Part 10

What a desperate state of mind I felt myself to be in, I clearly felt as if I had scraped to the bottom of the bowl. Did I have it in me to try again? Dare I even put myself back on to the torturous course of Russian roulette? The answer? There was only the next chance that would carry me towards what my heart desired, and without taking that chance; I was still in the same place as where I had originally started, ‘childless.’

It was time for round four, with still hope and renewed excitement; once again the world opens its doors to me. I found myself wondering what it would be like to be a mother and what is required to even uphold that title? I have never thought of myself as a gambler before but this was exactly how I felt about my life and body at this point.

This round of IVF we were to be using frozen embryos, we still had seven frozen. The preparations for the embryo transfer were very successful, my hormone and uterine lining were in an optimum state so to speak. So we found ourselves getting ready once more for the ever-eluding ride through IVF.

Transfer day came; here we were sitting in the clinic room ready to talk to the embryologist. The doctor had thought it best to implant two embryos this time and I was very happy to be doing this. We were very well informed that they both could work, and even more split into twins! We were prepared to take the risk. As the embryologist was telling us that we have five cell and six cell embryos to transfer, my heart immediately sank to my stomach, I had only thought that eight cell and up were of a great quality. With disappointment and without much enthusiasm I proceeded to the table.

The room where it all happened was so sterile and plain in design, I would of loved to have seen it looking a little more interesting and hopeful, maybe a few pictures of babies or pregnant woman on the walls! This would be a much more positive image to see right before a transfer. As our embryos were sent on their long destination towards possible life, I saw a luminous flash on the screen, like a little shooting star; amazed that we could even see an embryo! For in that moment this little miracle relayed hope back to my subconscious, “This is it! this could be our baby or babies.” 

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Part 9

“This is the one, I know it’s going to happen for some reason”. So back to Perth we went. Driving for three hours to get to the clinic was wearing our patience thin. Arriving at the clinic we found that all of our results were clear. Green flags had been swung in our corner this time; “This is our time to succeed, and we will!” This harvest went very well, with fifteen eggs retrieved, giving us very good chances of success. So exhilarated once again to be at this point of abundant opportunity, I was feeling very fertile this time and was elated and optimistic. Day after day we would be called from the clinic informing us that the fertilisation process and the splitting of cells was progressing normally. We couldn’t have wished for better news.

We produced really good quality embryos and we had surplus, so it was great to have some “Up our sleeve” so to speak. Usually the embryologist comes and has a brief chat to discuss the quality and the cell division of the best embryo that they think will give you the greatest chances to conceive. I always loved this part; you get so up close and personal with your possible baby as you find out the little details regarding your amazing creation. How often can someone say they knew what their baby was like before they were even conceived? So one magical embryo was carefully hand picked and the other ‘snow baby’s’, as we had begun to affectionately refer to them as, were carefully put back in to freeze. We had a fresh embryo of a very good cell number and quality. Everything looked very positive.

Then there is the long drawn out process of going through the hormone cycle. The next step is measuring the lining of your uterus via internal ultrasound every week, or sometimes twice a week, to check wheather it is at optimal thickness.

The time arrived to have my transfer, and I know I have said it before but this really is the best part of this whole struggle and journey to conceive. It seems to make everything else all worth the while when this crucial moment is reached. I recall the doctor that did the transfer that day. He was singing nursery rhymes in an out of tune manner while doing the procedure. Maybe he thought it would bring on a good omen or something, but I felt bloody stupid with this eccentric and unhealthy looking doctor leaning over me singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star! Now, having shed absolutely all my dignity there was nothing I could do but look away and hope for the best. After leaving the clinic that day I felt incredibly special to have this little surprise inside of me that no one else could see; this was our little gift and what an amazing experience it was to be able to feel the excitement that was running through me.

“Rest up, lay down and just live life normally” was what the nurses and doctors would say! I always lived on the utmost cautious side. I tried not to do anything too physical and would sit and rest as much as possible. My way of thinking was to give this little baby time to implant. It’s a long wait, with much anticipation and build-up before that final call that you so much want to receive.

I started to feel a little queasy and tired in the last few days of this cycle. “Am I pregnant?” I just didn’t know. Well the build up was so great that I soon found myself to be in a state overwhelming dismay. The phone rang and I picked it up hesitatingly, “Hello Samantha, unfortunately you haven’t been unsuccessful this time I’m sorry.” “Oh,” I said, “Are you sure? I feel really quite sick. Oh no!” I’d been secretly thinking all along that I was in fact pregnant, so at this point I was in great turmoil and disbelief. The tears flooded down my cheeks as if they were great waterfalls plummeting from great heights.

The next thing I knew we were off to the chemist. “I don’t believe this, they must have the results wrong. Maybe they mixed them up. I’m sure this happens all the time to others like me.” I said to Phil as we grabbed the keys and went out the door. To my despair the pregnancy test showed just one line, “Negative…” I was, in fact, not pregnant.

For the next couple of days I just lay on my bed in great anguish and in a state of depression. This was breaking point for me; I was absolutely devastated beyond words. I said to Phil, “This is it, I’m finished. I can’t handle it anymore.” The emptiness and heartbreak I felt inside was excruciating. It felt so painful it was almost hard to breath at times. I just felt utterly defeated, like I was separating from life itself. It felt like this experience had crushed my very essence, my soul, and it was going to be very hard to put back all the pieces that make me whole.

Part 8

Life returned to relative normality for a while with a break from the rocky emotional voyage. It was time to sit on it for a while and let things be. I always found this time waiting very hard however as it felt as if my whole life was on hold and all the while it seemed everybody else’s life was whizzing by.

The IVF doctors recommended for us to wait a couple of months after having a miscarriage and in all honesty, it is best for your heart and spirit. So as hard as it was, that’s what we did. Jumping back in too soon really minimises your chances for success and the ability to heal in a more gentle way. Fortunately I had plenty of distractions popping up all over, so I looked at it as an opportunity to reflect and just feel human again, for a while anyway.

After the recommended time had slowly passed I was due back in the clinic for my third round. What do they say? “Third time lucky”, well that’s what I was dreaming for anyway. Excitement built once more, the way it would when you were a child waiting for a birthday or Christmas to come, but even better.

We needed to start again from scratch as I had only one embryo in storage; they won’t do a transfer with only one frozen embryo as it’s such a delicate process and the frozen embryo may not survive the thawing.

Harvest time again. “Here we go…” This bit of IVF was always a bit harsh, I felt positive though, already having been through this process and knowing that our eggs and sperm like to replicate. Some couples don’t have as much luck with this bit and have to have further treatment to assist the fertilization process. We on the other hand were blessed. Ultrasound day came and we walked into the room and out again within 10 minutes. My results showed a large cyst in the left ovary; prognosis, surgery or going on the pill for three months to reduce the size.

This day was yet another blow to me. I remember going home to our brother and sister in-law’s place in such a foul mood, slamming doors, crying and generally just pissed off. The emotions just poured out of me at that point. I think I was beginning to reach desperation. I was frustrated and experiencing a huge amount of anger and resentment. I remember feeling so tired I wanted to just forget about the whole thing. “Its not fair” came to mind and although I’m not normally an “its not fair” kind of person, this was very raw and testing.

So it was time to go back to Dunsborough and wait for the cyst to subside. Polycystic ovaries were the problem, a very common ailment in women. So, what a bizarre thing it seemed, to be taking the contraception pill when I was trying to fall pregnant! The things that helped me through these hard times were reading pregnancy magazines and online IVF forums. It was very reassuring to be able to read about others going through IVF and having similar issues as myself. It was nice to finally be in a community of people who shared common ground, people who you could share your stuff with even in-between treatments, to be able to share how you were feeling was ultimately a huge unload. Some of the women on these forums would be new to IVF and others could be called ‘Veterans’. I always felt better knowing that I was a newbie; those who were older or had been doing IVF for much longer had slim chances but success was still possible for them.

It all seems like such a long time ago, yet writing this still brings back painful memories. However life is for living and creating, and some of us need a little help getting to our desired result. “Keep going” I say, “You never know what lies around the corner.”

Part 7

Well there is nothing to change what has already happened, its how you deal with what is given to you. Devastated with a deep, deep dread would be the undesirable feeling that lurched within me. No one can make this all better and wipe the pain from your heart. It is just time to reflect, to have patience and faith. The raw emotions and grief are sometimes simply too painful to bear, no matter how many people would say to me, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear your news,” and no amount of flowers could even begin to make me feel any better.

In my experience, the pain involved with a miscarriage is grossly underestimated and misunderstood. I was one of these people unfortunately that would think silly things like, “But the baby was not even born yet!” followed by, “Its so tiny how could you be so upset?” What terrible things to think. I have learned the hard way that no body else’s pain will you ever fully feel, even if you have been through the same thing because it is all perceived with independent eyes.

For some reason this hit me with a big whop!! I had so much hope, joy, love, and excitement wrapped up in this little baby, that maybe it was just a lesson that was mine to feel and grieve, so that I could begin to understand others pain. I now have so much compassion for women and couples going through this gruelling process.

I received some light counselling with my IVF clinic, which helped me immensely. My husband’s unconditional love and support was always there and for that I will always cherish him. I would not have gotten through any of this without this great, great man by my side, “Thank you so much Phil.”

I also received a bit of counselling from a friend that really stirred up some terrible emotions in me like fear, pain, uncertainty, helplessness, anger, and many more than I care to think about. This was all probably intentional but at the time unbearable to even consider. I do believe things that happen in our lives are results of our own doing and this is why it’s sometimes harder to accept the truth and move on.

Anyway move on I did. Nothing feels the same forever does it? It just feels differently over time. With the lessons of life we as humans evolve to a deeper existence. I spent a lot of time crying and talking to others seeking condolences and comfort, but in time I found that I was a lot stronger and braver and much more wise than I had ever given myself credit for.

A little something for Pia

Well its 5.30 am in the morning. I have my socks and my warm cardigan on and my coffee right next to me. The kids and Phil are all fast asleep.

It’s time for a brief change in subject. I’ll come back to my original story, but first I’d like to share a little about my beautiful friend, Pia Eleanore. The Pia that I know and love so dearly has gone from this earthly world, but in saying this I still can’t really believe it. It’s been a short while since her passing but time at this stage hasn’t healed as people say it will. Maybe I just need to let more days pass.

Pia was an incredible person with a soul that almost leapt out from her body and attached to some point on yours. Her sense of style was paramount to no other. I have never seen so many shoes, clothes or jewellery; this girl absolutely had it all. The bit I miss about her the most is the happy, positive, optimistic, full of life reassurance that she would bestow upon me. Don’t get me wrong, she had her dark side too, but don’t we all? It didn’t matter what state she was in, she was present for me when I needed her and this is a quality of a truly great friend. Pia was so full of life she ran it hard and fast like no other – it made me quite dizzy at times! I guess she had to stop at some point, most just do it when their old. Pia had this amazing smile that would stop you right there in your tracks, you couldn’t resist but try to match hers. Laugh, I have never laughed for so many hours at a time as I did with this fun loving gal. You know, when your sides just feel like they’re going to split? Well I think mine did. As much as it hurts right now to write about Pia, I know she is doing well and has our backs.

I don’t try to paint my friend as an angle or a saint. She had struggles just like the next person. This girl had a faith in God like no-one I know, and this gives me great comfort right now when I think of her, wrapped in his arms all safe and warm and loved. I think this really is what she craved most of all from her friends and lovers.

I miss the fact that I can’t pick up the phone and talk to her now. No matter what, Pia had a special ability to get in to another’s head and relate to them in a way that was shocking but innocent. We shared so many common hurts and pains and joy as well that I felt understood and known for the first time in my life. It made me realise that there are others like me in the world, because up to that point I had kept my pain to myself. Shamed and hurt and wounded we came together and helped heal each other.

It would be fair to say that role models in Pia’s earlier life were lacking, but what can be gained from having this installed early in life can still set you up for great successes. Pia reached out and gained trust, understanding, and love from people around her because she needed to feel what was otherwise lacking in her life. I have always pushed people off to the periphery because it felt safer to have them out of the way a little in-case they vanished altogether, but not Pia, she had them right there as close as you could get!! Watching this sometimes made me feel overwhelmed and exhausted, but for some reason I let her in with ease and love and have never let her go.

I watched this wonderful girl unfold into such a beautiful woman over the years, truly inspiring was her talent, generosity and mighty courage it just blows my mind. I know words don’t exactly reveal the true essence of a person, only knowing them does.

For the next part of my life I will aim to be as happy, grateful, and present as possible, to let things be as they are, and to think of all the good I have learnt from this beautiful soul sister. I am sure of a number of things that have come from all of this. Things like, we are here now to make new paths and create memories, to leave our mark on this ever changing world, to love and cherish people that step into our path no matter how hard it is – our time is here now to do this. Really that’s what is left when we are no longer; you cannot undo, change or erase things, they are what they are and there is a reason for it being that way.

My goodness P! What an amazing inspiration you are to me and to so many others. You touched more people’s lives than I’m sure you really knew. Thank you my friend, I love you forever.

PIA

Part 6

Round Two

Time to try again; “I’m not giving up yet!” I remember feeling very isolated whilst going through IVF, just feeling alone and not being able to share my stuff, people try to sympathize with you, but unless they have been there and done it, it just didn’t seem worth really listening.

In my mind all along I have the “I will achieve my goal” mentality. I had always known what I wanted and I wasn’t going to let anything or anyone stop me. That said, an unbearable amount of pressure presents its ugly head whilst undertaking something like IVF and it can be a huge amount of stress physically and most definitely emotionally.

Again, excitement filled my body and in my mind I would see images of our baby! I think I started dreaming at this point of babies and I knew then it had to be close. Once again, all went really well with my cycle. The day came to have the next transfer. I loved this bit the most because its the closest your going to get to meeting your baby before its born. All the waiting in-between a cycle feels like an eternity; its not of course, it just feels like it. Little things were brought to my attention this time, like feeling a bit dizzy & slightly more tired than usual. Was this my over-imagination doing this physically to me or was something really happening?

Phil’s birthday was the day we were getting the blood results back. How was I going to make Phil’s birthday awesome if I wasn’t pregnant? I knew I was going to be very devastated if things didn’t go according to plan.

The call came in on a Saturday morning….”Hello Samantha, your results are here and you’re PREGNANT.” OMG!!! “Really? Are you sure? Ok, thank you”…. Blur, blur, blur; what ever she said after that seem to just float away in to little bliss bubbles.

“Happy birthday Phil!” That was one of the best days of Phil & my life. “It doesn’t get much better than this does it?” I remember trying to call my mum for what seemed like hours, although it was only two. She had been out on their boat, way out to sea. I wanted to tell her the good news and this was so frustrating!!!

Whilst telling Phil’s mum and dad the good news I was laying on the bed on my tummy & thinking “I hope this is ok? I hope I don’t squash the baby!” Soon after we went off to the markets. I felt this magical super power and specialness about me. I was just so happy, the flowers and food all had an unreal richness to them, my senses were in overload.

Did I mention I was on top of the world? Every day to me felt new and special, oh, and very sick!! Good sign hey! The weekend passed, back to work Monday with a special flying step to my walk. I remember feeling so, so sick already, it was quite hard to concentrate at work, but all the while I was so, so happy I didn’t care how sick I was – this was mine to bear!

Tuesday I felt very sick at work. Then, all of a sudden the sickness disappeared in a flash. “That’s ok. I’m just feeling better.” I went home that day feeling a bit strange but otherwise ok.

Wednesday morning I woke up to some red spotting – ALARM BELLS went off in my head. My instantaneous negative side approached me so fast there was no way I could think any differently. I was on to the phone to the clinic and they said not to panic and that this was quite within the realm of normal. My heart told me differently however. No matter what I tried to think or do would change this horrible situation.

As the week progressed the bleeding kept getting stronger and stronger, and I knew the baby was gone, I just didn’t have that special feeling around me anymore. “This can’t be happening! No-one would give me this baby and then take it away within the week would they?”

I went unhappily to a family gathering on the Saturday and I remember just wanting to go home and bury my head and hope for the best. I went off for some acupuncture that afternoon & felt a little better, although I knew the inevitable that lay inside me- my baby had died on that Tuesday & I could pinpoint the precise moment…

Off to the clinic for bloods and an ultrasound which confirmed my greatest fear with the most devastating news.

Part 5

Driving back from Bunbury to Dunsborough that day I think I knew it didn’t work. Feelings of despair and depression crept in through a little hole to my soul. Life felt hard and unfair to me; I wanted a baby so badly and all this waiting was driving me crazy! The phone call confirmed my fears – Not PREGNANT. “I’m sorry, better luck next time”, the nurse was so nice you felt like she just wanted to present you with the positive news you were waiting to hear. You know that feeling when something just hits you like a ton of bricks in slow motion, well that’s how it felt. But why didn’t it work? It was perfect, one perfect embryo had been implanted!!!

Back to Perth

An opportunity for a change in direction came up and helped take my mind off things for a while. I had wanted for a long time to return back to Perth. Loneliness is a hard journey to bear, even though we had moved, found a new house, new friends, new jobs, still the feelings were exactly the same to me. I must admit at this point I was finding it emotionally hard to cope with seeing friends pregnant. This is not a great place to be, wanting something so much and having the feeling that it just might not happen.

Fortunately the friends and family I have are truly AMAZING! I would not have been able to cope with it all without them, especially my mum and my husband (this is not an easy thing by the way, to be talking about my deepest thoughts and feelings). A friend used to tell me, “Every day is a day closer to meeting your baby”. I really found strength in that and held on to it for dear life- funny how little moments and sayings can cheer you up.

In general however life in Perth was going quite well. Uprooting our whole life was a big change for the good; at least now I was closer to the clinic for blood tests and procedures which made work-life so much easier to cope with! I was also working with some amazing people who were very caring and understanding towards me; to those of you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. If any of you are reading this you know who you are.