Category Archives: The downs

A short cycle and short temper

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My recent cycle kicked in balancing out the long cycle I had last month.  Last month I had a never-experienced-before 31 day cycle; so naturally the pendulum had to swing the other way this month and it yielded a pathetic 16 day cycle – did my body not even try to have a normal cycle?!?!  I mean, what was that?!?! 

*sigh*

Really not sure why it was so short this month and so long last month.  The one possibility is that this month’s cycle stemmed from the ovary that is failing quicker than the other, causing the shorter cycle this month.  We’ll have to see if this is a pattern though before we can fully assume this line of reasoning. 

This is now my shortest cycle so far, recently I have gone down to 18 day cycles.  16 days now makes me a bit nervous.  I can’t help but feel that this is a sure sign that my impending early menopause is around the corner and to be honest it is a little scary.  I am totally not the type who panics about getting older, seriously!  But on fertility lines, once I hit menopause, the chances of me EVER getting pregnant are pretty much zilch – outside of a miracle of course. 

So, it would seem logical to make a mad dash back to the Doc and beg for another round of IVF.  However, I don’t feel any desire to do this at this stage – bizarre!  In fact, about a week ago I emailed the Doc (well I had to email one of the ladies at the clinic and ask her to send my mail onto him, as I don’t have a direct email address for him) to say a million thanks for all their care and attention with us and to say a very sad farewell.  In the letter, we told the Doc how sorry we were that we could not go through with his next IVF programme he had drawn up for us – due only to a lack of funds.  I had kinda hoped he would offer to reduce our programme cost (a friend who is with the same doc told us that had done this a couple of times for them and suggested we ask, I couldn’t do that outright) but alas – no response!  Not even an acknowledgment of our note.  I did however subsequently get two love notes from the Doc’s rooms asking for outstanding balances on my recent laparoscopy that our medical aid did not cover.  Boy was I an unhappy bunny!  Not the kind of response I was hoping for.  It really hurts that the only responses to our letter of thanks and farewell were two bills. 

So for now, things remain quiet on the home front, we continue to wait (as per the Lord’s instructions to me), pray and hope for some direction from God.

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The never-ending rollercoaster

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This month yielded something new – a 31 day cycle!  I typically clock in on a 21 day cycle and never more than 25 days at the most.  So you can just imagine our excitement and confusion.

We haven’t a clue as to why I had such a long cycle.  The only thing we can think is that it is maybe the result of the laparoscopy this month (although with my past ops I never had a delay in my cycle so I’m not entirely convinced of this possibility).  Of course there is a part of me that hoped, in vain, that I might be preggers.  Then the other part of me worried that possibly menopause had kicked in and my cycles had now ceased!  It really is such a rollercoaster when you are watching your cycles and wondering what is going on in your body – “am I maybe pregnant”, “are my ovaries causing problems” “did I maybe not ovulate this month”, etc. etc.  So, in one sense, it is a relief that my new cycle has kicked in as it means that I did ovulate and that I have not (yet) hit my forecasted early menopause – WHEW! 

I’ll admit, I had a wobbly with the Lord when my cycle kicked in.  I mean after 4 and a half years of watching my cycles and praying to fall pregnant, I FINALLY have a reeeeeaaaaaally long cycle (which normally would mean without a doubt that I was pregnant) and then I hit the bottom of the rollercoaster again with my stomach lurching as my period kicks in.  Why Lord?  Haven’t we suffered long enough?  Why not this time?  Why not, finally, give us the miracle of a pregnancy?  Haven’t we waited (fairly patiently) long enough?  *sigh*  I don’t have any answers to these.  And I haven’t the foggiest idea what He has in store for us.  I just keep telling myself to trust and obey, to just keep going, just keep on keeping on – what else could we do right?  And no, I am not being brave or faithful, I just don’t have a choice.  It is by no means easy.  What it boils down to is that either I carry on and watch and wait, or I abandon my faith and hand myself over to darkness – which quite frankly does not appeal to me in the least, so this really is not an option.

So the big question for us then is what comes next.  Do we inform the Clinic and prepare for another round of IVF?  It’s actually now quite a complicated decision … so more on that in another post.

Baby blues

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Sometimes I manage to convince myself that I am just fine without a child of my own and that we really will do great without kiddos.  It is a case of survival and most often I try and harden myself to babies by telling myself things like:

  • How beautiful our home is without kiddies toys strewn all over it,
  • How we can pay-off our home loan or have spare cash because we don’t have to worry about affording expensive education for kids, or
  • We can go on holiday more often because we have the cash and freedom without kids.

And then I see a pretty little baba and I am broken all over again.

Last Sunday at church there was a pretty little blond baby girl.  Gary and I attend the early service with most of the retired parishioners so there is almost NEVER a baby or child there.  Most families and youth attend the family service mid-morning.  For whatever reason, a mother and her gorgeous baby girl attended our early service and I was reminded how much it still hurts to see such beauty.  I did not notice the wee lass until it came time for communion as they were sitting in the cry room at the back of the church.  However, at communion time they slipped ahead of us and were right in front of us in the queue to the altar.  The little lass had the prettiest leather-likes shoes on with flowers all over them.  On the way back down the aisle behind them my heart broke and the tears started surfacing.

Some weeks ago, someone very cruelly told me that perhaps I do not desire a baby enough so the Lord hasn’t given me the desires of my heart.  The Lord knows my hearts desires and he knows what is best for me and best for Gary.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. Psalm 40: 2

It never rains but it pours!

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So it is a rainy day here and I’ve further complications to share 😦 

Saturday saw me at the GP (general family doc).  Shortly after my op I noticed bumps coming up on my tummy.  I thought nothing of them and figured it was a reaction of sorts and that they would go away soon enough.  No luck, they have spread to my arms, legs, buttocks – woah!  It was at this point that I thought to investigate.  I telephoned the nurses at the fertility Doc’s offices first, just to check I wasn’t being paranoid and if this might perhaps be something typical following the procedure, and they too advised me to go to our GP. 

The GP had a good look and said it may be an allergy but he thinks it is more likely a parasitic thing.  Looks like bug bites.  He even suggested that it may be Scabies!  Whaaat?!  I thought that had died out with Scurvy or something but apparently it is quite common and easily picked up.  Bummer!  I was so embarrassed!  Gary thankfully hasn’t got it.  So off we went to the pharmacy to get the prescribed mooties (local word for meds) to remedy my uncomfortable situation.  A spray on oil for the bugs (which are microscopic and under my skin) and pills for any allergies.  R400.00 later I was in tears – I had specifically mentioned to the doc that I hoped the meds wouldn’t be expensive and he said they wouldn’t be, boo hoo!  Clearly doctors still earn way more than the rest of us.  The medical aid denied it (funds exhausted) so we paid cash (or my credit card to be more precise). 

You should have seen me yesterday – an oily passed out body in a bath robe and socks!  Seriously.  I had to spray the “bug fumigator” all over my body (I mean EVERYWHERE) and leave it on for 12 hours (so had decided to do it on Sunday when I was home and could flop around in next to nothing).  Unfortunately the weather turned wet and cold so I had to don a bathrobe and slippers – so sexy!  Then the pills for the allergies knocked me for six (the lady at the pharmacy did advise me that it might make me drowsy – drowsy?!? I was passed out for the better part of the day).  I was quite a sight yesterday, even digging in my garden early on (fixing holes where the puppy had dug for China and brought up some of our new plants) in nothing but a scruffy old bathrobe and socks – I’m amazed that Gary didn’t say anything – what a man.

Hopefully the “fumigation” did the trick and I will keep on with the allergy pills till Wednesday (and try to keep my eyes open long enough to lead a normal life till then).  The GP said we wouldn’t necessarily see results for a couple of days but I do feel less itchy on those spots, fingers crossed.

I don’t mind the rain so much (heck, I’m a South African so we’ll take the rain in this hot, dry land when we can) I’m just praying there will be no more complications or medical expenses.  *sigh*

A Nasty Surprise

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After spotting for a couple of days, I telephoned the Doc’s office to advise that it appeared that my cycle had started and to ask what we do next.  The Doc called me in for an appointment on Saturday morning.

Apparently I was not supposed to be bleeding as yet and after examining me with an internal ultrasound he was concerned.  It appears I have a couple of cysts.  Both are on my ovaries.  One of the two is a straight forward cyst that didn’t seem to worry him too much and the other he suspects is a hemorrhagic cyst (a congealed lump of blood).  Immediately he was looking at the diary to book me for a Laparoscopy (key-hole surgery) but I interjected with “What if we do nothing?”  You see, I have had laparoscopies, a few times, and it is not a pleasant experience.  Besides, I am running out of space on my tummy for more scars, I have loads from the previous surgeries.  He told me we couldn’t leave it, I can’t remember his exact words but I do remember one word he used – tumour!  This is where I started to get a bit emotional.  He then relented enough to say that we could wait a little to see if the hemorrhagic cyst breaks down naturally.  I am not entirely sure how long we wait (I will need to phone the Doc’s rooms to check).  If it then hasn’t broken down, he will book me in for surgery.  Either way, we cannot proceed with any fertility treatment at present.

I am deeply disappointed.  Hurt.  Frustrated.  And to be frank – I am at that place right now where I do not want ANY further treatment at all.  I told Gary that if it does boil down to another Laparoscopy then that will be that!  I will proceed with the surgery but then I will not go any further.  In church on Sunday, the minister read the Gospel reading where Jesus tells his disciples that to be great you have to be the least of all and that the least will be the greatest, embracing a child he said that anyone who welcomes a child welcomes him and welcomes his Father (God).  Immediately it hit home that we should really still be considering the adoption option.  Throughout the sermon, the minister mentioned orphans and widows and our duty to them.  He also discussed wisdom (the 1st reading in the service was from the book of Job, highlighting where wisdom comes from) and I came to thinking that perhaps another round of IVF is not the wisest move.  Our next course of IVF will cost us R39,000.00 most of which will be paid by a lovely older couple we are very close to.  We cannot afford this ourselves.  My concern is also that this couple are headed for retirement and I am not sure where these funds come from but nevertheless savings are crucial for retirement.  I am worried.

Of course everyone around me is encouraging me to keep going, to do what the doctor prescribes and get back on that IVF horse – “Don’t give up”.  I don’t know.  Right now I am in pain, physically and emotionally so perhaps it is not the best time to decide on the way forward.  I am praying about it all though and will wait and see what God says.

What NOT to say!

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This is something I have wanted to post about for a while now.  It is a tough topic and my intention is not to hurt anyone.  Please note that this post comes from years of frustrations and is written with the sole purpose of sharing what I have felt and what I have subsequently learnt NOT to say to someone suffering a non-curable condition.  Although not life threatening, infertility can be grouped with the likes of cancer or even HIV in the one sense that it too has no cure.  Infertility is a lifelong condition that has been called a disease – with no cure, it just gets worse as the years go by.  What is important is how we respond to someone who tells us of their struggle with a non-curable medical condition.

I have heard all the “platitudes” you can imagine and they STILL drive me crazy.  Don’t think me harsh, I totally understand that most people haven’t a clue how to respond and will sometimes say anything to make the situation better or more comfortable.  I understand this, but it still grates me to hear the silly and thoughtless suggestions people offer up.  Right now, I have just come back to my office from getting a cuppa where a colleague told me of a cousin of hers who battled to fall pregnant for years and only after she adopted a child did she suddenly fall pregnant and she then fell pregnant again a year later (with twins no less!). “Watch out” she said “it could happen to you”.  “Yes” I thought “adopting is the miracle cure to my myriad of infertility disorders!!!”  Instead, I simply smiled and responded, “What a blessing for her, that doesn’t happen often”. 

The truth is it seems like these miracles are always happening.  I am told FAR too often of such stories.  I can only think that good news travels fast and that these are the stories people like to hear, to remember and to pass on. 

Some of the other typical responses I get are “It will happen when…”

  1. …you stop trying
  2. …take a holiday
  3. …go to the mountains (we live in the mountains so you can imagine my response to this one)
  4. …go to the tropics
  5. …you least expect it

I am also told repeatedly of couples who tried for X number of years – oh great, I think, so my trying for 4 years is nothing, I could keep going like this for 10 years before we get it right?!  Yeah, that’s a huge help!  I had such a revelation a couple of month ago.  I was chatting to a lady who had been trying to conceive for 1 year to fall pregnant, they had just started down the IVF path and she seemed so nervous and worried about everything.  I then also spoke to a lady who had been trying for 18 years and she seemed almost blasé about it all.  It then hit me, we might sympathise with someone who has tried for YEARS to conceive, but the lady who has tried for only a year may just need an extra bit of love and support.  Looking back on my own journey, those first 2 years were the toughest.  Month by month you realise that it isn’t happening, you wonder what is wrong with you and you slowly learn the agonizing truth of what your infertility issues are.  Once you have passed the first couple of years, it does in a sense become easier, mostly because you harden yourself to your condition and you force yourself to cope.  You now don’t necessarily wait on EVERY monthly cycle for that miracle to happen, maybe every other month but not so much every month now.  That’s just something to think about when chatting to folk who have just started their journey down the road of infertility.

I’ve also been told to have more faith and let God provide – whaat?!  This one hurts.  Immediately my defences go up, “who are they to judge my faith” and “how do they know what route God will choose to provide us with a child”.  Another response is “God WILL provide” or “Don’t doubt God to give you this”.  Although meant to encourage us, this really gets to me as Christian – who are we to assume God’s plans for us?  PERHAPS, just perhaps, he doesn’t have children in His plan for our future.  I believe God works in many, many ways to provide children to couples.  Take, for example, those miracle stories mentioned above, I don’t believe that pregnancies resulted because that couple adopted or because another couple took time-off from trying.  I believe that it all boils down to God’s timing and what His plans are for each couple.  It depends where he wants His glory to be revealed, it may be in modern medicine, or it may be during a time of quiet.  Those are His miracle stories and they should not be applied to ALL couples trying to conceive.

For the most part, these responses come from people who are not familiar with infertility and the struggles therein.  But I did have a shocking moment a few months ago.  I was speaking to a lady who had also battled infertility and then had success with the surrogacy route and had twin boys as a result.  I told her of our miracle of my uterus now being healed enough for us to try IVF and her response was “Oh you’re lucky!”  “Lucky???” I thought.  I swear my jaw was hanging on the floor.  It may seem an innocent enough response but for someone in the infertility sisterhood this is not a good response.  Here she was with twins and she tells me, who is still battling infertility, that I am lucky?!  Sure, I might be blessed by the possibility now of being able to carry my own child in pregnancy, but I still have to GET pregnant; I still have endometriosis, I still have a bicornuate uterus, I still have luteal phase defect, I still have the issue of not being able to maintain a pregnancy, I am STILL WITHOUT CHILD!  I was shocked.  An appropriate response from her would have been more like “That is good news” or “I’m so happy for you” or “Wow, God be praised”.  Lucky my foot!

NOTHING can be said to make infertility better or easier. 

Now that I have sufficiently vented my “platitude” frustrations, what should one say in response to infertility or any other condition that someone might tell you that they have? It’s easy really; just 3 key words take centre stage: “sorry”, “praying” and “thoughts”.  To string them together for you, you could use lines like:

  • “Gosh, I am sorry”
  • “You are so in our thoughts and prayers”
  • “We’re praying for you”
  • “I’m thinking of you”. 

And that is all it takes to help that person feel your love and respect; that really is all that is needed.

Some quiet time

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As everyone knows, some “time-out” or “quiet-time” is a vital component of rest, relaxation and recuperation.  However this quiet-time before we start our next IVF programme is driving me crazy.

I guess I got so used to the frenzy that accompanied our last 3 months of IVF that I keep wondering when my next injection or pill should be.  This one-month time-off for my body to recover is crucial, and I am only now realising how much my body has been through since May this year.  In this month off I have already experience drug-withdrawal headaches (not sure it is withdrawals but it sure feels like it), fatigue and stomach cramps.  Granted, all these symptoms could be the side-effects of the  junk-food I have been eating of late.

It’s not all bad though, part of me IS enjoying the down time – mostly the part that reminds me that I don’t have to take daily drug injections.  The rest of me, however, is eagerly anticipating the start of our next programme.  I got so used to taking the drugs, eating regularly and planning my days and weeks according to the doctors programme that I now feel as though I am flapping around in a void of no purpose or direction.  I guess a good start would be returning to a healthy diet, or at least upping my water consumption again (I am not sure I can give up the caffeine and chocolate just yet).  Doing this may help me feel one step closer to starting the programme again. 

We’re only about a week away from starting again, so not a majorly long wait really.  In the meantime though – you can find me on a comfy chair in front of our fireplace (it’s still wintry here) with a strong cuppa coffee in hand and a chocolate bar on the coffee table … oh and I’d better throw in a bottle of water to keep things balanced *sigh*!