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.