waiting for a miracle

So good so far – 8 weeks pregnant!

Each day is an absolute blessing and a gift. The gift of life. The gift of being alive. It isn’t an accident. It isn’t coincidence. It is a beautiful blessing. And each day we celebrate this beautiful blessing and now the beautiful blessing of a new life, a miracle growing inside my body. 

People have asked how I have been feeling and mostly I feel pretty good. That ‘pregnancy glow’ comes from the steroids – I’ve had it since before I was pregnant. 😉 I’ve had a few bouts of nausea, some headaches but mostly just incredibly exhausted!!! I’m not complaining about any of those by the way! Bring it on I say!!! I tend to work and then come home and crash out on the couch or in bed and can’t seem to move until it’s actually bed time. I feel so lazy but I haven’t got much left in the tank at the end of a busy day.

Scott has been amazing! Cooking me nutritious meals to make sure I’m getting the food I need to support his baby. Tonight he made Thai red curry with vegetables. Yum! And he’s been keeping this house running. It certainly takes a small community to make a baby! And one very supportive husband! 😉  

Photo: couldn’t resist sharing Scott’s amazing cooking. So yummy 😉 I’ve been eating a lot! Food is alway a big deal to me!

So since our last post here’s a quick update on where we are at. 

On Thursday 24th March we had an ultrasound scan (our 8 week one) and to our answered prayers on the way in (and our beautiful sonographer paused to pray before the ultrasound again) our little baby is measuring not just on track, but two days ahead!!! Woo hoo! So I am now due two days sooner and on Wednesday I am officially 9 weeks pregnant! And our baby had a strong heartbeat at 171. All of the other measurements were good, too. Our fertility specialist was happy with the scan results and has said to come back for our 10 week scan (to keep a close eye on us). Then it will be the big 12 week one. That’s where they scan for all sorts of things. One of those is the gender. So, what do you think we will be having? 😉 

Photo: our baby is growing arms and legs. The brain is beginning to develop – that’s the black hole in the head. I giggled at that. The circle around the baby was the amniotic fluid (I think that what she said). I like to look at it as the Angel protection. 😉 It looks so cool. 🙂 The nose and upper lip is forming too. So much happens so early on. This is why we wanted to recognise and celebrate the life of this baby straight away.   

Photo: during the scan. Sneaky Scott got a pic. We won’t post a front on pic without our favourite’s permission. Maybe one day when we head back with a baby we will ask for a photo. 

We left that appointment so unbelievably happy. Definitely answered prayers from so many – so thank you all! The trip home took us from about 4.30pm until 9.30pm! Traffic heading out of the city was crazy! Lots of people heading for holidays I think. So we stopped off to visit my bestie and her gorgeous family on the way home. Couldn’t believe traffic was still stopped after the visit! But we didn’t care – we were smiling from ear to ear. 

Now for us this is the crucial time. It was between week 9 and week 10 last time that Hope passed away. She was on track and all good at our 8 week scan. She stopped growing that day and sometime between week 9 and 10 her little heart stopped beating. We have to keep reminding ourselves that this is a new pregnancy and new life. That this one is different. It is a daily challenge to keep ourselves focused on staying positive and rejoicing in each new day. I’m super excited to make it to our 10 week scan and know that everything is fine or even better than fine!

Over the Easter long weekend I had to go in again for another intrilipid transfusion on Saturday. We had to be there at the hospital at 12pm this time and that meant early release at 10.20pm. I had the same room as my first time so shared again with another lovely lady who is on a similar journey. And guess what… My best friend (sarcasm) was there. Again. I have the best luck. (Again, sarcasm.) My left arm is still hurting from the last one 3 weeks ago! Anyway, when he came to insert the needle Scott and I both insisted on my arm (bendy part inside the elbow) having the needle this time. I can’t say the entry was a huge success – and the wiggling and jiggling of the needle in my arm wasn’t pleasant but it got in and stayed in this time. So we now know that we just need to be stubborn and say where the needle is going. I feel so bad doing this but it saves a lot of pain. We did insist politely though.   

Photo: I’m trying to be brave and think happy thoughts. 🙂 …and look at that little baby bump forming. 😉

  
Photo: trying to get the needle in…

  
Photo: really trying to get the needle in. Wiggling and jiggling and pushing. 

This time I got to have lunch AND dinner there! I loved starting early! Two meals! Lunch was a delicious salad – and I added olives. Yes, major olive craving the past 5 weeks!! And dinner was the usual…   

Picture: dinner. No additional sides this time. Lucky it was filling and I had my snacks. 😉 I always have snacks. 

Here is the intrilipid before it was connected to me.   

Photo: There are three parts to the intrilipid. Saline (I think) then the intrilipid stuff in the white container and then the small clear bag to clean out all of the intrilipid. Quite a process. 

So that’s where we are at. I’m starting to get a bit of a bump. 😉 especially after eating! 😉 I weighed myself yesterday and I’m still the same weight as what I was at transfer. So no gain yet – food must be getting absorbed by the baby. He or she is a hungry little fella. Takes after their mum. 

I have a scan next week on Friday. That’s our week 10 one. And in 2 and a half weeks I have another intrilipid transfusion. I had to stock up on the pessaries on Thursday, to, I was about to run out. So the budget is super tight but we are happy and we are so blessed to have access to these treatments. 

Thank you for your interest and your prayers. 🙂 Grow little baby grow! Bring on week 10! Stay tuned for the updates. 🙂

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Medications to make a miracle

We have had a lot of people ask us about the medications. For us they have been part of the miracle and part of the process. And we are truly blessed to live in a country where our taxes help subsidise the cost of some of the medications.

Every clinic is different in how they treat you with medications and they do it on a case by case basis. Each round we have had different medications or different doses. This post is specific to this cycle and this pregnancy. So here is your insight into what medications we are on that is helping (and that has helped) to make this pregnancy come to be. 🙂 We have decided to add prices to the items to be open and realistic about the financial side of things too (plus it’s given us a chance to realise how much we are spending on medications). 🙂

So firstly ‘in cycle’ medications. These were the actual IVF meds. The first one is Menopur: 

There was actually a fourth box but that’s been thrown out. These were the first medications we were on to grow the eggs (I think that’s the purpose). These were $38 but the full price would have been $2172! These are injections that are injected each night at the same time.

Once this is on board we have the ultrasounds and blood tests to determine when to start the next lot which is Orgalutran (also injections): 

When you start these injections you do them at the same time as the Menopur ones. So two each night. I think these are to stop you ovulating while the eggs keep growing. The full cost of these are $486 and we pay $37.

When the ultrasounds show that the follicles are big enough for egg collection we are given a trigger injection. On that night we take both of the previous injections plus do the trigger at exactly the precise time so that egg collection will happen at the right time. I think this one prepares your body to release the eggs.

Full cost of this one is $65 and we pay $37.

Afte egg collection we start on crinone gel – this is progesterone. Some people miscarrry due to low progesterone. By simply having this on board it can help a pregnancy.  

The first two boxes of the crinone gel are $38. Each box thereafter is $180 (though it depends where you go – some pay $220 per box). One box lasts you for one week.

In addition to the crinone gel, my other specialist has me on pessaries to really support the absorption of progesterone.  
One box lasts a week and can cost anywhere from $60 per box to $80. We are lucky to get it for $60 per box. Apparently you can get it much cheaper through a compounding chemist – we were quoted $72 per box from a compounding chemist so we haven’t gone that way yet. I will most likely be on these well into the pregnancy, possibly the entire pregnancy. My specialist said that some ladies lose the baby as soon as they stop the progesterone support.

The pessaries need to be taken every 12 hours. I’m now on 3 of these per day so a box will now last me 5 days.

Steroids were started right back when the cycle began. These are to help my immune shut down so it doesn’t attack a baby trying to grow. They have ranged in price from $9 per bottle to $20! One bottle lasts 15 days.  
One benefit of needing to take the steroids is that it also suppresses morning sickness. That’s what I have been told. So I don’t expect to have morning sickness. There is a positive in needing to take so many medications to do something that many do so naturally (having babies). 🙂

Clexane thins the blood reducing clotting issues. This is also something that people who have had multiple losses are typically prescribed to take. Clexane medications are injections and were started the day after transfer of the embryo. The full cost is $104. We pay $38.  

The injections are done each night at the same time. One box has 10 injections. These are the ones that sting and bruise. Even if the needle doesn’t sting, the liquid does. 🙂

So these are all the medications so far that have been used. This is what it takes to make a baby. 😉 
These are all of the ones from the pregnancy side of things (post IVF).

Then of course, there are the intrilipid infusions. I have had two of these so far and they cost $650 each time (no rebates from them) plus the hospital fee (praise God for health insurance or that would be an additional $1500-$2000 each time on top of the $650). I will have to continue to have these infusions every 3 to 4 weeks.  

This infusion is used to stabilise my overactive immune system, making it harder for my immune to attack the baby.

Then there are the multivitamins. Most of these were pre-transfer. I don’t remember the prices of these. They all varied from $10-$60. Some I am still on. 

And now that I’m pregnant I will need a pregnancy folic acid supplement except I can’t take that due to having mthfr gene mutation so I bought some special ones. They were something like $40 or $50. I can’t remember now. I need to check with my health care professionals first if they are the right ones as they may be too high of a dose. I’m also on Vitamin B12 and iron to make sure there is enough in my body for a growing baby.

So there we have it. It takes a lot of medications to make a miracle come true. This is only the medications I have had until the 11th March – so a week ago. There may be more I don’t yet know that I will need about but hopefully not. 😉 I’m not a fan of needles and I struggle to swallow tablets. Haha. So this sure has been and continues to be a challenge but I’m up for it! And in the words of Barney from ‘How I met your mother,’ “challenge accepted.” 🙂

I haven’t worked out what we have spent so far but our ongoing weekly costs will be and are: $84 per week for pessaries (that’s 3 per day at $60 per box),  $4.70 for steroids (that’s at $10 per bottle – double that when I have to pay $20 per bottle), $13.30 for the clexane (at $38 for 20), and budgeting $216 per week for the intralipid infusions (every 3-4 weeks). So total weekly spend on medications (not including vitamins) is: $318 or $1,272 per month. Wow! $318 a week!! That even surprised me! No wonder why $$ seem to come and go so quickly! Obviously that’s not including specialist fees for consults either. They will be on top of everything else.

I think we will be learning how to become very creative with rice and lentils. 😉

I hope this helps demonstrate that the road to a healthy pregnancy and baby is far from over and that those on this journey invest so much of their lives, including financially, into having a child. We are not complaining and will do whatever we have to and go without whatever we need to and cut back on whatever we can to make this work. So if we say we can’t go out for dinner with you, please don’t be offended, we are investing every spare cent and then some (cutting whatever we can) to give this baby the best chance of survival. The road ahead seems daunting at the sheer financial obligation but we know that God has always given us our daily bread and we trust that He will continue to provide for our needs (not our wants – although He often does that too).

It will all be worth it in the end, when we bring home our miracle. You can’t put a price tag on that precious miracle. 🙂

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Pregnant… and what happens next…


We had our confirmation that we were pregnant on Friday the 26th February when we got that call to say that our levels were at 450. At our clinic it is standard protocol to have a follow up blood test to make sure that these levels are rising as they should be. These pregnancy hormones need to double every 2-3 days in early pregnancy. Talk to anyone who has suffered repeat losses (especially with no reasons) and these early tests can be so much more stressful than going through IVF itself. We know that the challenge is getting through these early days and on to the rest of the pregnancy until there is that baby born alive. It would be so nice to be one of those people who live in that blissful world of not even realising anything could go wrong.

On that topic, even in IVF circles there is so much misinformation out there. One question I saw asked recently was surrounding the 12 week rule. You know the one, where couples or individuals wait until that 12 week mark to tell everyone that they are pregnant because that is the ‘safe’ time. The person asked if it was even possible to miscarry after 12 weeks. With total respect to this person, and absolutely no reflection on them or the responses to her question, this only highlighted to me what we as a society have unfortunately created by not talking about the realities of pregnancy and loss in an open way. People actually believe that after 12 weeks you cannot lose a baby – we were one of those people once, too. This is as far from the truth, even though I really wish that this were true. I believe, that by our society hiding pregnancy until 12 weeks, and by not discussing losses, we have set people up for unexpected failure and complete devastation, more compounded then by the shock and the losses that do occur both during this time (as no one knows about the pregnancy or loss) and after this time (as people don’t realise it can happen).

Instead, we are hoping to have contributed to changing these ‘done ways’ of doing things. If you are reading this, unfortunately a baby can pass away at any given point during a pregnancy and even during birth. No-one is immune to this. And then of course once they are born there are so many things that can also take a baby’s life. While we don’t want to focus on these negatives, it is important to acknowledge them so that others do not live in a false sense of security that really doesn’t do anyone any favours. Let’s just celebrate every day and every milestone during pregnancy and beyond. Stay positive, definitely, keep the faith, definitely, don’t dwell on the negatives, for sure, but do remember that we are never safe, so appreciate life and celebrate it!

So back to where we are at. We had our blood test a week later on the Thursday and levels were at 4020. That was a 1.9 day doubling time. Woo hoo! Something is going right and someone is listening to our prayers (the creator of the universe cares). So we were told that in another week we needed to come in for an early ultrasound and a follow up appointment with our fertility specialist. Our clinic does these early scans, I think, to check that the pregnancy is viable and that the sac is in the right place (not ectopic).

In the meantime, I had to ring my other specialist with the results to see if there would need to be another intralipid infusion. They were happy with the levels rising and booked me in for the infusion for the Saturday the 5th March. As soon as I walked in to the hospital and up to the floor I was sent to, guess who I saw?! My most favourite person who inserts the needles (sarcasm). My fear rose again but I decided to breathe and give him the benefit – this time would be much better.

Photo: Waiting to start.

It came time to connect me to the needle so that the drip could be connected…. He looked at my arms and decided it would be my left. So he inserted the needle into my left wrist. I did my best to be brave and just deep breathe. It seemed to go well. Woo hoo…. Then he put the test liquid in and boom. My arm swelled so fast and hurt so much. He didn’t get it in the vein. So out that one came and boy was my arm hurting. And at this point I was feeling very light headed. Not to worry, keep breathing… He tried my right wrist. Took a while but this one worked. And then I went super light headed like I was about to faint. He looked at me and got worried. Scott came over and helped me lie down. He said all the colour drained from me. What a brilliant start….


Photos: The needle thing in my arm, the guy trying to get the needle in.

I had my own room this time, so I missed my roomy from last time but because I was staying the night and after this needle experience it was probably good for everyone that I had my own room. Haha. And once again I brought a ton of work to do, but because my left arm was swollen and pretty much stuffed, it was unusable the whole time. I couldn’t even reach without it hurting. It is still hurting now, a week later! Of course I will survive and in the big scheme I would have this many times over to get to the end goal, but it is a little bump along the way.


Photos: Needle in, Scott enjoying the view outside.

 

Scott stayed for a little while before returning home to the dogs to feed them and look after them. They were so happy to see him get home. I also had visitors which was nice – my parents came to visit on their way home from being out. That was such a nice highlight to see them and hang out for a bit even if it was at a hospital.

Photos: My Mum and Dad visiting me.

About halfway through the infusion my arm felt wet… and I looked down to see white liquid dripping from my arm… great, the needle thing is coming out… I called the nurse who did a good job at fixing it, I begged not to re-call the needle guy! That terrified me more! And while she was there she gave me my dose of clexane. Phew! Glad she was there because I certainly couldn’t jab myself. I may have come a long way with needles but I still can’t look at them or jab myself.

Photo: The leaking infusion!

So the infusion finally finished around 11/11.30pm. Time to get ready and go to sleep. It took a while to fall asleep, new place and noises. Then at around 12.50pm my door opens and a different nurse comes in to remove my needle thing… except that was done back at 11.30pm. Okay, time to try get back to sleep…. I’ve had insomnia almost all of my life and sleeping is always the dreaded time because it takes me so long (usually) to fall asleep and if I wake (which I usually do at least 3-4 times a night) then it can take ages to fall asleep again depending on how much awake I wake up. So needless to say, I had a very disrupted night with very little sleep.

Photo: Almost done.

My parents came to pick me up the next day because they live closer to the hospital and they brought my car to me. And thankfully some food, because the hospital only had non-vegan food for me at breakfast. I was offered a yogurt but it wasn’t worth standing there explaining that that is dairy… Very thankful for the food my parents gave me to tie me over as I drove home. Another afternoon nap was needed on Sunday to make up for the lack of sleep during my overnight stay.

My obstetrician (the one doing the infusions etc) wanted me to have another two blood tests this week just gone by. And thankfully the levels came back as doubling every 2.75 days. In early pregnancy the hormones should double rapidly and then as they start to reach 6-7 weeks the doubling time decreases and then drops off. The results are:

Date Hcg Doubling time Progesterone
Friday 26th February 450 n/a 474
Thursday 3rd March 4,020 1.9 days/45 hours 374
Tuesday 8th March 14,150 2.75 days Not released yet
Thursday 10th March 23,400 2.75 days Not released yet

So far so good! Woo hoo! So another intralipid will probably be booked 3-4 weeks from the one on the 5th March. I hope and pray that someone else can do these needle things or that the guy gets it in the first time next time!

This brings us to yesterday, Friday the 11th March. Coincidentally that was also Scott’s birthday. The scan was booked in for this day. I had some reservations about it being on the same day because if there was going to be good news it wouldn’t be a problem, but if there was not so great news then it would really stuff up his birthday. Reminds me of when I miscarried on mine – not the nicest thing on any given day but any bad news on a birthday is not good.

We decided that the scan was going to go well and that we would have good news (positive thinking). So we prayed a lot and especially prayed on the way in. Yesterday I would have been 6 weeks exactly and that may also be too early to see a heartbeat. But we prayed that if there was one that it would be strong and put all of our worries at ease.

There was a slight wait to go in but that never worries us. The clinic workers work so hard and often many hours overtime.

Our favourite sonographer came to call us in and then she had a big smile. I told her at the last scan for follicle tracking that I would see her in a few weeks for the pregnancy scan and here we were. 🙂 We chatted before starting the scan. She even took a moment to say a prayer for us and we said a prayer too. And then she put the gel on my tummy and the machine and there it was. Strong as anything, a flicker, a heart beating!!! Yes, tears did come from my eyes. Possibly from Scott’s too but that may have been some dust that went through his glasses into his eyes.

She was very happy with the measurements and the heartbeat of 126. She said that was a strong one for this early. Many people don’t see a heartbeat just yet – so right there we had our prayers answered again… not just a heartbeat but a strong one!

Photo: our little one!

After the scan there was also a wait for our fertility specialist, but again, who cares?! We just had the best news ever! Time to let some family know who were waiting to hear how our scan went! And a few ladies on the IVF forums I am in. What an incredibly strong sisterhood it is to be part of. I don’t count who says what but there were sooooooo many comments of support and genuine happiness and relief! We all share in each other’s ongoing cycles, the ups and the downs, the confusions, questions and the ‘ah ha’ moments or realisation. Most of us have never met each other in real life, but I can’t imagine doing life without these angels of support. We rally behind each other in our low times and we are all so over the moon with excitement for each step forwards.

While I was messaging some of these ladies, the head of the nurses at the clinic saw us and came over to see how we are and how the scan went. She is so lovely too. She was there for us when we lost Hope and she’s been so incredibly helpful the entire time. She works such long, hard hours that I am sure not many patients realise. And she has such a kind heart. She also genuinely cares. We told her the good news and she had the happiest smile I have ever seen on her. Our clinic favourites are so much more than doctors, sonographers or nurses… to us… they have become like extended family who are the ones with the medical knowledge and experience to help us and many others. One day we will visit the clinic with our baby and take photos with all of the people that helped make a happen. 🙂

Time to see our fertility specialist. She was very happy with our results. She said that the baby is measuring one day ahead (praise God!!!) and that she is happy with all of my blood test levels. We could book another scan for the 10 weeks and see her then, but we were also given the option of booking one for 8 weeks (2 weeks away) which, given our history, we all decided together would be a good idea. So in two weeks’ time we will have another scan and take it from there. I love that our clinic is willing to monitor us closely given our past medical history. We know that every pregnancy is a new one and results of previous ones are not impacting the current one, however, the close tracking by the clinic last time is what really saved us. If it weren’t for their fortnightly scans we would not have known what was happening with Hope for at least another week as that was the earliest we could  get in for a scan locally. That would have been torture and by that stage we probably would have lost her at home resulting in no medical testing and no answers. Thanks to the close tracking by this clinic we avoided a lot more heartache than we needed to.

Scott said that this was the best birthday present ever! We have that strong heartbeat and everything is progressing the way it is needed to. Happy birthday, Scott! 🙂

Photo: Scott and I happy after the scan! 🙂

So from here we will have another scan in two weeks and everything is going to be great – we know that we have an army of supporters around the world praying for us and for this new life. It honestly brings me to tears as I write this. Tears of joy, and absolute gratitude that you (yes you, reading this) would take the time out of your day to say a prayer for us. I believe each and every prayer has been the difference this time in helping this pregnancy progress well to here. We are forever thankful for every single prayer, every single well wish, every single message we have had. We have been so incredibly moved by the overwhelming (in a great way) support that we have been given. So from every piece of my core and Scott’s core, we say the biggest THANK YOU! And we ask that you continue to please pray for us, and if you could also extend that prayer to others like us. This journey has united us with so many others traveling on a similar road to us. And I can tell you, every single one of them has the same hurts, anxieties, fears and hopes. While one of us is experiencing joy in the early stages of pregnancy, others are losing their babies. When you are on this road you have so many tears for your friends as they experience the worst kinds of pain, and then you have the highest joy for the ones who have finally made it past each milestone and then those who have the news that they have just had their babies and they are alive and well! At any point in the day we could be crying tears of joy or sadness for a friend. It unites us in ways I never knew possible.

So once again, THANK YOU for your prayers. We can’t begin to put into words how much we appreciate it! Thank you! 🙂 🙂 🙂

We will update this blog and our Facebook pages as we go through each step. And we may even put up a few ‘insider’ blogs into what is our daily medications this round and other things specific to high risk pregnancies… haha you may be tired after reading it all!

We have been very happy that through our experiences and sharing it via this blog, others new to the IVF journey have also been able to see what to expect. All things work together for the good. And we will do our best to keep using our experiences to help others in whatever way that we can.

Video: 2 seconds of our little one’s heartbeat! This is getting real. Woo hoo!

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