It is amazing to know that I’m pregnant, although I’m still struggling to accept it. When the nurse rang me with the results of my pregnancy blood test last week I cried down the phone – I’d honestly resigned myself to never hearing those words.
My pregnancy has been the result of our third IUI cycle. I’d found the whole process increasingly traumatic with each cycle, so we’d decided that we’d take a break from fertility treatment if things hadn’t worked this time. Although I realise that IUI is fairly non-invasive compared with IVF, the procedure was physically painful and I really had to steel myself to go back the second or third time.
To increase our chances of success I’d made a few lifestyle changes. I’ve pretty much avoided alcohol since New Year’s Eve – I’ve had a few drinks during the Wellington Sevens weekend in early February, a couple of glasses of champagne at our anniversary dinner in March, and a couple of glasses of wine when the first IUI didn’t work. To be honest, I don’t miss alcohol at all. Sugar was more difficult to give up (according to Zita West, too much sugar in your diet makes your blood sugar levels fluctuate, which can affect ovulation) – I wasn’t entirely successful, although I did cut down quite substantially. I also gave up caffeine, switching to decaffeinated tea and avoiding all chocolate (which made Easter a bit of a non-starter). I switched to full-fat milk after reading that this simple change can significantly increase female fertility. And my lovely husband and I have been popping Menevit and Elevit like they’re going out of fashion. I feel like I’ve taken so many pre-pregancy vitamins in the last few years that I should rattle when I walk.
The other thing I did in this third cycle was to have regular acupuncture sessions. I went to Vitalis, who has become pretty well known in Auckland for his ability to support fertility with acupuncture. I filled in a huge questionnaire that asked the kind of intimate questions that don’t usually come up with total strangers, and then I had sessions at least once a week. Depending upon the stage of my cycle, the needles were there mainly to support fertility (ovulation, etc), or to help with my stress levels, or both. I have definitely become an acupuncture believer, and was converted even before my pregnancy was confirmed: the difference to my general mood after a relaxation session is astonishing.
Throughout all three cycles of IUI I also took clomiphene, which encourages ovulation. I don’t know if it was the combined force of the clomiphene and the acupuncture, but in my third cycle I seemed to go into ovulation overdrive, producing three eggs and being left with oestrogen coursing through my veins at a rate not previously measured (the nurse said that my levels in my second cycle were 1,200, compared with 4,000 for my third cycle).
The whole third cycle felt different, in both good and bad ways. I was hugely emotional, and as somebody who doesn’t typically suffer from PMS this was really weird. My low point was probably when I burst into tears after watching this Glee performance on Youtube. I know – nothing sad about that at all, right? It’s mystifying that I was so affected by it. (And oh my GOD I just remembered to add in the link, and watched the video again – and nearly burst into tears again! And I don’t even know the back story about why Santana was all alone, since I haven’t watched Glee since the first season! Is it Rachel’s dodgy mustard-coloured beret that’s causing my emotional outburst?)
I’ve cried a lot in the past few weeks. At one acupuncture session Vitalis asked me how I was and I said, “fine” in a real wobbly-lipped manner. After he left the room I lay there, covered in needles, and sobbed uncontrollably for about ten minutes. Luckily for me he’d wired me up to the magic vibrator needle thing (probably not the technical term), and towards the end of the session he came back in and turned up the vibrations so high that my eyebrows were jumping. I’m buggered if I know how it works, but I left that session feeling like a different person, all tears forgotten.
I also nearly lost it at mass a couple of weeks ago, and was on the verge of having to flee the pew in tears. I just felt so wretched, like I had been totally forsaken. It didn’t help that a gorgeous baby was being baptised that day.
On the good side, I first suspected that something might be going on this month when my skin looked amazing – probably better at any other time this side of puberty. I assumed that this could only mean that I was experiencing some unprecedented hormonal action.
When you’ve tried so hard to get pregnant, you can’t really wait to feel pregnancy symptoms and be reassured that you haven’t just imagined it. So far, I’m feeling pretty good (but it is very early days – I’m only in Week Five). I’m a little knackered, but it’s nothing too serious. I have felt queasy all day for the first time today, but it’s weird that even this kind of symptom is welcome. I reserve the right to totally revise this opinion if I’m throwing up in a week or two…
I had the results of my second blood test today and was reassured that my hCG levels are rising in a very encouraging manner, which suggests that the pregnancy is progressing normally. My first scan will be in Week Seven and should be on the 13th or 14th of June. This will confirm that the pregnancy is in the right place (not ectopic, in other words), and will also show whether we’ve got a multiple pregnancy. This is when the news about those three eggs becomes relevant. It’s a funny thing: I’ve always had this feeling that I might have twins, even before we started trying to conceive. My older sister had twins; my mother’s brother had twins; my maternal grandmother was a twin. The idea of having twins doesn’t terrify me, but if I’m completely honest I think we would be absolutely delighted with one child. Really, either one or two will be awesome.
I’m refusing to even consider the possibility of triplets.