Monday, 30 November 2009

Advantageous

Across the world today there are children who have gleefully peeled back the first door to their advent calendar to reveal a chocolaty treat (or a picture of a holly leaf, if it was the grandparents that bought their advent calendar).

The countdown has begun, and Christmas is on its way.

My countdown is somewhat shorter but nevertheless, for me, it is just as exciting. The appointment made, the date is set. But on my chosen day it won't be what is stuffed in my stocking that'll interest me.

Instead on the 8th of December I'll be checking the contents of my bladder to see if I have been visited by the ovulation fairy. And hopefully then, or a day or two later, I'll get my third (and final?) chance at IUI.

In terms of a Happy Christmas, this year it really could go either way.

***
But I am determined to get into the Christmassy mood so you may have noticed my header has changed a bit. This year my header is going to be an online advent calendar. Each day (regardless of whether I have blogged that day or not) at approx 8am GMT my header will change building up to Christmas day.

And there will be a prize for anyone who can email after Christmas with a complete list of the daily changes (dunno what yet depends on how many responses I get). And I'll do a recap on day 5 for people who stumble upon this a bit late.



Saturday, 28 November 2009

Books I Would Like to See

The Joy Of Scheduled Sex, by Drew Peacock

What To Expect From Your HSG, by Doctor Phil McCavity

Rate Your Fertility Clinic, by Marcus Outovten

Getting The Fertility Treatment You Want, by Doctor Ivan I. Deer

Pregnancy Before The Menopause, by Justin Thyme

Maintaining Your Sanity Throughout Infertility, by Arthur Mynde

Adopting From Abroad, By Helen Back

When Will I Get Pregnant? By Wendy Thymis-Wright

How to Increase Your Sperm Count, by Eugene "Czar" Tootyte

****

I know these are piss poor and I almost wasn't going to post them.

But last night I was reading them out to the husband to get his opinion, (mainly head in hands groaning, wondering what he married). By the time I got to the last one, which was originally Eugene R. Tootite, I couldn't even choke out the words I was laughing too much (through shame). For five minutes I was convulsed by the giggles.

So I challenge you, read them aloud to your loved one and see if you can get to the end.

Who said infertility couldn't be fun?



Thursday, 26 November 2009

Limbo

There is waiting and there is limbo.

Waiting is the two weeks between when you ovulate and when your period is due. Regardless of how inevitable the outcome, you hope. Even if you didn't have sex on the right day, part of you wonders if a stray sperm from a previous encounter is snoozing in the comfy environs of your uterus, and might awake and find its way into your egg's heart. Even if you are seized with an unshakable certainty that ovulation was nothing more than a waste of a rapidly depleting egg store, by the end of the two week wait you cannot help but wonder and dream.

Limbo happens in the days after the two week wait. The days after your first negative test, when you are suffering from PMT exacerbated by another failure. It is when your back aches, your hips creak, and you are nipping to the loo every five minutes just to check your pants don’t resemble the shower of the Bates Motel.

But your period steadfastly refuses to arrive.

Actually limbo maybe isn't the best word as it will alway conjure up images of scantily-clad women bending over backwards to achieve a physical impossibility. That is a more accurate description of what was happening a few weeks ago.

This morning, at 17 days past ovulation with no bloody period, I tested again.

I conned myself that I was only doing it because time and experience show that is the quickest way to bring on a period. But between peeing on the stick and reading the result I found myself composing a blog post. The post would emphasise how, out of all my cycles since the coil was removed, I knew this one was a write off. I would berate myself for testing two days early on Saturday and allowing myself a night on booze, it would express disbelief at the test result which would show ... and then I checked.

Of course it was negative.

But true to form less than three hours later my period finally decided to show up.

So it is back on the clomid, and an IUI appointment scheduled for the eighth of December.

Out of limbo and into purgatory?



Monday, 23 November 2009

Wine not Whine

I treated myself to a pregnancy test this weekend. Naturally it was negative, which gave me license to go out on Saturday night and plunge myself into a vat of red wine whilst gorging on soft cheese and pâté.

My drinking buddies were girls (women?) I'd shared a flat with whilst at University. In some flagrant mockery of the oft quoted 'one in six couples suffer from infertility' statistic all three of us are currently battling various advanced stages of childlessness. I'm starting to wonder exactly what it was we were smoking during that time - could it have been 17-ethinylestradiol (EE2)* rather than the normal student narcotic.

Remarkably though we managed to avoid the subject almost completely until, that is, someone asked what we wanted for Christmas. I said, "Well I think we all know what we want for Christmas," a deathly hush fell over the table for a moment, then we all started giggling at the futility of our situations.

But I press on and, in the hope of a very Happy Christmas, await the go ahead in a couple of weeks for my next (and as far as the NHS funding goes, final) IUI.

And don't do what everyone else seems to do and ask me what will happen after the IUI on the assumption that it'll fail. You'll have to wait until January for that nugget of information (or maybe not).

* Which I am sure you all know is the active ingredient in the oral contraceptive pill, and obviously I was aware of that without having to google it, obviously.



Wednesday, 18 November 2009

A New Cure For Infertility?

"One for a pound or three for two"

The market stall holder clocked my sister and I looking, trying to work out what the hell he was selling.

"Toothbrush holders, in the shape of cuddly toys, come on love, one for a pound three for two. Aren't your kids worth a pound?"

"I don't have any kids."

"Leave us your address and I'll come round later and sort that out."

Gosh, I wonder what infertility cure he had in mind.

I didn't bother to tell him the husband and I had been trying that method relentlessly for the last three years.

Neither did I give him my address.



Saturday, 14 November 2009

Double Standards?

I have a rather blasé approach to sperm donation. Why shouldn't our virile men crack one off in order to enable less fortunate folk conceive? And sure, pay them for it. Afterall they are probably skint college students who don't know where their next pint is coming from.

Egg donation though. Completely different story. I start thinking about it and I find myself in a moral quagmire.

I think it is because sperm is almost infinite, out it comes and by the next day the pot has been topped up. Eggs, however, are far more finite. You get what you are born with and, with each passing month, they start to disappear (in fact the lions share disappear whilst still in the womb).

My latest post on Fertility Authority discusses egg donation, read here.

I don't have an answer. And I'm not really sure where the post goes but (as the comments on the last post show - thanks for that I was expecting a far more negative response), you're a thoughtful bunch and I'd be interested to hear your take.

By the way, I know the opening sound like something that I have exaggerated for effect but I promise, it was totally unexpected and word for word what happened.



Wednesday, 11 November 2009

An Exit Strategy

Yesterday marked three years of wedded bliss. Also, not entirely co-incidentally, it heralded three years of failing to get pregnant. (Little tip to anyone who found this site through googling "Special things to do on your wedding day," don't decide to lose the birth control on the same day you lose your maiden name - it slightly taints the whole anniversary celebration thing).

Anyway, three years in and we've made a pact. We give it two more years bringing the total to five and call it a day.

No.

No, not our marriage. That whole trying for a baby thing.

That might sound a bit drastic, but hear me out.

One of the problems with trying to get pregnant without a specific 'problem' is that other than actually getting pregnant or hitting the menopause there is no moment when you can categorically, absolutely, unequivocally say the trying is over and move on.

For some people maybe this is a good thing, there is always hope. For me it isn't.

I keenly remember hearing a radio interview with a woman who used the phrase "I wasted my thirties trying to have a baby." This has haunted me. I don't want to live like that. I am in my prime. Other than the lack of child my life is pretty much text-book perfect. I should enjoy it.

Early next year we are likely to run out of NHS options. So we'll have just shy of two years to throw money, time and energy at the problems.

We'll do everything we can to have a baby.

But if nothing happens, after two years we stop. We'll move on (probably literally - somewhere where we don't have to worry about schools or being responsible grown-ups).

I know I'll only be thirty five and "lots of people have kids in their forties", but, if I haven't managed to get pregnant by then we can assume that age isn't the problem.

And yes, lots of people try far longer than five years and go on to conceive. I know, I know. But I also need to know that this isn't going to blight my life from now to menopause. I need to know there is a time when I can be me and not wee on sticks every morning, not count days between period and ovulation, ovulation and period, not obsess.

Obviously this comes with numerous caveats - not least it is a woman's prerogative to change her mind.

For some people the thought might seem depressing but to be honest it feels like a relief.

I hope I don't need it, but having an end in sight puts me, not my hormones, back in control.



Monday, 9 November 2009

Negative Pregnancy Test

After first establishing I wasn't pregnant, I discovered that I had ovulated.

The pregnancy test wasn't pre-planned (or conducted with any latent hope), rather in my somnambulant state this morning, as I wrestled with a new pack of ovulation tests, I failed to notice "Free Inside Early Results Home Use Pregnancy Test" emblazoned on the packet. I had a one in six chance of grabbing the pregnancy test, and sure enough that was the one I wee-d on.

But once I'd got the right test and squeezed out enough to wet its whistle, ovulation was confirmed.

Which is a relief.

I was starting to think I was heading for another 93 day cycle. In fact I put my money where my pessimism is yesterday when buying my monthly batch of pre-conception vitamins. The three for the price of two offer was too good a money saving opportunity to pass up. It was only after purchasing them that I realised I was effectively admitting that I would be using these, rather than the 'early pregnancy pills' for at least three months. So there is your top-tip – spend twenty quid on vitamins for before you conceive and maybe it’ll push your body into ovulatory action, (I hardly dare to hope my body would go as far as making the remaining two and a half packs redundant come my period due date).

On Saturday, rather than going to the Fertility Fete, I tried a bit of aversion therapy: baby sitting my three and one year old nephews. Unfortunately they decided to behave perfectly. Even the stench of a full sweetcorn-encrusted nappy did little to put me off. And the sight of the husband playing footy in the garden with the older boy was text-book adorable. (Although I will need to explain to the husband that there is no pride to be had in being able to tackle the ball off a three year old, and occasionally he should let the shorter legged one have the ball).

I also had the great pleasure to have a hot chocolate with Nuts in May who is neither Nuts nor, as it happens, a May. (Next time May I won't make you get up so early, sorry about that!).

Right, dunno what I'm doing here on the 'puter, I best go and introduce my eggs to some sperm. Let's hope they get on this time.



Saturday, 7 November 2009

I Tempted Fate

"In fact the last four months have seen me ovulate on time and to order ... If all goes according to plan I should ovulate in the next day or so."

Even as I was writing those words for the last post I knew I was tempting fate. Challenging my recalcitrant ovaries to defy me, and sure enough ovulation does not appear to be forthcoming.

I've long come to the conclusion that sex for procreation is an urban myth spread by horny young men when trying to shag as many nubile wanna-be-mothers as possible. So I am impatient to ovulate, less because of the progeny possibilities, but more so I can start to plan.

Once I know when I've ovulated I can work out: when my next periods is due, when I can start the clomid, when I'll have to slip out of work for pre-IUI scans, when my December IUI is due to take place, when I can test to see if it works, whether I'll know if Christmas boozing is out for the right reasons or just-in-case, when I would have my 12 week scan, when I can announce my pregnancy to the world at large, when I'll give birth, when I'll celebrate Junior's 21st birthday ...

I had an acupuncture appointment yesterday and discussed the uncooperative nature of my ovaries.  My acupuncturist decided the time for little pricks was over, he bought out the big guns.

Four pins stuck in my stomach just over my uterus isn't enough, it seems.  He hooked them up to some battery operated system (like clipping mini-car battery cables onto the pins). Then he gave me the dial, "You should start to feel a little electric current between 2 and 4." 

At four there was a distinct fluttering.  He made me increase the current until it felt like a deeper pressure in my uterus. Then he left me to it for twenty minutes, telling me to keep turning up the dial as I got use to the sensation.

I'd like to tell you I cranked that baby up to 11 but I was petrified of feeling any pain so only got as high as a sedate 6. Whether it'll jump start my ovaries in the manner of Frankenstein's monster remains to be seen ...

Still, its nice to try something new for a change.



Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Tantalising

There is a Greek myth about a dude called Tantalus. I say dude, he was actually a pretty nasty bloke. In order to prove that he could pull one over on the immortals, he killed and cooked his own son, Peplops, and fed him to the Gods to see if they'd notice they were eating a human. For Peplops the story has a happy ending; the Gods realised what had happened after a mere nibble of his shoulder, and he was revived and given and ivory replacement.

Tantalus, deservedly, wasn't so lucky.

He ended up in the underworld and was cursed with an unquenchable thirst and stomach-cramping hunger. His personalised version of hell was to be surrounded by fruit trees dripping with ripe juicy fruit just a fraction out of reach, and water lapping round his ankles. Whenever he stretched out to grab a peach a breeze tugged the fruit a little further away. When he bent to cup water in his hands to drink, it would instantly recede leaving him dry.

Much as I am sure you enjoyed that little lesson, I'm sure you are wondering what it has to do with me.

Pregnancy to me is like Tantalus' fruit. It is so near I can almost taste it (if that isn't too grim a metaphor). There is no reason why I shouldn't be pregnant. In fact the last four months have seen me ovulate on time and to order. This is the first time this has happened since I started trying to conceive and makes me hopeful that the mirena coil might have whipped my hormones into shape during its six month tour of duty.

The feedback I've had during my IUI's about how I have responded to clomid has been fantastic, as has the husband's sperm analysis. No one has said anything to make me believe that a pregnancy is out of reach.

But every time I try and grasp it it floats away.

I yearn for a child in the same way Tantalus yearned for food and water. We are both in our personal hell.

The difference is, as far as I can tell, I haven't done anything wrong.

I feel like my ovaries are tantalising me.

If all goes according to plan I should ovulate in the next day or so, and then I'll be ripe for the plucking (and for any rhyming slang you care to insert at this juncture). I hope the fruits of our labour will be a fruitful labour.



Sunday, 1 November 2009

Some People Shouldn't Be Allowed Kids


I bought a pillowcase today.

The plastic wrapper carried a health and safety announcement:

WARNING: To avoid danger of suffocation keep this bag away from babies and children.

Stating the obvious, but fair enough, it makes sense. We get the message.

But, it then goes on to say:

Do not use in cribs, beds, carriages or
playpens. This bag is not a toy.

I think there should be some kinds of exam whereby prospective parents are given a plastic bag, and a multiple choice question about where the bag should be used. Anyone who ticks: cribs, beds, carriages or playpens should be automatically banned from breeding.

That's fairer than the current system of chance, innit?

***

And on a completely unrelated note, have any of you even noticed my header? That was a good 20 minutes work that was. I have now removed the header as it was seasonal, but here it is in all its glory: