Friday, August 26, 2016

Get Up and Try Again

I went for a lovely funeral memorial service on Monday. A family member of a close friend has suddenly died, and my friend and her family were clearly shocked and distraught. The pastor at the service shared some verses from the bible which really touched me:

From Philippians 4:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Now, even though I believe in God, I have never actively pursued the faith. I do not know if I will return to church.

I did not expect that that these two verses from the bible would now bring me comfort. At 8dp5dt, I am faced with this "not pregnant" peestick and the realities of a failed IVF cycle after 8 months of pills, injections, 3 operations including the loss of a fallopian tube, not to mention the money and countless effort rushing from work meetings for the medical appointments (I can go on..).  


During the memorial service, the pastor also spoke about closure. He encouraged people in grief to always remember the good, happy things that they have.  

For me in this situation, I would also like to make that choice. To thank God for already giving me a beautiful daughter Izzy who is fast blossoming into the smartest, sweetest little girl. And to be grateful for the mere fact that I have the financial means, to go down this path of doing IVF.  It may be a bit cliché, but explicitly counting my blessings is a powerful antidote for me.
 

We have two frozen embryos left and I understand myself well know to know that I will not give up without another (or two) IVF attempts. Life goes on.

But first, I think a break from trying to conceive will be good for me. I need to recalibrate myself and plan ahead. I understand going in that, while I may ultimately succeed on my journey, there are going to be bumps – big ones – along the road. It really helps by knowing that, owning it, working through it when it happens, and remembering all the other things that are right in my world. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

IMHO Dr Google's Early BFPs are a Conspiracy

Ok I confess. I tested again yesterday at 6dp5dt. Needless to say, it was another BFN.

This time, in addition to googling "6dp5dt, any hope?", I took my ttc obsession to a new height. I called up my IVF clinic nurse and asked her for details of my successful IVF two years ago. Specifically, I asked her for transfer date, beta date and the HCG test result.

So I had my FET on 30th January 2014 and my bloodtest 11 days later on 10th February at 11dp5dt. The beta reading was 769. Doing the math, assuming it is true that HCG levels double everyday, this would mean my HCG levels on the following dpts would be as follows:

11dp5dt - 769
10dp5dt - 385
9dp5dt - 192
8dp5dt - 96
7dp5dt - 48
6dp5dt - 24

What this means that at 6dp5dt, there is no way that a HCG of 24 would have registered a BFP (WHEW). In fact, even at 7dp5dt, a HCG of 48 would not be picked up by Clearblue, which has a detection level of 50! In fact, I recall that during the last cycle, I had tested on the morning of 9dp5dt and gotten a stark BFN within the first ten minutes. I have a deep impression of this because I went for a long hard hour run, to vent my frustration, thinking I had failed the cycle. Imagine my shock when I returned later and saw that a second line had developed on the stick - it was a lot of worry (shucks what have I done) and exhilaration all rolled into one that day.

Which brings me to my point here. How can it be, that there are so many early BFPs on Dr Google? I don't mean just on 7dp5dt. I mean, there are so many women who register BFPs as early as 4dp5dt, 5dp5dt and 6dp5dt online! One website even has a poll result which shows that 70% of all women who are pregnant get positive pregnancy test results by 6dp5dt! 

In my humble opinion, there might be some pregnancy test makers trolling the internet posting these early pregnancy test BFPs. And clearly tormenting women like me who do not have super implanter embryos but are encouraged to start testing early because "everyone else is doing it". And of course, blowing large sums of money on buying home pregnancy test kits. It's a conspiracy maybe? Haha.

Anyway, I plan to test again tomorrow at 8dp5dt using the clearblue digital with conception indicator. The detection levels are as follows :

1-2 weeks = 25miu to 200miu
2-3 weeks = 201miu to 2000miu
3+ weeks = >2000miu


If it's yet another BFN, I'll have no more mathematical excuses.

On a happier note, I can console myself with one (or two) glasses of wine - it's Friday night afterall!



Monday, August 22, 2016

4dp5dt - BFN It's Early Yet, Still Hopeful

So the FET happened last Thursday and POAS addict I am (though it's been a while), I couldn't resist and broke out one of my clear blue HPTs today. So much for telling myself not to test too early and to wait for at least 6dp5dt so I don't get unnecessarily disappointed.

A stark white BFN!

No matter how hard I squinted or turned the stick towards the light - nada, no second line.

Here are my symptoms to-date:

0dp5dt - came home from the hospital with a dull tummyache. Was a bit constipated from the prog supps, thinking it's likely due to that. I ran to the toilet about 3 - 4 times but it doesn't seem to help ease the ache.

1dp5dt - More tummyache, or wait, could these be cramps? I'm one of those lucky ones who never ever get period cramps so I honestly cannot tell the difference between the two. Dr Google suggests cramps if it's lower down - hmm ok it's cramps then. Friday night so went to watch "Suicide Squad" with the hubs. Pretty violent show, not sure if it was good to put my precious embie (we only put in ONE) through it but I enjoyed the movie. Is it my imagination or did I have a sharp twinge on the left ovary area as we walked to the cinema?

2dp5dt - There was a bit of pink on the progesterone residue (sorry TMI) when I wiped this morning. Was thrilled to think it might be implantation bleeding, until the clinic nurse told me it was more likely irritation from all the prog supps I'm stuffing up myself. I sank from cloud ten pretty darn quickly there.

3dp5dt - No symptoms except for cramps again, especially before bed. Again, futile attempts to the toilet to relieve the ache. Hmm I really hate all the hormones I'm on. It was a happy Sunday though - we brought Izzy out to the Park and some indoor playground and she had a blast. I am reminded how lucky I am to have her - even if this fails and she's all I have, I'm darned blessed already.

4dp5dt - As mentioned, tested this morning and BFN. No more cramps, just feeling moody from hormones overload and had a fight with the Hubs over some finance matters. Feeling like a monster and he clearly doesn't understand that he should have just steered clear of these discussions during this period.

I know it's still a bit early in the game to test and I shouldn't read too much into the BFN now. But then, I see all those early BFPs people are getting online and I think :" Why not me?" This, plus all the discomfort from my raging hormones are really getting me down.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

God Willing - For #2

Izzy's almost two years old now, and B and I have been talking about giving her a sibling. I come from a big family with 4 kids, so I genuinely believe that a sibling is the best gift that we as parents can give to Izzy. B is an only child, but despite his insistence that "no, he was not lonely",  we both agree that we want another child.

Izzy was our IVF miracle, and since early this year, we have been trying to do another frozen embryo transfer using the 3 "do-re-me" embryos leftover from Izzy's batch. Unfortunately,  when we started trying, the doctor diagnosed me with Asherman's syndrome. In a simple medical nutshell, I had adhesions in my womb as a result of the emergency D&C post Izzy's natural delivery, when the placenta got retained inside. The adhesions prevented my uterine lining from growing sufficiently thick to host any embryos.

I have gone for two hysteroscopy procedures since to clear the adhesions, and cancelled as many IVF cycles, due to insufficient lining thickness. Eight months of swallowing hormones later (I suffer from blue-pill-phobia), I am happy to announce that I have finally gotten the green light to do the embryo transfer tomorrow!

Woohoos aside, to be very honest, I still worry because my lining is only 7.4mm, which is barely over the minimum 7mm which my doctor needs to proceed with the transfer. For the past two weeks, I have tried everything Doctor Google tells me can help to boost lining growth: Acupuncture, raspberry leaf tea, pork bone soups, even fertility yoga. I know I need to thank God that the lining did manage to grow over 7mm this time around (last 2 times I was stuck on 4.9mm and 5.5mm and had to cancel the cycles). But instead, I can't seem to get get past the "why cannot grow thicker" thought gnawing in my head - I am just a ball of nerves and anxiety now.

Perhaps it's because I've invested so much time and effort these past 8 months, that failure would really be a hard hit. Every  embryo transfer brings so much hope, and that PUPO - "Pregnant until proven otherwise" status just elevates me higher for a harder hit should I fall.

I need to just relax and leave it in His hands.

Wish me luck guys. Hopefully I'll bring good news on Izzy version 2 soon.

  

Monday, March 28, 2016

More than "Mom"


It’s a Monday afternoon in the office and I’m sitting at my desk reminiscing the weekend that’s past. That smile on my 17 month baby girl’s face when we torpedoed her around the pool. The big hug she gave me before I left home for work this morning. That “I just want to sit here and sniff your head for days” thought, as I gave her one last kiss.  

Yes I love being a mom. It’s back-breaking work but I love it.  In fact, we plan to have one more. Another little being I know I will lose sleep taking care of.  Another one I will strive to parent to the best of my ability and help to mould into a thoughtful, caring little person.  

But I’m not a mom.

Not just a mom, anyway.  I’m actually a lot more than that.

I have a day job that I’m good at. The job pays me well and most days I enjoy my career. Outside of work, I have a great group of friends who I hang out regularly with.  We go back a long way and although some of us are parents now, we still try to do irresponsible things often involving alcohol when we get together - it makes us feel young.

No, I don’t define myself as a mother.

I’m a person who has goals and dreams of my own beyond children and motherhood.

Izzy is a huge part of my life, but she’s not my life. When she’s 18 and has her own life set out before her with all its sparkling possibilities, I’ll be (gasp) 54 years old and I’ll still have my own career, friends and irresponsible moments.

I am lucky in that I have help with Izzy in the form of daycare, a domestic helper and her indulgent grandparents.  But like other mothers in society, I face the expectation to be “Mom” all the time.  Mothers are supposed to always be there for their children and understand what mumbling toddlers are saying.  “Mom” must not cringe when changing baby diapers and we must remember the colour of baby’s poop from last Tuesday.

I try but I really cannot make out what Izzy is saying most of the time. And with help, I only have poop duties once a week when the helper is on leave.  

Next weekend we are going to Hong Kong on a holiday and no we are not bringing Izzy. In fact, dare I admit that she still doesn’t have her passport.  I don’t blame people for asking though, because like I mentioned, there’s always going to be that expectation that “Mom”’ is there ALL. THE. TIME.

To be brutally honest, it would just be too difficult bringing a toddler out to champagne brunch or a Michelin-starred restaurant. 

I don’t like how it’s a bonus if men happen to be great dads.  On top of the expectation that men, regardless of whether or not they are fathers, are encouraged and expected to have ambitions of their own.

I guess the reason for this post is to reaffirm to myself that not making my life all about my child (hopefully children soon) will benefit them in the long run. They will have a well-rounded mother they can look up to as a role model and not only because I’m a good mom. They, in turn, will grow up as people who don’t feel pressured to define themselves in narrow terms.

We raise our daughters to be articulate and goal-oriented. We teach them they can be anything they want to be in life. But we sometimes don’t afford ourselves the same privilege.

We are women who happen to be moms, and so much more.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Milkmaid

"Enjoying motherhood so far?", people would ask. "Yes", I would reply, "But I feel like a cow".

I blame all the media for making breastfeeding look so easy. It's almost as if all babies already go through breastfeeding school in the womb and know exactly what to do. Two weeks after birth, my little Izzy still cannot and mostly refuse to latch. Trust me, when you have to force a wailing hungry baby to your breast everyday and to hear her cry because she cannot get to milk, you'd want to burst into tears yourself. Yesterday after a particularly upsetting episode of feed-her-not, I tearfully announced to B, "No more, I am exclusively pumping from now on". He just nodded, knowing full well I would likely still keep trying. (I am. Stay tuned for more updates.)

I also had trouble with milk production. I've read the reason is because of all the drugs used during the labour induction process. Together with the traumatic loss of blood and emergency uterine flush they had to perform on me (I thought I was gonna die), my milk glands went on strike. My colostrum only came in on day 4 or 5 after birth! In the end we had to feed Izzy formula first. Even after the colostrum, my milk supply was really pathetic.

Thankfully, I had advice from my sis in law and we got the lactation consultant to make a house visit. Since then, my supply has increased significantly, though I'm still working to stabilize it. They say the average baby consumes approximately 750ml of milk a day. So far I am up to about 600ml and increasing daily. Thank God.

I thought it might be useful to share some of the tips that really helped me.

1. Doppler tablets. These were prescribed by the paediatrician when I brought Izzy to see her on Day 5. The tablets are meant to kick start the milk production but not meant to be taken long term.

2. Pump frequently. My sis in law strongly advised me that since baby was not latching, I needed to follow the baby's feeding pattern and pump every 2-3 hours to stimulate more supply. Her target for me was 8 times a day but unfortunately I need at least 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep so 7 times is the most I've been able to do. 730am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 9pm and 11.30pm are the rough timings I try to pump everyday. Somedays it feels like I'm permanently attached to my medela freestyle! 

3. Fenugreek. I just started taking this yesterday (Day 14 after birth) and today I noticed a significant increase in milk production. Good stuff.

4. Drink more water. The confinement lady feeds me soup at lunch, before dinner, at dinner and before bed, as well as plenty of red date tea throughout the day. It makes sense, I feel thirsty all the time - all the water from milk lost.

I guess the message I wanted to share with new mothers who encounter problems breastfeeding is : don't give up, all it takes is time and you have to invest effort. It's still a learning process for me, hopefully it gets easier!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Her Birth Story

1am - We check into the hospital and the nurse inserts the first pessary to help the cervix dilate. I have to lie there for 2 hours before I can get up to go pee and sleep.

6am - I am woken up again for electronic fetal monitoring. I can feel some mild contractions on the right side.

8.30am - Dr Loi arrives and checks that I am 2cm dilated. She stretches a bit more and bursts my water bag with a long stick-like apparatus. Eeiks I think, expecting pain but nah, it is just a warm gush when the water bag breaks.

10am - Since I am Strep-B positive they start me on the antibiotic drip. From here on I am confined to bed. Some lower back pain can be felt at this point.

11am - In comes the anaesthetist Dr Foo who starts me on the oxytocin hormone drip to kick start contractions. She also put in the epidural catheter. Now this is scary for me, as I've heard scary stories on how the injection to the back can go wrong. I am super tense but luckily local anaesthesia is first given to numb the area.  

2pm - Dr Loi returns to check on me. "3 - 4cm dilated", she announces. What?! After so long I've only dilated that little? "How much longer, do you think?" I ask. "Another 6 - 7 hours" she replied. FAINT.

4pm - I feel restless from lying in bed and also slightly unwell. "Hungry.." I moan to the husband. And then, I vomited. Apparently some people get nausea from epidural; and I am one of them.

4.15pm - I say a little prayer to ask to speed things up.

6pm - Nurse examines me. He heard my prayer! I am almost fully dilated.

7.30pm - Dr Loi arrives and we start pushing. OMG. I have seen women giving birth on TV but I never expected pushing to be so difficult! Three counts of ten to push before I can rest during contractions, I can imagine it is almost like running a marathon. 

8.30pm - A full hour of pushing and they can see a ten cent coin area of her head. "She has a lot of hair", Dr Loi says. "Push hard, let's get her out".

8.45pm - I am exhausted and Dr Loi decides to assist the delivery using a vacuum. She also explains that she will need to cut me. ARGH, just what I was worried about. But no matter, I agree - just get the baby out fast.

9.13pm - Isabelle arrives! They plonk her on my chest, all warm, slimy and squirming 3kg of her. She is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.