Monday, 31 January 2011

Awards Season

The Golden Globes have just finished, the Oscar nominees have been announced. Awards season has been picked up by the bloggers and they are running with it.

There seems to have been a little flurry of bloggers awarding each other for being generally awesome recently.  I  am very flattered to have been made the recipient of a few.

As a rule I'm not very good at following rules so I'm not going to be doing the seven random things about myself (I've done that here).

But as the awarders are bloggers new to me (and therefore quite possibly new to you) so here is a quick summary:

The Chronicles of Violetta Margarita: The name isn't hers but one she has picked out for the daughter she desperately wants. At the moment she is jacking up for her third shot at IUI and is the proud(ish) possessor of a diagnosis of "unexplained infertility" despite having some thyroid issues. Oh, and she has no problem telling if she ovulating.

Fertility Frustration:  I think the title is one we can all identify with. She has had a rough time after two failed IUI's she was on a downward spiral but quit smoking, lost weight and is back on the medical intervention route. She had wind chimes (but no more), she is a nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit, a tough job at the best of times - but for an infertile - ouch.  In November she had an IUI that resulted in a brief positive, but January's didn't work at all. She is taking an enforced treatment break just now.

Team Baby: The CEO of team baby is 42 her finacé, Rob is a car fanatic - and they got together by going out for a Valentine's Meal "as friends". All in she has been trying for 10 months but, time being of the essence, she has already done four IUIs and is now having month off before IVF.

So there you go. Maybe some of their stories chime with yours in which case go over and say hello.



Saturday, 29 January 2011

Twin Time

On the way to the Spa my sparring partner and I discussed the personas we would adopt for the next couple of days. We narrowed it down to lamest hen night ever (with just the two of us), or lesbian couple. However, our wedding rings belied the hen night and our lesbian couple act was pretty quickly foiled when we entered our room and recoiled at the sight of a double bed.  Our room was swiftly rearranged and, fittingly, we had twin beds instead.

The spa was labyrinthine affair, well appointed but with a institutional air. Everyone wondered round in their regulation white toweling gowns like a uniform. This, plus the predominantly female clientel, strict meal times and isolated location did take me back to my boarding school days.

*shudder*

The meals were resolutely low fat - there was no salt on the tables (lest we inadvertently poison ourselves) and, whilst we could purchase alcohol with our meal, the menu recommended no more than two glasses per day. I've gone months without booze, but this sparked a reflex rebellion in me so I had my two glasses with impunity.

I also flagrantly disregarded the advice stamped on the buffet lunch plate:


Not that I could seriously over indulge - there are only so many lentils that will fit on a plate.  The moment I was back in London I headed straight for a cream tea, complete with clotted cream.

We had the run of the place with a free pass for as many fitness classes as we wanted. The womb mate declined to attend any; I went to just one, because it intrigued me: hula hooping.

It was good fun. I got the giggles.

But I felt like it seriously worked my waist (or 'core' as the instructor liked to call it).  At the end of the session the instructor said she could give us a voucher for 10% off a hoop in the shop.  For one heady moment I was seriously tempted.

Then I remembered:
a) I am due to start injecting myself in my stomach in a weeks time - probably not the best idea to increase my chances of bruising in that area
b) After the injecting I am, hopefully, going to be sturgeon-full of eggs - again I don't want to concentrate my exercise on that area
c) And if things go really well I should be nurturing an embryo in my uterus, and I want to give it a calm environment, not a washing machine experience.

But the real clincher:

d) Having been to that shop I realised the 10% discount would still make it significantly more expensive than anything in the real world.

I know I am resolutely taking the piss, how can I not? I mean how can you take a place seriously with this on the wall.


Despite all that, we did have fun.  It was really nice to get away for some twin time, and we even found time to talk about things other than infertility.  We were treated to a facial and massage (part of the winning package), and had lovely walks, away from the other inmates, in the grounds amongst the snowdrops and herons.

Now I'm relaxed. Bring on the IVF.



Wednesday, 26 January 2011

I'm so outta here

A silent observer would have been confused by my behaviour this week.

On Tuesday I had my bikini-line waxed, today I shaved my legs. Tomorrow I might complete the lower body hat-trick with a toe-nail varnish.

It is winter, a time of year when thick black tights and cosy pyjamas do away with the need for any sub-eyebrow grooming.

In fact it has been noted by the husband that, in the dark, he can't tell where the brushed cotton jim-jams finish and down-covered limbs start. It isn't so much that romance is dead, more romance can count itself lucky and will overlook a little fur if it is going to get any.  Especially when I am perpetually on birth control.

I haven't been whisking off my whiskers for the benefit of the husband.  Usually the only thing that would prompt such assiduous hair removal would be a trip to the doctors for some dildo-cam action.  I am very keen to present a neatly trimmed front when visiting medical establishments.  I don't know why, possibly it is the only way I can cling on to a tiny shred of dignity during such invasive procedures.

But I have a good few weeks before my pre-IVF scans - so that wasn't the depilatory catalyst.

No, the reasons for this is I am off to a very posh spa this weekend.  Remember, back last February, when I won the spa trip for two?  Well the voucher expires next month so I decided to pull my finger out an book it.  The husband has refused to join me.  No matter how many times I explain that the facial that is part of the package isn't *that* kind of facial he still recoils at the idea of a spa break. 

So I will be going with my barren buddy, my sterile sis, the womb mate.

I think the pair of us deserve to indulge ourselves a little.  Even if it has prompted the largest de-fuzzing since Britney Spears got a tad over zealous with the clippers.



Monday, 24 January 2011

Telling The Boss (Again)

On thing that has made the whole infertility thing a lot less stressful than it could have been is my work.  Specifically how flexible my boss has been about my appointments.

My boss was one of the first people I told about my infertility. I tell that tale here.

We’d worked together for years and were friends as well as colleagues, and he trusted me. So if I needed to go off early for an appointment he’d let me. Or if I had to have an extra half hour for my lunch break to get some blood done it wasn’t a big deal – I’d make up the time.  Equally I didn’t take the piss – if I knew that I was going to be off for a full half a day, I’d take it as holiday.

Notice the past tense.

In September my boss left for a new job, new town, new husband.

He had been the only person at work who knew about infertility – the flexibility wasn’t a company policy but done on an individual basis between us.

By November, just as fertility things were kicking off again, I had a new boss.

I decided that I wasn’t going to tell him about our infertility immediately.  I’d wait until he’d got to know and trust me (and not chalk me down as someone who would be off for womb inspections every five minute and therefore unreliable).

However, that was before I had the a pre-operation appointment scheduled for the 23 of December, booked to clash with  an important meeting. A meeting that had been in the diary since he started. A meeting that couldn’t be moved unless I had A Very Good Reason. I had one, but just telling him that wouldn’t be enough.

So I came clean.

The fact that he has a 6 year old and 4 year old child gave me a bit of hope that he would be sympathetic regarding my procreative hopes.

I even, for a moment allowed myself to indulge in a minor fantasy.  After all, with 1 in 6 couples experiencing infertility maybe he too had gone through this prior to his kids being born. His weak attempt at humour when I told him about IVF; "Maybe you'll have triplets!" swiftly convinced me that wasn't the case.

(And can you imagine what our meetings was like with both of us resorting to inappropriate "Oh my God I didn't really say that out loud did I?" jokes? I even, at one point, reassured him that the husband was fine so I wasn't going to have to resort to a sperm donation.

From him.

My boss.

Who I'd known, at this point, for less than a month.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this kind of thing.)

At first I was concerned that he’d see me as a liability, someone who isn’t committed to their job. So I spelled it out to him, I told him I was committed to my job and that I would do all I could to arrange my work round this, but I was clear if something has to give this baby-business is my priority.

He took it well. And in retrospect why not? Now at he knows that at the very least I’m going to be hanging around for another 10 months. I’m not about to hand in my notice and leave him, the new boy, in the lurch. He also knows that I am going to do my best not to take the piss, not for me sick days because I feel a bit under the weather – my sick days are too precious to waste on a cough or cold.

As noted previously, infertiles make very reliable employees.

I remember one of my best friends saying how nervous she had felt telling her male boss that she was pregnant.  She felt that whilst she was saying those words her boss was actually hearing "I have had a lot of sex."

And I also got the distinct impression during my clinical explanation of how I would be in late if I had scans and I couldn't exactly predict how long each phase would last and when things like the egg retrieval and transfer would take place I might as well be saying "I will have more foreign items stuffed up my vagina in the next couple of months than your kids have in their toy box - think on that, Big boy, think on that."

It went well but that doesn't detract from the fact that it is very, very awkward talking about your lady bits to a man you’ve known for less than a month and who isn’t a medical professional.



Wednesday, 19 January 2011

IVF is on. Really, this time.

"I bet you thought you'd never get here," chortled the Doctor as he impaled me, performing the mock Enbryo transfer, just to check everything was in order for the real thing. 

"I'm still not sure I will," I said and repeated was I thought was a classic line about not wanting to count my eggs until they were embryos.

He gave me a strange look, and hurriedly removed the speculum.

Everything else went smoothly, he didn't think it was necessary to check my tubes as that had been done relatively recently so he gave me the all clear to proceed to IVF.  Not wanting to get my hopes dashed again I double checked. "So there is nothing more that you are waiting for that might stop me having IVF."

His response was emphatic, "No ..." and then less so, "... unless there are any more blood tests to be done."

There are more bloods but that is in hand so unless the husband or I have contracted HIV in the last 12 months (which is highly unlikely) we are good to go.

My next stop was the nurse. Who gave me my first set of instructions, they tell you things on a need to know basis.

I will continue to take the pill until the 8th of February.

On the 5th of February I have to start injecting myself with Buserelin. A treat from the selection of drugs I picked up back in November. Ironically this drug is to suppress my ovaries, the next stage is to fire them up again - but we didn't talk about that, it is very much one step at a time.

"You don't have the Buserelin with you" she stated "so it is a bit difficult to explain how you do the injections."

"Ah! But I do" I countered, and delved into my Mary Poppins bag to retrieve one of every different type of drug and needle I possess. I took no chances this morning as I packed that bag with everything including my medical notes, passport, marriage certificate, painkillers, sanitary towels and a good book. I am not a naturally organised person but, without wanting to sound more smug than normal I think I am starting to get a handle on how to deal with the NHS; think like a boy scout, be prepared.

So she talked me through the injection process as I scribbled down every word. She didn't actually give me a physical demonstration, and I am a little nervous about the self-injecting thing, but I have no doubt that'll be a post in itself.

I now don't have to communicate with any doctors or nurses until my period starts at some point after I stop taking the pill on the 8th of February.

I'm starting to think that this might actually happen.


Friday, 14 January 2011

What A Difference A Day Makes

Oh, you are all very good.  Those of you who told me to keep pestering that is.

Inspired by your comments on the last post I manned up and forwarded Monday's email back to the fertility unit, along with the following message:

Hi 

I haven't had a reply to the email below and I am getting a bit concerned.

I don't have another appointment scheduled. I am not sure what the next step is.

I have made an appointment with my GP for Monday to hopefully get some more Microgynon as I am about to run out, but I don't know how long I should be taking the pill for. (When really all I want to do is get off the pill and start trying to get pregnant!)

Please can you let me know what is happening next?

Thanks

Liz


See what I did? I kept it short. I noted my concern. And, in what I like to think is a stoke of pure genius (and don't disabuse me of that notion) I tried to personalise it by highlighting the end result - pregnancy.

The response was swift.

And, frankly, brilliant.

My biopsy result is CLEAR.  I am go go go for IVF.

This afternoon has been a frantic kurfuffle of secret phone calls, checking emails and even a client meeting that just so happened to take me on a detour past the hospital to pick up forms for some more blood tests.

What's that? Oh come on you didn't think I would be going STRAIGHT to IVF. Of course I need more tests, because the ones I had last year when I was 'about to have IVF' have now expired so I have to go again and I need to re-sign all the forms.

I need to have a blood text to check neither the husband or I have contracted HIV in the last 12 months. (I like to think of it as an annual fidelity test for the husband, no better way of checking he hasn't been whoring out, having unprotected sex with the HIV positive).

Also next Wednesday I have to go in for a hysterosalpingo-contrast sonography (I had to google it too), basically a fallopian tube check. Plus a side order of mock embryo transfer.

But, and I don't want to count my eggs before I've ovulated, but it looks like then I'll be good to go for IVF - maybe as early as the end of the month.

Do you know what? It feels like Christmas has come three weeks late.


Thursday, 13 January 2011

No News is ...

... exactly that.

No news.

Once again I am in a special kind of limbo that only the NHS seem capable of creating.

I don't have another appointment scheduled.

I don't have my latest biopsy results from the Christmas eve operation.

I don't have a prescription for Zoladex that I was told in December I would be put on after my operation.

I haven't had a response to my email asking about the above.

I am continuing to take the pill that was prescribed in November. I assume I should be doing that.

I, therefore, can't even use this time to try and get pregnant naturally.

I just don't know what is going to happen next, or when.

Somewhere, in an alternate reality I am starting my injections this weekend for IVF as promised in November.

In another alternate reality I had IVF early last year following on from my appointment last January.

In yet another alternate reality I managed to have children on schedule and am currently the harassed mother of a 3 year old and 1 year old.

I suppose I should be grateful that I am not in the alternate reality where I have had a hysterectomy and have no chance on conceiving.


Monday, 10 January 2011

I am infertile, and it is my fault

Not only is it my fault, but it is my fault SPECIFICALLY because I want children too much.

Don't worry I am not going to start banging on about how my desire to reproduce has inhibited the relaxed state of mind that most people seem to think is the only thing standing between an infertile and a rampant breeder.

For the past four years whilst I have been as impregnable as the Berlin wall (pre-1989) I have had one small crumb of comfort.

It didn’t think my fault. I assumed there was nothing I could have done differently that would have affected my breeding potential. It was just ‘one of those things’.

My age wasn’t a deciding factor. My weight wasn’t a problem. My drug taking had never been more than studenty. And the husband didn’t spend his youth over-heating his spherical sperm sculptors in tight leather trousers.

So when we couldn’t get pregnant and all the tests indicated nothing wrong other than a dodgy womb lining at least I knew it was fate at fault.

However a bit of reading has disabused me of this stance.

To explain I am going to have to take you back to my mid twenties.

*Insert wavy hand motions here.*

The husband and I (then the boyfriend and I) were living happily in sin. We both knew that marriage and kids was a when not if.  We were happy with this. (Except every time I got drunk when I'd start haranguing him about when we were going to get married. I drank a lot then. It is a wonder he stayed). But even more so I'd ask him about when we were going to have children.  Initially when we'd met aged 18 and 19 respectively I hadenvisaged having children at around 25.  I mean that was pretty old, right? Don't worry I didn't share this with him on our first date or else for sure we wouldn't be here today. 

I waited for a least three weeks.

By the time I reached 25 I knew the time wasn't right but, at around 26 we talked about kids. I was pushing for 28, he was vehemently against it.  We compromised on 30.

At this point, I had four years to wait but I decided the wait wouldn't be in vain.  I'd been on the pill for years, far longer than I'd been sexually active – more in a desparete attempt to stem the flow of my terrible teenage acne.  Thanks Aunty Poly Cystic-Ovaries.

I was concerned, and my logic went like this:

Birth control = no babies

Birth control for a long period of time = build up of drugs in system

Build up of drugs in system = harder to get pregnant after coming off birth control

So aged 26 I came off chemical birth control and resorted to the barrier method (by which I mean condoms, not a bunch of pillows dissecting our double non-martial bed).

Ladies, this logic is as flawed as my teenage skin.

Here is what actually happened:

Birth control = regular periods

Regular periods = monthly shedding of the womb lining

Stopping birth control = lazy-ass womb who could go happily go three or four months before a period

Lazy ass womb = womb lining clinging on for dear life and generally getting diseased

Diseased womb lining = tenacious womb lining as inhospitable to embryos as a giant panda

Tenacious womb = infertility with a side order of precancerous cells

Cure = birth control to try and dislodge the womb lining.

Since starting trying to get pregnant I have been on birth control for over a year (when you add it all up) over a quarter of the time I have been trying to get pregnant it has been a hormonal impossibility.

And all because I thought I was doing the right thing.  Chances are if I'd gone straight from the pill to trying to get knocked up it would have worked.

Do you remember when I said I had very few regrets?

Well now I've got two more:

1) Giving up the pill when I did, and giving my womb a chance to grow and inch but take a mile

And

2) googling the condition I now have.

Oh, and you know the sweetest irony of the whole thing?  The best cure for what I have?  Nine months of continual progesterone hormones followed by a massive shedding of the womb lining in the form of a placenta.

Yup, you've got it.

Pregnancy.


Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The Impatient Patient

Well, it has been a nice break but the holiday is well and truly over and the hard graft must begin.

I don't want to start again.  I am dreading the constant phone calls, the endless emails, the slight panic that I am missing something. Reading my notes, writing my notes, ticking off my to do list.

I'm not talking about my job. I went back to work a couple of days ago. That was fine.

Instead I have to psyche myself up for the ongoing saga of getting people to care about my womb and dealing with the NHS.

The plan, following my Christmas Eve operation, was to start me on Zoladex for one or two months. The plan, unfortunately wasn't relayed to the doctors I saw on Christmas Eve.

You may remember that they weren't even told what operation I was having, let alone the aftercare.

I tried my best to get this clarified whilst lying on a stretcher in my operation gear of support socks, disposable knickers and open backed dressing gown. Not the best position when one wants to be assertive about ones medical aftercare.

As I awoke from the anaesthetic the Doctor was there to say she had spoken to my Doctor and I was to carry on taking the pill I was currently on. And the next step would be discussed at my next appointment.

And therein lies the first problem:
I don't have a next appointment scheduled.

The second problem:
I only have enough of my current prescription to last until the 16 of January.

The third problem:
There is no point calling them immediately because I might as well wait until they have the latest biopsy results from the Christmas Eve appointment.  I assume that all labs were closed over the Christmas period so I guess the earliest I'll get these is next week.

And so on Monday I'll start again.  The ringing, the emailing, the generally being a pain in the arse. I don't relish my role as the most impatient patient. I hate it.

But as I learned before Christmas it really does reap results.  And I would like at least one shot at IVF before my thirty fifth birthday - a mere 7 months away.

That isn't too much to ask for, is it?


Monday, 3 January 2011

Getting Profound

You may have noticed that I haven't started the year with a post of my New Year's resolutions.  I figure you can all guess what I want out of this year.

That's right, I want to lose weight.

Preferably about 7 pounds. All in one go. In approximately 10 months time. After having spent the previous 9 months steadily gaining a huge belly.

So instead, inspired by the inane tweets of some of the fertility coaches on Twitter, I have come up with some new maxims to help you through the days of 2011.
  • Hell hath no fury like a woman on fertility drugs.
  • The best things in life cost thousands in fertility treatments.
  • If at first you don't succeed, consult your Doctor.
  • A problem shared is a problem gossiped about.
  • There is such a word as can't.
  • You can choose your friends but not your family, unless you decide to go down the donor/ adoption route.
  • Two's company, three's a dream.
  • Don't put all your eggs in one petri dish.
  • Good things come to those that wait, but will be an awful lot quicker if you seek medical intervention.
No need to thank me.