Health Goddess, The organised chaos

The long and winding road

This morning, I received some bad news.

A dear friend of mine, who has been on the same infertility journey as I have been, found out that her latest IVF attempt had failed. When the text came in, I was sitting on our bed, playing with our little man. He had been crying and I was trying to make him laugh by pulling him up from a reclining position to a sitting one. It was a hot morning, the air-conditioning wasn’t switched on and his hair was matted to his head. He hadn’t had his bath yet and carried that slightly sour, sweaty but still oh so wonderful smell. Husband had just stepped out from the bathroom and was smiling at the sight of his wife entertaining the little one.

I read the text and my heart fell, remembering that feeling of the world shattering down upon me only too well. I thought about their past struggles and the heartbreaks that they had been through. I thought about how much they deserve their slice of happiness too. I thought about how that used to be us and how we are no longer on that exhausting, pain-riddled road.

I closed my eyes and kissed the top of Aidan’s head. I breathed in the smell of him and told him that I love him, that he was the miracle in my life.

Because he is indeed a miracle.

Nobody, nobody would have ever imagined that we would be where we are today. If you had told me a year ago that I would be cuddling a baby everyday – MY BABY – I would have laughed in your face. I was broken, and I was trying to pick up the pieces and move on. In my most terrible nightmare, I believed that I was destined not to have a child.

And here we are today.

What had kept me going was the belief that things happen for a reason, and that everything had its time and place. I don’t know why they have to go through these trials and tribulations but I believe that they will get their happily ever after.

I just know it.

Friends, Health Goddess

The joys of a new life

This morning, I switched on my phone to find a text message from my friend P: “It’s a girl!”

Such glorious news! I almost jumped for joy, except that I was at the bus-stop and my bus was approaching. Plus, the belly doesn’t allow me to do anything that’s gravity defying these days so I settled for tweeting instead.

P and I found each other on the Internetz shortly after we had announced the pregnancy. Throughout our pregnancies, we exchanged notes and, to the chagrin of our husbands, updates on sales for baby and maternity wear. We were both proponents of hypnobirthing and she was one of those who constantly gave me encouragement about gearing towards a natural, drug-free birth.

Earlier in the week, P was facing the prospect of having to opt for an epidural. I know, in the end, what should matter is that both mother and child are safe. But I also know how much she was looking forward to having that natural, drug-free birth and was hoping and praying that it would go the way she had envisioned. It did and that made the news even sweeter.

Congrats P and J on your little girl! She’s a lucky, lucky child.

**********

In December, I woke up with a strange dream. In it, friends of ours announced their pregnancy. I remember being genuinely happy that they were going to be parents, but also feeling slightly bitter that they were able to conceive just like that.

Later in the day, I related the dream to Mr Thick, telling him about the “pregnancy” but stopping short of mentioning my feelings. He proved that he may be thick in girth but not thick in the brains when he asked, “And…?” The man was perceptive enough to know that there was more to the story than I was letting on. Sheepishly, I told him about how I felt in the dream. He didn’t say a word but simply smiled and gave me a hug.

It just goes to show that even though I am on “the other side” now, I can never relinquish my identity as someone from that side. Yes, I feel truly embarrassed by that green-eyed monster that rears its ugly head whenever I hear of people who just bloody breathe and get knocked up and I try my best to beat it down.

Clearly, I have to learn to be a more gracious person.

Bun in oven, Health Goddess

When darkness came

It hit me like a tonne of bricks from out of nowhere.
One moment I was smiling at a photo of the utterly unglamorous Emi Kat that husband had sent, the next moment my stomach was clenching and trying desperately not to hurl.  
Tanah Merah, the announcement said.  
I closed my eyes and willed my chirlish stomach to behave.  
Breathe, just breathe in, relax.  
The bile continued to rise.  
Come on, breathe in, breathe out, relax.  
I opened my eyes and was startled to see that the world had turned darker, and my vision was as grainy as an old analogue TV set.  
Shit.  
I closed my eyes again to block out that sight.  
It’s going to be okay. Breathe in, breathe out, relax. Shit. What do I do? Should I get off the train? I don’t think I can make it out without collapsing. Okay, let’s stay on the train, keep breathing, it’s gonna pass.  
The music playing in my ears grew faint.  
Suddenly, I couldn’t hear anything at all.  
Damn it.  
I pulled the earphones out and tossed them back into the bag.  
I didn’t want the reminder that I was blacking out.  
Damn it, I am not going to black out.  
Kembangan, the robotic female voice announced.  
I opened my eyes.  
Everything was pitch black.  
Shit. Breathe in. Breathe out. What do people do what they are blacking out. Oh yes, they put their heads between their knees. Yes.  
I bent as much as my stomach and bag would allow, in my seat.  
C’mon, breathe in, breathe out. That’s right, keep breathing.  
I felt the sweat pouring down the sides of my face, slipping down my body, plastering my hair to the back of my neck.  
Just breathe. It will pass. Come on.  
Aljunied, the announcement rang out bossily.  
I sat up and forced my eyes open.  
The world was getting clearer.  
I dug into my bag and fumbled for my phone.  
He picked up on the third ring.  
Hi, don’t freak out but I almost fainted on the train…  
 
***********************  
The growing uterus is shoving everything out of the way, the doctor explained, and this causes your blood circulation to be slower.  
 
It’s just a lack of oxygen supply.  
It’s one of those pregnancy things.  
It’s quite common.  
 
I know.  
I didn’t panic.  
I’m fine.  
I’m thankful that I had a seat on the train.  
 
But it’s yet another reminder that I’m sharing my body with the little man and I have to take it easy, even if I think I can charge full steam ahead.  
 
I can’t.  
 
I have to take better care of myself.  

Bun in oven, Health Goddess

Being late can be good

Me and husband, we are pretty bad at timekeeping.

When I used to work at the Agency, we’d both set the alarm for 7am and only roll out of bed at 730am. Okay, I would roll out of bed at 730 while he gets up a whole 15 minutes ahead of me.

Well, somebody’s got to prepare breakfast, right?

Somehow, we are just absolutely terrible at being punctual and it’s of no surprise that on Saturday, we found ourselves running late for our hospital tour (for the delivery of the tiny human). Now, it wasn’t my fault but his – he had to run an errand with his mother and she came by to pick him up 30 minutes late. This was how we found ourselves arriving at the hospital 15 minutes late for the tour.

Not that we missed much, really. The administrator showing the group of us around was shrill and ineffectual, holding up pictures of the different types of wards in a clear folder and shrieking, “Can you see? Can you see?”

No ma’am, I cannot see and I certainly didn’t come all the way to the hospital to look at pictures through a clear plastic sheet.

And when explaining the differences between a family suite and a single deluxe room, she said, “Oh everything is the same except that a suite has a living room for your visitors. If you want to pay $1,000 extra for your guests to be in the living room, then the suite is for you.”

Mmmkay.

Thankfully though, as the tour came to an end, we asked the administrator if she could show us around the Delivery suite since we had missed out on that. She looked startled and replied vehemently with a series of wild waving at the rest of the group, “I can’t! I can’t! I have to…”

By this time, Mr Thick was getting impatient with her. He asked her bluntly if we could check out the Delivery area on our own and she squeaked out a yes. With an epic roll of our eyes, we left her and the group and went off by ourselves.

The delivery ward was silent and there was nary a person when we made our way in, feeling like intruders. I rang the bell at the counter and miraculously, a nurse appeared less than 10 seconds later. And she was lovely! She showed us the different delivery rooms, answered our questions and even offered to get the nurse manager to speak to us.

Sister Ng was a gem. We asked her questions about hypnobirthing and she told us that all we had to do was to put down our wishes in the birth plan, and the nurses would follow them through, as long as it was endorsed by our doctor. She shared with us the different types of labour tools that they had, and even told us to fax in our birth plan to her for a quick look so that she can advise us on anything that might not be viable. She spent a good 10 minutes with us despite it being lunch hour and was generally kind, warm and friendly.

Now, we feel more assured about delivering in the hospital and knowing that our birth plan will be respected.

See, it does pay to be late!

Health Goddess

It shouldn’t have to be this hard

Today, my friend lost her baby.
Today, a mama lost the child that she had been so eagerly looking forward to.
Today, a little life was snuffed out.
Today, someone who deserves something good in her life received nothing but bad news and heartbreak.

Her baby was in utero, and not even three months old. It doesn’t make it less of a loss. It doesn’t make her less of a mother.

We’ve all been on the infertility train, we know the rules of the game. Seeing our little embryo snugly nestled in our womb on the ultrasound doesn’t count. Hearing the heartbeat doesn’t make it make it any more certain. Miscarriages can happen anytime within the first trimester. Nothing is guaranteed until the baby is safe and alive in your arms. It’s the luck of the draw, someone once told me. Just as a perfect embryo doesn’t guarantee pregnancy, neither does hearing that WOOSH WOOSH WOOSH reverberate around the tiny room.

When we boarded the train, we figured we will take things as they come. We didn’t want to think too far. We worry about complications and bad news, and yet we never stop hoping for the best and praying that we will have a happy ending.

And then the train hits a brick wall that throws us and our hopes up into the air. We fall, leadenly, almost as if in slow-motion. And when we hit the ground, the pain is like nothing you can imagine. It breaks our heart into little pieces that are oh so difficult to put back together. We cry, despite knowing that crying isn’t going to change the fact that the end result hurts.

I don’t know if they will carry on fighting the good fight. I wish they would, because I know that they are strong, but it’s easier said than done. Infertility takes a lot out of your soul, it can change who you are. I know that, because deep down, it’s changed me profoundly.

I can’t take away their pain, I can’t bear their burden.
I only wish I could.

Dear girl, I know that nothing I say can make that sorrow go away. Your little bean was loved by us and so are you.

Health Goddess

What helped me through IVF

When I was going through the ART treatments – oh yes, the seven IUIs and one IVF! As if you could forget that – I was in desperate need of emotional support.

Throughout most of my IUI treatments, nobody knew about our journey except for a couple of close girlfriends and even then, I found that it was hard for them to truly understand what I was going through. Outside, I was cool and collected but inside I was a hot mess.

And even when I came out in the open during our IVF process, I felt that our friends still didn’t, couldn’t grasp the enormity of what we were going through. I don’t want to exaggerate but really, the emotional upheaval was sometimes too tiring and painful to bear. And that’s not forgetting the physical impact that the hormonal jabs have on your body.

(Sidenote: when Mr Thick’s friend asked him for advice regarding IVF, he told his friend to be aware of the side effects that the drugs could have on his wife. When I asked him why he said that, Mr Thick’s answer was that he never could have imagined just how much I had to go through and it hurt him greatly to see me like that. Love.)

This was when I decided to turn to the Internet. If I wasn’t going to find it here in the real world, then damnit, I was going to have one virtually. It really helps to just read someone else’s experience and to know that what you are going through is not confined to you and you alone.

One of the best sites that I found was Tertia Albertyn’s blog. If you are feeling sorry about yourself for having to go through IVF and all that “oh why me?” thoughts are haunting you, her story will straighten you out in a jiffy. She has three beautiful children today but she didn’t conceive her twins till nine IVFs and a few losses later. Amazing strength, wit and a seriously hilarious (oxymoron, much?) sense of humour. I spent many an afternoon going through her archives and shedding a few tears.

I loved her site so much, I decided to contribute to her retirement and bought her book “So Close“, which recently won the RESOLVE Hope Award 2011 for Best Book. Her book is the sort that I wished I had the talent and ability to pen. She chronicles her journey to conceiving her twins Adam and Kate, as well as the tragic losses in her life. I laughed and I cried and then I nodded my head and said, Yes that’s exactly it.

Closer to home, I realised that while there are plenty of Singaporeans who are undergoing fertility treatments, nobody was talking about it openly, for whatever reasons (and I completely respect that). Well, nobody except for Yi Lin and Dannie. Writing over at Maybe Baby, they have allowed everyone a glimpse into every step of their entire IVF journey. It was truly a godsend reading their blogs because it made me realise that we weren’t alone.

Now, Yi Lin is a friend (thanks to the wonders of the World Wide Web) and we have our own little support network on Whataspp. She and Dannie have been blessed with Coco, their feisty bunny girl who braved the embryo thawing process and hung on inside Camp Womb to grow into the cute tamagotchi with a healthy set of lungs. I like to think that they bring hope to many couples out there battling infertility.

And lastly, there’s Girlfriend X (as she would like to be known). She found me on the Internetz just when we were both gearing up for the IVF. It helped a great deal to have someone going through the process within the same time frame. She’s recently undergone her frozen embryo transfer so all our fingers are crossed for her!

Bun in oven, Health Goddess

The mommy option

Ever since that basketball hit my face squarely during PE in secondary one, I swore to myself that I will NOT be doing any more team sports because my eyes and hands don’t coordinate (unless it is to grab that last piece of clothing on sale ). I used to run but then I did the idiotic thing of running 10km races WITHOUT TRAINING and oops, the ol’ body didn’t like it very much. With my biomechanical problems (my right leg is an inch longer than my left), all these injuries were bound to happen anyway. Physiotherapy helped to a certain extent but I wasn’t consistent with my exercises and the muscle pulls and aches only went away when I stopped all my BodyPump and BodyCombat classes.

I’m not really an active or sporty person, as you can see.

Before the nugget was cooked up, I used to head for pilates and yoga sessions three times a week, as well as the occasional swim. It helped that the club was near my office and I could pop in during lunch. I loved my strengthening and stretching hours, I always left the room feeling refreshed and nicely pretzel-ed. And when I found out that I was incubating the Tiny Human, I swore to myself that I WOULD KEEP UP MY ROUTINE.

Hee hee ho ho. SO DID NOT HAPPEN.

For starters, I was quite attached to my sofa and bed during my first trimester. Warrior one? Triangle? Backbend? I’d rather do the shavasana pose IN MY BED, thank you very much. Any free time that I had was spent snoozing, I was EXHAUSTED.

The few times that I DID hit the gym, I ended up feeling nauseous from all those twists and crunches. Instead of feeling zen after the class, I looked green and sickly.

But now that I have sufficiently regained my energy – or most of it, anyway – and I no longer walk around with perpetual seasickness, I finally gave my heart a nice workout. This week was a brisk but comfortable walk on 4% incline for 30 miuntes, some light stretching and core work, and a BodyBalance session complete with mommy options.

Initially, I had plans to sign up for prenatal yoga classes but I felt so comfortable during the balance class that I decided to stick with my gym membership. Husband and I are thinking of hitting the trails for a hike here and there too.

Admittedly, part of this exercise regime is to ensure that the fitness (and dare I say it, BODEH) that I had built up pre-pregnancy does not vanish into thin air. I mean, it took me time, effort and sweat (oh yeah, GALLONS of it) to get to where I am today. But more importantly, I am doing it because it makes me feel happy. I love the sng feeling in my legs and arms the day after a good workout, and I feel healthier and chirpier.

Happy mommy = happy baby so I’m going to try to keep at it as much as I can.

Bun in oven, Health Goddess

So…questions, anybody?

You’ve all been so unbelievably kind, thank you for all the well wishes and blessings!

I was just talking to husband about blogging and how I wonder if it’s good that I keep putting myself out there…here…you know what I mean. Sometimes, I do question if I should exercise some form of discretion or privacy. But then, I think back to the days when I felt like I was at the bottom of the deepest pit in the world, all alone and miserable, and I realize that I write because it keeps me sane. More importantly, I hope that my words will bring some form of comfort and companionship to those who are going through the same infertility shit as we did.

Anyway, I know that people are just DYING to know more about the nugget. I mean, I would too, but I am just terribly kaypoh to begin with. So think of the following as some sort of FAQ if you will, heh.

That picture. Were those supermodels?
Why yes, thanks for asking! Those were the undeniably sexxxy abs of Mr Thick and me. That’s why I love the man, he’s such a good sport and he actually laughed when I suggested taking that photo.

Erm, how was the nugget conceived?
Through good ‘ol fashioned unprotected S-E-X.

But I thought you were infertile!
So did we! After a year of trying plus a year of failed treatments (seven IUIs and one IVF but who’s counting?), it was evident that something wasn’t working. Problem was, we didn’t know what wasn’t working. His boys weren’t the greatest but they weren’t bad, I had PCOS but I was ovulating.

So what worked THIS time?
I lifted my legs up in the air and did bicycle kicks for 20 minutes after sex.

KIDDING!

Honestly, we don’t know. It was just a, in Sims speak, whoohoo for fun. I was fully expecting to go for my second round of IVF in October.

What was different: for starters, we consulted a fengshui master, who made recommendations on how we can change the layout of our furnishings to suit our lives, both individually and as a couple. We made the changes, did some minor renovation works and voila! along comes nugget.

At the same time, I was also seeing a TCM doctor, who had me boiling and downing herbs every. Single. Day. I was on my second cycle with her when I discovered that I was pregnant.

Lastly, spawning was the last thing on our minds. We were just having a break from treatments and injections. We even made travel plans without the thought of what if we are pregnant for the first time in two years. But Murphy ADORES me and so I went for two quick holidays within my first trimester when it’s considered a no-no to do so.

So what worked? It could have been any of or all three factors. It might even have been the “just relax and you will get pregnant” rubbish, who knows? Maybe I’ll have to eat my words.

How did you find out you were pregnant?
Ah, I wrote a whole bunch of private posts on that, which I will be unlocking shortly. Watch this space!

How many weeks along are you now?
We are almost 13 weeks now. The Tiny Human is due in March next year. But because the kid has his/her father’s fat genes, we have moved the due date up TWICE. IN SIX WEEKS.

Do you want a boy or a girl?
The textbook answer is, as long as the baby’s healthy, we don’t care. But between you and me? I want a girl NAO! Girls are so much fun to play with. But Mr Thick wants a boy, because he thinks that boys will be easier on his pocket.

How was your first trimester?
Both good and bad. The perpetual nausea and exhaustion almost downed me, I was hating every journey I had to make to and fro work on the MRT. But thankfully, that was as bad as it got. I was very lucky that work was winding down for me and my boss was both understanding and comforting.

So that’s that. Like I said, I have a bunch of posts that I had written during my first trimester which are locked up now. I’ll be unlocking them soon so stay tuned!

Health Goddess

Don’t look back in anger

A friend of mine and I were having a chat over MSN this afternoon when I asked him about his wife, who was due next month. The conversation moved on to the topic of needles and I casually mentioned that my phobia of needles was almost completely erased, after the whole IVF experience.

(I mean, it would have been extremely counterproductive had I been squeamish about jabbing myself, wouldn’t it? I would really be wasting time and energy squirming in pain when I could just stab and go.)

He very innocently asked me the following questions: Is the course of IVF working? Is the jab helping in any way?

His questions made me smile, for it just underscored the fact that most people don’t really get what IVF is all about and they will never have to know what it entails.

And then I wondered, do I regret going through IVF?

There are some people who, when faced with infertility, dither and fall into deep depression because they cannot fathom going through the whole shebang of assisted reproductive technology. To them, the cost of going through something as deeply intrusive as ART is not worth the end result of possibly having a child.

But it was never like that for me. I would never have forgiven myself if I didn’t pursue relentlessly what I wanted. I will go on to my second or third or even fifth IVF if I need to, finances permitting (touch wood though!!). I would have done everything I could in order to spawn (and make the world a better place too!).

At the same time, I think the whole process has made me a better person. I’ve always been the instant gratification sort of person and you can imagine what kind of cosmic joke it is for the Universe to put me through infertility! Want to have a baby now? DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200 AND HEAD STRAIGHT TO JAIL.

So yes, I have learnt patience and empathy.

I used to plan my life around the perfect goal posts but now, I realize that it’s okay to move the goal posts back a little. I don’t have to have a child before I hit 30, as long as I have my child eventually. There is no law stating that 30 is the best age to have a kid, nobody is getting upset except me and for what? A silly childhood notion of white picket fences and marrying Prince William? Gah!

Plus, I think IVF has shown me just exactly what I was made of. I didn’t moan (excessively, anyway) even though I was so sick towards the end and was bordering on bloody ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome. I endured the jabs myself and even helped myself to more (acupuncture, anyone?). There were no tantrums or hormonal rages from this genetically-modified cow too. Was v proud of myself.

Along the way, I even made new friends. Talk about multitasking! I just had dinner the other day with YL and S and we were laughing and joking about our silly incidents during IVF. Like, when I went to KKH and did a vajayjay scan with Dr Handsome, only to find myself lying on that uncomfortable bed with NOTHING but a piece of PAPER TOWEL covering my nekkid lady parts. See, IVF-ers are not a depressive lot, we laugh and giggle too! We are not always moaning and weeping!

IVF has even made our marriage stronger than before. We’ve been through so much and we emerged more in love than before. He has seen a side of me that even I never knew existed, and he took care of me so tenderly and selflessly. It’s true, what doesn’t kill us will only make us stronger.

And so, my answer is no, I don’t regret going through IVF and I never will.

Health Goddess

Step by step guide to spawning

When people who are fertile maximus try to propagate, here’s what they have to do:

1. Shag
2. Go on with their lives
3. Do not get their periods on time
4. Pee on a stick and behold! two lines!
5. See their obstetrician on their 6th week of pregnancy

When reproductively challenged people try to spawn, this is what they have to do:

1. Shag
2. Shag
3. Shag
4. Hmm, shag?
5. Start taking BBT every morning
6. Examine cervical mucus in great detail and curiosity. Is it EW consistency?
7. See gynaecologist and horrors! no can haz baby for free?
8. Embark on life as a hormonally charged cow with little white pills or injections
9. IUI
10. Bedrest – no activities that might shake/frighten/push/jiggle/kill potential babies
11. Strictly no caffeine, no alcohol, no spicy food, no raw food ie. nothing that might poison potential babies
12. Pee on x number of sticks
13. Google “5dpIUI symptoms” and “cramping backache nausea” obsessively
14. Period arrives. Cry heart out at failed attempt
15. Retry steps 8 to 13
16. Cry heart out at failed attempt
17. Rinse, repeat x number of times
18. Give up weak attempts, let’s bring out the big guns! IVF, here we come
19. Turn stomach into pincushion and jab continuously for X number of days
20. Jab twice a day. May or may not feel sickly and pukey and exhausted
21. Get stabbed by IV and go under for doctor to suck out eggs from the ovaries
22. Worry obsessively about whether eggs are getting it on with sperm in petrie dish
23. Expose nekkid bottom to all and sundry as fertilized embryos get sent back to Camp Womb
24. Bedrest – no activities that might shake/frighten/push/jiggle/kill potential babies
25. Strictly no caffeine, no alcohol, no spicy food, no raw food ie. nothing that might poison potential babies
26. Google “spotting 5dp3dt” obsessively
27. Stick little white pills or tubes up the vajayjay day and night
28. Pee on x number of sticks
29. Period arrives OR go for blood test
30. Cry heart out at failed attempt
31. Check bank account for money left (if any)
32. Go back to the doctor and arrange for another cycle
33. Live like a normal person for a while
34. Repeat steps 19 to 28

No wonder we are all stressed!