15 July 2012, by Tan Yi Lin

The Process So Far

I’m sorry if my previous post came across as slightly morbid. I’m not unhappy or on a search to self-inflict some emotional pain or anything. I think most of the frustration stemmed from a case of writers’ block and trying to relocate that little bit of soul that has been missing from this blog recently.

Maybe the key to finding meaning in writing is to acknowledge that I actually like writing about infertility and IVF. It’s about putting the truth out there. About the things that really matter.

Don’t get me wrong. This U-turn isn’t meant to spiral this blog down into self-pity and negativity. IVF is not a negative or unhappy process. I’ve never been unhappy because we have to turn to IVF to have a baby. In fact, I’m pretty damn grateful that we have the opportunity to do it, because not every couple out there who longs for their own child can “just try IVF lor”, which is what most people don’t understand. I feel eternally blessed that our attempt at IVF has yielded one beautiful daughter, who is sleeping peacefully beside me as I write this, because even with IVF, babies don’t happen overnight. And I salute those courageous couples who nevertheless soldier on, try after try, because they don’t give up.

On the other hand, it’s also not about approaching IVF with false positivity. Positivity, yes, and hope. But not empty cheers of “I am a positive person, so if I think positively, I can do it.” Sorry, no. It all comes down to the luck of the draw. Science and happy shiny thoughts can only do so much.

Confused? Well, so am I. Sometimes I feel slightly schizo. But then, who doesn’t?

********************

We started planning for our second baby even before our first arrived. Yes, call it counting our chickens before they hatch, but after our first round of IVF (which failed), we learnt what a long-drawn and time-sensitive procedure IVF could be and knew that we didn’t have the luxury of time on our side.

The countdown to start trying for Baby No.2 started with Coco’s arrival. While we revelled in the joy that our newborn daughter brought, it was always at the back of our minds that the clock was ticking. I treasured the six to seven months when I breastfed her because I knew that we didn’t have the luxury of time to keep going until she was one or to let her decide when she was ready to wean. I needed my period to return so that I could prepare my body for the next IVF cycle. So yes, to the breastfeeding zealots who read my entry on Weaning and tut-tutted at my decision to stop at six months: THIS is my personal reason for doing so. Can?

All this calculated planning may come across as methodical. Even clinical. Call it what you want. To us, it’s simply what we have to do. But whatever we did, it wasn’t without love. It was done with more Love and Hope than I can ever put into words.

**********************

The process so far:

Since we had completely used up our stash of frozen embryos, we would have to start a fresh IVF cycle all over again.

Early MAY: I visited my lovely 3-in-1 gynae/obstetrician/IVF doctor for our first IVF consultation. She ordered a Sonohysterography to check the condition of my womb, to be performed after my next menses has ended and before Day 10 of the cycle. She also checked the IVF queue at the KKH IVF Centre. We were in luck: there were seven vacancies for the programme starting in June. I told her to book me a slot.

She asked how many embryos I would like to have transferred into me for the next round, assuming that I had more than one good embryo.

“Two,” I said, without hesitation.

“Are you sure?” she asked.

I replied: “Yes. Bring it on.” 🙂

Immediately after, I headed to the IVF clinic to get some blood tests done and sign the registration forms for the IVF programme. I also made appointments for Dan’s blood test and semen analysis test on his behalf. New IVF cycle meant a new round of tests to be done.

I left the hospital with one important date and task to remember: to call KKH on the first day of my next period to make an appointment for the sonohysterography procedure.

Back in a familiar place

11 MAY (Period Day 1): I completely forgot to call KKH. I only remembered 3 days later and called in panic, worried that I wouldn’t be able to secure a slot within the next week. While schedule at KKH was chock-a block full, the nurse managed to find me a slot on 18 May (thank you, thank you, THANK YOU NURSE!)

18 MAY (Period Day 8): I turned up at KKH for the sonohysterography test. Since I had already gone through a hysterosalpingogram before our first round of IVF, this sonohysterography was just to check the condition of the uterus to make sure that there were no stuff like polyps or weird growths that would impede our chances of conceiving successfully through IVF.

I was told to remove my underwear and don a pink gown and robe for the procedure. The changing room was located a distance away from the radiology rooms, which meant that I had to parade down the hallway, across a public waiting area, panty-less. Yes, the whole IVF process is very undignified. Leave your dignity at the door, thank you very much.

SEXXXXAAYY or what?

A sonohysterography is similar to a hysterosalpingogram, in that saline or water is slowly injected through a tube through the vagina and cervix, and into the womb. However, unlike the latter, the fluid is not pumped into the fallopian tubes. Mild cramps may occur in the lower abdomen. The doctor examines the womb in detail with the help of ultrasound. After the procedure, the tube is removed and most of the fluid will be discharged through the vagina. Other than cramps and possibly mild spotting, most patients don’t experience any side effects from a sonohysterography.

IVF leaves a certain legacy in its patients: tenacity and to a certain level, blaseness. A sonohyseterography is nothing compared to needles and drugs. I chatted with the doctor and the nurse who conducted the procedure. They asked me if I was scared: I replied, no. I told them that I had already been through hysterosalpingography and IVF. I didn’t wince a bit. They praised me for being their best patient ever. I felt like a war veteran, wearing my battle scars with pride.

My gracious cervix complied and let the tube through easily; my gorgeous ovaries posed sexily for the camera and my humble hardworking womb was given the all clear by the doctor. Stage 1 – COMPLETE!

24 MAY: We saw my gynae again with the results of the sonohysterography test, our blood test results and Dan’s semen analysis report. We were all set to start IVF once my next period came.

14 JUNE (Period Day 1): At the first sign of blood, I messaged my husband and wonderful IVF support group sistas the good news: “HOORAY! PERIOD CAME! CAN START IVF! WOOT!”

We IVF-survivors think it’s amusing that we no longer get upset at the sign of a period (unless, of course, it’s after the dreaded Two-Week Wait). We no longer shed tears of disappointment alone in the bathroom and think, “No, not pregnant. Yet. Again.” Having a period is a GOOD sign that we CAN do IVF. For those who think that this blog smacks of negativity, how’s this for a ray of positivity? IVF isn’t exactly a sunny holiday, but we do try to look on the bright side of life. Like I’ve said many times before, when I’m not under the relentless siege of fertility drugs, pregnancy hormones and post-natal angst, I really do think that we lead a blessed life.

I called the KKH IVF Centre and was told to turn up on Day 21 of my period, anytime between 10am and 4pm, to collect my IVF drugs and start injections.

4 JULY (Period Day 21): I visited my dentist for a regular check-up and then headed down to KKH. How many people can calmly have their teeth cleaned before collecting a stash of IVF drugs? Just another sunshiny day in the life of an IVF patient! All in a morning’s work. La la la!

I collected a prescription from the IVF clinic, queued for my drugs at the KKH pharmacy then headed back to the clinic where a nice nurse brought me through the process of injecting myself with Lucrin. It felt strangely familiar, and yet too long ago to remember clearly how the injections were to be administered.

Familiar days. Oh joy.

Then, I headed home. It was Wednesday. As part of my telecommuting arrangement with my boss, I still had to get home on time to do some work. But not before picking up a little something from the hospital toy store for Coco:

Something for the little girl

5 – 15 JULY: I have been jabbing myself with a daily dose of Lucrin for the past twelve days. This round is very different from the first. I was very mindful of my daily jabbing routine back then. Now, with Coco to tend to, I keep forgetting to do the jab and pop a folic pill before I go to work. I get distracted by early morning diaper changes, milk feeds, her insistence on brushing her teeth along with me, etc. I have resorted to setting a daily reminder on my phone.

Just last week, less than a week after I started on Lucrin, I came home one evening to be greeted by a tiny glass bottle of clear liquid sitting on my bedroom table. A row of expletives fired through my mind. “&(#$*#)@*$!” In my morning distraction, I had forgotten to place the Lucrin back into the fridge after I had used it. I was incredibly upset with myself but was all prepared to blow another $100+ on a new bottle. After all, who knew what state the drug had morphed into by now. Injecting myself with it may give me green eggs and glowing mutant babies capable of joining the X-Men.

However, when I called KKH for advice, the nurse reassured me that as long as the bottle was kept out of direct sunlight in a cool shaded indoor place, it was safe to continue using the Lucrin. Ok. I really hope that she’s right.

UP NEXT: 18 JULY (Day 15 on Lucrin): This is when I head back to KKH for a blood test to check my “egg hormone” levels, which will determine whether I’m ready to start my second daily jab – Puregon, which will stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple follicles, and hopefully, multiple eggs.

With my previous fresh cycle, I experienced slight headaches and discomfort while on Lucrin. I can’t tell if it’s been the same for this cycle. Coincidentally, I came down with a cough and sore throat on the very day that I was due to start Lucrin. Over that week, I visited the GP twice, who gave me a cocktail of cough syrups, antibiotics and other meds. Including Lucrin, Clarinase and Panadol, I was popping a sickening cocktail of ten drugs over the course of my illness. Thankfully, the super strong antibiotics worked and I’ve fully recovered, but not before they left me feeling stoned and spaced out like a zombie for the five days that I was on them.

I noticed that this time around, being on Lucrin has completely killed my appetite. I haven’t felt hungry in days. I still eat when it’s time to eat, simply for the sake of eating. Dan asked whether the doctor could prescribe him some Lucrin too to help him in his mission to lose weight. LOL. I love my funny husband.

In any case, nothing is going to stand in the way of us giving it our best shot (pun unintended) to conceive again.

If that damn stork isn’t going to bring us a baby, we’ll just have to grab that bird by its neck and get one ourselves.

Tags : ,

Posted on : July 15, 2012

Filed under : Planning For Baby

13 Comments

Tan Yi Lin

Yi Lin

March 30th, 2015 at 12:25 am    


Hi Grace,

I saw Dr Sadhana Nadarajah at KKH for my IVF cycles. All the best with your journey!

Grace Ng

March 18th, 2015 at 10:39 am    


Hi Yilin,

I am thinking to do IVF, are you able to introduce your gynae who help you with IVF? THanks!

Tan Yi Lin

Yi Lin

August 10th, 2012 at 3:52 am    


Hi rach

Sure. I don’t think we have exchanged email addresses before. Your email address appears together with your comment on my personal “dashboard” where I manage my blog entries. I’ll drop you a note in awhile.

rach

August 7th, 2012 at 4:46 am    


can i drop you an email?

Tan Yi Lin

Yi Lin

July 31st, 2012 at 9:06 am    


Hi Choon Yen,

Thanks for leaving a note.

I visited your website and understand from your blog that you espouse the philosophy of natural conception and drug-free natural childbirth. I think it’s great that you are sharing knowledge and information through your blog and the classes that you conduct. Natural conception and drug-free childbirth is a great option for some women and it’s good that they can look to you for information.

I can’t say that I’m the healthiest or fittest person around but I do think that I already lead a reasonably healthy lifestyle, so I didn’t do anything special to prepare for conception. I just continued to eat balanced meals, sleep early, get fresh air, manage my workload and generally stay happy and sane. I know that you shared some tips on how to better prepare one’s body for conception and pregnancy – and that’s great for women who choose to take up your suggestions.

I’m not sure why you’re asking me what are the reasons for some women requiring IVF in order to conceive. After all, you had already shared a link to Babycentre on your own blog explaining everything. Infertility isn’t solely a female problem. If you have questions on male infertility, you can refer to the Maybebaby website for articles and expert opinions on the topic.

I’m also not sure what you mean by whether I feel “comfortable” with the IVF procedure. Physical discomfort is inevitable where medical drugs, needles and surgery are involved. If you are asking whether I support the use of medical drugs to overcome infertility and conceive, and whether I think it’s moral or ethical, I am completely at ease with the use of IVF to start a family. My idea of the 3 best medical inventions in the world are (1) IVF; (2) LASIK and (3) the epidural.

I am aware that there are people out there who don’t agree. I spotted a link on your bog titled “Infertility – Nature’s Way Of Protecting The Human Race”. In particular, the line “Therefore, infertility is considered unhealthy and abnormal” grabbed me. I don’t want to get riled up over a single post, because I do think that you are doing good work in promoting natural conception and natural childbirth for women who want to go down your path in this area.

But the mindset that infertility is to protect the human race is more damaging that helpful. Not all cases of infertility can be reversed through healthier living or eating raw and natural foods, etc. If you saw the entire room full of couples at the KKH IVF Centre, all clinging on to the hope that IVF can fulfil their dreams of starting their own family, would you tell them that they are all sick and unhealthy, and therefore Nature has doomed them to be childless so that only strong and healthy babies are born into this world? What exactly is Nature protecting mankind against? Healthy, smart and funny babies like Coco who have brought nothing but joy and laughter into our lives?

There was an article in today’s ST about the right to sterilise sub-normal females, such as those with intellectual disabilities. Isn’t it illogical that Nature has not damned this group of women to infertility if the point of infertility is to prevent the passing on of dysfunctional genes to the next generation? (I’m not saying that disabled people should not be allowed to have children. I’m raising this as a counterargument to your post.)

So yes, please continue to do good work by encouraging women to take care of their health so as to conceive naturally, be able to enjoy a healthy pregnancy and the joys of natural, drug-free birth (which is not for me, thank you, I love my anaesthetists too much.)

But please don’t spread the idea that infertility is nature’s way of ensuring a genetically perfect human race. Life isn’t about perfection. It’s about love, hope and joy – and everyone, EVERYONE, should be given a shot at having a family of their own, be it through natural conception or with the help of medical science.

I’m sorry if this comes across as a harsh reply. It could be that I’ve misunderstood your questions and intentions behind them. If that is the case, please feel free to correct my misunderstanding.

Thanks

Kong Choon Yen

July 25th, 2012 at 6:22 am    


Thanks for sharing your Never Give Up spirit. It is exciting to get pregnant. What about prepare your body to a healthy conception for better pregnancy experience and healthier baby? What is the reason for a woman who requires IVF? Do you feel comfortable with the procedure? I am really curious as I prepare my body for my 2nd pregnancy for one good reason, just wanted a healthier baby.

Tan Yi Lin

Yi Lin

July 21st, 2012 at 5:56 pm    


Hi Yvonne,

Thank you for your kind comment and your prayers. Please continue reading! I think my upcoming entries will be pretty interesting and I’ll have lots to say. Exciting times ahead!

Hi rach,

Heh, the “other clinic” eh? I used to dread walking in the direction of the clearly-labelled ‘KKH IVF Clinic’. I felt that all eyes were on me and prayed that I wouldn’t bump into anybody I know there.

All the best. I’ve had friends who went through many rounds of IUI and IVF without success. Miraculously, they conceived while waiting for the next IVF cycle. TRUE STORY. May you be as blessed and fortunate as they.

rach

July 19th, 2012 at 7:22 am    


I am not going ivf yet… gynae said if she dont hear me within 6 mths, then we will meet in the “other clinic” 6 mths later.
so we’ll see what happens.

Yvonne

July 18th, 2012 at 11:10 am    


I love reading your blog entries, Yi Lin!
You are a very very brave mummy!
I am praying for you! 🙂

Tan Yi Lin

Yi Lin

July 18th, 2012 at 6:51 am    


Thanks alex! 🙂

Hi rach,

Heh, me and my gung-ho words. The reality of IVF is that we may have to grab more than one stork by the neck before it gives us a baby. People think that one attempt at IVF is enough to yield a baby, or even twins. I used to think that too. Give every try your best shot but if it doesn’t work the first time, don’t give up! Good luck to you too 🙂

Hi Rebecca,

Yes, thank god for our little blessings and for the pee, poop and sleepless nights that they bring with them. Thank you also for coming up to say hello at dinner last year – it’s great to have made another friend through this blog. Thanks for the well wishes. I’m not looking forward to the two week wait but at least this time around, there’s Coco and her nonsense antics to distract me from the wait.

All the best with little A and things at home!

Rebecca Koh

July 16th, 2012 at 8:12 am    


Your “new” blog brings back good old fond memories, one of the difference now is that each of us is with a baby.

Thank God for them.

The 2ww, IVF happy for menses, 2ww sulks at menses, breast, wipe after pee will soon surface again, all so familiar.

Mine mine..how time flies..and here you are, embarking on that journey once again. Good luck!

Jia you!!

rach

July 16th, 2012 at 5:50 am    


“If that damn stork isn’t going to bring us a baby, we’ll just have to grab that bird by its neck and get one ourselves.” best quote!!
i am so going to grab that damn bird too.

gd luck!!

alex

July 16th, 2012 at 2:59 am    


Hey Yi Lin, we’re cheering for you. 🙂

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