Tag Archives: Pregnancy after IVF

12 hours to go…

… says my pregnancy countdown as I’m writing this. My due date is tomorrow and we have decided to go with medical advice and accept induction at 40 weeks. Two days ago I went in for a second membrane sweep, but although it had been 12 days since the last attempt, there was no progress at all. It was impossible to do a sweep on me. My cervix is still tightly closed and the baby is not engaging at all. The doctor said they would have expected to see at least some development at this point, but since there is none it’s very unlikely to make any difference to postpone induction a few days or even their usual policy of 10 days past the due date for low risk (and non-IVF) pregnancies.

Basically there are strong indicators that I will need induction no matter what. So if there is only a very slim chance of any benefits to waiting, why take the risk and the worry. Especially since they do not actually investigate how well the placenta is working at this point. With this we feel at peace with the decision and in acceptance of intervention once again. Whatever it takes, whatever happens – it will all be worth it!!

In thinking about this over the last two weeks, I have come to realise that I’m not attached to any particular idea of a natural and idealised birth experience. I only care about the end result of holding a healthy baby in my arms, while of course hoping that the process to get to that point will go as smoothly as possible and involve as little distress as possible for both me and baby. But I would never even consider giving birth anywhere else than in a hospital and I trust the professionals there to deliver my baby safely by whatever means necessary. ‘Mother nature’ is also cruel and cannot necessarily be trusted. The millions of women and babies who have died and still die in childbirth in places and times with no access to medical help, is testament to that.

Personally all those years of infertility has taught me not to celebrate or have blind faith in ‘the natural way’ or be attached to any idea of ‘mother nature’ as a superior force. Of course I wish I could have gotten pregnant easily and naturally by making love to my husband rather than by way of doctors and IVF procedures in a hospital, but the reality turned out to be what it was. I no longer mourn that fact. It is what it is and my gratitude to modern medical science, and the intervention that got me pregnant, is limitless. The miracle of life is as amazing under these circumstances as in any other. Maybe even more so.

Tonight at 9pm I will be admitted to hospital to begin the induction process and I will stay there until the baby is out one way or another. It will be prostaglandin gel to start off with and probably a second dose later if nothing happens. Later again they might break the waters and eventually if labour is still not progressing they might put me on a syntocinon drip. They told me there is a risk that induction will fail and in that case a c-section will be considered. Thus prepared, we hope for the best while accepting to take each step as it comes and deal with whatever happens. In the end of the day no labour and birth is guaranteed to go smoothly. Anything can happen to any of us in that situation. Natural low risk labour can end up involving serious complications and drug-induced high risk labour can work out just fine. As with life in general you just never know what you’re gonna get!

IVF and early induction at 40 weeks?

Yesterday I went to the hospital for the first membrane sweep. It failed. The consultant couldn’t reach my cervix, which is still long, closed and posterior. The baby also has not fully engaged. So all in all, the conclusion is that labour looks likely to be far off. The conditions are unfavourable as the consultant put it. At 38 weeks this is not really that surprising, but it does bring the prospect of medical induction to the forefront since the general practice at the hospital is to induce IVF pregnancies early at 40 weeks, i.e. on my due date the 17th August. They will attempt a sweep again on the 14th which is just 3 days before my due date, but with the way things are looking I have my doubts whether there is any chance that it will help trigger labour naturally. Consequently I’m also starting to doubt the planned medical induction at 40 weeks. This I wonder might pose greater risks than allowing the baby to go overdue. Especially if the next sweep attempt reveal that conditions are still unfavourable.

So I have been google searching like crazy to try to find evidence for why IVF pregnancies should be induced early at no later than 40 weeks. It seems to be common practice in a lot of hospitals in the UK going by forum posts and the like. Although there are also many examples of this not being the case. The advice women, who have gone through IVF, are being given is clearly very inconsistent. And the evidence for the risk of going over the due date is sketchy at best, as far as I can find out. The reasons given are usually similar to what we have also been told – namely that the risk of still birth is higher due to the placenta not functioning as well beyond 40 weeks in IVF pregnancies.

Based on the lack of evidence there seems to be good reason to question the plan of induction at 40 weeks if the cervix is still not showing signs of being ready. We have decided to wait and see whether we should postpone the induction date. Maybe things will start happening in the mean time. Move on downwards baby boy 🙂

Third trimester

I can’t believe the third trimester is here. Today I was thinking back to that moment when a tiny bundle of 8 cells, invisible to the naked eye, was transferred to my womb. Now 6 month later I’m constantly feeling the baby kicks and my bump is growing ever bigger. How amazing it is. And still unbelievable despite the fact that it is also so very real.

I haven’t been blogging for quite some time, because I haven’t had much to write about that has any relevance to what this blog is about. Life has not been so easy lately, but I’m trying hard not to let it overshadow the joy of finally expecting a baby after years of infertility. Therefore I also don’t want to use this space to write about those other things in life that can be difficult.

All I can say is that life’s challenges are definitely not easier to deal with when you are pregnant. The hormones are doing their bit, I’m sure, to significantly lower my ability to cope. In addition it’s hard to deal with the fact that our situation is not how you would want things to be when you are about to have a baby. That overwhelms me with sadness and worry sometimes. Praying for a job for hubby and our own place to live.

Nevertheless, expecting a baby is also giving us a much stronger sense of meaning and purpose than we have ever had before. Yes life can be a struggle, but at least now we are fighting for something more than just ourselves.

Booking appointment and kicks

Today I’m 23 weeks and as of yesterday finally all booked in for maternity care in London. The booking-in appointment at the hospital antenatal clinic where I self-referred was at 8:30 in the morning and we ended up being late… Traffic was horrendous meaning that a 15 minute journey ended up taking almost an hour. Welcome to London! 🙂

Anyway once we got there we were seen by a midwife who booked me in by spending ages asking loads of questions about our social and medical history. They took all the blood tests and did a quick scan since I’m still not in possession of my records or test/screening results and scan reports  from Amsterdam. I have tried calling and also sent a letter recorded delivery. Still no response. It makes me wonder if my file is still missing… But maybe at this point it does not really matter much anymore.

The midwife booking me in did not seem to know anything about the issue with the marginal insertion of the cord which the obstetrician in Amsterdam told us represented a risk at birth. But because it’s an IVF pregnancy it seems to be standard practice here to provide obstetrician-led care at the hospital antenatal clinic all the way through, i.e. both antenatal care and birth. So as far as we understood this means I will mainly be seeing obstetricians rather than midwifes. The first appointment with an obstetrician is in two weeks. Hopefully we will then be able to get the issue with the cord investigated further (see update below). Although the ultra sound technician who did the quick scan yesterday told us that it’s not something they normally check for in the UK. I am also curious why an IVF pregnancy is viewed as a risk factor generally (see update below). We have not heard this before and since it’s not a twin pregnancy I wonder what it’s all about. Has anyone else been told there are more risks associated with IVF pregnancies then normal pregnancies?

Regardless, I’m happy to be offered consultant-led care at the hospital in any case. It’s not that I’m particularly worried. I just prefer medical professionals with as much knowledge as possible.

All that aside, everything seems to be going great with my pregnancy! My bump is growing and the scan yesterday revealed that our baby boy is indeed growing as he should. I’m feeling his kicks and movements daily and it’s absolutely amazing. My husband has been able to feel them from the outside as well for the last 2 weeks or so. The kicks are getting stronger by the day and I love it every time he gives me that little sign of life. It’s a strange, fascinating and wondrous sensation. That combined with my growing bump makes it so much more real.

*Update: Two weeks after the booking-in appointment we got to see a consultant, but it did not yield any more information about the umbilical cord issue. Apparently here in the UK they do not regard marginal insertion as a problem and we were thus more or less told not to worry about it. They do however view IVF pregnancies in general as more risky – particularly with regards to being overdue which they said involves a higher risk of stillbirths. They are therefore planning to induce me at 38 weeks.

Read more about about marginal insertion of umbilical cord here: http://www.jultrasoundmed.org/content/21/6/627.full.pdf+html

A strange week

I’m 15 weeks pregnant today and there is nothing new or different to report. Or in other words, I have no idea what’s going on but I hope everything is good! I wasn’t planning on writing, but I suddenly felt like it. When I decided to start this blog 6 month ago after living with infertility for years, I had no idea that it would lead me into discovering an amazing community of fellow bloggers on the same or similar journeys. It has shown me that I’m not alone; that there are people out there who understand my feelings and experiences with infertility and treatment in ways that nobody else can. I have the privilege of being able to read and follow the stories of others who go through this.

In the process, I have come to care about those of you whose’s blogs I follow in a way that I had never imagined. I have never meet any of you in so-called ‘real’ life, but as it turns out the virtual world is as real as any other space where the potential for connecting with others can be created. Maybe even more so in our particular case, because we share the most intimate thoughts, feelings and bodily experiences. It amazes me how powerful sharing of common experience is – maybe particularly the common experience of struggling to start a family.

This week I have realized the full extent of what that really means. I have cried tears of sorrow for Mo who lost her little boy at 22 weeks. And I have waited anxiously to hear news from Bachelor’s button who had her twins delivered by C-section at 28 weeks because her baby girl suffered from intrauterine growth restriction. Delivering now was the only chance of survival for her little girl, but would at the same time also put her little boy in danger. Now they are both fighting for their life in NICU. I’m sending all my hopes and prayers!

I can’t even begin to imagine what Mo and her husband are going through grieving the loss of their baby boy. Or what Bachelor’s button and her husband have been and are still going through. Or what Ozifrog, who is on bed-rest because of serious pregnancy complications, is going through. Or any of you who are or have been experiencing loss. I have been so fortunate not to experience loss or the imminent danger of it, but I nevertheless feel with you so much in your pain and worry.

When I was crying for Mo’s loss earlier this week, my husband asked me if it was making me worried about our baby – that something could also go wrong with my pregnancy. I thought about it for a bit, but realized that that was not it! I wasn’t feeling sad for what could potentially happen to me. I was feeling sad for Mo and her loss. I was feeling sad because life can sometimes be so cruel that it’s beyond belief. I was feeling sad because it is so horrible that one of us, who has struggled so much, has been robbed yet again of the dream of having a child and been put through another devastating loss.

I think all of us, who experience infertility, feel the collective pain of what we all go through. Whether it is loss and/or not being able to get pregnant in the first place. I just never realized it until I became part of this online community.

In stark contrast, this week also brought me an experience of not belonging and not being able to relate. Yesterday my husband and I went to one of those pregnancy & baby fairs that we had ended up with free tickets for when buying prenatal vitamins. We decided to go and have a look, since we have not looked at any baby-stuff yet. At all whatsoever.

I think I’m still processing the experience… It was so overwhelming. All we ended up buying was two bottles of sparkling alcohol-free wine. We did look at prams and strollers, but not in a very hands-on kind of way. I just couldn’t really relate to it all. I know I’m pregnant and I’m overjoyed and incredibly thankful, but it’s as if my mind has still not registered it. I can’t think like a pregnant woman. I can’t see myself with a pram or a stroller. I didn’t feel like one of them – the pregnant women. I felt like someone who shouldn’t be there. I couldn’t identify.

On top of that I was absolutely shocked at how commercialized pregnancy and babies are. It can’t imagine ever needing most of the things being sold for babies. But it seems like for a lot of women being pregnant means a whole new world of shopping opportunities. We even saw a couple walking around with a tiny little new born baby… amongst such crowds and frenzy that it was almost too much for me to bear. At 9pm! The baby looked so startled and confused, I still can’t forget it. Why take a new born to a shopping fair? And casually carry it around on your arm amongst crowds of people, noise and frenzy?

In all of it I kept thinking; this is not what it’s all about. It’s not about shopping baby stuff. Being pregnant and having a baby is about something so incredible and amazing that I can’t even express it or fully understand it. It’s about a love greater than any other. I know you don’t have to have experienced infertility to know and feel that. Far from it. But I do think that it makes it so painfully clear and intense in a way that cuts right to the bone. I can’t and I don’t want to think about shopping for stuff. I don’t need a fancy stroller. All the fuss and all the wrapping paper doesn’t interest me. I just want to meet and hold this special soul in my arms in August and experience him/her grow and live!