[Part 1] Confessions of This Mommy-To-Be #babyHEAD

Note : These are very very personal thoughts and struggles and experience, that I can’t believe I’m sharing so freely on my blog. But I hope it will inform / inspire some of you.

Yes, I’m pregnant!

I contemplated writing this post for a really long time. Wanted to keep this blog as tech-related as possible, but realised some of you enjoy the personal anecdotes into my life. Why? I don’t know.

Considering it’s been awhile since I wrote a personal blogpost, I figured I’ll write this series of blogpost on the current state that I’m in – pregnant.

So, here’s an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) / Confessions / Factoid / Insight of me being a first time (biological) mom.

Never wanted kids for a long time

Everyone goes through the stages in life with nosy friends and relatives with the constant questions at festivities and family gathering.

When you’re single – “When are you getting married?”

When you’re married – “When will you be having kids?”

When you have kids – “When will you have more kids?”

It’s never ending, very annoying and really none of anyone’s business. Confession though – I have been guilty of asking some of these questions (albeit in different phrasing) mostly because … well….errr… I have nothing else to say to the person. 😛

I’ve been married for (almost) 7 years now, together for 11 years, and counting. Went through enough “When are you having kids?” questions for the last 7 years. My mom, bless her, stop asking after Year 1 of being a newlywed, because she finally accepts it as our choice whether we choose to have kids or not. Also helps that she already have 2 grandsons, so she can stop pestering me for awhile. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, never stop asking… and praying.

Truth is…

  • I’m already a step mother. My husband has 2 sons from previous relationships. I’ve been a part-time step mother (they don’t live with us) to 2 grown boys, aged 23 and 17.
  • I’ve never really wanted kids. I always feel like I’m not grown up enough to care for another human being. I have so much to sort out personally before I take on such a huge responsibility. Hubby has 2 kids already, and the call is mine if I wanted to start our own family, or not.
  • I really don’t like kids. The picture I always have in mind when I think of kids are unruly, bratty kids running around, unattended in public areas or restaurants, kicking and screaming, while bad parents allow them free roam without discipline. Ugh. The only kids I like are my nephews, of course.
  • Confession : I have only held a baby in my arms like once… or twice. Babies are delicate, wrinkly little mini beings. I feel like I’ll drop them and they’ll shatter to pieces or suffer from some brain damages, all caused by Auntie Winnie. 😛 Plus, I can’t, for the life of me, understand how a baby is cute??? That wrinkly thing? So, why shove your baby in my arms and scare me? Absolutely no maternal instincts.
  • No ticking biological clock. The only fear I have is NOT that it’s too late to have babies. The fear is whether my career and financial position is secure enough for upcoming retirement age.
  • Me and Hubby both kinda like our selfish lifestyles. We love each other and love the thought that we’ll grow old together, do all sorts of things together, just the 2 of us, without kids.

Why do I want kids now?

2 years ago, I had some “woman medical issues”, as Hubby calls it. Being really open and honest now with medical drama, so here’s a summary of what transpired :-

  • Bad period cramps for months led to discovery of ovarian cysts. One night when I couldn’t manage the excruciating pain, I drove myself to the A&E (Accidents and Emergencies) at the nearby hospital. After some morphine (love morphine), several specialist visits, ultrasounds, imaging scans and follow-ups, they found a rather big cysts in my ovaries. (Funny, that was how I discovered I had gallstones years back.)
  • Left it and it came back with a vengeance. I left it for a few more months, hoping it’ll go away. It didn’t. Pain came back, stronger and worst than before.
  • Second opinion & off to surgery I went. 6 months later, found an amazing OB GYN and discovered in a scan that the ovarian cyst has more than doubled in size and grew another friend. So, had to undergo a laporoscopic (keyhole) surgery to remove the 2 parasites.
  • Diagnosis : Stage 3 Endometriosis. It’s a condition where the tissue that lines the uterus is found growing outside and around areas where it’s not supposed to. It causes chronic pain, sometimes manifests in cysts and affects a woman’s fertility.
  • “Induced menopause”. Afterwards, took a Lucrin Depot injection to stop my menses for 6 months. I call it “induced menopause”, cause I literally went through all the symptoms of menopause like hot flashes, bloating, fatigue, night sweats, etc. It wasn’t pleasant.
  • Waking up my ovaries with fertility drugs. My “menopause” lasted 8 months instead of 6. So, doc gave me fertility drugs, to wake up my ovaries and start to boost my egg (ovum) production again. Now hoping that my ovarian cyst and endometriosis doesn’t flare up again.

After about 18 months of all these drama, it suddenly hit me that this condition means I might not be able to have kids naturally.

All these years, all my single life, I’ve been trying NOT to get pregnant. Single ladies – you’d understand – going on the pill, practising safe sex, family planning (aka “Don’t Get Pregnant”), etc. All the trouble, only to find out now, in my mid 30s, that…

Hey, you thought you were controlling your life so you don’t get pregnant, but now you know that you might not even get pregnant if you wanted to.

That’s a bit of a jolt for me.

Being a control freak that I am, I wasn’t in control now. It’s biological, and I can’t control it. Maybe I should try to have, at least ONE baby.

We’re having an IVF baby

The struggle begins.

My close friends and family knows about my struggles. I’m just opening up to all of you blog readers now.

It started off as a Period Tracker app on my smartphone, to track that my menses is regular again. Then, I started to worry that the fertility drugs I was taking for 3 months “should” make me fertile, so I started charting dates and Basal Body Temperature for ovulation and (ahem) “optimised conception”. Nothing happened.

After consulting with my OBGYN, for another 6 to 9 months, I went through a series of fertility treatments – from fertility drugs to IUI to IVF and/or ICSI.

  • Clomid fertility pills are basically pills I take to simulate ovulation. Depending on the dosage, it can force the ovaries to release more eggs, making you more fertile.
  • IUI (Intrauterine Insemination)
    • The cheaper procedure, around RM 2,000 to RM 5,000 per cycle.
    • Essentially, you simulate more egg (ovum) production with a series of injections you jab on your belly daily for 14 days.
    • Then you add another HCG injection to release the eggs (ovulation).
    • Hubby deposits sperm in a cup the day of ovulation. Semen gets “washed” (to sort out the sperms from other impurities) and tested (count, motility and morphology).
    • Sperm gets transfered back to the uterus via a catheter.
    • Hope for natural conception and implantation!
    • Blood test in 2 weeks to test if you’re pregnant.
  • IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation)
    • The pricey option, costing from RM 15,000 to RM 50,000 per cycle.
    • Basically, what’s commonly referred to as “Test Tube Baby”, but perhaps more accurately, “Petri Dish Baby”.
    • Varies for each patient’s condition, you could start injections 7 days before menses to Day 14 of menses, average of 2-3 injections daily, to simulate follicles and produce more eggs in one cycle. Performed at home, on yourself, injecting into your belly every day at the same time. You also visit the OBGYN almost every other day for ultrasound scans to track your progress along the way.
    • Then, you do the HCG trigger shot to release the eggs.
    • Couple of days later, go into the IVF Operating Room for Egg Retrieval (Ovum Pickup) procedure where you’re slightly under anesthesia, and the doctor and embryologist will extract all mature eggs from your uterus.
    • Hubby deposits sperm for washing & analysis again.
    • Both sperm and eggs are placed in a petri dish in the lab for a couple of days for fertilisation. If it doesn’t happen naturally, ICSI is performed to force fertilisation. Lab observes & optimised the condition for fertilised eggs to mature.
    • Day 3 or Day 5 after fertilisation, go back into the IVF Operating Room for Embryo Transfer. Only the successful, good grade, mature embryos gets transfered.
    • Hope for successful implantation in your uterus wall!
    • Blood test in 2 weeks to test if you’re pregnant.
  • ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection)
    • Additional step to an IVF cycle.
    • If the sperms not great swimmers or not fertilising the egg, the embryologist will use a syringe to force fertilisation by injecting the sperm into the egg.

*Phew* If that sounds exhausting to you, imagine me having to go through all that!

So, I did 3 months of fertility drugs, 2 cycles of IUI with a month rest in between and 1 cycle of IVF.

A fraction of the injections I endured in the months of fertility treatments

The process is tiring, not only because of the scheduled injections and countless OBGYN visits and scans. The injections to simulate my egg production is basically hormone injections and makes my mood swings and hormonal symptoms go crazy through the roof. This is like PMS X 100 million worst.

It takes a toll on me physically, emotionally, biologically, mentally and any other way you can think of.

I now have great appreciation for ladies like me who have been suffering from infertility and have to go through what I’ve been through, or worst. For this, I have better respect for ditsy celebrities like Guiliana Rancic and Kim Kardashian West for opening up about their fertility struggles.

IVF was an expensive procedure and I prepared for 2-3 cycles attempt, over a 6-9 months period. If it didn’t work, then me and Hubby have discussed adoption.

In my first cycle, things were not looking optimistic. There weren’t as many follicles / eggs “harvested” as the doctor had hoped. During Egg Retrieval procedure, there were less that matured and retrieved. Out of the few retrieved, lesser fertilised and matured. During Embryo Transfer, I only have 2 embryos deemed good enough to transfer (Doc was hoping for 4-6)- 1 was a good grade, the other was mediocre. We proceeded with the transfer anyways, since we came this far. I wasn’t optimistic.

2 weeks later, blood test, and the nurse called to inform me that it was a success!

My HCG hormone levels shows that I have 1 successful implantation and that I AM PREGNANT!

It was great news, of course. I didn’t think it would happen.

Then, I had to go back in to the IVF clinic to continue another series of injections and pills. For the next 3 months, until I past my first trimester and the baby is safe.

Gah! More injections!!!!!

When I announced it 3 months later (past my first trimester) on my personal Facebook Page to my family and friends, I get a bunch of congratulatory notes.

When I opened up about it being an IVF baby, instantly I received personal notes from a few other friends who have conceived IVF babies. I appreciate the share and feel better to personally know a few others ladies who have struggled like me. On the other hand, where were you ladies when I was going through the treatments and feeling like shit???

In summary, #babyHEAD is a product of 2 years of trying to have a baby

I’m not a religious person. While I appreciate some congratulatory words along the lines of “God Bless”, “Alhamdulillah” etc, I appreciate that this was a successful scientific procedure. Understand why some people are against assisted fertility treatments, as it may seem like the doctors and nurses are playing God to manipulate biology to produce a baby. When you’re struggling to naturally conceive and make the major life decision to go through fertility treatments, you’d appreciate how science has helped humankind in the medical field.

While my IUI and IVF progress wasn’t promising along the way, and we learnt that my fertility problems were more serious than anticipated, we did achieved a successful outcome of one successful implantation resulting in a pregnancy.

And for that, I am thankful and grateful – to my amazing Husband who stuck by me through the hormonal rage and tedious procedures and treatments, to the supportive nurses at the Prince Court IVF Clinic, my amazing OBGYN and IVF specialist, Dr Paul Tay at Prince Court Medical Centre, who answered all my silly queries, concerns and walk me through the options and procedures, yet remain more positive than me at most times.

Now, we’re brewing the little one in my belly! And we wait…

Continue: [Part 2] Confessions of This Mommy-To-Be #babyHEAD

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