Saturday, 30 January 2010

Thinking It Through

Thank you all for the comments on my last post. They totally reflected how I felt; happy to be moving forward but wishing I was better informed.

I didn't exaggerate the French Doctor's reluctance to share information, however, I do wonder if I judged her a little harshly. Because I do quite like her, yes she is infuriating and has the bedside manner of a scythe-wielding geezer in a black cloak, but equally she has great faith in her own expertise - which is somewhat infectious - and she genuinely seems to want to see me get pregnant (well, not literally she makes herself scarce at any of the business end appointments). There is certainly nothing malicious in how she treats her patients, rather she is a busy professional who knows what she is doing.

And maybe it doesn't really matter that she didn't give me all the answers I needed.

In Project Pregnancy I tend to think of the French Doctor as the foreman. Someone who barks orders and makes things happen whilst her minions do the proper graft.

I didn't see her once during the actual IUI's - instead I met an assortment of wand waving specialists and catheter inserting nurses.

And this time, I reckon that is the last I see of the French Doctor until I am either pregnant or an IVF Fail.

The person I am more interested in talking to now is the IVF doctor, the architect.

Whilst he doesn't do all the grunt work he is not afraid to roll up his shirt sleeves and get stuck in - quite literally. This guy is the one who identified my Endometrial Hyperplasia. He prescribed the coil, and is much more forthcoming when it comes to questions. True he is also the guy who noted that if I didn't want children he would recommend a hysterectomy - but at least I know he is going to be straight with me and tell it how it is. I trust him to be thorough and double check that my womb lining really is ready for whatever they are going to throw at it.

I also have to try and manage my own expectations. My appointment on the 18th won't be the actual start of the IVF. For one thing if my calculations are correct I will be mid cycle, if I carry on schedule the earliest cycle would be starting end of March and ovulating mid April. And I know for reading other blogs that people are often put on birth control for a month prior to IVF as a sort of rebooting exercise, so it may be later still.

So I fully expect the appointment to go through the nuts and bolts of the procedure and I am sure there will be the opportunity to get more questions answered.

I am still not quite convinced about IVF generally but that, my dears, is a whole other post.



Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Next Stop: Test Tube Babies

My appointment today lasted twelve minutes.

I had barely sat down before the French Doc, in her inimitable manner, exclaimed she had good news and they could offer me IVF, and last year they wouldn't have been able to.

"Isn't that good?" She prompted, clearly surprised by my slack jawed response.

"Well, yeeessss" I started cautiously, opening up my note book, "But I've got a few questions..."

Suddenly I felt a bit pathetic with my copious notes but, manfully, I persisted.

I explained I was worried that even though for the last six months, I have ovulated more regularly than ever I was concerned that possibly my womb lining still wasn't up to scratch.

She shrugged off that concern with a "No, no you have been having lots of scans, they would have picked up on anything unusual. You have been very carefully monitored you know."

True, I've had more phallic instruments inserted in the last six months than a porn star at a dildo convention, but there was still a niggle.

"What about a laparoscopy?" I ventured.

"No need whatsoever." Which stopped that route of questioning.

Next I tried to couch my question with a blushing; "I'm sure you must hate people who come in having done lots of internet research ..."

"It doesn't compete with 20 years experience" she confirmed

"... but there are a few more tests I wonder if I should be having."

"We've done all the tests right at the start."

"Really? Only I looked through my notes and I didn't see any mention of thyroid testing"

"All done, all done I always do them at the start," she pulled something up on her computer to prove it. "We don't send all the results out because it is a waste of paper" She remarked somewhat cryptically. (I'm all for my hospital being green but an extra line on an existing letter...?)

"OK" I wasn't about to persevere with the other tests recommended "what is the waiting list for IVF?"

None apparently, well not once I've managed to get an appointment with the IVF specialist. Which stunned me, I have been preparing myself for a waiting list of 18 months or similar.

"And the side effects?"

"Very few. The only risks are really associated with being pregnant so if you want to avoid risk you should avoid pregnancy." Not the most helpful suggestion I've heard, but I let it pass.

And why didn't the IUI work?

"No way of knowing, I'm not going to make something up." Fair enough, another closed route of questioning.

The husband asked what the stats were. Apparently (for their clinics so bear in mind these stats aren't universal), the percentage chance of success with IUI was 14% for IVF, however, it leaps to an encouraging 50%.

I asked how many embryos were transfered (still hoping for twins). "Oh never more than two" she assured me "there is a push for just transferring one."

"I ... er ... wouldn't mind two" I stumbled.

So it seems set.

I was whisked off to book the next appointment, this time with the IVF specialist. And, although there is no waiting list for the actual IVF there is a six week waiting period to actually see the main dude.

So now, once more, I wait. This time for the IVF appointment on the 18 of March.

Fuck, this might really happen.



Saturday, 23 January 2010

Murphy's Law

A few weeks ago I wrote about Womb For Improvement's Law on Fertility Authority. And I am sure vast swathes of you thought I was being terribly unoriginal, simply recycling Murphy's Law.

Even Fertility Authority Changed the title to "Murphy's TTC Law".

Tut, tut. Oh, ye of little faith.

There is a simple and obvious distinction, and the best way to illustrate it is to use myself as an example.

For the past month I have, to the best of my ability, acted like a carefree young woman just starting out on her procreation journey. To the extent that, on Monday night during my two week wait, I went to a sherry tasting.

More of a sherry drinking actually, as the husband jealously noted that on this occasion, I swallowed rather than spat.

So four days before my period is due I go on this booze-fest. I consider doing a quick early pregnancy test before hand, just to check. Then, mainly 'cause I have none in the house, dismiss the idea. Because I know I won't be pregnant.

And that wasn't the only occasion I over indulged during my two week wait.

This is also the month that I managed to bring forward my Doctors appointment to talk about IVF. Full steam ahead on the infertile train - or something.

Do you see where I am going with this?

Those of you shouting "OMG. You're pregnant!". You clearly didn't read the first paragraph properly, this is WFI's Law NOT Murphy's Law.

Sure, if Murphy's Law applied I'd be clutching a double lined pregnancy test.

But this is Womb For Improvement's Law so, as ever, my period has started.

(Come on, you didn't really think I'd manage to get knocked up all by myself did you?)



Thursday, 21 January 2010

Pester Power

Since the start of the year I have been ringing my hospital's appointment hotline.

I say hotline, tepid would be a more accurate description.

Or possibly even cold.

No, frozen.

It is a deserted arctic tundra of a phoneline.

It either rings out with no one answering it, or is engaged. Which at least gives me hope that someone has managed to get through. Or, someone else is trying to ring at the same time. I suspect from the joy I have had actually speaking to someone it is the latter, rather than the former.

In order to call, due to its confidential nature, I have to furtively scurry with my mobile to the photocopying room. For the last three weeks it has tended to take from Monday to Wednesday of intermittent scurrying and dialing to get through. (I suspect my colleagues think I am attempting to counterfeit money in there).

So on a Wednesday (and for the past three weeks it has been a Wednesday, don't even think about asking why I bother to try and call Monday or Tuesday) I speak to the appointments staff. I give my hospital number, surname and date of birth. Repeat date of birth more slowly... Spell out surname .... Wait. Wait a bit longer. Hear tapping of a keyboard. Explain I want an earlier appointment. Wait again. Am told there have been no cancellations but maybe try again next week.

Yesterday, I got through (on a Wednesday notice), and the receptionist told me how busy they were and how unlikely it was there would be a cancellation.

And then she stopped.

There was a free appointment, and could I make next Wednesday (naturally, maybe they are only open on a Wednesday) at 16.15.

Damn straight I can. So my wait for the WTHHNPIVF appointment has just massively shrunk. It is next week.

Or they have gone and screwed up my appointments again as per usual.

Thank you all so much for your suggestions of what I should be asking for I will go armed with all kinds of requests.



Tuesday, 19 January 2010

WTHHNPIVF

I was trying to decide today whether I had PMT or whether my life really was unutterably shit with no hope of anything going right, or getting better.

Ever.

A quick glance at the old P Tracker informed me that I have but two days until my period is due. Which to me seems pretty conclusive that it was the hormones talking, because my life isn't shit, not by a long shot. (Don't worry this isn't going to be one of those 'Why I Am Thankful' posts, I still haven't snapped out of my grump but at least I can acknowledge it for what it is).

Adding fuel to my bad mood is that my next trip to the Doctor to discuss 'What The Hell Happens Next? Probably IVF' (Hereafter known as WTHHNPIVF, hence the title (following Xbox's lead in incomprehensible titles)) is weeks away.

I just don't understand how it can be. My appointment is at the start of February, we are careering towards the end of January, yet I still have three weeks to wait. (It is on the 9th of Feb).

I feel like I have dived into some time space continuum. Forget anti-aging creams, just hang out with me and I can make a week feel like a lifetime (it has been said before).

Anyhow in the three weeks prior to WTHHNPIVF I need to work out exactly what I should be asking my Doctor about. And you guys did all the hard work for me last time I asked, so I'm going to lean on you again.

As far as I know I have been tested for the following:

  • Hysteroscopy
  • HIV, Hep B & C - These don't really affect my ability to have children but might make me question my options a little more - thankfully negative
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone level = 3.1 (for the novices out there, generally under 6 is cosidered no problem whatsoever, it is once it gets over ten that they start to get concerned and above 13 time to worry)
  • Luteinizing Hormone = 6.8 (from what I can glean on the web generally LH level is supposed to be about the same as FSH and if it is much bigger it is generally an indication of Polycycstic ovaries - well no shit, I've got them and this doesn't hugely worry me. For the last six months I've been ovulating without a problem, so I'm not really concerned.)

So what am I missing? I've literally got armfulls of blood here I'm happy to give up a few vials for medical science and, you know, answers.

I wonder, as the main thing that they have found wrong with me is womb-lining related, whether a laparoscopy might shed some light on the situation.

The husband meanwhile has had his swimmers tested during every IUI and the nurses seem as ecstatic with the results as he was when he produced the sample. Which is encouraging.

Lorna suggested a DNA fragmentation test. So I might see if the Doctor thinks that is something worth looking into. Anything more they should check him out for?

Any suggestions would be very gratefully received.



Saturday, 16 January 2010

In the dog house

We had some mates round for lunch the other day, with their five year old son.

The boy loves dogs.

Adores dogs.

He spent most of the day sharing the dog's bed, crawling around on his hands and knees making 'wuffy' noises.

When it came to getting the dog's lunch, he watched me prepare it asking all kinds of searching questions:

"What's that? Why does he eat that? Does he like it? Can he eat chocolate?"

I took the top off his processed dog meat.

"Is that nice?"

"No," I responded holding it out under his nose, "smell that, you wouldn't like to eat that would you?"

Gingerly, and yet with remarkable amount of speed, he flicked out a tongue and licked the dog food.

I didn't tell his parents, this'll just be our little secret.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm infertile for a reason.


Tuesday, 12 January 2010

There's An App For That*

I got an iPhone just before Christmas. I know, lucky me.

And, as I anticipated, it suddenly made me cooler, more popular, and a more attractive prospect (...for muggers anyway).

As a technology novice, I didn't really know where to start with the apps (well, not once I'd sorted out Scrabble and Twitter). I've never even had an iPod so just working out podcasts was a struggle that needed a good few weeks to recover from.

But in an idle moment the other day I decided to check out what fertility-related apps were around.

I wanted was one where I could record my periods, ovulation dates and medical interventions so that at any given time in doctor’s appointments I would have any relevant information quite literally at my fingertips. (At the moment all this info is scribbled on various scraps of paper). But being as tight as Kylie Minogue's arse I was only really looking for free or cheap options:

iOvulationLite

If you are worried that random people might pounce on your phone idly having a scroll through your apps (and you want to be discreet about your baby-making ambitions) this is not for you. The name emblazoned under the app icon doesn't leave much to the imagination.

Although you can set a password so no one can actually get in and see what days you have been 'intimate' (yes you can record which days your partner gets his end away).

The annoying thing about this app (for my purposes) is that when downloaded you can only add in your last period date. So you can't back-date the info.

The other thing that will put your iPhone in danger (I almost threw mine across the room) is that, once this app has established when your period is and you've added in your cycle length (you know, just imagining it is constant) and the number of days in your luteal phase (between ovulating and starting your period, should you not get pregnant) is not only calculates your most fertile days, but ... get this ... really ... it tells you which days you should shag if you want to conceive a girl and which for a boy.

*stunned*

Its only caveat is: “The Gender Predictor feature is suggested to be used for prediction purposes only it doesn't give any complete assurance or guarantee of conceiving a child of a particular gender”

Hmm, maybe they should say, to be more succinct: “the Gender Predictor is total bollocks for the more gullible amongst you.

So we move on ...

FMC

This is more subtle. It just looks like a calendar, and whilst we know the initials stand for Fertility Menstrual Calendar, your average iPhone snoop will no doubt assume it is a Fast Moving Consumer Calendar or some such.

Again you can password protect the app.

Again you add the first day of your last period.

But, again, you can’t add previous period dates. You can’t change your luteal phase from month to month, or cycle length.

So again only really good for the more clockwork amongst us.

MC
Getting even more discreet we have the initials MC (stands for My Cycles) and a icon pretty picture of a flower (cause we ladies love flowers) to denote what this app is about.

The features aren’t much different from the above. It looks slightly better.

It also has a communities tab which then directs you to “recommended communities’ which might be of interest (just seems to direct you to Q &a As from various sectors – Fertility, pregnancy over 35 etc.) But if you are reading this you probably have your own blog community to lean on (of which I hope I am part).

I managed to go back and mark my ovulation days. However, in month view there is no indication which days have notes, so you have to open each day's notes section to see when you ovulated in the past.

On the plus side you mark days of intercourse rather than the more coy ‘intimate’ days (blurgh).

Ov Calendar

I can’t tell if this is subtle or not any more. I can’t imagine seeing the words Ov Calendar and not immediately knowing it refers to Ovulation, but maybe that just says more about my preoccupations.

My favourite thing about this is the first thing you see is a button entitled Legends. Hullo yes, that’ll be me. Oh no, it is the key, still I can dream.

Again, no backdating option, and pretty ugly.

This was starting to piss me off so I decided to throw money at the situation.

A whole £1.19 (that’ll be 1.09 USD) for:

P Tracker

You can certainly see where your money goes. Immediately this looks more professional and slick than the previous options. And you can add past period dates, as you add them it starts to calculate your average cycle length, updating itself with each period you enter.

Again a purty flower is the symbol and there is a passcode option for your privacy.

But, and this is annoying, although you can change the average number of days your luteal phase is, you can't change it month on month.

So you can change the period date but you can’t move the ovulation days, rubbish if your luteal phase, like mine, refuses to remain constant (or is triggered by drugs for an IUI or two).

I even went as far as to email the creators to double check I wasn't missing something– it seemed so basic. To be fair they responded quickly and decisively:

This function is not yet available.

However, if you like charts you’ll love this. You can use it to create charts relating to your average period length, cycle length, weight, temperature, symptoms, mood throughout the month. (But I worry if you started recording the latter you really are getting too introspective).

But what I really like about it is there is an option to email yourself the data. Or if your Doc really wants to know what days you were intimate (yes, they’ve reverted to the euphemisms), email them directly.

If only, if only, I could tweak the data to reflect my bodies erratic ovulation I’d give it 5 stars.

So tell me, do any of you use any fertility apps that you’d recommend?

And if this mammoth post wasn’t enough, check out me being all upbeat and positive over on Fertility Authority



*Unfortunately I have none of the legendary blogger-clout so all opinions are my own untainted by advertising and all purchases (even the bloody iPhone) were made with my own cash. So I am as unbiased as a bitter infertile can be in these situations.



Saturday, 9 January 2010

Not Trying

This month I'm bucking the trend.

Whilst for most people December was a month of debauchery and boozing for me it was a period of abstinence and sobriety (well, until the 23rd when I realised I wasn't pregnant).

January is traditionally the month people quit the booze to give their aching livers some respite. For me however, I have continued to drink. Not excessively, or constantly, but repeatedly and often.

Because this month I am experimenting with the "Stop trying and then you'll get pregnant" approach.

I haven't managed to bring my Doctor's appointment forward so I have until the start of February to put this theory into practice.

So I am categorically NOT TRYING to get pregnant, and drinking alcohol is a manifestation of this approach.

Ok, so admittedly, the other day I realised that I was on day fifteen and I normally seem to ovulate on about day fifteen.

And it just so happened, that I dropped an unwrapped ovulation test into a cup of urine that was carelessly left lying around.

But, you know, even if it hadn't shown that I had ovulated I'm sure I would have had a loving, intimate embrace with my husband that day anyway. Honest. Because I'm NOT TRYING.

Of course one still has to look after ones health. Particularly in winter when there are so many colds going around so I'm taking vitamins. And with piles of conception vitamins kicking around I may as well take them rather than going out and buying any more supplements. But that is just 'cause they are there, I'm NOT actually TRYING.

Gosh, I can't tell you how liberating it is to stop trying to get pregnant for a month.

Really.

I can't tell you.



Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Semiotics of Pregnancy Paraphernalia

I have, as I suspect many of you have, accumulated a plethora of pre-pregnancy paraphernalia. And earlier, whilst idly sifting through these goodies, I started to look at the packaging design and ponder upon what it all means.

(It would be fair, at this juncture, to ask if I have a little too much time on my hands - there was a smattering of snow in town today so I got to leave work at 4.30pm, so maybe.)

This is what I have observed:

With ovulation tests there is definitely a strong correlation between the cost of the test and the perceived desire for a child.

Exhibit A:


This internet cheapy is clearly designed more for medical establishments rather than hopeful humpers. It's design is clinical, efficient, no messing (except when you try and wee on one of these tiny strips of cardboard - I defy anyone to have that kind of urination accuracy). There isn't a lot here for the likes of us, so we move on.

Exhibit B:


The price of these tests leaps to the cost of two family sized meal buckets from KFC - if you buy this you are clearly throwing money at the problem. And why not? It promises you'll "GET PREGNANT SOONER."

The manufacturers recognise anyone purchasing this will be quite keen on the idea of procreating so, just in case there is any doubt about what this is all about, you have the little baby's booties. Essentially saying "buy this and shortly you'll have teeny, tiny feet to clad". And as an extra sweetner, "FREE INSIDE: EARLY RESULT HOME USE PREGNANCY TEST". Well, Yeah, I've come a cropper on that one before.

And that brings us to...

Exhibit C:
Now we are talking.

If you are going to shell out a quarter of £100 for tests, they have to be modern, accurate and foolproof. No deciphering which line is the darker for this test. It's even got its own telly screen giving you a smiling face when you are ovulating:


And by gum, they know you are teetering on the edge of desperation when purchasing this test.

Just in case you missed it, see what they have only gone and done. They haven't just put a baby on the packet, they have put a baby (of indeterminate sex so you can project your heart's own desire upon it) reaching out, straining to hold you.

Come to Mummy.

You know, just in case you weren't keen enough.

- - -

Next there are the pre-conception vitamins.

Again they can really go to town on this. No one would bother to take these unless they were serious about the whole baby making business.



If you don't know what a mother-to-be looks like they have helpfully put one on the packet. Gazing lovingly at her bump. Saying: this could be you, calm and serene during your pregnancy because YOU know YOU have given your offspring the best possible start in life with this folic acid and omega 3.

Is it just me or does anyone else have the urge to pull her T-shirt over her belly? That looks drafty.

Pregnacare on the other hand have a whole host of vitamins for every stage of your pregnancy, so unlike the aforementioned they don't want to lull you (or your wallet) into a false sense of security that one pill will take you through from conception to birth. So this is clear:


It is saying "If you are a lady and gentleman who love one another very much, and do a special grown-up cuddle, take this pill full of all kinds of things you have never heard of - let alone thought important (inositol, anyone?) - then Mr Sperm will meet Mrs Egg and you will achieve a healthy conception."

And I particularly like the the packaging on this 'for him' box of zinc tablets. "Look Gents, if you just swallow one of these a day your beloved will stop being such a cold, miserable, cow and actually hold your hand once in a while, and we all know what hand holding leads to ...."


- - -

All this, and I haven't even started on perhaps the most interest of all, the pregnancy test.

This is when our favourite brands have a difficult tightrope to tread. For one person a double line, or word 'pregnant' will signify untold joy, for others, a hangover far more lasting than the Bacardi breezers ever gave.

The packaging has to suit both audiences.

Unfortunately I'm all out of tests so that discourse will have to wait for another day.

(But don't let that put you off coming back).



Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Twelfth Night

It is 12 days since Christmas, traditionally the day that we put away our decorations for the year. So as the final festive fling, below are my advent headers in full:


























And, if you remember I offered a prize to anyone who could list all the headers, the winner is ... Twangy.

Yes, only one person actually responded, but I am delighted it was Twangy because her blog makes me laugh and her illustrations are fantastic. If you haven't seen her blog go and check it out. (But I can't tell you what her prize is, as it is a surprise for her!).




Saturday, 2 January 2010

The Obligatory New Year's Post

This has officially been A Good Christmas and New Year.

Yeah, it started poorly but I figured I had two choices, lament what could (should?) have been or get on with enjoying myself. I went for full-on enjoyment and it worked.

Christmas day with just the husband was perfect. We did exactly what we wanted, my fears that a Christmas without hoards of people getting grumpy over dry turkey and crap presents just wouldn't feel right was totally unfounded. Instead we instituted our own traditions (kedgeree for breakfast), I introduced the husband to the concept of stockings (from Father Christmas rather than the sexy variety - although I am sure he would have preferred the latter), and we hung out eating, drinking and resolutely not saying "this time next year ..."

And then there was Berlin for New Year. A few friends were going and I almost declined the invitation because 'we might be pregnant by then'. I'm ridiculously glad I didn't put my life on hold for something that didn't happen.

Berlin was awesome. And I acted like I didn't know the meaning of trying to conceive. I drank often, I rolled around in the snow (or, more accurately was thrown around in the snow), I embraced the continental European's laissez-faire attitude to health and safety when it comes to fire works, I didn't even consider taking a pre-natal vitamin. And I laughed, a lot. (Unstoppably at one point, which unfortunately is now captured for posterity on video, still if laughter is the best medicine...)

And now I am back home, with a stinking cold, eating sausage rolls in bed (the only food in the house).

I'd hoped for a very different, very sober break. But as alternatives go it was pretty good.

I hope you all saw the New Year in with equal amounts of hope and that 2010 pulls its socks up and starts behaving.