Saturday, 31 December 2011

Bang Goes That Attempt

You may remember that after my ovulation and unauthorised DIY attempt at pregnancy I decided one of three different scenarios would play out.

All of these revolved around New Year's day when I would, or wouldn't be pregnant. Naturally I forgot to take into account my body's unorthodox approach to ovulation and periods.  It should have come as no surprise that, rather than wait the conventional 14 days after ovulation to start my period it would slip in early with a Boxing day treat.

At least it meant I haven't spent the whole Christmas season wondering if my expanding belly is a result of over indulgence or incubation.

I alerted my clinic to my lack of pregnancy yesterday and was told that I could start the pre-IVF Primolut right then.  The slight problem being that I was, at that point, hurtling across Scotland several hundred miles from my clinic and the drugs I needed. I also managed to treat my traveling companions to slightly too much information about my periods.
(Although at one point I had to stop one of the guys in the car from whistling whilst I was on my mobile, I think he was trying the nonchalent "I'm not listening" whistle but it really wasn't helping my understanding of scan timings).

The revised plan is to go to my clinic on Tuesday when I'm back in London  for a quick scan to check the fluid in my womb, which they saw last time, has disappeared and then pick up the Primolut to start on day fourteen of this cycle, ready to start IVF at the end of January.

Naturally I've learned my lesson and we shall not be trying the home-made attempts this month as it would incur another delay. However, because we hadn't counted on my period starting so early it meant we have come away without the appropriate protection.

So I guess this year won't start with a bang.

Happy New Year everyone.






Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Quizmas Everybody!

Now in its fourth year Womb For Improvement Incorporated is delighted to bring you the ultimate Christmas gaming solution.

Does conversation flag around your Christmas dinner table? Seen Home Alone and Bad Santa once too often? Already memorized all of Trivial Pursuit? Want to humiliate your know-it all uncle?

Building on the success of Conceive or Concede, Conception Deception, and Barren Bingo this year’s must have game for infertiles everywhere is the perfect Quizmas Present.


An Infertile's Quizmas

Test your knowledge of infertility with this unbeatable present.

Try the Trainee Embryologist Round:

What is a Morula?
a) A South American carnivorus rodent
b) An early-stage embryo just prior to blastocyst
c) A tooth located in the back quadrant of the mouth
d) An Australian cocktail containing equal parts beer, gin and kangaroo milk

Includes ‘Grade that embryo’ picture questions.

Get all in a muddle with the acronym test:
What does HEFA stand for?
a) Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority
B) Heart of England Ferret Association
c) Human Factors Engineering Analysis
d) Not fair! This is a trick question for dyslexics.

Have fun with statistics and counting with the Maths questions:

If Lizzie has three IVFs and 56 eggs retrieved in 2011 but does not get pregnant, what can we determine will be the outcome of the next round?
a) Insanity
b) It is impossible to say
c) More eggs down the drain
d) Probably seven or eight babies

If Mary wants a baby born on the 12th day of the 12th month in 2012, when should she have sex?
a) 21 March 2012
b) 11/11/2011
c) Couldn't give a fuck we’re well beyond planning birth dates, conceiving any time will do nicely thank you
d) Sex? Who the hell gets pregnant through sex anyway?

This fun interactive, meducational quiz is the perfect ice-breaker for those wishing share their fertility journey with the rest of their family. And a chance for you to put all your knowledge gleaned whilst frantically googling into practice.

Buy the complete quiz for a special introductory offer of just £6,550 plus VAT*


* Well, a girl has to fund her fourth IVF somehow ... (otherwise there'll be more sponsored posts)



Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The best laid plans ... are generally screwed up by, well, screwing

The plan was simple.  I had a scan last week, there was no follicular activity so today another quick scan just to get an idea of how my womb lining develops during a non-medicated cycle then I start the primolut, get a period start IVF number four in the New Year.

No bother.

Except.

"Ummmmm" I said, looking at my feet rather than the Doctor, "I continued testing ovulation last week. And I, er ... sort of, got a positive ovulation test on Sunday, and we kind of had unprotected sex."

(Did you like the inclusion of the words 'kind of' implying that it was just something that happened organically rather than me standing over the husband, rousing the troops, as it were).

The Doctor's look transported me right back to childhood, it said 'she wasn't so much angry as disappointed'.

I've fucked up the plan.

Tsk.

One of three things could now happen:

1. I get pregnant, save myself a fortune on IVF and live out my life as "that woman" the one who got pregnant whilst waiting for IVF.

2. I don't get pregnant, I get my period on New Year's day. We start the primolut two weeks later, with no cheeky ovulation test / sex to scupper our plans this time round.  At worst we've lost a month.

3. I don't get pregnant, I don't start my period. This has happened before when I've had a positive ovulation test, and frankly considering the doctor saw no sign of imminent ovulation on my ovaries last week I am pretty sceptical about the accuracy of the test, although a back up measure the ... ahem ... secretions of an egg-whitey nature did also point to ovulation. If I don't start my period I'll go back for a scan early in the New Year and start Primolut straight away to start a period - so it is just a two week delay.

I felt the need to explain and apologise to my Doctor for acting on the the ovulation test, but ladies, Sunday was the first time since August 2008 that I have had a positive ovulation test outside of IVF or IUI. And last week at my scan the doctor said my womb lining looked 'perfect'. How could I resist the chance to save myself almost seven grand in medical bills? Would any of you have done anything different?

So I guess I'm on my two week wait over Christmas and New Year.

The other problem is now I'm pretty sure that means we've used up our Christmas shag.

Elsewhere on the internet, on iVillage, I've shared infallible my tips for surviving Christmas as an infertile.

***
Update: Anonymous asked "Ok, please someone explain to me why having sex in between cycles would mess up the doctor's plans for the next IVF or lining testing. Thanks."

It doesn't always matter but because of my specific issue with tardy periods and thickened womb lining I need two weeks of progesterone to bring a period on, and I need that period before I start IVF. To take two weeks of the pill from mid-cycle to 'official period start date' I have to absolutely make sure I'm not pregnant, hence they have to now wait two weeks to ensure I am not pregnant before starting the progesterone.  

Hope that helps. If not you're as confused as I am!



Saturday, 17 December 2011

Wine Me!

I get asked to do sponsored posts a lot and rarely agree because the product is of no interest to me, or relevance to you.

I’ve even been asked to review baby products.

*tumbleweed*

But this one piqued my interest. So please note the following disclaimer and we’ll get on with it.

This is a sponsored post for Stowell’s.

- - -

I give up alcohol on a regular basis. The AA’s 12 step programme has nothing on me, mine is a two step initiative -
1) Gear up for fertility treatment
2) Stop boozing

But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss it. I may have lost the desire to get plastered and vomity of a Friday night but I miss the ritual of coming in from work and just having a glass of wine whilst I wind down, or sipping a glass, Floyd-style, whilst cooking. And fine dining just doesn’t feel quite right whilst virtuously sipping water.

So I was quite excited to hear Stowell’s had bought out a low alcohol wine - 5.5% alcohol as opposed to normal levels of 12-14ish percent. This could well be the drink I am looking for – at that level I think the odd glass during the IVF process, let alone in between treatments, is eminently allowable.

What is more it is low calorie - at 60 calories a glass it contains about 30% fewer calories than a typical glass. So even for those of us struggling with fertility treatment weight gain (and not the good kind that is concentrated mainly in the uterus) it is an allowable treat.

They do a white and a rosé. I got to try some so went for the rosé. It was very fruity, I sort of expected the flavours to be diminished (basically I expected it to taste like watered down wine) but not at all. I think it’d work really well super-chilled as a summer aperitif.

It certainly beats my ginless tonic (ingredients: tonic water, ice, lime, imagination).

For more info visit www.stowellslight.com



Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Information Overload

The appointment today was a bit of a surprise.

I anticipated the normal routine: when I go in the doctor says "Ah hello... um" glance at the notes "er ... Elizabeth.  Now you last IVF was" another glance at the notes "unsuccessful.  You had two embryos transfered on day three"

At which point I intervene explain that no it was a five-day transfer, and then launch into my history because they clearly don't know me from Eve.

(Even the worst doctors can tell me from Adam.)

(I hope.)

But today's doctor, who I'd met before IVF number three, was properly on the ball.

She'd discussed 'my case' (I am a 'case' now) with another doctor and had Ideas, Plans and Suggestions. I took copious notes but I'm not sure I got everything but here goes:

So what are her suggestions? (That was rhetorical, I'm going to tell you).

Don't hang around, my womb lining needs to be controlled so they don't want to leave it to its own devices for too long. They want to treat it with progesterone for 14 days out of every 28 starting next week (more on that later).

Then much the same as before, grow me some eggs and harvest them for fertilisation.

The difference is what comes next. Regardless of how the womb lining looks they aren't going to put anything back in, they want to freeze what they get for a later date.

The following month will be womb-lining month. Start with another full-on scrape, check the results for any nasties. Then oestrogen pills and sniffers to get me to regrow an optimal womb lining.

Also, this time I'd get intralipids. Do you remember this was offered to me before? It never happened because when it was supposed to start they had decided my womb lining was too thin to proceed - that they changed their minds later was irrelevant, by then it was too late to start.

If all goes well, they defrost the embryos and put everything back in.

My worry is that there is a lot to go wrong. I'm particularly concerned about the idea of freezing my embryos - nothing I've produced so far has made it to frozen (admittedly I have always had two to put back in the womb so theoretically they could have been frozen). But I do worry about losing anything I have produced along the way.

The Doctor reassured me that they lose less than 10% of embryos when defrosting.  She also recommended the husband and I both get karyotyping tests. This should pick up any abnormalities lurking in my eggs or the husband's junk. It could also explain why when I get 21 to 18 eggs each time  I have egg collection, I have only ever ended up with two embryos.

In addition she suggests a cheeky thyroid test, more to rule it out as an issue than because she is concerned about it (I've passed this before).

The next thing to decide was when to start. The womb lining regrowth is a major concern. I am on day 19 of my cycle today so the doctor decided to scan me right then. Which is great, because I don't feel like I've had a proper appointment until I've been impaled.

The scan confirmed what my daily ovulation tests have been belligerently trying to tell me for the past two weeks. Ovulation just isn't happening, and if it hasn't happened now who knows when, or if, it will happen. This natural cycle isn't going to work so if I am going to start the progesterone there is no time like the present.

Except there is.

If I start now, I'll be ready to begin IVF straight after Christmas. At which point the clinic is closed for their annual deep clean.

Hence the plan to start the progesterone NEXT week, to start IVF mid-January.

As soon as I start the progesterone then I need to go back on contraception. But that is fine, prior to Paris the husband and I had been using the barrier method anyway. The barriers mainly being our moods and thermal, unsexy, pyjamas.

If any of you have kept up with that then give yourself a star and buy yourself a Doctorate from the internet.

So lots of plans and ideas.

The only question that remains is are we going to go with them or will we, as I was so sure we would yesterday, look elsewhere.

I've got until next week to decide.



Tuesday, 13 December 2011

IVF debrief

Tomorrow I am finally going in for my IVF debrief at my clinic.

The one where I see the doctor and say:

"?!"

And the doctor replies:

"?" accompanied by a Gallic shrug.

I like to be prepared with my one page summary sheet detailing my conception woes. I usually compile a list of questions. I dredge the internet for the latest miracle cure and wonder, out-loud to the Doctor, why we can't try that.

After IVF number two I went through both of my IVFs comparing and contrasting (the joys of having a blog noting down everything). I offered my own interpretation as to why it didn't work.

But this time it just doesn't seem worth it.  I am out of ideas.

Last time they agreed to let me try intralipids.  It didn't happen because of all the kerfuffle over my too thin womb lining, and by the time they decided to go ahead with the transfer I'd missed my intralipid window.

I half think I should be pissed off about this.  But honestly, I doubt intralipids would have helped. It was a long shot anyway. So if the Doctor cites this as the miracle cure I'll be deeply skeptical.

In fact I really don't think there is much they can say that will keep my custom. I am a postage stamp away from sending my application (with fifty quid registration fee) to another clinic that comes highly recommended.

But I still want to go to this appointment, I believe it is known as "getting closure". Talking of overused expressions, over on iVillage I slip into hackneyed clichés as I try to process the result and the way forward.




Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Rebel With A Cause

As a rule I do what I am told.

Despite knowing that the last IVF hadn't worked on the Friday I continued the arse-numbing* injections until the official test day on Monday. Even when I started my period on the Saturday I subjected myself to  the injections from hell.

Because that is what I do. I follow medical advice.

Which is why this departure is so dramatic. I am not taking the Pill.

Long time readers will know that one possible cause of my inability to conceive is due to my womb lining growing in an erratic diseased manner.  In betwixt IVFs I have been contraceptioned up to my eye-balls in order to stop any of the nasties growing back, it also has the unfortunate side effect of preventing any possible pregnancies.

As soon as I finished IVF numbers one and two I was back on the pill faster than a flower girl at Woodstock.

I haven't had my follow up appointment after this IVF yet, I was pretty lax about booking it because really who wants to sit in a room with a Doctor to be told that "you responded very well and it just seems to be bad luck that it didn't work this time, but hand over another seven grand and we'll try it again."

As a result no one has actually told me to restart the pill.  But I know they would, I just haven't asked.

Which means for the first time in about two years I have the opportunity to ovulate by myself and, however slim the chance might be of actually conceiving this month it is still an hell of a lot higher than a month when I am on the pill.

So what have I done?  Whipped out the ovulation tests, become an avid tester and, as I approach what should be the middle of my cycle, started casting amorous glances at the husband.

I think we all know it isn't going to work, but it is nice to have a hobby.


*The weren't really arse-numbing, quite the opposite. Arse-hurting would be more appropriate.



Sunday, 4 December 2011

We'll Always Have Paris

Can you guess where we went away to?


I'll rephrase that. If you hadn't read the title, d'ya think you would have guessed?

As a mini-break it was near perfect. Our hotel defined shabby Parisien chic.

The lift was chinzed to the max. I loved it.


In three days I think we packed in about 6 weeks worth of eating.  Concentrating on the banned food:

Shellfish

Soufflés

Runny cheeses


And booze, booze, booze.


We did galleries, so much walking that the husband complained he hadn't realised he'd signed up for a trekking holiday, le shopping (mainly window shopping, or licking, lèche-vitrine), afternoon naps and ... ahem ... some totally spurious, and as we all know ineffective, bit of the other.

We even managed the obligatory trip to the Parisian flea market buying something that manages to be awesome, macabre, and a miracle we got through customs.


Now we're back to reality.

I start work again tomorrow after six weeks off, and I am shitting it!



Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Thank you, thank you, thank you

I loved the swearing. The swears by the people who aren't comfortable with it. The ones by the people who were weened on it. The foreign languages. The concatenation of words. The video clips. And the sheer bile spewed out at the universe on my behalf.

We're going away for the last few days of my 'Get Pregnant with IVF' sabbatical. I know it'll include a lot of pregnant-unfriendly food, pâtés, soft cheeses and, knowing my French, some inadvertent offal orderage. There'll be booze, plenty of it, which no doubt means there will also me some mid-night weeping and ranting.

Must pack tissues.

We aren't ready to give up. I reckon I've got at least one more IVF in me. But I don't know when, or where. I'll have a follow up consultation at some point before Christmas, but my current clinic will have to offer some pretty radical solutions for me to try there again. Three strikes and you're out dudes. Saying that, they are very good - for other people - and I am currently trying to persuade the wombmate to give them a shot.

If you want to re-live my pregnancy testing again check out iVillage **spoiler alert** the result doesn't change.



Monday, 28 November 2011

I Tried and Tested

I tested on Friday.

And Saturday.

On Sunday I gave it a rest (coincidently as the Good Book suggests).

This morning, official test day, I double checked.

Every test gave me the same answer.

Every test was negative.

Thank you all for rooting for me. For your words of encouragement and advice.  But now there is nothing anyone can say to make me feel better. I know you are sorry for me, I know you really thought this time would be it. Me too.

You could maybe do one thing, leave me your favourite swear word in the comments, cause swearing is always funny and any comments that are too nice will make me cry again.



Thursday, 24 November 2011

Happy Yanks-giving!

Traditionally (so Wikipedia tells me) this is a time to be thankful for a good harvest.

And I am thankful.

Thankful that I had a great harvest of 18 eggs.

Thankful that 8 fertilised.

Thankful that I had two blastocysts to transfer.

But I still haven't tested, because - despite the traditions - I really don't want a turkey this Thanksgiving.

And I've had no symptoms.

You know how people complain that early pregnancy symptoms are similar to pre-menstrual stuff, so they don't know what the cramping / sore boobs/ and spotting means?  Well, I don't have any of that.

So if I was symptom watching, I'd have to reach the conclusion that I am neither pregnant, nor about to start my period. That is impossible. One of those things is going to happen.

The only thing I have noticed in the last couple of days is a twinge of nausea, but having googled (the shite out of it) it is way too early to be morning sickness and is far more likely to be attributable to the Norprolac.

Talking of feeling nauseous.  Please tell me, do you guys seriously cook sweet potatoes with marshmallows as traditional Thanksgiving fare?  And do you eat it with the turkey or as a dessert?



Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Testing Debate - again

Every time I do IVF, or an IUI, I have the same debate with myself about when to test.

There are a few different schools of thought:

The Hairy Farmer Family approach entails a daily test from trigger shot to official test day. The trigger shot puts some hCG into your body so if you wee on a stick directly after the trigger you'll get a positive test, then as the days go by it gradually leaves your system and if it starts to reappear you know that the result is a genuine positive rather than remnents of the trigger. So you get the earliest result possible without the doubt of the trigger hanging over a positive.

Others, with a willpower crafted from the hardest substance known to women don't touch the tests, they wait for a medically sanctioned blood test and then a phone call to deliver the news.

I can't do either.

Never having been pregnant I an unable to face the idea of seeing my first positive test knowing that it is chemically induced and means nothing.

And on the other end of the spectrum my clinic won't give me a blood test unless I have proved its worth first with a positive pee stick before.

So when should I test? My clinic won't take any notice until a test 16 days after transfer. Which will be Monday the  28th. Ughhh.

The day-by-day breakdown tells me that a pregnancy should be detectable from 9 days after the transfer, and today I'm 10 days past.  So it should be a no brainer, right?  I may as well test now.

Wrong.

I've written before about reasons for not testing early.  If, on the off chance, my hCG levels are lagging a negative now (which still has the potential to turn into a positive) would be soul destroying for no reason.  There is, after all, a reason that my clinic wants me to wait for 16 days.

In the past I have also wanted to wait until the weekend before testing, I didn't want to go to work after getting either result. This time that isn't an issue.

The main thing that stopping me testing early this time is the drugs. As well as the brusing bum injections I am also taking a vicious little pill called Norprolac. You have to take it just before you go to bed because its side effects are grim so you need to sleep it off. A couple of nights ago got up in the middle of the night sweating, dizzy, bright spots in front of my eyes and ended up having a little lie down on the bathroom floor. I've not done that since my last decent night out.

My concern is that if I get a negative pregnancy test result the enthusiasm with which I ingest these drugs will wain completely, and I am not sure I'll be able to continue with them.  Which, should it be still a smidgen too early, might be absolutely the wrong thing to do.

The other reason is, of course, I do quite like being pregnant until proved otherwise.

***

Over on iVillage I give you an insight into how the wombmate and I try to give each other a little boost during cycles. 



Sunday, 20 November 2011

Mindful

I went for my final mesmerism hypnosis session on Thursday.

When I started these sessions I didn't know what to expect. I knew that it wouldn't be like the stage acts when I'd be convinced that I was a chicken every time I heard the theme tune to Eastenders (well, I was 60% sure that wouldn't happen).

I went originally because I wanted to be more positive about this IVF - it's is a pretty miserable thing to go through if you have decided from the outset that it isn't going to work.

I suppose if you'd asked me what I expected I would have assumed that there would be a bit of mind programming going on. A sort of "When you hear the words IVF you are going to feel infused with joy and excitement." And "The sight of a speculum will make you weak at the knees".

It wasn't like that.

Instead it was more like teaching you deep relaxation techniques - and giving you something to think about whilst you are under. The hypnotherapist talks continually, giving you scenarios and expecting you to fill in the gaps. I went to a beach; a beautiful verdant garden (what could that be an analogy for?!); my mind's control room (turning the womb lining up to the max); an infinity pool.

I also learnt how to do self-hypnosis at home. For some of these sessions I used the same scenarios as those she'd suggested.  But I mixed it up a bit. On the advice of a friend pregnant with IVF twins I have also been visualising what is going on in my womb.

This is how it breaks down:


5-Day Transfer

Days Past
Transfer (DPT)
Embryo Development
OneThe blastocyst begins to hatch out of its shell
TwoThe blastocyst continues to hatch out of its shell and begins to attach itself to the uterus
ThreeThe blastocyst attaches deeper into the uterine lining, beginning implantation
FourImplantation continues
FiveImplantation is complete, cells that will eventually become the placenta and fetus have begun to develop
SixHuman chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) starts to enter the blood stream
SevenFetal development continues and hCG continues to be secreted
EightFetal development continues and hCG continues to be secreted
NineLevels of hCG are now high enough to detect a pregnancy


(Taken from NYU Fertility Center website.)

I've also been concentrating on the 'Stay' meditation to keep those embryos in their rightful place, which has an unfortunate side effect of making me break out into one of two songs: 'Stay' by Shakespear's Sister and that seminal 1994 Christmas number one, 'Stay Another Day' by East 17. (The latter song in particular starts to sound more and more profound everytime I sing it, who knew the words were so deeply embedded in my psyche?)

But I think it is working. I do feel very positive about this round. I've no symptoms or reason for feeling like that, and we'll see in eight days whether that confidence is misplaced or not.

So what can I conclude? Hypnosis helps with positivity and gives you terrible taste in music.



Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Injections: My Arse (this title is intended to be taken literally)

Yesterday I re-met my nemesis.

Remember the case of the intramuscular injection and the wrong needle?  Well it turned out that although I was using the wrong needle in terms of girth, I was using the right length of needle just a thicker one.

How do I know this?  Because yesterday I had to restart the injections, and this time I was careful to talk - at length - with the nurse about which needle I was to use.

I needed to add Prontogest to my cocktail of drugs as yesterday's blood test (it never stops) showed my progesterone levels were low. I forgot to ask about the numbers, probably because I was so intent on getting the right needles.

So now I am going to share with you my patented* 'How To Get an Intra-Muscular Injection' instructions honed from minutes of internet research and condensed into these simple steps.

  1. Find yourself an injector.  I chose the husband but feel free to grab a passer-by from the street.
  2. Prepare the needle yourself so that you can be confident that you have got rid of all the air bubbles and ARE USING THE CORRECT NEEDLE. I cannot stress this enough (yes you can. Ed)  I use a 40mm x 0.8mm one.
  3. Strip from the waist down and lie prostrate on the bed yelling at your injecting partner to turn off the telly (actually, strike my earlier point about using a passer-by) and come through and inject you.
  4. The injection needs to be in the upper outside quarter of your buttock. To find this imagine a cross intersecting the center of one bum cheek. You got it?
  5. Rather than lying flat on your front, lie on the side that isn't being injected and throw your injecting buttock leg forward so you are almost in the recovery position.
  6. Wrap your pillow round your face and say "I don't want this, this is going to hurt. Help!"
  7. Apparently wiggling the toes of the active buttock leg whilst the needle goes in helps with the pain. Whilst in a pillow-faced position, my legs half crossed and the husband straddling me I find it hard to work out which toes are moving so I wiggle both, whilst screaming "Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle" to distract myself from the pain.
  8. Clean the injection area with an alcohol wipe.
  9. Get your injection-partner to chatter constantly during the procedure. The husband favours a patronising patter along the lines of: "Its going in. You're doing really well. Wiggle, wiggle. Well done. You're brilliant. Wiggle, wiggle. Keep wiggling."
  10. Once the needle is in the injector needs to pull the syringe back a bit to make sure there is no blood.
  11. Then plunge all the liquid in.
  12. Slowly withdraw the needle. Ensure that your partner does NOT continue to say things like "Well done, it is still coming out, keep wiggling" for a full 30 seconds after the needle has been removed. That is just nasty (I hope you're reading this Husband).
  13. Wipe away any blood and feel rightly proud of yourself for getting through it.

So that is one down, I have to keep going until test day, longer if it is positive. I just hope it is worth it.

*it is not patented. Can you even patent an instruction?



Monday, 14 November 2011

Transfer day - through the medium of pictures...

On Saturday* I went in for my embryo transfer - this is how the day evolved ...


Of a morning I like to sort out my pills for the day. The idea is that if the pot is empty by the time I go to bed I've not missed anything.  Harder than you'd think. (Pictured: folic acid, selenium, rasberry leaf x 3, royal jelly, asprin, Prognova, Norprolac x 2).


Two hours before embryo transfer I popped one of these high into my ... well you can read. It is for pain relief. I particularly enjoyed the instruction to remove the wrapper first, luckily I read that before insertion so I didn't have to fish anything back out.



The clinic is a 15 minute walk away from my house. Anxious to ensure my bladder was full enough I didn't waste a moment of that walk, topping up my bladder the whole way.


Action drinking shot.


Waiting until I can get changed.


In gown with lucky socks* on. (*I have no idea whether they are lucky, this is their first outing so they are untested). Note how the gown is emblazoned with the word 'hospital use only' - bang goes my idea of nicking it and wearing it out on the town.




You really don't want to see what happened in the vagina stuffing room.  Suffice to say my womb lining was declared fit at 9.2mm and they put two remaining blastocysts in. Unfortunately there is nothing left to freeze, but look at these beauties... 


They are both graded a good, solid 6BC (6 = hatching, B is quality of inner cells which become the baby, C is the quality of the cells that become the placenta).


The ritual of the post transfer rest includes listening to comedy (based on reports clowns in the ward after embryo transfer are supposed to increase the chances of a pregnancy, and my clinic is just too tight to lay on that kind of entertainment - see here).


 It might be a short walk, but we took a taxi home, ain't nothing gonna disturb my babies.


The rest of the day was mostly spent on the sofa with a dumb beast's head on my lap (NB. I'm referring to the dog as shown above, not the husband). And yeah, so I unbuttoned the top button, I don't want to restrict my uterus - there's 9.2mm of pure womb lining in there.

Finishing the night with a bit of fun: a suppository. 


And an injection. Blurgh.

If you want the word-heavy version check out iVillage.

*I'm really sorry this took me a while to get up, I couldn't be bothered with sorting out all the pictures whilst doing some intensive resting, and I didn't think anyone would actually notice. But I've had a few emails asking whether everything is Ok - I didn't mean to worry anyone!



Thursday, 10 November 2011

Half A Decade

Today marks five years of trying to conceive being married.

Two years ago I made a decision that if I wasn’t pregnant by now then that’d be it. Half a decade was long enough to battle infertility, and I’d need to move on with my life.

So I’m sticking with my plan and, despite getting a call a moment ago from the embryologist telling me all 8 are still there (2 excellent, 6 good quality), I’ve cancelled my embryo transfer.

I’m joking.

Of course I haven’t, but it is a time to reflect on what next. Or should be if I wasn’t trying to focus on this attempt, I’m not going to think about whether to have another shot at IVF after this one because that would be making the assumption that this round isn’t going to work.

Instead tonight I’m going to put on a posh frock, and go out for a lovely meal with whatisname, you know, the husband. And as my future babies are snuggled up in a petri-dish I might even allow myself a glass of celebratory prosecco.

Just the one mind.



Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Eight is a number lucky in China*

Day three and the embryologist has just called.

I expected a drop off in numbers, but there hasn't been one. All eight are still in the running!

We (I) have:
2 which are six cells in size
1 is seven
2 are eight celled
2 are ten
and one is getting ahead of itself at 11 cells

Quality wise: 2 are excellent, 6 are good.

This is the first time that all the fertilised eggs have been contenders at this stage. The tricky bit now is getting them to blastocyst, in the past two cycles this is where there has been a massive drop off in numbers, both times leaving me with just two options.

This time I want a couple for transfer and a couple more to freeze for my second (or third) baby. That's not too much to ask for is it?

Of course we all know that at almost any point in the process IVF can be called off. I'm hoping it doesn't happen to me, and over on iVillage I educate the masses!

* Thanks to Fi for reminding me of this.



Monday, 7 November 2011

Fertilisation Report: IVF #3

The problem with getting an impressive haul of 18 eggs is that you hope for an equally impressive fertilisation report.

I got that last IVF when I had 18 eggs and 12 fertilised.

This IVF however the report isn't so dramatic:

Just eight fertilised

Of the remainder:

  • three were immature
  • two fertilised abnormally
  • five did nothing. 


Despite the initial gut kick of hearing the numbers, I'm not too upset by this.  Eight is still a pretty good number, the embryologist has still got something to play with.

He is going to see how far he can take them towards blastocyst and then, on the day appointed for transfer, I'll go in and have a scan to check whether my womb lining has thickened up enough for implantation.

It will be then, and only then, that they'll decide whether to go ahead with the transfer or try to freeze what they have.

Which is quite nerve-wracking.



Sunday, 6 November 2011

Egg Collection: IVF #3

Do you remember the first time I went for egg collection?  There was a miserable old nurse that I had to contend with. However, I was heartened when I overheard her telling a colleague she was retiring in three weeks.

Sure enough I didn't see her subsequently.

Until today.

What a difference! She was funny, talkative, smiling. “I thought you were retiring” I asked (in a neutral tone). “I have, but I come back to work the occasional weekend.”

I don’t know what retirement has done to her, but I want some of that.  She took twice as long to get through the pre-op questionnaire as normal because she kept stopping to chat.

“I love my job. And I understand what you’re going through. I have a son, but I always wanted a daughter. But I never could have one.” She confided.

A few minutes later as she sent the guy in the next door booth to the “Little boys room” she cackled “but I won’t be stopping in there with you.” (And it amused me to note the afore mentioned fellow took his own bag, presumably of grot, along with him to the producing room. That’s forethought for you.)

Egg collection was as blissful as ever. I do love a chemically induced sleep. This time I was lulled to sleep with some kind of hybrid soft rock / easy listening musak. These doctors know how to let their (neatly trimmed) hair down of a weekend. I swear I heard a rendition of  “I Wanna Live In America” on the electric guitar at one point.

The moment I woke up I blurted out “How many eggs?” I don’t remember the answer, I don’t remember asking the question, but the husband assures me I did.

The answer, I discovered later, was 18. That doesn’t even include the four or five that they had to leave because they were too hard to get to.  But with those numbers who needs the extra?

Womb-lining wise, however, things are once again up in the air. Today it still only measures 7.4mm - not increasing by the hoped 1mm a day. It is still too thin, which puts the transfer back in the balance.

This time I am not going to second guess what will happen. I’ll have another scan before they decide on a transfer or to freeze and we’ll take it from there.

In the meantime I am going to neck raspberry leaf, selenium, and brazil nuts in the hope it’ll plump up the womb lining in the nick of time.



Friday, 4 November 2011

What The Fuck?!!!


Yes guys, three exclamation marks, and you know my rules.

On Tuesday my womb lining was 1mm - way too thin.  The head of the clinic, an intimidating consultant, sat me down and said there was no point in trying to implant anything. Frozen embryo transfer at a later date was my only option.

But why am I telling you this?  You know this. I know. Hell, my boss knows this because I emailed him to let him know I’d be back at work next week.

But … um … today. My lining is now 7mm thick. Ideally it should be 8mm or more on trigger day (for I am triggering tonight for egg collection on Sunday) but a dramatic improvement. So much so that my Doctor has done a U-turn and thinks that I can go ahead with the full IVF this cycle. No waiting for a frozen cycle.

I'm flabbergasted, but I'm trying not to get too excited, because who knows what Sunday will have in store for me.

And I've had to email my boss. Which was embarrassing.



Thursday, 3 November 2011

Pollyanna Lives!


There are two approaches I can take:

1) lie on the sofa, cry and feel sorry for myself
or
2) focus on the positives of freezing my embryos this time round.

I spent most of yesterday thoroughly exploring number 1. Unfortunately I can categorically confirm that it didn’t make me feel any better. (I also managed to contract my holiday cold – never have one at work, always get one when I stop – so I had an additional reason for wallowing in self-pity).

So what are the positives?

The officious Doctor who I spoke to on Tuesday tried to comfort me by telling me about a fertility clinic in Japan who apparently are very successful. They always use frozen embryos, never implanting a fresh one.  Their reasoning is that embryos implant better in a womb that hasn’t just gone through a medicated cycle. So this might be a good thing.

Two previous cycles with fresh embryos haven’t worked. I wanted to try something different this time round. This is my opportunity.

My body has taken a battering this cycle. I am more bruised than I’ve ever been, and my follicle-filled ovaries are giving my stomach a distended look, and preventing my jeans from doing up. There is a certain amount of appeal in getting off the drugs rollercoaster for a while. (My clinic has me injecting and suppositing myself even after embryo transfer.)

This is the detritus from just one night's injections (a growth hormone, two injections to grow the follicles and one to stop the eggs being released):



As much as I was looking forward to (and enjoying) my six week break I was a little concerned that the unpaid nature of my sabbatical – coupled with one of my most expensive ventures to date (I’m referring to the IVF not the shoes I bought last week) - would wipe out all my savings and render me poverty stricken. However by going back to work after just two weeks my naturally parsimonious nature has been placated.

So plenty of reasons for being glad about the change of plan.

Am I glad? Not in the slightest, but fuck it - I don’t have a lot of choice.

Oh and remember the IVF predictor - did I ever tell you I wrote to the people who developed it? Their response to my email is over on iVillage.



Tuesday, 1 November 2011

I really can't think of a witty title for this post, but it isn't good news

Infertility – it is the gift (or should that be Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer?) that keeps on giving.

Just when you think you know where you are, it comes and sideswipes you.

Turns out I needn’t have panicked about my follicles. They are growing nicely; I have 5 on one side and six on the other.

That is the good news.

The bad news, however, is that my womb lining has not been so co-operative. From being “lovely and thin” at the first scan it is now worryingly thin, having failed to plump up along with the follicles.

In fact the womb lining is so miserly and unwelcoming the doctors have decided that it isn’t worth trying to implant anything in there.

The plan now is to go ahead with egg retrieval (probably on Saturday) and try and make some embryos, then freeze what they can and hopefully they’ll have something to implant at a later date.

I’m miserable. I’d say I feel deflated but my aching ovaries are making me feel quite the opposite. (They really are pretty painful.)

I am worried. In the previous two cycles nothing was frozen. I am worried that this time it’ll be the same story.

There is a little bit more good news, I only had two people coming round last night Trick or Treating. The upshot is I have a big tin of chocolate in the house – I suspect I won’t still have it tomorrow.

And I may as well go back to work next week, so I won’t be in such dire financial straits.



Monday, 31 October 2011

Trick or Treat

On Friday I went for the scan that was supposed to simply check that everything was ticking along nicely, that my ovaries were responding, and enable me to add yet another drug to my cocktail (Cetrocide). Instead, they steadfastly refused to acknowledge the presence of any of the ovulation inducers and were grumpily unresponsive.

As a result I was bought in for an unscheduled scan on Sunday morning to see whether they were going to be any more co-operative.

Taking their direction from the time of year my ovary decided to play a few tricks. 

Try as she might the doctor couldn’t see my ovaries. She pushed, and prodded, and whirled the dildo-cam around inside me.

Eventually she gave up and decided to try another approach squirting the gel on my stomach and doing an ultra sound the 'normal' way. As she turned the monitor round so I could see, I couldn’t help but wish that one day I’d actually see a baby waving back at me.  Instead I saw this:


Or something that looked very like it (for the uninitiated this is pretty much what an ultrasound of an ovary looks like, the ovary is the white bit with the black holes being follicles).

My ovaries have started to produce eggs. They are pretty small still, but five on each side, so an OK number for this stage in the process. 

So I got my halloween treat, my next scan is Tuesday - hopefully they will have stopped hiding and continued to have grown by them. Then egg collection next weekend.



Saturday, 29 October 2011

Mesmerising

A friend of mine puts the success of her last IVF down, in no small part, to hypnotherapy, and with a beautiful baby girl born in August who am I to argue with her?

She sent me a CD which I diligently listened to before, and during, IVF number one and two. Obviously it didn’t work, but I wondered whether that was my fault. I don’t think I ever managed to listen to the whole CD without falling asleep – and whilst one could argue that my sub-conscious was still listening away and diligently making notes my dreams certainly didn’t reflect the visualisations of a welcoming womb that I was supposed to be imagining.

But I haven’t given up on it.

There is one major thing that is missing from this round of IVF:

Hope.

I just can’t picture it working, I am still doing all the normal IVF preparation but without the excitement of previous rounds. I feel like I have already decided this round won’t work, and regardless of whether you believe that will have any impact on the outcome it isn’t much fun to deal with.

So I decided some direct intervention was needed and I booked myself in for some hypnotherapy.

Even the cynical husband agreed it was a good thing for me to do. But I suspect he only wanted me to go because he relishes asking me about my mesmerist.

The mesmerist (bloody husband) hypnotherapist has clearly had a lot of experience with infertility. As she went through my history she didn’t have a problem with terms like blastocysts and endometrium and she asked the sort of questions that she should have asked. She was equally unperturbed by my tears, “Most people cry when they see me” she remarked cheerfully.

The hypnosis itself was totally non-invasive. No pocket watches were used and at no point did I feel out of control. This concerned me a bit, I wondered whether I was thinking too much – as she counted down from ten at the start to put me in a relaxed state she told me that with each number I would feel ten percent lighter and more relaxed. As it was, for the first few numbers I worried that I couldn’t determine whether I was 10% more relaxed or not, and began fretting that it wasn’t working.

When about halfway through I developed an itchy eye this was also a source of concern, surely I reasoned – whilst at the same time trying to picture myself on a beach – if I was truly ‘under’ my physical body would have no hold on me and I wouldn’t notice that I really, really wanted to rub my eye. (I did and afterwards she said that was the right thing to do, as it was distracting me from the visualisation.)

But something clearly worked. I felt wonderfully chilled out when I left and last night I practiced the visualisations again and had a great night sleep.

Am I now convinced that the next round is going to be the one? No, not yet. But I think it could be.

Besides if I was convinced now there’d be no reason to go back next week, would there?



Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Posh Drugs

Rationally, I know it is probably because I am trying a different drug protocol for this IVF, but I can't help but suspect that it is because this time I have gone private.

Whatever the reason, my fertility drugs have just got way posher.

Today I had my first scan, to double check there were no cysts that might bring to a halt this round of IVF. There weren't.

I also had my one-to-one drugs tutorial.

I was quite blasé about this, I reckoned I could wield a syringe with an degree of expertise that would win a grudging respect from even the most hardened drug addict. But then I saw my new toy:








It is more like one of those multi-coloured biros I use to have as an 11 year old (when I'd painstakingly write every letter in a different colour - until I realised, even at that tender age, that life was too short). 


This pen delivers Gonal F, the dose is determined by twisting the top to the correct setting, then I plunge and click. But it isn't all high tech. I am also starting Menopur which is delivered by the old fashioned, self-mixed syringe to the stomach.  And I get to pop some pills - in this case Letrozole.

All this just to get me to ovulate on time and plentifully.

As a distraction, I'm very excited to announce that I have just started writing for iVillage.  My first article it is a bit of an exposition piece, so there isn't much new in there for regular readers, but I'd love it if you had a look, and maybe even left a comment - just to make the new girl look popular ...

To read click here.

Updated:  In response to Are You Kidding Me's comment. No, I'm not getting paid for this gig. I was so flattered to be asked that, even with no cash, I agreed. I know, I'm a push over.



Monday, 24 October 2011

It has started

"It" in this context being:

My six week sabbatical.

and

My period.

In theory my sabbatical started at 5:30pm on Friday night. In practice when I left work at cowboy time (ten to ten) on Friday night I still hadn't finished. At a similar time on Sunday night when I emailed my boss the report I'd spent the weekend writing I thought it had begun. In practice I think it was started when I pressed send of the email to my colleague at 4.22 this morning.  Don't worry, I hadn't been up all night but I awoke with a start and remembered one final thing I'd forgotten to arrange.

My period started, as predicted, on Saturday but after midday. So my official cycle day one was Sunday. Tomorrow morning (day three) I go for my scan and all being well start the injections.

One day in and everything seems to be going swimmingly, let's hope the same can be said for the husband's sperm. 



Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Timing Is Everything

I was going to say that the dates of my six week sabbatical couldn’t have worked out better if I’d planned it.

Then I remembered I had.

But I’d planned it fairly incompetently.

Firstly, I got the date of the last pill wrong by a week.

Secondly, I knew I was going to be on a new drugs protocol so I didn't really know how the new regime was likely to pan out.

So when I asked for, and was granted, six weeks unpaid leave starting on the 24th of October. I wasn’t entirely sure it would work.

On Friday, after my womb invasion, the nurse sat me down and went through the protocal.

I take my last pill tomorrow and go in for my first scan on the first day of my period (or, if I start on the weekend, on the Monday). Judging by every other time I’ve stopped the pill I should get my period on Saturday. So my schedule looks something like this (a more detailed breakdown here):

Week one:
Day one: Scan and start injections

End of week one & week two:
Regular scans and blood tests

End of week two:
Egg Collection

Week three:
Embryo Transfer

Week four:
Waiting

End of Week five:
Test

Week six:
A week to absorb the result - good or bad, probably go away somewhere. Before going back to work.

Obviously things can get screwed up at almost any stage but assuming it all goes well it is pretty damn perfect.

At what stage do you think things will go wrong?



Saturday, 15 October 2011

Womb Biopsy

I spoke to my Dad on the phone yesterday morning.

He knew I was going for an appointment but had lost track of what this one was for.

I explained it, as I have on here, as like sandpapering my womb to get the embryo to stick.

He chortled.  "Now I understand, when you put it in engineering terms." For that was his profession. But then he got a bit ahead of himself.  "I would have thought" he conjectured "that they would do it just before the put the embryo in." Clearly thinking approximately three weeks prior to the transfer was a bit premature.  At this point I had to remind him that a) it was an analogy and b) he wasn't actually a fertility doctor.

The womb scrape itself was painful, more painful than I remember.  I found myself wishing I'd bought a block of wood to bite down on. I contented myself instead by wrapping my hands in the modesty sheet and gripping it as the Doctor scraped around.

The pain is like intense period pain spasms, but when you are stirruped-up with a gentleman between your legs, making small talk, you can't double over in pain and call him a fucker.

Yesterday evening I'd confidently planned to go round to some friends for dinner, predicting that I'd feel no after-affects.  I was wrong, but forced myself out anyway.  What a glorious dinner guest I must have been grumbling in the corner about my womb spasming. The only time I managed to get animated all night was when I was trying to describe the pain, explaining to the men that they could never understand the pain a woman feels.  They tried to counter this with a discussion of the agony of being kicked in the bollocks.

Well, that may be true.  But I've never known a fertility Doctor to suggest a well-aimed gonad shot as a cure for male infertility. The worst the husband has had to suffer is an orgasm.



Thursday, 13 October 2011

If It Ain't One Orifice Its The Other

Today I went to hospital.

I prostrated myself before some medical practitioners and opened wide whilst a biopsy was performed. In doing so, hopefully, they have removed something that has been irksome for that last five years or so.

If you assume that this biopsy is the one from my uterus that I was promised 5-7 days before the end of the pill (I take my last one in six days), prior to IVF, well, you'd get 100 points for having such an excellent memory and minus 150 for being utterly wrong.

Instead I had a growth removed from my mouth. It has been there for years and is nothing other than a little flap of skin left over from a blocked saliva duct. I mentioned it to my dentist last time I went (I like to go to the dentist every six months - ensuring I never go more than half a year without telling someone I'm not pregnant) and just a few weeks later there I was bib-on, head back and just a little prick in my mouth.

For the anaesthetic.

Less than ten minutes later I was out, dribbling, and doing a pretty impressive impression of Lesley Ash/ Coutney Love/ A trout* (*encircle appropriate cultural reference as applicable). Whilst a little flap of my mouth skin wends its way to the lab for further scrutiny. (I'm sure it'll be fine, but these medical practitioners feel the need to check everything bit of flesh they cut off me just in case).

Tomorrow is biopsy number two, entrance on the downstairs level. The roughing up for my womb for better embryo stickage. Two biopsies in two days, don't be jealous - some of us are just born lucky.



Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Work Life balance

I have never known work like it.

I am in work, at my desk at 7am, and don’t leave until 8 or 9pm

I know you’ve all worked longer hours. So have I, but not for so long. Weeks on end. I work weekends and when I am not working I am thinking about work.

Last night I awoke, with a start at about 3 in the morning. There was a bloke in bed next to me. I desperately tried to remember who he was. Then I recalled I was married, so it must be my husband. Right?

What was his name?

I ran through the names of the guys I worked with. None of them sounded quite right.

Eventually I had to wake my own husband and ask him his name. Genuinely.

When he told me such a wave of relief spread over me. Of course! That was right, got it. Phew.

Bear in mind I got together with him when I was 18, I turn 36 next year. I’ve been with him almost half my life.

That I literally, for a moment, in a sleep fuzz, couldn’t remember his name is indicative of how out of balance that work / life thing is at the moment.

Still the worst should be over come Saturday ...


Friday, 30 September 2011

Good To Go (Again)


If you thought that all the preliminaries for IVF number three were sorted back in June when my doctor and I sat down and discussed it, then you were wrong.

As, to be fair, was I.

The protocol was decided.

The biopsy was clear.

I rang up the private clinic, where fully I expect to spend the majority of my 2011 earnings, to book in IVF and was told I had to have a preliminary appointment.

Despite this being the clinic where I have previously had two NHS funded rounds I am treated as a brand new “customer”. Right down to being given directions as to how to get there.

I also needed a new customer appointment and to bring along my passport. I had the appointment this morning with a new (to me) Doctor, and she was reassuringly thorough.

The plan hasn’t changed much. I am still going to try the Intralipid treatment. I discuss it here, but in summary, it might, possibly, help combat miscarriage bought on by one's body having an over-active immune system and seeing any embryo as a foreign body that needs to be destroyed rather than nurtured. In one sense therefore, I’m not an ideal candidate. I’ve never been pregnant, let alone miscarried.  But there is a feeling (not proven by science) that it might help implantation.

We decided that it is highly unlikely to do any harm. It might even help. So on that basis we will give it a shot. 

The next thing to agree on was timing. I had this sorted. As soon as I finish my next pill packet, mid-October. The Doctor, however, thought I might need a break from the pill for a cycle as I’ve been on it so long. 

For a moment I was attracted to the thought of a month off contraception. This might be my chance to get that fairytale “pregnancy whilst waiting for IVF” and save myself a few thousand pounds at the same time.

But then we realised a cycle for me could be three months not your normal 28 days.  So we shelved that idea.

Moving on, and using the Intralipid logic of "it won't do you any harm so give it a shot", she is going to get me to have another biopsy in two weeks. But it'll differ from my normal biopsy. (When did I become the sort of woman who has a normal type of biopsy?) They aren't interested in the cells, they just want to rough up my womb lining a bit, as it might (or might not) give an embryo just a little bit more to grab onto.  I imagine it is kind of like when you use sandpaper on a bit of wood or metal before applying adhesive. 

Having agreed all that there then lay just one hurdle between me and and October IVF.

Cysts on my ovaries.

The Doctor glanced at her watch. “If you don’t have a cyst now, and remain on the pill, you are unlikely to get a cyst before your next IVF.”

She considered me again.

“Come on.”

And she whisked me into a scan room, unceremoniously impaled me – I hadn’t even shaved my legs this morning it was that unexpected – and declared me cyst free.

I’m good to go.




Monday, 26 September 2011

Pretty In Pink

Breast Cancer research and awareness is a cause close to my heart, and I am not talking about anatomical proximity. Some of you who have been reading a while might remember this post, about my Mum, who died of Breast Cancer when the wombmate and I were 15 and our big sister was 17.

She was 35 when she first found a lump, the same age I am now.  Needless to say I check myself regularly, a task the husband is always enthusiastic to partake in.

She died in 1992 - almost twenty years later I can’t write that without crying.

Since then treatment has got better and better but with 130 new cases of breast cancer being diagnosed each DAY in the UK alone there is still a long way to go before the C-word is met with anything but dread.

The 28th of October is Wear It Pink day. Whether it is a touch of pink on the or going the full Barbara Cartland, thousands of people across the UK will be getting dressed up and donating £2 each to The Breast Cancer Campaign for the privilege.

I won’t be.

For two reasons:
1)    I don’t own any pink clothes – a serious oversight I know.
2)    My office colleagues are notoriously difficult to persuade to join in - Red Nose Day, Jeans for Genes, Halloween all go unrecognised by our attire.

Instead I am going to tap their wallets in a different way. Chocolate brownies with pink icing at 50p a pop and pink meringues at 20p should extract a healthy sum for the campaign.

But you totally should Wear It Pink - and be part of the cure.

**This is a sponsored post, although proceeds are going straight back to the Breast Cancer Campaign**

http://www.wearitpink.co.uk



Monday, 19 September 2011

Impotent

Sorry to disappoint if, from the title, you thought this post might be about another cause of infertility. It is not.

The wombmate, my twin, has just failed her second IVF. This year, between us, we’ve had four goes, 43 eggs retrieved, 7 embryos put back and none frozen.

Neither of us are any closer to achieving a pregnancy than we were nine months ago. There is no cumulative effect that will make the next round any more likely to work than either of the two (each) proceeding ones.

Obviously I was pretty upset when I found out it didn’t work for her. (I know - in tears at a pregnancy announcement, in tears at a non-pregnancy announcement – there really is no pleasing me.)

The husband tried to comfort me in a typically masculine way (and I’m not talking about suggesting giving him a blow job might make me feel better). He used logic. He cited examples of other people we know for whom IVF didn’t work the first, or second time but they went on to pregnancy.

It didn’t help.

With the wombmate I am equally as impotent. I feel like I, of all people, who understands what she is going through, should know the magic words of comfort. The unfortunate truth is that there aren’t any. There is no statistic that I can quote to the wombmate that will cheer her up and make her confident that it will, one day, work. There isn’t a magic number or formula that will guarantee results.  The pair of us are just playing the numbers game in the hope that the next roll of the speculum will produce a positive result.

And so once again it is my turn to pick up the baton and continue our bizarre IVF relay. Running a race in which we have no idea where the finish line is, whether we’ll even both reach it or collapse, exhausted, before it is even in sight.



Friday, 16 September 2011

Numerically Challenged

I was always the dumb one in my family.

Both my parents and sisters went to the best (or second best depending on your preference for light or dark blue) university in the country.

I didn't.

I have a vivid memory of fleeing from the dinner table in floods of tears because the four of them were sitting round working out the square footage of our walls and therefore the number of tins of paint that was needed. It was like an exam maths question was squatting at our dinning room table under the pretence of light conversation.

On car journeys we use to be set mental arithmetic challenges.

From a family of mathematicians, engineers and scientists I was the rogue arts person.

But, as a result, I always considered myself better than average when it comes with numbers, just not freakishly good like my family. It has given me a good grounding. When I am amongst 'normal' people I realise that I'm not as numerically challenged as I'd believed in my youth.

Or so I thought.

I've had to reassess this opinion of myself in light of the fact that I failed to calculate correctly how long six weeks was.

It turns out that I counted wrong. I will finish the pre-IVF pill packet not on the 26 of October, but the 17th. But I have already agreed the dates I am off work, starting on the 24 of October. Which is actually perfect as the first week of injections isn't that onerous and this way I should have a week or so break at the end of IVF, when I know the result, to either think about next steps or happily bask in a pregnant glow.


I know, I am an idiot.

But don't worry, I don't feel like the family dunce anymore. I mean one of my nephews can't even read and can barely string together a coherent sentance, and the other can only spell the simplest of words. I beat them.


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Head Over Heart

I'm quite an emotionally lead person. My decision-making process is based on gut-feelings rather than rational thought.

I usually get lucky - who'd have thought that the skint wastrel I hooked up with at University would turn out to be such a fine upstanding husband? (Unfortunately he ended up with (regular commenter) Granine but the other one I bagged isn't so bad either).

Again, when I did the non-sensible thing and I quit a job with nothing to go to I landed on my feet with a much better gig.

But, maybe I am finally maturing, because I have just made a decision that rationally I know is right even though every fibre of my emotional being is rebelling against it.

I've decided to wait until the end of October before having the next round of IVF rather than the start. I know there is only three weeks in it but even that seems like a long wait - I mean come on ladies you know how long a two week wait is.

My reasons for wanting to start on the fifth of October were:
1) It is sooner
2) If I got pregnant them my baby would be due on or around the 11 of July (my birthday is the 14th)
3) Did I mention it is sooner?

My reason for delaying for three weeks are:
1) It gives me more time at work to wrap things up after "The Summer of Hell"(TM) before my six week sabbatical
2) It gives work more time to work out how on earth they'll manage without me - I had to wait for my biopsy results before giving my boss dates so I have only just been able to ask for the specific time off (yes, as it happens, I do have quite a high opinion of myself)
3) By allowing myself more time to wrap things I will be more prepared and thus less stressed about leaving work
4) The husband, for whom October looks set to rival my summer in terms of work-load is more likely to be able to find time to nip out and spaff in a jar and hold my hand during medical procedures in early November than mid-October. And he is fairly important, dare I say crucial, to the process. (Unless, Granine, do you want to offer up your husband as an alternative, now that he has a proven track record? No? Hello? ...)

See. I'm becoming Spock-like in my decision making processes.

And I guess on the plus side it'll mean if it does work my birthday won't be over-shadowed by that of my kid!


Sunday, 11 September 2011

Am I normal?

I have a luxury.  One that divides people.  Responses that I have received upon admitting to this extravagance ranges from "Yeah, me too, life saver", undisguised envy, to self-righteous "I could never do that, besides I enjoy doing it myself," to utter disgust at my bourgeois indulgence.

But I genuinely think it has saved our marriage. The moment we started to indulge our arguments and resentments were cut by half.

My dears, ... deep breath ... once a week we have a cleaner come round.

I love it. When I come home from work on a Thursday night and open the door I marvel at how she does it.  In two hours she achieves more that I can in a day. How does she make the cushions so plump? Does she iron the bed to make it so creaseless? And she folds the toilet paper end, like they do in hotels.

I've got a tear in my eye just thinking about it.

But it isn't without its downsides.

She tidys the TV remotes away by putting them next to the TV. The one place in the house where they don't need to be. She unconsciously diminishes my husbands sexuality by popping his pink, purple and yellow socks away in my drawer.

And she piles.

My incomprehensible (to anyone else) filing system: To do pile, to file pile, to probably throw away pile, to do something with but not quite sure what pile, becomes one large stack. And she'll incorporate wild cards - the day's post, the magazine by my bed, wrapping paper.

Did any of you spot that?

THE DAY'S POST.

On Thursday I received a letter from my Doctor with the results of my biopsy.

Today, Sunday, I found the letter. Carefully piled, or possibly maliciously hidden.

I opened it.

It said my biopsy results were:


 "Entirely normal and showed no evidence of the previously seen changes which is very reassuring".



I've not been so relieved to discover I was normal since the day I started my period.

I might have to sack the cleaner though...



Saturday, 10 September 2011

Summer - not lovin'

It is nothing personal, you understand, this lack of blogging.  Rather it is indicative of the kind of summer I've had.

I've known for years that this summer was going to be work-heavy - big, big changes at work. Whilst I had hoped at some point to be cushioned from it by maternity leave, or at least part-time working, that hasn't happened and suddenly it is upon us. Whilst I can work as hard as the best of them what I am finding tough is how responsible I feel about everything. Which means even when I'm not working I'm waking up sweaty-palmed thinking about something that needs to be sorted, a question that needs to be asked, something that no one seems to have thought about.

And everyone is fraught. I've lost count of the number of people who have indignantly shouted at me that they haven't had a holiday this summer. Rather than respond with "Really? My summer holiday was two days off for an operation," I've had to sympathise and cajole them to still do what I want.

On the plus side there is an end in sight. The work and the stress hinges on the first week in October. After which things will have worked, or not, but at least the worst of it will be over.

It has to be.

The first week in October is also when I hope to start IVF round three.  I say hope because I have yet to receive the biopsy results. The reason I want it to start then is because the start needs to coincide with the end of a pill packet so either I start on the 5 of October or 26th of October.

Workwise the latter would make more sense. However, I feel I've waited long enough so I'm gunning for the former.

I. Just. Need. My. Biopsy. Results.

I am painfully aware that this summer, as well as stealing my free time, has obliterated my sense of humour.  I will endeavour to ensure the next post is a happier to remind you why you bother to read this drivel in the first place.