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Time for a change

With the birth of our little angel, the hubby and I have decided that we need to start blogging again. So join us at our new combined blog:


The new blog is not quite ready yet in terms of layout but I shall leave that to the hubby to sort out. :p
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My IVF Journey I

My gynae told me that the IVF cycle I'll be doing is know as the long cycle or down regulation protocol. To start the cycle, I was prescribed with gynera (birth control pill) in order to control my menstrual cycle.


02/06/11
Started taking gynera for 18 days

14/06/11
Lucrin injection to start from today. This is to suppress the pituitary gland in the brain from producing the luteinizing hormone (LH) as we do not want a spontaneous LH surge from interfering with the timing of the egg collection. 10UI (0.1ml) of Lucrin is to be injected at the same time daily under the skin of the tummy. I was supposed to return to the gynae for blood test as well to start the next round of injection on the second day of my period.

Initially I wasn't feeling comfortable with having to inject myself everyday and wanted the hubby to do it for me instead. However, as I would need to have the injection at the same time everyday, I figured that it would be easier for me to just do it myself. It was pretty easy and didn't hurt too bad once I got the hang of it after a few times. I did use an ice cube on the area to be injected for a minute or so before to help numb the pain though(yeah I'm a wuss when it comes to pain I know).



24/06/11
Second day of my period/cycle. Got an ultrasound and blood test (to check LH level) done. Gynae told me that the hubby is supposed to start "clearing" daily from today onwards in order to keep his supply fresh. Well with all the injections that I've been taking, he needs to do his share as well right? Can't be just me doing all the work. Heh! :p I was also told that I should get some acupuncture sessions as it is meant to help increase the success rate of the IVF. No idea if it's true or whether it's just the hospital wanting to make more money for their TCM clinic but I made an appointment for the next day anyway since the cost is really nothing compared to the total cost of the IVF.

25/06/11
Started daily Gonal-F injection (187.5UI). This is basically a follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) that stimulates the development of ovarian follicles in order to produce more eggs. Bloody expensive injection I have to say, each pen (enough for 2 shots only) cost $700!!! Went for my acupuncture appointment in the afternoon only to be told that I would need to reschedule as I am still having my period. Hmph!



28/06/11
First acupuncture session today. Had a total of 20+ needles stuck in me from the crown of my head to my feet. It didn't really hurt, although sometimes when the needle hit something I could feel my muscles twitching which felt really uncomfortable. The chinese sinsei also told me that I need to stop taking cold water/food so that my womb doesn't get cold? Something weird like that anyway. I also need to drink more chinese soup (not the cooling soups though) and eat more protein like egg whites as the protein is meant to help counter the bloating which I am going to feel from all the hormones inside me. To be honest, I don't really believe in all these but I tried to reduce my cold water intake anyway.

29/06/11 - Did an ultrasound and blood test to monitor the follicle size, thickness of uterine (endometrium) lining, and estradiol level (E2). The ultrasound also showed that there are lots of follicles in both ovaries. All in all, it's looking good so far.

Follicle Size: 8-10mm
Endo Thickness: 9.2mm
LH: 4.0
E2: 2437pg/ml


Ultrasound of an ovary (not mine!) with multiple follicles (black areas). Each follicle contains an egg

30/06/11
Second acupuncture session

01/07/11
Yet another ultrasound and blood test. I really hate blood tests. Most of the time nurses struggle to find a vein coz my veins are very thin and deep and they end up having to draw blood from the side of my wrist of back of my hand instead. Thankfully the nurse at my gynae's office is excellent and always manage to get the blood on the first try. There was once when she wasn't around though and I had 3 nurses standing around me attempting to get my blood. My gynae walked past and was wondering what the fuss was about and in the end she had to do it herself. Bloody hurt though coz she had to draw the blood from the side of my wrist as both my arms had already been poked multiple times by the nurses. :( Anyway, progress was still looking good so far.

Follicle Size: 9-14mm
Endo Thickness: 11.1mm
LH: 3.0
E2: 5315pg/ml

02/07/11
Third acupuncture session. Such a pain coz it was my 5th consecutive day at the hospital.

03/07/11
Told the hubby that after today he would not need to acquaint himself with Mrs. Palmer any more and he was very happy about it. It might sound enjoyable but I could imagine what a pain it was to still have to do it after a long, tiring day at work.

04/07/11
Boobs felt very sore when I woke up, I suppose it was due to all the hormones inside me. Went to the hospital for my blood test and ultrasound and unfortunately the results show that my E2 level was way too high and that I was at risk of developing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).

Follicle Size: 11-19mm
Endo Thickness: 11.1mm
LH: 4.6
E2: 25860pg/ml (I was told that for me anything above 17000pg/ml meant high risk of OHSS so I was way over)

Due to this, my gynae decided to give me the hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) trigger shot tomorrow instead of the day after. It also meant that I would not be able to do the embryo transfer after the egg retrieval. Instead I would have to wait for 2 cycles in order for my hormones level to go back to normal. Naturally the hubby and I were disappointed but decided it was better to delay the embryo transfer than to risk me getting very sick. I was to take my last shot of Gonal-F tonight and also prescribed with antibiotics (in preparation for the egg retrieval) and dostinex which is supposed to help with OHSS.

05/07/11
Took my last Lucrin shot and had another acupuncture session. I also had to go back to the hospital at night for my hCG trigger shot. This shot is supposed to complete the maturation process of the eggs. While this is also a subcutaneous injection like Lucrin and Gonal-F, it has to be timed very carefully (~36 hours before egg retrieval) and so the gynae wanted me to get it done at the hospital instead of at home. If the injection is given too early, the eggs will not have matured enough. If given too late, the eggs may be “too old” and won't fertilize properly.


06/07/11
Woke up with sore boobs and stomach felt quite bloated. Quite relieved though that I was done with all the daily injections.

07/07/11
Egg retrieval/pick up day! This post is getting too long though so I'll get to that in the next post.
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Prelude to my IVF journey

Wow, can't believe it has been more than a year since I last posted an entry. While I still read my friends page, I've gotten lazy and couldn't be bothered to blog anymore. It just seems so much easier to use twitter instead. The reason why I'm starting again now is to document my IVF journey. Close friends and my twitter friends will know that Merrill and I are currently undergoing IVF and I have gotten quite a few requests to share the whole process. I figured it's a good idea since it might be of help to others who are considering assisted reproduction. Plus in future I can show my kids just how much I had to go through for them. Heh!

I suppose I should start from the beginning. After being married for almost 3 years, Merrill and I decided to start trying for a baby sometime late last year. Well, Merrill actually wanted to try earlier but it took a year for my period to come back after I got off the pill so we couldn't have tried earlier anyway. Most couples who are trying to conceive will probably just try for some time before going for fertility tests if they are unsuccessful but Merrill decided that he didn't want to waste any time so I booked myself in for an appointment with a gynaecologist at Raffles Hospital that my girlfriend recommended to get some tests done. At the same time, Merrill also arranged to have male fertility tests done at the same hospital.

We went to Sydney for a month after getting the tests done so it wasn't till late last December that we went back to the hospital for the results. Merrill's tests came back all clear but the gynae didn't have very good news for me. My periods have never been regular and I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In addition to that, a HSG test (which bloody hurts by the way) showed that my left fallopian tube is partially blocked. This could be due to a number of reasons (eg. endometriosis) but she will not be able to determine it until a laparoscopy is performed. Unfortunately she will not be able to schedule me in for a laparoscopy until I get my next period (only way to be sure that I am not pregnant while the procedure is being done) so that means we had to wait. I think we ended up having to wait for about 2 months (due to my irregular period) before I was finally booked in for the procedure in early March this year.

The laparoscopy was fairly painless since I was under general anaesthetic. It was my first time having surgery done and I have to say general anaesthetic rawks! It was a little scary initially inhaling the gas coz it feels as if it got harder to breathe as you start to lose consciousness but before you know it you are out and when you wake up the surgery is done. No pain at all! We were told that the procedure was a success, the blockage has been cleared and there was also no sign of endometriosis which is good news. I did have to stay in hospital overnight and Merrill decided to accompany me. I felt so bad though coz even though we opted for a deluxe room with a day bed, the day bed was so hard and uncomfortable that he barely got any sleep the whole night. Not to mention I wasn't much of a company as I spent most of the day sleeping off the residual effects of the anaesthetic.

With that out of the way, the gynae then prescribed metformin for my PCOS and clomiphene (also known as clomid or clomifene) to help me to ovulate. I started off with 50mg of clomiphene for 1 cycle. I wasn't responding to it so for the next cycle the dosage was increased to 100mg. Unfortunately I still wasn't responding to it. The gynae told me that she could increase it to 150mg for the next cycle but higher dosage can sometime make it harder to conceive as clomiphene can decrease the quality of your cervical mucus (which sperm need to make their way to the egg). It can also cause the lining of your uterus to become thinner and hence less ideal for implantation. It was up to me whether I would like to continue trying clomiphene or to try something else. I was told to come in for another appointment with Merrill so that she can discuss our options with us.

Basically we had 2 options, IUI (intrauterine insemination) or IVF (in vitro fertilization). Both will require the use of fertility drugs to stimulate the ovaries. The difference is that wth IUI, washed sperm (spermatozoa which have been removed from most other components of the seminal fluids) is injected directly into the uterus. IVF however, requires the eggs to be removed from the ovaries, fertilized with the washed sperm in the lab and cultured in an incubator before being transferred back into the uterus. To sum it up, IUI is a less invasive procedure (and also cost a lot less). Unfortunately due to my age and the fact that I actually do have a lot of eggs in my ovaries, the chances of a multiple pregnancy (not talking just twins, but triplets or even quadruplets) is pretty high with IUI and hence is not really recommended for me. Which really just leaves us with the last option, IVF.

And so we begin the long process...
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A very belated present

For some reason it seems like it's a trend for parents to give watches as wedding present nowadays. Quite a few of my girlfriends received them and my parents also wanted to buy Merrill and I a pair when we got married. However as we were only back in Singapore for a short time before our wedding we didn't really have time to pick them out then. Besides, the both of us did not really have a habit of wearing watches back then as we were too used to just looking at our mobile phonea whenever we needed to know the time so I thought there was no hurry. Anyway 2.5 years after our wedding, we finally got down to picking them out. We wanted something simple and non-flashy that we could wear daily so this is what we ended up with. Diamond markers for me and plain roman numerals for Merrill coz he didn't want any diamond on his. :)


Rolex Datejust with black Jubilee dial (also known as computer dial) and chain
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Hi there

It has been a while since I last logged on to LJ and even longer since my last update. I never did manage to post about our trip to Phuket in October. Anyway am heading off to Tokyo and Hokkaido tonight for 2 weeks so hopefully I'll be catching up on everyone's entries then during the long winter nights. Hope everyone had a good new year. :)
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Happy 2nd wedding anniversary, baby

I can't believe how fast time has flown by. 4 years ago on this day, we have not even met yet and have only heard about each other from mutual friends. Just a year later on October 14th 2006, I said yes to the most amazing proposal ever and the following year we signed on the dotted line pledging ourselves to each other. Our special day last year was spent at the beautiful Azur in Queenstown, New Zealand, while this year we had an early celebration that was just as lovely at The Racha in Phuket. Thank you for the wonderful journey so far, baby. I love you and look forward to creating more wonderful memories together. *muacks*


Wollongong, NSW (14 Oct 2006)



NSW Registry of Marriage, Sydney (14 Oct 2007)



Azur Lodge, Queenstown (14 Oct 2008)



The Racha, Thailand (2009)
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Tetsuya Cookbook



To date, the best restaurant that Merrill and I have dined at is without a doubt, Tetsuya's. I have been there a total of 3 times and if I could have my way, would definitely want to dine there once a year. Unfortunately that is not possible now that we are no longer living in Sydney so I recently picked up his cookbook hoping to recreate some of his dishes. While I have to say that the cooked meat dishes do not interest me that much, I can't wait to try out the rare seafood dishes. Think "Tartare of Marinated Scampi with Tomato and Pepper Sorbet", "Sashimi of Hamachi with Blood Orange and Ginger Vinaigrette" and of course Tetsuya's signature dish, "Confit of Petuna Ocean Trout with Konbu and Fennel Salad". *drool* If only he included the recipe for his take of a strawberry shortcake as well.

Anyway I actually tried creating my own version of his Tuna Tartare on Sushi Rice with Avocado Soup and Caviar (unfortunately his book doesn't include the recipe although there is one for the avocado soup) last week and it turned out decent but the marinade for the tuna tartare still requires some tweaking. Hopefully I'll be able to get some more ideas from the book.

Merrill's review of our last meal at Tetsuya's here.


Confit of Petuna Tasmanian Ocean Trout with Konbu, Fennel, Apple & Witlof
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(no subject)

What do I do when I feel guilty about all the online shopping I've been doing for myself? Pick out some stuff for the hubby so he can stop complaining about all the packages I've been receiving! ;)

This just arrived in the mail for ptechnix. Suits him to a tee don't you think? :p



Also got him a couple of Porsche Design belts (he's in love with half the store) but I'll let him post about that after he has received them.
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Capella

My cousin had a room at Capella in Sentosa for 2 nights so I went over to hang out and play with my little niece, Ashlyn. We didn't get up to much, just went to the beach for a bit and spent the rest of the time chilling out by the pool and the jacuzzi. Very nice and relaxing. I have to say though that while the room at Capella was very lovely, especially with the private jacuzzi on the balcony, I doubt I will splurge on it just for a getaway seeing as I can get an amazing pool villa in Thailand or a gorgeous beach villa at the Maldives for a similar price.


Perfect day to drive with the top down


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