guess it doesn't hurt to discuss it again.

The best part about my appointment today was that my GP whipped out a doppler - and I got to hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time. Oh - music to my ears. The gentle but rapid swish, swish, swish was just amazing...I am so happy that I don't think words can describe it!

Upward and onward - will post again to let you know what the genetic counsellor has to say!


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Happy Thirteen Weeks!

Well, here we are at thirteen weeks!

DH and I will be going for our nuchal translucency scan tomorrow afternoon and I am very nervous about it. In addition to not knowing what to expect, I have been haunted by stories of "missed miscarriages" - women who have miscarried, but due to a complete lack of any symptoms (and as a matter of fact, they go through the opposite, where they continue to experience pregnancy symptoms!) they are not aware that their fetuses are no longer viable. I just hope and pray that we get good news start off with, I just want to know that our little Dim Sum is still growing, with a strong, healthy heartbeat. As well, we will be getting bloodwork done and an ultrasound to determine what the likelihood is that this child has Down's Syndrome or chromosomal abnormalities. I have been praying every night that God is keeping this child safe and healthy.

I finally made the announcement last week that I am expecting - and I was really, really quite pleased with the response. I told my teachers at our weekly faculty meeting, to which there was immediate applause and cheers - and then a line up at the end of the meeting to give me hugs. I also let the cat out of the bag with some of our parent population, and they have been very kind as well. For those who know me well, they will know that I am not a fan of being in any kind of spotlight, and as a matter of fact get a little uncomfortable with how to respond in those situations. So this will take some getting used to. But I am happy that so many people are happy for us - it would appear that our struggle to conceive hasn't been the big secret that I thought it was! A few people commented that they were thrilled for me because they know how much I wanted it and how long it took. Infertility isn't as silent as we think, I guess.

Now, for the more unpleasant comments that I have already heard...and you knew there would be some!

One mother commented (after looking at my tummy), "Are you sure you're not having twins?" (Nice.)

Another said, "Well, it's not like you could hide it anymore!" (Really? I tried so hard!!!)

And finally, a comment from one of my teachers - "We all KNEW you were pregnant, you know. We were just waiting for you to say something!!!" (Wow, talk about taking the wind out of my sails!)

I will post an update from our nuchal after tomorrow's appointment - please say a prayer for us!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Eleven Weeks Today!

I was undecided as to whether or not I should continue this blog, since its main focus was on our struggle with infertility. Speaking from personal experience, I know that it really helped to read the IF blogs of other women and know that I wasn't alone. I learned so much, shed so many tears, and smiled so many times just reading about what these brave women had gone through. I can only hope that my blog has touched others who are struggling as much. But would it be insensitive to now carry on, blogging about my pregnancy? I'm torn - the jury's out on that one. All I know is that without this blog as a medium for all of my thoughts, and without the support of the people who have read it, the battle would have been much, much more difficult.

I can't believe that I am only a week away from being done with the first trimester of pregnancy! It has been such an amazing time so far - but only because I have been blessed not to have any morning sickness at all. I almost feel guilty saying that out loud. At first, I was desperate to have it - in my heart, I thought that that was the only way I could know for sure that this pregnancy was going to be a healthy one. But as time passed, I got used to not feeling sick - and instead, took it as a sign that my energies were better spent enjoying the pregnancy everyday, not worrying about my lack of symptoms.

It was my intention, earlier on, to write about what I feel made the difference this past cycle...what was it that got us to this place? So many things played a positive factor - and I wanted to share some of them in hopes that it may help others. it goes...apologies in advance for the long post...

The Fertility Clinic - DH and I had the good fortune of working with one of the top fertility clinics in the country. According to the 2007 Canadian ART registry, Regional Fertility Program in Calgary boasted a 51% success rate, as compared to an average of 35% success rate from all other Canadian IVF centres. The best part of it was that we got to work with Foothills by default - they are the only clinic in Calgary, and as such the first clinic that we got referred to by my family physician. Call it geographical luck.
Now, don't get me wrong - this clinic wasn't perfect and we definitely had our trials and tribulations with them. From unanswered telephones to rude nurses to missed ovulations to missing files to a skeptical RE, the clinic tested our patience many, many times. But at the end of the day - they got us pregnant. And for that, we shall be forever grateful.

Modern Medical Advances - the process of IVF aside (which, as far as I am concerned, is one of the most important, incredible medical advances of the 20th century), we also benefitted from ICSI and assisted hatching. With DH's inconsistent morphology and my age and egg quality working against us, we had the opportunity to increase our chances through the use of these two techniques. Though each came with their risks, at least we were able to do them! I truly think that I may not have gotten pregnant without them.

The Protocol - part of this is tied into our Clinic and our RE. We are so grateful that they were willing to try a completely "unconventional" (word used by our RE), relatively new, off-the-beaten-path protocol with me. The Agonist/Antagonist Conversion Protocol with Estrogen Priming, created by Dr. Geoffrey Sher, was a Godsend for us. It allowed us to have 5 perfectly healthy eggs to fertilize, and even though not all of them fertilized successfully, to a woman who was told that her eggs were crap, that number was music to the ears. It was an intense protocol, with an insanely high amount of drugs, but in the end it did the trick. I am so glad that my RE looked into this protocol at my urging, and I hope that my success buoys the clinic to try it with others.

My Insatiable Need to Research - okay, this one seems a little silly to mention. But seriously, I really do think that my thirst for knowledge in my own situation helped out tremendously. It was exhausting, disheartening, frustrating, and encouraging to read all of the research papers, case studies, forum posts and websites that contained information on poor egg quality. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for any woman going through infertility to research, research, research. Knowledge is Power.

Alternative Treatments - We spent over a thousand dollars on traditional Chinese medicinal treatments, as well as acupuncture. But DH and I figured - heck, we had already spent over $15,000.00 on our IUIs and IVF cycles, what was another grand? And even though DH was skeptical, I always believed that they would be of help, and now DH is a believer, too. I worked with a very good acupuncturist and Doctor of Chinese Medicine in the months leading up to my cycle, but then decided to switch to another professional whose specialty was in treating infertility and who was reknowned for her work here in Calgary. She was amazing. Gentle, supportive and encouraging. She came to the clinic on transfer day to give me treatments pre- and post-transfer. Her positive energy was infectious. Her skill and knowledge were beyond compare. I really, really do feel that acupuncture as an adjunct to IVF is something that all women struggling with IVF should consider.
For what it's worth, I should also mention that I believe taking Royal Jelly supplements and Coenzyme Q10 helped. For those who have followed my blog, they will know I took both to improve my egg quality. I had DH taking CoEQ10 as well, to improve his sperm motility - resulting in a gigantic improvement in his sperm morphology, according to the lab results of his last sperm analysis prior to our last cycle!! He was pleased as punch!!

Hope and a Positive Attitude - where would we be without them? Even at the darkest times, I don't think that I ever lost hope that one day, this would work out for us. I prayed every night that God would allow me to be a mother - and even though I didn't know exactly what form that would take, I never lost hope that He would answer my prayers.
And speaking of prayers...

Belief in God and the Power of Prayer - our little Dim Sum is proof that God listens and God loves. I was fortunate enough to have an incredibly strong prayer network going for us - from one of the nurses at the Clinic to our parents, to our friends. Even one of the moms at school, who is struggling with a health concern of her own right now, told me last week that she was praying for me all summer! We are lucky to have so many people love us - and to have God's love with us every day.

Luck - okay, I was saying to DH the other day that when it comes down to it, luck played a huge role in our pregnancy. Sometimes, people can do the very best that they can and have the very best of intentions, and yet things don't work out for them. DH and I know how lucky we are - and we aren't taking a single moment for granted.

Phew. I think that's it. Time to step off the soapbox. But I do hope that it helps someone who may stumble upon my humble little blog, seeking answers. Know that I wish every woman out there, struggling the way that I did, the very, very best.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?


I was saddened this morning to hear the news of Mollygirl, a special lady who discovered at her 13 week ultrasound that her baby had stopped developing shortly after her 8 week ultrasound. She has suffered what is called a "missed miscarriage" and now must head to the Early Loss clinic to have a D&C.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

I can't imagine what she is going through right now. She and her husband had been trying to conceive for two years, and this baby was conceived through her second IVF. How does one go from floating on cloud nine to crashing down to earth? How does one handle the dashing of all her hopes and dreams in an instant? It just doesn't seem fair.

Reading about situations like this, of course, puts a chill through my system and reminds me just how unpredictable things can be in this world of infertility. It reminds me that I can't take one minute for granted...and that is why I continue to be so thankful to God for each and every day that we have with our little Dim Sum. I just hope that he/she is growing safe and healthy inside of me...and that my dreams won't be shattered, too.