Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Womb For Improvement and the Mystery of the Missing Period

"This is very curious" thought Liz as, for the third morning in a row, she realised that her period had still not started.

That morning was a Saturday, and she was due to take the train out of town to visit her old folks in the countryside. She had really hoped that she would have started her period by then. "I say!" she exclaimed to her husband, "I don't suppose I could be pregnant could I?"

Her husband, who had seen this carry on before, shrugged unhelpfully and suggested she took a pregnancy test.

"Jolly good idea!" said Liz, as though this was a novel idea (when in actual fact that was exactly what she planned to do any way).

The mystery had started months earlier when she had discovered that following the removal of the coil, her periods had started up again and been more regular than they had been for the whole of her adult life.

This had lulled Liz in a false sense of security, believing that her period would continue to arrive on, or around, the appointed day. She was so complacent nowadays that this month, for the first in many, she hadn't even bothered to check to see when she had ovulated. Besides, she had managed to convince herself, I'll be having IVF next month so it doesn't really matter when I ovulate now, I'm clearly not going to get pregnant by myself.

But now she was flumoxed.

All the clues pointed towards an imminent period; she had frightful stomach cramps, sore breasts and was feeling incredibly lethargic. "Here it comes," she thought grimly.

But the pregnancy test did nothing to resolve the situation, giving no indication of a pregnancy. But neither did it do its normal trick of bringing Liz's period on either.

"This is a queer thing" thought Liz, but she decided against doing another pregnancy test for a few more days. "Good things come to those who wait," she consoled herself.

All the time she was away she would nervously check and double check that her period hadn't arrived. But the weekend away proved uneventful and her hosts' sheets remained unstained.

Monday and Tuesday also came and went but still nothing other than continued cramps.

"I shall test again on Thursday" she resolved. "By then surely the test will be conclusive."

Secretly she had begun to hope that maybe, just maybe, she had managed to get pregnant.

But on Wednesday the inevitable happened. Her period did start.

"Better late than never," she said unconvincingly.

(With apologies to Enid Blyton)

Friday, 19 February 2010

I Am A Winner!

No, the title isn't the self-affirming mantra that I chant to myself in front of the mirror each morning (I prefer "I am a strong, confident, beautiful woman").

I don't normally win things. As I have bemoaned before on this blog. Whenever chance comes to play any lottery or lucky dip type scenario I don't even end up with the wooden spoon. I get nothing.

However, I have learnt to play to my strengths. And, to that end, a few weeks ago I entered a Valentines poetry competition and I got an email this morning informing me that I had won.

Ok, calling it a poetry competition might, perhaps, endow it with a level of literary gravitas that is it possibly not worthy of.

I had to write a love poem.

To a car.

To a hire car.

Happy now?

But, before you hang your heads in shame on my behalf I win an overnight spa break at Champneys. (Which for those of you who don't know it is a very plush chain of Spa hotel's in the UK.) And quite frankly the end result is well worth prostituting my craft for.

And the resulting 'work' was a piece I think Shakespeare himself would have been proud of. In fact, it would be fair to say it owes a debt of gratitude to the Bard.

The entry can be seen here.

In the few hours since finding out about the trip the husband has already begged not to be my plus one. Apparently the idea of a massage, facial, swimming and exercise classes is his idea of hell. Fool.

Which means two things - 1) I need to choose between my other very worthy friends to work out who to take and 2) I'd better not choose a time when I might be ovulating.

The only other problem I have now is I've got to drive there.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Binge Drink Britain

My social life revolves around drinking, specifically drinking intoxicants. I can't think of a single social engagement I have had this year that doesn't have an alcoholic slant, whether it was dinner at a friend's with specially selected wine (well, the choice of red or white anyway), meeting up in the pub for a couple after work (it seems no one is ever so generous with rounds as when you are declining), or the free booze which is proffered at any private view I attend.

After my inebriated January I decided to get back on the straight and narrow and lay off the liquor for a while.

For those of you who don't live in the UK maybe you can go out and not drink alcohol without being eyed with a deep-seated suspicion, and reasons for your abstinence being demanded. And no, "I just don't feel like it" is not accepted. As a woman you will be automatically accused of being pregnant, and as a man it will be assumed that you are, at last, getting treatment for your alcoholism.

But in February I had the perfect excuse:
"Oh, no thanks, I've given up booze for February."
"Why? Most people give it up in January."
"February's shorter", I'd reply with a smug smile. See, no come back.

However, with the end of February drawing ever closer I need to cast around for another plausible excuse.

And I have one. As of today I have given up the hooch for Lent.

An excuse I hope most people will accept without questioning me too closely on my religious beliefs, but if pushed I can always rattle off a few Hail Mary's and throw in a couple of Glory Be To the Fathers. Which should scare even the most persistent questioner off, lest I try and convert them.

And after Lent, I ... ahem .. might ... cough ... just - excuse me, cough, weeze, hack ... - develop a cough that requires antibiotics. Antibiotics that I'm 'not allowed to drink with'. After which time I should know if the IVF has worked.

So I will either be serenely declining booze, basking in my expectant state and be unconcerned if there is conjecture about a possible pregnancy. Or if it hasn't worked, mine's a double tequila, with salt, lime and a Corona chaser.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Love Is All Around

In the spirit of Valentines I thought I'd share the love (and look, I even changed my header to celebrate spring and Valentines, although the heart looks a bit rough round the edges 'cause trying out a new drawing tool).

Over the past couple of months I've been given a few blogging awards. I'm a bit crap at awards (as evidenced here). So as usual I am going to completely disregard the 'rules' and do my own thing. I know, what a rebel!

So rather than tell you seven things about myself (I've done that anyway, here) I am going to point you in the direction of a favourite posts by the bloggers who have recently nominated me, so in no particular order:

Secret Diary - This post about the indignities we have to go through to get treated for what, for some is so easy, perfectly summarises the difference between the sexes.

Pregnant Yuppy - Who can't identify with some of these less than helpful comments?

Busted Kate - harkening back to those heady days when you first started trying (or not not-trying) to get pregnant, and realising that things are quite going to plan.

Waiting and Wishing - This short post I'm sure will chime with many who have been on clomid, and more importantly shows how through it all we have to turn to humour, even if it is through gritted teeth.

Now stop reading blogs and go and get up close and personal with your partner, yes, even if you aren't ovulating.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Mental Health Day

So far two thousand and ten has been a pretty tough year.

Not so much as a result of reproductive deficiencies, more a combination of work stresses and a general feeling of 'meh'. Although admittedly, knowing by January that with IVF not happening until the end of March at the earliest, a 2010 baby wasn't on the cards hasn't helped matters.

I'm not in the slightest bit prone to depression but I am susceptible to lack of sleep and overwork (remind me why I want a child?). And I am a firm believer that humans are programmed to hibernate throughout the winter, unfortunately my employers don't seem to share my convictions.

Lately I've found functioning tough, I dread the alarm which means that I am inevitably already awake waiting for it to go off, willing it not to. My morning shower doesn't revive me but makes me long for my duvet. I trudge rather than walk to work. And I find myself clock watching even whilst manically trying to keeping on top of the piles of work. And the weekends, with their packed social engagements, do nothing to relieve me.

Every morning for the last week I have toyed with the idea of calling in sick for the first time in over a year. But I'm not sick, I just feel the urge for a break, and I know if I did call in when not dying of some tropical disease I would feel too guilty to 'enjoy' my duvet day. Particularly as a great deal of my stress has been caused by other people's absenteeism.

And then it struck me. An idea so simple I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it before.

Yesterday I took a day's holiday.

It was amazing.

Just one day has helped restore my equilibrium, regenerated me, given me the urge to wear make-up for only the second day this year (and bizarrely had me skipping off for a Brazilian*, so I'm clearly not altogether sane).

Now I know, particularly my North America Amigos, that not everyone has the luxury of spare days annual leave kicking around. But the rest of you, I would absolutely urge you when everything gets a bit too much, just step away for a day - honestly it was the smartest thing I've done all year**.

*By which I mean the most painful waxing known to woman, not a young and lithe and lean and lovely Ipaneman boy.

** admittedly there isn't a lot stacking up on the clever list, it is a low-bar.


By the way, I am am finding your comments on my last post absolutely fascinating. Intriguing little glimpses into your relationships with your in-laws, families and the ups and downs of coming out.

Thank you.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Stepping further out the closet

This weekend the husband makes the long trip up north on the train, no doubt slipping into a kilt and cracking open a can of special brew as he crosses the boarder. He's off to visit his parents. I can't join him, so for the first time in about 10 years he is going to have the pleasure of hanging out with them without me loitering in the corner.

Naturally they are gutted (I am a fantastic daughter-in-law) but, as a second best, their eldest son will just about fill the Liz-type hole.

Who I am kidding? There is only one person they would rather see than the husband - but unfortunately their grandchild has yet to be conceived. Unless his younger brother has news ...

The Husband's family are the last significant group who don't know about our efforts to conceive. And over on Fertility Authority you can read all about how I want to talk to them but just can't find the words. (Or if nothing else go and have a look at the picture of the supposed in-laws they've chosen, couldn't be further from the truth!)

I wanted to tell them about our infertility but have finally come to the conclusion that I can't. So hopefully without me fretting the husband will be able to tell them in a calm, unemotional way exactly what is going on.

And then, no doubt, I'll be assailed by crystals, auspicious conception dates and the phone numbers of healers.

Fuck it. If nothing else it should make this blog a bit more interesting!

So tell me, over there or here; have you told your parents and in-laws? Do you regret it, or is it good to be out in the open?

Sunday, 7 February 2010

More Comparisons

Last night was the second general meeting of the Barren Cystahood. We've know each other for years, lived together at university and since then our lives have gone in very different directions, but once more they have converged through infertility.

At the first meeting last November (one lives on the continent so our catch ups aren't as regular as we would like), we were circling our own orbits of infertility: on a break after failed IVF for one, hoping for success in my IUI and the third still woefully unexplained and unmedicated.

Now all three of us are eyeballing IVF. One in a few weeks, mine in a couple of months and third, after two IVFs and a frozen embryo transfer quite literally under her belt, tries again in the summer.

I was amazed at the difference in protocols the other two are facing. (I, of course, am still in the dark as to what will be prescribed to me, as my Doctor doesn't care to share that kind of information! But I could draw on what I have read about your differing procedures.) There are different drugs, wildly variant lead-in times and contrasting advice as to how much time to take off work.

Clearly, there isn't an industry standard, IVF is not an exact science with a defined treatment plan. In the alchemy of the eggs it seems, like Colonel Saunders, each clinic has their own secret recipe; a dash of progesterone, a skin pinch of injections, a dusting of HRT and an imposition of suppositories.

Makes me wonder if the Doctors are stabbing in the dark as much as the husband when he tries to assist me conceive.

I guess in a few months we'll know what works best.

But I hope not.

I fervently hope we'll all be just as confused about what is the 'right' procedure, but too concerned with discussing morning sickness and stretch-marks to give it much thought.


Oh, and I could really do with a favour from you.

Remember a few weeks ago I wrote the semiotics of pre-pregnancy paraphernalia and promised you a follow up just on pregnancy tests?

Unfortunately I have just splashed out (not literally I'm still mid-cycle), on a bunch of the same brand of tests. So I don't have a selection to choose from.

So please dig into the back of your bathroom cabinet, ferret around your socks and knickers drawer, or crack open combination safe or wherever you stash your period-trigger sticks pregnancy tests. Take a quick photo of the packaging and email it to me with the approximate cost of the test, and if there is anything in particular that strikes you about the packaging or blurb.

I'll post the results (with of course a link back to your blog), in a week or so.

How exciting, I'm particularly looking forward to seeing tests from other countries.

Email address is womb4improvement (a) gmail dot com.

Monday, 1 February 2010

A Quick Pregnancy Test

How, using a pregnancy test, can you discover if you are pregnant without having to squeeze out a single drop of urine. In fact, without even opening the packet?

Um, well no, before I give you the answer, you have to do the test first.

Have a look at this picture:

Admittedly not the clearest of pictures, I surreptitiously snapped it at my local Superdrug store this afternoon. It shows two boxes of pregnancy tests one (to the left) contains two tests and is for sale at £10.79. The other (on the right) contains just one test - exactly the same brand and sensitivity - but, whilst it normally retails at £7.99, it is selling with the offer buy one get one free.

So which one would you buy. Two in one pack for £10.79, or two in two packs for £7.99?

If you chose to pay £10.79 for the two-pack then allow me to congratulate you on your pregnancy.

Because surely only the nappy-headed amongst you would consider spending a needless £2.80 for the same number of tests.

If not, you're with me. And you'll be delighted to know I invested in quite a few boxes.

'Cause nothing says pessimism like a basket full of pregnancy tests.