Saturday, 28 February 2009

Are you squemish?

I came across this site the other day and it is in turn fascinating and maybe a little too graphic for the faint of heart.

My Beautiful Cervix

It is a project done by a trainee midwife who has taken a photo of her cervix on a daily basis through a whole cycle. Yup, check out day 19 if you've heard tell of egg white mucus as a sign of ovulation but wonder exactly what it looks like.

It illustrates really well the stages we all know about in our cycle but can't necessarily visualise - well now you can.

Warning! Don't check this out whilst you are eating.


Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Respeck ma authority! (uh-thawr-i-tayh)

Right now in Nu Yoik, Nu Yoik (so good they named it twice) there is a bunch of people sipping Bellinis and nibbling breakfast to celebrate the launch of a new website.

It's like the dot com boom all over again.

This website is designed for us. For people who, having decided to get pregnant, are realising that it is far harder than their biology teacher would have them believe. It is not a general site full of baby tickers and trauma's about what colour to paint the nursery with a little sideline for the outcast barren sisters. It is dedicated to people who are not getting pregnant the first, second, third, fourth ... (you get the idea) cycle.

It's called Fertility Authority (when you click through, if you are in a public place might be worth turning the sound down - there a video shouting about how hard it is to get pregnant).

OK, OK, I'll 'fess up. I'm not completely unbiased.

They have exceptional taste.

They asked me to guest blog. Along with Murgdan (of Conceive This! fame, who I know an awful lot of you read), and Brenda from No Regrets, as well as Marie Lee (Green Fertility - have a baby AND save the planet), the Barren, Not Beaten Pamela and for all those who need a little financial assistance, the savvy consumer Angie.

So anyway, if you have a few minutes pop over, have a look at my page, let me know what you think. (oh and if you could leave a comment and make me look popular that'd be brilliant).

So now you know why I wrote the other day that I might not just be blogging about infertility here, 'cause there is only so much I can write about not being pregnant - especially whilst I am on an enforced 6 month break - and I'm sort of obliged to stick to that topic over there. Here things might change a bit but this remains my home - I'm just lodging over there for a little while.

Oh, and by the way, my name is Liz.


Sunday, 22 February 2009

Project Procreate

I have, at last, finished my course work for this bloody management course. Which has consisted of a large number of hours sitting in front of a computer ostensibly writing my essays but in reality spending my time considering how to push the box and think outside the envelope.

So what have I learnt?

Apparently nothing is impossible - in fact even the word should really be read I'm possible - do you see what they did there? Sigh.

I have decided, therefore, to apply the tools and techniques of management to Project Procreate.

An old favourite is SMART. Before starting a project you must ensure that your plan is: Specific, Measurable, Appropriate, Realistic, Time-bound.

Specific - This bit is easy, specifically I am looking for a child out of this project. I could go two, but one will do just now.

Measurable - this one isn't a problem either. He/ she/ they can be measured not only by their presence in the cot but also weight, height, number of digits, I might even start to understand this whole percentile thing.

Appropriate - but of course, it is quite appropriate. We even waited until after we go married before we started trying (for no moral reasons, just happenstance).

Realistic - Ahh, this is where it starts to get sticky. Well, it isn't unrealistic, looking increasingly unlikely but I'm not a man, or a post-menopausal woman... wait a moment even that doesn't stop some people (exhibit a and b).

Time-bound - what the fuck? Every time I try to put a deadline on this or think this time next year I will definitely be either a mother or pregnant I fail. Ok, Ok this isn't working for me.

NEXT

If a task is proving difficult to schedule a helpful technique is to draw a Gantt Chart. This will enable one to see at a glance the key stages of delivery and enable one to ascertain in which order activities should be undertaken in order to reach the deadline.

Uh-hu, sounds good here you are:

It's is a bit difficult to read, and I haven't figured tables in blogspot, but the different elements are, from the top:


Coil (clear womb)
Get pregnant
Pregnancy
Scans
Decorate nursery
Give birth
My birthday


You know when I see it laid out like that it is so simple. A mere fifteen months and I could squeeze one out before my thirty fourth birthday (just).

I don't know what I've been worrying about.

And finally - in true management cliched style - I've made up a wee motivational mantra for you. When infertility is straining your relationship and causing you to hurt one another remember:

There is no 'i' in fetus - but there is an 'us'.

No, no, you don't have to thank me.


Saturday, 21 February 2009

Lest we forget

The part of of London that I live in is a place whose history is evidenced by the white slabs of smart Georgian houses punctuated by brown, squat, 1960's edifices plugging the gaps left by the blitz.

There is a memorial, just a few minutes walk from my flat, remembering the 15 of October 1940 when 109 people were killed in a bomb blast.

It seems so remote, irrelevant, another world. Unthinkable that once the streets of London witnessed the terror, devastation, loss of life that we associate with distant sand-blasted countries and conflicts.

Yesterday underground pipe work was being done in our council estate. They found an unexploded second world war bomb. Residents were evacuated and bomb disposal workers brought in.

69 years on and suddenly it doesn't seem so distant anymore.



Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Another year

17 years.

Over half my life.

I've been without you longer than I knew you.

But you are still there. I still have dreams when you are alive and it is like you have never been away. I wake up and try to get back to sleep, pick up where I left off. But you've gone again.

I don't cry as often as I use to. But I still remember. I still get in touch with my sisters without fail every 18 of Feb. I don't say why, I don't need to say why. We tell each other we love each other and we carry on.

Carrying on is what we have always done. Like going back to school and some semblance of normality just days after you died.

I felt guilty about that, but didn't know what else to do.

I wish you were here. That I could talk to you about what is going on. Us, your three daughters, conceived relatively shortly after your marriage are a pretty strong indication that you didn't struggle with infertility.

But that is one of the things about infertility, it is isn't hereditary. Obviously.

And just because you didn't have this particular problem doesn't mean you couldn't help. I would love to sit with you, a cup of tea and a Kit-Kat and just talk. And you of all people, a teetotal, fit, non-smoking mother of three teenage girls, you who died of cancer in your early forties, you would understand how unfair life can be.

But as you told me on numerous occasions, "Life isn't fair."

That and "Put your brain in gear before engaging you mouth." Not that I ever listened to that.


Tuesday, 17 February 2009

A change can do you good

I have no loyalty when it comes to suppliers of services. My decision to go to an establishment - whether for a haircut, acupuncture or optician, are based on three things: price, proximity and 'pointments (OK, so I'm trying to make some kind of alliteration from availability of appointments.)

When I discovered that there was an acupuncturist not 20 minutes walk from my gaff but a mere five minutes away, and the price was the same. Well, I'm not ashamed to say I kicked my authentic Chinese needeler to the curb and booked in with the new fellow.

Also, it did feel like the right time to change. The lack of post-provera period (loving the 'p's tonight) was pretty powerful proof that the last puncturer wasn't working for me.

And who should my new practitioner be? Only the young lad, turned man, who initiated me into acupuncture the first time I gave it a go 5 years ago. Yes, the one I say here lacked the air of authority that a traditional Chinese practitioner had.

But I did mention his practice was closer to my house, didn't I?

I told him he'd given me acupuncture a few years ago (to help me get over a particularly stubborn cold). And, bless him, he pretended to recognised me: "Ahh yes, I thought your name sounded familiar when you booked".

No he didn't.

Last time I came to him was before I got hitched I had a different surname and my firstname is hardly unusual. And even looks wise the dramatic hair colour change has rendered me fairly unrecognisiable. He didn't have a clue who I was. Still, bonus points for trying, and I'm not going to antagonise someone who is about to fill me full of needles by calling him a liar.

So it was nice to see an old friend. An old friend who has completed his training and is now charging three times the amount.




The actual pins and needles bit was pretty similar to previously. So I won't go over it again. But for those of you considering a bit of prick-tease action, here are my top tips. Things you should know before your first appointment:
  • Shave your legs (You'd be surprised where those little needles end up and it is embarassing when you are lying there trousers rolled up to your mid-thigh wishing you'd spent that extra five minutes with a razor in the shower)
  • Don't wear a dress, if you are going for infertility treatment chances are they'll want to shove some pins in your abdomen, a dress makes that awkward
  • Be prepared to hang around, it takes soooo long, there are a few different schools of acupuncturist but the type I have they put the needles in and just leave you for 30 / 40 minutes
  • Don't look at the needles, it looks way worse than it feels
The first time you go chances are there will be a few questions about your medical history, many of which will be similar to the kind of thing your Doctor will ask but also be think about the answers to a few left-field questions:
  • Can I see your tongue?
  • What are your energy levels like?
  • And in the morning compared to mid-day?
  • What colour is your menstural blood?
  • Does it have clots - what sort of size?
  • Do you have any food cravings?
But most of all, even if you are the sort of person who is scared by needles, don't worry it really doesn't hurt


that much.


Monday, 9 February 2009

And breathe ...

Ever wondered why, whenever we dare the share the shameful secret of our infertility, we are told to 'just relax'?

Its it things like this, that's why.


*** Update *** I posted this in a fit of "Oh for fuck's sake". But, on second thoughts I'm back to try and explain why I think the whole relax thing gets to me so much?

Because part of me feels guilty. Part of me wonders whether it really is my fault.

Maybe because I knew I have irregular periods I was already half-convinced that I wouldn't be able to conceive.

Maybe I could be pregnant by now if I hadn't thought about it and just got on with it.

In a way discovering the endometrial hyperplasia gives me a way out. Look, here is the diagonsis, I have a 'proper medical reason' for not having got pregnant. It is science. Relaxing really wouldn't have helped.

Fact.

Or is it?

Could my thick womb lining be the result of a tense womb?

Have my negative thoughts manifested themselves in unshiftable womb-gunk?

Does anyone else ever wonder if it is really all their fault?

(Which then, of course, cycles back into a whole other beating ourselves up and not relaxing vicious circle).


Saturday, 7 February 2009

Some Home Truths

Sometimes I lie.


Not very often. Never fear, I am not really a nubile pre-teen pretending to be a 32 year old infertile.

But sometimes it is easier.

Like, take escalators. I can't stand (no pun intended) just waiting in line like a zombie whilst the stairs churn you up and out the top. They are already helping you out anyway so why not walk up? I can't think of a single escalator in Edinburgh in the early nineties, as a consequence it was only when the husband moved down to London that he had to suffer my insistence that we sprint up every escalator. Eventually he tried to put his foot down, until I sorta, kinda, well, said that I was scared of escalators. It just slipped out.

It. Just. Slipped. Out.

Fast forward a couple of years. (Yes, years). I'm tired, my feet hurt, I can't be arsed walking up the stairs. I 'fess up. The look of betrayal he gave me still haunts my dreams.

Then there was the time I told him I was five hundredth in line to the throne. Of course it was a fucking joke! I mean what kind of idiot would take that seriously? Yes, I have a posh accent, but blame my school. And sure my Mum's maiden name is kinda regal sounding, but no one is going to believe that right? I mean, virtually everyone is in Debretts nowadays. Again, it was only a few years later when a mutual friend introduced me to someone at a party and told them I was in line to the throne that I realised he'd not only believed me but told other people.

Please note, he discovered the truth before we got married. I wasn't part of a meglomanic plan to take control of the country - "Only 500 'accidental deaths' and the crown jewels are mine, all mine." (His own crown jewels are quite good enough thank you very much).

Today, I was exposed as a filthy, lying bi-atch once more. I bought a whole heap of Christmas presents for various cousins and kids online, all from the same site. The order screwed up and was delayed so the gifts didn't get here until after the little baby Jesus' birthday. Amongst those purchased I bought one on my sister's behalf for her Goddaughter. I told her I'd send it on. And I meant to. Really. I wasn't lying when I said that I would. Just didn't exactly tell her that I hadn't got round to it.

Today we went to lunch with parents of the aforementioned god child and my sister. I shamefaced had to present the very belated gift then and there. So sorry Frog, it was my fault, don't blame the wombmate.

Oh and Wig, I've still got my Goddaughter's present (and your birthday card) here. But it is the thought that counts right?



Thursday, 5 February 2009

Just say No

Well, after the last post saying I was going to write about things other than being broken womb-wise, I'm ... er ... going to just going to quickly tell you about this phone conversation I've just had:

Me: Hello! How are you ... shit! I've just remembered you texted to see if we could come over for the weekend. Sorry, I'm rubbish at replying to texts
Her: Oh don't worry. Actually I had a bit of an ulterior motive for inviting you round that weekend.
Me: Yeah, go on.
Her: Well, remember [my husband]'s best mate left his wife and ended up seeing that girl from work who I can't stand.
Me: Uh-huh
Her: She's only gone and got herself knocked up, an 'accident' apparently. My arse, I knew she'd properly get her claws into him.
Me: Ahh.
Her: But because she is clearly going to be hanging around I feel like I need to start accepting her a bit more. So I've invited them over. And because you are so nice and diplomatic and get on with everyone I thought if you guys came over too it might help diffuse the situation.
Me: Rrrright ... weeelllll ... um
Her: Is it the dog?
Me: No, no, the dog's fine. Its just, well, we've been trying to get pregnant since we got married. And at the moment are on a bit of an enforced break. And to be honest I don't think I could really cope with hanging out with someone who has got knocked up really quickly just like that.
Her: Oh god, oh I'm sorry! Forget it. Don't worry. Its fine. I figure you guys were probably trying. But I'm sure it will be fine. Do you remember that couple you met at our barbeque in the summer? Well, they were trying for ages, IVF and everything, then when they gave up and stopped they got pregnant naturally ...

***

But I do feel quite pleased with myself for actually coming clean and saying no, I can't do this right now.


Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Pushing the boat out

After spending over two years navigating through the murky, choppy waters of infertility the sea has now become like a milk pond with no sights or sounds or anything of note. It is likely to remain so for the next six months. There are a few predictable dots on the horizon, Easter marking a year since I last knowingly ovulated, my one year 'blogoversary', my thirty third birthday (which tips me over the edge from early to mid-thirties - fuck), a doctor's appointment. Other than these however, the next six months are looking totally uneventful on the whole procreation front (that is what being on birth control means, I guess).

I'm not saying the next six months will all be plain sailing, I'm sure I am going to have to batten down the hatches and weather some more storms, and I'll probably find myself in the doldrums a fair few more times before I reach the mother country.

However, I don't want to spend six months repeating 'on birth control, not pregnant, 107 days to go ..' and neither do I want to stop writing. So I think that I might steer off course a little, try a different tack. Cast my net a little wider than infertility stories and write about ... gasp ... other stuff. My little foray into the almost unchartered territory of not banging on about not being able to have a baby the other day wasn't met with howls of 'Walk the plank', which I take as a positive sign.

You never know if I delve down deep enough and sail a bit closer to the wind I might uncover a few pearls nestling amongst molluscs of information.

So will you come along for the ride, or leave me high and dry?

Did anyone else hear Stephen Fry's programme about nautical metaphors the other day? Just sprang to mind for some reason...


Monday, 2 February 2009

Q & A

Like the BBC my blog's mission statement is:


Except I replace 'programmes and services' with 'posts'.

And 'enrich' with 'steal a few minutes, that they can never get back, of'.

And 'educate' with 'witter on about things that I have but a passing knowledge of but sometimes go so far as to check with Wikipedia or Doctor Google'.

This post belongs in the 'inform' category. (By which I mean the sharing of information, not that I am going to capture all your personal data and tell your bosses if I find you accessing this site during working hours).

Last week, during my various appointments, I had a lot of questions regarding their diagnosis and treatment plan. In the hope that some of you may have stumbled across this blog whilst trying to find out a bit more about endometrial hyperplasia with atypia (and judging by the stats some clearly have) here is what I discovered:

Q: Why am I having a coil?
A: The progesterone coil (Mirena) is a more direct way of releasing provera into the womb. This thins the womb lining.

Q: As the Provera didn't work what are the chances of this doing fuck all as well?
A: There is a chance it won't work but as it is so localised it is more likely to help than the Provera which isn't as targeted.

Q: Will I have check ups during the six months to ensure it is doing what it should do, rather than having to wait half a year only to discover it hasn't worked.
A: No, but unlike the provera, the womb lining should start to shed whilst the coil is in so I should get a bleed pretty soon, certainly before the six months are up.

Q: What are the likely side effects of the progesterone coil?
A: Because it is more localised than the provera I am less likely to feel the nausea but (in the doctors words) I am 'will probably feel a bit grumpy, like PMT throughout the treatment'. (The husband did a little silent groan at this news, six months of PMT: wow).

Q: Are there any alternatives?
A: Not at this stage. If I didn't have treatment I have a 30% chance of developing cancer within 5 years, assuming the treatment works I have a less than 0.5% chance.

Q: Is there a way of removing the womb lining manually?
A: This is a DD & C or to use the more graphic old-fashioned term a 'scrape'. But this wouldn't address the underlying problem.

Q: Is this endometrium the reason that I couldn't get pregnant before?
A: Possibly, it may have stopped any fertilised eggs implanting, but this is coupled with (and likely to be related to) the fact that I have polycystic ovaries so rarely ovulate anyway.

Q: Is the diseased womb lining likely to grow back?
A: It is likely, so I will be given priority treatment as soon as the coil is out to get Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) before it has a chance.

Q: When will my IUI start?
A: I have an appointment scheduled for the 16 of June to book in the IUI and ensure we are ready to 'hit the ground running' as soon as the coil is whipped out.

Q: When is the coil coming out?
A: 27 of July. Appointment booked for 9.00am.

Q: Anything else I should be aware of whilst taking the coil?
A: I might start to bleed almost immediately, and there is a chance that I will continue to do so for the WHOLE of the six months, this is nothing to worry about and I can carry on as normal, use tampons, have sex without any additional contraception etc. (The husband wasn't to sure about the compatibility of copious, continuous bleeding and copulation).

Q: How are you? (That wasn't a question I posed to my Doctors, nor one that they thought to ask me, instead it is a question that I am asking to myself on your behalf - whether you want to know or not).
A: Well thank you very much for asking. Today is bloody brilliant because it has snowed in the UK and, as we are unable to cope with any weather condition above or beyond a light drizzle, I was sent home at lunch time. This rocks. I would normally be out frolicking in the white stuff and making snowmen except I have an essay to for a course I'm taking along side my job, so naturally I am blogging. Hey! It involves sitting at the computer so that is practically like work, right?

In addition, I have a period. Woot! The gunk is coming out thick and fast, yes, take a moment to really picture that charming image. Of course it means that I have pretty constant cramping but I can deal with that knowing what I am expelling. So all good.