8 November 2013
The last week has been stressful. Shan ovulated early, so our planned 5 day old embryo (blastocyst) transfer meant it would fall on a Sunday and the clinic is closed on Sunday. So we had to decide if we would wait until December and do the 5 day transfer or do the 3 day transfer today. The success rate increases by 20% between a 3 day embryo transfer (40%) and a 5 day embryo transfer (60%), which is a great reason to wait. But Quin was a 3 day transfer and that worked out pretty darn well and we feed like we’ve waited long enough. Also, we figure this or something else might happen again in December and then we’ll have to wait until February to try. We talked it through and decided we wanted to give it a go. If it is meant to be, it will be.
So we’re here at 9am, prepped and ready to go. Our amazing doctor cut her holiday short to fly back from Canberra to do the transfer and literally arrived at the hospital direct from the airport. She is all smiles as always but also all very serious when it speaking of success rates. Right before the transfer she says “So with this little one I will give it a 40% chance of taking, ok?” Shan said OK. I said “I give it 100% chance of working.” We all have a little chuckle. Our doc takes her job very seriously, which is why we love her. But when your shy wife is laying on a table naked from the waist down in front of several people, you do what you can to make her smile.
The transfer itself took about 3 minutes and, once in the recovery room, we both agree we feel really good and positive about it. As we sit here smiling at each other I have an overwhelming feeling that this one is a little boy. I tell Shan and she says “that’s weird, I do too.” Before we fell pregnant with Quin, we always thought we’d have a boy first. But as soon as we found out we were pregnant I had the same overwhelming feeling that it was a little girl. That feeling stayed throughout the whole pregnancy and as it turned out to be correct, we both now wonder if our instincts are accurate on this one too. Not that it matters in the slightest, but the feeling is so strong it’s hard to ignore.
We spend the rest of the afternoon with our darling daughter, laughing and smiling and trying not to think about how much we want this transfer to work so we can give Quin the little brother or sister she wants. When we ask her whether she’d like a brother or sister she says “brother. sister. brother. sister. brother.” 6 kids it is.
Late in the afternoon Shan has some implantation spotting, which is a positive sign. Also a positive sign – Shan’s fave number is 8, today is the 8th and our embryo was an 8 cell embryo. We’ll take all the random positive signs we can get right now!
Sunday 10 November
The first thing Shan says to me this morning is “I had a dream we had the baby last night and it was a girl.”
I say, “I did too! Although it started as a girl and then it became a boy.”
“I think it’s the universe telling us we need to stop thinking it’s a boy because it’s just as likely to be a girl.”
“Yeah, I know, we should stop…. but it is a boy.”
“…or a girl.”
“brother, sister, brother, sister, brother.”
We spend the day driving to the coast to see my family. Shan isn’t feeling 100% and has a bit of that car-sick feeling. We’re both feeling sorry for her but also secretly really stoked. Could it be an early sign?!
A Yatala Pie stop on the way home helps her to feel better.
Wednesday 13 November
We agreed we can’t actually tell Quin about the baby in the belly until we’re ready for the whole world to know. She is repeating EVERYTHING at the moment and you know, being a 1 year old and all, has no filter.
We also decided not to tell anyone our baby names this time. Which also means not telling Quin. We always had particular names chosen for our kids, but changed them recently (these new ones feel really right) and we want them to be a surprise for everyone.
We can’t wait to see Quin be a big sister. They’re going to be a very lucky little duck, this new little one of ours.
Friday 15 November
The 2WW (2 week wait) is actually the worst thing in the world, or so it seems right now. Shan is booked in for a blood test on Thursday and although we briefly discuss doing a pregnancy test before then, we decide against it. “Patience is what we need right now,” my yogi-wife said. And I know she’s right. There’s nothing more we can do and an early false-negative or false-positive would be stress she just doesn’t need. So we wait…
But things are still looking good. Shan is feeling a bit dizzy and a bit queasy, which is similar to her feelings with the Quinks. But we try not to read it into it all too much. Whatever will be, will be.
Monday 18 November
Yeah, so this happened today…
Thursday 22 November
We finally(!) go for the blood test. Quin and Shan come into town and we all go together. The Quinks and I hang out in the waiting room while mummy has her blood taken. It is all quick and done in a few minutes.
After the test, we go to visit our Dr and her receptionists so Quin can say hi. When we walk in and start chatting, Shan turns to me and says, “do you hear that?”
I listen. The song they’re playing on the radio is the one with our new baby boy name in it.
Later in the day, Shan takes a call from our Dr. She is her usual cautious self and says, “your pregnancy levels are looking nice, let’s do another test on Sunday and let’s book in a time to see you in two weeks for a scan.” She also says something about the placenta, which is crazy to think about – our little one is setting up shop with a placenta already!
Tuesday 17 December
Shan is in Quin’s room, trying to get her to sleep. Teething has been playing havoc on our sweet girl this week, affecting her most at night. She’s been taking hours to fall asleep and crying for hours during the night. I’ve been working ridiculous hours so Shan has been carrying all of it.
I’m watching tv when Shan calls my name. She asks me to lay with Quin and dashes to the bathroom. My stomach is in my throat. I know what is happening. Just know it.
Shan calls me again. We meet in the hall. Shan is bleeding. It is all through her pyjama pants. Shan is holding her clothes and can’t speak. I say something like “we knew this was a possibility.” Trying to find the right words but failing miserably. There are no words that will make this better.
Shan goes to our bed. I go back for Quin, who is crying. She wants mummy so we all get into our bed. Shan is crying and we hug. I cry for her. It is our baby, but it is her body, her blood, all her energy going into keeping this one safe and healthy and it is over just like that.
My mum had three miscarriages when I was a kid. I was too young to remember them except for one. It happened in the shower. I remember mum telling us that it had happened. That was the sum of my miscarriage experience before right now. A vague memory of a vague description of something my mum said was normal and ok and she already had three kids and went on to have two more and ‘it just wasn’t meant to be’. This doesn’t feel how it’s meant to be.
Shan says we should let our Dr know. Dr Ilbery gave us her personal mobile number to text or call with any questions at any time. She is great like that. I text her to tell her what has happened and ask what we can expect now. Shan hadn’t had so much as a spot of blood when pregnant with Quin so we have no idea what to do next.
When she doesn’t text back I call while Quin and Shan stay in bed. It is after 8pm but we need to talk to her. We need direction. We need something sensible and stable and something we can focus on to get through the night.
I force myself to pull it together, to be the strong one and make the call as calmly as possibly. As soon as I hear Dr Ilbery’s voice, I break. I tell her through tears that we think Shan is having a miscarriage. She tells me to be calm and explain what has happened. I answer her questions with Shan’s assistance from the bedroom.
“There was blood, a lot of blood.”
“Yes, it was just the once.”
“Yes, it has stopped.”
“No, no pain.”
“She’s laying down in our bed.”
I go and pick Quin up who is now whining and climbing all over Shan.
“Ok. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
I relay to Shan what Dr Ilbery said. It may not be a miscarriage. If there’s no pain and the bleeding has stopped it might just be a placenta bleed. Placenta bleeds are common. It may be because Shan has been doing too much, picking up Quin too much. Shan is to lay down in a quiet place and be as still as possible. Sometimes it is just a bleed, sometimes it is the start of a miscarriage. We have to be positive and wait it out through the night. We’ll talk to Dr Ilbery again in the morning. She will be calling at 9am.
Quin and I sit down next to Shan. We talk about staying positive, it is the only thing we can do. I tell Quin we are going to go for a little drive to see Christmas lights. We give mummy a kiss, tell her we love her and we’ll be back soon. Driving around with Quin is the one sure fire way to get her to sleep without fuss. She loves looking at the lights as we drive along the water and within 10 minutes she is sound asleep.
I drive a little longer, to make sure she’s really asleep. I berate myself. Shan had been trying to shield me from the last week of Quin’s teething because she knew I was so flat out and working long days. She’d been taking all the extra parenting duties on without complaint all while growing our new little one. And now this was happening. This stupid fucked up thing that is perfectly normal and horrendous all at once.
We go home and all cuddle together in bed. We talk about how grateful we are to have Quin. We are grateful for the one in the belly too and hope they are still there, still holding on. Only time will tell.
Shan tries to sleep and I make the mistake of getting further information from Dr Google. It turns out something like 20% of pregnancies experience bleeding. Of those, 50% are fine and 50% go on to miscarry. Shit. Not a good statistic to sleep on.
Neither of us sleep well. Each time Shan gets up during the night I think the worst. But each time she comes back to bed and says she’s ok, no further bleeding. We try to sleep.
Wednesday 18 December
Our conversation with Dr Ilbery is positive. She says it is a good sign there is still no pain and no further bleeding. She explains that the placenta can split sometimes, like you can get a cut in your skin. And the best treatment is rest to give it time to heal. She says Shan should stay laying down, doing as little as possible for the next 48 hours and we’re to come and see her on Thursday for an ultrasound.
I stay home with my family. Quin is feeling better. I try to keep her busy so Shan can rest. Shan is doing ok. She says she’ll be anxious until the ultrasound, which is completely understandable. We just have to stay positive.
Thursday 19 December
We don’t talk too much on the drive to Dr Ilbery’s office. We hold hands. It’s just the two of us. Quin is home playing play-doh with Grandad.
When we arrive at the surgery, Jane and Laura greet us with smiles. Laura tells us she had a lot of bleeding with both her pregnancies and both were fine. It’s good to hear the stories that ended well.
Dr Ilbery welcomes us into her office and although she’s smiling we can tell she’s all business. We go straight to the little room with the bed and Dr Ilbery wastes no time getting everything set up. We’re all keen for the scan to start, we think.
The scan begins and Dr Ilbery speaks right away. She can see a strong heartbeat. She rubs Shan’s leg telling her our baby looks good, strong. Shan exhales the breathe she’s been holding for days. We all smile and Shan and I get a bit teary. Our baby is still alive.
We look but we can’t see much. Quin’s scans were always so clear. She was a very clear speck at 5 weeks, a very defined blob at 9 weeks. This one is a blurry blob that we can barely make out. Dr Ilbery assures us our baby is there and our baby is happy. She says something about the placenta being in a certain place which makes it more difficult to see our baby. We don’t care as long as they’re alive.
We talk briefly about the next steps of the pregnancy and realise with a sense of sadness that we won’t see Dr Ilbery again until after our baby is born and we come back for a visit. We transfer now to the hospital where Shan will attend antenatal appointments and where, all going to plan, our little one will arrive in July.
We promise we’ll be back with a big fat healthy baby.
Laura tells us later that Dr Ilbery had to perform emergency surgery that morning for a miscarriage. We talk on the way home about how hard her job must be and we can tell she feels greatly for all of her patients. She wears their excitement and their pain. We’re both happy our visit was not another painful one for her.
We tell the baby this is enough now, that was the one scare it is allowed and it is to be good from here on in. I’m sure it is listening. It better be.
We’ve always been realistic about IVF and pregnancy. Always knew the statistics, always knew the chances. But nothing prepared us for the moment we thought we’d lost them. This little one we don’t even know but feel we know completely. We’ve been so lucky. My heart always breaks for women who lose babies to miscarriage, now it will shatter for them. We felt a fraction of that pain and it was devastating. I don’t know how people get through it, sometimes more than once.
Now that we know our little one is ok, I am grateful for a few things.
I am grateful for a beautiful, strong wife who does all our mothering and baby making and homemaking and makes it look easy, even when I know it’s the toughest job in the world.
I am grateful for a wonderful daughter who makes our world the brightest spot in the universe. It’s because of her a miscarriage would have been especially hard – we know how awesome these little blobs turn out to be.
If it had to happen, I am grateful it happened while I was home and that it happened this week. Last week was my busiest all year. This week is quiet. Next week is Christmas so from Friday I am on leave for two weeks.
I am grateful for a job that provides carer’s leave and for workmates who are understanding and supportive and willing to pick up the slack so I can stay home all week and take care of my family.
I am grateful we’ve been scared into making sure Shan is a whole lot more relaxed. We get the hint, kiddo.
Mostly, I am grateful our little one is still happy and growing and *fingers and toes* will continue to be until they’re home with us in July.
Sunday 12 January
Christmas has come and gone. We relaxed and loved and spent time just being together and happy.
We’ve had no more bleeding. There’s been no sign of anything other than baby growing. But I know we’ve both spent much of the last few weeks silently, and sometimes vocally, wondering if they’re still ok. Still too early to feel them we’re stuck with analysing symptons like sore boobs, queasiness and belly growth – they’re all still there… right?!
Today we’re at 12.5 weeks. 13 weeks in 3 days. We’re safe. We think. We will know for sure at our neuchal scan tomorrow.
Monday 13 January
We’ve been prepping Quin for days for this appointment. We’ve explained that mummy will lay down and the doctor will look at mummy’s belly. We know it won’t be a doctor, but Quin knows doctor and we’re trying to keep it simple. When the doctor looks at mummy’s belly, we’ll get to see our new baby. We’ll get to see her new brother or sister. She says “baby in mummy’s belly. Hi baby.”
We’ve been talking to her about her library voice and how we’ll need to use it when we’re seeing the baby doctor. We’ve been practising our whispering.
We arrive as prepared as we can be, a bag full of snacks and books. As we wait for Shan’s name to be called Quin wants to draw. We didn’t come prepared for drawing. We manage to find a doctor’s receipt and a blue pen and she happily draws while we wait. She is talking non stop, in her perfect little library voice, and a lady sitting nearby comments on how clever she is. We agree and smile. She really is. Talking about Quin helps to calm the nerves.
When we’re finally in the little room and Shan is finally on the table, neither of us is saying much more than to answer questions from the nurse. Quin is bored of drawing and wants to move around. We try to explain this is the time when she gets to see her brother or sister but she only cares about discovering this funny little room with machines and drawers and a bed that mummy is anxiously waiting on. I give her my watch and she is satisifed, for now.
Shan comments that the gel they’re using is warm. It’s usually cold. The nurse places the wand onto Shan’s belly and suddenly the tv screen is alive, full of little arms and little legs and a big head squirming around. I’m teary. Shan is too. Quin is putting my watch on and off my hand, completely oblivious to the joy that is a black and white TV screen right at this minute. Everything is where it should be, blood is pumping, limbs are moving, head size is normal. The nurse tells us their neck is ‘thin’. We ask if that’s a good thing. She says it means we’re a low risk of Downs Syndrome. We speak at the same time, “it wouldn’t matter.”
Shan is a new person as we leave the office. She’s lighter and calmer and happier. We got to see for ourselves that our little one is healthy and perfect and sleepy. Sleepy is good, we agree. Quin wants some banana bread and so we get back to our lives and, for the first time in a month, we are excited for this new baby in an unburdened way. The relief is so great we almost forget to go pick up the scans and report later in the day. Who cares about paperwork when our baby is ok?