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.