Monday, 31 August 2009

Great Sexpectations

I've mentioned this fact already here, but I've got to reiterate this statistic:

"Couples not using contraception have, on average, about an 18% chance of conceiving normally ... Couples having sex more than twenty times a month have around a 35% chance."*

Note to the folk who know me in real life and have already expressed disquiet at hearing about my sex life, look away now.

The rest of you: let me tell you my plan.

The way the NHS works is that I get one go at Interuterine Insemination, a month off, another shot, month off, then a final go. So here I am in the in-between month and, rather than rest on my laurels, I intend to spend it lying back and thinking of England.

The bedroom has been rechristened the lovenasium, and the activity du jour is sexercise.

The husband was delighted when I told him my plan, warning him that he would be on a strict every-other-day sex schedule. His enthusiasm was somewhat diminished when I had to clarify that the only notches on his bedpost would be related to me. But he has manfully risen to the task.

Starting out, the prospect is sexciting but I fear by the end of the month I'll be sexhausted.

*A Child Against All Odds, Robert Winston, 2007

Friday, 28 August 2009

Reasons to be cheerful

On reflection it is actually quite a good thing that last IUI didn't work.

Whilst the panic over swine flu in the UK is abating there is a distinct possibility that, with the schools going back in September, another outbreak is imminent. I'd quite like to catch it, recover and have some inbuilt immunity chalked up whilst in a non-pregnant state. The alternative if I was pregnant, would be weighing up the safety options of vaccine verses the disease. I've now got the opportunity to get up close and personal with every red-nosed sniveling commuter I find in the hope that they pass the lergy on.

In addition, whilst I like the idea of being able to say to my teenage tearaway: "And don't ask you 'father' for help, he wasn't even there when you were conceived", that is maybe a dangerous power to wield. Hopefully the husband'll actually be around for the next IUI so I won't have that option, and will consequently save my future child from massive psychiatrist fees.

During the last two week wait I noticed I was getting grey/brown roots peeping through my implausibly red hair. I didn't want to dye my hair whilst there was a chance of an embryonic life-form sponging up any nasty chemicals that seeped into my system. So I made a decision that, if the IUI didn't work, I was going to go back to my roots (minus the grey) so if I do have an enforced nine month period of no hair-dyeing at least I won't end up with 3 inch roots. And yes, despite being only just 33 and there is already a healthy smattering of grey there - and I can't even blame those pesky kids.

Rumours are abound at work. Duly noted was the lack of boozing at the all-staff drinks the other week. Today I got: "Giving up tea, stopping dying your hair? These are all things my mother did when she was trying to conceive..." I just responded with something non-committal. We have a works event next week so I'll be able to have an alcoholic drink which will hopefully quash any of those rumours. I'm not sure why I am so anti people thinking that I am pregnant when I'm not, but I hate the idea of being the subject of this type of erroneous scrutiny.

Also, if the IUI had worked the baby would have been born in May. Which isn't bad but I would rather have a proper summer baby, you know born June/ July / August*. So its lucky really ...

Did you hear that? I think it was the sound of the bottom of the barrel being well and truly scraped.

*Ok, at one time I cared enough to want a summer baby, now I really couldn't give a toss when it arrives (though sooner rather than later please).

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Finding Out

Did I tell you I found out I wasn't pregnant at three in the morning?

I was being somewhat disingenuous with you the other day, when I said I wouldn't test early.

The fact was, I always knew that I would test on Sunday morning, just a day early. I wanted to test so that I had a day to acclimatise myself to the result. I knew, whatever the outcome, that last thing that I would want is to go directly into the back-to-back meetings I had scheduled for Monday morning having just found out.

On Sunday morning (just) I awoke with a screaming bladder at 2.57am. Now, here was a dilemma: The test clearly stated I should use the first urination of the day to test. True, this was the first but was it too early?

I'd waited this long, surely I could wait another couple of hours.

Not a fucking chance.

My boobs were aching, I'd had curious stomach cramps earlier in the week. I was beside myself with anticipation.

I thought I'd got away with it three minutes later, as I crept silently back into bed. But the husband was immediately awake and asked what it had said.

Until that point I'd managed to hold it together, repeating the mantra in my head 'It was never going to be this easy, of course the first go wouldn't work'. But just opening my mouth to tell him it was negative unleashed those tearless sobs, the ones that are noiseless, that you always forget about if you are faking crying.

The good thing about testing at such an unnatural hour was that I managed to cry myself back to sleep.

I won't say things felt immediately brighter when I work up in the morning proper, but it had given me a bit of perspective.

In retrospect though, bit of advice, on the day you expect to find out whether fertility treatment has worked or not, don't arrange to go and see your friends and their five week old baby who shares your birthday.

I managed it, but it wasn't the easiest Sunday ever.

Monday, 24 August 2009

The Change I Need (Or, mixing my political metaphors)

For two years and eight months I lived under a regime more effective than the Chinese communists when it comes to preventing a population explosion.

During the last six months I have been tirelessly campaigning for a healthy womb lining. But I knew I had to wait for the removal of the old hormone-administration before there could be a massive swing towards pregnancy.

But I saw a change coming. A change I could believe in.

A change that had me full of hope.

The IUI promised so much.

Everyone was saying the right things.

From the ovulation test that gave me the signal to 'go' bang on schedule. The Clomid, whose hustings of my eggs bought the perfect number to the polls. The sperm that rallied round in their tens of millions to, seemingly, assure a landslide victory.

I even managed to harness the power of the internet. Through this very blog I received a massive ground swell of support from people who also were looking for a similar change.

However, like so many politicians, this IUI has promised much and delivered nothing. A test this morning confirmed yesterday's negative. I am now waiting for the sea of blood, that will join the tears and despair.

But this is merely a set back to my campaign. Despite the massive cross-Atlantic smear campaign that has targeted the National Health Service, I still trust it to deliver. I have two more attempts at IUI to come.

So yes, this time I've suffered a catastrophic beating and the optimism polls have slumped to an all time low, but I will get up and head back onto the campaign trail.

Hopefully, I won't have to wait long before I can carry a full-term.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The Early Bird

There are some pregnancy tests on the market, that claim that they can tell if you are pregnant four days before your period is due.


That means I could start testing tomorrow.

Except then you read the small print, the accuracy of the test is as follows:
53% of pregnant women who test four days before their period is due get an accurate result
74% three days before
84% two days before
87% one day before
99% on the day

Or to put it another way 46% of pregnant woman will receive a negative test if they take the test four days before they are due. Then (and note this is PREGNANT women), the percentage that will get a false negative on subsequent days will be: 26%, 16%, 13%, 1%.

I currently have a brace of those tests in my bathroom cabinet and I am not going to use them to test early.

This is why:
1) If I get a negative result I will waver between, being really upset to consoling myself that I am in that percentage of women who simply don't get a positive this early. So I would have to test again anyway

2) I have a christening to attend on Saturday. I would rather attend a child-centric event like that in blissful ignorance rather than knowing (or thinking I know), I am not pregnant.

3) Until I take that test I can believe anything. I can keep the anticipation in the same way I like to open presents, agonisingly slowly.

4) I'm scared of what the test might show.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Aye You, Aye

You may have noticed I was uncharacteristically brief in my description of the IUI.

That is because I saved the full account for Fertility Authority, pop over for a tale of candy-coloured spunk and a narrow avoidance of a phrase that could have ended my marriage.

(Although they edited my favourite line, I originally wrote: "I splashed out on digital ovulation tests, literally." But maybe that was a little too graphic.)

So that was a week ago today; I test in a week to see if it has worked.

Just one more week.

I'll tell you what, this waiting thing is child's play after the first six months of this year. I can't believe how fast it is going.

Did that sound convincing?

Thursday, 13 August 2009

The Bright Side

I’m not sure how I come across on this blog but, the thing is, I am an optimist.

You want proof? Here is proof.

Go on click over, you'll be bought right back here.


After Monday's IUI I gauged my level of optimism that this would work at about 80%. This flies dramatically in the face of any statistic I have found online, which range from a success rate of 6% to 26%.

But I have done everything I could have done to make this work.

I have been vitamin-enriched, caffine-deprived, alcoholically-abstemious and well and truly pricked, (by which I mean I had a quick acupuncture session on Tuesday for enforced-relaxation purposes, but now I mention it, I did also get a bit of the other).

My optimism is such that I have allowed myself to do things that were previously banned. Calculated the due date (3 May), worked out when I’ll have the twelve week scan and can tell the world at large (October). I've even wondered who should be the next lucky recipient of the 4 leaf clover given to me by my goddaughter (it came to the appointment with me).

Now here I am, four days into the wait and self-preservation is kicking in. My mood is plummeting faster than a suicidal sky-diver, not because I don’t think it will have worked, I still kinda think it might. But my rational side is trying to cushion the blow. My rational side is saying I have to prepare myself for a negative. My rational side is busy beating up that joyful little imp who is tap dancing in my stomach, and causing me to fantasise about names, and who is going to babysit when I go to a wedding on the 12 of June next year.

Mental note: must Google “mood swings and early pregnancy symptoms.”

Monday, 10 August 2009

Small Faces

(<--) Smiling face: The ovulation predictor stick this morning.

Miserable face: For my scan to check exactly how well the clomid had worked I had a doctor I had never seen before. She wasn't exactly a barrel of laughs. As she roughly shoved the stick up my cock-socket she said unencouraging things like, "Have you have surgery there?" and grumbled about my bladder being in the way.

Smiling face: I nearly got the giggles when the husband caught my eye, rolling his behind the grumpy Doctor's head.

Miserable face: My right ovary was hard to locate and has done nothing worth writing a blog about.

Smiling face: My left ovary has three follicles measuring 23mm, 17/18mm and 14/15mm. (They should be between 20 and 25mm and can grow by 2mm a day so the two largest ones are looking likely and the littlest, a slight possibility). So in fact, if my right ovary had risen to the clomid-challenge that would have put a halt to the whole thing, as there would have been far too high a risk of multiples.

Miserable face: Even after finding both ovaries, and measuring my uterus lining (all good,) the doctor still managed to spend another five minutes prodding my womb with her stick, (think of the google searches I'll get from that). She was particularly adept at a pincer movement, pushing my bladder from the inside with her dildo and from the outside with her hand. I got the message! Next time I will empty my bladder completely.

Smiling face: The nurse by comparison was lovely. No, not Eunice but someone else. Whilst the husband and I were a bit white-faced, pinched smiles and clammy handed from the violation I'd just suffered, she was giggling and excited. She told me I was "going to worry them" and, before I had a chance to get concerned, she explained it was because I had responded very well to the clomid and had a chance of multiples, and was that OK? I said I was a twin myself, which made her wriggle with delight. For someone who must come across couples like us every single day, she couldn't have made us feel more special or made our outcome seem any more important.

Miserable face: I screwed up. I thought as I was coming in anyway I didn't have to call the nurses to say that I got a positive ovulation test. But apparently I should have, so the husband wasn't booked in to the lab for his private viewing of the hospital's pornography.

Smiling face: They made an appointment for him at 2pm for his palm-time, and me at 3pm for the main event.

Miserable face: I then had to go to work for a few hours.

Smiling face: Whilst the quantity of his sperm has gone down slightly in number since last time (from 36 million to 30 million per millilitre – anything above 20 million is considered fine), its mobility has increased to a staggering 94%.

Miserable face: The husband is incredibly busy at work at the moment (he was quadruple booked this morning), so couldn't hang around for the IUI itself.

Smiling face: The IUI actually happened!!! (You've got to know it is good for me to allow a gratuitous three exclamation marks.)

Miserable face: I've now got two weeks to wait before I test to see if it has worked. (No, I'm not really complaining but I need to alternate back to a miserable face and at the moment I am so far from miserable it was hard to think of anything to complain about - unusual I know).

Oh, and I need your advice. Do you reckon I should go for the belts and braces approach with a spot of old fashioned bonking tomorrow night? You know, just to seal the deal.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Not That Newsworthy

There was a news story today on The Guardian website.

To save you the bother of reading it, allow me to summarise:

Women today have no idea that the older they get, the less fertile they are. So Professor Bill Ledger of Sheffield University recommends a blood test for 30 year old women to check the state of their ovaries. Yes kids, for a mere £100 ($166.82), you too can check whether your egg reserves are depleted. This fertility MOT will sort the fecund from the fucked.

They go on to say that there is such naivety about infertility that folk should be taught about it at primary and secondary school.

I hardly know where to begin with this.

For a start, and bear in mind I am no professional here (just an interested amateur), I'm guessing that the blood test won't indicate whether the individual has blocked fallopian tubes, or if her partner has a low sperm count, or indicate whether as a couple they are going to experience that most wonderful of diagnoses 'unexplained infertility'.

I'm with the experts they wheeled in: this test may well cause some woman to rest on their egg-filled laurels and assume they'll be OK when they do decide to reproduce. Unaware of the countless other issues that might prevent them from popping out progeny.

But the proposal to raise awarness of infertility at schools?! The government and media at large have long bemoaned the increase in teenage pregnancies. Do they really think this is going to help?

But the crux of the matter is the state of paranoia this is likely to cause.

Considering the medical professionals (and just about everyone we meet) tells us we should just relax and then we'll get pregnant how the hell is this going to help?

Bringing it back to me (three years over thirty) - despite my numerous tests I do not know the state of my ovarian reserves. But what I do know is that the ovulation tests on Friday, Saturday and this morning gave me the blank dismal face indicating a complete lack of activity in my ovaries. Tomorrow morning I have a scan to see exactly what is, or isn't, happening. And maybe I'll get an idea of if and when this IUI is going to happen.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

I Cracked

I have returned from my flying visit to Ireland.

It was the first time I have ever been to the Emerald Isle, which is surprising as the husband is half-Irish and spent his formative years in the country, so I have often had a small bit of Irish in me.

Landing in the home of the Blarney Stone, our disembarkation from the plane was delayed whilst each passenger had a good chat with the airline staff, as opposed to the normal, cursory “Goodbye". I came to the conclusion that County Cork is actually short for: ‘County, oh for goodness sake! Put a Cork in it.’

The journey from the airport to our destination, was hampered by the fact that Irish cartographers seem to take a liberal attitude to accuracy and don’t consider it essential to mark every road. However, the upside of the diversion was the stunning countryside that we drove through. The hype is right and, much as it pains me to admit it (considering some of my readership here) it is a stunning country. And I think I may have found my next home.

So it was just the boss and I, away for an over-night trip.

We went out in the local town last night. A town of about a thousand residents with eight pubs, which I’m told is a fairly typical ratio of pub to inhabitant. First pub: just lemonade, second: coke (a-cola), by the third my willpower disappeared. At the bosses’ entreaties I launched myself off the wagon and succumbed to having two glasses of wine.

Just two glasses. My body is still a temple, but possibly with a Bacchanalian bent.

And I know what you are thinking.

It’s a business trip, I'm being plied with booze. Could a spot of ‘How’s Your Father’ be his aim? It was never going to happen. Hopefully, my ovaries are currently going into clomid-induced overdrive so the last thing I am likely to risk is a spot of ‘How’s Your Father’ turning into a game of ‘Who’s The Daddy.’ *

Tomorrow morning I get my first crack at peeing on a stick, to see if the clomid has kicked in. Because of this, whilst it is unlikely to have started so early, I need to ensure that the husband’s sperm are an optimum age – not too old, not too young (2 to 3 days old is good). Which put me in the unusual position of having to text him last night to remind him to: “have a quick one off the wrist”.

So whilst I couldn’t resist the craic, the husband was busy cracking one off in every room in the flat.

*Just in case that caused eyebrows to rise I want to assure you that I only put that paragraph in because a) I wanted to subtly remind you that my ovaries should be gearing up for ovulation, b) I wanted to use the phrases ‘How’s your father’ and ‘Who’s the daddy’ and, c) I’m really not his type, on account of having my (albeit defective) reproductive organs inside my body rather than dangling between my legs.**

** Note the use of the Oxford comma in that last sentence!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

I asked for it

So I got my review from Ask And Ye Shall Receive, and it was good and bad.

On the whole, considering they promise they "will fucking tear you apart" (see the URL), I think I got off lightly.

The main criticism was my slap-dash punctuation and editing. Which is a fair point, and one that has been made many, many times. What can I say? It's a blind spot - I have read Eat, Shoots and Leaves and I understood it perfectly. But as soon as it comes down to my own writing I am unable to proof it. I read what I wanted to write, not what is on the page.

A specific complaint was my inability to use commas. Particularly galling, as this is something that the husband is always criticising me for (not for me the normal wifely complaints about burnt dinners and scum marks round the bath). You have no idea how smug he was that the review i) vindicated him, ii) praised him for his own grammar, and iii) suggested that I should have sex with him before publishing each post.

She also hated my hand-drawn header. Admittedly the colour is a little garish, so when I next get on a computer with Photoshop I'll have a play with it. But the hand-drawn? I'm surfing the crest of a trend.

She said of my About Me page that: " the level of boring oozing off of it that your average visitor will be affected by narcoleptically is more toxic than the unmanaged asbestos in the school cafeteria ", and it won't be of interest "unless there is some off-chance that the visitor is also desperately TTC". Which most of my visitors are. But yeah I can see that, I'll separate out the Time-Line and rewrite About Me.

But on the whole the actual comments about the writing were pretty complimentary, and a few of her choice phrases had me beaming. And yes she chastised me for some of the duller posts, and I know that sometimes I post for the sake of it rather than because I have anything to say so I will have to address that - but hopefully I'll have a bit more to write about in the next few months than the last six.

Judging from the links she chose to illustrate her points with she must have read pretty much all of my 175 posts, so a massive credit for dedication to her review. (I think I took her reviewing cherry so she is still keen.) Although I can't believe she didn't link to what I consider my crowning glory posts. (Yeah, I'm so linking for any strays who stumble back this way from AAYSR)

The one things that totally threw me was her description of my humour as "subtle". I presume Subtle is a brick manufacturer in the States.

Now I'm a bit scared as she said she'd keep reading, so I have got to start pulling my socks up. The head mistress' red pen is hovering.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Nothing ...

I had it all planned.

This post was going to be a hilarious catalogue of my clomid-induced symptoms. I was going to make you laugh, cry and maybe do an involuntary splurt.

But it is not to be.

I mean, it isn't that I'm not sensitive to the odd orally-administered hormone-heavy drug. I wasn't a fan of Provera but I suppose it did take me a few weeks for me to react. Maybe as I am only on day three out of five I haven't had enough time to process the drugs. But regardless I feel pretty good, or pretty normal anyway.

I must confess I'm a little disappointed.

Side-effects from the provera and coil were worrying as I was on them for so long and feared I would have to put up with the nausea for months on end. But I was rather looking forward to a few outward manifestations of my clomid consumption, because that would have proved that it was doing something. Proof that my ovaries were gearing up for a bumper harvest.

But nothing. I'm no more sleepy, grumpy, dopey, sicky, fighty or weepy than usual. In fact none of the seven dwarves have taken up residence under my skin.

Still two more days to go.