Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Coil is in trouble

Double, double coil and trouble
Womb burn, and stomach bubble

Three days ‘til the coil goes
And I’ll see what the biopsy shows
I’m looking for IVF approval
The best outcome for coil removal
For three long months I’ve waited
For an outcome that has kept my breath baited

Double, double coil and trouble
Womb burn, and stomach bubble

Folic acid I must take
To ensure a healthy baby bake
Deny alcohol and puff of smoke
Remove all caffeine, even coke
Organic meat and nuts and grain
For a healthy conception game
Pineapple for implantation
Is the route to celebration

Going on a bit of a Halloween tip here. Even resurrecting a vintage header for the occasion.

Usual apologies to old Bill Shakespeare.

Until Wednesday, my friends, when hopefully I'll come before you uncoiled. But who knows what stunts the NHS will play before then.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Phone Call

The number was blocked. I answered it anyway.

"Hello. Is that Elizabeth?" A gentle female voice inquired.

"Yes" For 'twas I, (the hospital tend not to shorten my first name).

"Hello, my darling, I am calling from the hysteroscopy clinic and we are just looking through the appointments for next week and I saw you have an appointment on Wednesday. Did you know that, my love?"

"Yes. Absolutely. To get the coil removed." I confirmed eagerly, this was a good sign that they were on top of everything, I mistakenly thought.

"Well, unfortunately the coil hasn't been in long enough to do its job. It needs three months." She delivered a crushing blow.

"But? What? I mean, I know and next week is exactly three months. 12 weeks." I stumbled.

"No because you have the coil inserted on the 11 of September so you see it can't possibly be three months. October, November ..."

"When I booked the appointment we counted 12 weeks, three months, let me check. Wait, a minute, 11 of September? I'm sure I had it inserted in August. Let me find the date." I'm on the point of doing the unthinkable, opening my blog on a work computer just so I can double check the day.

"Really, my love? [pause] Oh! yes here it is. 11 August."

Relieved, "Yes, that's right."

"So it still isn't quite three months, sweetheart."

"We counted it out when I booked the appointment!" An edge of hysteria creeping into my voice.

"Let's see" she patronised, "one, two, three, four, five" I could hear her tapping the weeks on her calendar, "six, seven, eight, nine, ten, er ... eleven, oh! Twelve. Yes you're right. Oh well, that's fine. See you next week, my love."

"Thanks, bye".

Another appointment crisis. This time averted. Just.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Round Up

Thank you all so much for making the womb-mate feel so welcome, I know she appreciated every one of your comments. And so did I.

The consensus seems to be not to worry about having an infertile child. (Odd that, considering this consensus was reached by a bunch of infertiles!). And that the wasted two years weren't a waste, everything helps.

As some of you noted, it might well mean that the two of us go through IVF at the same time. Although judging by the delays I've had to endure I'm not counting on anything. (But it would be kinda cool if we did go through it at the same time, and we were both successful ... maybe this is the way to have 'twins' without the risk factor).

And for those of you who were surprised to hear that I had a womb-mate this is the quite remarkable story of our birth. (Well, more specifically my birth, but she has a supporting role).

The Cous Cous Curse/ Tagine Trots/ Moroccan Rock'An'Roll-Around-On-The-Floor-Clutching-My-Stomach is still hanging around. The cramps got so bad at one point I began to wonder if the coil had somehow ruptured in my womb. But the lack of blood has been reassuring.

Talking of which, only one week today until I get uncoiled.

Oh, and a little thing that might interest you. I discovered the cure for infertility whilst on holiday. The teacher on the cooking class told us. Chicken Soup. Simple as. I don't mind telling you I feel like an utter numpty for wasting the last four years with various fertility treatments when the answer was staring at me from the inside of a Campell's Soup can all this time.

You live and learn, eh?

Monday, 25 October 2010

And relax ...

We went to Morocco.

It is one of those places I have longed to see but hesitated booking to go, I wasn't sure it was a place I'd like to visit if pregnant. Having three months of enforced contraception gave us a window of opportunity for exotic travel, so we grasped it. My fears of food poisoning turned out to be justified, but more on that later.

We went to Fes and Tangier. The latter at the husband's desire to keep it real and see the city feted as a destination for the beat poets and the literary dispossessed, the former because I wanted to see a bit of the touristy sights.

It was amazing. We stayed in guest houses, Riads, that looked like nothing from the outside - just a tiny door in a blank wall, but opened up tardis-like into courtyards dripping with foliage and gleaming with intricate tiles.

We plunged into the Medina (the old town), a space that seems to defy normal compass conventions, turning down blind alley after blind alley in streets so dense and tiny one wrong turn and you could walk into someones house without realising you had left the street behind.

Donkeys roamed these passageways, carrying loads as wide as the street and paying no attention to a couple of British tourists coming the other way.

On the streets that were wide enough for cars, drivers had a cavalier attitude to the laws of the road, just as pedestrians cultivated a kamicazi one. It was exciting, and at times terrifying.

We took a cooking class - learning how to roast aubergines (eggplants) on the hob to achieve the smokey flavour of their salads was worth the price of the class alone.

I had a hamman. A traditional steam then aggressive rub, removing any vestige of dead skin. For someone who has grown use to cheerfully displaying her vagina to anyone with medical training I found having a male attendant diligently scraping my whole body (with the exception of the part covered by my bikini bottoms) quite disconcerting. I resisted the urge to laugh at the absurdity of the situation until he reached my armpits - there was no keeping a straight face then. Afterwards my skin felt incredible, could this be the closest to baby soft skin I'll ever get?

I practiced my haggling skills. They were terrible. I managed to shave just three pounds off a beautiful leather bag, but it still cost significantly less than I would have spent in the UK so both the trader and I were happy. But, I am shamed to confess, I want the bag not for handbag (too big) or overnight case (too small) rather, how adorable would this look hung over the handles of a pram stuffed with nappies, a spare, tiny, pair of trousers and a bottle or two of milk?
Above all we relaxed. I don't know if it was having finished the pill but this week saw more ... ahem ... relaxation than the last three month combined. We relaxed frequently, and like rabbits. Such a shame it is all for nought until the coil is removed, still practice makes perfect.

But all good things come to an end and unfortunately ours was a premature one. On day 5 we were struck with fairly chronic food poisoning, that is still working its way out of our system in the most base way possible. We spent the last two days of the holiday shut in our room shuttling between the bed and the en suite. The unholy sounds that emanated from that en suite has scarred us both. I am not sure whether the husband and I will ever be able to be fully relaxed in each others company again.


Sunday, 17 October 2010

The End Of An Ordeal; Good News For Minors?

The coil has now been entrenched in the dark, moist, recesses of my hostile uterus for ten weeks. It was prescribed for three months and I am counting down the few days left until its eventual liberation*.

On the third of November, with none of the world's media watching, it will start its journey to freedom. Although the process will only take a few minutes for it will feel like much longer, as it makes its slow painful journey through the tight tunnel of my vagina. A space more use to a shaft going in than anything coming out.

It will emerge, bloodied, spent, but hopefully triumphant, after three months of non-stop work in frankly horrific conditions. Conditions that have to-date proven completely inhospitable to any form of life. A post-removal biopsy will confirm whether what it has done has been enough, whether it has chipped away at all the diseased womb-lining.

But whilst the coil has had to work in almost unbearable conditions it has not been completely abandoned. A oral progesterone team has been supporting the coil, conducting heroic rescue work on my womb from the outside. They started work the moment I was told that I needed to take progesterone for three months, the coil took a bit more kicking and screaming (on my part) before it was inserted.

Today the oral team have completed their twelve week stint. I have just taken my last pill.

Now we are in the downward slide towards the coil's removal. There is, quite literally light at the end of the tunnel.

Fingers crossed, the biopsy will be clear and I will be able to start IVF. Which will eventually give the husband and I an opportunity to raise our own minors. I might even rename my vagina 'camp hope' - or do you think that could be misconstrued?

With just two and half weeks to go until I can rid my womb of its unwanted inhabitant I am doing what any sensible person would do. I'm going on holiday today, for a week, a last opportunity to relax without intent before I have to really RELAX (because, as we all know, that is the only sure fire way to get pregnant). Allegedly.

But never fear you will not be totally abandoned. I have a very, very special guest post planned for Wednesday, from someone not usually given to bearing her soul in this way, so I urge you to read and lend a supportive comment - even if you normally only lurk here.

This is Womb For Improvement reporting from London, England and saying Goodbye (for a week or so).

*Regarding the Chilean miners (no, I don't know why they just sprung to mind either), you must read Adele's post on the topic.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Acupuncture Appointment: The Dog Speaks

I tell you what, since I swapped my illustrious athletics career on the green fields of Walthamstow Dog Track for the mean streets on London I have seen some batshit crazy stuff. But today, this takes the dog biscuit.

Tonight started like any other. The flatmate (the shorter female version) comes home from wherever she goes during daylight hours. We go out for a walk. So far so normal. We take a new route, I'm always up for a bit of variety - new pee-mails to pick up, it is all good.

Suddenly she's ringing the bell of a strange house and we are careering up some stairs. There's a bloke at the top, who I swear I have never seen before in my life. But he seems to know me. He's all "Hello Moon, what a beautiful dog." Getting all in my face with his heavy patting. I mean come on, boundaries man, it isn't like I head straight for the crotch and get in about it for a good sniff. Well, ok, I do, but I'm a dog - I have an excuse.

The man, who for some reason reminded me of the vet that I occasionally get dragged to, tells the flatmate to strip down to her underwear and he'll be back in a moment.

Hang on a cotton picking minute. I won't claim to be the biggest expert in human relationships but I have a pretty strong hunch that she should be keeping her kit on in front of anyone who isn't the male flatmate. Still she covers her scanties with a blanket and I lie down and start to relax.

But no. The geezer comes back in the room. I'm up in a trice (I was always fast out of the trap).

And then, guys, you would not believe what happened then. He starts sticking pins in her. Pins! And she, she doesn't even flinch. It was like she was dead from the neck down, a charge I am sure I've heard the other flatmate levy at her of late. So I stick my cold, wet nose on a spare bit of flesh. But it is alright she can still feel something. Have you ever seen a grown woman levitate?

So this goes on for about an hour and all the while the two of them are jabbering on about women's things, periods, progesterone, emotions ... yadda, yadda, yadda. I relax back into sleep, drop an air biscuit (which for some reason is the source of great hilarity amongst the humans in the room) and start to gently snore.

It was alright. Weird. But alright. I might start coming to these acupuncture appointments on a more regular basis.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

I Am Not A Single Young Man Writing From My Mother's Basement - FACT

My day was totally made today when I discovered that this blog had been name checked in The Independent's* list of top ten blogs written by folk who were neither pimply, single, or cauliflower-nosed. (It is a well defined demographic).

The full article is here.

My fifteen minutes of fame is here. Ok, so my blog isn't exactly one of the top ten but Handpicked Media (the blogging collective I am part of) is, and they chose to quote one of the lines I was most pleased with from this post.

That is all I wanted to say.

As you were.

*UK national newspaper

Yeah, so I was just in the online version.

In the Gadgets and Tech section.

In a pop up.

But let's not focus on that. National Newspaper, dudes!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Ripped and Pumped

The title refers to my muscles, not some heady night in a five-star hotel room in the company of half of the Manchester United squad.

I am stronger than ever. When I started going to the gym I could barely hold 'the plank' for twenty seconds, now I can last a minute and could probably push it further if required. My personal trainer is telling me he is working me way harder than before - I can't tell the difference, every session still feels like torture to me.

My trousers are loser. My body is contracting, everything is getting tighter. Under this bodysuit of flab I am ripped. And therein lies the problem, the muscles aren't getting any closer to the surface.

At the time or writing I am just 1 pound lighter than I was at the the start of this athletic endeavour. And don't give me that 'muscles are heavier than fat' shit, I tentatively proposed that theory to my trainer and he looked rather doubtful and said that this might be the case for body builders who gain weight as they build muscle rather than lose fat but, in my case (he said, with a swift glance up and down my torso) he didn't think that was the case.

I have, however, got a theory as to why my scales aren't tipping any less. I am currently taking a triple dose of progesterone. For most people only one Cerazette (a progesterone only pill) is needed - I get to neck two pills on a daily basis; couple that with the Mirena coil leaking its progesterone-goodies into my uterus and I'm like a walking hormone (just not in the way that teenage boys are, quite the opposite in fact - remind me, what is this sex drive you speak of?).

Extensive googling library research has shown that many women who are just taking one dose of one of the aforementioned contraceptives often suffer horrendous side-effects, including weight gain.

So, quite frankly, managing to maintain a constant weight and actually feeling pretty darn good on it feels like a win.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

BT = Baby Time

I was going to post about this ages ago but resisted because it was playing into ‘their’ hands. ‘Them’ being the advertisers. By mentioning it on my blog I would be doing exactly what they wanted, creating a buzz.


Capitalist, advertising scum*.

But, Comrades, I cannot be quiet any longer.

Allow me to back track.

There is a proud history in the UK of character-based advertising.

Take the Bisto family – for years we watched them have roast diner after roast diner slathered in thick unappealing gravy. We grew up with them.

Then there was the Gold Blend couple; one moment he is knocking on his neighbour’s door asking to borrow some sugar, next they are shagging on coffee beans and before you know it he is stuck in some high school library training the new generation of vampire killers.

Yes it is him:

The latest incarnation to hit our small screen is the BT (British Telecom, for you non-Brits) couple. It is very modern. She is (whisper) divorced, with two children. He is her toyboy whose stag do appeared to revolve around watching an online video in the middle of the day, as a testament to the protagonist's WiFi connection – rock and roll.

Here is a summary (although only half the screen appears in my browser, but you'll get the idea):

The latest cliff hanger had her on the phone. About to reveal something. BT wanted us to decide what. Can you guess? Can you?

Is she pregnant or not?

Ladies, I, sticking up for the infertiles, proudly voted for NOT PREGNANT. I mean come on, the woman already has two children, and the bloke hasn't done anything to convince me he should procreate.

But there was another reason for the no vote.

Surely it is time for mainstream advertising tackle an easy story line like secondary infertility – lets see how they manage to make the infertiles want to switch to a different type of broadband. Maybe they’ll show ‘Jane’ on the phone to another friend who announces their pregnancy – this will be a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate how the mute button on the phone works giving her a moment to scream and wail before taking the phone off mute and heartily congratulating her pal.

Or possibly BT could illustrate how important fast broadband is when googling the shit out of any conceivable (or should that be inconceivable?) twinge to see if it could be an early pregnancy symptom.

And as for their TV package, well, they could demonstrate the enormous channel options by showing the ubiquity of pregnant women on telly. Maybe have 'Jane' flicking through channels increasingly frustrated as she lurches from Super Nanny, to Smarter than an 10 year old, Kate plus 8 and “I have 13 children by 15 different fathers” (or whatever they call the Jeremy Kyle show nowadays).

However it turns out that not just me, but the nation voted. 1.6million of them. Bear in mind I voted that she wasn’t pregnant. 72% or 1,184,032 of the British public disagreed.

So she is now pregnant.

Now I can’t even rely on the ad breaks to give me a break from my fertility failings.

*Have I mentioned that the husband works in advertising?

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

Regrets, I've had a few. Just few enough to mention:
  • Just about every haircut I have ever had. Luckily it grows, so no long term worries there.
  • Picking scabs on my legs as a child. I still have the scars - that, and my unfeasibly short legs, put an end to any ambitions I harboured as a leg model.
  • Not picking up on the small print about being liable for freeholder repairs when we purchased our flat - the eventual bill was the same as the price of my first flat. Literally. Gulp.
  • Staying at a job I hated for two years, rather than quitting it after 2 weeks when I realised it wasn't for me and if I stayed any longer I would be reduced to a weeping, quivering wreck. (I was, it wasn't pretty).
  • Picking the Etruscan module rather than Greek Literature in my final year at Uni. (No long term impact for this, but I'd already studied most of the texts for A Level, so missed an easy ride there).
  • Not asking my Mum how she made her lamb and mint casserole. I have never been able to recreate that dish.
All of these things I had absolute control over and I made a wrong decision. And I've regretted it. There are other worse things that have happened that were beyond my control, that I wish hadn't happened but I had no power over them, so therefore no regret.

Sorrow. But not regret.

It is for this reason that I am being so extreme about my pre-IVF plan. Realistically I don't think that the total abstinence of booze, or tea, is going to have a dramatic effect on my fertility. I am slightly dubious as to whether my weekly yoga class does anything other than hammer home just how unsupple I have become in the last ten years since I practiced yoga regularly. And I have to stifle a giggle sometimes, when my acupuncturist starts getting too overexcited about aligning energy or some such nonsense.

If, when the coil is removed in November, I am not deemed suitable for IVF, or have IVF and it fails, I don't want to be able to blame myself for any of it. I don't want to look back and wish I had done something differently.

And so far I feel relatively at ease with how I have played this hand I've been dealt. Sure, I wish I had pushed more for appointments and investigations and compressed the last four years into two. But generally I feel OK.

I don't even, not seriously, wish we had started trying for a child earlier. My infertility doesn't seem to be age related (yet). The husband and I have been together since we were teenagers, but we didn't rush into procreation, we started trying when we were both genuinely ready.

If we had started earlier I would have spent my twenties checking ovulation tests, abstaining from booze and saving for potential IVF. Instead my twenties were a time when I enjoyed living in London. I went out too late, I made friends who will be friends for life, I visited foreign countries, I clambered, in an ungainly manner, up the career ladder. And I had no idea that conception would prove so illusive.

Ignorance truly was bliss.

I don't regret that for a moment.

And I will do whatever I can to ensure that what comes next won't be a source of regret in the future.