If I had to use one word to describe pregnancy after infertility, it would be "intense". I mean, wonderful, yes. Filled with joy and relief, but also anxiety and uncertainty, and sadness for those left behind. Perhaps woe, at a perceived drift from the tremendous community who helped me there, and a little touch of guilt, too. And wistfulness, that this might never happen again. And confusion, over how to build a new identity. And humility and thankfulness, with anger and bitterness and unresolved grief. Trepidation. Self-doubt. Love. Exhaustion. Happiness.

Intense. It was all pretty intense.

I don't have that this time around, and there is the slightest sense of missing something. It's not that I wanted to go through all that again, or even that I would have chosen to, if it had come to it. It's certainly not that I envy those whose second time around is more difficult than ours. I have always admitted that infertility had its gifts as well as its costs, even whilst concluding that the price was way, way too steep, and I suppose I am in the process of appreciating one of those (disproportionately small) gifts in a new light.

It's like Diggers, on ANZAC Day, standing around and reminiscing about the war long ago, and concluding that, although it was hell and they'd hate to go through it again, at the same time, good lord, people knew they were alive in those days, didn't they?

That's what it was - it was a sort of knowing that I was alive. It was knowing my baby was alive, not tomorrow, not at forty weeks or next year, but right now, at least, as the ultrasound transducer hovered on my belly, or as he kicked me from the inside. It was accepting that right now was all we really had, and choosing for it to be enough. It was profound. It was splendid.

I don't have that this time. It's a shame.

What I do have instead, I realised as I brushed my teeth in front of the bathroom mirror last night and glimpsed the start of a proper-looking bump under my top, is a genuine like for pregnancy. Last time, it was hard to disentangle the pleasure of being pregnant from the joy of not having to do another cycle of IVF (at least not yet) plus the gratitude I felt for having got so lucky (at least so far). Those feelings exist again, of course, but they are less, well - intense. My feelings towards pregnancy per se are relatively uncrowded this time, and as a result, much clearer. I like it. I just really enjoy it. I love what oestrogen does to my mood (if not my focus or intelligence) and the tell-tale curve of my belly. In fact, I love all the extra curves, from my thighs to my cheeks. I love the softness and glow of my skin, and the boost to my sex drive and... did I mention oestrogen does good things to my mood? Good things, people. Great things. Lovely things. It's... nice.

And I'm glad I had the chance to realise that now, because this time really might be the last.

We are not that original when it comes to family-building. We started trying for our first child only just before all our friends started trying for their first, and then, as you know, we watched them have one child after another whilst we continued to struggle. The logical mind concludes, therefore, that the reason we know someone whose baby was born around every single last one of our would-have-been-due dates was coincidence, pure and simple. We were enduring consecutive losses, at the same time as everyone around us was having consecutive babies. It's just blind statistics.

What most of you also know, however, is that the mind in crisis is not always logical. The mind in crisis wants to make sense out of senselessness, as if doing so will magically cause the suffering to cease, to be replaced by calmness and order - or at least the intoxicating illusion of it we always used to believe in. My mind in crisis - for a fraction of a second, before reason was able to assert itself firmly once more - somehow managed to picture a connection between our would-have-been-babies and our friends' babies of the same age. I began to superstitiously dread pregnancy announcements almost before I had started to dread our followup beta. I was convinced... no, not convinced. It was ridiculous, I told myself, over and over. I didn't actually believe it at all. Yet, in the absence of any rational explanation for our failures, the irrational explanation that a closeby pregnancy was the thing that would sound the death knell for our little embryos was the only thing I had. So I waited and hoped for the month that I, alone in my circle (excluding, for some reason, the blogosphere), was blessed with that second line. For surely, that month would be the month things finally went our way.

It never happened. What did happen (we found out later) was that an infertile friend of ours conceived around the same time as us, but lost her pregnancy whilst ours continued along.

I found out recently that friend - who is still childless - had a second miscarriage earlier this year. The baby would have been due just before our current estimated date.

One of the things I wanted to talk about was our renovation plans. We were very excited, last week, to get some sketches from the architect, and we are busily trying to decide between options and work out a few refinements. Hurrah! How awfully thrilling.

At the same time, this process has brought up, once again, the issue of our future plans, including family size. Which brings me to one of the other, rather lengthier things I want to talk about.

We still have those eight embryos left, you see. Originally, we were going to watch them fail transfer them later this year, then reassess depending on what happened. Way back when, before all this started, we were both keen to have two kids, with maybe more, providing it seemed to be going alright. As of a couple of months ago, we were unsure if we'd even try very hard a second time around. Now we're thinking two, with any luck, but what are we going to do about those embryos? Neither of us have really made up our minds, but Mr Bea was assuming we'd donate them.

"Well apparently we can make our own now," he said. Uh, yeeeeaaaaahhh....

I'll gloss over the myriad issues of third party reproduction, such as donor anonymity laws and genetic heritage, or the psychological feelings of the donor towards any ensuing offspring etc etc - not because these things aren't important, but because by the time you'd read through to the last "h" of "yeeeeaaaaahhh" you'd already listed them all off in your mind, as if by rote. Or in fact by rote.

Thing is, they're not the only issues I have. Most of those embryos are from a batch affected by OHSS, and so far their fellows have provided us with the joy of multiple chemical pregnancies and a miscarriage. Hardly something I want to inflict on an infertile couple who has endured many years on a waiting list for donor embryos and who-knows-what-else beforehand. If they were good quality, I might consider it harder. As it stands... well I guess I'd assumed we would transfer them at a later date and then see what happened.

"That just seems strange," Mr Bea said, shaking his head. "Why would we go back to IVF after having a natural pregnancy?"

Well, because we want to get pregnant again but we're still infertile, perhaps. Having conceived naturally doesn't mean your fertility is safe forevermore, less so in our case, where our problems are long-documented and our current luck is almost certainly the exception, rather than the rule. Especially given it still took us over a year to conceive this time around. (It's not as if we rushed out for contraception the moment the now-over-two-year-old Prata Baby was born.) And then there's the fact that we have, you know, all these embryos left and we're going to need to make some sort of decision about them, one way or another, and one option involves another round of treatment or two.

"I just... I guess I just thought this meant we could put all that behind us," he admitted, finally. "Because, you know, it sort of sucked."

Oh. So. That I understand.

And whilst I feel that donating embryos is a somewhat poor strategy for putting infertility behind you - even rubbish embryos might turn into fully-grown people, after all - I can sympathise with wanting it to be all done, already, and I suppose the knowledge that we've managed it on our own did seem a bit like a ticket out, no matter what the future holds.

None of this has to be resolved now. Nobody's doing anything other than continuing to pay storage fees for a good while yet. But I guess the architect's sketches have forced us to re-imagine our possible paths through the next five to ten years', knowing, as we know now, that there is a statistically good chance of a second child, plus eight embryos left in the freezer, and it's just... it's just strange, is all. Strange and unexpected.

It's here! The occasion for the 3... 200th Roundup! Since it falls during ekka time, I had to substitute ekka strawberry sundaes for cake. I had one today - ah, childhood memories. Unless you're currently in Brisbane, you'll have to make do with feasting your eyes:

Well done, Mel. This - the roundup, of course, but I am also referring to the whole community - is an outstanding community. Through it, I am saner and wiser.

Today I had my first appointment with my OB. Let's call him... BOB. Well, I had SOB for Singapore Obstetrician, so why not BOB for Brisbane Obstetrician?

My cousin actually recommended me to a midwife-led birth centre. "I can just see you there," she enthused, and I was completely sucked in right up until the point where they mucked me around for over a week and eventually reduced me to tears on the phone. Then I realised - I am not a birth centre person. I can see how my cousin made the mistake, with all the drug-free birthing, babywearing, cloth nappying, extended breastfeeding and cosleeping and no-cry whatever whatever, but the truth is I don't tend to react well to that kind of womanly care. No - give me detached, scientific reasoning any day. I'm an obstetrician's girl. Also, I need to be with someone I can reliably contact, who I trust to give me correct information, and who doesn't seem to spend most of their time buckpassing, blameshifting, and just generally being mean. (And whilst I will freely admit that the actual crying was a bit over the top, and can largely be blamed on hormones, the hormones aren't going away before the pregnancy ends, so, I really need a solution which deals with that.)

The downside is that I have ruled myself out of a water birth. And you know, I would have liked to keep all options open at this stage, but there are so, so many steps between me and a water birth, from "not miscarrying tomorrow" all the way up to "actually desiring a water birth, given the choice, at the requisite and still-hypothetical moment", that it just doesn't seem worth it.

In any case, I have decided to see BOB, who is fine, even nice, is happy to do things much the same way as last time (in terms of management technique, I stress, not in terms of the actual course of events which is somewhat out of our control), was able to confirm that our risk of screenable problems is too low to make any real recommendations for further testing beyond the gross anatomy scan at 18-20 weeks, and that the baby was, as of afternoon tea time today, still alive and kicking. And then he wrote me a form for some routine blood tests - the infectious diseases profile we were going to get done at the beginning of the FET cycle, for example - and the above-mentioned gross anatomy scan, which will happen mid-September.


Last time, the twenty-week scan came around so very slowly. It took, literally, years on end, and they were long years, full of long days and long, long hours and minutes. This gross anatomy scan is coming up in slightly under a month and a half. It's going to take a little while to wrap my mind around that one. I'm not sure I even have the time left to do so. My mind may have to go into it unwrapped. (Or is it "unwrapping"?)

There are five more things I want to talk about. I am still hoping to go through the ones I can remember which still seem relevant by Sunday, so stay tuned.

P.S. 13w5d.

Keep those tales of what you've been up to coming. I am wading through about a hundred tons of laundry and other housework and various stuff and this week is looking pretty darn hectic so I'm going to catch up as and when I can but in the meantime... everything looks fine here. I don't have the odds from the nuchal translucency yet, but if you recall that was one test we decided to live without last time, so I'm loathe to put a great deal of energy into sweating those results this time, when everything else looks pretty much on track at this stage.

All for now. I have... five... wait... yes, five different things to write about, but... wait, no it's six. But honestly the chances between now and next week are slender, what with running around doing several of those things, so it will just have to wait.

Please keep telling me all I've missed!

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