Saturday, 23 May 2015

Telling Work

I have been quite militant in the past about how to announce a pregnancy. Back in 2008 I decreed the best way was by email, I detail it here but in summary it was "By email. A short, happy one, not too full of details."

I decided to tell my work colleagues this time in one shot - rather than it becoming a whispered rumour, and risk missing people I thought I'd send an all office email. I still remember a colleague casually asking a heavily pregnant, normally very slim, workmate if she "was up to anything this summer." He'd missed news of her pregnancy and was trying to subtly ask if she was actually up the duff.

Unfortunately one of my self-imposed rules broke was I had to send it to people's work email address.

This was the email:


From: Me
Date: Thursday, May 21, 2015
To: Team
Cc: The Boss
Subject: Buns in the oven

Dear All

It seemed appropriate to announce my latest pregnancy by doing some baking so there is cake in the usual place.

So that we can get over the small talk – you don’t feel obliged to ask, I don’t have to repeat myself here is the conversation we would have had:

How pregnant are you?
13 weeks today

I can’t do the maths, when are you due?
In theory 26 of November but given that Olive was three weeks early and twins are usually premature I’m guessing October.

Twins?! Seriously?
Yes – note the plural in the title of this email

Do you know the sex?
If by that you mean do I know the gender not yet, I’ll find out in a couple of months. But I will find out rather than wait.

If you mean something else, I decline to comment.

Have you thought of names?
At the moment we are thinking Stacey and Tracey for girls or Romulus and Remus for boys. 

Really?
No.

What if they are a boy and a girl?
They won’t be, they are the creepy identical type.



OMG!!! Its going to be hell. My cousin had twins and she had a awful time …
Please can we change the subject now? What are you doing this weekend?

Liz




The cake went down well and the email went viral (my boss forwarded it to three people).

It'd be fair to say I don't work in a massively corporate environment.



Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Secrets and Lies

The scan on Tuesday showed a healthy, happy embryo. In fact it showed a bit more than that.

I really didn't mean to keep anything back this time.

After last pregnancy's time shift I felt a bit guilty about keeping you in the dark so this time the plan was to tell you exactly what was going on, as it happened.

But I didn't count on one tiny little flaw in my plan - a bit of news that would completely throw me and I'd need time to digest it before disseminating it across the world. To be honest it wasn't so much you lot that I wanted to keep it quiet from it was those real life friends and family that read this blog that I didn't want to find out immediately.

So whilst I haven't exactly lied to you I have been keeping one small detail back. At the start it was a tiny detail but as the weeks have gone on it has grown. This detail is now approximately five and a half centimeters long.

This detail is a twin.

A second baby.

A wombmate hanging out.

That one embryo I transfered clearly didn't want to be lonely so decided to clone itself in my uterus.

All going well I'm going to go from being an incredibly lucky mother of one near-miracle baby to a mother of three.

Which is frankly an embarrassment of children.



Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Approaching the second trimester


I have a week (6 days and 12 hours to be exact) until my next scan.

The 12 week one which I consider my graduation one, launching me into the second trimester. It isn't done at the fertility clinic but at the hospital where I will give birth, and it is done from the outside  - through the belly. I told a friend that my scans to date are all done up through the vag.

She was appalled;  "How embarrassing!"

I don't need to tell you guys that she hasn't been through IVF. I hardly notice an internal scan these days, you need to scrape out half my womb lining to get so much of a flinch out of me nowadays.

I haven't had a scan for three weeks so I'm getting increasingly jittery.

I don't feel like things have gone wrong.  I'm being sick and getting noticeably bigger - but the latter has less to do with anything growing in my womb but more to do with the only thing that eases the nausea is to eat.

So I am.

Constantly.

I've always been fairly short and had hairy toes but now I have added a second breakfast to my hobbit-like traits. (And mid-morning snack, late morning snack, lunch ...)

Still it helps fill the time.

I wonder how much I can eat in the next week.




Wednesday, 6 May 2015

A happy ending?


A couple of weeks ago I had my final intralipid treatment.

At the risk of repeating myself - a quick summary of the treatment:

Intralipids is a two hour infusion that seems to suppress the immune system.  I don't know if I need it as the test for an over active immune system - which can prevent embryos implanting - is way more expensive than the treatment. My gut feeling though is that it has made all the difference.

Anyway, back to my last intralipid treatment; I was parked for two hours on a drip directly opposite the production room.

The production room is the euphemistically named cupboard where the gentlemen go to have a wank to produce the sperm needed for their 50% contribution to the embryo.

It was really hard, with nothing to do but sit with a drip in your hand, not to judge the men who went in and out of that room. So hard that I, of course, didn't hold back.

Four chaps went into that room during my treatment. They all took pretty much bang on (or banging on) ten minutes. Two out of the four stuck the label on the bag rather than the pot and were reprimanded by the nurse (with a fifty percent failure rate I think you have to question the nurse's explanation).

The last chap went in with his missus. He took a bit longer than the others - maybe twelve minutes. But it just goes to show you don't know what goes on behind closed doors, and the door was most certainly closed. To look at them I wouldn't have guessed that either he'd need a helping hand or that she'd insist on giving one.

I don't know what a couple who do need to go into the producing room together looks like, but they didn't look like it.

This whole thing reminded me of something that happened several years ago. I didn't blog about it at the time because it didn't seem fair on the couple - what if by some coincidence one of the two in question were anxiously googling success rates for IVF and came across this blog detailing what had happened to them that day. So I kept quiet but now, many years later, I have to share.

It was egg collection day for me at my clinic.

There were half a dozen couples in the ward, all neatly screened off from one another, and all ws silent other than the swish of the curtain as various doctors, nurses and embryologists pop in and out of the cubicles. I became aware of a bit of a commotion in the bed next to me. The couple urgently whispering to one another and then calling the nurse.

More discussion and then the nurse says, in a stage whisper that would shame Brain Blessed, "WE COULD TRY VIAGRA".

"shhhhhhhh" the couple said in a panic.

"I WAS WHISPERING!" the nurse assured them. And the rest of the ward.

It turned out the woman's eggs had been collected and there is a short window for the sperm to get in there. A window that was getting ever smaller whilst the chap couldn't raise his old chap.

Talk about pressure to perform.

The resolution was to prescribe viagra, but they don't stock it in the clinic so he had to go out to a pharmacy. Not, you'd think, a problem in central London except it was a Sunday with only a few emergency pharmacies open.

The poor guy had to leg it ten minutes up the road, get the pills, come back to the production room, do the most high pressure wank in the world and hand over the goods. All within (by this time) forty minutes.

For research purposes only, I've just been googling "how long does viagra take to work". Apparently about an hour.

I had to leave before the story reaches its climax.

So I am afraid I can't leave you with a happy ending.

But just a reminder, yes we women have to go through an awful lot during IVF, the drugs, injections, hormones both natural and artificial.

But I've never felt that kind of pressure.



Wednesday, 22 April 2015

9 Week Scan

If I'd told you how often I've googled "missed miscarriage after heart beat" and "I just knew I'd miscarried despite no blood" over the last week you'd be backing away from your computer in alarm right now.

As it, is my spectacular  track record of having no feminine intuition has held firm and I have most definitely not  miscarried. The scan showed a baby with a strong heartbeat, tiny little buds of arms and legs, and even a little wiggle for the camera.

I continue to take the drugs for another week then begin to drop some and wean off others. The steroids take the longest to wind down from as you have to decrease the dose over four weeks. The bum and belly jabs - thankfully stop in a week. Though the nurse who gave me the remainder of my medication explained she couldn't split a box of medicine. Which means I've come home with 6 more stomach injections than I need.

"You can keep taking them until you use them all up if you want, it won't do any harm." Said the nurse enthusiastically.

Call me profligate but I'm not going to take one more jab than is strictly necessary - it's a shame it is illegal to give away drug that have been prescribed to you but those left overs are going in the bin. (By which I mean will be responsibly disposed of by returning them to my local pharmacy.)

So I was waved off by the clinic, hopefully, never to darken their doors again.

They are a great clinic ,but I truly hope my days of fertility treatments are now done. 



Friday, 10 April 2015

First scan

There is a lot that is shit about IVF, but the one thing that is brilliant is not having to wait 12 weeks for your first pregnancy scan. Mine was scheduled for 6 weeks and 6 days - last Wednesday.

I was petrified about this scan. I've had a missed miscarriage before, when to all intents and purposes everything seems fine - no blood or pain - but the scan then reveals no heartbeat. Given all the progesterone and other drugs I'm taking to keep this embryo in place it felt perfectly possible that the same thing may have happened again but the drugs prevented any physical manifestations.

I was actually shaking as I lay back on the bed to be scanned.

The sonographer told me she wouldn't keep me in suspense and would tell me as soon as she saw anything. Almost immediately she pointed out the sack and feotal pole then there was a pause whilst she waited to see a heartbeat. I know it can't have been more than two minutes because I didn't breath whilst we waited and  I would have passed out if it had been that long. It was probably only five seconds, it felt longer.

But there it was, a tiny white flash on the screen and proof that this is more than a chemical pregnancy.

I have a new favourite pregnancy web page.

Here Spacefem has a page that shows the statistical likelihood of a miscarriage in early pregnancy. It isn't faultless and there are more factors that should be considered given my age and history. BUT it is encouraging. It shows how quickly the likelihood drops within the first eight weeks to pretty much the same odds a the magic 12 week marker.

It certainly helps me feel more confident that I've cleared some significant hurdles already and the fact there is a heartbeat is convincing me that I might have another baby far more effectively than the positive test which just felt like another step in the right direction rather than an goal in itself.



Saturday, 4 April 2015

Stress and IVF


This IVF was supposed to be the least stressful IVF ever. Before I go any further, let me assure you that so far I have had nothing tangible to stress about with this ... gulp ... pregnancy. Everything seems to be going to plan. 

This IVF was not make or break. It wasn't about whether I would ever be a mother. I have a child, and not just any child. Olive is brilliant - happy, funny, bossy - I'm going to put it out there, she's in definitely in my top ten of tiny people that I like.

Ok - top five. 

This also wasn't my last chance of becoming a mother of two. I had two frozen embryos left; putting one back at a time meant that after this round I still have one more opportunity to try to get pregnant without starting from scratch (or egg collection).

The run up to IVF was so smooth. Too smooth.

What happens after the transfer is crucial. The problem is no one seems to know what you should do to aid implantation. I have read, extensively, on the topic and there seem to be a whole raft ideas based on nothing more than a bit of guesswork or personal experience.

I read a book where the author advised against leaving bed, suggesting a bed is set up downstairs so you don’t disrupt your burrowing embryo if you do have to leave your nest for an emergency. 

It even suggested to try not to poo – all that pushing could dislodge something. (I guess that could explain why the husband has never managed to successfully conceive.) 

My doctor specifically cautioned against being too static. Whilst she warned me against anything too strenuous, she wanted a bit of movement just to ensure that the blood keeps circulating. 

But some things seemed like more of a no brainer. 

Stress for example. 

You’d want to avoid that, right?

My theory is that, back in our hunter gatherer days if the tribe was under extreme stress – being worried by a mammoth, or running from a creeping ice cap - the last thing you’d want is to get pregnant. It’d hold everyone back. So surely stress has to inhibit implantation, right?

Wrong apparently. 

This study shows that stress doesn’t impact on IVF working.

I am also able to endorse this.

Whilst the run up to my IVF went like a  dream, everything seemed to go tits up once the transfer was done. 

The transfer was on a Wednesday. 

On Thursday I had the day off work and Olive was in nursery. 

This was the first day I have had home alone since she was born. Luxury, but also a little bit boring without my pint-sized commander-in-chief telling me to sit down, or put my coat on, or read her a book, or that she's done a poo.

I got a call at about 10:30 from Olive's nursery saying she'd fallen and bumped her head and had a nose bleed. Nothing to worry about but just letting me know.

When I went to collect her in the afternoon she seemed fine. The nursery handed over their standard "head injury" leaflet. Look out for headaches, blurred vision, vomiting. I shoved it in the pram and went home.

Jump forward to one thirty in the morning and, after a perfectly normal evening, Olive woke up screaming. She'd been sick. 

I cleaned her up. 

She was sick again.

The husband joined us as we pondered whether this was a bug or head-injury related chunder. 

We decided to seek help from the experts so phoned NHS direct to ask what we should do. We should have known they'd tell us to take her to Accident and Emergency. The slightest whiff of a head injury and they are all about the Emergency Room.

We got a taxi to the hospital. She barfed in the cab, of course.

Then from 2am until 5am, after a brief inspection from a nurse who was demonstrably unconcerned, we waited with a pukey-smelling, wide-awake baby whilst the husband and I took turns trying to coral her into one area of the waiting room.

Eventually she was seen, given a clear bill of health and we got home to bed at 6am. Not the most restful post-IVF night.

The next day (or the same day I guess as this all happened in the early hours of the morning) was Friday the 13th. 

This is where I have to pause.

I blog about some of the most personal and intimate experiences that happen to me. As a blogger I think you make a pact with the reader to tell the whole truth, unflinchingly. But sometimes things happened that affect me but aren’t about me. When I write about other people on here I generally get their permission and often give them an opportunity to read what I’ve written before I hit publish. (Yes, the husband signed off on the poo gag above).

The next thing that happened on that Friday wasn’t directly about me. It was about one of my nearest and dearest and it was horrendous and horrible news. Three weeks later and I’ve got tears in my eyes writing this.

I’m sorry I can’t tell you more, I haven't asked the person involved if I can write about it. They've got enough on their plate. So there are no more details, this isn't mine to tell, but rest assured that Friday – and the days that followed – were a mess. I didn’t sleep again on Friday night.

On the plus side it put the outcome of IVF for a second child suddenly seem a lot less important.

These were key implantation days. I knew they were implantation days because over the weekend I felt sharp twinges in my urterus and I didn’t know if this was a good or bad sign.

Subsequently I know they were good, I got pregnant didn’t I?

So there you have it. I don’t know what works or what doesn’t when in comes to implantation but don’t stress about it – or rather do – it doesn’t matter. That won’t affect the outcome.

And as for the straining when pooing thing? I’m taking buckets of progesterone, which has a side effect of constipating one. That doesn’t seem to matter too much either. 

Now I wait for my first scan next week, to see if things are continuing to progress.  



Thursday, 26 March 2015

The numbers are in

I had my blood test this morning and got called back this afternoon.

My HCG levels are measuring at 3876, at this point with Olive they were 3762 so incredibly similar.

I guess Olive and this new womb dweller are sort of twins. Well, they were conceived at the same time.

I wonder if there will be any more similarities to come. 



Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Pee stick photos


Every IVF so far I have waited to test. I haven't wanted to see a false negative.

I haven't quite waited the full 16 days but 10 or 11 at least.

Until this time.

After extensive research (googling) I decided that 7 days was the turning point. If you do a google image search for pregnancy test 7DP5DT (which we all know stands for seven days past a five day transfer) you'll see a host of images of neatly lined up pee sticks with varying strengths of second lines all neatly labelled with what day they relate to. 7 days seemed to be the point of no return when the faintest of first positive shows.

Kinda something like this:



Yup.

They are mine.

I would appear to be pregnant.

I have the blood test tomorrow so hoping for a strong number and then another 8 months of barfing and building excitement.




Thursday, 12 March 2015

Fifty Shades of Bruise

Thanks to the recent release of Fifty Shades of Grey I doubt I'm the only woman in the UK walking around with a bruised arse wondering if yesterday's exertions have left me  pregnant.

My bruises are as a result if the progesterone injections rather than any leather-based slap and tickle, though some of the instruments the doctor used yesterday would add a new dimension to the more adventurous bedroom. I'm sure the husband has never examined my cervix as closely as she did when I was winched open.

Erotic.

The husband clearly felt so, I had to stop him nipping into the wankatorium for a quick one off the wrist for old times sake.

Everything went really well.

This is worrying me.

I don't have anything to complain about.

Remember last time when the insertion was - and I can say this with full knowledge now - worst than labour?

Yesterday it was so quick and easy it was almost a pleasure.

The doctor was incredibly upbeat about her "dream team" and their success rates.

And my embryo looks like a perfect little already-hatching baboushka.

If I had one complaint it would the ridiculous length of time I am supposed to wait to test for pregnancy.

16 days.

16?

I mean if I do get pregnant I'll be practically ready to give birth before I find out if it worked at that rate.

I will test a bit earlier, the question is how early.

I've never gone for the testing from 4 days after the transfer I think the earliest has been about 9 or 10 days.

I suspect the reason my clinic asks us to wait so unendurably long isn't because you can't get a positive earlier - of course you can - but maybe they don't want the joy of a positive to be followed by a crash should the pregnancy turn out to be a shortlived chemical one. By 16 days a positive should mean a positive.

So here is the plan.

I am going to try and hold out as long as I can, there is no way I will wait 16 day a max of 14. But I won't post here until two weeks after the transfer.

I'm going to step away from the computer and try and enjoy this purgatory.

Wish me luck!