April 17, 2014

FET #3

We signed the paperwork to begin FET#3 yesterday, after a break since January, when we unsuccessfully had FET#2 (a break well needed due to emotional reasons). Two frozen embryos remaining, fingers crossed that one of these is the sticky one...

I saw my naturopath during the week, I always feel so empowered after seeing her because she is like a doctor, natural health practitioner and psychologist all rolled into one. She listens to what I've got to say, asks thought-provoking questions and is all-round a great person. In the time I've been seeing her (on and off since 2009, when I was seeking advice following my endometriosis diagnosis and related cycle problems), I've been pregnant once, she twice and between us we have three beautiful, healthy boys. I met her eight month old at my most recent appointment, he's such an engaging little creature (the 6-8 month stage is one of my favourite baby times, despite it being teething time; I love the developmental leaps that happen then).

Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked (see, babies will do it to me every time!). I'm now on a course of herbs (slightly altered from the formulations preceding it) very similar to what I was taking when undertaking IVF first time around with Rowan but, rather than targeting egg quality this time around, it has to do with progesterone support (for implantation and healthy placenta formation). I'm getting some blood tests done over this weekend to see where my progesterone levels are at, as I've been having some funny-looking cycles this year - mostly very short ones, but with equal time between starting, ovulating and starting again. So rather than it being a short luteal phase potentially causing inadequate time for implantation (which was one of my initial fertility hurdles, it has naturally sorted itself out after my periods returned when Rowan was 7 months old), there might be something else going on.

To be honest, it frightens me a little that there could be something else lurking beneath the surface. Last time around, sure - we went through a lot before the initial IVF stuff - but we were successful pretty early on with that. This time? There's a 60% chance of success every time we go through a FET using our embryos, and so far we haven't been on that side of the figure yet. If this cycle doesn't result in a sticky embryo, I'm going back to our IVF specialist attached to the hospital in order to seek advice before we use our last remaining embryo. Personally, I'm hoping that there's a simple (ha!) explanation to not being able to fall pregnant this time (we haven't been preventing pregnancy since Rowan was 6 months old... and he is 3 now).

If I have to go through another full stim (IVF) cycle I think I'll cry, I really will. And yet, I'll push through... because I can't dwell on what isn't, simply what is. I haven't found peace with that yet, but perhaps in time I will. And hey, maybe a little more positive thinking on my part wouldn't go astray?

December 30, 2013

Results of our FET #1

And the answer? Negative. Not pregnant.

I was upset at first (and heck, I still am) because I feel as though my body let me down. But then again, there's all the other stuff going on genetically with this embryo that embryologists can't pick up from their look at it prior to transfer into my uterus. Perhaps it didn't thaw right? Perhaps it wasn't genetically viable? (missing chromosomes, etc) Perhaps the conditions in my body weren't quite right at the time. Perhaps there was no reason except for it is what it is.

Christmas had a little sting to it because if we'd have been successful with our FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer), we'd have had a confirmation ultrasound in the week leading up to it. Instead I found out another friend had a successful IVF cycle and was too busy being happy for her, ultimately. And I got to indulge a little with food and drink, which I wouldn't have been able to do as much had we been pregnant.

After a break during December, we're back to doing another FET in mid-January and I'm currently utilising naturopathic support (which I was doing prior to Rowan's conception in 2010). Hopefully 2014 brings us a successful pregnancy. :)

November 23, 2013

Embryo on Board

So this happened today....

Today was the day we used one of our four frozen embryos, created during the same IVF cycle from 2010 that Rowan was conceived within. Luckily for us, the first attempted thawing worked and we still have three in storage (1 x B-grade and 2 x C-grade; Rowan's embryo was an A-grade). The photo of the embryo in the bottom right was the one transferred, it looks lumpy and doesn't fill the whole cavity (despite being an expanded blastocyst) because it was still rehydrating at this point. The embryologist assured us that it was already looking good and doing everything that it should.

It's been a long month in terms of additional testing and appointments, trying to get everything lined up in order for the FET (frozen embryo transfer) to take place. And now I wait... wait until December 4th for a blood test to find out whether or not we'll get an early Christmas present. ;)

October 21, 2013

Let's do This!

Appointment with the IVF specialist who did the egg retrieval in the (stim) cycle that led to the conception and pregnancy of Rowan on November 1st.

Coincidentally also our 5th wedding anniversary... let's do this!

September 30, 2013

My Brain Has Turned into a Mush of Peppa Pig

I’ve been in Hobart, Tasmania for the past few days (and got home on Saturday) and though it was fun and
had moments of relaxation, it was hard work too. Travelling with a toddler isn’t relaxing in the slightest and while we’ve persevered twice this year (Sydney in March and then Hobart), it isn’t something I’m keen to do again in a hurry.

I’ve also looked back at my patterns of my blogging/writing this year and realise that as my down-time (as a parent) has diminished, so has my writing. Completely understandable – I get it now – being so exhausted by the end of the day can make the outpouring of words seem like a chore. During the moments of calm and relaxation, I find that my words all seem to go ioedbnoeboetisnmorkaesmontlwhmoup56m together (not a slight exaggeration) and any eloquence I once possessed has vanished, to be replaced by the rhetoric of entire episodes of Peppa Pig. For my own mental health I need to get back into this.

And when it does come time to write... what do I say? When I feel a little unsure about things, I prefer to keep it trapped in my mind rather than blurting it out to an audience (even myself), because that makes it just seem more real. As for now? A lot of negativity in my mind, mainly linked to insecurities about parenting and control issues/power struggles. Rowan dropped his day sleep around the same time that he weaned from breastfeeding, then has been ill for the past two weeks (finally coming good at the moment). I’ve felt him easing back in his affection towards me at times (or at least that’s how I feel) and it’s all about Daddy of late. There are continual tantrums, many of which are linked to overtiredness and the refusal of a nap, and then I feel myself losing control of my level-headedness and just want a few minutes to myself without the tears, screams, pushes or the dreaded ‘limp noodle’ position. So I feel a bit inferior as a parent at the moment, which has spilt over into my teaching days and I find myself second-guessing what I do both at work and home, losing confidence in both areas. As a professional I feel underappreciated (and have for most of this year, but have already written about this before), and yearn for a sea change, but know that it isn’t to happen until the end of next year (I want the redundancy and parental leave payments, both highly lucrative and enough to encourage me to keep going). Part of me wants to be pregnant as soon as possible to have an easier pathway out of teaching, the other part of me knows how much I’m struggling to be the parent I want to be right now and that pregnancy might compound things. And then there’s infertility, IVF and that opens another can of worms completely.... ugh! When did life as an adult become so complicated?

But that’s not to say that life doesn’t have its moments of joy. Laughter, cuddles, food, sunshine, photography... all good things (but overshadowed by the trappings of my mind at times). I want to share some photos about the positive things, as I don’t want to forget them...

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This is me... a hair update (I'm in a red phase at the moment)

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Trucks and sand on our balcony.

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Playing with my dragon hat before a work dress-up day (and Rowan's artwork on the fridge)

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Scenes from my hubby's parents' house in Hobart, Tasmania.

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My attempt at a strawberry cream sponge. Tasted brilliant if I say so myself. ;)

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Matt and I (before the hair transformation)

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Rowan and Matt at The Aproneers, a great organic and sustainably-focused store and cafe in Hobart.

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Jumpers that are way too big are fun. ;)

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And crazy bed hair is pretty fun too!

September 13, 2013

On Weaning

Breastfeeding didn’t initially come easy to Rowan and I. There were early latch issues (lasting three months), open wounds, engorgement... all of that lovely stuff. But it did get easier, and I surprised myself for getting to three months... then six... then twelve months and beyond. I then hoped to get to two years of breastfeeding but didn’t want to stress myself out in case it didn’t happen. Breastfeeding in the second and third year turned out to be easier than the first, if you don’t mind a bit of gymNURSEtics! As Rowan got older, we were able to better establish rules with him about when and how he breastfed, and that certain behaviours (such as rolling around whilst feeding... ouch) weren’t on. It also lent itself to wonderful moments of cuddles, contented sighs, before-bed conversations about our day and hearing what Rowan had to say about it all.

He would tell me about how my milk tasted (“warm and sweet” was his favourite, “delicious” was another common phrase used), and displeasure if I’d eaten something that affected the taste – asparagus, without fail! And the numerous occasions where I’d stroke Rowan’s forehead and brush his hair from his face while singing our “Close Your Eyes” lullaby, one I made up when he was a very small baby to the tune of a musical mobile he has. Rowan would inevitably succumb to the lure of the head rub, especially if he’d been too busy to nap that day.

Breastfeeding at 10 months old.

20 months old.

Our breastfeeding days have now come to an end, which is a bittersweet feeling. A week ago (on the day Rowan turned 2 years and 5 months) had his last feed, after weeks of discussion about the milk “going on holiday” when I went away for a weekend trip. In the days that followed the trip, I had to work hard to stay strong at times, and to not offer Rowan a feed before bedtime or when he snuggled me on the couch. It had become such an ingrained part of our lives together that changing the routine had been tough (and I suspect, tougher on me). Hormones crashed and I had a headache which lasted several days. Engorgement left me a little sore and I felt genuinely miserable about my decision to wean Rowan – even though I knew that it was time, given the behaviours he had been developing and his lackadaisical approach to breastfeeding. Perhaps towards the end I was prolonging the breastfeeding relationship as much for me as I was for him?

But five days into weaning, everything changed. The headache disappeared, breast tenderness subsided and I woke up in the morning feeling much less ‘full’ than before. As someone who had to work hard initially to build up a good milk supply, the swiftness of it depleting was a little frightening, to be honest. There was no going back now, just spending a lot of time with Rowan and assuring him that cuddles are still okay and that despite being a “big boy” now, he’ll still always be my baby.

We talk about the milk going away until there is another baby growing in my tummy, and Rowan talks about “a little girl baby” (always a girl, never a boy). Though yet unspoken, there is the promise of reliving this all over again after my body gets a bit of a break to re-energize, to recharge and renew. I’m ready, just not quite yet... ready to savour time with my rapidly growing toddler who talks a mile a minute, reasons and negotiates, and shows empathy towards others. This (the weaning journey) is another step forward together in our journey as mother and son.

The last picture I have of Rowan feeding (to sleep in this case).
He is 2 years and 4.5 months here.

July 29, 2013

Our 2012 Family Album

Our family's 2012 photo album/scrapbook arrived in the mail today (cue fangirl excitement about seeing my scrapbooking layouts in print!)


Yep, 96 pages of scrapbooking layouts from our family's adventures during 2012.  I'm really happy with how it turned out, especially as I tried a couple of different things with this book.

I used the inside front cover pages to introduce the book. An inner title page, short bio on us as a family and our ages (something fun to look back on in years to come) and a summary of major events that happened to us during 2012. I printed on slightly thicker pages (and glossy) as I like the feel of both when looking at the book in person. It gives it a real 'coffee table' feel. :)

I didn't do a huge amount of double-page layouts for this album, but those I did complete look really nice (especially Rowan's party layout, which seemed a bit 'busy' when I finished it after his 1st birthday last year). Printed at 12x12", even the little details look fabulous and the font size is perfect. In fact, on layouts such as the Aqaurium one above, the font looks almost a bit TOO large when printed. This is something I'll make a note of for printing this year's book.

I like the way single layouts look too. Notice the white edging around each page? This was deliberate, as when I printed my pregnancy album, I had a bit cut off on each edge when it was printed, due to the guttering. The easy way around this was to make a template using the Blurb software that had the image slightly smaller than the page itself and applying it to each page before dragging and dropping each layout in.

The colours came up crisp and clear, and it inspires me to get even more of our pictures and stories off the computer. Growing up, I loved looking through our family albums, and I want to be able to do the same for our family too. 

The details: I design my layouts in Photoshop CS3, using a variety of digital scrapbooking kits and temples (I get most of mine here). I printed this book at Blurb.com in 12x12" (30x30cm) and used Premium Glossy paper. There were 96 pages and this book cost me $109 after applying a 20% off coupon. You can see the full book here.This entry isn't an advertisement, just wanted to answer the FAQ that I often get about my scrapbooking layouts and photobooks.

I have been a digital scrapbooker since 2009, but didn't get more heavily into projects until 2010 when pregnant with Rowan and wanted to teach myself a variety of techniques in order to create a pregnancy album.