Sunday, February 28, 2010

Goodbye Spicy food?

Well if there has been one noticable change or symptom in this early stage of pregnancy I would have to say heartburn reigns supreme. I am a huge fan of spicy food and I particularly enjoy our take-out Indian we get every second week.

Last thursday we ventured off the beaten path and ordered a new type of curry. Every item in the menu sounds the same. Chicken/beef/lamb in a rich thick sauce. So instead of ordering chicken dansak in a rich thick sauce we ordered some rendition of chicken a rich thick sauce. Yowsa! I have eaten this dish before and absolutely loved it even digging in for seconds while my friends filled up their water glasses for a 4th time. This experience was different though. I felt like I had flames burning up my espohagus before you could say Chicken Vindaloo.

The heartburn also makes a wicked appearance whenever I eat dishes with lots of garlic (another favourite). I have since learned that the cause for this fiery fun are  the hormones progesterone and relaxin that  occur at elevated levels in the body. They cause a pegnant woman's gastrointestinal linings smooth muscle to relax. When this happens your digestive system works more slowly and food is digested at a slower rate. This results in heartburn.  Luckily, I have also since learned that a calcium antacid is perfectly safe to take in moderation while pregnant. Thank goodness because this girl is not ready to trade in her spicy meatball-a just yet.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Misleading and insulting

I truly hate to return to the blog with negativity but after reading a column written by Margaret Wente in the Globe and Mail today, I feel that I don't have a choice. Her comments were not only misleading but also insulting to the many couples who struggle with infertility. I have written an email in response to her article and I encourage you to do the same. She can be reached at

The right to bear children and, of course, we'll pay

Is having a family a human right?
Margaret Wente

Consider the predicament of the modern educated woman. She goes to school until she's in her 20s. She spends the next 10 years establishing a career. She settles on a guy, and they save up to buy a house. They are responsible and prudent. At last, it's time to have a family!

Unfortunately, she's now 38, or maybe 40. To her shock, she discovers her eggs are past their sell-by date. Time to go the high-tech route. Now she discovers that, at $10,000 for a single round of in-vitro treatment, plus assorted drugs and extras, high-tech babies don't come cheap.

Who pays for her effort to get pregnant? If the infertility lobby has its way, we do. It's putting heavy pressure on Ontario's government to fund in-vitro fertilization for women up to 42. It has a battery of arguments for why this is in the public interest: Having children is a basic human right. Infertility is a disease, and treating it is so expensive that people shouldn't have to pay for it themselves (even though many do). Finally, public funding of fertility treatments will save the system money.

“ This task force, which included people from every conceivable interest group, lacked only someone to speak for the silent, suffering, taxpaying public.”

The infertility industry is doing its best to expand our concept of both human rights and medical necessity. “Everybody should have the right to a family,” says Marjorie Dixon, a fertility specialist at the First Steps fertility clinic in Toronto. She says women feel “cheated” because, even though they pay taxes, the government won't help them. The Infertility Awareness Association of Canada defines infertility as “a reproductive health disease.” Infertility is to blame for our falling birth rates and shrinking population (who knew?), as well as for “terrible emotional anguish.”

The causes of infertility are complex, of course, and people's choices to postpone reproduction until middle age are just one part of the story. But among the chief customers for fertility treatment are educated women who've been deluded into thinking that technology can help them whenever they want a child.

Bowing to the pressure, Quebec has now agreed to fund as much as three rounds of in-vitro treatment for infertile women. (Quebec is obsessed with its low birth rate.) Britain and Australia fund in-vitro, too, and, last summer, a high-profile task force urged Ontario to follow suit. This task force, which included people from every conceivable interest group, lacked only someone to speak for the silent, suffering, taxpaying public.

Is having a family a human right? Well, sure, of course. But I don't think that having a family under any circumstances, or expecting the public to pay for your in-vitro treatments, is a human right. Life's unfair, and health care is a bottomless pit, and some of these procedures have wretched outcomes. After 40, a women's chance of taking home a baby after IVF sinks to one in 10 or less (to say nothing of the risks). What other elective treatment would we cover that had a failure rate that high?

With health-care budgets under acute stress, the infertility lobby is strongly pushing the cost-benefit argument. It argues that, because of the high costs of treatment, women opt for two, three or four embryo implants at a time to save money. The result is a high rate of multiple births, with expensive medical complications. Public funding would more than pay for itself by encouraging more conservative procedures and fewer multiple pregnancies.

But public funding is an open-ended commitment. And if multiple pregnancies are so undesirable, then why not regulate the industry more tightly on medical grounds alone?

If we really want to reduce the anguish of infertility, here are a couple of cheap ideas. Stop peddling phony hopes to desperate couples almost certainly doomed to fail (no matter whose money they're spending). And post the basic statistics about fertility and pregnancy in big red letters in every doctor's waiting room. I can't tell you how many women would have acted differently if they'd only known.

My oh my, her inbox must be flooded with complaint letters today. Perhaps Margaret would anticipate this if she only knew that 1 in 6 Ontarian couples struggle with infertility.
Her argument that clinics peddle phony hope to infertile couples who are doomed to failure is discredited. If she had read the Expert Panel on Infertility and Adoption's report she would realise that "For women under age 42, there is a very good chance – as high as 71% for women under 35 years – that they will have at least one live birth after three cycles of IVF.
Alleviating multiple births by regulating the industry on medical grounds alone is a simplistic view of this undesirable outcome. The average couple will pay approximately $10,000 per IVF cycle. As there exists no Government funding with the exception of the rare blockage of both tubes, nearly all couples choose to transfer 2 embryos in order to increase their odds of success. This is a private service which is precisely why regulations do not exist. Who is Ms. Wente to tell ME how to spend MY money?
She misinforms the public by leading them to believe that the use of assisted reproductive technology (ART)  is a lifestyle choice. In fact couples resort to ART due to a medical conditions such as endometriosis, sperm abnormalities, PCOS or cancer.
Lastly as my fellow IVFer pointed out- the human right to have a family may be a matter of opinion but Margaret Wente should note that us infertile couples continue to pay taxes for her kids to go to school.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


After a very anguishing morning, the phone finally rang at 2pm in the middle of my french class. The nurse calmly asked me if I had a quiet place to talk. My heart sunk. This was it.

''I have great news. Congratulations!''


Despite having taken a positive home pregnancy test on Sunday, I could not truly believe it until I had official confirmation from the doctor.
The testing all went down at my in-laws house this past Sunday morning. I had to pee from 5am onwards but managed to hold it in until I could see the faintest light peeking through the windows. I crept downstairs to check the time. 6:30 a.m. I couldn't hold it in any longer. I went to the bathroom and fumbled with the packaging. I was sure my husband would wake up. The test said the results would come back within 3 minutes. When I saw the test was positive I began to cry. How was I supposed to hold this information in? I flicked on the lights, shook my husband, tears streaming down my face and got to say the words we have both wanted to hear for so long. I'm pregnant!

The official confirmation was a huge relief. My beta came back at 1493! The nurse even chuckled and told me that I was VERY pregnant. Perhaps it's possible that both of my little beans have decided to snuggle in until October?  Only time will tell but in the meantime, I am going to thoroughly enjoy this bliss.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Waiting for Beta

1. Wake up, remember it is THE DAY. Freak out. Shower, make breakfast, pack lunch, walk dog. FREAK OUT some more.

2. Go to work, check email, check IVF forum, turn on television to have Olympics in background, realise that it is only 6am inVancouver, look at clock to be sure.

3. Freak out thinking that cell phone is not on ring. Check ring options, confirm ringer. Don't believe it so use landline to call cell phone to confirm. bring cell phone to bathroom, to make tea, to make photocopies.

4. 1 hour later check ivf forums again, facebook, call cell phone again to make sure. Breathe in, Breathe out.

Is it really only 11am?

Friday, February 12, 2010

No one can give you better advice than yourself- Cicero.

Life would be much easier if I could only just take my own advice. I read and post often on a forum with other IVFers from across Canada and the United States.  I cannot express how helpful this forum has been to me during the last 6 months.  It's a place where you can say whatever you want and have readers who truly understand what you're going through. They are a group of incredibly resilient women.  Some have been struggling with infertility for 10 years and some are brand new to the process. We offer one another support and a non judgemental ear.

If you want to complain about your aunt Nelly who told you to just adopt an oprhan from Haiti, go ahead, we are here to tell you how insensitive Nelly is.

If you want to cry because your ultrasound appointment showed only 5 follicles at less than 8mm and a low E2 level, go ahead, because we understand the acronyms and share your frustration.

Most importantly if you want to share your joy of finally conceiving, go ahead, because from the bottom of our hearts we are truly happy for you even if we are still broken hearted ourselves.

I have given plenty of advice to members of our January IVF club and in turn, have received much appreciated advice.

As the days turn into weeks and now into a new month, some people have dropped off the board to deal with the pain of having a negative cycle. There are only a handful of us left who are still waiting or who have confirmed pregnancy.

I want to urge my fellow IVFers to keep the faith. I just wish I could take my own advice some days.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


or in other words: I have lost my marbles. Well we are are half way there (actually more than half way since I will have my bloodwork in 6 days-Monday). I have resisted the urge to test again. In fact, the very idea of it terrifies me now. That's because by now, my little beans should be making enough HCG to be detected in a home pregnancy test. I just cannot deal with the let down. Why on earth the clinic makes you suffer for an entire 2 weeks is beyond me.

So here I am just sitting, waiting wishing (thank you Jack Johnson).

Saturday, February 6, 2010


or in other words, 4 days past a 5 day transfer. I hardly slept last night. My mind was racing, I had a killer headache and was bloated with dull cramps. I literally kept thinking my period was going to rear it's ugly head in the night. Also, my husband was out with friends and didn't get in until the wee hours of the morning so I never rest well until he is home. I also felt ridiculously nauseous. I know I know, you are thinking nausea! Pregnancy! What a perfect pair they make. I chalk it up to having gone out for a huge dinner and then falling asleep way to early on the couch to properly digest my food. Tiredness! Pregnancy! Seriously though I routinely fall asleep by 10pm so that is no indication for me. I simply love to sleep.

This morning I woke up and dug out the last remaining home pregnancy test I had. It was a good quality one too, a Clearblue early pregnancy test that claims it can detect a pregnancy up to 4 days before a missed period. The goal this morning was not to test for pregnancy though, it was to check that my HCG level (the same hormone that is produced in pregnancy) was gone from my system. You see, the trigger shot I took 11 days ago contained this hormone and in an evil little trick to infertile couples everywhere, this shot can give you a false positive. I want to make sure I have a negative so when I do get a positive, I'll know it's the real deal.

It was negative. I put it in the trash, took the dog in the yard and then promptly came back inside and dug it out from the trash. It felt good. It's been a whole 9 months or so since I did that. It's every infertile woman's dirty little secret. We have done it countless times even if the box tells us not to.

So from experience digging out tests from the trash, I can confidently say that the Clearblue tests have always been stark white for me. Even if one pulls the test out of the trash an entire 24 hours later, no cheap evaporation line has ever appeared for me. I was aways a big fat negative (BFN). So much to my surprise the test from this morning had the faintest of faintest lines. Now what am I supposed to do with this information? It is WAYYYYYYY too early for me to have a positive but too late for me to have remaining HCG from the trigger shot. Or maybe I have it wrong all together. I did feel like chucking up my breakfast no sooner than I had finished it. Hmmm.

Until then, it leaves me more confused and with a desperate urge to go buy a bulk size box of pregnancy tests at Costco (yes they are much cheaper there). I won't though. I need to preserve whatever sanity I have left.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dear Beans

This is what I lovingly call you. I hope you don't mind. You see, when we started trying to have a baby the good old fashioned way, we would ask one another at the end of each month if we had any baby beans growing.  I am so happy to say that after 19 months of trying, we finally do!

If you do get a chance to meet me (and I hope from the bottom of my heart that you do), you will come to learn that I love to spend time on the internet. So this morning with my cup of herbal tea in hand, I was reading about what you're up to down there. My sources tell me that over the next 24 hours you are going to hatch out of your zona and attach to my uterine lining where you will hopefully stay for the next 8 and a half months.

If you are strong enough to stick around, I promise you this:

I will be grateful for every day that you are in my belly because this means you are safe and are growing.  During this time, I will care for you to the best of my ability. If you do decide to stick around, you should know that you will be welcomed into this world by a wonderful family and amazing friends who cannot wait to meet you in October. My baby beans, you will be loved.

You have a big day ahead of you. I'll be here-cheering you on.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

You must have been a beautiful embryo

I haven't even written with details of the weekend because I was scared that actually writing about a 5 day transfer would somehow jinx it. After not getting a call on Saturday to notify us of a change, I was still in disbelief that we were going to actually make it to Day 5. In fact, it was only once I was on the table with my acupuncturist this morning pre-transfer that I felt relief. Surely they wouldn't allow me to get acupuncture treatment if we have nothing to transfer?

As it turns out, 4 of our 5 fertilised embryos were alive. We were shocked.  This is 80% embryo retention..much higher that the norm.  Unfortunately 2 of them were rated as poor quality-at least by Ottawa Fertility Clinic standards. I understand they are very strict about only freezing the best ones. The 2 others we had were great. One was perfect. The nurse, the doctor and the embryologist said it was a beautiful blastocyst.

Imagine that. This kid is already good looking.

Becuase there was only a slim chance we'd have something to freeze, we opted to transfer the 2 high quality ones. This of course presents us with the possibility of twins but it was a gamble we were willing to take. This risk is especially true with transfers on day 5.  On the top is a picture of what a 3 day embryo looks like (8 cell high quality) and  on the bottom  is what a blastocyst looks like by day 5. Transferring a blastocyst in the uterus at day 5  mimics what happens in a natural pregnancy since implantation does not actually occcur until 5 or 6 days past ovulation


The transfer itself was quick and exciting. The nurse made sure I was comfortable and talked me though everything I was seeing on the sceen. The sonographer held the ultrasound probe on my belly so I could see my uterus clearly. The embryologist who had made the magic happen with our egg and sperm explained the blastocysts in detail. The doctor  inserted the speculum and the catheter and dropped off our 2 little blasts into my uterus. My husband stared at the monitor with me while holding my hand. Of course this is not the way anyone imagines conception to happen. We were supposed to go to a party, get a bit tipsy, make love only to discover we were pregnant 2 weeks later. If there is one thing I have learned by now, it is that it doesn't matter how we get there, just that we know we will. As for me, I cried during the transfer. I cried when I saw the 2 tiny air bubbles on the screen which they explained were my 2 blasts entering my uterus. It was the happiest moment. I am Pregnant until Prove Otherwise.

Here is a picture of my little blasts being dropped off. You cannot actually see them but the sonographer put an arrow to show where they are. What a beautiful picture.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Fun times in infertility

Fun time #1:

Excusing yourself from the 3pm meeting so you can go stick prometrium suppositories up your vagina in the work bathroom stall.