Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Back to reality

We had a wonderful few days with my parents. Since I'm now unemployed, I was able to go up a couple of days earlier, and DH joined us when he finished work on Friday. Then yesterday was a bank holiday, so we had a really good break.

My parents have several friends who are on various weird and wonderful diets. They are all quite happy to visit my parents for a few days at a time, but all expect their latest foibles to be accommodated - one won't eat wheat (no, she's not allergic), another won't have anything that's made with milk (also not allergic), another is on the Atkins diet, still another won't eat anything at all before noon.

DH and I wouldn't dream of putting our hosts to that much trouble, even when they're family, so we've had a few days of no wheatgrass, no brazil nuts and just eating whatever was on offer. It was so relaxing - we even went to the pub a couple of times and had a drink.

Now that we're home, we're back to our fertility foods, but with a more relaxed attitude. I'm taking my full dose of DHEA (and continued with that while we were away), but I really can't believe that one shot of wheatgrass more or less, or one pint of beer with my father, can turn my eggs from superova to it's-all-ova.

And in other news, today is my lovely SIL's birthday - happy birthday, Jeannie!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Gon out

Streaming cold. Grumbling ovaries. Two weeks of heavy rain. No baby. No job.

I'm going home to be cossetted by my parents for a few days.

See you soon...

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Good old Dr Google

Last night's google searches were "severe cramps after failed IVF" and "early ovulation after IVF".

Funny - most people seem to find that their cycles are longer after a failed IVF. It seems that my cycle is sticking firmly to its original timetable, ignoring everything that has been done to my body in the last month and the fact that my AF was delayed by the gestone. Well, I always was a bit of a creature of habit.

So according to the date of my last AF, I'm only on CD10 today. But last night I had the worst ovulation cramps I've had for months - the sort where it's impossible to stand up straight, and every step you take feels like a knife in your lower abdomen. I'm pretty sure that's what they were, and that my insides aren't about to fall out or anything. We'll see - in about 12 days' time, I expect...

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Unrealistic expectations

I nearly threw a brick through my sister's telly last week. It was on in the background, and a programme came on which I would never normally watch, but which I knew about from reading reviews. And one of the things I had read about it was that there was a character in this drama who was struggling with infertility.

It started to grab my attention when they started to talk about IVF. Another character had lent this woman's husband the money to pay for their IVF, and it appeared that the husband had gambled the money away. There was lots of angst about whether the infertile wife should be told, then there were some huge arguments, and it seemed that there was now no money for IVF and this woman was going to remain childless.

And then you'll never guess what happened next. She had a huge row with her husband - I think she may have thrown him out, though I was still only half watching this as I chatted with my sister, so I'm not certain. We saw her crying and alone, then we saw her throwing up, and then guess what - she peed on a stick, and sure enough, it turned out that she wasn't going to need the IVF any more, because she was miraculously up the duff.

I can't think of a single radio or television programme I've seen which portrayed a failed IVF attempt. And of course, the print media tend to take the line that with women wanting to have it all and deliberately delaying starting a family while they build their glittering careers, IVF will soon become the normal way to conceive - and they never mention the physical and emotional trauma that IVF entails, or the fact that it's not always successful (or the fact that most of us didn't simply 'choose career over babies' and then expect a quick fix at a time when it became convenient to start thinking about babies).

The other thing you occasionally see in the newspapers is a smiling couple showing off their baby after 'years of heartache and 10 IVF attempts'. Sometimes the article will mention the amount the couple have spent: "Our baby cost us £100,000, but she's worth every penny".

But they keep very quiet about the other side: the couples who endure years of heartache, multiple IVF attempts, and are left with nothing to show for it but debts. The impression given is that most people are successful after one or two attempts - some don't even need that, as they get miraculously pregnant while they're waiting for IVF to start - but everyone is pretty much guaranteed to get there in the end.

And I think that's why so many people I speak to think it's exciting that we're going through this, and can't understand it each time we tell them that it's failed again. Because surely if we were doing it right, we'd have our baby by now.

I think there's a gap in the market here - someone needs to write a realistic drama about a couple who endure unsuccessful fertility treatments. The trouble is, it wouldn't sell - nobody likes an unhappy ending. So we struggle on, with the weight of the world's unrealistic expectations on our shoulders, and hope that one day we'll be the smiling couple telling everyone that it was all worth it in the end - but knowing that we might just become another of those invisible statistics that nobody wants to talk about.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Working things out

My subconscious has been busy.

Last night I had a dream that I was driving through a tunnel. Suddenly all the traffic ground to a halt, and people were getting out of their cars to see what the hold-up was all about. I walked out of the tunnel in time to see that the traffic was beginning to move again, and started to run back to my car so that I wouldn't hold everyone else up behind me. As I came towards the tunnel again, I saw several people pushing the car towards me, so that I wouldn't have to run so far.

I woke up feeling that my subconscious was telling me that my current situation is temporary, that things will start to get moving again soon, and in the meantime I have my friends and family to help me.

Of course, I think it's my career situation that my subconscious is concentrating on at the moment - it seems to have nothing much to say on the baby front. But it's nice to know that somewhere deep inside, I'm confident that Friday's rejection is just a temporary blip and my career will soon be back on track.

In other news, after a dose of IVIg and three weeks or so of steroids to depress my immune system, I can say that I'm finally responding to the drugs. Despite six days of drinking compost (aka wheatgrass shots) and three days of DHEA, both of which are supposed to make me burst with energy, vitality and health, I was awake for half of last night, shivering, sweating and struggling to swallow past the ball of barbed wire that seems to have taken up residence in the back of my throat. I still have a little bit of voice, but not really enough to start making calls to potential employers and trying to impress them, so today is going to be a day of resting, researching on the internet and visiting the library for a bit more research.

So, my mind and my body both seem to be processing the events of the last couple of weeks - and hopefully both will start to get stronger in the next few days.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

He heard, she heard

It always amazes me how DH and I can participate in exactly the same conversation and come away with completely different views of it.

I came out of Friday's appointment with the doctor (he needs a name - let's call him Mr Wonderful) feeling utterly crushed, and had the greatest difficulty stemming the flow of tears which had begun to fall halfway through the appointment.

Mr Wonderful was kind and caring, and he tried not to be negative, but he said two or three times that our chances of success are very low. He said that if this had been our second or third attempt at XXXX clinic, he would be recommending that we give up and explore other options. It was only because this was our first attempt with my immune issues being addressed - so that he said we could pretty much discount our two attempts at the other clinic - that he thought it was worth trying one more time, but we mustn't get our hopes too high.

He said that there are two principal reasons why embryos fail to implant - immune issues and embryo quality. Since my immune issues were being addressed in this cycle, it must have been down to the embryo, even though when they put it back it looked perfect. I'm not getting any younger, and my ovaries respond so badly to high doses of stimulation that he holds out very little hope that I'll produce any more eggs next time round - and the fewer eggs you have, the lower your chance of success.

I asked very tentatively about DHEA, because I'd read that XXXX clinic doesn't believe in it. He cautiously said that some studies had indicated that it could help in some cases, and agreed that I might as well try it. He offered us the prescription as an afterthought, just as we were about to leave. The impression I got was that we had so little hope, we might as well throw everything we could at this final attempt.

I wondered if DH would consider it worth wasting another £10,000 on one last treatment cycle, knowing how low the odds were (and also knowing that I was unemployed, with no real job prospects on the horizon), and I waited with some trepidation for the discussion we would have when he got home.

He then surprised me by saying as soon as he got in on Friday night, "Well, that was quite positive, wasn't it?"

Errrrm, no, I wanted to reply, but just waited and let him carry on.

"I'm so glad he thinks we still have a chance. And he was impressed when you asked about the DHEA."

Errrrm, no again. I think these doctors don't like it all that much when we second-guess them with information we've got from Dr Google. But we're such a hopeless case that he thought we might as well throw something extra at it, probably just so I feel as though everything has been done that could be done.

"So we start again in November. It's good that he's giving your body time to rest before you have to go through all that again."

Yes, my love, we go through it again in November. And you're all perky and cheery because you think Mr Wonderful gave us good news on Friday. And I'm just hoping that you're right, and that your birthday present in November isn't going to be another BFN and a bucketful of tears.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Review appointment and a kick in the teeth

Well, we went down to the clinic today for our review appointment, and I was very pleased that we were seen by the guy who did my egg collection and embryo transfer, who is a lovely, warm and caring chap.

He said that our embryo was graded 3/4, with 4 being the best on their scale, but obviously it wasn't ideal that I only had one - interestingly, given that the HFEA is really pushing single embryo transfer now, he said that even in younger women with higher success rates, single embryo transfer reduces the chances of success by about 30%.

He basically said that my ovaries are knackered, and that they can't work miracles. While there are always going to be success stories with a single egg and a single embryo, and while he can't say for sure that we wouldn't be successful, he wants us to be realistic and appreciate that our odds of success are very low (he didn't put a figure on it, and I didn't ask).

However, he said that because I do have immune issues and have only had one cycle in which those issues were addressed, if it was him he would probably have one more go - but no more than one.

I asked him about DHEA, and he said it could help - and actually gave me a prescription for it, so I'll be taking that from tomorrow.

I also asked if Clomid could help my response, and he said they do use it sometimes, but the problem is that it can sometimes reduce the thickness of the uterine lining. They probably will add it in for me next time.

DH's sperm were about the same as when we had our first appointment there - 5m/ml (down from 6m), 10% morphology (same as last time) and 50% motility (up from 35%) - so a huge improvement on last year, but still not brilliant. The doctor recommended that he take 1 mg of Vitamin C and 800 units of Vitamin E a day to try to improve his sperm, so I bought those supplements when I picked up the DHEA.

They recommend that you wait at least two or three cycles before trying again, as the treatment cycle is so intensive and your body needs time to recuperate. That means we'll have about three months of the vitamins, DHEA and wheatgrass - hopefully long enough to see an effect, if there's going to be one. So we're back to waiting, and when my November AF shows up I'll go in for a CD1 blood test.

He was very kind, and as encouraging as he could be while still being realistic. The truth is that if we don't get lucky next time round, it's game over for us - and after DH sat there listening to the guy saying how low our chances were, I need to wait and find out whether he still thinks it's worth even going for this one more chance.

I managed to get halfway through the consultation before I started to cry, and then I just couldn't stop.

My emotional state wasn't helped by the phone call that I received while we were in the waiting room before going in to see him. I had a job interview last Wednesday that went really well, then a second interview this Wednesday which was a bit disastrous. For various reasons, I had been given the impression that this job was in the bag, and it's one of the things that made me worry less about my redundancy. They chose this lunchtime to call and tell me that they didn't want me after all. Some people's timing just sucks.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Clinic angst

My first thought on getting the BFN call last Friday was to wonder if we ought to change clinics again. There's another London clinic which also has very good results (though not as good as XXXX clinic) and specialises in treating women with high FSH. I wondered if I might be better off there.

But I've grown to love XXXX clinic, with its boot camp regime and all its little quirks. And what's the point of going to another clinic which might be willing to treat me with high FSH if ultimately it's not going to work anyway? Their results definitely aren't as good as XXXX clinic's.

So I did some more research, and I discovered that the other place doesn't do daily monitoring and doesn't give as much aftercare if you get that elusive BFP. And a lot of people who aren't successful first time at XXXX clinic are successful second (or third, fourth, fifth or sixth) time. Not that we intend to keep going forever, because we don't have that sort of money and I don't think I can take that sort of physical or mental stress, but we do want one more go.

And so I've come back round to the idea that XXXX clinic is the right place for me.

Even the BFN experience was so much better than at the old place. For a start, I feel more comfortable with them phoning to give me the result rather than me having to do an HPT and phone them. And honestly, the person who called me sounded as gutted as I was about it.

She said they'd call again a couple of days later to see how I was. They never did, but I like to think they would have done had I not called back to arrange our follow-up appointment and got an appointment so soon afterwards. I was also impressed that the person who answered the phone knew I had just got my result that day and expressed sympathy before getting down to the business of setting up the appointment.

I only want to go through this again if it's going to work, but I'll only ultimately know whether it's going to work by having another go - a bit of a Catch-22 situation. But having researched that other London clinic and a place that's been recommended to me outside London, I do know that XXXX clinic is the place I want to go through it. Now I have to hope they're still willing to work with my recalcitrant ovaries...

Wednesday, 18 August 2010


My frozen wheatgrass shots turned up yesterday. You're supposed to take it on an empty stomach, so I've just had my first one and am giving it a few minutes before I have breakfast.

This stuff is a very disturbingly deep green colour. My first mistake was in believing the bit in the instructions where it says, "Put your frozen shot in room temperature water for about five minutes and then drink it". All I can say is, it must be an awfully hot room if it can melt one of those shots in five minutes. It took me at least ten minutes of determined stirring, with the sneaky addition of a bit of warm water from the kettle, to melt my shot.

The best way I can think of to describe the smell is to think of grass that's been left to grow a bit too long and has been mown when it's a bit damp. Which makes sense, because that's pretty much exactly what this stuff is. It also tastes like that, and if you happen to do a little burp after drinking it, you get the same flavour repeating on you - regardless of whether you've had anything to eat in between.

So I have another form of torture to go through and to hold against my eventual child when it becomes a stroppy teenager. (Hmmm, perhaps that's why the universe doesn't consider me a suitable person to become a parent...)

On the plus side, the claims for the health benefits of wheatgrass began with a coincidental observation by a farmer. He used fresh cut grass in an attempt to nurse his sick hens back to health. Not only did they recover, but they produced more eggs than the previously healthy hens. In later experiments, he found that hens which had their diet supplemented with wheatgrass produced twice as many eggs as previously.

Now, I know I'm not a hen, but if I could double my egg production, and make them better quality too, it'd be worth having the flavour of damp grass in my mouth for a couple of months.

It's also claimed that wheatgrass helps blood flow, digestion and general detoxification - if it helps me to flush out all the drugs I've been taking over the last few weeks, that'll be no bad thing as a start.

There is one thing I'm not prepared to put up with, though. Some people have reported that this stuff stains their teeth green. If I end up with green teeth, the wheatgrass shots are going in the bin...

Tuesday, 17 August 2010


How many more ways are there to say "I can't have a baby and I'm sad about it"?

How many more ways are there to tell people that you've failed again?

How many more sites can I google in an attempt to find positive stories about people who've failed X times but been successful on the X+1th attempt?

How much longer is this thing going to be the focus of my life?

How long is it going to take this time round before I stop unexpectedly finding my eyes streaming with tears at random and unpredictable moments?

I'm even beginning to bore myself.

Monday, 16 August 2010

The stiff upper lip wobbles

I haven't had the big, ugly, gulping tears yet - and if I can avoid it, I won't.

DH and I met for lunch on Friday just after I got the call from the clinic. My eyes were leaking as soon as I saw him, and he wrapped me in a huge hug and said, "Go on, let it out, my love."

I pushed him away, angrily swiped at my eyes and said, "Not in public."

And then we had our lunch, in a place which is frequented by a lot of patients from XXXX clinic, and from time to time as we ate in almost complete silence, an extra bit of salted water would drop onto my salmon, but I managed to keep it mostly in check.

On the way home, I called my parents and just said, "The answer is no." They asked if I would call back when I got home, and I said, "No. Tomorrow." And swiped away a few more tears.

Once home, I got onto Google and started thinking about what to do next, and planning and researching helped to keep the tears at bay. By the time DH got home, I was able to stay on a reasonably even keel as long as we didn't probe into our feelings too deeply.

It was the little things that got to me.

My father, desperate to help and make things all right for his daughter, offering whatever help he could give, "including financial", but knowing that in reality there's absolutely nothing he can do to make this situation any better.

The text from my sister, who knows exactly the right thing to say even though this situation is so far removed from her own experience. "Very very sorry. We love you."

The person at the clinic, when I phoned for a follow-up appointment and gave my name, saying softly, "Oh, you just heard today, didn't you? I'm so sorry."

Getting in the bath on Saturday and looking down at the purple, yellow and brown landscape of my stomach, still bruised from all the pointless Clexane injections.

Seeing the woman who sits a couple of rows in front of us in church, caressing her growing bump as she sat serenely surrounded by her seven other children.

The hymn we sang at the end of Mass yesterday, with the third verse asking for comfort for those who mourn.

And each time, I've bitten my lip, swiped away the tears, and forced my mind onto some other track, and disaster has been averted - if by disaster we mean total loss of control and helpless collapse into a soggy, sobbing heap.

I did let myself wallow a bit over the weekend - for the first time since long before we got married, I never even got dressed on Saturday. I felt antisocial, I didn't want to talk to anyone, and when we went to the supermarket on the way home from church yesterday, I felt irritated and affronted by the very existence of other people's children. I barely spoke all weekend, and had to make an effort that was almost too much for me just to be civil to poor DH.

But now that little period of limbo is over. The gestone is finally working its way out of my system, and AF showed up this morning. DH is back at work, and I have a list of jobs to do.

Life goes on, and it's time to pick up the reins again.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

The next plan

Thank you so much for your comments and support - I really do appreciate each and every one of them.

I'm trying not to think too deeply about this at the moment, because I need to keep some measure of control and not turn into a blubbering mess. Every so often, something makes my eyes well up, and I instantly push it to the back of my mind and concentrate on something else. And that something else tends to be 'what do we do next?'.

Of course, we can't really know what we're going to do next until after our follow-up appointment, which is booked for next Friday. We'll be guided by the clinic on whether they think it's worth trying again - but for the moment, I have to believe for the sake of my sanity that they'll say it is worth it.

I'm tired of popping pills, so we're probably not going to go back to our programme of supplements. Now that I'm not working, I can shop for food more regularly and cook healthy, nutritious meals, so we'll stick to trying to stay healthy naturally.

We discussed whether we should stick to the not-eating-in-the-evening thing. It's worked well for us in that we both feel healthier, DH snores less, and we don't feel heavy and bloated in the evening. On the other hand, we hardly ever eat together, and I've been limited in the meals I could cook, because they had to be able to go in a little Tupperware pot and be reheatable at work.

Eventually, we decided that we will start eating again in the evenings - but I'll have supper ready as soon as DH gets home from work, and our suppers will be high protein and low carb. Last night we had delicious organic steaks with salad - an excellent start.

The next miracle cure I'm going to try is wheatgrass, which can apparently help lower FSH and improve egg quality. I ordered a month's supply of frozen wheatgrass shots yesterday, which should arrive on Tuesday. Even if we aren't able to go ahead with another IVF, wheatgrass is good for detoxing after you've been on a lot of drugs, so it should do me good as my body processes all the stuff I've been taking the last few weeks.

I had some inkling that this cycle might not have worked on Friday morning, when I had some brown spotting, so the BFN call was less of a shock than it might otherwise have been. My AF still hasn't shown up, though, and in many ways that makes me feel that I'm still in limbo.

Looking at my dates, the best time for another cycle would be November, so I'm hoping my cycle will work itself out in such a way as to make that possible. And if we get that chance, I will cancel all plans for that month and concentrate solely on relaxing, eating protein and following the clinic's instructions.

In the meantime, I'll take the wheatgrass, get to work on getting fit and losing some more weight, book our long-delayed holiday to South Africa for late September/early October, pray that we get the answers we're hoping for from the clinic on Friday, and try not to think too deeply about the hopes and dreams that were dashed for us this week.

Friday, 13 August 2010

The answer is no. Again.

Thank you so much for all your prayers and good wishes. Unfortunately, the answer, once again, was a resounding 'NO'.

My HCG was less than 1. This embryo didn't even try to implant.

So what does this mean? I only had one usable egg this time. I'm a poor responder par excellence, and the eggs I do get don't seem to be good enough.

Was it just bad luck? Or are my eggs so old and crappy that I'm never going to produce a decent, viable embryo? And why should that be, when my mother didn't enter the menopause until she was over 50, and my grandmother gave birth when she was in her 40s? Isn't that supposed to be an indicator of something? I'm 40 - I know I'm no spring chicken, but my ovaries shouldn't be completely old and withered at this age.

I'm so angry at the unfairness of it all. DH and I are good people. We'd be good parents. We've done everything we could to make this work. We worked as though everything depended on us and prayed as though everything depended on God. We've smiled and made happy noises for the casually fertile, even when we were dying inside. We've looked after other people's babies when our arms were aching to hold our own. Why is it never our turn? What have we done to deserve this emptiness and unhappiness?

DH would like to try one more time. I don't know. We threw everything at it this time. We'd been eating healthily and taking ridiculous numbers of supplements for months. We had immune testing. We had daily blood tests. We gave up alcohol. I gave up caffeine. We had expensive and painful drug regimes for pretty much every eventuality. It was the best shot we could possibly have given it. And our embryo didn't even begin to implant.

We'll book our follow-up appointment, and ask our questions about what they really thought of the quality of our embryo, and why they think I responded so badly. And then we'll ask them whether they genuinely think there's any point in trying again - because I'm not prepared to go through this again without a realistic chance of success.

We could be at the end of the road here.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

One more day to go

I've had plans for every day this week, and they have helped to make the week go faster. Today, though, I've deliberately kept my plans very fluid - when planning my week, I had to be prepared for the possibility that I would be a nervous wreck by today, and possibly already plunged into the pits of despair by the knowledge that this IVF hadn't worked.

So today I'm waiting for a call from the garage about whether they can fit my car in for a repair. One of my neighbours brought round a big bag of wild plums the other day, so I might make some plum jam. If the sun comes out and we get some good drying weather, I might do some laundry. Apart from those things, I have a big pile of supplements from the last few weeks' Sunday papers that I haven't had time to read, so I'm planning a lazy day working my way through those.

I still have fewer symptoms than I've had on either of my first two IVFs - or even on a lot of the 2WWs I had when we were TTC on our own. I know that the symptoms I do have are entirely caused by the drugs I'm on, and amazingly I've had no real urge to symptom spot over the last 12 days.

Last night I dreamt that I took my top off and saw that my boobs had suddenly increased to three times their normal size and turned bright purple. I thought to myself, "So THIS is what they mean by changes in your boobs - that's fairly unmistakeable. I must be pregnant." In real life, my boobs are resolutely staying their normal size, shape and colour, and the prominent veins I usually get before AF have never materialised.

I'm a little bit crampy on and off, and I had a little moment last night when I convinced myself it hadn't worked and AF was on her way, but today I'm back to having absolutely no idea. I'm not full of wild optimism, but nor am I full of despair - I just really don't know what tomorrow will bring. Strangely, I have no desire whatsoever to POAS, and am quite content just to wait and see what they tell me tomorrow.

I wonder how long this calm mood will last...

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

How to forget that you're only two days away from test day

One word - gestone.

My right thigh is so painful right now that there's no room to think about anything else at all. I barely slept last night, and I'm struggling to prepare for this afternoon's job interview. Hey, I'm even struggling to walk. Or to sit still.

The good news is that the day after tomorrow, even if I have to carry on taking the horrible stuff (and I actually hope I will), I'll at least be able to talk to the nurses and see whether there's anything I'm doing wrong or could do differently.

The other good news is that I've googled enough to know that it's quite normal to be in this much pain, especially if you're doing the jabs in your thigh. And it doesn't hurt this much every day, so hopefully by this afternoon it will have eased off a bit, and this evening's injection won't be so bad. Sunday's was pretty awful (though not as bad as this), but I was fine on Monday and Tuesday. If it means I get a baby at the end of it, I can cope with excruciating pain every third day...

But for the moment, the one thought in my head is:

Ow, ow, ow, ow, ooooowwwwwww!!!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The inner dialogue

So, still think we're in with a chance, do we?

Well, it's 9dp3dt, and I haven't had any spotting yet - that has to be a good sign. After all, I spotted earlier than this on both my previous cycles. And today is day 26 of my normal 26-day cycle, so in the absence of the whole IVF process, today or tomorrow is when I'd be expecting AF to show up.

(Hollow laughter) And what about those gestone injections? Weren't you the one who read that they should prevent any spotting before test day, because of the higher dosage and the more efficient method of getting the progesterone into your system? You weren't on those for the last two IVF cycles, were you?

Errrm, OK - it's a fair cop. But what about all this weeing I'm doing? I'm up and down like a yoyo all day and all night, and that's not like me at all.

And what about all that drinking you're doing? I know your stomach's looking pretty ugly and bloated, but the water has to go somewhere.

True. But what about the heavy, dragging feeling in my stomach, and the occasional little stabbing pains?

Again, think back. You've got excited about those exact same pains so many times before, and every time you convinced yourself that you'd never felt anything like it before. Honestly, sometimes I think you have the memory of a goldfish! As for the heavy, dragging feeling - with extra progesterone AND Clexane, which are both supposed to plump up your lining and make it nice and thick and fluffy, did you really expect anything less? Doesn't mean there's anything actually living in your beautiful red cloudland.

OK, but I'm also feeling a bit queasy.

And you think that's unusual, with the amount of drugs you're on? Besides, don't you quite often feel queasy when AF is due?

Oh yes, so I do.

I suppose next you're going to tell me your boobs are sore and veiny.

Actually, they're not. They usually get sore and have prominent veins a few days before AF is due, then the veins fade and AF shows up. This month, I haven't seen the veins at all. They've been a bit sore at times, but nothing unusual. I don't think we can read anything into that.

[Scornful silence.]

Anyway, there's no reason to think that I'm going to be one of those intractable cases that has failure after failure. We tried a completely different approach this time, with a new clinic which has a success rate of 40% in my age group. Why shouldn't I be in that 40%?

Don't forget a success rate of 40% still means a failure rate of 60%. And as for thinking you're not an intractable case, let's look at the facts. You're a poor responder, you've got two failed IVF cycles behind you, and this time round you got one usable egg. Hardly a ringing endorsement of your fertility level, is it?

It only takes one - people get pregnant naturally every month having only produced one egg. And the embryologist said my embryo was beautiful.

Don't make me laugh - I'm sure she tells everyone their embryos are beautiful. I seem to remember the embryologist at the old clinic telling you your embryos were beautiful - it wasn't till after the BFN that they admitted what low grade they were.

I really really want this, and I've waited over two years for it. Surely it's my turn.

I think you know how stupid that argument is. We've seen plenty of evidence over the years that this doesn't go by 'turns'.

Well, I've done everything I should - I followed that healthy diet and supplement regime for months, I've religiously taken all my medications at the right times, I've followed all the instructions I was given, and I've put up with pain and discomfort without complaining.

And you think the people with 8, 9 and 10 IVF failures haven't worked just as hard to make it work?

And I've prayed like anything.

God's answers to prayer aren't always the answers you hope for.

OK, what about that angel reading? My egg collection, and therefore the fertilisation of this embryo, happened in July. Could there be some truth in what that woman said?

Oh, please! You really are moving from the sublime to the ridiculous. Put your faith in God and forget about some charlatan who gives you false hope. You should never have got that reading in the first place.

Well, quite apart from the reading, the timing is just so perfect at the moment, what with my job just having finished and all. And an April birthday would be lovely.

There are plenty of April birthdays in your family already - who needs another one? And as for perfect timing - babies come in their own good time, not when it's convenient. Have you learnt nothing in over two years of this game?

You're exhausting me - you're always so negative. Why shouldn't it have worked?

If you're so confident, why don't you pee on a stick to put yourself out of your misery? I'm sure it'd show up by now if it was positive.

Errrrm, no - I'm too scared. I want to live in my PUPO cocoon for a bit longer. Now please shut up and let me think about something else...

Monday, 9 August 2010

The gestone blues

Well, a constant supply of hot drinks and a large handful of dried apricots sorted out yesterday's problem, so I'm feeling more comfortable today.

My latest issue with the progesterone is just in giving myself the PIO jabs. Can I just say that, although I really hope I'll be continuing to take them for the next several weeks, I hate the buggers?

The clinic gave me the choice of doing the jabs in the middle quadrant of my outer thigh or the top outer quadrant of my buttock. Since I'm doing them myself, it's easiest to do them in my thigh. I've also read about people catching their sciatic nerve when doing the buttock, so without a precise target to aim for and with my history of back problems, I'm just not prepared to risk it - despite all the dire warnings I've read on the net about the thigh being a much more painful place to inject than the buttock.

I am getting a lot of muscular aches and pains around the injection site, so I decided I'd rather have one dead leg than two and have so far only done the jabs into one leg. That was fine until this weekend. Saturday's jab was fine as it pierced the skin, but I hit something on the way through the muscle and THAT was painful! Then yesterday I just couldn't get the needle to go in at all - I ended up taking the needle off, changing it and shifting the injection site about an inch further south, where it did at least glide in easily.

I only have four more of these jabs to do before test day, so I'm going to try to do those in the same leg, then if I get a BFP and they keep me on the gestone, I'll switch legs from Friday and give this one a bit of time to recover - I'd rather do it that way than alternate daily and have both legs sore at the same time, I think. I have heard of people at XXXX clinic being put on twice daily gestone injections - I'm already on twice daily Clexane, and I'm really hoping the gestone won't go more than once a day.

The trouble is that my recovery time seems to be a bit slow at the moment - I still have bruises from two weeks ago, though they are at least fading. It's getting harder and harder to find an unmarked patch of skin on my stomach to do my Clexane jabs. This is particularly true as the one hour gap between the Ritodrine and the Clexane isn't always enough to make the Ritodrine shakes stop before I have to do the jab, so I often have to do the Clexane with jazz hands.

But if I'm still injecting this time next week, I won't be complaining even if my entire stomach ends up looking like an army camouflage suit and I have two dead legs. You can remind me of that if I do start complaining...

Sunday, 8 August 2010

The madness begins

Well, the calm, relaxed attitude of yesterday has been replaced by creeping doubts and frantic knicker-watching. On IVF #1, I started spotting at 8dp2dt. On IVF #2, I started spotting at 9dp2dt. So now that it's 7dp3dt this time round, I've started to look for the spotting. Of course, this time I'm on a higher dose of progesterone, and the injections are apparently more effective than the pessaries, so I've been told spotting is less likely. On the other hand, the information from the clinic also says that spotting is very common and doesn't necessarily mean the cycle has failed. But I'm still looking out for it, and still hoping against hope that I won't see it.

In other news, sorry for the TMI, but the progesterone is doing its evil job. I've been drinking water as if it was going out of fashion, eating plenty of fibre, walking around and getting plenty of gentle exercise - so why am I sooooo constipated? My stomach feels so uncomfortable, and every time I try to go, I worry about whether I'm going to dislodge my little embryo just as it's trying to dig itself a nice little nest.

So not a brilliant day for PMA, and I'm thinking a day spent at home with an endless supply of warm drinks and the Sunday papers sounds more attractive than either a visit to the in-laws or a trip to a shopping centre.

Lazy Sunday, here we come...

Saturday, 7 August 2010

I love it when a plan comes together...

Well, it's been about 16 hours, and so far, I'm loving being unemployed!

Yesterday was a good day, with lots of people coming over or e-mailing to wish me well (and saying what a huge mistake it was on the firm's part to make me redundant, which was nice). I left without a backward glance - there are people I worked with there who I'm sure will always remain friends, and I've enjoyed the job and have achieved things that I'm proud of, but personally and professionally, the time is right to move on.

I've spent most of this morning on the phone, and now have the next week very satisfactorily planned out. I have an activity for every day, but nothing too strenuous, and certainly nothing that will take as much out of me as commuting to work does.

Today we're having a barbecue with some friends. The six of us go to a fortnightly pub quiz, which we win quite regularly. At Christmas, we went out for a slap-up meal with our winnings so far. We now have another pot of winnings racked up, so this afternoon we're going to coast round Costco picking up whatever we fancy, then have a massive blow-out barbecue. The sky is looking grey and threatening at the moment, but if it rains, we'll just move inside - no big deal.

Tomorrow after Mass DH is going to visit his parents, and I'm going to potter into town to pick up presents for a couple of birthdays that are coming up soon.

On Monday I'll take my parcels down to the post office, then go over the bit of work I've been asked to do in advance of my job interview.

On Tuesday I'm having lunch with two of my oldest and dearest friends. Although we all went to the same school, they didn't know each other at school, but gelled instantly when they met as adults at one of my birthday parties. Well, they would - they're two of the loveliest people I know. They each have a 10-year-old daughter - I'm godmother to both, and they were bridesmaids at my wedding and also got on brilliantly together - and a five-year-old son. I've been trying to get them together again for a while, and it's going to be such a lovely afternoon with some of my favourite people.

On Wednesday I have a job interview. If this job comes off, it'll be perfect - three days a week, working from home. I know several people at the company quite well, and the work will be interesting but a lot easier and less stressful than what I've been doing recently.

On Thursday I need to take my car for a service, and then if it's a nice day I might just go for a bit of top-down motoring to blow out the cobwebs, just for the sheer pleasure of driving through beautiful countryside.

And then Friday is test day. DH and I have discussed whether I should POAS beforehand and decided that I probably won't.

The advantage of doing so would be that I would be prepared for whatever result I get from the clinic. If it's a BFN, obviously I'll just want to be home as soon as possible and hiding under my duvet. But if it's positive, I'll be called back to have another blood test (progesterone levels etc) and pick up a prescription for more gestone and whatever else they think I need. So once I've had the blood taken on Friday morning, I really need to stay in London until I get the call with the results, just in case it's positive.

I think I know the very place to wait - it's a Starbucks not far from DH's office and the clinic, with a big comfy sofa right at the back which is sort of hidden - a good place to have a little cry if necessary. I've already waited in there for a couple of calls during stimming and done a couple of my jabs in their toilets, so the place will be forever associated with this treatment cycle in my mind anyway.

So my thinking at the moment is that I won't POAS, I'll have no way of knowing what the result is going to be, and I'll spend Friday morning sitting in Starbucks awaiting my fate.

So, a week of pleasant occupations and plenty of opportunity for rest in between. What could be more perfect?

Friday, 6 August 2010


OK, I promise I'm not going to do this every day of the 2WW, but it's another significant number.

It's the number of days past transfer.

It's the number of embryos we've had in total over three IVF cycles - little Viennetta arrested before transfer on our first cycle.

It's the number of full years I've been working for my current employer - significant because today is my last day of work.

It's the number of days until my interview for a possible new job (confirmed only yesterday - and they've given me stuff to prepare for it, so that's Monday's lounging in front of the telly scuppered!).

It's the number of months until that job starts if I get it - and so the number of months I get to take it a bit easier and just do the occasional bit of freelance work to keep me going.

If any babies want to start implanting now, this would be a really good time to do it...

Thursday, 5 August 2010


The number of days since transfer.

The number of times I had to get up to go to the loo last night.

The total number of embryos we've had transferred in three IVF cycles.

The number of gestone injections I've done so far - and last night I discovered that although the ice does numb the skin and prevent the needle hurting as it pierces the skin, applying heat to the area instead of ice before doing the jab makes it less painful to actually squirt the stuff into the muscle. I'm pleased about that, since I'm hoping to be on these gestone injections until about 12 weeks (see that blind optimism again?).

The number of times I have to take Ritodrine a day. OK, the gestone hurts, but it's the Ritodrine I really hate. For over an hour after each dose, I feel anxious, shaky and sometimes a little bit dizzy. Fortunately, apparently this one doesn't go on after test day whatever the result. Also fortunately, two of the doses are taken while I'm in bed, and I can (try to) go back to sleep afterwards.

The approximate number of mood swings I have each hour. Lucky, lucky DH!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Overreacting? Moi?

I went into the kitchen this morning to put on a load of laundry. DH has done the last couple of loads, and he mentioned at the weekend that he thought we'd run out of Calgon. I reminded him that we have a mahoosive box that lives under the kitchen cupboard and thought no more of it.

This morning I discovered that he has thrown away the dinky little box that fits into the cupboard, that I used to refill from the big one, and the kitchen cupboard is now a total mess with a mahoosive (and half empty - didn't that give him any sort of clue?) box balanced diagonally across the top of everything else.

In the big scheme of things, this is really not a big deal at all, and in any case, it'll be very easy to find another little box to keep in the cupboard so that the big one can go back underneath. Perhaps if it's a completely different sort of box, it might encourage him to remember why and then not throw it away next time he empties it.

So after I'd tossed all the washing onto the floor, kicked it around a bit, stamped up and down on it, gone through the recycling to see if I could find the empty box and then thrown all our old cardboard and paper all over the kitchen as well, sworn loudly and burst into tears, I did start to wonder if all these drugs I'm on may be making me just a teensy little bit less stable than usual...

Monday, 2 August 2010

The WUB drug routine

Thank you so much for all the prayers and good wishes - and please keep them up!

As promised, here's a little list of the drugs that I'm on between now and next Friday (and hopefully some of them at least for a bit longer, if all goes well). I have alarms set on my iPod to tell me when to take them all, so let's work our way through the day...

0600 - First dose of Ritodrine - half a tablet to be taken at six-hourly intervals throughout the day (and night). This is a drug which is used to prevent uterine contractions, and when prescribed at XXXX clinic it's used only during the two week wait. That's good, because it gives me a slightly shaky feeling and I think is also what's causing the indigestion that I'm getting.

0655 - First dose of Clexane -20 ml subcutaneous injection which stings a bit and leaves peculiar perfectly round purple bruises, about the size of the head of a screw. This is a blood thinner which is used to increase the flow of blood to the uterus and try to ensure no clots are formed.

0845 - Steroids - two tablets, to be taken with or immediately after food. Yesterday they switched me from Dexamethasone to Prednisalone, but Mr Miracle Worker reviewed my file this morning and put me back on Dexamethasone from tomorrow. Both are used to damp down the immune system and try to prevent it rejecting the embryo as a foreign body, but apparently Dexamethasone is better at negating the effect of natural killer cells.

1200 and 1800 - Second and third doses of Ritodrine. More shakes and heartburn. I also take a 75mg aspirin at noon, as I've been told to take it some time between the Clexane jabs.

1855 - Second dose of Clexane, and the big gestone injection - the dreaded progesterone in oil. 100 mg a day, injected intramuscularly with a 1.5 inch needle - OUCH! I was told I could do it into my buttock or thigh - given the difficulty of contorting myself to reach the right part of my buttock and the danger of hitting the sciatic nerve, I've opted for the thigh. Having read various things about it, this is how I'm doing it at the moment: when I start getting everything ready, I pop the two phials of gestone into my bra to warm them up. While doing my Clexane jab, I balance an ice cube against my outer thigh to numb it. I then whip the phials out of my bra, make up the jab, stab the needle into the numb part of my thigh and inject slowly (having pulled up on the plunger to make sure I haven't hit a vein). As soon as I take the needle out, I massage the area gently for a couple of minutes and then apply a warm wheat bag to it. The injection itself isn't too bad, but I've had a bit of a dead leg afterwards both times I've done it so far. Anyone want to tell me that's going to improve...?

0000 - Final dose of Ritodrine.

And apart from that, it's just the litre of milk, 2-3 litres of water, prenatal vitamins and regular protein snacks - and even more regular prayer.

I'd like to think that all this extra support, and all the hoops I've jumped through to get to this stage, can't fail to lead to my long-awaited BFP - but of course there are plenty of people who've gone through even more treatments and jumped through even more hoops and still never got there. And so I veer between quiet optimism and a firm belief that this can't succeed, because I just can't imagine what success would be like after more than two years of failure.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

What a wimp!

We had a bit of stress getting sorted for today, as relatively late last night we discovered that all today's trains into London from where we are had been cancelled, and we couldn't get a hotel room in central London at short notice for less than the price of a small kingdom. So we decided to hope for the best that I wouldn't be sedated and drive all the way in.

The staff at XXXX clinic were as lovely as they always were, and I had a good chat in the waiting-room with someone I'd been chatting to regularly while we were going in for daily bloods - she was in for egg collection today.

There were three egg collections and a hysteroscopy before me, then I had the cannula inserted just in case and the embryologist came to see me. She said Rucksack was at seven cells and was looking beautiful. The consultant said he would prefer me to be awake for the transfer, but offered me the option of being sedated straight away, so I said I'd have a go at being awake.

Another sign of how tailored the treatment is at XXXX clinic is that they map everything out when they do the hysteroscopies, and on the basis of what they know of your individual anatomy they decide how full they want your bladder for transfer. I was lucky - they wanted my bladder empty.
It was much more relaxed in the theatre than it ever was at the other clinic - Mr No Nonsense liked to do his transfers in absolute strict silence, whereas everyone was joking and trying to put me at my ease this time. Without the experience of my last two transfers, I'm sure I'd have been absolutely fine.

The consultant did a quick t/v scan before he started, and I took slow, deep breaths and concentrated on trying to relax. They don't use ultrasound during the actual transfer, as they don't want any distortion in the shape of the uterus caused by the scanner thing pressing down on your stomach.

Then he said he was ready to get started, and I heard the clink of the metal instruments on the tray and just thought, "I can't do this". I totally panicked and begged them to put me to sleep - which they instantly agreed to, and the lovely anaesthetist came in and sent me off. Oh, the blessed relief!

I was very apologetic afterwards about having been such a wimp - but on the plus side, I got a good half hour to an hour lying absolutely still after my transfer, and I feel quite positive about the effect that might have.

I have a whole raft of new medications to take - they tested my progesterone level and have taken me off the Cyclogest and treated me to the dreaded PIO injections instead. I'll tell you more about my new drug regime tomorrow... I suggested to the embryologist that they were just trying to take my mind off the two week wait by making me spend the whole time counting down to the next dose of medication, and she didn't disagree!

I have to go back for my beta test on Friday 13th - lucky for some, I hope. And in the meantime, I'll just relax and enjoy being PUPO.