Monday, 12 November 2012

Its Diwali !!!

Of all Indian festivals, I love Diwali. Its so full of light, colors, and there is goodness around everywhere.

I remember my childhood days where Diwali celebrations lasted for good 6 days and the preparations used to start much earlier. But now with everyone being forever busy, the celebrations do not go on this long. The day of Diwali is the highlight, when we worship Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi. Apart from that 2 days before Diwali, are mostly just the basic rituals to be performed. I can see all houses lit up with beautiful and colorful lights. 

Wishing everyone lots of love and prosperity.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

A tribute to women with resilience !

Women are pillars of strength. And I saw it proven during these past months. During this time I have interacted with many women who are struggling or have struggled with infertility. Some have been lucky to be successful and some who are still struggling like me. One thing which stands common in all such women is their fortitude; their strength. Their capacity to bear, withstand the multiple trials that come their way is tremendous. 

I am still struggling to gather my strength. But I look at all these other women and it gives me hope that I too shall be able to persevere and be able to face my life's trials with same endurance.

There are many mornings which do not seem as bright as they used to be (atleast till few months back). Many days when all my conscious hours are clouded with the thought of infertility and what should I be doing now. During those days I read posts from some of the blogs that I follow and some of my pain is lifted off; its like having a friend right next to me holding my hand. 

With this post I just want to pay tribute to the fortitude and resilience of women.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Analysis Paralysis

Definition from wikipedia
The term "analysis paralysis" or "paralysis of analysis" refers to over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation, or citing sources, so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises. A person might be seeking the optimal or "perfect" solution upfront, and fear making any decision which could lead to erroneous results, when on the way to a better solution.

Have I reached such paralysis state. This year has been a year of such turmoil and changes that I have started to fear what else can be in store for me in the coming days. 

This Sunday I realized that I have just been  sitting, thinking, analyzing about what happened in these past months. And all this thinking is hampering me in taking any step forward. 

I had decided to quit my job as it was becoming a bottleneck in my fertility treatments. It was done after much deliberation and had seemed the best & perfect plan. But looking back I think I could have found alternatives rather than leaving my work. I am still contemplating whether I should get back to a full time job or not. 

I have also not been able to make any further decision on what I should do for my fertility issue. What alternative should I choose, which way should I move... Lately I am leaving just one day at a time without any thought of the future. But if I continue like this I will not achieve anything. And I do not want to have a regret in future of wasting my time. 

I have formulated some ways for myself to move away from my inactivity in life and getting back into doing something constructive and meaningful:
  1. Plan, but do not try to plan too far into the future as that will definitely change. Plan for near future and make a pragmatic plan which lets you achieve your milestones.  Planning is good but too much can be as crippling as not enough. Keep your momentum. Stay with the plan of what you are going to do and do it.
  2. Set a deadline and force yourself to stick to it. More often than not, I used to shift the deadline for all my personal plans citing one or the other excuse on why I cant achieve it. No more! If I have to go to the bank for reviewing my investments, I will do it on the day I had planned and not postpone it for next day. If I want to educate myself on a topic, I will set a deadline by which I should have gained knowledge on it.
  3. Force myself away from the distractions. One of my bad habits has been getting distracted too soon and too much. As soon as I sit down for some task, I tend to remember all other inconsequential chores that I should do before getting on with the task, resulting in the said task not getting done at all. 

Has it helped me? I guess I am improving. I am a volunteer in couple of non-profit technology and management forums, and I had picked up some tasks there. I had been lingering on them for the past few weeks, not been able to make any progress. Since the past week, I have started to take small steps in getting those tasks done. And having set deadlines for what the tasks that I want to do on those forums, I am confident that they will be done.
Similarly I am sure one day I will be able to come to my decision on which path should I take on my "wanting to be a mother" journey. The first step is the one which takes most time and from then on you have to keep going.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Creme de la Creme @ Stirrup Queens

Since the time I got on the internet to research and read about fertility problems, I have come across many many blogs with courage stories from people who are struggling with infertility. These blogs have provided enormous support which no friend / family could have provided.

I myself got initiated into blogging, it is very therapeutic and you never know you might be helping someone else by your words, your strength.

Here is your chance to submit your favorite post to the 2012 Creme de la Creme list.


Saturday, 3 November 2012

Spending time in what I like...

This is what I have been occupied with in the past days. Had applied henna on my palms 2 days back and yesterday celebrated Karwachauth with all the traditional finery.

I love henna on my hands and this was just the occasion for me to indulge in it :-)

Monday, 29 October 2012

Festival season is here !!!

I love this time of the year, there is so much buzz around with festivities that start with Navratri and going on till Diwali.

I am eagerly waiting for Diwali. Love the lights, happiness around this day. The markets are already abuzz with people doing their preparations for the festival.

In my community we also celebrate Karwachauth, it is the day when women pray for the well-being and prosperity of their husbands. Until I got married I used to wonder why should women fast & pray for their husbands and why shouldn't the husbands do the same. But now I know, husbands are there to take care of their wives all year round. And just so that they are capable of taking care of the wives, the wives pray to God to give lot of prosperity to husbands Otherwise what will happen to all my shopping bills ;-)

This is the time of the year when I indulge myself with new clothes, sinful food and sweets without feeling guilty :-)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Weekend break

We took a much needed break. Went away to Coorg for the weekend. It is about 250km from Bangalore and we started early morning so as to avoid the afternoon sun. However that day it was a very pleasant weather and I loved the cool fresh air. For the last 50kms or so you pass through the forest area and it is a very scenic route. 

The resort that we stayed in has river flowing on one side, paddy fields on one side, has coffee plantation on the other sides. As soon as you step out of your cottage all you see is greenery all around you. The myriad chirping of birds! I could have sat there the entire day and listened to their songs! No place can bring you as much peace as in the lap of mother nature.
We stayed there for 2 days and all we did was take walks in the serene surroundings, eat, sleep. On our way back we visited a temple which is dedicated to the Goddess. Its very peaceful near the temple; it being in the middle of nowhere. All you have around the temple is beautiful landscape.

We had decided that we will not talk about our fertility issues during this break. We wanted this break to be just about the two of us having a relaxed and quiet time.

The trip has had a very calming effect on me and I feel all rejuvenated and ready to take on the world again :-)

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

An appointment, a visit, and sadness again

I went to visit my RE. Had been postponing this visit for past few weeks. Took appointments twice and cancelled as did not have the courage to go. Eventually yesterday I forced myself to visit her.

We discussed my case at length. I tried to find all possible causes which could lead me to understand why I have not had success till now. I picked each investigation report, asking her to explain again to me what each test meant and what inference does she make from those values. I was hoping that somewhere she will say "your X hormone levels are not good and that is the reason" But none of that came across. Most of my reports have been normal, (or shall I say the values are normal as expected for my age group). 

Like all my previous visits to her, I was hoping to see some encouragement  some positivity from the doctor... But none of that came in this visit. I don't blame her, she was just laying down the facts in front of me. I know the facts and the fact that my age has become the biggest bottleneck at this point in time. Never before have I felt so disappointed in getting old. If only I could turn the clock back!

I have hit a dead-end in this journey. Going back is not an option; the only option is to force myself to break one of the other walls and there try to find what I am desiring for. Should I start to think of donor egg, should I think of adoption, should I give up the thought of becoming a mother!!! Or should I again try IVF with my own eggs (would that be too foolish knowing the chances that I stand at my age). None of the choices are easy for me. I need help in deciding, but who can help me! Maybe a divine intervention to help me make the decision! I look up to you God to help me find some source of hope, source of strength, something to help break the walls where I can walk towards my dream !

Sunday, 14 October 2012

I fall, I cry And I get up again!

Moving On from the failure... And finding it extremely hard. Sometimes I feel that I am stuck in a revolving door, and I am just going round and round; not finding a way to break free! But I have to force myself to step out of it. Move on and move ahead! 

Whenever you want to find out about something, plunge straight in. You cannot make a choice without feeling afraid. And whenever you make a new choice, you are afraid whether it is the right choice or not. Whether at some later point in time, you might realize that it was not the best decision made. But the choices or decisions that we make are made after weighing all the options and at that point in time that is the best decision one could have made. So even if they go wrong, take it in your stride and learn from it. The times when something goes wrong are teaching you something. I am learning to have more resilience, learned not to take everything for granted. Whatever you have are the things that you deserve, they have been tailored just for you. Be it happiness, be it pain. Accept what you get; Love what you get!!!

There are many things which are not and can never be explained. God decided to do certain things in a certain way and why He did this is a secret known only to Him.

Few days back I read somewhere "Believing in yourself is the first secret to success." I am trying to keep my belief in myself alive! Not let the disappointments pull me down.

What is most important is going after what I believe in. Is it that simple! It means taking risks, risking failure, risking disappointment, but never ceasing in my pursuit. As long as I keep going, I will triumph in the end. No one promised me a life without any struggle. I just pray I get strength to overcome the struggle. The strength to find peace and happiness with whatever I have and will have in life.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

IVF Etiquette

A "Not" to do list for anyone who has family / friend dealing with infertility.
  1. Do not talk to the world about the couple's fertility issues. Respect couple's wish of secrecy about infertility - Yes, so I shared my problems with you but that does not mean you can talk to others about it. People dealing with fertility problems would not want the whole world to know. And if someone needs to know about it, let it come from the couple!
  2. No unsolicited advice please - "Go on a holiday and you will come back pregnant; didn't person 'X' get pregnant on their 2nd honeymoon. Pray at such and such temple and you will be blessed with a baby. Ask your husband to try Shirshasana yoga!"... Yes, most of us must have heard all such advice. But there are times when what one needs is medical intervention and we have excellent doctors who can give advice for our situation. So please refrain from giving advice and if we need your advice we will ask for it.
  3. Don't suggest adoption - And please don't suggest giving up trying for a baby. Everyone knows about these options. Years ago (when I was not on this journey), a friend mentioned about another friend who had failed to get pregnant even after 8-9 years of marriage & trying to conceive, and one of my comments was "why don't they adopt." Now when I look back and think of that incident, I am glad that I was not saying this comment to the couple in question, only they know what all options they would have deliberated upon and what all efforts they must have made to have their baby. And if a couple wants to adopt they will, it is their choice and the decision has to come from within. At the end of the day, it is the couple's decision whether they want to try again or choose alternative options. If we need suggestions / help in deciding; we will ask for it.
  4. And please do not even try to console by mentioning the downside of being pregnant / having children. I have heard umpteen number of times "Good, that you don't have kids as they can be so naughty / your routine revolves around them / you cannot do things which you enjoyed and used to do when you did not have kids...." Hey, if it was as bad why did you have kids! I know you are just trying to console but please not with such comments.
  5. Do not mention high profile people who went through infertility. Celebrities can afford to go through cycles after cycles of IVF which many cannot. They have lot of advantages; they can afford to have a dedicated medical professional just for themselves which many of us cannot even think of. Whether a celebrity struggled with infertility or not, their situation is difference from many women.
  6. Not wise to mention about examples where someone got success in their 6th or 7th IVF. Fertility treatments are costly and one has to be reasonable & realistic about how much can they stretch in this journey. Once while I was waiting for my turn to meet a doctor, I overheard the doctor mention to her assistant "Oh, but they both are working, why should they be worried about the treatment cost!" You can never know what all financial liabilities someone has. The couple would know to what extent can they go on their journey of trying assisted conception.
  7. After a failed cycle, do not console by saying "Fertility treatments are attached with a probability. Maybe not this time but next time!" I know friends / family want you to look at the bright side and not cry on the failed attempt. But at times like this I want to shout and say - "I did not want a next time, I wanted it this time."
For the couple going through fertility issues, it becomes a very difficult phase of life. and as their friends / family its your responsibility to help them sail through by just holding their hand and be there to support them if they ask you for any support. 
Do not judge!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

How to Wait Less

This is a post from Zenhabits

‘How much of human life is lost in waiting?’ ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Post written by Leo Babauta.
So much of our lives are spent waiting.
We wait in lines, we wait for the perfect person, we can’t wait for our dreams to come true, we look forward to the day when we have a better body and a better life, we look for ways to make our goals become reality someday soon.
We wait. That good life is coming, and we’ll be there soon.
What if we stopped waiting, stopped trying to make dreams and goals come true, stopped wishing and anticipating? What if that good life is already here, and the only way to live it is to stop looking forward and notice what we already have?
If you are waiting for good things to happen — or are actively trying to make something good come true — take a pause. Look at where you are right now, in life and physically in this moment. Where are you? Is it already great? If so, why are you looking towards the future, when you’re already there?
And if we don’t think where we are is already great, perhaps we’re not paying close enough attention.

Waiting in Lines & Traffic

Recently I had to drive a moving truck for six hours, and caught myself thinking, “I can’t wait until I’m there!” Of course, when I noticed that thought, I reminded myself: “You’re already there.”
Where I was — alone, in a truck, on a highway, in the middle of beautiful country — was already great. Perhaps my legs were tired, but that was an opportunity to feel my legs, when so many of us forget they’re there as we sit all day. It was a chance to remember that I’m alive, which we take for granted. We daily participate in the miracle of life, and to us it’s not only routine and dull, we often think it sucks.
My legs were tired, so I pulled over at a rest stop, stretched my legs, laid in the grass, stared up at the sky. My tired legs gave me this possibility, and so tired legs don’t suck, they are great.
The next time you find yourself waiting in traffic or in a line, and you’re thinking, “Can’t wait until I get there!” … remember that you are already in a place that’s great. Perhaps that’s in a car, alone, but what’s wrong with being alone? Can’t you listen to music, sing a tune you love, dance? Can’t you look outside at the sky and realize what greatness surrounds you? Can’t you talk to yourself and find out what great company you are?
If you’re in a line, aren’t you surrounded by fascinating human beings? What a great time to watch and listen and learn.

The Tragedy of Goals

We set goals, these little dreams of what the future will be like, and focus on them. Every day, we work on these goals, take a step closer to getting to that great future. When the goal is completed, yay! Now what? Next goal. And then the next. This kind of forward-looking thinking doesn’t end when you get to the goal, and never ends until you no longer have any life left, no future to look to.
But actually, it can end — right now. Stop looking to that goal, and look at where you are.
The goal might sound great: run a marathon, complete a project, get out of debt, get nice abs, make a million dollars. But it’s a fantasy, and when (if) that fantasy comes true, it won’t be what you imagined. It will feel like regular life, not some amazing new life that is different than the life you had. Life won’t be better, and never will be, until you stop wishing for this better life and realize that life is already incredible.
This life, right now, is already perfect! Enjoy it, and forget about those goals. Getting to them won’t be any better than the amazing life that’s right here, at this moment.
I get asked, “What do I do if I don’t have anything I want?” Well, stop wishing for those things. They aren’t better than what you already have, which is a ridiculously unlikely event called life.

Waiting for My Baby

So many people are waiting for their dream lover, that perfect person who is going to love them, make their life perfect.
That person may or may not show up, but the tragedy is not that you don’t have Mr. or Mrs. Dreamy … it’s that you’re waiting for happiness.
You don’t need another person to love you, to complete you, to make you happy. That person is already there, with you right now. (Spoiler alert: it’s you.)
You are the best company, the person who will always be around, the unconditional love you’re looking for. You just need to stop waiting for Dreamy McDreamerson, and look at yourself. Really notice yourself. Accept yourself. Love yourself, as you are, without wishing you were different.
This might take few tries, but try it right now. You might find that you’re the dreamy love of your life you’ve been waiting for.

Three Things to Do Today

How do you stop waiting for good things to come? Three things you can do right now, today:
  1. Slow down. Rushing means you miss what’s right here.
  2. Pay attention. Look at what’s around you right now. Look at yourself, and how great you are. If it doesn’t seem great, look closer.
  3. Applaud.
‘We never live; we are always in the expectation of living.’~Voltaire
And from today I decide to stop wishing constantly / stop waiting for my dream to come true. But I do not stop working towards my dream,  I decide to enjoy and cherish what I have today. Tomorrow when I am given something else in my life, I will cherish that also with all my heart.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Brighter side of infertility and its journey

All these past months I have been going through this whirlpool of understanding infertility, its causes, and taking the treatments. And all the while I have felt very stressed about it all specially while in the middle of treatment...

Few days back I sat down to think that there has to be something good in all this. And here's few things that I realized has made me a better person through it all:

1. I have learned a lot about gratitude. 
Life is precious, you don't know how long you have.
Be grateful of each day that you get, try to make full use of every moment!

Gratitude about infertility... Sounds very ironical, when all I could feel was bitterness about my inability to become a mother. But this bitterness was not getting me anywhere, it was rather making me more alienated from all the good things. That was when I decided that from now on I will embrace my infertility and learn from it. Feel thankful that I am healthy, can cherish the beauty around me. Grateful of all my blessings.

2. Empathy. Sometimes when you engross yourself in your pain and struggle too much, you fail to notice what people around you are going through. If you look around you, you will notice there are many others who might have gone through worse. It made my suffering much bearable. I realised that if I tried, I could give solace to others also despite my own pain.

3. My love for my husband has gone up a level. He has been extremely supportive all this time. 
Helping me smile. Taking my real bad mood swings & sometimes harsh words in his stride and holding my hand.
And very unlike him, he has learned the art of pampering me :-) Could I have ever imagined him getting me bed-tea !!! Not until we starting walking this path.

On a lighter note:

1. I had been suffering from hair loss for quite some time. And during the times I was on progesterone I realized that my hair loss reduced significantly. So thanks to fertility treatment atleast I still have some hair on my head ;-)
(And yes, a bit of research on internet tells me that progesterone helps stop hair thinning.)

2. Finding ways of staying away from unsolicited advice. I am the kind of person who finds it very hard to say 'No', and the kind of person who finds it hard to be rude to someone even when they are saying things which are hurtful to you. Now when I talk to someone; I have learned the art of weaving a safe topic in my conversation, as soon as I realize the person would very soon bring up the talk of my getting pregnant. I am happily staying away from their advices of meeting Dr 'X' who is a great gynecologist Or starting to eat 'Y' as it supposed helped 'Z' get pregnant!

3. Being lazy guilt free :-) During both my IVF cycles, the two week wait has been the time when I tried to rest as much as I could. Before all this happened, if I took a nap in the afternoon, I would feel very guilty that I have wasted that hour sleeping where I could have done something better with my time. But now I am rid of that guilt, I have spent hours watching some videos / movies without thinking twice that I could possibly do something more constructive :-)

I have found ways of keeping my peace of mind.

Lastly, Believe in yourself, keep the faith. This too shall pass.

Monday, 24 September 2012

My Life Mantras

Some quotes that I keep going back to when I feel low:
  1. Be positive! Keep smiling. Your attitude will transfer your power to others.
  2. Life does not give me the choice of what battle to fight, but just the choice to fight it or not! And I decide to fight the battle.
  3. Nothing in this world happens by chance.
  4. People move in and out of each other’s lives, and each leaves his mark on the other. You find you are made up of bits and pieces of all who have touched your life, and you are more because of it, and you would be less if they had not touched you.
  5. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.
  6. The darkest hour of the night comes just before dawn. - Paulo Coelho
  7. You have to go through the worst to get to the best.
  8. What is past is past. never go back. Not for excuses. Not for justification, not for happiness. ― Mario Puzo
  9. Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality. - Earl Nightingale

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Want to understand the reason ...

Its darkness again!!!

It was time for me to find out if my IVF #2 was successful or not. Did an HPT in the morning of d10 and it came negative! Had been having a bad feeling since past 3 days and realized that the bad feeling was turning into a reality. Still had hope that maybe the HCG levels are not good enough to be detected by the HPT, went to a nearby lab for blood test. It was tough to wait till evening when the report was to be ready. And as I was suspecting the blood test report also showed that I was not pregnant !

Not again! 

People say that "Everything happens for a reason, Nothing happens without a reason!"
Trying to find reason behind all this. Is it that God is trying to tell me that my dream of wanting to become a mother cannot be fulfilled!

Excerpt from the book I was reading recently. Have been reading this particular portion many times to help me get over the pain and disappointment:

The alchemist answered. "What you still need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we've learned as we've moved toward that dream. That's the point at which most people give up. It's the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.""Every search begins with beginner's luck. And every search ends with the victor's being severely tested."The boy remembered an old proverb from his country. "It said that the darkest hour of the night came just before the dawn."

I had thought that my dawn was just arriving but it is not to be! I don't know how long can I endure being tested by my destiny.
What is it that God wants me to learn from this???
How do I accept this failure and make myself look forward? 
What do I look forward to?

It is hard, very hard!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Hakuna Matata

I am a sucker for animation movies and have been watching some of my all time favorites. What would the world be without Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Movies!

Jungle Book, Lion King, Ratatouille, kung Fu Panda, Finding Nemo.... the list goes on and on.

My first memories of animation movies are those of me sitting with my siblings and watching Jungle Book, those were the days when you got movies in a video cassette and needed a VCR to play them.
I still turn into a kid whenever I watch those animation movies... 

Most of these movies show the pure, unadulterated love in relationships (be it between friends, teacher-pupil, parent-child). True meaning of relationships and living upto those relationships, I wish everyone in this world followed the same principles and it would uncomplicate lot of things. Like I read in the newspaper quotes a couple of days back "If girls were as nice to each other in real life as they are in Facebook comments, the world would be a different place to live"! So true!

I feel so energized after watching these movies. Feel like dancing like Baloo, the bear from Jungle book OR sing Hakuna Matata like Pumba & Timon from Lion King. Can watch them as many times as anyone would ask me to !

Follow your dreams and chase them with all your heart and your dreams will definitely be fulfilled. Follow your dreams and you will realize your destiny!

BTW: Hakuna Matata, it means no worries. 

Thursday, 6 September 2012

The dreaded 2 week wait

The agonizing 2 week wait has started and I keep thinking what do I do to keep myself sane!

I had been meaning to re-read one of Paolo Coelho's book, have been saving that book for these 2 weeks. I am trying to go slow with it so that I can hang onto it till the end of my 2WW. Reading has always had a calming effect on me. This particular book is a brilliant work to help me see the good things around, the positivity around me. It definitely has been working this time too :-)

Whenever I am in a gloomy mood, retail therapy has done wonders for me. So though I cannot go out for these initial few days, I can always do virtual window shopping! I have been visiting many of the online stores and putting jewelry, clothes, bags to my favorites list. Eventually most of it might end up just being on the favorites list, but who cares; at the moment I am enjoying it.

There have been few things which are not helping me though. 
As has it with Murphy's Law, my housemaid has fallen ill (arrrrrghhh) and just a couple of days back I had told her that I will need her help all the more during next few weeks. And just at this 2 weeks, she had to call in sick :-( Looking for a temp maid for a day or two is not an easy task. To think of it, I should stay as calm and relaxed specially now, hmmmmf.

Every few hours, I fight the urge to search the internet for interpretation of any change that I feel in my body. A slight pain here, a little spasm there... and I want to know what it could mean. But this time I have promised myself that I will not try to read the symptoms and just wait for the day when I am ready to know the result of my IVF. Till now I have been able to keep my promise, but controlling the urge of wanting to search the internet for my symptoms is still work in progress. 

Writing too has been very helpful in keeping me calm. Its good to release your emotions. You cannot control your emotions but you can definitely learn to peacefully live with them; that way you are able to manage them very well. And that is what I am trying to do every day during these 2 weeks.

And as someone said after ET, not much is in our hands, its nature that takes its course! So here I am at the mercy of nature and trying to make the path easier by keeping myself stress-free and happy!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Random thoughts

Went for ET yesterday, and it felt as if I was going for some college exam result where you get the verdict of having passed or failed!

A day before when I called my embryologist, I was told that at the moment both the embryos are looking good and only next day morning will we know if they reach blastocyst stage or not. I agonized trying to find more into what she told me (did she sound positive or was she apprehensive). In the end called my doctor to see if she had any more comforting words for me :-) I debated with her if it made it any better if we were to do the transfer that day. She convinced me that even if the transfer was to happen on day 4 and it were not to happen the chances are same as transfer on day 5; So we might as well wait for day 5 transfer where we can pick from the blastocyst embryos.

The day of ET arrived; we waited to meet the doctor. She told us that one of the embryos reached the blastocyst stage but the other was not looking a good quality embie. Infact it seemed to have deteriorated. After the initial excitement of getting 6 eggs, when I was told that we have only 1 embryo which reached Blastocyst stage and good enough to be transferred, I felt miserable (and that literally is an understatement of my feeling, I really can't say how disappointed I felt in myself).
But looking at the brighter side, I have atleast 1 embryo which has sustained till Blastocyst and who knows might be able to sustain further in my uterus!

The transfer went smooth and after resting there for couple of hours, I went back home to rest more. While resting I read and read about what really means blastocyst. What is the probability of a successful implantation with a blastocyst transfer Vs a 3d transfer? What are the chances of having a baby with blastocyst transfer? And many more such questions hounded me. Internet as they say is a boon and a bane depending on how you use it. Sometimes I feel reading too much about something can also cause you unnecessary worries. I should just believe in my doctor and in God. 

Was it wise for us to have decided to wait till the blastocyst stage, only time will tell.

My references on blastocyst:
2. There are many sites on blastocyst transfer and its success probabilities.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

How are my embryos doing

I don't think I have done more research on any other topic than what I have been doing since past 8-9 months on IVF. And needless to say, with every research I do I learn something more on the topic of IVF. I can nowhere compare my knowledge to a fertility expert but I can definitely understand some of the jargon they say :-)

Today is day 3 after my egg retrieval. And everyday I have been calling my embryologist to know how my embryos were doing!

I searched on the internet to understand what is the average development cycle of embryos. Below is a chart from that research. It helps in knowing whether I am doing as per what prior studies indicate Or there is some exception in my case.

Day 0
Egg retrieval
Insemination of eggs with prepared Sperm
Day 1
Eggs checked for fertilization (the presence of two pronuclei or PN's)
Day 2
2-4 cell stage of development 
Day 3
6-10 cell stage of development 
Day 4
Embryos at the compacted morula (16-32 cell) stage. 
Day 5
Embryos at the blastocyst stage of development

While researching on this topic what I also chanced upon was many females stating that they conceived and had healthy pregnancy even when the embryo development was slower than what above chart says (ex: 4 cell embryo transferred on Day 3 resulted in a baby boy for someone). So what I mean here is that every embryo behaves different ( I assume it must be depending on egg quality, sperm quality, genetic code of these); So I will not be the best person to be judging on my embryos. I will leave it to my embryologist and my fertility expert. They are the best people to tell if it is all seeming normal or not.

On the evening of my egg retrieval day, I spoke to the embryologist and was told that out of 6 oocyts obtained from my ovaries, only 3 are mature eggs. And all 3 have fertilized.

Day 1: I was told that all the 3 embryos were looking good and we can hope that they keep on developing well. 

Day 2: the embryologist told me that 2 of the embryos were developing well. One is 4-cell and other is 5-cell. However the 3rd one stopped growing. So now I am left with only 2 of the original count of 6 :-(

Day 3: Today morning I got a call from my embryologist. She said that my embryos are now 10-cell & 11-cell in their development. I found this a very encouraging news considering that in 1st IVF cycle it was 2-cell day 2 transfer. She said I should talk to the doctor to discuss on when should we be doing the transfer.
I had a detailed discussion with the doctor on whether she should do the transfer now or wait for blastocyst stage.

My prior research research on Blastocyst transfer indicated that it results in higher pregnancy success rates than a day 3 or day 4 transfer.

I left the decision to my doctors advice on what should be done. She explained that if we wait, it may so happen that the embryos do not reach blastocyst stage. And if we do transfer today, then also a similar possibility is there. We eventually decided to wait for blastocyst.

I think I will want to give a call tomorrow to my embryologist and see if the embryos reached the day4 stage or not. 

Science still has not been able to understand human reproduction to its full. I presume its because all female bodies behave differently (after all we have unique genetic coding).
All that I can do is stay positive and trust that whatever my doctor is doing is the best she (or any other fertility expert) could have done.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Thus starts my second IVF cycle

After unsuccessfully trying naturally for past 2 months, we decided that we should get onto our second IVF cycle at the earliest possible. After much deliberation, my husband and I decided to go to a different fertility clinic for our 2nd IVF try. We have been visiting this clinic and met the doctor multiple times for her to understand our history on this journey. 
Finally the time arrived for me to visit my doctor and let her evaluate on how my ovaries were doing and what is the protocol to follow which will give me best possible chance.

If you remember I had mentioned that I have low ovarian reserve and during 1st IVF cycle we did not see good results. My fertility expert decided not to give me high dosages of hormones as they would not make much of a difference on my low reserves. The best chance that I have is to stimulate whatever few follicles we see and hope to get eggs from them. And ofcourse with low dosage, I hope the side effects also are less.

She suggested that we should try soft protocol (in medical terms: KATO protocol / mild IVF / mini IVF). What happens in this protocol is that doctors use milder stimulation; which studies have shown can result in higher quality eggs.

We started the protocol which required me to take 150 iu of FSH hormone and clomid. 

On day 2 the baseline scan showed 5 average size & 2 small follicles on my left ovary And only 1 average size and 2 small follicles on right ovary.

A repeat scan after 5 days of stimulation showed that out of the 6 decent sized follicles atleast 4 were growing as desired. Doctor prescribed another 5 days of stimulation. Under normal cases I have heard that doctors stimulate only for 9 days starting from day 2 and on day13 do the egg retrieval. However in my case the doctor added one more day of stimulation because the follicles were showing slow growth.

In my previous IVF cycle, I had been taking the hormone shots in the morning. However, this time I took them at night. The doctor suggested taking them at night, maybe that way they are more effective! One point to keep in mind is that they should be given at almost the same time each day.

In my previous IVF cycle, I was told I have 3 follicles on each ovary; however by the end of stimulation the follicles on the right ovary were not growing as expected So the doctor could get viable follicles only on left ovary. So during egg retrieval, the possibility was from 3 follicles only.

This time was much better. Even though the right ovary had only 1 good looking follicle, this one was growing well And the 5 good sized follicles on left ovary were also growing well. So it seemed like 100% improvement this time :-)

After 10 days of stimulation, the scan showed that the follicles were reaching their optimum size. So I was prescribed Ovitrelle to be taken that night.

Eventually the day of egg retrieval approached. This is Day 14 of my cycle days. 
Pre-OT preparation went smoothly. The nurse was a gentle one and did not hurt me much with the pricks :-)
In all my time in OT was just about 45 mins, during which I was sedated and the doctor picked eggs from my follicles.
After recovering for an hour or two, I went to see the doctor and she told me that they got 6 oocyte out of which she is expecting that atleast 4 will be mature.

Can't explain how happy I feel. Compared to my 1st IVF cycle, this was such an improvement. I kept my fingers crossed for the best to happen this time.

While returning back, I was so happy that I told my husband that we should go out somewhere to eat. I also knew that next few weeks, I will be confined to home so make use of the opportunity while there is time :-)

I am expecting a call tomorrow from the embryologist on how my eggs have done.

Apprehensive / tensed / worried, all these words come to my mind about my state at this point in time.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Choosing the right fertility clinic !

One of the most crucial decision while taking fertility journey is choosing the fertility clinic. This will be the place where you will end up making frequent visits, so it better be a good and conducive place ;-) And hence its but prudent to do a thorough research before picking the place where you will be heading for advice on your fertility treatment. 

I spent almost 2 months before I narrowed down to the place I wanted to go for my IVF cycle. Below are some of the criteria that I used in deciding my IVF clinic:

  1. How good is the Doctor at listening? Listening is an art (specially active listening). A very important characteristic of a good doctor (specially a fertility expert). Most of the people who go to a fertility expert are in low morale and low self-confidence. It is very important that the doctor gives you enough time to listen to all your fears, apprehensions, and is able to give you hope. One of the fertility experts that I met was very upfront in telling me that since I am more than 35years of age, I should also look at the option of donor egg. Now I must tell you that I do not have any so-called hormonal  imbalance / tubes / ovary malfunction and I have seen ladies in their 40s having a healthy pregnancy. So such statements about donor eggs even before the doctor gave me a chance to use my own eggs, put me off completely from her. What hope could I get from such a person! Some of the fertility experts that I met were so positive in their discussions that even though they were saying that my chances were low as compared to others but it still gave me lot of hope. I do not want to give up before giving myself a fair chance on trying to get pregnant.
  2. How busy is the doctor? If you are at a place which a choc-a-block full of people and the doctor is there only for an hour or two, she might not give you the due attention. While speaking to her, see if there is an urgency from her side to close the conversation and see you out of her room. I prefer a doctor who will have time for me (and I don't mean to say that she should sit with me the whole day but someone who makes you feel that at that moment you are the only person whom she is to treat)
  3. What are the IVF protocols that the doctor follows and on what basis does she decide which one is best for you. Is she ready to be a little experimental or does she follow everything by the book. I met one fertility expert who told me on day one what kind of medicines will she use on me (this was without even studying my investigation reports); that made me realize that I am a mere statistics for her! Whereas some of the experts that I met said that they can tell what protocol they plan to use after they see some of my reports. Also they mentioned that they keep changing the dosage of the hormones based on what how my body responds to it. This gave me lot of comfort cause as per the fertility experts admitting that science has still not understood female fertility completely so if the doctor is willing to study my response and then keep giving me whatever is the optimum level of hormones I might stand a better chance. I am not just another patient for her, I am someone whom she is paying due attention and time.
  4. Is the doctor reachable in case of any emergency and or for ad-hoc advice. Check on the options of being able to reach the doctor via phone. Some of the doctors are happy to share their mobile numbers also. 
  5. Distance from your place of stay - During the IVF cycle, you will be needed to visit the clinic frequently (atleast 6-7 time during the entire IVF procedure). There are some clinics which need you to be at their place everyday during the 12-14 day procedure duration. So make sure you are prepared for the travel to and fro.
  6. How is the Support Staff? See how the nurses are at the place. I always prefer a place where I see positivity around; it automatically puts you in a relaxed frame of mind which is very important when you are undergoing fertility treatment.
  7. Does the clinic specialize only in fertility OR are they also in general gynecology. I visited couple of places where I found that they had both gynecology & fertility departments with common waiting area. In the first glance, when I saw many pregnant ladies sitting there it gave me the feeling that this place has huge success rate. But when I learned that most of these ladies were the ones who did not have any fertility issues and conceived naturally, it kind of put me off. I realized if I keep coming to this place, I might get more depressed thinking of all the people who very soon will be mothers BUT I will still be struggling with the hope of assisted conception. I dropped these places from my radar as I also doubted on their fertility expertise.
  8. Check on the cost of IVF at the clinic. Some quote different price for IVF & ICSI and some have a common package even if you go for IVF rather than ICSI (which is a much advanced form of IVF). Make sure you understand what will be the additional costs as you go along the IVF path. Some places include the cost of all the scans and blood test Whereas some charge extra for it. Ask the clinics if they do any refund of the IVF package you paid, should there be a situation that the procedure has to be aborted mid-way. 
  9. Check on the success rate of the clinic. However I kept that as last of my evaluation parameter since IVF success is a very individualistic thing. Two people with same fertility problem, undergoing exactly same IVF protocol can have very different results. So for me knowing the success rate is a feel good factor for me but not the deciding criteria.
  10. Lastly, see how comfortable you feel sitting in that place. How comfortable you felt while talking to the doctor.
I visited many IVF centers and checked on all the above factors and in the end decided that place where I wanted to go. I do not know whether the decision is right or not But all the visits that I made to this clinic have re-emphasized that until now my decision has been good.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Fertility Drugs and more

Going through IVF treatment is hectic as well as emotionally very stressful.

To add to the stress is the daily overdose of hormones which start to play havoc with your mood. I think during my IVF cycle I would have snapped at my husband much more than he actually deserved ;-) And I used to realize that I am being irrational in my out bursts but during those 10-15 days I would explode at just about anything and everything.

My doctor had prescribed me DHEA, to be taken for about 3 months before we even started the IVF cycle. When the IVF cycle started, there were many more medicines that were going into my body everyday (first ivf attempt). I am susceptible to migraine when I get stressed. After I started to take my hormone shots, the first 2-3 days were going all good, however for some reason on 4th or 5th day of my IVF treatment cycle I started to have headache. I had headache for 3 days continuously, and I refused to take any medicine lest it interfere with my IVF medication. Thankfully the headache disappeared on the fourth day morning when I woke up.  I knew I am being super cautious about not taking any other medicine but I didn't want to take any chances.

All through the rest of the days of the procedure, I kept praying that I should not get hit by any other migraine attack.

I read somewhere that headache is one of the most common side effect of fertility drugs. I was lucky I did not experience any other serious side effects, though who knows what is happening inside our bodies all the time!

The other part which caused lot of stress was the trip to the clinic to get my daily hormone shots. It is a barely 5 mins job but the clinic is almost 45 mins drive one-way. So after few days of going to a nurse who can give me my hormone shots, I decided that I will try to administer them myself! I checked with the doctor if she was fine with me administering the injections to myself; and she said she was OK till the time I knew what I was doing. These are subcutaneous shots and don't need the expertise of finding a vein or anything. Easier said than done ;-)

I asked the pharmacist to give me an extra set of syringe so that I will be able to experiment first with a mock trial. The mock went fine, I tried to poke my thigh with the needle and was able to. But when I tried the actual shot, it didn't happen as desired :-( I filled up the syringe as instructed, sanitized the part of my abdomen where I planned to give the shot, pinched a small part of it, then I tried to insert the needle BUT it just wont go in. Maybe I was tensed and scared and was not applying the right amount of pressure. So I tried one more time, a little away from earlier spot as it was hurting and this second time it thankfully went in. Next day I noticed that I had a bad dark blue bruise where I had tried the first time. I thought thats it; I would rather make the travel than get my stomach full of bruises because of my stupidity. So after that incident I made up my mind that no more experiments, I should rather go to an expert rather than trying it myself.

I had watched this video "Subcutaneous Injection" to get the technique, but I guess it needs little more practice and patience.

I wish rather than injections, these come in the form of tablets which I can swallow and get done with it ;-)

Friday, 17 August 2012

You are not the only one

Everytime my thoughts wander to my fertility issues, I end up feeling so lonely and disheartened. Past few months have taken me to doctors much more often than I would have ever imagined. And everytime I have visited one of these fertility clinics, I have been amazed by the sheer number of people I find waiting there.

On one occasion, I couldnt help mention to the doctor how surprised I get everytime I see so many couples and some as young as 25-26 and this is just in the places that I personally visited, there are so many more clinics. I was reading in some newspaper report that in India almost 10 - 15% population gets affected due to fertility issues. On days when I get disheartened, I remind myself that I am not the only one, there are others who have gone through the same pain and have come out smiling and rejoicing the birth of their child !

Fertility problem is such a personal issue that couples find it difficult to even discuss with others in family. On multiple occasions when I have chatted up with others like me at one of the fertility clinics, I found many of them mentioning that they have not even told their mothers about it. Coming to think of it more, majority of this population is well educated, I wonder how do the people living in much smaller cities / towns deal with this issue. There are so many lower middle class people who have to face this problem and for them getting access to a good fertility expert in itself is a challenge. Add to it the exorbitant cost of fertility treatment! One of the fertility experts whom I met recently was telling me that people come to her from far-off places and when they are told that in order to take the treatment they might have to stay in the city for almost about a month; many say they just have barely enough money to stay for another couple of days or only enough to buy a return ticket to their hometown. It breaks my heart to think of all those couples who wish to have a child but do not have means to get good fertility treatment. Most of such people end up going to quacks and burning their money with no result at all (who knows it could increase their problems also).

I feel blessed to be living in a city where I have access to good medical facility. 
I am also thankful of having been born in an age and time where science has advanced so much that it can give people like me lot of hope. Availability of such advanced techniques and more importantly awareness was not even imaginable 25-30 years ago. 
I feel blessed to be capable of taking fertility treatment, it means I can still hope for my wish getting fulfilled.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

How good are Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPK)

Since the time we decided to give ourselves a break from going to doctors; I thought I just cannot give up on my natural cycle. So we decided to go the old fashioned way without thinking of what doctors have said about our slimmest chances of conceiving naturally and keep the thought that we did get lucky once with spontaneous conception so maybe we can get lucky again.

Now as I have mentioned I have been trying to conceive since past many months, so I thought this time let me try to time it with the help of Ovulation predictor kits. Until now I was using the broad range of days most of the websites help you determine. But the range is so big that there comes a time in between those days that even though you know you have to do it but you are just not in the mood of it or have had a bad day at office and are just not upto it. So many time I might end up missing on that critical 24hrs when my eggs are live and kicking.

So this time I thought of using the ovulation predictor kits. In western countries these are used very frequently however in India I had not heard of them as such even from the doctors. I asked one of the gynecologist about the OPKs and she said the results are not very assured (meaning you could be ovulating but the kit might give you a negative result). And I thought to myself that something is better than nothing. If the pharmaceutical companies making these kits advertise almost 90% accuracy, there is a likelihood that the kit can help me know when my eggs are ready to mingle ;-)

I got 2 brands of kits to test myself with. Unlike the pregnancy test kits where you need to use you morning urine sample; here it has to be sometime during the day. And I literally put a reminder on my phone to sneak away from my desk to go to the restroom for peeing on that stick and test my hormone levels. (I am sure the colleagues sitting next to me must be thinking weird about me, that this female uses a phone reminder to go to the loo :-D)
I started to test from day 13 and continued to test myself for next 6 days But on non of the days did the stick show a positive result. Possibility could be that I started late (the kit said to start from day 11 as per length of my cycles) OR I did not ovulate this time OR the hormone level was so low that it could not be detected by the kit OR the kit is not as good as the manufacturer claimed it to be.

All in all, we did what we have mostly been doing without quite knowing whether today gives me the best possible chance in getting pregnant.

Am also trying to search on what means a "healthy diet" which will enhance my chances of getting pregnant. During all these past weeks / months, I became so aware of the fact that no matter what you do, there are certain things which cannot be governed by your wishes. No matter how hard you wish for it, no matter how hard you pray; it will happen only when God thinks you are ready for it (and there is a possibility that God thinks you are not even meant for it, though this possibility breaks my heart and I don't even know if I will be able to deal with such a possibility)

I guess my best bet is to go IVF way, the natural conception that I had was probably God's way of telling me not to loose hope and just keep trying !