I know this is a very self indulgent post, but indulge me if you will!
I wanted to get some things out of my very overwhelmed brain and try to gain some fresh perspective and maybe even a sense of calm and readiness for the week(s) ahead.
Today, one year ago, we failed our first IVF cycle and my period came. It was, I felt, the start of the REAL end for us. I was sure that if 2 embryos in wouldn't take, and we had struggled to even get those - that we were in real trouble.
This journey started January 1st 2004. Finn was 5 months old and we realised that since he had taken 2 years and clomid to conceive, we would likely have problems again, and we wanted a close age gap, so we started trying naturally. When Finn was 10 months old, we were able to start clomid again as he had weaned. But, it was slow, with a bad Dr who made us jump through all the hoops again the long way, despite our history. Eventually, we recommenced clomid and I stubbornly stayed on it well passed the time I ought to have stopped because I was refusing to believe it wouldn't work when it had the first time eventually. At the end of 2004, I had this dream:
(I dreamed there was a little girl who was about 5 and she was telling me not to give up, that I had to keep going or she'd never exist. She was my daughter, and her name was Olivia (not even a name we had considered). I told her not to worry, and promised I'd keep trying, and knew I had to now because otherwise she wouldn't be! And that just wasn't possible!)
- which at the time felt REALLY prophetic. Over time, I gave up on it, which hurt a lot.
Meanwhile, we had moved away and to Melbourne so a new doctor had to be found. We then started IUI treatment, and this was now 18 months of trying. We did 2 IUIs, both failed, one on Christmas eve of 2005 - a hard christmas for both J and I.
We wanted to try again but I was struggling badly with the emotion of treatment and having to drag a 2 year old Finn along to all the appointments and have him see me cry all the time with disappointment and frustration. The clinic was across the city and everything was difficult.
We decided we had had enough. Too much had gone to SO much trouble and effort for a child that it seemed would never exist, when the one we had was missing out on having all of us. So we made the excrutiating decision to end treatment and accept the end of our family.
The guilt, depression and horror of the next 18 months was beyond description. Honestly, it was literally the worst grief and pain I have ever felt. I was in a very dark and terrifying place. I lashed out at the world all the time and th ache was out of this world. I felt like I had killed that "Olivia" from my dream, that even though she had pleaded with me not to give up on her, I had, and as a result, she would now never exist. I had guilt for that, guilt at depriving Finn of a sibling, and anger the depths of which scared me. It was hell, pure hell.
After a while, i found some light, and started to find new things to fill my life. Writing, study, and rediscovering ME for ME. In September of 2007, our nephew was born which prompted an out of the blue discussion between J and I. Up until then, we had stopped speaking about it (aside from the times he would find me off having a cry over it sometimes when I discovered a reminder of my longing like Finns ultrasound photo or something).
Out of nowhere, we decided to return to treatment and this time, we refused to be stuffed around. Within a week we had an appointment at Melbourne IVF with a new fertility specialist, who immediately recommended we head directly to IVF and start immediately. It was a whirlwind, and we were excited to be back again, if not extremely scared... We felt IVF had to overcome all our issues and although taken aback to discover we would also be needing ICSI, hopeful for our chances.
First cycle we got 11 eggs, but only 2 embryos of low and average quality. Our second cycle we understimmed and had to be cancelled. We didn;t even get to retrieval and I was devastated. What had we gone back to? How difficult was this going to be, this was supposed to be the solution! I didn't expect it to be so hard, I must admit. And I didn;t realise until I endured it, how bloody hard an IVF cycle is to go through. I thought I knew, given all my years in the infertility world, but it was far harder. Our 3rd cycle we had 22 eggs retrieved and my mild/average OHSS was painful and took me a good 2 weeks to recover from. From those 22 eggs, we again only ended up with TWO embryos. I was crushed. I was so shocked and scared of going through more fresh cycles. It was so hard for us to even get TWO! We had to risk OHSS and go hard just to get two! Because of the OHSS the doctors wanted us to freeze all or only return ONE embryo when I had really wanted both. I had to decide on the spot and cried the whole transfer of one above average (not excellent) quality embryo was put in, the average frozen for later use.
I was certain it didn't work but insisted on a better progesterone support just in case... Maybe that was the key for me. Whatever the case, at 10DPO I got a positive test. I had tried to wait until 11 days, but mid morning I was a mess and just had to be put out of my misery again. So, I tested. I was shaking like a leaf and called Michelle to scream at her that it was positive. Both of us were shocked I think!!!
I had 4 of my best friends in on it from that first test, Megs who arrived early the next morning with decent brand tests and helped me check them and watched with me as a second line appeared. Amy and Emma who would inspect photos of 453 wee tests via email and tell me I was not hallucinating.. The poor girls have put up with SOO many TMI emails these past months!!!
The shock of the positive bloods, the 6 week scan that showed that fluttering heartbeat... I was terrified for the first 19 weeks. I couldnt relax and enjoy it at all. I spent the whole time petrified. At 19 weeks when we had the scan and discovered a "95% likely" girl, was the same day that I started getting daily, definite movements and I was able to relax and start to enjoy it - and to shop!
To hear no so many times, to be told FAIL FAIL FAIL NEGATIVE NEGATIVE BLOOD BLOOD so so so many times over 4 years, to try to adjust to success is really difficult. I still have trouble believing shes in there.
Freakily, Megan pointed out that between me having that dream, where she was 5 years old, and her being born is almost EXACTLY 5 years. The age in the dream. So everyone was convinced it would be a girl! We didn't go with Olivia though, because I had tied too much pain and emotion to it over the years, and I think she understands that :)
I have just under 2 weeks until she is due to be born. I cannot believe that I made it. That after SO much, we are truly almost there. Shes almost in my arms. I cant stop crying writing this! Healing! We fought so hard, and so determinedly and we bloody did it. Our babe is almost here, our family is almost complete. Finn is beside himself and always wants to chat about her, what will she look like, when will she come, what will she be like... Hes so excited about being a big brother. Seeing that side of him, that I always wanted for him, is priceless. Seeing J doing this nesting thing this weekend (LOL) and being excited makes me get tears... And feeling her move, cherishing these last moments of pregnancy and knowing this is likely the last time I will be here, feeling this miracle... its overwhelming. Its amazing.
We've almost made it.
I know this is a very self indulgent post, but indulge me if you will!