Our IVF Journey…..

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For those of you who follow my blog you will know that after five years of various fertility treatments we had been given an amazing and generous offer from my father to help us to afford to go privately for IVF. It was such an overwhelming offer and I can’t begin to explain how amazing it is to suddenly be in a position where hope springs back in to your life. It was an emotional few days where I felt like someone needed to pinch me! Once we talked about it and researched various places my husband and I finally booked our consultation with a hospital in Glasgow.

Our initial consultation included blood samples from myself and my husband (as well as other samples required for fertility assessments) and we were to return a couple of weeks later for results and discussions on what this meant for the protocol we would be following. Some people will think that IVF is just a process that will be very much the same from beginning to end for each person but, based on what your issues are or hormones levels are this can be completely different for each patient/couple.

Previously my AMH had been 52 – this result is reflective of egg reserve and is extremely high for a woman of my age however, it means I have lots of eggs which is something positive but it also means I am at risk of over responding to the drugs and this can be dangerous and in some cases life threatening so I need to be careful with drug dosage and being monitored closely etc. This time my AMH was 64, so same problem but the blood tests mean we know this and I could be monitored closely, it would just mean more trips to the hospital than other patients. Everything else was pretty much good to go and the hospital were also offering a process called ICSI (pronounced iksee) in with the price as they are currently trialling this for research purposes. ICSI is the process where by an individual sperm is injected into each of the eggs collected, by an embryologist to assist with fertilisation. We were delighted that this was on offer as it’s normally a more costly procedure. All the paperwork was signed and I was given the first set of drugs (Norethisterone) to take for 7 days. This was it; we were finally on the road to IVF!

I returned on day 3 for a scan but unfortunately they found a 4.5cm cyst inside my left ovary that wasn’t there a few months ago. They asked if I had been diagnosed with endometriosis as well as polycystic ovaries before now. I told them….,”No I don’t have that, you must be wrong, I don’t have that….” As if I was in any way a medical professional! I was told sorry but this is a solid cyst and is a symptom of endometriosis and they may want to cancel my cycle to try to shrink the cyst. This would be discussed by the specialists that day and they would phone me if we were to cancel. Tears instantly started to burn my eyes…..I had gone to the apt alone because I hadn’t expected for there to be anything else wrong. How could there be more wrong….have I not jumped enough hurdles???? I put a brave face on and asked what this meant. I was so lucky because the nurse I had was amazing and she quickly calmed me and reassured me it was unlikely they would cancel. She gave me all my injections away and told me to stop worrying. So on the plus side I had my hormones away with me to start the following day but on the negative side I kept crying because I couldn’t believe there was something else standing in my way. No one called me…..I was elated that no one called me….it meant we could keep going! I woke up the next morning and started my injections……phew….one step closer!!!

I was injecting 150ml Menopur every morning and 0.25mg Cetrotide in the evenings (at set times for both). They appeared to get the dosage pretty spot on for me and slowly but surely by ovaries started to respond. I was back and forward every two or three days to be scanned to see what was happening. Amazingly my left ovary with the cyst inside it was actually responding the best. The drugs help the ovaries create follicles; these are basically little sacs of fluid that should contain an egg inside once they reach a certain size. As the ovaries begin to respond they swell and you feel really full up and swollen inside and out. I did get quite uncomfortable but it was totally worth it as we had never got this far before and feeling swollen meant something was working! I injected for a total of 13 days and was advised to trigger shot (a final injection you take to help mature the eggs inside the follicles before egg collection) on Saturday 15th October at 11:30pm as it was the exact number of hours before egg collection that it needed to be. I was so excited and as I took that final shot my heart was beating so fast! I couldn’t believe I had got to egg collection stage!

On Monday 17th I went in for egg collection. I was terrified and kept shaking. I was scared firstly of being put to sleep (as I have never had this done before) and secondly of there being no eggs. I said to my husband if we have five or more eggs I will be delighted but really deep down I was scared there would be none so even one would be good! He had to leave (and do his part) and I was taken into theatre. I had to carry a card with my details on it and walk into the theatre over to a hatch, hand over my card (like I was a member of some super fancy club), say my details to the person in the lab and lie down on the bed and put my legs into what can only be described as half snow boots. The anaesthetist, who I had already met briefly to put my cannula in said, “Ok you should already be starting to feel drowsy”……a moment of sheer panic came over me as I thought no no….I’m wide awake……oh no I’m going to feel everything……I looked up at the lights and then I remember nothing else until I woke up!

Best sleep of my life…..I woke up and was trying to pull the heart rate monitor from my finger as I was dreaming my husband had put a peg on my hand (as you do!), however, I felt fine and couldn’t believe it was over. Once I woke up a little more they brought me tea and toast and then I was told that they had collected six eggs! It wasn’t the highest number but I was more than happy with six!! My husband was allowed to come in and get me when I felt ready (which was only about twenty mins later) and he was also really pleased we had six. Next step was to go home and recover and the embryologist would phone the following day to let us know if any had fertilised.

I went home and slept most of the day, I was quite uncomfortable and sore but it was bearable as I knew I had six eggs….at this point I had done everything I could so now it was a waiting game. Next day the phone call couldn’t have come quick enough….The embryologist explained that of the 6 eggs, 5 were mature enough to be used (5 is good) and of the 5, 3 had fertilised. They were developing well and had decided we would aim for a day 5 transfer (which has a higher success rate). I was thrilled….3 little embryos in a lab an hour away that were ours! It might sound crazy but this is the closest we had come to making a baby!! I was so proud of them for making it through the night! Only a day old and already making me proud!! So Saturday was transfer day and they said they would only contact me if there was a problem…..every day with no phone call was more and more exciting! Each day I would send my husband a picture of what an embryo looked like on day 2 and day 3 etc. and say “Hi daddy this is what I look like today!”

We made it to transfer day!! My husband was unable to come along but that was ok, at this point I was not going to sweat the small stuff and instead my sister in law came with me. To be honest having her there really helped, she is a nurse and so kept me very calm and it was a pretty amazing thing to be able to share with her. When I got there I was informed of the 3 embryos only 2 had kept developing, one was a little slower than the other so they were going to give it one more day and then hopefully freeze it but the third one was doing fantastic it was the best grade it could be and had everything they would be looking for. When we went into the theatre room I was able to see our embryo on a big screen, it was amazing and they were even able to show us what part would develop into the baby and what part was the placenta. It was just cells still, but there was a clear difference between each part. It was very overwhelming and my sister in law held my hand the whole time. They put in a catheter and watched an ultrasound screen as they put the embryo in. Straight away they told me I could stand up and go. Logically you know it’s not going to fall out but you can’t help freaking out a little! We were in and out within half an hour and kept laughing at the prospect that within half an hour I had had a baby put in my tummy! I was now officially PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise!) and I was going to do everything I could to protect my little embryo and encourage it to hold on. Two days later I was told the other embryo didn’t make it and had stopped developing so this one inside of me was the only one, but it was a great one and as they say….it only takes one so I needed to stay positive!

I was given a test date which was sooner than I thought but felt like a year to come around!   I was also on progesterone to help elevate my levels and create a better environment for the embryo to embed into. The hard/cruel thing about progesterone is it gives you lots of symptoms of early pregnancy so you spend the whole time thinking “am I or am I not?” based on the changes you are experiencing. I kept checking things online and checking with people I was closest to if this was something they had experienced etc. but a few days before test day there were definitely some changes, some that the progesterone hadn’t been given me the whole time and now I was really beginning to let myself believe that maybe, just maybe this was it! I kept talking to it like a crazy person telling it to burrow in and telling it all about the people that were waiting for them to be in their lives who would love them so much, all it needed to do was hold on!

Test day came……I didn’t sleep a wink, I had the shakes all night long this was going to be one of the biggest things I had ever had to do and it only involved peeing on a stick! We had come through so much in the past few weeks and it had been one hurdle after another. My brother and sister in law gifted me a clear blue digital test for my birthday days before…the one that would tell us how many weeks along we were. I went to the bathroom, did what I needed to do and brought it through and we both sat on the bed staring at the egg timer on the screen. I was shaking from my feet up. We waited for what felt like forever….willing the words pregnant to appear on the screen. Then…in one full kick to the chest….the words….Not Pregnant appeared…..and just like that it was all over……

 

 

It’s still early days and we are still very much in the early stages of getting over it. But, we have each other and people who love us, we have two wonderful nephews who we adore and people who have really gone out their way to show us they are there for us when it’s been tough….this has meant the world to us and is a reminder of how much we have to be thankful for.   This is not the end…..this is only the end of this chapter before the start of another…..I don’t know how or when the next chapter will begin..…but I know we are not ready to give up just yet!

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The Next Chapter

the next chapter

It’s been a while……..I didn’t intend for it to be so long but it flew by in the blink of an eye!

For those of you who followed my blog previously, you will know I went through quite a few ups and downs and I got to a point where I basically crashed and burned! I didn’t see it coming, I thought I was coping, but clearly I wasn’t and so we put the brakes on and stopped the Infertility journey to give me time to lick my wounds, focus on ourselves as a couple and just be me again and not “infertile” me. I was starting to feel like it defined me, again, I didn’t see that coming but the process was becoming all-encompassing and it was all I could think about all of the time! I became difficult to be around at times because I was struggling to keep the weight off and so I was hardly joining in with any social activities or letting myself have a treat. I get hangry (hungry/angry) at the best of times but with the added pressure of me doing this because a set criteria was dictating to me that I wasn’t good enough to be a mummy as I was, made it feel 100 times more difficult. When the IUI didn’t work…in fact it didn’t really take off, it unexpectedly hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t think I properly prepared myself for it not working. To take the sting out of it we went out a few times, enjoyed some food and wine and basically tried to gain back a little normality to help build up my strength for starting again. Two weeks later I returned for some blood work and I had put on a couple of lbs so my BMI was 30.1 instead of 30 or below – I was told I couldn’t even have blood taken and was to return home until I got the 2/3lbs off. I begged them not to send me home, I was exhausted, I just needed someone to give me a break…..and when I was told sorry we can’t make one rule for you and another for everyone else (which I suppose is fair enough) I returned home with my tail between my legs and told my partner, “I can’t do this anymore, I can’t keep not enjoying life because I am just not built to be this size, I feel ill and I am emotionally and physically exhausted.”   Every day was a constant battle with my weight and the condition I have that makes me struggle with my fertility, has an impact on my weight – so it was a constant fight and I just had no more in me. I needed it all to stop…..and so we did!

Fast forward two years…..and I mean FAST forward!! I only realised the other day that it had in fact been two years and not the one year that I kept referring to in my head! I am now a married woman!!! Despite the fact that I have felt like a failure through all of this (and have no doubt been a nightmare) he still went ahead and made me his wife anyways!! Planning a wedding gave me something else to focus on, something I could take control of and knew that the ending would be as I planned it to be! We had the most amazing day and best of all, more fun than we could ever have imagined!! It reminded me just how many wonderful people we are surrounded by and how lucky I am to have my best friend beside me and despite everything we have been through, if we never have our own children we are very lucky to have each other and all of the people we love and who love us in our lives and that’s a lot to be thankful for!

It has nearly been a year since our wedding and I have also moved into a new job, a job that I am really loving and despite it being challenging (as every new job is) it’s a job where I also feel really supported and valued by those around me which has continued to put me in a good place emotionally. My biggest issue now is my weight…..again! Slowly but surely I have gained a lot of what I had lost and every pound gained is a step further away from NHS treatment. I know this sounds terrible, but I have enjoyed every pound! We had the most amazing honeymoon and have spent the last year going off on trips on a whim, trying new places to visit, new places to eat and new bars to drink in and I have enjoyed every second. I feel like I have found myself again and I feel emotionally stronger than ever….the downfall is I have pretty much returned to where I was a couple of years ago weight wise. I feel like I was built to be this shape, yes of course….like a lot of people I could stand to lose a bit of weight…..but when I was trying to keep the weight off a couple of years ago I felt ill, I was stressed and felt under so much pressure with a body that was working against me. Just now I feel happy and I am enjoying life, I feel much healthier all round than I did two years ago and I am emotionally in a much better place. I feel ready to start the baby journey again but no matter how many times I try I just cannot get this weight off…..it is my constant frustration! I am under the original BMI criteria before they reduced it by a further 5, but I just physically do not know how I managed it last time! I look back and think, how did I do that!!!??? But I also have anxiety when I start trying to lose the weight about returning to an emotional state that I don’t want to be in again…..and then a wee miracle happened in the form of my own Daddy!!

I re-shared my last blog post online a couple of months ago saying I couldn’t believe it had been two years. A couple of hours later my dad phoned me in an emotional state. At first I was worried that something was up and then he told me he had seen my post about my blog. I share everything with my parents so didn’t really know where the conversation was going, I thought maybe he just wanted to see if I was ok and then he announced that he wanted to help us to go private!!! He said he couldn’t watch me put myself through all the stress again and that above all, he wanted to give us a chance at my dream!! He explained that he felt like what was the point in leaving us money one day (many, many years from now) when he is no longer here to see us enjoy it, when he could be here to support us and have a chance at being a Papa and if it didn’t work out he could live with the fact that he gave us a shot at it!!

I burst into tears……….he burst into tears!

Additional to this, I have an amazing little brother who contacted me immediately after speaking with my dad to say he was fully behind the decision. Some siblings would be put out if they thought their brother or sister was getting offered money that wasn’t being offered to them but not my little brother…..his exact words were, “I just want you to be happy!” Since these conversations my father in law has also offered to help if he can and my brother and sister in law even talked about trying to save up to help if they could, even though they have their second baby due any day now! Basically, we have an amazing family who when it really matters, would do anything for us!

So a couple of months have passed and I have been researching everything to the absolute maximum, I have been talking to lots of other girls who have used a variety of clinics and I have talked directly with an array of clinics from the Czech Republic to Glasgow and we have finally settled on a clinic in Glasgow. We have our initial appointments booked and I still feel like I’m walking about in a dream right now……five years have passed in a flash and I just felt like the chance at IVF was moving further and further into the distance and I had become numb.   Now I feel like someone needs to pinch me…..for the first time in a long time I feel like this could actually be a possibility!!

Thank you Dad………you have no idea how grateful we are!

This is the next chapter to our story…………………………..

A Little Bit of a Game Changer……….

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I haven’t updated my blog for a while because I took a much needed break from the whole Infertility Saga as I seemed to be on a run of bad luck and it was stressing me out which in turn would only continue to contribute to the bad luck. Additionally, because of my PCOS and hormone problems I will always struggle with my weight and the battle to keep losing more in order to start IVF and then continue to keep it off during various treatments was turning me into a bad tempered, miserable person to be around and I knew it!! I didn’t want to treat myself or have a drink or nice meal to relax because I would pay for it by spending a full week dieting and exercising just to shift the lbs off that I had indulged in as a one off treat at the weekend – I just wasn’t worth it!

 

At my last hospital appointment they sent me home for being 0.5 over the BMI criteria even though I had lost nearly three stone, I had only put on a couple of lbs during the last treatment but this was still not good enough and I was sent home and told to contact them once I got the extra weight off. It devastated me, rather than go home and be fully motivated just to get the last couple of lbs off it felt like it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, i couldn’t do it anymore. Ironically I would be at the top of the IVF list only a few weeks later and you would think that I would just push through and keep up the strict diet and exercise regime till I got to the end goal but I couldn’t, I crumbled, I was exhausted with it all. Instead of feeling motivated and excited at the prospect of starting IVF I felt like it was becoming this pressure hanging over me all of the time – three years of constantly thinking about how much I want a baby but continually being knocked back by life – enough was enough – I needed my life back, I needed me back and so I put my foot on the break and stopped it all! I decided to focus on other things instead like going out and enjoying meals and wine and having what I wanted to eat without putting it into an app on my phone and of course planning my upcoming wedding. I have now put a stone of weight back on but I’m not going to lie, I have enjoyed every pound of it!

 

So, with some weight to lose and needing to get myself motivated I was mindful that I was becoming completely reliant on the fact that I had just accepted there was no hope of me doing this on my own without any medical intervention. My main issues is that I don’t ovulate (and obviously with no ovulation there will be no baby) I have results that show me that I have a really high egg reserve – so lots of eggs but just not parting with them. In an earlier blog I describe myself as a constipated chicken and this is always how I believed my body works, or doesn’t work more to the point! But, it has always seemed strange to me that this diagnosis of not ovulating has been based on only a handful of blood tests in the space of nearly four years and each of these blood tests have only ever been carried out on the requested date of day 21 of my cycle – which is equally bizarre as I don’t really have a normal cycle and only ever have a “normal” cycle if I have been given drugs to bring it on. But who am I to question this….they are the experts! As if Facebook could read my mind – just at a time where I was looking into more things I could do on my own to get some control back I stumbled across a PCOS support group and added myself into it. I had instant access to hundreds of women across the world going through very similar issues to myself who were supporting each other and sharing stories and I also had access to a variety of experts on nutrition and a product called Ovusense. The page is run by employees of Ovusense but you do not have to be a user of the product to be part of the page and to get help, support and advice. I found this really helpful and was finding out lots of different information about PCOS and how it affects the body and it was great to be able to speak to other women who experience the same things as you – you don’t feel so much like the odd one out when your own Facebook newsfeed starts to fill up with stories and questions that you yourself can connect with on a daily basis! The more stories I began to read from those who were using the Ovusense monitor the more I was intrigued about what this was and whether or not it would be worth trying. Many women on the page using it had been told, like me, that they don’t ovulate but have since found out that they do but just at different times from when doctors have requested them to have blood work done, additionally – women with PCOS can’t use home ovulation kits as one of the hormone issues we have can be picked up incorrectly using these so they aren’t reliable for PCOS women either. Like me, because they have PCOS, their hormones and cycles are all over the place so a one off blood test was missing the vital information but Ovusense had captured this information and in a lot of cases women had gone on to get bloods taken that showed that Ovusense had detected ovulation, in fact the product prides itself in being 99% accurate based on their studies. Not only that the company provides you with an option to pay it up in full or in monthly instalments which makes it affordable and if you use it for six months and find out you do not ovulate the company offers back a full refund as a good will gesture so that you can afford to try other options to help you have a baby. I thought…what do I have to lose here??? I took a leap of faith and bought one….I was excited at the prospect of having some control back because rather than relying on doctors telling me what my body was doing, I would be able to do it on my own to get a clearer picture of what was going on with my own body.
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The day that my Ovusense arrived you would have thought it was Christmas morning – I couldn’t wait to get it opened and charged up so I could use it that night and get started on my new journey of taking back a little bit of control!! Ovusense comes in two parts – a sensor that basically looks like a large rubbery sperm – the head of which goes in internally when you go to bed and acts as an internal thermometer mapping information from your body all through the night – and the tail of which is your mode of removing the sensor in the morning before cleaning and placing on the second part – the monitor. The monitor downloads the information each morning and plots it on to a chart. The monitor has a section to place the sensor on and a screen which displays your information that you input at the beginning of each cycle and the chart that updates each day with the new information from the night before (which can also be compared with previous cycles) as well as a message at the top saying messages such as “ovulation not yet detected”, “You are in your fertile window”, “Ovulation detected on such and such a date” etc. basically a variety of messages based on the information downloaded from your body. All very technical but amazing, for once something personal to me that is listening and responding to my body! It’s very simple to use and I was desperate to go to bed just so I could use it! The first morning you put it back on the monitor is a bit of an anti-climax because all you see is one tiny wee dot on the graph as this is the first time you are charting your temp, so of course there is only going to be one wee dot! In your head you think you will place it on the monitor and you will end up with a nice full chart like you see other women posting on the support page, but you forget everyone’s had to start with one wee dot! Then you quickly go from a little disappointed about your wee dot – to proud of your wee dot and excited to see what it will look like tomorrow!

 

So, did I learn anything?? Has it been worth the money?? Absolutely!!

After using Ovusense for a few days I got a message to say that I was in my ovulation window – you could have blown me away, I wasn’t expecting to see this so soon. I asked other women on the support group if this seemed right and they said yes but I would still have to keep using it for a few more days to see if the monitor would confirm if ovulation did occur or not. I kept using it and sure enough, a couple of days later I got a message to confirm that I had in fact ovulated. I was in disbelief and even contacted some of the staff members on the support page privately to check if this was correct and they assured me that it was based on all my personal information downloaded from the sensor. Some women’s charts are all over the place as the women using it often have an array of different fertility issues but the perfect chart starts with a base temp, increases on the lead up to ovulation and continues to increase or remain above your base temp for anything up to 20 or so days after ovulation before slowly decreasing back to base temp to end your cycle. The temps staying up high for longer can be an indication of pregnancy and if not your temp will drop back down and you will get a period and the next cycle will begin thereafter. My chart nearly followed this perfectly – even dropping back down on day 19 and being my exact base temp on day 20! This is unbelievable and has amazed me! I can’t believe that I have been left to think that I don’t ever ovulate because 6 or so blood tests say so when in fact maybe it’s because the time was never taken to monitor me more closely to find out what my body is doing. However, now with Ovusense I have the chance to do that on my own! Not only that I started using a supplement recommended by the nutrition expert on the support page and did some research into it on my own and for the first time in a year I also took a period at the end of the cycle – in the space of a month my body is suddenly acting like it’s supposed to!!

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I feel like I have control back – maybe, just maybe – with this new information I have about myself that I can continue to track, maybe I can have a baby the good old fashioned way???? I’m not expecting this to be the miracle I’ve been waiting for – I have started back on my diet and weight loss so that I can hopefully start IVF sometime this year if nothing happens, but for the first time in a long time I feel like I have some hope and some control back in this crappy situation. With the support from the PCOS group who have been fantastic, the Ovusense staff who answer all of your queries promptly at any time of the day and using the monitor I now have a chance to see exactly what my body is doing! This has been a complete game changer for me – maybe for once me and my body can start to work together instead of against each other!!

 

If anyone is interested in Ovusense the web link is below – I am also happy to answer any questions that I can!  I do not work for them I am merely a new customer of their product – I am just one wee infertile girl from Scotland trying anything I can to make my dream of having a baby come true…….

https://www.ovusense.com

 

 

The Calm After the Storm…..

Calm after the storm

 

Sometimes I write this infertility blog not only to help others who may be feeling or going through the same thing, or for those who want to understand the journey better either out of curiosity or to help others – but sometimes I write to help myself understand my own feelings, to get to know myself better and to take the time to try to re-tell myself my story so that I can counsel myself through the emotions and take part as both the person living the story and also the reader of the story. This is one of those times!

 

There has been a change in the wind and I’m not entirely sure what direction I am going in anymore – I feel like I am bobbing along on calm waters with my sails down, kind of confused about whether to wait for the wind to return and re-ride the storm or whether I need to get my own paddles out and start rowing till I find my direction again. For such a long time I knew where I was going and what I needed to do to get there and even though I kept getting knocked off course and sometimes felt like I was drowning or treading water just to survive – in the end I just picked myself up, brushed myself off and regained my focus. But now I’m not sure where I’m going, what I’m doing or whether or not I’m ready for the storm to return…..I’m kind of enjoying the calm but with that calm comes waves of guilt and splashes of uncertainty – I didn’t expect this to be part of my journey, I hadn’t prepared for this feeling and none of the books I read told me this might happen so now I’m just trying to figure out what direction I am headed in. Maybe I’m ok with just bobbing along for a while?

 

Does this mean I am already a bad parent before I have even got started? Have I already given up on my unborn/unconceived children? Is this all proof that maybe I can’t have children for a reason because I don’t fight hard enough and therefore don’t deserve to be given such a gift? Or am I just exhausted with it all and needing time to find myself again? I would like to think it’s the latter and that other people don’t think I’ve given up…..

 

I feel like three and a half years of different appointments, medications and treatments – hoping and praying with nothing but disappointment has just taken its toll on me and I was starting to lose who I was. I wasn’t really letting my hair down nor having a drink or nice things to eat anymore because I was so focussed on having my body in the right condition and at the right weight for the next treatment. I would stress about what we would do with our weekends because I would have to pre plan what I would eat so that what I ate would be calorie controlled and on occasions I even sat in restaurants with only hot water and lemon while others ordered food and drink and pudding!! This would then upset me further as I felt those around me should have to deprive themselves and not put any temptation in my way as to be supportive of my situation (which of course is ridiculous and unfair but I couldn’t help feeling that way). Every day was a rollercoaster of emotions from feeling like a failure, to feeling envious of anyone who announced their pregnancy or arrival of their new baby, to feeling angry at the world when I would see random people in the street who clearly looked like they could hardly take care of themselves never mind a child – why them and not me????? Then I would cry about all of these things, I would cry for being a failure, I would cry about the announcements because I wished it was me, I would cry because I felt guilty for being envious of those announcements because I was happy for the people who announced it and i would cry because I was angry. This meant my partner now had a partner who didn’t want to have fun at weekends, who didn’t want to relax and have nice food together, who didn’t think he should have nice things to eat and drink either to show camaraderie and who cried all of the time because every emotion led to crying. Although I can honestly say this didn’t affect our relationship in the sense that we were facing serious problems as a couple, I was just very aware that I was changing and I didn’t really like the new me but I didn’t know how else to be in order to survive.

 

After the last set of treatments failed I was initially ready to start again straight away the way I have done with every other treatment but this time something had changed….my heart wasnt really in it anymore, it had become a process and I had lost all concept that this was meant to be about having a baby and instead I felt like it was more about weight loss and a medical process.  I was suddenly very aware that i was no longer excited or hopeful and just felt stressed and pretty low about myself.  Every failed attempt is just a reminder that I feel useless……..

And now I feel numb about the infertility……….I don’t know why, I think maybe it’s a mental survival mode and I am hoping a break from it all helps me to regain not only strength but the old me back again even if that means i gain a pound or two when letting my hair down a bit then so be it!  I dont want to lose myself in all of this……again.

 

The main calm has come in form of my amazing little nephew.  I had such fear when he was on his way into this world that I wouldnt be able to look at him without crying because i wanted one of my own so badly or that I would be scared to love him in case I never got to feel that love for one of my own one day.  The moment I held him that fear faded instantly to pure love and instead of wanting to cry because I may never have my own I cried because I had never loved another human being so instantaneously!  This little person has made me realise even if I cant ever be a mummy I can still have children in my life who I can love like they are my own – that feeling has carried me through the panic, the worry and the numbness from the storm into the calm!  Who knows where this journey is going and who knows when the next storm will need to be weathered but at least this time I have a little piece of calm that I can always retreat to to help me in my survival!

Thank you Boo – I love you to the moon and back – xx

 

 

Failure to Launch

 

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After taking various fertility medications for just over a year, being on the IUI waiting list for a further 18 months, losing all the weight I needed to lose, going for all our initial appointments at the Assisted Conception Unit and signing everything that needed to be signed – we were finally ready to start our first IUI cycle. To say I was excited is an understatement, in my head this is what was going to work – the moment I read about IUI (intrauterine insemination) over 2 years ago something inside me told me this was the procedure that my body needed.
Much like IVF – IUI can also be combined with injectables to encourage ovulation but instead of eggs being removed and fertilised outside of the uterus, your partners sperm sample is carefully injected into the uterine cavity using a narrow flexible catheter similar to the way embryos are returned into the uterus during IVF in the hope that fertilisation takes place inside the uterus. This is a slightly less invasive procedure as eggs aren’t removed and embryos returned etc. – however, it has a lower success rate but for some women one cycle of this is enough to finally get them pregnant. Something inside me told me – I was going to be one of these women!

You know deep down that you shouldn’t get your hopes up and that you need to be realistic about statistics but when you go through a long journey of disappointment and heartache it’s ridiculous to think that you won’t get your hopes up when you are being faced with another chance at making your dream a reality. Even if your infertile friend tells you that they aren’t getting their hopes up too much and they are just going to take things as they happen, it’s a lie! Inside we are apologising to our bodies for being so flippant as we absolutely believe this is going to work but other people will worry about us if we tell them how much we believe as they are scared we can’t handle the disappointment if we are too emotionally invested. But how can you possibly go through a process like this without being emotionally invested? We have learned to live with disappointment, it doesn’t get any easier – in fact, as more and more interventions fail it gets harder, but for the few weeks we are trying something new we have hope back in our lives and our inner mummies have to believe because if we don’t believe then what’s the point? So for my first cycle of IUI I decided to be very open about my absolute belief that this would work then when it did work I could say it worked because I believed and if it didn’t work then one day when it finally does happen I can say to my child, I always believed you would be here one day!

I began the nasal spray (Suprecur) 4 times a day – which meant even at weekends I was having to set my alarm for 7:30am – one of the consolation prizes for being infertile is a long lie on days off so this was always an unwelcome wake up call! The nasal spray made me feel terrible, it does what they call Down Regulating your body which basically means forcing your body into the equivalent of an early menopause (shutting off hormones being produced in your body) so that they have complete control of what hormones are in your system. Some women have no side effects, i however had them all (of course)! I had joint pain, headaches, terrible mood swings, nausea and the worst part was what is medically referred to as fatigue – I on the other hand would describe it as feeling like a walking zombie, I have never felt tiredness like this! I felt like I couldn’t function at work or at home, I was looking through fuzzy eyes all of the time and felt so terrible i began to lose what feeling “normal” felt like which made me want to cry all the more and curl up in a ball and hibernate. The mood swings made me look like a crazy person, my poor Fiancé got the brunt of my rage and to be fair to him he just took it because it was often closely followed by apologetic tears and snotters! At one point a male colleague offered to wash my porridge bowl at work and I burst into tears at my desk…..he asked if i was ok and I told him it was just so kind to offer to wash my plate, he awkwardly smiled at me but his eyes said “Ok….this b***h is crazy!”

 

Although I was dreading injecting myself part of me was looking forward to it because they had told me the side effects from the nasal spray may stop once I start injecting. The night before I hardly slept a wink because I was worried about it. However, when my alarm went off in the morning I got up, took my nasal spray, prepared my injection and just did it….it wasn’t really that bad, it certainly wasn’t sore it was more the unknown that had made me so anxious. As soon as I did it I burst into tears and my partner asked me if it was sore and through more tears and snotters I replied, “No, I’m just so proud of myself!” He rolled his eyes and smiled at yet another over emotional response, but it was true, I was proud of myself – I can’t make a baby on my own, I have no control in this situation, I have to rely on medication and doctors to get me pregnant but this was something I could do, this made me feel a little more in control and in my head I thought…this is for you baby, this is how brave I am willing to be and how much I will do to help you to get here!

Within 24 hours the injections had already made me feel a little more back to normal and within a few days they had helped balanced me back out again. It actually made me not mind injecting each day because it was making me feel better. The only thing at this point that was out of control is how much I was thinking about it. You are so in tune with your body during all this you question every little ache and pain and on top of that you are so desperate for it to work it’s all you think about all of the time, it’s exhausting. I have been so lucky within my work for the support I have because people just let me be and didn’t put any extra work pressures on me and if something didn’t go great at the clinic I knew I could just head home if I needed to and that has been amazing, I can’t imagine what it must be like going through this with unsupportive employers etc.

I ended up injecting for 16 days and going back and forward to the clinic (which is over an hours drive each way) every second day for scans and bloods to see how I was responding. As I have a high egg reserve the risk was that I would over respond so I was on the lowest dose of Menopur for the first few days and the scans showed that I had lots of small follicles but not any larger ones. What they wanted to see was at least one (and a maximum of two follicles) measuring over 10mm that would eventually reach 17mm – I would then take a trigger shot to make an egg release and the the IUI, insemination procedure, would take place a day or so later. My dosage was increased, two days later I had two follicles that had grown to 12mm and so I spent the weekend using a hot water bottle to try and nurse my follies and help them to grow (honestly you will try anything!). I went back on the Monday and one of them had grown to 13mm – not a huge difference but the clinic were happy with the slow steady progress! Everything else was looking good so more bloods were taken and I was told to come back on the Wednesday in the hope it would have matured to 17mm. I was so proud of my wee follie!! It sounds ridiculous but this is the closest thing I’ve had to making a baby! I went back to work and in the afternoon I got a call to say my bloods were so good could i come back in tomorrow instead of Wednesday. So I returned the following day and had a much more thorough scan which was pretty uncomfortable but they had to be sure about what they could see on my ovaries. My wee follie had grown from 13mm to 15mm overnight and everything else was looking great so I was shown how to use the trigger shot and told someone would call this afternoon once my bloods were back to discuss whether to trigger that night or the following day and whether insemination would be done on Thursday or Friday. I left delighted and excited and hopeful and so proud of my wee follie for being so clever! Later that day I was working in a class with primary school children delivering a workshop and had asked the class if it was ok if I kept my phone on as I was expecting an important call. When my phone finally went my heart jumped into my throat and I nipped out of the room. “Hi, this is the assisted conception unit, I’m just phoning to say there has been a significant drop in your blood work so we just want to abandon the cycle at this point, please come off all your medication and phone us a week on Friday once we have reviewed your case and we will tell you what we think we should do next.” I was totally not expecting that and my eyes began to sting and I lost control of my voice and tried to stumble through asking….huh? She quite bluntly said, “it just sometimes happens, don’t worry about it” and hung up. Don’t worry about it???? It’s all I worry about all of the time and the wind has just been taken out of me but it’s ok, I’ve not to worry about it! I walked back into the classroom and had to deliver two workshops feeling like I wanted to fall to the floor and sob but I couldn’t, I had to be strong…the minute I finished I walked out the school and the tears just began to stream down my face…

And so, a week later I have picked myself up, brushed myself off and I am ready for the next step. I don’t really know when exactly that will be as the clinic have told me to wait another month and then contact them. I do know they want to try another round of IUI but not sure what will be done differently. Last week I felt like a failure again…my broken body can’t even grow the holes on my ovaries let alone make the egg, release the egg, fertilise the egg, implant the egg and grow a healthy baby. I felt like I couldn’t breath, that this was another sign that maybe I wasn’t meant to be a mummy and that’s why this is all happening but this week I am strong again and I know that I have to keep fighting, that it was simply a failure to launch and that above everything…..I have to believe!!

A Little Bit of Good Luck….Please?

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So I finally got my weight under the required BMI – I have lost just under 3 stone in just under a year (yeay me!!!) which meant I was finally at the top of the IUI list!!!! In true keeping with the luck me and my fiancé have I opened my letter, “congratulations you are at the top of the list!” The appointment was set for that Saturday coming (eeeek!) – I start to cry tears of happiness – I did it, we did it, we are finally going to start proper treatment and get on our way to being a mummy and daddy!!! Then my fiancé opened a letter addressed to him, “We are sorry to inform you – this is your notice of redundancy!” Great – that hope filled moment lasted a whole two minutes! However, there is nothing we can do about the redundancy other than apply for jobs and hope it works out (which I’m sure it will) and so we decided to focus on the appointment and read over the letter and see what was expected of us. I personally read the letter about ten times just to make sure it was real!

So we attended the appointment, had bloods taken, we did a carbon monoxide breath test, answered all the questions, signed all the paper work, I had another internal (always a joy – I don’t think there is a member of NHS staff in the Glasgow area who hasn’t seen my bits!) and my man was told by the nurse how brave he was given the fact that he is scared of needles! This was done in jest – which I appreciated (because I wanted to punch him for being such a drama queen) the nurse couldn’t have been any nicer and made us feel so comfortable – it makes such a difference to be treated like old friends rather than another number!

We returned 9 days later for blood test results – it was a different nurse from last time which made me sad but she popped in to say hello. My AMH levels are around 54 which is really high, this basically indicates my egg reserve is high so I have too many but the plus side is I have eggs! That means they have to monitor me closely so that I don’t over stimulate which can make you very ill. In other words when I start to inject hormones I may fill up like a gum ball machine if we aren’t careful! When doing IVF this is less of a problem because more eggs means more chances of successful fertilisation and it’s all done outside of your body with the help of some science! However, IUI is done similarly with regards to the hormones before hand but instead of going in and retrieving my eggs it’s all done internally using a catheter – it’s all very sexy really! If I produce no follicles (it’s like a hole that opens that allows the egg to come out) my treatment will be cancelled, if I produced follicles smaller than 17mm it will be cancelled and if I produce more than two follicle around 17mm (chance of multiples and then miscarriage) treatment will be cancelled. Because of my AMH levels the third issue is the most likely to occur so they need to get the hormone levels just right so one full cycle of IUI could take months. I may well move straight to IVF if I over respond. The nurse said, “we just need to give your ovaries a wee tickle and hopefully that will work!” I love how simple she made that sound and thought for a second – if I knew that’s all I needed we could have tried tickling at home!

For once we had had some luck and today (the day of the appt) would be the perfect cycle day to start the nasal spray (suprecur 150mg). I was so excited, i didn’t realise we might actually get to start some of the meds today, I actually nearly grabbed the spray and ran out the room before they changed their minds. It was like getting a new toy! She opened it up, took off all the packaging, made it up into a nasal spray and showed me how to use it – it kinda annoyed me that she sprayed it first without my permission, like someone playing with your new toy in front of you before you had a shot yourself – honestly, I am mature enough to handle this process – but please just don’t use my new toy that I have waited three years for in front of me! She handed me it and I looked at it like it was magic spray and put it in my bag. So we were nearly done, she had one last flick through our file and then said, “oh no, sorry the lab haven’t got your other test results back yet because a machine has broken, you can’t take that nasal spray home just now.” WHAT??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME ON??? My heart started beating so loudly I swear she could hear it. She said, “what to do is go away for now and come back in 35 days and if you haven’t had a period (which I haven’t for years because of my problems) we will give you medication to bring on a period, you will take that for 5 days and about 5 days later you will hopefully have a bleed, on day 1 of your period count forward to day 21 and then you can start the nasal spray.” Well – in an instant I burst into full floods of tears and begged her to take back what she had just said. I told her through sobs that it may only be 35 days plus 5 plus 5 plus 21 to her but that was a lifetime to me and I had waited patiently for so long and worked so hard to lose the weight that I didn’t deserve the labs bad luck to become my bad luck – we have enough of our own bad luck without taking on other peoples. My partner wasn’t happy either and demanded to speak to a consultant. The poor nurse didn’t see this coming and tried to explain its protocol and it couldn’t be changed which made me cry harder – this made her leave the room to go and try to speak to the right people or to just get away from us!! I looked at my partner and said, “I can’t handle this – should I just steal a nasal spray from the shelf over there?” – he laughed, then he realised I wasn’t joking (which I wasn’t – I have never stole even so much as a penny sweetie in my life but in that brief moment of panic I think I really meant it!!!) he said, “Don’t be daft I will fix this, you will be leaving with the nasal spray even if I have to sit here all day till I speak to the right person” and he meant that more, so I calmed down and dried my eyes. The reality is I probably wouldn’t have been brave enough in a million years and he knows it! The nurse came back in and said the consultant had agreed I could take away the nasal spray on this occasion. Thank god I hadn’t actually just stole the nasal spray haha!!!!

And so….I have been on the nasal spray for over a fortnight and I feel like absolute crap! Don’t know what I was crying about – serves me right, I could have avoided this for a couple of more months!!!! I take it four times a day and it does what they call “down regulating” so basically it is forcing my body into menopause so that when I start injecting I get a bigger surge of hormones. Some people have no side effects but lucky ole’ me has had nearly all of them – I have been an emotional wreck, my head has been thumping for days and I have never been so tired in all my life – I can’t concentrate at work and all I want to do is sit and snooze and cry (which I did today randomly at my work desk). I was starting to think maybe I had something wrong with me but I missed one dose and only knew when I thought to myself – hey I feel quite good tonight – then I realised I had missed a squirt! Every time I start to perk up or feel a bit better my phone alarm goes reminding me it’s time for my next dose! However, these are things I will just have to get on with to have myself a little baby that will more than likely give me 18 years of the exact same symptoms! Haha

Next appt is this week where I get scans and more bloods taken and I get to learn how to inject!! I must admit the injecting scares me most of all so we will see how I get on. My fiancé is scared of needles so he will be of no use to me there – in fact he is rendered useless until sample day (which i’m sure he can’t wait for!!) other than being my taxi ride and holding my hand of course!!! So watch this space….IUI doesn’t have a huge success rate but who knows, maybe it’s time some good luck was sent our way….pretty please!!!!

A Matter of Facts

 

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If you are lucky enough and infertility isn’t something you have had to deal with personally then it can be a difficult thing to fully understand with regards to the process and the emotions involved. I have lots of friends and family who have done their best to understand my journey and who have tried to inform themselves through asking questions or reading up on things to be as supportive as they can and for this I will be eternally grateful. I wanted to take this opportunity to list 5 facts that some of my infertile friends will no doubt connect with and as a kind of “heads up” to those who have family or friends going through this. Who knows, maybe it will help you to have a better understanding of what they are talking about, what to say or not to say or maybe you already know all of this and I’m just preaching to the converted!!

1). We don’t hate people who are pregnant so please don’t be scared to tell us if it’s you or mention someone who is! Yes it’s true, we may be envious and we may wish with every aching bone in our body that we were too, but we’re not and we are handling that the best we can. Yes we may feel sad about it, but we aren’t sad that you are being given a precious gift and it’s not that you don’t deserve it, we are just sad that we don’t know if it will ever be us one day. Telling us about how you feel and how you found out and what you did and who you told….actually gives us hope and makes us excited about the prospect of experiencing that one day for ourselves. So long as you are aware and sensitive to the mixed emotions we may feel and you know that it is not personal and that we are not not happy for you, then please let us be part of your journey – we are mamma’s without a baby and will probably be one of your best supports and more interested than you can imagine – we have been so ready for so long and have no doubt researched everything about pregnancy till it’s coming out of our ears. In fact, our pregnant friends bring us comfort and understanding in a way that others cannot – so long as you are not complaining about how lucky we are not to be pregnant – only then do we hate pregnant people!

2) We have learned to speak another language! Seriously, it’s true my infertile friends will understand the following – the rest of you will more than likely not!

A typical thread on a support group for infertility or for info on a treatment you are undergoing:
“So thats us been TTC now for what seems like forever! We are currently on CD9 and my CM has def changed (sorry for TMI) so I think something is happening – me and DH will BD between now and CD15 and then on 21DPO I will schedule blood work. Hopefully it will show O and then we can start the TWW, I really hope AF stays away and I can take a HPT and we finally get our BFP – don’t think I can handle another BFN! Sending you all baby dust for your BFP’s and sticky babies!”

This is a minor example and it took me some time to get the hang of the lingo – I used to get frustrated and be like, “Aaaaaaarrrgghhh I just want to know if this symptom is common or not and now I’m more confused that ever!!!” But now I understand most of it and I realise it’s almost like the abbreviations give the threads more privacy and only people who are experiencing this crappy situation have the right to understand what each other are saying. For those of you who are interested in understanding the language your infertile friend speaks I will rewrite the above statement:

“So thats us been TTC (trying to conceive) now for what seems like forever! We are currently on CD9 (cycle day – days since day one of your period) and my CM (cervical mucus!!) has def changed (sorry for TMI- too much information) so I think something is happening – me and DH (darling husband – some people say OH for other half) will BD (baby dance – have sex!) between now and CD15 (cycle day 15) and then on 21DPO (21 days past ovulation – ovulation happens approx CD11) I will schedule blood work. Hopefully it I’ll show O (ovulation) and then we can start the TWW (two week wait – the time you have to wait before taking a pregnancy test), I really hope AF (Aunt Flow – your period) stays away and I can take a HPT (home pregnancy test) and we finally get our BFP (Big fat positive) – don’t think I can handle another BFN! (Big fat negative). Sending you all baby dust for your BFP’s and sticky babies!” – A sticky baby refers to the challenge of once getting pregnant – managing to hold on to the pregnancy by praying that the embryo you have had all the trouble creating actually burrows in and sticks!

3). Being around babies or things to do with babies doesn’t upset us! This is very much like fact 1 where sometimes we can have mixed emotions based solely on where we are on our personal emotional roller-coasters but if you make it ok for us to tell you that then that’s all we need! In fact being around babies makes us more determined to keep on fighting for what we want, it reminds us of the end goal! That may sound strange but some of us have been doing this for so long and had to endure months or years of weight loss, diet change, new fangled exercise classes, failed treatment cycles, mood swings, disappointment and heartache that sometimes you lose sight of the whole purpose of this because the journey gets in the way….your babies help to keep us focused and remind us how much we want to be a mummy like you! In fact, the more involved you let us be the more our confidence grows to keep fighting the fight so don’t be scared to get us changing nappies, helping with bath time or allowing us to feed and wind your babies it makes us feel like you believe in our inner mummy too. Please don’t be scared to complain about how hard it is, we don’t think that means your ungrateful or being insensitive we want to be there for you because hopefully one day when we are finally mummy’s ourselves you will be there for us too!

4). Don’t be scared to say the wrong thing or ask the wrong question coz we don’t know what we are doing either, we are still learning about it all too and you might ask something we didn’t think to ask or you may make a statement that we hadn’t yet considered. We would rather be able to discuss it and talk about how we feel than pretend it’s not on our minds. There are a few exceptions to this – the following statements/questions are never welcomed:

“Stop thinking about it and it will happen” – Annoying – we are so passed that stage and if we stop thinking about it we won’t suddenly start ovulating or cure our endometriosis or make our partners sperm better, if you don’t know the condition causing the infertility please don’t say this!

“Things happen for a reason.” – Annoying – what’s the reason???? Plenty things happen with no good reason and good people being unable to have a family that they would do anything for has no good reason….please don’t make me feel like there is a good reason for me not being able to be a mummy or making my partner a daddy. Things don’t always happen for a reason – sometimes s**t happens would be the preferred statement!!

“Maybe infertility is the bodies way of saying you weren’t meant to have babies” – Annoying, in fact this has to be the most annoying thing I have ever had said to me. So let’s clarify, does that mean that diabetic people were just not meant to have insulin in their bodies? Don’t be so ridiculous! I think that if natural selection was a factor in this condition then surely there are a lot more people in society who should be infertile before us but seem to have no issues in procreating!!

There are probably a few more statements out there, but so long as you avoid the obvious (like the above) then really we would rather be able to talk about it and even laugh about it when the mood takes us! It’s all very confusing for everyone involved the only difference is we have no choice but to learn it coz we’re living it!

5). Sometimes we lose sight of other peoples lives, but we don’t mean to. Infertility can sometimes become all encompassing particularly when you are starting a new treatment. New treatments or the next cycle of something new brings new hope, more research needed, more attention required to doing everything you can to make this be the one, new forums to check out, new cycle buddies to meet online, new statistics needing gathered, new conversations to have with your partner, new updates for your friends, new symptoms to be spotting and new days to be counting all finalised with the dreaded pregnancy test that will announce your fate at the end of it all to then – possibly – start all over again with another piece of heartache under your belt, another blow to pick yourself up from and another smile to wear on top of a trembling lip. So I would like to apologise here on my blog to anyone I have ever lost sight of during this time, I am truly sorry if my journey has ever caused me to be self involved and not give you the attention you have deserved during your own issues. I have consciously tried to not let that be the case, but there are times where you have to jump in to this head first and just hope that you don’t sink and sometimes that means you are so focused on what day it is in your cycle or what your body should be doing now that you forget that other people have things going on too. Please still be our friends, forgive us our self focus and just shout a little louder till we hear you through our own wee bubble, we are still in there – sometimes we just get a little overwhelmed with listening to our own bodies we forget to listen to other peoples voices!

These tips are based solely on my own experiences and feelings and are not intended to be presumptuous of how other women in my shoes feel. All of our experiences and journeys are so different this is merely a guide to what I have found to be common feelings shared among friends I have made during our 3 years of treatment – but maybe no one else feels these things and it’s just little ole me!! In that case only my own family and friends reading this need to take heed!! Haha!!

Dear Future,

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In October 2012 after a year of appointments and different dosages of Clomid I was referred to the Assisted Fertility Unit for further treatment. As mentioned in a previous blog the wait time between referral and appointment was a few months which felt like a few years but we waited patiently (as if we have any other choice). When we eventually got the letter through to attend the hospital in Glasgow there was criteria that had to be met including the fact that we had to have been together for more than two years. By the time we had our appointment date we had been together for over 5 years but I was slightly panicked at how we were supposed to prove this – I had images of staging photographs of our time together like the movie Green Card or practicing questions like the TV show Mr & Mrs in case there was a question and answer session at our appointment! I would find myself asking my partner ridiculous questions like what was my Grandmothers maiden name? What is my earliest memory? What was my first pet called? Just in case they came up at the appointment! For the record not one question was asked about us and our relationship at the appointment other than the cringe worthy private questions you don’t really want to share with anyone, let alone a stranger! I must also add when I am nervous I sometimes get the giggles so there have been times during these appointments where the doctor has asked a completely acceptable medical question that for some reason has caused my giggles to make a very unwelcomed appearance! I have had to shamefully ask (on two separate occasions) for this reaction not to be held against me or to be read as a sign that I am not mature enough to handle this process – I don’t mean to laugh, I don’t want to be laughing, I’m trying to stop the laughing, all the while – I’m still laughing!

The other criteria set that caused me concern was having my BMI under 35. I’m going to be brave here (braver than sharing my infertility woes) and reveal my weight as I feel other people in my position will benefit from the honesty, even though it scares me to reveal the one thing no woman ever wants to discuss. I am only 5ft 3 and have always struggled with my weight since I was in my late teens, which I now know is a symptom of my severe Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. I really struggle to lose weight but I put it on incredibly easily and before my appointment my weight had been slowly creeping up as I got older. When I received my letter I weighed just under 15 stone (210 lbs) – I was ashamed of myself and had lost a lot of confidence but it was so hard to lose the weight, I always gave up when nothing was happening. My BMI was 36.5 and I needed to get it down to 35 or below and so for the first time I really got my head down and started to change everything I was doing to get the weight off before my appointment. I would love to tell you I found a miracle cure or a tablet that made that happen but unfortunately it was all calorie controlled, balanced diet and exercise. By the time I got to my appointment I had lost the weight I needed to lose for the appointment and my BMI was 35!! However, when I got to the appointment a new policy had been passed in Scotland that women were now entitled to two rounds of IVF instead of one, which is amazing news but the BMI criteria had been reduced to 30. I was devastated and pleaded with the doctor not to send me away with nothing as I had gone months with no treatment, no help, no hope and so he agreed to try me on a drug called Letrozole (also known as Femara) but I was only allowed three rounds as I had more rounds than normal on Clomid and you can only take these drugs for a certain amount of time before the side affects become to high a risk. I left gutted knowing that I needed to lose so much more weight, it’s not like I waddled into the room, I was a healthy UK size 16!! I also found out it was an 18 month waiting list for IUI (similar procedure to IVF but without egg retrieval) and 2 years for IVF, how on earth was I supposed to wait that long? A month’s cycle felt like a year. I needed to be a mummy now, 18 months was going to kill me! At least I had a new drug to try, something to give me back that hope and the referral for IUI would be back dated to my date of referral from the previous hospital (October 2012). The doctor was confident that I would fall pregnant on my own if I lost the weight. I have always had a gut feeling that drugs wouldn’t be enough – but who was I to question the professionals!

I continued on with my weight loss with a lot of support particularly from work mates and friends who would offer to come to fitness classes, go out a walk or run with me or eat a healthier meal at lunch or dinner to help reduce temptation and this was so helpful especially in the first few months. My partner on the other hand has been no help in that department what so ever eating crisps, sweeties and takeaways when ever the mood suits him with no regards for his safety – as there have been times I have envisioned rugby tackling him to the ground for a bite of a Mars Bar! His defence has always been that I had to learn to resist temptation and he was helping me to get better at doing this but eating what I wanted but couldn’t have in front of me! This statement has never amused me, he is lucky I haven’t made him wear his takeaway! Yet! The first month I took Letrozole I had to attend an appointment to have a scan (internally) of my ovaries to see if any follicles were being produced and I was told it wasn’t looking promising as the follicles were small so not to get my hopes up as it seemed this drug was also not working. I was a little confused because something felt different. I was told however that my lining was good so if I was to fall pregnant they were really happy that the egg would have the right environment to implant – that was something to cling on to – excuse the pun! I got out the room and my partner asked how it went, “its not looking like it’s worked but I have a nice thick lining in my womb!” He kind of pulled a horrified face, then realised that this was a good thing and responded with a hesitant – “Go you!!!” Following the scan a lot of changes happened in my body and for the first time in months I thought, “This is it, I’m pregnant, I know it” – people say “they just knew,” and that was how I was feeling. I knew these changes were so different from anything I had ever felt before; I couldn’t help but get my hopes up. I remember going in to work and telling a work mate – “I think I might be pregnant!” – She asked how I knew and I said “I don’t know I just feel so different.” I then went for my day 21 blood test and for the first time since I had started all these drugs my progesterone level was 37…..a healthy reading was around 30 or over and previously my progesterone levels had been 0.5, 1.5, 0.2, so basically non-existent! 37 was another sign that maybe I was pregnant! The two week wait (the time you have to wait before testing) felt like forever! However, test day came and went – another BFN (Big Fat Negative for those of you not in the infertility world). I was broken…….I cried on the way to work, I cried at my desk, I cried on my way home, I cried whilst watching the TV and I cried myself to sleep – I was so sure, how could I be so wrong! Over the next few days I picked myself back up, brushed myself off and looked for the positive – at least I ovulated! That means there is a chance it could happen for the first time ever I am actually releasing eggs and I could feel the change in my body – I am no longer a constipated chicken!

Three rounds of Letrozole passed and unfortunately no baby and lots of tears but each round did cause me to ovulate so my body has the ability with a little help, however, it seems actually fertilising the egg is now the problem before me! As I mentioned before I had a gut feeling all along that drugs alone wouldn’t be enough. I have had no more drugs since the beginning of this year (2014) and I am due to be at the top of the IUI list once I get my BMI to 30 or below. Since my initial appointment last year I am proud to report that I have lost 2 and a half stone (34lbs) and my BMI is currently 30.1. I have 1lbs to lose before I go active on the IUI list and these last few lbs have been the biggest hurdle of all as I am so close – yet so far from the next part of my journey!
At the risk of being a jinx by saying this out loud – the same gut feeling I had from the start about drugs on their own not working, I equally had a gut feeling about IUI the instant I read about it in the leaflet I was given. Something inside of me said – “That’s what I need, that’s what’s going to work for us!” I don’t know where the little voice inside came from but it has been enough to make me keep fighting to lose the weight even during the times it has been refusing to come off. I am hoping to go active on the IUI list any day now so we can start treatment, I am excited for things to start moving forward, to have hope back in our lives again and take us another step closer to the possibility of being a Mummy and Daddy! Dear Past, thank you for all the lessons – Dear Future, we are ready!

Every Cloud

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After our local hospitals fertility department had given us all the treatment they were able to give us and could no longer help us on our journey we were referred to the Assisted Conception Unit in Glasgow. We had to wait about 6 months before we got our first consultation appointment. 6 months felt like two years as there was no contact in between or medication to try to help pass the time and so we just had to wait for the letter to come through he door. Hoping that maybe a miracle would happen while we waited.

It was at this time I found my self seeking support from other people, not to deal with the physical problems but for emotional support. I felt like I had just been left alone by the medical professionals to get on with things with no support, reassurance or contact to carry me through my wait – instead I felt forgotten about, lost within a system and lost within myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a partner who is fully on board with what we are going through but he is not the kind of guy that talks about how he feels or gets it when I tell him my heart aches or that I found out someone else was pregnant today and it made me want to (or I actually did) breakdown into floods of tears because it’s not me, and I feel guilty that it’s the first thing I think about instead of, “oh, isn’t that lovely!” He has always been of the opinion that it will happen – no need to panic – it will just take us a little longer. It’s lovely that’s he is so confident that we will have a baby and that he is happy to patiently wait until it finally happens but this is sometimes very unhelpful to me and my emotional needs – particularly when my body is the one letting us down and I feel like a failure that I can’t do something that other people find so easy. I understand that I can’t push him into being someone he isn’t (even though there are times I want to shout at him for being an emotional robot and there are times I have shouted at him for being an emotional robot!). He is entitled to deal with it the way he wants, he isn’t that type of person anyways so why would I expect him to be now! I have often thought about whether I would want an over-emotionally involved partner with the infertility stuff and actually, I don’t think I personally would benefit from that, so really his non existent emotional responses are probably the lesser of the two evils!

As I mentioned the long wait made me feel like I needed to talk about what I was going through because sometimes it felt like I was going to burst or that I was totally alone and as my partner was not the person to fill this void I turned to a few special people in my life. I have always been quite open with people about my situation but this was more than that, this was needing to tell people the raw emotions, to share the unfairness, the tears, the days where I felt sorry for myself and grudged other peoples happiness, the side of yourself that hits you like a wave and makes you feel like you are drowning in self pity, the side of you that you don’t necessarily like because you don’t really hate other people for having their share of happiness but you are just so gutted that it’s not you that you can’t see past yourself, the side of you that you can only share with a few people who won’t judge you, who will listen and agree with the crappiness of the situation and who will help to calm the storm, ease your heart, dry your tears and remind you that you aren’t a bad person, that the situation does totally suck but that you are strong enough to keep going. I have a couple of friends and family members who have been there for these moments but none more than two of my older cousins (who are sisters to each other but have always felt like sisters to me). One of my cousins has been on her own fertility journey (with her own amazing success story) and the other supported her on her way, together they have been particularly special to me – when I have felt like I have lost myself they have been there protecting me from my own self destruction and shook their fists at the unfairness of the universe. My cousin who has had her own individual experience has allowed me to rant, rave, cry, swear and get my hopes up when I wanted to or needed to and been there to pick me up when they were dashed. she has phoned me at times where she just knows I need to talk, even if I claim I don’t, and she has let me be a jealous, sarcastic cow when the mood has taken me without judging me and sometimes joining in just for fun so that I feel like I’m not alone, and for all of these things – to both of them I will be eternally thankful.

Another special person came into my life bizarrely through an infertility forum. On days I felt like I needed to hear from other people who were experiencing their own journeys or help myself by helping others with some words of motivation left on a thread, I found comfort in others and support from complete strangers going through the same things. On one of these forums I came across a user who had the same issues as me, was the same age as me and was at the exact same stage of treatment as me and we quickly became fertility friends. I would find myself logging on each day to see how she was, share stories, feelings, bodily functions – you name it – for some reason we could talk about it! After some time we exchanged more personal details and became friends on Facebook so we could talk more easily, see what each other looked like and feel more part of each others “normal” lives! She has now been my friend for well over a year and a half, we talk at least once week and she has gone on to have a beautiful baby boy – she has been my inspiration and motivation on the days where it all feels useless – she totally gets what I’m feeling or thinking without having to properly explain myself. The only negative is that she literally lives on the other side of the world and so we have never met but have offered each other virtual hugs and virtual high fives when they have been needed. Although the infertility journey is a difficult one – she is the one positive thing to come out of this and Sara – if waiting longer for my baby was so that I could meet you – then it has been totally worth it! Thank you for all you have been to me and I hope that our conversations grow from talking about our infertility frustrations to the frustrations our grandchildren are causing us!

Infertility has it’s ups and downs but like every trauma in our lives it’s the strength within and the strength around us that keeps us going. It’s true what they say “every cloud has a sliver lining” my infertility lining has just happened to come in the form of people who have shown me love and support – not just those I have mentioned but those who know they have been there to lend an ear, a shoulder to cry on, shared an inspirational story, given me words of encouragement or joined in with a sarcastic comment when I needed to hear it – thank you all for being my silver lining.

I just hope some day soon my clouds will clear and a little ray of sunshine may be visible on the horizon!

The Story of a Constipated Chicken……

Before I met my Fiance (6 years ago) I already knew that I might have problems in the future with having children, but as us girls know, talking about babies at the beginning of a relationship is a huge no no and would cause most men to run a mile. But what happens when you embark upon a new relationship that you know is going well and you know that you have something wrong with you that could potentially affect the other persons future also? Knowing that you may deprive someone of something so life changing like having children of their own, feels like you are keeping a dirty little secret. So, I decided this was something I needed to tell him from the start so that I didn’t keep anything from him and feel extra guilty about it further down the line (if there was going to be a further down the line!). So, I braved the conversation with a boy I was just starting to really like, fully prepared that there may be a large man shaped hole in my wall once I had told him. Much to my delight and eternal appreciation his response was simply, “That’s ok, I choose you – we can cross that bridge together when we come to it – but I choose you with or without babies.” I fell in love in that instance. And for those of you reading this who know my partner, Yes – this is probably the most romantic and profound thing he as ever said, I don’t know where it came from and I’ve never seen that side of him again! (hahaha)

Three years later (and still together) I felt ready to look into my fertility issues further as I knew it may cause us some problems and maybe take us longer than normal to get pregnant. Movies and media have a lot to answer for with regards to how we think relationships look or how all the big conversations should pan out – they in no way prepare us for how these moments actually look. Movies will have us believe that at this moment you will look into your partners eyes and say – “Lets try for a baby” and they will respond with a huge smile and an over exaggerated “YES” and you will hug and music will play and boom – that’s it the baby making begins! Real life doesn’t happen like that – or maybe it’s just us? Our conversation was more along the lines of, “I think I want to go to the doctors and look into my fertility issues more.” He looked at me with a concerned face and I thought – ‘oh no, don’t freak out’……he seemed to be thinking…..then he responded…”I’ve hurt my back at the gym – if you give me a back massage we have a deal.” Seriously?!?!?!?……And so our journey began!

As mentioned in my previous blog it was then that I found out my minor fertility issues had become much worse and that I was going to need a lot more help. We were referred to our local fertility specialists in our local hospital where I attended appointments for around a year. The worst part of these appointments for me was that they sit you in the same waiting room as all the expectant mothers, excitedly waiting for their scans of their babies. This is a pretty sole destroying experience and one that never ceased to irritate me every time I was in that waiting room. Its not the pregnant women that I was annoyed at, they probably thought I was in for a scan too, but the fact that it hasn’t occurred to the specialist department that this is a little insensitive infuriates me…..these people are supposed to be clever! On a bad day – a day where you feel like your body is letting you down, a day where you feel like you are letting your partner down by not being a proper woman, a day where you feel useless that you can’t do something that a large percentage of people can do when they are drunk, a day where your heartaches and your arms feel empty, a day where you are sat in a waiting room waiting to be told what hasn’t worked again and what you need to do or not do to increase your chances, a day where your dignity is gone as you have to be examined and discuss some of the most private details of your body and relationship – Why would you sit me in a room full of happy, excited pregnant women? Why? This serves no purpose in my treatment except to turn whatever positive attitude I tried to turn up with and the fake polite smile I had on my face into an immediate dark cloud over my head topped with a feeling of uselessness, envy, jealousy and heartache and my smile would become burning tears at the back of my eyes that I would be using all my strength to hold in as the lump in my throat began to choke me. I can handle seeing pregnant women, its a normal part of life, but not in the waiting room where I wait to be told how unpregnant and un-impregnable I am!

So, one year of varying dosages of a drug called Clomid (50mg, 100mg, 150mg) and monthly blood tests to see if I had ovulated, I could no longer take that drug as it wasn’t working (all that timed sex and I wasn’t even releasing eggs) and I had also reached my recommended limit of being on a drug that can increase my chances of ovarian cancer. At this point I begin to see myself as a constipated chicken…I have eggs (which is a bonus), but I just don’t want to part with them!

I was then referred for a procedure called a Laparoscopy and Dye Insufflation. This is where they check if there are blockages in your tubes by inflating your insides and using dye and scans etc – not the nicest of procedures or the most comfortable, but the nurses were amazing and held my hand as the tears rolled down my face. My partner couldn’t make this appointment so I was in the room alone but the staff made me feel like I wasn’t alone and a good friend was waiting for me in the waiting room. This was a positive appointment in the end (albeit a bit sore) as I found out I had a healthy cervix – not something most women would be excited about but when everything has been negative for so long you will take any piece of positive news you can! I think my friend was both horrified and amused when I burst out the treatment room and announced to her and the waiting room, “I have a healthy Cervix – High Five!!”

That year had been filled with such lows with our fertility journey as everything had been one unexpected negative after another, at that point I had still been so sure that a small nudge from the drugs would have been enough, so every month when the test said negative and the bloods said no ovulation I was becoming more and more disheartened. We were then referred to the Assisted Conception Unit for more help and this is where the next part of our journey started. But I will save that for another day…..