Sunday, 26 February 2012

Comments Round Up: A (very) Occasional Thing

The Sniff Test

The Sheila and Adele both asked when I start the Intralipids.

Intralipids is basically a drip of egg protein that may, or may not, help if my body is rejecting the embryos because of immunity issues. It could possibly improve implantation rates. It is all a bit untested, firstly because I haven't have the (incredibly expensive) tests to see whether I actually have the immune issues that (the relatively cheap) Intralipid treatment might help, and secondly because there hasn't been enough clinic trials to prove more than anecdotally that Intralipids really is an effective treatment.

Despite all this Intralipids have become something of a holy grail for me. I am pinning my hopes on this treatment like a 6 year old playing Pin The Tail On The Donkey (hopefully but fairly ineffectually).  I was supposed to have Intralipids last IVF but because there was some doubt at the crucial stage about whether it would go ahead so I missed my window.

This time I am raising it every single time I have an appointment. On Friday I got as far as getting the nurse to write it in big letters on the top of my notes and a reassurance that it would be discussed when I go in for my womb scrape.

That was the long answer.

The short answer is: hopefully some time between the womb scrape and embryo defrost/ transfer.

Taking Advantage of a Hiatus

Not so much a question but Wig helpfully pointed out that:

To improve your chances [of seeing a haggis], remember they can only go one way round the munro, depending on which two legs are the longest and which two are the shortest. Find out which way that is and you are part way there...

Which is really helpful advice (she use to keep domestic Haggi when she was younger - she had the smooth haired variety whereas in the wild they are more like this) so I'm feeling pretty confident about my chances of seeing a wild one.

Are You Kidding Me says:

And here I thought the haggis was something to avoid at all costs...

No, no, no.  The are delicious. Seriously.  Just don't think too hard about what you are eating.

The Sheila (again) asked:

P.S. Have you ever told us the story about how you guys met in Edinburgh?

Have I ever?! This is one my my top three anecdotes (the other two are: Banana-gate and TOM!!!).

Here it is.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Sniff Test

Today I collected my set of instructions from the clinic for phase two of this IVF.

This next bit is all about the nasal spray. I start sniffing like coke-fiend in about two weeks time to stop my ovaries doing what they do naturally. (HA! My ovaries are reluctant to ovulate at the best of time I reckon I'll only need a sniff of the suppressant to stop them ovulating - wait a moment that is all I'm getting.)

Not only that, but I have my womb scrape already booked in for the 16th of March.

Which is great because it has been 18 days since I last had a stranger shoving a dildo-cam up there and I am starting to get anxious to be back in the stirrups.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Taking advantage of a hiatus

Not a lot to report on the fertility front.  My period came and went, and with it went the injections. Sweet, sweet, non-stingy relief.

Now I have a bit of a hiatus as I wait a couple of weeks before starting the Primulot to bring on the next period, which heralds the start of the Frozen Embryo Transfer cycle.

I have learnt my lesson, last year when every break was stymied by IVF - either cancelled or (in the case of Paris) overshadowed by a failed round of IVF - we didn't manage to take a proper holiday.

So the husband and I have booked a few days away next week. We are taking the long-postponed sleeper to the Highlands of Scotland where we will cuddle under thick blankets, read by a log fire, walk, curse the Scottish weather and try to spot haggis nesting in their natural environment. We're then going to head to Edinburgh, where we met, and kick leaves and revisit the now closed pubs where we use to hang out.

It won't be all fun and games, I've got a couple of rules to follow during the holiday:
1) Eat and drink to excess
2) Don't, at any point wail, "Why can't I have children?"*

* There is no point anyway, every time I do the husband always gives the same, compassionate, reply "Because God hates you."

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

It is all about the money

I'm funny with money.

If I have to buy a sandwich at lunchtime I’ll find myself dithering between the smoked salmon fancy one (£3.69) and the bog standard ham and cheese (£2.99). Eventually I’ll sacrifice my taste buds and go for the sandwich which is a whole seventy pence cheaper. I don’t know why, I can totally afford that seventy pence.

Then, on the same day, I’ll be knackered but to save the £2.30 bus fare will walk home rather than jump on a bus.

Total savings so far: three whole pounds.

I’ll then go to the pub and end up spending £18 on a round buying alcohol for everyone whilst I piously sip a ginger beer.

Net saving minus £15.


It makes no sense whatsoever but I seem to be preoccupied with the relatively small savings and barely blink at the large.

Yesterday I was faced with another contradictory bit of economising. I am continuing to inject myself twice nightly, once with Clexane and once with Cetrotide, I’m also taking the hideous Norporlac daily. And I am fed up. Fed up of the heartburn that seems to be a side effect, the bee-sting post-injection pain, and the general inconvenience.

My bloating has gone from “is she/ isn’t she pregnant” levels to “that is just flab, don’t go trying to hide behind OHSS for that podge”. I am pretty sure I have dodged any potential OHSS bullet and as I am not going to have the frozen embryos put back in until April the drugs are doing nothing to maximise my chances of a successful pregnancy.

And that is when it struck me. Why the hell am I taking these drugs? I should just stop.

However being a good girl I rang the clinic to check whether it was OK to stop. The Doctor's response was that, before I stop he wanted to see me.

This was on Tuesday.

I am due to start my period at the weekend and that is when I am officially allowed to stop the injections - four or five days.

Or I could get an appointment to see the Doctor on Wednesday or Thursday to stop a couple of days early. And pay £150 for the privilege of the appointment.

Do you know what?  The drugs are paid for, I think I'll save myself the cash and keep going for a few more days.  I mean what is a couple more stomach bruises compared to cold hard cash?

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Icicle Update

I'd given up on my clinic calling me by 2pm today. It is a Saturday afterall.

At 4:30pm, I got the call.

They have frozen three more blastocysts!

I now have a fist-full of embryos - five on ice.

That is three of the ICSI ones, and two normal IVFers.

This is good.

This is fantastic.

This, my pessimistic self tells me, means that if the next round doesn't work I can have another go without the pain of egg stimulation and prospect of OHSS.

However, my optimistic self tells me to stop being such a tit and what I actually have is child one ready to go in April and its younger sibling waiting to be defrosted at my convenience. (Which gives me the opportunity for plenty of future headfucks telling my kids they were conceived at the same time despite their age differences.)

Cool, huh? Well, cold, technically freezing. But still cool.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Who do you think of when I say cryogenically frozen?

Did you think of Walt Disney?

Never let it be said that I write this blog without conducting rigorous in-depth research. Suffice to say that it is no coincidence that I didn’t post on the 18th of January – when Wikipedia did its blackout.

Unfortunately it means I have just had to scrap a fascinating* discourse linking my now frozen embryos with the most famous cryogenically preserved man on earth – Walt Disney – because it turns out he wasn’t ever frozen. It is one of those urban myths. Which also means, should I get pregnant with this IVF, I am going to have to cast my name-net further than Walt for a boy or Snow White for a girl.

But back up a bit you don’t need to know which of the seven remaining embryos were frozen, you want to know how many reached blastocyst, two as of today (it was Happy and Doc if you were interested). That isn’t the quite the end of the story – Sleepy might yet pull its finger out and turn blastocyst, Bashful could still come out of its shell (with assisted hatching), Grumpy could shake off its mood and come good, Sneezy might recover enough to turn blastocyst. And Dopey, well I don’t hold out much hope for Dopey.

The embryologist is going to call me tomorrow to let me know if any of these remain embryos have pulled through to blast for a six day freeze.

In the meantime it is good to know that assuming the defrost goes well I should have at least two blastocysts ready to be transferred in April. And it disney** get much better than that.

*Not fascinating

**disney, like ‘does not’ but in a Scottish accent.


Is this thing on?

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

I done a wee!

Despite spending a couple of my formative years in Germany the husband and I are NOT a scatalogically inclined couple.

Admittedly we did start to develop a slight obsession with excreta when we first got our dog. Mainly because we have to pick up whatever he deigns to leave us. Suddenly the quality of our day could be significantly impacted on depending on whether it was a more liquid day or if he gave us a firmer, and thus easier to collect, offering. We invented our own lexicon - on returning from a walk with the dog we would remark to the other “A perfect self-wiper today” (Not that we ever go as far as wiping his arse but it is good when there is no smear), the antithesis of course is the heavy, shamed-head shake accompanied by the words “weeing from his arse...”

Four years on we no longer feel the need to discuss his daily defecatations, instead the husband has developed more recent obsession with my own output. My swollen uterus has failed to deflated even after being relieved of its 29 eggs. I continue to have the distended belly of a starvation victim (without the accompanying spindly limbs or cheekbones). And if I thought that the plan for a frozen cycle meant that I’d have an easy go of it directly after egg collection I was sorely mistaken (and I use the word 'sorely' advisedly).

To prevent the onset of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) I am continuing to inject myself with both Cetrotide and Clexane on a nightly basis and I am back on the evil Norprolac. This will continue until I get my period.

The drugs are just one weapon against OHSS. One of the best ways to prevent its onset is the drinking water and lots of it, and making sure that what goes in comes out. If I am drinking and very little comes out this is a danger zone. Hence the husband's sudden obsession with me having a piss. He has taken to following me around flat proffering glasses of water and sending me to the toilet at regular intervals. Which is endearing, if a little wearing.

Still at least it gives us an insight into the kind of parents we will, hopefully, be. You know the ones. Those folk who will happily scream across the restaurant to their offspring: “Have you done a poo-poo?”.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

When to Freeze

And then there were eight. Or maybe nine if the embryo which is “really trying to split into two cells” pushes on through.

Of the remaining embryos my best contenders are 3 embryos that are at the 4-cell stage and are “excellent” quality, one 4-cell remains average. I have a good 5-cell, two excellent 2-cell sized munchkins and a good 3-cell embryo.

For those of you asking about how long they are waiting to transfer, it’ll be in about two months. The whole focus on this IVF is to get the embryos ready and then cryogenically suspended whilst the Doctors get onto tricky issue of my womb lining. It is only when this is plumped, primed and ready for a long term inhabitant they they’ll defrost this week’s crop and attempt implantation.

The question now is when will they freeze what they have. The embryologist today was really keen on waiting until the little ones are five days old and reached Blastocyst before freezing. The logic is that if they reach blasts they are strong little blighters and are more likely to implant and with a wealth of 8 to choose from why not let a few more fall by the wayside in the hopes of identifying the best of the bunch.

My weak little counter argument was “but what if none of them get that far?”

So the embryologist has agreed to review my embryos from the last three rounds (I mean they have this wealth of data it would be a shame not to learn anything from it) see whether this is the best approach. I suspect she is humouring me, but that is fine as long as I feel like someone is listening to me it is better than being dismissed out of hand.

Tomorrow would be the earliest they’d freeze anything anyway. So we shall see.

Monday, 6 February 2012

A Dozen

Is it greedy to be just a little it disappointed that only 12 eggs have fertilised?

Despite the addition of steroids (for egg quality I was told when I questionned the prescription), and the half-normal-IVF / half-ICSI approach we are pretty much on a par with previous attempts:

  • IVF one 21 retrieved 12 fertilised
  • IVF two 18 retrieved 14 fertilised
  • IVF three 18 retrieved 8 fertilised
  • IVF Four (this one) 29 retrieved 12 fertilised

Despite the husband's sperm passing its tests ICSI certainly produced better results - seven out of the nine they tried this way fertilised compared with 5 fertilising out of the 14 they tried with normal IVF. No, I'm not quite sure how a nine/ fourteen split works out as half and half either, as for the remaining 6 four were immature and two seem to have got lost somewhere along the way.

However, I have to remind myself that many women would give their left ovary for 12 embryos and I know of many others who have had a successful pregnancy with significantly less. It just isn't as spectacular as I had allowed myself to dream.

To date, despite the relatively high rate of fertilisation I have only ever ended up with two transferable embryos.  Now I am aiming for at least two to freeze, which feels even more precarious. They are aiming to take what ever I have to blastocyst, day five, so I shall await my daily updates from the embryologist with ever increasing trepidation.

I really, really don't want to go through this again. Wish me luck!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Egg Collection: IVF #4

This morning I awoke to a blanket of snow covering London. I say blanket, it was thinish layer - more of a sheet - but in the UK that doesn't matter.  We have a particular talent in this country for shutting down every available means of transport in a flat panic at the first snowflake.

It isn't a problem for me getting to the clinic, I walk there. However, I had no idea where my Doctors, nurses and anaesthetists are coming from and as I slippped my way to the clinic I was petrified I'd turn up to a locked shop and all my lovely eggs would go to waste.

The receptionist was there when we arrived and as she took us down to the ward I, just casually, asked "Anyone had any problems getting in this morning?". She said "No". Phew.

I felt like an old hand in the ward as I breezed my way through the anaesthetists questions, hell I am a veteran. You don't get to do this four times without knowing the score. So when the Anesthetist ask me if I knew what to expect I said. "Yeah, you'll take me through and we'll have a bit of inane chatter whilst the anaesthetic takes hold."  "Oh are you a bit of a chatterbox?" She asked. Shit, too blasé I'd been talking about the level of the anaesthetist's chat not mine, "Oh ... er ... yeah" I stumbled, not wanting to piss off the woman about to put me under. (Her chat mainly focussed on the weather and travel - I stand vindicated!)

But you don't want to know about this, the main thing is did my egg yeild live up to the promise.

Oh yes.

And more.

Twenty-nine eggs.


I'll find out how many fertilise tomorrow (half are getting the normal IVF treatment, half fertilsed by injecting a sperm into an egg - ICSI).

This feels like the best possible start to a round. I really hope it lives up to its promise.

Friday, 3 February 2012

And on the seventh day ...

I was told to expect egg collection on Tuesday. During my previous IVFs collection has always been a tad behind what they predicted. So I was banking on Wednesday.

It was therefore, a bit of a shock to get the call tonight telling me to trigger at 10pm tonight ready for egg collection on Sunday morning.

I hadn't expected that.

I feel a bit discombobulated, and triple checked with the nurse when she told me.

It is a good thing it is happening then. I have really tried not to tell people at work that I am having my fourth round - after my oh so public third. This is the first round that I haven't told my boss about, simply explaining away my daily scans and blood tests this week with the all encompassing (and enigmatic) "Monitoring." Strictly true, but only half the story.

I am lucky that I have managed to book my appointments in for first thing in the morning and with my clinic just 15 minutes from home and work I've managed to sneak into work without most people noticing I'm even late.

So egg collection on Sunday means that I can be in work on Monday like nothing has happened, no one will be any the wiser.

The only bummer is it means I'm going to have to cancel Sunday lunch with friends (these ones), I still haven't met their now 19 month old daughter - they are going to start taking it personally soon.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Busting A Gut

I would be a great fertile. Not wanting to boast, but on a pretty low does of drugs (75 Menopur, 75 Gonal F and a touch of growth hormone) my ovaries are exploding. I am destined to reproduce at Duggar-level, if only my womb could deliver on my ovaries’ potential.

Today the doctor who scanned me and the nurses who took my bloods all commented on how bloated I must be feeling. U-huh!

She warned me to take it easy “No hanging upside down or cartwheels.” Which is a bummer because that was totally what I had planned for tonight. Oh well, we all have to make sacrifices.

I took your advice, dear readers, and in an attempt to ease the pain of the digging in waistband and am wearing a dress today. Disconcertingly this has lead to no fewer than 5 people telling me I look nice, and it is only lunchtime. Which really highlights how little effort I normally put into my appearance. Still better that than telling me I look fat.

Egg collection is likely to be early next week.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

My Gut Feeling

That sinking feeling in my stomach; that gut instinct was right.

I have felt heavier in the uterine area than normal, in fact as of this morning I have 18 follicles on my left and 7 on my right ovary. It is a wonder that I am not walking in circles with such an internal unbalance to contend with.

It is still early days and this does not mean that they will be able to harvest 25 fertilisable eggs, some follicles might be empty, other eggs might be too immature and still more might be tucked behind my uterus and out of reach. (Last IVF they had to leave three behind that were refusing to be plucked).

However, it is still a promising sign for a good haul of eggs.

Meanwhile I feel pretty uncomfortable. Nothing that stops my day to day stuff (working, cycling, eating) but enough to make me look forward to egg collection day and a chance to lighten my load. So I am uncomfortable and spending my days wiggling in my chair to find a womb-friendly position whilst wearing baggy clothes to attempt to disguise my ever growing gunt.

IVF – it really is the glamorous way to get pregnant.