Monday, 14 May 2012

News at last

Well, it's been a long journey, and in common with the journey as a whole, it was a bit rocky at the end, but we finally have our baby!  Our beautiful daughter was born on 26 April, weighing a hefty 9 lbs 12 oz.  She had a bit of trouble at the beginning and spent a few days in the NICU, where she looked as though she could eat most of the other babies for breakfast!  We have now been home for a few days, and we're doing great.  She has been charming everyone she meets, and is being totally spoilt by all and sundry. She's sleeping peacefully on my chest at the moment, gathering her strength for the long night ahead!

Thank you all so much for your support over the last couple of years - it has meant so much to me, and has kept me going through some of the hardest times of my life.  I still think of and pray for you - those who already have their own bundles of joy, and those who are still waiting - despite being so rubbish at keeping up with blogging these days.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Still here...

I've been a rotten blogger recently - I've neither updated my own blog nor commented on anyone else's, though I can assure you that I still think of the people whose blogs I used to read regularly, and pop in from time to time to see how you're doing.

Some of the things that have kept me away are things I can't tell you about, but others are things that I think many bloggers before me have experienced.

I've had a lot of worries and a few major panics since I've been pregnant. I had bleeding at 8 and 12 weeks - proper red blood, about the volume of the first day of a period, followed in each case by a week of spotting. I felt like I was holding my breath until I reached 12 weeks, but I felt guilty about writing about my concerns, because I knew that there were people who might be reading who would give anything to be in my shoes. It just didn't seem fair to complain about being worried, or feeling sick, or not being able to sleep, or anything at all, when actually I was conscious every minute of every day of how incredibly lucky I was to finally be pregnant.

Anyway, I'm now at 16 weeks 5 days. Everything looked good on my 12 week scan - they even bumped my due date forward a few days, because the baby was measuring ahead of dates, though I'm ignoring that, since I know exactly how old the baby really is. Last week I had another appointment with the midwife and heard the heartbeat for the first time (when I've had my scans, I've only seen it).

Right now, I'm waiting to develop a bump which looks more baby than blubber. I think I may have felt the baby move at the weekend (when one of my nieces was lying on my tummy), but haven't really felt anything since which I could say was definitely not just gas, so I'm looking forward to feeling proper kicks more regularly and being able to tell for myself that the baby is still there and doing OK.

I've been overwhelmed with how thrilled people have been for us - not just friends and family, but random people that I've done jobs for over the last year, my nieces' teachers, and even my doctor and the ultrasound technician at our NHS 12 week scan.

Every time someone gets excited on my behalf, I keep thinking, "But what if it all goes wrong and I have to tell all these people that I lost the baby?", and then at the next opportunity I secretly poke my boobs to make sure they're still hurting - and they always are (probably because I spend so much time poking them)!

I also moved straight from feeling sick most of the time to having indigestion and heartburn most of the time, and although I've now been prescribed something to help with the indigestion, I feel fortunate that amidst all this worrying, there really have been very few days when I could say that I didn't feel any different from normal and therefore start panicking that this might mean things had started to go wrong.

I probably won't update very much over the next few months, though I will definitely tell you if anything major happens (like giving birth!). So I just want to thank you for continuing to show an interest, and for all the huge support that so many of you have given me over the last few years.

I may not be updating, but I'm still thinking of you...

Saturday, 3 September 2011


It's taken me a while to update you on our scan, which took place on Tuesday. The ultrasound nurse was lovely, and we saw our baby's little flickering heart. It measured one day smaller than I had thought, at 6 weeks 3 days, which is probably due to later implantation, but everything looked good and the nurse was very positive about it.

And yes, there's only one. Realistically, I'm relieved that this means there are likely to be fewer complications. Secretly, though, I'm a little disappointed that it also probably means our baby will be an only child - and I feel very ungrateful for feeling any sort of disappointment when I've got what we have longed for for so long.

I was thrilled and relieved to discover that because I'm on all the immune treatment, the clinic wasn't going to discharge me as soon as I'd had my first scan. In fact, I get another scan two weeks after the first one, and then another again at 10 or 12 weeks. I don't think I could have stood waiting for six weeks between scans at this stage, so I'm hugely excited that we'll get to see the baby again in only another 10 days or so.

The clinic only prescribes enough drugs at each appointment to last until the next one, which I suppose is sensible in case anything goes wrong and the drugs are no longer needed, but this caused us huge stress on Tuesday. We were in a strange city, four hours from home, and had no idea where we could go to fill our prescription. After we'd been to two pharmacies that didn't have half the stuff we needed, I rang the clinic in despair and a lovely lovely lady phoned round for me, found a place that had most of what we needed, and then got the doctor to write another prescription for everything they didn't have, because one of the problems we had is that you have to get everything on a single prescription in the same place.

The sticking point was the gestone - nobody had any. I had my jab for Tuesday evening, so sent DH into London with the gestone prescription on Wednesday morning with instructions to pick it up from one of the pharmacies near XXXX clinic during his lunch break. He phoned me in a panic at lunchtime, having tried several different pharmacies and been told the same story at each - there's a national shortage of gestone and he would find it very difficult to get any before the middle of September at the earliest.

After much angst, and the longest lunch break ever for poor DH, he eventually found a pharmacy which had been keeping back two boxes (exactly what we needed) for someone else who hadn't turned up to pick them up, so he sweet-talked the pharmacist into letting him take the two boxes.

That afternoon, I had a lot of twinges in my stomach and some other fairly odd feelings, and I managed to convince myself that although we'd seen a heartbeat the previous day, the baby must surely have died. I felt really sad, and worried every time there was another twinge. I also googled like crazy, and read that if I was miscarrying I could usually expect heavy bleeding and stronger cramps than I was feeling - but I have several friends who've had missed miscarriages, so that only made me feel a little bit better.

Since then, I've been on crazy symptom-watch - am I feeling as sick as I was last week? Why don't I get that dizzy feeling any more? Am I weeing as much as I was? It's 10 pm and I haven't collapsed with exhaustion yet - why not?

And the answer is that I think everything's fine at the moment. Last night I felt as sick as a dog, and this morning I was woken at 5:30 by a wave of nausea that was so strong I really thought I was going to throw up for the first time.

I'm trying my best to go with the flow and just enjoy this whole experience without worrying about every little thing. But don't expect me to be sane or rational for the next few weeks...

Friday, 19 August 2011

Five weeks

Wow, it's true - I really do still have more than three readers! Thank you so much for all your lovely comments and congratulations - they all really meant a lot to me.

Since our BFP, the week has passed in a bit of a blur of pregnancy-related stuff. I had to sort out my prescription for the next two weeks' worth of drugs - I have to stay on all the drugs (gestone, Clexane, prednisolone and oestradiol valerate, as well as prenatal vitamins and calcium tablets) until we reach 12 weeks, but for the moment they've given me enough to last until our early scan at the end of this month.

I've calculated that our due date is 20 April next year, and that as of today, by the weird and wonderful method that the medical profession has of calculating these things, I am officially 5 weeks pregnant. I did another test on Thursday morning, just to make sure, and the line came up instantly and was as dark as the control line.

I'm still absolutely wiped out with exhaustion in the afternoons and evenings, and have had enough nausea and dizziness (sort of a seasick feeling) to reassure me that there's definitely plenty going on in there.

I also find very few foods particularly appealing - though strangely, this baby is obviously a bit of a health freak, as the things that are most unappealing to me are the unhealthy treats that I usually enjoy. Today, all I wanted for lunch was vegetables with chickpeas, and I almost cried when I opened the cupboard to find that we were out of chickpeas. I suppose you could add 'more than usually emotional' to my list of symptoms - tears spring to my eyes at the slightest provocation.

The most irritating symptom I have, which I think is mainly caused by the gestone, is insomnia. Last night went like this:

10:00 - take the last of my daily drugs and settle down with relief to go to sleep. Fall asleep quite quickly, as I normally do at the beginning of the night.

11:30 - DH comes up to bed and wakes me up. Never mind - I have to get up to pee anyway.

12:00 - still awake, and staring at the glowing numbers on my alarm clock.

12:30 - I must have fallen asleep at some stage, because I've just been woken up by a couple of idiots shouting outside the bedroom window. Never mind - I have to get up to pee anyway.

1:30 - I can't get back to sleep, and DH's gentle snoring in my ear is really starting to irritate me. I briefly consider smothering him with a pillow to make the noise stop, but decide this baby really deserves to have a father, so move to the spare room instead. Never mind - I have to get up to pee anyway. I'm also feeling increasingly nauseous, so I munch on a couple of breadsticks before settling down in the spare bed.

2:00- I'm wide awake and surfing the internet on my iPod, desperately trying to get myself sleepy enough to get back off to sleep.

2:30 - My eyelids are finally drooping, and I put down the iPod and manage to get to sleep quite quickly.

4:45 - DH stomps past the spare room on his way to the bathroom, waking me up again. Never mind - I have to get up to pee anyway.

5:30 - I'm finally asleep again.

6:10 - DH's alarm goes off and wakes me up. As the spare room is closer to the bathroom than our bedroom is, I manage to nip into the bathroom before he can get there - I have to pee again.

6:15 - I crawl back into our own bed and take the first lot of drugs of the day.

6:45 - I'm vaguely aware of DH bringing me up a drink before he leaves for work.

7:30 - My alarm goes off. I wake up for long enough to reset it for 8:15, and then I'm sleeping like a baby once more. So why can't that happen in the middle of the night?

8:15 - My alarm goes off again. I'm not ready to wake up, and could quite happily roll over and go back to sleep again for a few more hours - but never mind, I have to get up anyway to go and pee again.

For the moment, I'm quite happy to have whatever inconvenient or uncomfortable symptoms I get - I've waited for this moment long enough, and these are all signs that I may at long last be going to achieve the one thing that I've wanted all my life - to be a mother.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Eeek - our first ever...!

First, thank you so much for the concern and interest that my three remaining readers have continued to show despite my lack of updates. It really does mean a lot to me!

Well, what a couple of weeks it's been. We had our transfer two weeks ago tomorrow. For the first time, we were given a photo of the embryos. I felt very emotional when the embryologist showed it to me just before the transfer and said I'd be able to take it home afterwards. Somehow, it just made the whole thing more real.

The first two embryos that they defrosted survived and were doing well, so they didn't have to defrost any others. These two were expanding blasts, and the embryologist said that after the thaw they had started to reinflate very well. And here they are, looking plump and beautiful - and I've barely been able to stop looking at this photo since.

After the transfer, we were sent away with an HPT and told to test in two weeks (ie, tomorrow). We didn't go home for a couple of days, and then we were pretty busy, but last Tuesday I had every intention of updating you and posting that photo.

Before I could do that, last Tuesday evening I started spotting. It was only a tiny amount, it never turned red and it never increased, but it was there on and off from Tuesday to Saturday, and I was completely freaked out by it and convinced that we had failed yet again - and just too depressed to tell you about it.

Then the spotting stopped altogether, and other things started to happen. I noticed that a few things smelt a lot stronger than usual, and that some odours were making me feel a bit... peculiar. The AF feelings in my stomach didn't subside, but nor did they lead to any bleeding. I started to be hit with crushing waves of exhaustion which would actually leave me feeling dizzy for a couple of minutes. And my nipples were a little bit tender and so prominent that you could practically see them through my duvet.

I started to have a faint little shoot of hope, but I didn't want to jinx it by saying anything to anybody, so I stayed away from my computer and just prayed like mad.

I also had an incident where I pulled back on my gestone syringe, as you're instructed to do to make sure you haven't hit a vein, and it filled with blood - so I had to discard that injection and start again. That meant I was one injection short, and when I called the clinic to tell them, they said it would be OK if I tested a day early. I didn't tell anyone, not even DH, figuring that if I got another BFN this morning, I'd be able to lick my wounds for 24 hours before I had to tell anyone else.

Yesterday evening I was peeing every half hour, and just before I went to bed I felt very peculiar - exhausted, dizzy, slightly nauseous. And I just had a feeling that maybe we might have been lucky this time.

So this morning, while DH was pottering around getting ready for work, I took my official HPT into the bathroom, carefully pipetted (is that a word?) three drops of urine into the sample area, and waited. The control line came up straight away, and I stared at the test area in disbelief as it stayed stubbornly white... for about half a minute. Then something else started to happen, and after another minute, it looked like this (apologies for the crappy photo from my phone):

I've subsequently gone on the bulletin board for this clinic and seen loads of people say that the tests the clinic gives out are unusually insensitive, and that most people get very faint lines on them.

So it would appear that after 3 years and 3 months of trying, 2 years of fertility investigations and treatments, 3 failed IVFs and endless months of not even being able to get started with treatment because my hormones weren't right, I finally have my first ever BFP!

We still have a huge long way to go, and I know a line on a pee stick in no way guarantees that I'll have a live baby in my arms in nine months' time. But that moment when I went downstairs, showed the test to DH and said, "This line means I'm pregnant" and saw the look on his face as he gradually realised what I meant is one that will stay with me for ever as one of the best moments of my life.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

We have a date!

Things have been pretty busy around here recently, and the only sign of anything out of the normal has been the increasingly regular alarms going off on my phone, reminding me to take one drug or another.

My new business is starting to look as though it may break even in its first year, and I've taken the fairly momentous decision to give up the 'crutch' of freelance work in my old field to concentrate solely on the new business. I'm doing my last bit of freelance work right now, and hoping to finish it before next Tuesday evening, because...

On Tuesday evening we're driving up to the town where the new clinic is, ready for transfer (assuming all goes well with the defrosting) on Wednesday.

I had a scan on Monday, my tenth day of taking oestradiol, and my lining was 12.4 mm, with no sign of any anomalies. I asked specifically about the polyp, and the nurse who did the scan looked very carefully and said if there was a polyp it would be filled with fluid, and there was no sign of anything fluid-filled in there. The consultant had said that it could be shed with the lining if I had another bleed, and I had a bit of bleeding last week, so I'm assuming that's what happened, and that I am now polyp-free.

So after six weeks of preparing my body for this, two years of fertility treatments and over three years of trying for a baby, how does it feel to be this close to transfer?

I don't think I can really identify my feelings towards it at the moment. In one way, I'm planning for success, thinking about how I would juggle pregnancy and childcare with my new career, repeating to myself the names that we've chosen, and imagining where the cradle will go in our bedroom for a newborn.

In another way, I can't imagine ever being successful. I'm very cautious about the next stage in our treatment, and very conscious that it is only the next stage - that it could fail now, and even if it doesn't, there are months and months of possibilities of failure ahead of us. I spend a lot of time thinking about how our life would be if we never had children, what the positives of that would be, and reminding myself how difficult it would be to continue to build up my business with a baby - preparing myself for failure, in other words.

Am I excited about Wednesday? My family certainly are. DH is. I'm.... keeping my mind busy. The people I do this freelance work for are usually very good at estimating how long it'll take, and I've got four to five days' worth waiting to be done. I'm starting it today, and I'd like to finish it before we leave on Tuesday evening. That means working at least one day of the weekend, and it's tedious, mind-consuming work. At the moment, I'm thinking about getting that done.

I've also cleared my diary so that, assuming I get this work finished, I can spend a couple of days at the end of next week with my feet up, catching up on some long overdue reading.

So activity-wise, the 'before' is sorted, and the 'after' is sorted. We've got a hotel booked for Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and DH has booked the time off work.

And that's it. I've told a few people that it's happening, because they asked how things were going. They've got very excited, and I've tried to damp down their excitement by pointing out that the embryos might not even survive defrosting. I worry a little bit that I've got a dreadful cough at the moment, and if it gets even worse, I wonder if we'll even be able to go ahead.

Mostly, though, I'm relaxed. I'm not obsessed with this process, as I was for previous IVF treatments. When the nurse came to give me my intralipids, she commented that my blood pressure was low - when I was working in London, it was high, so surely that's a sign that I'm more relaxed these days.

I can't even say I'm waiting, because I'm too busy getting everything else done to have the luxury of waiting. All preparations that can be made have been made already, and now I'm just getting on with everything that needs to be done and the perpetual juggling that my life seems to entail at the moment.

Is it the calm before the storm? Will I become more preoccupied with it again as the time gets closer? Will my state of zen-like calm crack and bring with it the emotional messiness of previous cycles?

Who knows - but I'm sure I'll be appreciative of any prayers and sticky thoughts that you can send my way next Wednesday.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

One step forward...?

Thank you so much for your comments on my last post. I've been such a bad blogger recently that I'm amazed anyone is still reading, and Sonja's comment in particular really reassured me.

I had another chat with the lovely consultant on Tuesday, and he finally gave me an opinion and said that given the size and position of the polyp, he was 60-70% in favour of continuing with the cycle. He said he personally didn't think the polyp was very significant, but that he had to give us information on all the latest research and let us make our own decision.

We agreed that I would start taking oestradiol valerate that evening, and they would pay close attention to looking out for the polyp when I had a lining scan 10 days later.

The next step was to organise my intralipids infusion, which they want me to have done within a week of starting the oestradiol. That was when it all got a bit frustrating again.

I suppose I was spoilt at XXXX clinic, where they do everything themselves - drug provision, hysteroscopy, IVIg, and anything else they consider necessary during your treatment. The decision about whether to have a hysteroscopy was made harder by the fact that the new clinic doesn't do them, XXXX clinic couldn't do it for me, and I would have had to shop around for somewhere, get a referral, and then probably join a waiting list.

The new clinic also doesn't do its own intralipid infusions. In one way, that's nice - because they use a company that can set up drips in patients' homes, all I needed to do was arrange for a nurse to come to my house and then I could have my intralipids in the comfort of my own home, while getting on with some work (which, by the way, is really picking up now and has been very busy over the last month).

But the way they did it this week was for the clinic to ring the homecare company and set up an appointment - without asking me when I was available. I then had a call from the clinic saying that it was going to be done on Friday morning.

Well, as it happens, I have a stand at an event tomorrow which I hope will lead to some more work for me. The stand was offered to me free of charge as a thank you for some other stuff I've done for the organisation concerned. Not only can I not afford to miss out on the opportunity to advertise my business, which is still in its first year in a highly competitive market, but I also can't let these people down at the last minute.

I told the nurse at the clinic that there was no way I could do Friday morning, and she told me to call the homecare company direct. The woman I spoke to said there was no other time they could do for me within the one week period, and I was then shuffled into a game of telephone tag with these two women. It culminated in me being told not to start taking the oestradiol on Tuesday after all. The new instruction was to start it this Saturday, and someone from the homecare company would ring me to arrange a date for the intralipids.

I got the call yesterday (rather inconveniently, while I was out on a job). My intralipids infusion is now booked for... Monday. Which by my reckoning is within a week of this Tuesday - so why didn't they offer it to me initially when I said I couldn't do Friday?

I then have a scan the following Monday at the satellite clinic, and depending on what it shows, they may want me to go up to the main clinic again so they can rescan for themselves and see what the polyp is doing.

I was a bit irritated by the further delay in starting the oestradiol - I'll have been on buserilin for six weeks now, and the night sweats and hot flushes are beginning to get more than a little bit boring.

But then there was a new development last night. If I wasn't on buserilin, AF would be due round about now - and sure enough, last night I started bleeding. This is odd, because the scan on Monday showed that my lining was pretty thin. But the consultant did suggest that if I came off the buserilin and had a bleed, the polyp might come away on its own.

So is all this waiting around going to result in the polyp disappearing of its own accord? And is it normal to have a second bleed when you're on buserilin? All intriguing questions, and I'll be on the phone to the clinic again later today.

I just hope the start of the oestradiol isn't going to be pushed back beyond this Saturday...

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Still up in the air

Well, I stayed on the buserilin while waiting for a repeat scan, so am still fully downregulated (and having regular hot flushes and night sweats - all the fun of the fair!).

Yesterday we finally made it to the clinic for the scan - it took so long because they wouldn't let me use the satellite clinic and we had to have a couple of clear days so we could go up to our main clinic.

The polyp is still there - it's at the top of the lower third of the uterus, and is about 3-4 mm, so pretty small.

One issue we have is that this clinic doesn't do hysteroscopies, so if I wanted to have it removed I'd have to arrange to have it done somewhere else. I rang XXXX clinic, and they said they couldn't do it for me, but also said that if it was small and not 'impacting on the uterus' (whatever that means), they wouldn't bother anyway.

The consultant we saw yesterday - who was absolutely lovely - was fairly equivocal about whether he thought we should abandon this cycle and get the polyp removed. He said some studies indicated that it might be a good idea, but we should make the decision ourselves and I should stay on the buserilin until we decide.

I've consulted Dr Google. There are lots of people on the forums talking about having to abandon cycles in order to have polyps removed. I also found this useful book which has information on various studies that have been done. Unfortunately, none of them is really conclusive, but it seems that the greatest evidence for polyps affecting the outcome of IVF treatment is with polyps over 1.5-2 cm (way bigger than mine). It seems that polyps don't affect implantation rates, but may have an effect on the likelihood of miscarriage - but again, this is not certain and may only involve polyps over 1 cm.

The other imponderable is that there is some evidence that oestrogen causes polyps to grow - I haven't started taking oestrogen yet in this cycle, but if when I do it makes the polyp grow larger as well as making my endometrium thicken, then this would be a bad thing.

If the clinic did hysteroscopies and polypectomies, I think it would be a no brainer - I'd just go ahead and let them do it. My problem is in deciding whether this is a big enough deal to make me not only abandon this cycle after over 5 weeks of downregulation and have a further delay of what could be a few months, but also have to find another clinic that will do the polypectomy and have yet another set of doctors poking at my bits.

Yesterday we were all ready to go ahead. Right now this minute, I think I've talked myself into thinking that if this cycle ultimately isn't successful, I would have fewer regrets if I had had the polypectomy than if I hadn't - whereas if it is successful, I won't mind the extra time and expense anyway.

This is hard - I wish the consultant had been a little less wishy-washy in his advice and had just definitely told me what he thought I should do...

Monday, 27 June 2011


After a little over three weeks of buserilin, I had my downregulation scan today, to see if I could start taking the next lot of drugs.

My lining was nice and thin, both ovaries were inactive, and it only took two nurses three attempts to take a bit of blood from me (which is fine - I know I have difficult veins, and the bruise really isn't that big).

But ... there's always a 'but'.

It seems I have another polyp, and the consultant rang this afternoon to say they want to do another scan to see whether it's likely to get in the way of implantation. Someone will ring me to arrange the appointment, so for the moment I'm in limbo again.

I asked if they could just do the hysteroscopy and get on with it if necessary, without abandoning this cycle. The answer was no - they don't do hysteroscopies at this clinic, so they would have to refer me to the NHS (which would take for ever) or I'd have to find another private clinic that was willing and able to do it at short notice.

Suddenly my stress levels are increasing again. I really don't want to abandon this cycle, but if there's any chance this polyp will adversely affect the outcome, I don't want to carry on until I'm rid of it.

Saturday, 11 June 2011


Blogger won't let me comment on any Blogspot posts! It's been doing it for a couple of weeks now, and is very frustrating - so I'd just like to say to cgd, I'm thinking of you, and hope that you have a very happy birthday today.

A week in

So, I've injected my buserilin for seven days now, and sure enough, it has delayed AF. I find myself once again waiting for AF to turn up so that I can get on with treatment - but since the next week is going to be even busier than last, I don't mind if the delay lasts a little longer.

I'm doing OK so far - I've felt like AF was on her way for the last four days or so, and I'm getting a bit bloated in the evenings. I got a bit overemotional about a misunderstanding yesterday, but to be honest, I think I'd have got overemotional about it even without all the drugs - someone I'd never met before was basically questioning my integrity and was quite rude to me, and cancelled an arrangement that I'd made with his wife without consulting her. The story's a lot longer and more involved than that, but I found it very upsetting.

On Thursday I dropped in at our first clinic to pick up copies of some paperwork that the new clinic wanted. I was surprised to feel absolutely nothing as I walked in - I think the scars from that first treatment have healed over now.

It still doesn't really feel real that I'm going to have an FET within (hopefully) the next month or so. I veer between feeling confident that it'll work (which is actually quite a rare feeling) and being absolutely certain that it won't. In reality, I just can't imagine any treatment ever working for us. The universe isn't fair, and it's not a question of waiting for 'my turn'. The total unfairness of what has happened to Egghunt confirms that, and I feel desperately sad for her. It's been her 'turn' for as long as I've been reading her blog, and I can't believe how much crap she has had to put up with, and continues to have to deal with.

So I'll keep sticking needles in my stomach and keep plodding on to the next stage, but at the moment it feels more as though I'm doing this because I'll regret not having done it if I don't, rather than because I think there's a baby at the end of it. The hardest thing is coping with the expectations of others, who are convinced whatever I say that it's going to work this time. I can finally see the value of not telling people what's going on, but keeping my mouth shut and not answering questions honestly when people ask is just not in my nature.

And so we wait...

Sunday, 5 June 2011

And so it begins

This week is half term, and we had Nieces #1, #2 and #3 for a sleepover on Thursday night, so on Friday morning I was woken just before 6:00 by #2 and #3 crawling into our bed. We watched a Brambly Hedge DVD while DH got up and got ready for work, then went downstairs and made pancakes for breakfast.

Once they were dressed and all the sticky syrup had been cleaned up, I left them playing while I phoned the clinic to get any last instructions and pay the final bill for the medication.

We then went out for the day to a model village near where I live. My sister and Niece #4 joined us at lunchtime, and I took loads of photos. The weather was beautiful, and we ended up going round the village three times and having two reasonably long stints in the play area.

I came home, relaxed for a few minutes with a cup of tea, gave myself an injection, then settled down to watch some of my favourite programmes on the telly. DH was out boozing with his colleagues - a rare occurrence, but one of them was leaving on Friday, so they were giving him a good send-off.

Yesterday, I did my Saturday morning chores, went through my photos and uploaded some of them to Facebook for my family to see, wandered down into town with DH, where I had an eye test and we went for a coffee in Starbucks, read the newspapers in the sunshine, gave myself an injection, then in the evening we ordered a takeaway curry and ate it in front of the telly.

Do you see what I'm getting at here? At the moment, these injections are no big deal at all - I even have to set an alarm on my phone to remind myself to take them. I'm also totally relaxed about DH having a nice evening out with his friends, even if he did text me from the train to say that he'd had a bit too much to drink and would sleep in the spare room.

Part of what makes me so relaxed is that I'm not worrying about the quality of my eggs and DH's sperm this time round. Part of it is that I haven't yet had to go to the clinic. They sent all the drugs by post, and they've already been knocking around the house for a couple of weeks. When I phoned them yesterday they just told me to call again when AF shows up, to book my downregulation scan. So it's all very low key, and I don't have enough hormones swimming around my body yet to have turned me into IVFzilla (much to DH's relief).

The next fortnight is going to be very busy with work, then I have a brief hiatus of a week or so before I head into another very busy period. So my mind will have plenty to occupy it, and I hope this means that the relaxed attitude will continue.

Part of my mind is already preparing me for what feels like inevitable failure - I've had so many disappointments, I almost can't bear to hope that this time we'll be lucky. But another part of my mind is remembering how July was meant to be an important month for me, and calculating that either my transfer or my test (or maybe even both) should definitely be taking place in July...

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Into the countdown

We're on our third clinic now, and I find it interesting to see the differences in the way they all operate. This one is the first to send drugs all at once through the post - just as well, since it's also the furthest from home - and I now have a huge box of drugs on my kitchen table, waiting for us to get started.

I'm doing a medicated FET, so have to start by downregging - this will be the first time I've done this, as all my IVFs were on the short protocol. All being well, I'll be starting with daily injections of buserilin this coming Friday.

My new business is one which is always likely to be busiest in May, June, July, and then in October, November and early December. I'm really pleased to have several bookings for late June and early July, but it does mean that appointments are going to have to be juggled to fit round work - with such a new business, I can't turn stuff down, and most of the bookings are for specific events and so can't be varied. I think it'll be good to have work that I enjoy to take my mind off obsessing about the treatment, and I've worked out my dates quite carefully so that they shouldn't clash with any appointments - as long as my body is playing ball.

It's been a busy week - in fact, a busy six weeks, with trips to three different countries for three different major events in the lives of our friends and family - but this weekend we're home and can relax and recharge our batteries. My sister's coming for lunch tomorrow, and we're going to see DH's parents on Monday, but for today I can just potter around and do very little - bliss.

It's funny - I haven't really thought further than the logistics of starting to take the drugs and what monitoring appointments I might need (to avoid clashes with work bookings). It's as if I was just planning to do injections for a few weeks and then get back to normal.

In reality, of course, I hope that 'normal' is going to be looking very different from now on...

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Conversation with a 4-year-old

I spent an hour or so on my own this afternoon with #2 Niece, while #1 was at school and my sister was out with #3 and #4. As she sat on my lap after I finished reading her a book, we had the following conversation:

#2 (a propos of nothing): When I grow up, I want to be a mummy.

Me: That's good. I'd like to be a mummy too.

#2 (turning to look seriously into my eyes): But you're not a mummy. Before you can be a mummy you have to get a baby in your tummy.

Me: I know.

#2: My mummy has had babies in her tummy. But you've never had a baby in your tummy.

Me: No.

#2: You can't be a mummy until you get a baby in your tummy, you know.

And so it went on. A 4-year-0ld has a great way of grabbing hold of a topic and not letting it go...

Monday, 23 May 2011

Out of the blue

My DH isn't brilliant at keeping in touch with people (at least, not without some heavy prompting from me). So although he sees one particular friend as his best friend, he sees nothing unusual in going months without having any contact with him.

Last time DH met up with his best friend, they discussed IF matters. Their entire conversation went something like this:

DH: "We're having trouble having children."
BF: "Us too. We've been for tests."
DH: "Us too. Do you want another drink?"

This was over 18 months ago, and I've been nagging him to contact BF ever since. When he came home and relayed the conversation to me, I asked him for more details, but he didn't have any. After a couple of months had gone by, I said that even if he and BF didn't want to talk about it, BF's wife and I could be a support for each other, if we were going through the same sort of things.

Last week DH finally got round to calling BF. I was out working all day, and came home in the evening exhausted. The first thing he said as I walked through the door was, "I spoke to BF. Guess what? His wife's 8 months pregnant. IVF - first attempt. On the NHS."

I'm not sure how long they'd been actively trying, but when I first met them, before we were even engaged, DH told me that the car they drove had been specifically bought with a view to it being a family car. They had said that they weren't trying yet because the time wasn't right with their jobs, but who knows whether that was just an excuse to avoid having to talk about it?

I don't think I was as excited by the news as he might have hoped. In fact, I felt like he'd punched me in the stomach. Maybe if we'd been in touch with them while they were going through all the testing and then the treatment, I'd have felt more in tune with her and been as excited as she was when she got her BFP. To get as far as going through IVF, there must have been some pretty major bumps in the road, and some times when they thought it was never going to happen for them, and they must really have wanted it to happen - and as someone who knows exactly what it's like to go through all that, I should be delighted that they've finally got what they wanted.

As it is, I'm left with the feeling that they've had it easy. One minute they're 'having tests', and the next thing I know, they're popping out a baby, courtesy of the good old NHS. And once again, we've been left behind.

Am I allowed to admit that I'm a teensy bit jealous? And that I won't be quite as insistent on nagging DH to keep in touch with them over the next few months?

Wednesday, 11 May 2011


Some might say our timing was bad - having lived through UK Mothers' Day, we managed to be in the US for US Mothers' Day as well. And at the Mass we went to, the priest invited all mothers to stand up before the final blessing so that he could give them a special blessing.

There was a couple sitting directly in front of us, on their own - probably about our age. I noticed that when the mothers were invited to stand up, she remained sitting. And I also noticed that her husband patted her thigh a couple of times and then held her hand tightly during the blessing.

Funny, the way you come across infertility so often once you know it's there...

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Booking in

Life has been hectic around here lately, and will be for a couple more weeks - over a six week period, we will have had trips to Spain, the US and the Czech Republic, as well as lots of travel around the UK.

One of our UK trips last week was to visit the new clinic. We had meetings with the donation co-ordinator, the counsellor (it's compulsory to have counselling before any sort of donor treatment here, although I do wonder how useful a single one hour session would be if you hadn't already worked through the issues beforehand) and the consultant, as well as the usual scans and blood tests.

I found the whole scan experience mildly amusing, as there was a new nurse there who was learning the ropes and asked if she could sit in on my scan. Over the next half hour or more, I sat there half naked in the most undignified position as the experienced nurse gave the new nurse a very thorough tour of my reproductive organs ("This setting allows you to see the blood flow to the uterus... And if we press this button here, we can get a 3D picture of her left ovary", etc). Fortunately, after 3 full IVF treatments, I have no more pride and simply followed the show with great interest.

I loved our new consultant. I was a little anxious at the possibility of an unmedicated FET, because after my body has let me down so many times in the last three years, I don't really trust it any more to do what it's supposed to do. So I was delighted when he listed out all the drugs that he was planning to give me. We gave him a copy of our file from XXXX clinic, and he saw that I had had immune treatment there and said he would do the same - as much to reassure me as anything. He said they usually give progesterone in pessary form, and I found myself saying that I felt more secure with gestone by injection. He didn't question it, just noted a reminder to himself on the file to prescribe gestone for me - so I've let myself in for another fortnight (or hopefully longer if it's successful) of having a dead leg.

All in all, we felt really positive about the whole experience, and are now looking forward to getting started with the FET - probably some time in June or July. And in the meantime, I have some more relaxing to do...

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Quick update

First of all, thank you so much to all those who have kept checking in and have left messages asking how we're doing. I'm so sorry I've been such a bad blogger recently - over the last month, I haven't even been reading blogs, and I do intend to catch up with all of your news as soon as I can (which probably means next week some time).

So, what's been going on for the last month?

Well, having got the news about the embryos, I went in for my blood test hoping that I would get a clear answer one way or the other - and I did. My FSH was 14.1, which was the highest it's ever been.

This was the signal we needed that we were making the right decision, and although I did have some sadness when I heard the result, I immediately contacted the new clinic to accept the offer of the embryos.

We've been in a bit of a holding pattern since then - having filled in a pile of paperwork, we were given a date for our initial appointment at the clinic, which will be in a couple of weeks' time.

This all happened about five days before Lent began, and for those five days DH and I indulged ourselves in all the things we enjoy that we have been denying ourselves for the last couple of years - treats like wine, beer, chocolate, a cream tea... And now it's Lent, and the reason I'm depriving myself of any of the things I enjoy is completely different and not surrounded by stress and angst.

It's been unbelievable how as soon as we had properly made the decision and come to terms with it, it was as though a huge weight lifted off both our shoulders. I've been so stressed for so long about our IF that I'd stopped even realising how profoundly it was affecting me - barely an hour went by over a period of about two years without me worrying in one form or another about whether I was doing the right thing, whether there was anything extra that I could do to improve our chances of being parents, whether we would ever have children, etc, etc.

I don't know whether our donor treatment will work, and I know I'll be devastated if it doesn't. But it's unbelievable the extent to which we are now comfortable with the idea that we're never going to have a child that's genetically related to us, and the extent to which I've managed to relax over the last month.

So although I'm sorry I've been so neglectful of my bloggy friends over the last month, and I have still been thinking of you and praying for you even if I haven't been following your blogs, in my case I can definitely say that no news has been good news for me, and I'm enjoying this period of calm before the upcoming turbulence of our next round of treatment.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Big news

Sorry I've been such a bad blogger recently - I promise I'll catch up on all your blogs soon.

This last month has been a fairly difficult one in many ways - coming to terms with yet another disappointment, the new baby obsession in the family with another new niece coming along, the sudden realisation that even if we hadn't decided to give up on our own eggs and sperm after this month, we have other commitments in the next two months which mean we probably wouldn't have been able to try again anyway before June... I've also been very busy with work, but now have a quieter period coming up which will hopefully allow me to concentrate on other things.

Anyway, today is CD1 - two days early again, just to keep me on my toes, so tomorrow I'll be heading into XXXX Clinic for what will almost certainly be my final CD1-3 blood test for treatment with our own eggs and sperm.

And a couple of weeks after my first call to her, the person I spoke to at the new clinic has just called me back and said they have a couple of embryos available for us! The physical characteristics of the donors are broadly similar to ours, and if we say yes it should all happen pretty quickly.

The embryos have also been offered to another couple, and basically the first couple to accept them will get them. I need to find out what DH's work schedule is over the next couple of months, and how easy it's going to be for him to get time off - he's just been put onto a new project at work which could change things a bit, and the new clinic is 200 miles away, so he would definitely need time off for appointments. We would need to see the consultant there and also have compulsory counselling at the clinic before going ahead with the procedure.

The co-ordinator is out of the office until Monday, by which time we'll have the results of my blood tests at XXXX Clinic and will know whether we're going to go ahead there.

I'm almost tempted to say we should just forget about the appointment at XXXX Clinic and go straight ahead with the donor treatment - these will be embryos from a batch that has already successfully produced at least one living child, and we all know my track history of IVF failure.

But one way or another, by this time next week we could be one step closer to becoming parents!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The higher the hopes...

I allowed myself to be hopeful this month. It was our last month before moving on to donor treatment, and maybe I needed that bit of hope. Maybe I just wasn't ready to say goodbye to my dream of having my own baby. Clearly, I'm still not.

So I admit it - first, I stupidly allowed myself to get a bit hopeful that a miracle might have happened when AF showed up two days late. But of course, show up she did.

Then I went in for my blood test yesterday and my FSH and E2 levels were good - 9 and 184 respectively. The nurse commented how good they were, and seemed pretty certain that we'd be starting on the short protocol today - provided today's blood test and scan were OK. And again, I allowed myself to get hopeful and started working out how I would fit my work in around trips to London for blood tests, etc.

I went in this morning and the scan showed up a clear right ovary, but two cysts on the left - one at 10mm, the other at 13mm. There were three possible outcomes - aspiration probably tomorrow followed by an immediate start on the short protocol, starting straight away with the follicular protocol, or being told that yet again this wasn't a suitable month. It all depended on the blood test, and stupidly, I allowed myself to hope that it would still come out OK. After all, it looked as though I had two chances out of three.

So I was pretty upset when they phoned and gave me the same old rubbish about this not being an ideal month, but if the same thing happened next month we'd go ahead with the follicular protocol.

I pointed out that this is what I'd been told in December, and it HAD happened again, so surely we should be starting this month. No, the nurse said Mr Miracle Worker wanted to see if the cysts would go away on their own. I pointed out that I have had at least one cyst 10mm or above EVERY SINGLE TIME THEY'VE SCANNED ME, from last March onwards. I even had one when we did our cycle last July. So they're obviously not going to go away on their own, and leaving it one more month is just wasting another month while I continue to get older.

So I don't get to go ahead, but nor do I get closure, because they're still dangling the possibility before me of something happening next month. We'll go ahead and contact the new clinic about donor treatment anyway, because we'll probably have to go on a waiting list with them and we might as well get the ball rolling. And if next month I finally get a chance to have a last shot at XXXX clinic, we can always remove ourselves from the waiting list if it's successful - not that I'm holding my breath.

I don't know if I'm so upset because I had allowed my hopes to get up over the last three or four days.

Or because I'm moving on to the next plan without getting any sort of closure on the current situation.

Or because I'm angry that the clinic seems to have gone back on the promise they made me in December and won't properly explain why or respond to my arguments.

Or because I'm just so fed up with the answer to my prayers always being the same - "No, not for you".

Or maybe it's because everyone else in my family is so excited today, because my latest niece was born in the early hours of this morning. And I can't read all the messages of congratulation, and my brother's excited post on Facebook, without crying so hard that the computer screen in front of me disappears into a blur - and I'm sorry to say that they're not tears of joy, but of self-pity.

Tomorrow I'll be ready to face the world again. I'll be excited about my new niece, and making plans to go and meet her.

But for today, I have a nice big piece of work to do which is not difficult but requires total concentration, and I'm going to wash my face and bury myself in that piece of work. And if the phone rings, I'm going to ignore it, because just for today, I can't bring myself to be excited about yet another person getting what I want, at the same time as trying to come to terms with the fact that it looks more and more likely that I'm never going to have it.

Sometimes it's easier not to have any hope, because the higher the hopes, the greater the disappointment.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Busy busy busy

I've been a bad blogger recently - partly because when you've had as many months as I have waiting around for AF to turn up and then being told that this isn't a good month for treatment, there isn't really a lot left to say; partly because I've been working hard on Operation Destress, which has involved quite a lot of trying to avoid thinking about anything that gets me stressed; and partly because work has suddenly turned really busy.

I'll say it cautiously, but it looks as though my dream of still being self-employed by the end of the year is one dream that will come true in 2011 - I won't make a fortune, but this month I made enough to cover the bills with a little bit left to tide me over the less profitable months. I've got enough work to keep me going flat out till the end of February, and several good leads for the coming months. That's quite an achievement after four months of self-employment, and I still love my new boss!

The other dream for 2011 is never far from my mind, and I'm on another huge health kick with the supplements, wheatgrass, healthy diet, no sugar, no caffeine, no alcohol, etc. Still going to reflexology and coaching sessions, trying to get more sleep at night, having some really good discussions with DH and feeling happy that we're so much more on the same page at the moment. Waiting for my latest niece to show up - her due date was on Friday.

I can't do more than I'm doing, and I'm hoping against hope that it's enough.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Control - again!

Once again, I'm hopping onto the computer briefly before dashing out again. Funny, I can't think why people keep accusing me of being stressed...

I saw the reflexologist this morning, for the first time since before Christmas. She said she can feel that I'm very stressed, and this is something that really needs to be dealt with. As she put it, if there's a blockage in a river, the water can't flow - and in my body, there's a blockage caused by stress which is stopping the hormones from flowing the way they should.

So she said I should stop worrying about trying to pick up the pieces after everyone else and solve all their problems, and concentrate on what I need. (Funny, it's exactly the sort of thing my coach says as well.)

The thing is, it's easy to say. In fact, DH and I both have trouble relaxing, and we have this thing where one of us will notice the other is getting a bit too stressy about something and scrunch all our muscles up really tightly, making our hands into tight little fists, as we say, "RE-E-E-E-L-A-A-A-A-A-X". It makes us laugh, but doesn't resolve any of the issues.

Last week, it was money I was worrying about. On Thursday, I talked about this with my coach. By the end of the day, two things had happened. The first is that a nice big chunk of work landed on my lap, which will comfortably pay this month's bills (and now I just have to worry about finding the time to get it all done without dropping any of my other balls).

The second is that I broached the subject with DH, and he said he had always found it hard to understand why I was so insistent on paying my own way, and that as soon as I said the word, he would be happy to sit down and talk about rearranging the family finances so that I didn't have to contribute as much until I was earning more. He also reiterated that as far as he's concerned, my number one priority at the moment shouldn't be to earn money and pay bills, but to relax and do whatever I feel I need to do in order to give us the best possible shot at succeeding in our next IVF.

Does it help that I've had it forcefully pointed out to me yet again that all the pressure I feel comes from myself, and that nobody else is making any demands on me?

Well, if it didn't sink in the first million times, why should it sink in any easier the million and first time?

How does a control freak relinquish control without worrying that the world will fall apart? If I stop madly juggling to try to keep all my balls in the air, it won't stop me worrying - I'll just worry about different things. Am I putting too much pressure on DH? How will X cope if I just suddenly withdraw the support I've been giving them for years? What if we start relying solely on DH's income and then he gets made redundant as well? Shouldn't I be working as hard as I always have, rather than sitting about trying to feel relaxed? What about saving for our retirement? What if we end up with a baby, but can't actually afford to feed and clothe it? What if I drop everything else in order to make this work, and then it doesn't work anyway? How would I pick everything up again?

So my immune system's shot to pieces, I've already had a cold and a stomach bug this year and we're only halfway through January, I'm trying to juggle self-employment in two completely different lines of work (one of which I'm already making a bit of money in and know I can continue to do so, the other of which I enjoy and want to do full-time if I can ever start making enough money, but have no bookings at all for January), my diary is getting fuller and fuller, I'm not sleeping again, and telling myself that I need to relax only makes me more stressed.

There's too much riding on this next month, and knowing that the only way to make it work is to relax more really doesn't help. If only I could hibernate...

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Muddy waters

I'm sorry I've been AWOL for so long. It's not so bad that I haven't updated my own blog, but I also haven't been reading and commenting on anyone else's. In mitigation, I can tell you that I have been thinking of you and praying for you as usual, and I'll be catching up on your blogs this week.

My silence hasn't been for lack of things to talk about.

There was the lovely text I got from my sister on the feast of the Holy Family, which ended with the simple words, "Praying for your family on this feast."

There was the New Year's Eve party with a group of friends who had all, for various reasons, had a hard time in 2010, where at midnight we raised our glasses and said goodbye and good riddance to the old year.

There've been a couple more helpful sessions with my coach, who has helped me to change my perspective on some things and to be more positive.

There was the flat feeling I had in the first week of the new year, when I felt that I was in exactly the same position as I was at the beginning of 2010, and hadn't moved on at all. My coach helped me to see that this wasn't the case, and I may write a separate post on that.

And then this weekend AF showed up two days early, and I went back to the clinic for my blood test yesterday, full of hope that we would get started on this new protocol that Mr Greek God proposed shortly before Christmas.

I knew it wasn't going to be good news when the phone call didn't come until 6 pm, because they tend to call people who need to come in the next day first, and then the ones who don't.

Sure enough, although my oestradiol was nice and low at 73, my FSH was up again to 12.6, and Mr Miracle Worker is not willing to go ahead with FSH at that level, knowing that there have been a few cycles recently when it's been lower.

Having had my hopes raised last month, I was actually more gutted than I have been for a while to get this result. Whenever I've had a call from XXXX clinic telling me that it's not a suitable month (and that's happened several times over the last few months), I've been disappointed but philosophical, knowing that the aim is to choose the month with the best possible chance of success. Yesterday was the first time I can remember crying when putting the phone down on that call.

The reason I'm so upset by it is that it gives me yet another difficult choice. We had decided that if my levels weren't right this month, we would go ahead with donor embryo treatment. I don't think I'd realised how much I was hoping that this wouldn't happen. Also, because of the renewed glimmer of hope we were given last month with the promise of a new protocol, I feel once again unready to let go of that little bit of hope.

I discussed it with DH last night, and he listened and contributed to the discussion with a level of understanding, both practically and emotionally, that he didn't have this time last year.

The upshot of our discussion is that we are going to wait one more month to see whether my FSH comes back down in February and they allow us to try this new protocol. If not, then we get in touch with the donor clinic. I don't want to set off down that route until I've given up hope on the route we're currently travelling. In November, I'd almost lost hope and was ready to make that decision. In December, I was given a tiny bit of hope to cling onto, and it seems to have moved my thinking backwards.

It's funny how being given a little bit of hope can actually muddy the waters and make a decision harder, rather than easier.

Friday, 24 December 2010

The nightmare before Christmas

Well, I've survived two nativity plays, a class Mass with sixty six- and seven-year-olds lisping their way through Christmas carols, babysitting Nieces #1, 3 and 4 while my sister took #2 to see the Nutcracker for her Christmas treat, all the Christmas shopping and Christmas telly with images of smiling happy families... I'm prepared for tomorrow, with Niece #4's first Christmas and all the baby talk that's going to happen when my mother, sister and 8 months pregnant SIL get together.

But yesterday was something I was NOT prepared for.

Niece #1's Christmas treat was a trip to the temporary ice rink at the Natural History Museum in London. I missed seeing her actually on the ice - my other sister, her godmother, skated with her but then left very soon afterwards - but I went along to help my sister take all four of them into the Natural History Museum after the skating was over.

#3 is a very determined 2-year-old who runs remarkably quickly, and my main task for the day was to wrangle her. She loved pressing buttons on all the interactive exhibits, and it took a good few minutes to persuade her away from each one.

We started with the dinosaurs, which was great. Then while my sister stopped to look at a map and see where we could go for lunch, #1 and #2 spotted the human body exhibition and asked if we could go in.

We went through the displays on cells and muscles, then arrived at the entrance to the next exhibit. There was an interactive display with flashing lights, and #3 made a beeline for it. She then stood for about five minutes (or was it five hours?) happily pressing the buttons to make the lights come on.

The display was called 'See which sperm makes it to the ovum first'. It was a large 3-D model of a uterus, with little flashing lights representing the sperm making their way through it to fertilise the egg.

I finally managed to winkle her away from that display, only to be dragged by #1 and #2 into a giant mock-up of a uterus, with womb sounds playing through a loudspeaker. I was confronted with a five foot high foetus, which by happy (?) coincidence just happened to be pretty much the same gestation as my SIL's baby now is. #1 was asking lots of questions, which I answered through gritted teeth.

We passed through the giant uterus into an area with models of embryos at various stages of gestation, followed by pictures of a woman giving birth ("Look, Aunt ___ - that lady's pooing out a baby!") and then a room with all sorts of information about hormones and how they help in the baby-making process.

If I can survive that, I'm pretty sure I can survive the rest of Christmas. Whatever way the conversation turns, I can comfort myself with the thought that at least I'm not stuck in a giant uterus with a five-foot foetus staring me in the face.

I hope you all have a happy Christmas - and that next year a few more of us are looking forward to our children's first Christmas.

Monday, 20 December 2010

The good, the bad and the ugly

Sorry I haven't been around for a while - life suddenly got ridiculously busy, and it's still not showing much sign of letting up. At least it gives me less time to think about things...

My AF showed up on Friday, so I went down for my blood test on Saturday morning. While I waited for the call with the results, I took the opportunity to do a bit of Christmas shopping in Oxford Street, and was amazed at how uncrowded Britain's busiest shopping street was on the Saturday before Christmas. Perhaps the forecast snow had something to do with it - it started to fall around 10:00.

By the time I was ready to go home, there were about four inches in central London, and about seven inches at home. My journey home took me three hours (compared to the usual one) and I ended up having to walk the last three miles, because there was no public transport at all running to my town. I got off the train in the next town, bought myself a sledge and trudged home, pulling my shopping behind me on the sledge.

So it wasn't with unreserved joy that I greeted the news that the clinic wanted me to go in again on Sunday for a repeat blood test and a scan. My FSH was 7.6, oestradiol 247, LH 3.4 and prolactin 289. Apart from the oestradiol, those were pretty good results, and I'm pleased that my FSH has come down again so nicely. But I wasn't sure how I was going to get back into London yesterday, and even less sure how I would manage daily blood tests over the Christmas period if I got the go-ahead to get started.

In the end, DH and I managed to get to my sister's on Saturday evening and spent the night with her - she lives closer to central London and her local station has more trains and was more likely to be open than our little terminus station at the forgotten end of a branch line.

Mr Greek God did my scan again, and I was impressed that even before he looked at my file, he seemed to remember the issue that I had last month.

This time, I had a 12 mm follicle. He said they didn't like them to be this big so early, but that this was a day later in my cycle than the scan I had last month (day 3 rather than day 2), which could explain why it's a bit bigger. And the good news was that, whereas last month one ovary was doing absolutely nothing and the other had a big follicle and two tiny ones, this month I had two follicles on one ovary and three on the other, and all were around the 10 mm mark - so bigger than they would like, but there wasn't really one dominant one.

I asked him why I always seemed to have these big follicles already before getting started, and he said that although it wasn't ideal for IVF, it was what my body was meant to be doing.

DH and I then went away and waited for the call. We went to Mass at a very nice church round the corner from the clinic, then waited in Starbucks with big mugs of coffee and the Sunday papers.

The first call, when it came, was not what I had expected. It was the nurse I had spoken to in the morning, who had received my blood test results. She asked me to confirm what day of my period it was, and asked how heavy the flow was and whether this was normal for me. From this I guessed that my progesterone was raised again, as it was last month. (I sneaked a peak at my file while I was waiting for the scan, and last month's CD2 progesterone level was 6.something, when it should have been less than 2.) She then said she was about to take my file up to Mr Miracle Worker, and would call back shortly.

When the next call came, it was Mr Greek God himself. He said that my levels were not ideal for cycling this month - and I must admit that after the travel problems over the weekend, I did breathe a sigh of relief that I wasn't going to have to travel into London every day during this bout of snow.

He then said that if my levels are similar next month, they would like to try down-regulating me. I've always done the short protocol up to now, and when I asked Mr Wonderful after the last cycle if down-regging might help to prevent the dominant follicles, he said he didn't think it would be suitable for me. But I'm actually really pleased to get a chance to try something new, and curious to see how my body responds to it.

So it looks as though, provided my FSH level is reasonable next month, I should be starting down-regging in mid-January. I think what they're planning is the follicular protocol, which seems to be halfway between the long and short protocol. I can't find much about it on the internet, but down-regging starts on CD1 or 2 with daily Suprefact injections, and you normally start stimming after 10 days. I'm sure they'll tell me more about it when the time comes...

So, the news is mostly positive, and it's just our laughable transport system, the amount of work I still have to do before Christmas and the fact that I have yet another cold/throat infection that stops me from looking forward to the next few days.

Oh, and the ugly? That's me - I'm a bit run down at the moment, and it's showing up in my skin. I have more zits than I've had at any time since I was a teenager, and look a bit like a geriatric adolescent. Perhaps Santa should bring me a big bottle of Clearasil...

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The curse of the Android

For the last 24 hours, Facebook has been full of posts from one of my friends, regularly updating the world from her phone on the progress of her labour. Of course, each post is followed by several thousand comments about what a special time this is, how wonderful she is, and how excited everyone is.

This morning, there's a birth announcement with a photo of the baby which must have been taken within minutes of the birth.

It's her third child, and her second since we started TTC.

I'm happy for her, but can I admit to wishing that it wasn't all quite so in my face?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Nothing but a dreamer...

The last few nights, I've had the most incredibly vivid dreams. Most of them have been classic anxiety dreams - I've forgotten to do something vital, and I'm trying to sort it out at the last minute. I've had dreams of this type at various stages all my life - I used to get them every single holiday during the week before going back to boarding school, for instance - so they're nothing new.

Several have involved our family Christmas get-together - not in the form of any sort of concern about spending the day at my 8 months pregnant SIL's house or watching the latest niece wear the Christmas pudding outfit for her first Christmas, but more about realising on Christmas Eve that I've forgotten to make the trifle I promised to contribute and don't have all the ingredients in the house, or getting halfway there and realising I've left the trifle at home.

Last night's had nothing classic about it as far as I was concerned, and was very bizarre and a little upsetting. It involved me watching in horror as someone prepared to sacrifice a baby on a barbecue. I don't know who the person was, or why the baby was being sacrificed, but this person obviously thought it was absolutely necessary to do this. Then I saw someone who I knew was coming to help. She was climbing up an open waste pipe, and just as she was about to reach the top, I accidentally flushed her down the pipe. I stood there helplessly looking on as the one person I knew could help disappeared down the sewer... and then I woke up with a horrible sense of dread which left me unwilling to move a muscle for several minutes for fear of what might happen.

It was quite possibly the daftest dream I've ever had, and all I can say is my subconscious is obviously having a busy time at the moment working its way through the decisions that we're making and the shift in our thinking that they entail.

I do wish it would shut up and do it a bit more quietly, though.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Coaching update

A couple of you asked whether I was still seeing my coach. I am, and the whole process is really helping me - I don't think I'd be where I am now without her help.

There are three main things that she's helping me with - working out what I really want and need and how I can achieve that, communicating better with DH and getting what I need from my relationships with other people.

The help with communicating with DH is particularly helpful, as the usual reaction of certain members of my family to hearing that I've been trying to tell DH something that's important to me is "leave the poor chap alone".

I originally booked eight sessions with the coach, and Thursday should have been the last of those eight. As it happened, I couldn't get my car out because of snow and ice on the hill we live on, so the session has been postponed to this coming Thursday - and this week, I'll try to make sure I don't park the car facing uphill.

I spoke to her on the phone and said that I knew coaching wasn't meant to be open-ended, but asked if she thought it would be a good idea to book more sessions. The cynical part of me said that for anyone you're paying for a service to advise you that you no longer need that service is a bit like a turkey voting for Christmas. The emotional, needy part of me said that I need this extra person on my side, helping me to work through the decisions I'm making and the issues they're throwing up, for a while longer, and hoped that she wouldn't say she thought I was ready to deal with all this by myself.

As it happens, as with everything else, she struck exactly the right note. She said that as far as the not being open-ended is concerned, one difference between counselling and coaching is that with counselling, you're working through a lot of stuff that has often happened years ago, and it can take a very long time to deal with all the issues that come up. Coaching deals largely with the present and is more forward-looking. You're learning tools to help you to deal with specific things in your life, and so after a certain amount of time you should be able to stop the coaching and still use the tools that you've gained from it on your own.

She also said that she still occasionally contacts her own coach when she feels that she needs a bit of help and books a single session to help her work through whatever it is she's having trouble with. She said it can be helpful to be able to talk something through with someone who knows you well but can be completely objective. It kind of reassured me to know that this is an option.

In my case, I'm still in the middle of all this - I've taken a big step towards making a major decision, but the decision won't be put into practice until after the new year. In the meantime, we've got Christmas to get through, the birth of my latest niece, and the whole child-oriented shebang of nativity plays and Christmas parties. She said I may feel that I need support through all of that, and if I do, she's happy to keep working with me, but I must tell her if there's anything that I want to do differently or that I feel isn't helping.

So I'm going to book another block of sessions, and hope that by the end of this block, a lot of the stuff that's up in the air at the moment will be resolved one way or the other.

And, of course, I'm also hoping that the resolution itself will be one way, and not the other...

Thursday, 2 December 2010


Thank you so much for all your comments on my last post - I really appreciated them all. I'm so sorry I haven't reciprocated this week. I've just been completely empty - I had no words, nothing constructive to say.

We had a bit of a distraction this weekend in DH's birthday celebration. We had friends for dinner on Saturday evening, and they stayed over. We stayed up very late, DH and his friends drank an outrageous amount of whiskey, his friend's wife asked me some fairly personal questions and I totally opened up and poured my heart out to her, but she was so drunk that I know she remembered nothing about the conversation in the morning, and on Sunday I kept DH at arm's length because he stank of stale whiskey.

His actual birthday was on Monday, and he took the day off work so we could go and take his parents out for lunch.

It's not that I didn't have time to blog - on Sunday and Monday mornings, I was first up and went to my computer as I always do. And then I just stared at the computer screen and couldn't even bring myself to put my fingers on the keys.

On Tuesday, DH went back to work and I spent most of the day rediscovering my inner child as I coloured pictures in, cut things up and stuck them together to make a very involved Christmas decoration. Last night was our fortnightly pub quiz, and as it was the last one of the year, there was a competition for which team could bring the best home-made decoration. We didn't win the quiz, but we did win a bottle of wine for my Christmas decoration.

Yesterday I had set the day aside for working. As it turned out, I did absolutely nothing. I haven't been thinking, I haven't been feeling sad, I haven't been working anything out or doing research - I've just been.... nothing. I had no energy and no desire to do anything. It was all I could do to drag myself out of bed.

Then last night at the pub quiz, I got irritated. As usual, we ate at the pub, and as usual, DH ordered something which on the menu came with mash, and he asked if he could have chips instead of mashed potatoes. And as usual, I commented on the fact that he'd chosen the unhealthiest option, and as usual he laughed it off.

On the way home, I told him how much this upset me, and again he laughed it off. And I thought that at least I was feeling something again, even if it was irritation.

But I was still irritated with him at bedtime, so just as he was settling down beside me to read his book, I said, "I'm still not happy." I pointed out (for the umpteenth time) how I try so hard to give him healthy food and to cook nutritious meals for him, and how he undermines that by choosing the unhealthy option every time he makes a choice for himself.

I reminded him that I'd fed him all his favourite foods over his birthday weekend, and that the puddings, birthday cake and full English breakfast that we'd had were not exactly healthy - and that he'd had chips when we took his parents out on Monday, so I wasn't telling him he could never treat himself to the fatty treats he likes, but that he should exercise a little moderation.

I said it wasn't just about the baby thing, but that I wanted him to eat healthily for the sake of his own health, because I wanted us to grow old together. I also told him how irritating it is when I tell him I'm not happy about something and he just laughs at me, and I said that if he just said "sorry", it would go a long way towards making me feel better.

He did apologise then, and promised to take more responsibility for his own diet and to try to stop undermining me.

And then he held me as I cried into his pyjamas and told him that I just didn't think I could do the donor egg option, and told him why. He seemed to understand, and said that in that case, donor eggs were off the table and we wouldn't talk about it again. I carried on crying as he just held me, and we grieved together for the idea that we'll probably never have a baby that's genetically related to us.

Although I'm crying as I write this, I think this is a step forward - I'm no longer numb and empty, and I'm ready to climb back out of my cave and deal with life again.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Talking it over

Way back when all this began, we talked about what we would do if the IVF didn't work, and we agreed that the options on the table were embryo adoption and ordinary adoption. At least, I thought that was what we'd agreed. But it turned out DH hadn't considered either option at all, because he was so convinced the IVF would work. And he wasn't too sure what embryo adoption even was.

Fast forward to this week, and he's got his head round normal adoption but is still very hazy about embryo adoption. Part of the issue is that my research showed that it's pretty rare to be able to do it in the UK, due to a huge lack of donor embryos. So I was thinking we'd have to go abroad for it, and he's dead set against that, because he doesn't want me to undergo 'a medical procedure' in a foreign country. But then I discovered that although it's rare in the UK, it's not impossible, and it was back on the table again - as long as we did it here.

I'm sure we talked all those months ago about the reasons for embryo adoption rather than egg (or sperm) donation, but I underestimated DH's ability to fail to process things he doesn't want to think about. So now the whole topic is having to be rehashed, and I'm still not sure what the end result is going to be.

We've had a few discussions about embryo adoption since Monday. I've explained to him why it's my preferred option over normal adoption.

If we want to adopt, we'll have to wait a year from our last fertility treatment before they'll even start the approval process. Then we'll have to open up every aspect of our lives to a bunch of strangers who will be judging us on everything we say and do.

There's no guarantee that we'll be approved as adopters, and in fact being white, middle class, middle-aged, married and Catholic are all likely to count against us in the eyes of social services.

Even if we are approved, we then have to wait for a child to be matched with us, and since we're looking at a foster to adopt scheme, we could then end up spending the first two or three years not even knowing whether we're going to have to give the child back.

And, of course, we're unlikely to be given a baby and so we have to consider the psychological damage that the child has already suffered in its life. I admire people who adopt older children, and I'm not completely ruling it out, but right now it's not for me.

Plus, I really want the whole package - it's important to me to know what it's like to be pregnant and to give birth, and if there's any chance of that happening, I want to take that chance. And it seems shallow, but I also want to be able to name my own child - and if we're adopting an older child, or fostering with the possibility of adopting in the future, the child will have been named by its birth parents and it would be cruel to try to change the name that it's used to.

We were talking about the whole adoption vs embryo adoption thing in the car on Thursday night, and I said that with embryo adoption, the child may not be genetically ours, but because I would be growing it in my body for nine months, biologically it would be getting an awful lot from me and so I would feel that it was very much our baby.

But DH said, "Yes, but it would get nothing at all from me."

And I realised that I've been looking at this from my point of view, and what I need, and haven't really thought enough about what he needs and what he's giving up in deciding we've reached the end of the road with our own eggs and sperm.

I thought a lot about this, and then yesterday he had the day off work and we were in the car again - and I do find the car a very good place to have a discussion like this, what with him being a captive audience and everything.

So I told him I'd been thinking about what he said, and I explained that there were three reasons I'd been talking about embryo adoption rather than egg donation.

The first, and probably the most important, is that we know that there are problems with his sperm as well as my eggs. None of the embryos we've had in the first three IVFs have implanted, and we can't say for sure whether that's because of my crappy eggs or his crappy sperm, or both. If we're deciding to give ourselves a better chance by going for younger, fresher eggs, it makes sense to give ourselves the best possible chance by going for embryos which have been produced by a couple who have already become parents themselves.

The second reason is that our Church is very opposed to donor eggs and sperm, but hasn't really come down clearly on donor embryos. Plus there's a very good argument that adopting an embryo is a good thing, as these embryos have already been created and would probably be discarded if people like us didn't give them an opportunity for life. Of course, we've already gone against the Church's teaching by having IVF in the first place - I'm very conscious of that, and it was a very difficult decision to make. Going for donor eggs with DH's sperm would be a step further in opposing that teaching.

The third reason is that although the chances of success with donor embryos are much higher than with our own eggs and sperm, it's still highly likely that we wouldn't be successful first time. We can't afford to have more than one attempt with donor eggs - and can't really even afford to have that one attempt if we do get the go-ahead to have one last try with my eggs and then have to move on if it's unsuccessful. Donor embryo treatment is cheaper, and so we could probably scrape together the money for two or three attempts if necessary, and could even manage to afford one attempt after trying one last time with my own eggs.

There's another secret reason that makes me feel absolutely horrible, and I hope I never have to tell him and show him what an awful person I am. But the fact is, I can cope much more easily with the idea of having a child that's not genetically related to either of us than the idea of having a baby that's his but not mine. There's just something about the idea of his sperm fertilising another woman's egg that makes me feel betrayed. I know it's irrational, and I feel like if I loved him enough, I would want to have his child no matter what. I do want his child, but I want it to be with me - I want it to be half mine and half his, and if I have to say goodbye to that dream, I just don't think I can bear to watch a child grow up and know that genetically, it's half his and half a complete stranger's - to see a character trait or a certain expression on the child's face and think, "Does she get that from DH, or is it from the stranger who gave us her egg?"

So now you know what a horrible human being I am. But I gritted my teeth and said that those (the first three) were the reasons why I thought embryo adoption was better . As I said at the beginning of this ridiculously long post, I thought we had discussed all this over a year ago, but at the time he might as well have been sticking his fingers in his ears and shouting "la la la" for all the good those discussions did. But I said that if he was dead set on it, we could consider egg donation as well.

So I said the right words, but even typing that last sentence made me cry just now, so we've got a lot of work to do before we're on the same page on this.

In the meantime, he said he needed to find out more about it for himself and asked me to get out my IVF books for him - and I think he's planning to spend some time today doing some reading.

I feel like we're back in that twilight zone when we first found out that we weren't going to be able to have children without help - each of us having different ideas about what we're going to do next, and struggling to understand each other's position and reach a decision about what's the best thing to do. It's not an easy place to be in, and the degree of peace that I had earlier in the week when I thought that the decision had been made has just been shattered. All I'm left with is the sadness, and a bit more confusion and uncertainty.

A couple of months ago we took our nieces to a music show. One of the songs had the following refrain:

We can't go over it.
We can't go under it.
We'll have to go through it.

And that's what's playing in my head at the moment. The only way past this uncertainty is to go through it, and I don't know what it's going to be like at the other side. But I do know it's not going to be easy to get through, and I'm kind of wishing I could just hibernate and wake up in the spring with the way forward suddenly and miraculously clear to us.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


When I got home from London on Monday evening, I had a long wallow in a hot bath. It had been a long and stressful day, and I was freaked out by being told that I wasn't having a 'proper' period. I was also concerned that yet again, it looked as though I didn't have any more than one follicle ready to grow.

I can't keep doing this month after month - I don't want to keep getting my hopes up and then having them dashed, and every month is another month closer to the inevitable time when I'm going to run out of eggs altogether.

I've also read recently in Zita West's book that fertility stops up to 10 years BEFORE your last period. As my mother had her last period when she was 51, it's likely that I'll be around that time too - and I'm now 41. So I really could be flogging a dead horse here.

When DH got home, he came into the bathroom and stood over me, still in his work suit. He said he was sorry that it had been such a disappointing day, and I told him that I thought it was time to start thinking about how long we're going to keep doing this before we move on to Plan B (actually, more like Plan D - IVF is already our Plan C). I pointed out that I wasn't getting any younger and that all indications are that it may already be too late for us to succeed with my eggs.

He immediately trotted out the usual line that I hear so often from him and from others: "But you're not old!"

These days in the West we're absolutely terrified of admitting that we're getting old. It's why botox and plastic surgery are so popular, and telling someone they look old is one of the worst insults you can throw at them. My parents, who will both be 70 in the next 18 months, think of themselves as middle-aged - despite the fact that you don't actually meet many 140-year-olds. They're horrified if I refer to them as OAPs, though they will just about admit to drawing a pension when it suits them.

So when someone says they're too old for something, the knee-jerk reaction is to tell them that of course they're not, they're only as old as they feel, or that they look way younger than their age.

The sad truth is that it doesn't matter how well I've looked after myself, or how well preserved I may look - you can't argue with the chronological age of your ovaries. I only have a few eggs left, and up to 80% of those I do have are likely to be chromosomally abnormal.

So when DH tried to reassure me by telling me I wasn't old, something inside me snapped. I lay there in the bath, with tears streaming down my face, as I threw facts at him like machine-gun fire. I pointed out how every single chart shows fertility falling off a cliff-edge after the age of 40. I told him that age was a fact of life, and acknowledging the passing of the years is not an insult but an acceptance of reality. I said that people can trot out all the stories they like about people who gave birth in their 40s, but these people become anecdotes precisely because they're so rare. I told him I was tired of being hopeful every month and then getting the same answer, month after month after month. And I said I wasn't prepared to keep wasting time and money to chase after a dream that is becoming less and less likely ever to become a reality.

Eventually, when he managed to get a word in edgeways, he said in a little, sad voice, "I suppose I do need to start facing up to reality."

Poor guy - he's seven years older than me, and thought he had a young wife. But once I was out of the bath, I showed him some more statistics and made him read what Zita West had to say about the effect of age on chances of success.

So now we've agreed - I'll go for my test next month, and probably in January as well. But if those tests don't show ideal conditions for going ahead with IVF, then we'll get in touch with clinics that do donor embryo treatment. If we have to go on a waiting list, we'll keep trying for the perfect month with my eggs in the meantime. But once a donor embryo becomes available, that's it - no more trying for the impossible dream of having a baby that's half his genes and half mine. Being parents is more important than producing a mini-me.

I'm sad, relieved and a little bit hopeful all at the same time. We still have two more months to get my hormone levels right. And if that doesn't work out, we have a plan - and one which has a greater chance of success.

I just hope when the time comes, we have the nerve to go ahead with our plan and not keep stalling any further.