Saturday, 30 April 2011

Picking Up The Baton

Today I start my injections for my second IVF, taking the baton of this IVF relay from my twin sister with barely a fumble.

She found out on Thursday her first IVF didn't work either. She, like me, didn't manage to have any embryos left to freeze.

This should have been the end of an epic journey for both of us. Instead, we feel as close to the start as ever.

I'm starting this IVF with none of the hope I had last time.

I'm gutted for my wombmate and for myself.

But the race is still on. The question is: will we both ever finish it?

And, if we do, will we beat Princess Catherine to the finish line?




Wednesday, 27 April 2011

There but for the Grace...

The latest issue of Marie Claire magazine opens, as usual, with a column from Grace Dent. Her columns always make me laugh, she is funny, acerbic and irreverent. (All that I aspire to)

This month the column was about the joys of children. Specifically, the joys of children that you can return to their parents whilst you knock back another glass of chilled white.

All well and good.

But what particularly struck me was this sentence:

"After years spent trying for a baby, and many appointments involving bleak phrases such as ‘Nurse, bring the vice and the blue dye’ and ‘This might hurt for four days’, I decided that perhaps life would be fine without my own children."

She went on to highlight the benefits of her choice. Benefits that were virtually parroting Mariella's column (which, if you haven't read May's response, go and do so now) "I can live in a house with white interiors full of easily-smashable objects. I don’t need to take a break from the career I’ve worked on for two decades. I can go on long-haul holidays..."

Grace's justification did not annoy me like Mariella's because she is practicing what she preaches, unlike Frostrup with her two children who had the audacity to expound on the joys of childlessness, Grace really is living the ... er ... dream.

A couple of years ago I gave myself until November 2011 before was going to take my feet out of the stirrups and get off the baby-making horse. The reasons were relatively arbitrary - by that point we'd have tried for 5 years and I figured I would have had the best of both NHS and private treatment which would inform my decision about whether there was any point in continuing to beat a dead womb.

I figure at this rate I've got two more IVFs in me.  The NHS funded one for which I start injecting myself on Saturday and then, if that fails, another private one (the joys of spending five years as an infertile is that you have plenty of time to save up a packet for a self-funded IVF, not so many of those long-haul flights though).

At the moment I am not feeling spectacularly positive about the next cycle - for no reason other than I've already failed once.  And four and a half years, without even the sniff of a chemical pregnancy, tends to dampen ones spirit somewhat.

So back to my original point. How does one go from being filled up to your uterus with blue dye to perfect contentment in a life where children arrive for a few hours, use your DVD player as a toaster and go home chock-full of sugar to wreak havoc elsewhere.

I'm not having a go, I genuinely want to know.

I might just tweet her, and ask.



Monday, 25 April 2011

A Distinct Lack of Willpower

Last IVF my behaviour was exemplary.

I gave up drinking a couple of months before jab day.

I stopped drinking regular tea a good year before hand (and never touched coffee anyway).

Acupuncture was a regular occurrence.

And I was going to the gym, if not as often as I'd have liked, then at least once a week.

This time. Not so much.

I had a cup of tea just after the last IVF failed.  Now I mix and match between a 'proper cuppa' and the poor substitute of Rooibus. I reckon I'm currently on three cups of the hard stuff a day.

Last weekend when I said I'd stopped drinking booze until the next IVF, I really meant it. Really. In fact the day I made that decision I seem to remember repeating the phrase "Never again, never ever again" quite a few times.  But that was followed by a shitty 12 hour work day (needed a beer), a work event where there was the lethal combination of free booze and disgruntled folk having a go (two glasses of rosé), and that rarest of occurrences a sunny, four-day, bank holiday weekend (sherry, white wine spritzer and some more beer).

The thing is, if I really thought any lifestyle changes would make a difference I would be back on that wagon faster than anyone who has read Charlie Sheen's twitter feed.

But, after being so 'good' last time and it coming to nought I just can't quite muster the same enthusiasm this time round.

But I'm trying. I've booked my first acupuncture appointment since the last IVF, for this Wednesday. And, come Saturday, when I begin injecting myself again I absolutely will stop the booze. (The instructions with the meds are clear, do not mix with alcohol, and I am a sucker for following instructions - thank goodness I've never been put in a war crimes situation).

But the rest of it: gym, caffeine, pineapple ... Meh.

I just can't see the point in martyring myself through another IVF.

It didn't make a difference last time, will carrying on with life really make the difference this time?



Saturday, 23 April 2011

IT'S A CARD!

I've said on here before that, whilst finding out a friend is pregnant can be incredibly tough, by the time they have the baby I have had six to eight months to get use to the idea and am delighted (and relieved) when I hear the baby has been delivered safely and the mother and child are doing well.

I have a few superstitions.  I don't buy a congratulations card or gift until I've had that text (and it always is a text - usually at some ungodly hour).

But because I can't plan ahead I am then thrown into a panic.

I scurry round the shops looking for the perfect card.  The card that says "Awesome! I hope you aren't too ripped, and fingers crossed you've got a sleeper."

Unfortunately this is where Hallmark and I differ.  I have yet to find that card.

For the past two weeks I have wandered in and out of card shops and I reckon that I now have a pretty intimate knowledge of all the new baby cards on offer in central London.  I've blogged about this before, here, however on this occasion because my friend has a daughter of reading age no sweary cards were allowed.

The thing that annoys me most about these cards is all they seem to do is state the obvious:

IT'S A GIRL!

You imagine the Mother opening it thinking "er .. yeah ... I know. I told you that in the text I sent you at 5.24am when she was born"

Or simply:

NEW BABY!!

Like the parents are going to open the card slap their foreheads and say "Oh shit, that's what the funny crying noise is."

And the imagery.

Like you'd give your Dad who is into Golf a card with a bunch of golf clubs on the front, or your sister who likes shoes a card in the shape of a stiletto the designers have clearly thought. "Hmmm ... what do babies like?"

But rather than getting cards with a pair of milk-filled boobs on the front, or a satisfyingly full nappy they go for babies booties, a rattle or pram.

It got me thinking there really should be a range of cards for IVF babies. These kind of slogans I'm thinking of:

Better late than never

Or:

Worth every penny ... but that's the college fund spent

Or simply:
A Miracle of Science

And for twins:

Two for the price of one!

or

Awesome! The spare came through too

Come on, you are a creative bunch, any other ideas?

(And if you are reading this tirade thinking the whole post is just an elaborate way to subtly apologise to my mate for taking two weeks to send a card, well, then, you'd be quite right.

Soz Wig, the card's in the post. )




Wednesday, 20 April 2011

2012

With a mere year and a bit to go Britain is gripped with Olympic fever. And when I say gripped I mean it is being gently pawed at by the limp, sweaty hand of commercialism.

The deadline to register for tickets is in a week's time so we have had to look ahead to next year and try to work out what athletic endeavours are worthy of our time, attention and money.

The process for getting tickets is bizarre.

First the husband and I spent ages procrastinating. Trying to agree on what we wanted and when.

Then we panicked realising that we were running out of time, although whatever we do now we won't get to see the fruits of our labours until well into 2012.

To book tickets we have to choose what you want and actually put down some cash*. But there are no guarantees that, whatever we choose, we'll end up with any tickets.

We have to play the numbers game. If we just choose just one event we might get lucky and get the tickets.  But far better to hedge our bets and choose several embryos events and hope to end up with at least one.  Of course if we get everything that we bid for we'll end up with way more than we wanted, and it will be an awful lot more expensive than anticipated.

This process reminds me of something, I just can't quite put my finger on it.



*Although to be fair, this is only taken if you have been successful in getting the tickets. 



Monday, 18 April 2011

What do you do on your two week wait?

Yesterday the Wombmate had an embryo transferred.


In a rare display of twin-telepathy we both spent Sunday curled on our separate sofas moving only gingerly and when absolutely necessary. 


The reason for my lethargy was not, however, transfer related but had much more to do with the fall out from a Fortieth birthday party the night before.


Fortieths have become my nemesis, remember last summer


Once again, from now, I'll be staying off the hooch until my next IVF fails, or produces an heir. But, whilst I groaned in self-administered agony, my wombmate seems to have had a more productive day:

I am now officially in my two week wait. Obviously I’ve done this before but this time I know that, at least at the start, there is a real embryo involved, I even have a photo. So what to do with myself? I thought I’d take some inspiration from the web.

Firstly, I discovered there are significant differences between those sites targeted at IVF waiters and those who are doing it in the more natural way. The latter advise long hot baths and sex. My understanding is that these are not a good idea and not just sex, but orgasms are out. No one mentioned this at the clinic so I don’t know if there is scientific proof but I’ve seen it on several different sites – any experts out there?

And the rest of the advice? Well there is the usual stuff, watch films, go for walks, cook food etc. However, I have found some gems, (these are not all from the same website):

1. Get rid of toxic chemicals in your house
I’m no expert, but is now the time to be messing about with rat poison?

2. Investigate life insurance
Yes, very sensible. But surely considering death and serious injury are unlikely to put you in a relaxed mood conducive for conception.

3. Delegate the burden of the two-week wait. Clearly someone has to worry constantly during this time, but does it have to be you? Divide the days up among your best friends and closest family.
Can’t help thinking this is a bit beyond the call of duty, and I'm not exactly sure how you do this.

4. Meditation and prayer can help ground you....you could also speak with your baby spirit...
Maybe I’m too British for this one but the latter suggestion sounds decidedly ‘ungrounded’.

5. Practice peeing on a stick - with a Q tip
Now, I’m speechless...



Saturday, 16 April 2011

Different strokes for different folks

For most people how they conceive follows a pretty similar pattern, frantic back and forth jiggling, ejaculation, sperm meets egg, job done.

Of course there are different circumstances. A one night stand verses a perfunctory coupling during a long marriage. Missionary position or making full use of the Lovenasium. In a four poster bed at a boutique hotel or squashed in the back of a Ford Cortina pulled off the A52.

It appears that there is a similar number of variables when trying to conceive through IVF. One size, does not fit all.

What I've found intriguing is whilst the wombmate and I are both having IVF, our protocols are almost unrecognisable.

I had to have at least three weeks on birth control before starting my IVF injections.

She just had to start a period.

I had a baseline scan on day four, then more on days nine, 11, 13 and 14.

She had two scans.

I had to inject myself for 23 days leading up to the egg collection and then for 16 days after the egg transfer.

She injected herself for eight days in total.

My eggs were collected under a general anaesthetic.

She was drugged up to the eyeballs but conscious and, by all accounts, gabbling away to the staff throughout the process.

I had 21 eggs, 1 disintegrated, 3 were immature, 12 fertilised.

She had 9 eggs, 6 immature, 2 fertilised.

My fertilised eggs were checked and reported on by the embryologist on a daily basis.

Her embryologist favours an every other day check (she doesn't like to disturb them every day).

My number of embryos dwindled throughout the process leaving just two for implantation.

Her two embryos, at last check, were still going strong.

Tomorrow my wombmate is going in to have one embryo (hopefully by then a blastocyst) transfered.

I hope her result is as different from mine as the rest of my IVF. (This time round at any rate). 



Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Comments please

Today my wombmate went in for egg collection and they retrieved a healthy nine eggs. I asked her if she wanted to do another guest post. This is what she sent through; think of it as a little insight into the meanderings of her aimless mind whilst being intimately examined, and then stop thinking about my sister in that undignified position:

My IVF centre has a box for comments, I've got a few, but I don't think these are the kind of things they are looking for:

1. IVF has made me reconsider my wardrobe - For the first IVF planning meeting, illogically, I was so concerned that somebody was going to change their minds and decide I wasn’t eligible for treatment that I went to buy a new outfit, like you would for a job interview. The brief for this one was "young with potential to be mumsey." I went for a shirt dress. The one bonus of ‘dressing’ for IVF is that you don’t need matching underwear.

2. The injections have been okay – I had one which made me cry but that is as likely to be the hormones making me a bit pathetic as the pain. My husband has been injecting me. I know quite a lot about phobic behaviour (mainly from a professional point of view, I hasten to add) and I think because I haven't been injecting myself means I haven’t had a chance to desensitised to them, but you know what? I don’t think I have the energy right now to deal with them, and as I said they are manageable as they are.

3. Forget trying to work out mother/ child age gaps I’ve been trying to work out the ages of my
doctors - My follicle scan was a ‘first’ because it was my first male doctor, a bit of a feat given all
the checks I've had far. However the more disconcerting thing was his age, I guessed mid twenties. During the scan I was trying to work out discrete ways of finding out for sure, but gave up. I decided I couldn’t get the question ‘Do you remember what you were doing when Princess Di died? – I hope you were in medical school’ very easily into conversation.

4. Why don’t they have glow stars on the ceilings of the scan rooms? Actually, I might put that one
in the comments box.




Sunday, 10 April 2011

IVF relay

I am between IVFs, but far from being dropped, the baton has been picked up by my wombmate who is now at the scanning and follicle counting stage of her first IVF.

It is bizarre that, through pure coincidence, we should suddenly be in the same situation at virtually the same time.

Our fertility issues are markedly different.  Our individual diagnosis proves that isn't a rogue genetic similarity that has caused us to face infertility. (We are barely recognisable as sisters, let alone twins.)

I had a two year head start at trying to conceive, and yet our treatment is weeks apart. (I take some credit for this as from six months in I started nagging the womb mate to visit the Doctor 'just to check there is nothing obviously wrong.')

I did worry how I would, honestly, feel at this point. Having failed at my last IVF I wondered whether a little part of me would secretly hope that it didn't work for her first time too. If a nasty jealousy would spring up and need to be quashed. Something that I would be ashamed to admit and hate myself for feeling but that would be beyond my control.

Thankfully I don't feel like that at all.

I am desperate for it to work for her. Although she is a dramatic six minutes older than me I've often felt quite protective of her, and I hate that she is suffering like me, like us.

I'll be honest, it isn't all altruistic, an IVF good news story would help me feel a bit more positive about my up and coming go too. When I take the baton off her again at the end of the month.

That isn't to say the stab of jealousy won't come.  I would be some kind of saint if she got pregnant and my next IVF fails not to feel envy at some point.  But another niece or nephew to hang out with would be very cool.

Please join me in wishing her the very, very best of luck.

And whilst you're on a good luck role the Hairy Farmer Family have just had an epic Blastocyst transfer, so head over there too and show some love.




Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Colour Me Happy

Sunday morning didn't start particularly auspiciously. I was aware that it was mother's day in the UK but had chalked it up as simply a day that was irrelevant to me rather than one that would upset me.

That was until I saw a thoughtful tweet mentioning how painful mother's day must be for those who couldn't be mothers, had lost their mothers, or worse both.

Queue snotty tears on the husband's long suffering shoulder.

It was shaping up to be a dull, grey day. So I decided to get some colour into my life.

Throughout my post-embryo-transfer convalescence I was itching to sort out my bookshelves, which are an overstuffed havoc of higgledy-piggledy books, shoved at random and piled precariously.

However, I refrained from the physical exertion after having read a number of websites that suggested the stretching, heaving and dust disturbing might not be the best use of my down time.

On Sunday, decidedly unpregnant,  I had no such qualms, so converted this:




To ...

**Drumroll please**

(May, look away now, it ain't Dewey)

This:




I love it.


But isn't it funny how from a distance, in a photograph, Tolstoy looks a lot like Harry Potter?