Category Archives: To be categorised

tagged

Surfer has tagged me as a ‘gorgeous blog’ (thanks sweetie). This means I get to write six things about me that aren’t generally known and then tag some other people… ok then.

1, I have a huge collection of children’s books. Some are the ones I couldn’t part with as a child, but many have been bought as an adult. They are kept seperately from my other books, and any visiting children are welcome to use my house as a library.

2, I shout at the telly quite frequently (especially Wales Today and its attempts to pass off uninteresting facts as news for half an hour most weeknights).

3, My shoes and boots always get scuffed on top of the toes and on the inside left ankle. I probably walk funny.

4, Despite thinking for years that the best accompaniment to eggy bread was tomato ketchup, I have conceeded that maple syrup is miles better. My Brownies agree.

5, I have seven cousins, four of them live in Australia. I’ve occasionally been tempted to emigrate there, but on the whole prefer Britain.

6, I always do handmade Christmas cards, but have no design ideas at all this year, and not much time either.

Five blogs that could be absolutely gorgeous if they updated more often are:

Rebranded

Miss-Guided

Legally Blonde

Confessions of a Bamphire Mother

and Backburner

OK, slightly bending the rules there, but let’s hope to get at least one of these people blogging soonish!

Infertility, other journeys…

Thank you again for all of your wonderful and encouraging comments both on this blog and elsewhere, and for your continued prayers and support. As I explained in the last post my story is on hold for the time being, but I am taking the opportunity to explore more widely around the issue of infertility.

Starting off then with a couple of videos. There are, if you look around the web, and elsewhere more than a few songs / videoes about infertility, but I chose these two because they have both meant something to me at more than one point in my experiences. Rather than give lengthy introductions or explanations I will let each speak for themselves.

I Would Die For That

Empty Arms

That’s all for this week, will try to post weekly on Monday mornings as much as is possible.

and… stop.

I didn’t expect to get this far, I don’t know what comes next, but I won’t be ready to tell whatever the outcome for a while yet. I am not abandoning this blog, just putting it on hold until the right time comes to let the world know what happened next. When it comes down to it I don’t know who is reading this blog, and while I very much value you all and thank you for sticking with this story and for all your prayers and comments along the way I do need to move towards a phase where I control who knows what.

This blog will continue in the meantime by telling a less personal tale, it’s not just me who has gone through this, and I’d love to use this space to highlight some of the other stories out there. Please do stick around, this story has not ended yet, and will have an ending of some form, just not quite yet.

Two week wait, one week in

*Disclaimer – this post was not written this morning, I am deliberately posting these entries on different dates so that I can be fully open about this IVF stuff without people knowing exactly what is happening when. It’s a self preservation thing, with all of the injected hormones I become a bit of an emotional wreck, and am saving myself the pressure of people curious to know outcomes before I’m ready to tell.

You might think that the two week wait is a bit of a misnomer, surely there are better things to do than wait, even metaphorically, for a whole fortnight. Except it has gained it’s name because that’s exactly what it is. There is very little I can do to help things happen. I can keep up with my pills and injections, not drink alcohol or caffeine, not lift anything heavy, and a million other bits, but the main thing I have to do is wait. And try not to obsess.

The likelihood of any symptom of pregnancy hitting in before the day of the test is low, and even lower is the chance of me correctly recognising it. The amount of extra hormones I’ve been taking means that my body is all over the place in those terms anyway. I had morning sickness well before the embryos were transferred, and have felt bloated all the way through, and as for food cravings, anything salty especially Marmite and anchovies has been for the win for a few weeks now.

But all we can do is wait. I was never good at waiting. It’s so so frustrating, trying not to get our hopes up too high, but not being so cynical about our chances that negative thinking gets in the way. And it’s like all those many many times before, hoping that my period won’t come, knowing that it probably will, and trying not to think about it, but with something this big, that takes over this much of your life, what else is there to think about?

It always strikes me at this point that even with all the advances to modern science, most of this process is left to God. Yes I took injections to control my hormones and release the eggs at the right time, but God made the eggs, and the hormones that reacted at the right time. Yes the embryos were made in a petri-dish (no, it was never a test tube, test tube babies are a misnomer), but God alone knows how to fuse the eggs and sperm and make those potential bundles of life.  Yes, the embryos were treated with lasers, but hatched by God, and finally transferred back into my womb where God, if he so chooses can help them to implant (about a couple of days ago if it happened), and grow. The medications I am taking might help to support it, but God alone can make life.

This was made even clearer last night when the injection went a bit wrong and we reckon between a quarter and half of the fluid leaked straight back out of the injection site. We called the out of hours hotline to the consultant in a complete panic, his response was that we should do whatever we were comfortable with, another injection of a whole or half an ampoule, or leave it and do tomorrow’s injection as normal, basically we could do the injection every other day and it would still have the same effect. A lot of this ‘hard science’ is just guesswork, and we just have to trust that the clinic are working towards a common good, after all they have their statistics to think of as well as our happiness. Needless to say we took the option of leaving it until tonight for the next injection, one buttock stabbing per night is quite enough for me thanks. :)

Lie back and think of… Simon Mayo?!

*Disclaimer – this post was not written this morning, I am deliberately posting these entries on different dates so that I can be fully open about this IVF stuff without people knowing exactly what is happening when. It’s a self preservation thing, with all of the injected hormones I become a bit of an emotional wreck, and am saving myself the pressure of people curious to know outcomes before I’m ready to tell.

Yesterday morning was the embryo transfer. I can feel a ‘TMI?’ coming up quite soon, can’t you?

Before that though let’s set up where we were at breakfast time before this second major procedure. Six out of ten fertilised eggs after the egg collection three days before. Plenty of rest and relaxation in between. Showering with non-perfumed soap again. Call to confirm that the transfer is best taking place today (rather than wait another couple of days and do a blastocyst transfer), and after some messing around and calling back because of short staffing (yay), we are told yes, come in now. Drink a pint of water, because a ‘comfortably full bladder’ is needed, then get down to the clinic as soon as we can.

We get a cubicle with a telly again like we had for the egg collection. This is nice in some ways, we have been sat in the corridor before at this stage, but there are only a couple of us having anything done this morning, so plenty of space. Unfortunately what it actually means is that we are going to have to wait. Drink more water, and wait.

We are shown through, after more than an hour, to the procedure room where we find out the latest developments with our embryos. Of the six that fertilised, only three are at the ‘six cell or above’ level required. Two are six cells, one is seven cells, but it and one of the six cells have a lot of fragmentation (generally the case with us it seems), which makes it less likely to develop. So we go with the one good one, and the embryologist chooses the better of the other two to accompany it. We see them on a screen, and watch as she assists the hatching with a laser (it’s the first time we’ve been offered this, but at this stage, we’ll go for anything – that’ll be another £500) on your way out then, ker-ching). The nurses are trying to relax me, as you might imagine I quite need the loo by this point, and start up inane chatter about How Chris Evans is replacing Terry Wogan in the new year on Radio 2, and how he’s better than Simon Mayo in the drivetime slot. To be honest, this wound me up far more than if she’d just stayed silent, I think Simon Mayo is brilliant, but would rather not be thinking of him at the closest thing we get to the possible conception of our child(ren?)!

TMI?

OK, so obviously there’s more to it than lying back and trying not to think of Simon Mayo… At the point we were called through I was pretty desperate for the loo, but was keeping a handle on things, just about. Obviously it’s a case of getting undressed from the waist down and getting onto the bed, legs in the stirrups etc. Then that horrible swab again, eeew. Next, oh, joy is the speculum, which is basically a torture instrument, even when you haven’t got a full bladder. No painkillers this time, at least it’s taking my mind off the pain of my first few intra-muscular buttock injections.

Then came the words that no-one in this situation should ever hear “Um, we’re having some problems finding your cervix.” It took a good ten minutes to locate, during which time they used the external scanning wand to press down from the outside, yeah, just what I needed. My only thought through the entire thing was “Dear God, please let me not pee now”. The actual embryos, once we have seen them hatching on the screen (“yeah-yeah, just get them in me, and get me out of here!”) are inserted via a catheter. Once this is done the speculum finally comes out, but I’m not allowed to move until they have checked the catheter is clear (apparently our potential babies could still be stuck in the tube, Augustus Gloop style). It is, and we finally breathe a sigh of relief, it’s all over, we don’t have to start again. I don’t bother buttoning up my jeans as I scoot over the corridor to the mercifully vacant loo.
TMI?

So that’s it in terms of what the hospital can do. I still have nightly injections, and three tablets every morning, but really that’s our watch. Now it’s what is commonly called ‘the two week wait’. This time exists however you are trying to conceive, there needs to be a fortnight between conception and a reliable pregnancy test result. And that’s what I’ll be doing in a fortnight, for all the flashiness of their latest advances, fertility clinics still rely on good old pregnancy tests. I’ll probably post later about the experience of the two week wait, because this post has gone on for long enough, and it’s another topic really. But just to say it’s a pretty horrible time of being in limbo, and I’ll be doing all I can to take my mind off it, without doing too much and jeopardising this whole thing.

Catch up later

xx

Interesting times

*Disclaimer – this post was not written this morning, I am deliberately posting these entries on different dates so that I can be fully open about this IVF stuff without people knowing exactly what is happening when. It’s a self preservation thing, with all of the injected hormones I become a bit of an emotional wreck, and am saving myself the pressure of people curious to know outcomes before I’m ready to tell.

Big day yesterday. I needed to be in hospital at 8:30 am (at least the best parking spaces are free…) having not eaten since the night before, showered with non-perfumed soap, no deodorant, perfume or make-up (including the nail varnish that used to be on my toes), wearing loose clothing, and bringing my dressing gown and slippers.

This was egg collection day. It is a bigger deal than even embryo implantation day (if we get that far). I’m allowed actual pain relief for this one, and need to be looked after for several hours afterwards.

TMI?

The pain relief comes in many forms, starting with a couple of suppositories which are left in a tray along with a rubber glove and some lubricant for taking whilst getting undressed and into the open-backed gown, then there’s the IV line, which took two medical professionals three attempts to get right, leading to me walking out at the end with taped on dressings everywhere. There’s also the lovely mask that’s put over my face during the actual procedure, and I’m not saying lovely in sarcastic tones, there’s a lot to be said for the using measures that don’t hurt and aren’t suppositories.

TMI?

There’s a lot of waiting to be done, I’m never first in, so I’m glad I’ve taken a book, I wish I’d taken a better book though, Twilight was not the most inspired choice by any stretch, and turned out to be more than a bit rubbish. There is a Freeview TV (good job, as they’ve turned off analogue here) in each cubicle, but I’m really not a fan of morning telly, and even bad teenage vampire fiction beats anything broadcast between 9 and 10 am.

They tell me to go to the loo before going through. This is (a) totally pointless as I’ve had nothing to drink for 3 hours and (b) quite a challenge for decency in a backless robe. When I’m done they get the IV line in and I lie back and think of…

…anything other than what is happening.

TMI?

Now that I’m out of the situation I can report that it involves (yet again) stirrups to hold the legs apart, a swab to make sure everything’s clean (strangely the swab is the bit I’m most squeamish about, not sure why), and then in with the speculum (even on painkillers, owwwwww!) and the device that sucks the eggs out (yes, really). The first time I did this I remembered nothing of it, either they used stronger sedation techniques or I just plain passed out, either way that was a better plan than trying to think of sunbeams and kittens when my recent reading was making me think of vampire attacks and bad writing

TMI? (yes, probably, but I did warn you :D)

They collected 10 eggs, not as many as previous cycles, I think we normally manage a baker’s dozen, but let’s hope for quality above quantity. They will phone this morning to let us know how many have fertilized, in fact we are waiting for the call right now, I’m writing this blog as a distraction (not a very good one, as distractions go, but there we are).

By the time I got home I was pretty exhausted, hubby had to go out to work, but left me with flowers and chocolate. Shame I couldn’t stomach anything sweet. He made up for it in the evening though by letting me order my choice of create your own pizza with extra sides, anchovies and spinach hit the spot wonderfully!

It wasn’t quite all over for yesterday though, as we needed to restart the intramuscular injections that now take place every night until… whenever they tell us to stop.

These injections are not intended for the tummy, but for the buttock, therefore need to be administered not by me, but by my darling husband. My involvement mostly involves burying my head in a pillow and gritting my teeth until it’s over, but I am vaguely aware of what happens…

TMI?

There is yet again an ampoule that needs to be broken and have its contents drawn into a large needle, the needle is again swapped, but this time for one exactly the same size, as it needs to penetrate through to the muscle. The injection site is quite specific, to find it one needs to divide the cheek (as it were) into four quadrants and then inject into the middle of the upper outside quadrant. This apparently means little risk of damage to the sciatic nerve, or something, but when the needle is in, the syringe needs to be retracted a little to check that there’s no blood (if there is we need to start again, woo). It always feels too high up, like it’s actually in my back. Given the size of the needle it doesn’t hurt as much as one would expect, but it does put one huge strain on bedtimes for the foreseeable future.

TMI?

…and still we wait for the phone call. At this stage we have actually phoned them, but they are in a meeting apparently. they should still have called back by now, hoping no news is good news…

…breaking news, 6 are fertilised. We are going off to process this news now.

As the clock struck 10…

*Disclaimer – this post was not written this morning, I am deliberately posting these entries on different dates so that I can be fully open about this IVF stuff without people knowing exactly what is happening when. It’s a self preservation thing, with all of the injected hormones I become a bit of an emotional wreck, and am saving myself the pressure of people curious to know outcomes before I’m ready to tell.

Last night’s injection was not one I looked forward to. As far as the physical injection went it was the easiest of the cycle so far, it comes in a pre-filled syringe, so it was just a case of removing it from the package, which had been kept in the fridge since it arrived by courier with the rest of the drugs oh, so long ago, pulling off the cap and stabbing it in as usual. the difficult part was the anticipation.

This particular injection is designed to make me ovulate, to release all of those eggs whose growth I have been stimulating so that they are ready to be “collected” tomorrow morning. As such it needs to be timed pretty precisely. Certainly no earlier than 10pm, preferably no later than 10:15, that quarter of an hour window doesn’t give any room for forgetting about it for a minute, or putting it off for five. Clearly a slight distraction was needed, so on went “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” (a classic Doctor Who episode with Tom Baker as The Doctor, and one we’d not seen before). The 25 minute episodes meant that we didn’t get too sucked in and forget about needles totally, but it was absorbing enough that the thought of not wanting to forget the injection didn’t take over the evening entirely.

So that part went fine, but the weekend has not been a total success. It’s amazing how eight little microscopic eggs can make me feel so bloated, but I’m feeling constantly like I just ate a Christmas dinner with second helpings of everything. My appetite for pretty much everything other than Marmite on Toast has been significantly reduced, so the strapline on this blog is more true than ever. So, until tomorrow morning I am wearing the loosest clothes I can get away with and catching up with trashy fiction, brainless telly and silly games on my Nintendo DS. I’m on an order of nil by mouth after midnight tonight, not a problem at all.

Scan 3, permission granted to proceed…

*Disclaimer – this post was not written this morning, I am deliberately posting these entries on different dates so that I can be fully open about this IVF stuff without people knowing exactly what is happening when. It’s a self preservation thing, with all of the injected hormones I become a bit of an emotional wreck, and am saving myself the pressure of people curious to know outcomes before I’m ready to tell.

The clinic is an emptier place than our last couple of cycles, it took me a while to notice, but my observations were supported on my most recent visit by the amount of time the nurses and even the (hardly ever present) consultant have to stop and chat. I’m assuming that this is another casualty of the current financial situation, IVF is a luxury, the amount of free cycles depends on where you live. In Wales we get one cycle on the NHS, other places get none. The recommendation is three. There are other options – trying other fertility measures on the NHS, trying for just one more month to conceive naturally, choosing adoption…

…Yesterday’s scan went well, and the expectations set out on the last visit were confirmed. At least eight good eggs seem to be developing well, and the lining of my womb is thick enough, we go ahead in a couple of days. Before that I took my injections as normal this morning, and then throw in another one for luck before bedtime. Tomorrow I get a whole injection free day, and then the first procedure takes place the following morning. This is the last chance to relax a little before the stress comes by the bucket load. You have been warned.

Formal decisions

*Disclaimer – this post was not written this morning, I am deliberately posting these entries on different dates so that I can be fully open about this IVF stuff without people knowing exactly what is happening when. It’s a self preservation thing, with all of the injected hormones I become a bit of an emotional wreck, and am saving myself the pressure of people curious to know outcomes before I’m ready to tell.

There are many added complications to the process of conception when that process is assisted by medical professionals. Most of these complications are best not thought about, or got out of the way as quickly as possible, but today we’ve had the dreaded consent forms. We get one each, and have to fill them in and sign them before treatment can continue. The questions start off fairly basically, the first page needs your name, address, passport or NHS number, and those of your partner, and the next page moves on to a basic consent to treatment and the use of our embryos to that end (well, duh). The later questions become more impossible to answer…

…How many embryos would you like to be transferred? More than one carries a higher likelihood of at least one surviving, but also means a higher risk of complications including miscarriage and threats to my health. There are pressure groups that advise just the one embryo each time, but the thousands of pounds we spend on each round of treatment makes it tempting to go up to the maximum of three…

…Would you like any unused embryos to be stored, if so how long for (up to a maximum of 55 years)? The top end of that is easily dismissed, in 55 years, plus 9 months for a pregnancy I’ll be 89. But when will be too late? We don’t have to use them of course, and we increasingly see this question as academic, as the quality of my eggs means that there are never any embryos of a high enough resilience to survive the freezing and defrosting process, but if this time is different, and they do seem more hopeful this time, how long?..

…In the event of your, or your partner’s death/mental incapacity, do you consent to your embryos being used in your own treatment? Others’ treatment? For research? For training purposes? How are you ever supposed to be able to answer that? It’s been such a long journey (so far) to this point, what if we both were to die suddenly, and we had said yes to our embryos being used for the treatment of someone else? Clearly it would make no difference to us, we’d be dead, but our family? For our parents to be aware that their grandchildren could be walking around somewhere, when their own children had never seen them, but then to deny someone else the happiness we seek…

…I’m not going to tell you the contents of the later pages of that form any more than I will tell you my identifying details on the first page. I’m not sure any of those questions should be given an answer, but of course, we had to put something down to be allowed to continue with the treatment. In contrast to the hope I spoke of yesterday these decisions mean that we start to think of the worst that can happen, as it turns out I’m not all that comfortable with that side of it either.

Scan #2, better news

*Disclaimer – this post was not written this morning, I am deliberately posting these entries on different dates so that I can be fully open about this IVF stuff without people knowing exactly what is happening when. It’s a self preservation thing, with all of the injected hormones I become a bit of an emotional wreck, and am saving myself the pressure of people curious to know outcomes before I’m ready to tell.

Second scan yesterday. In my previous two IVF cycles I have had to go in for scans every couple of days for about a week and a half. These are basically to establish how many eggs are developing, how many are of a good size, and therefore when would be a good time to commence the procedure proper.

This time round, however looks like a better deal, it’s looking like I will only need one more scan tomorrow, and then we can start getting on with the next step pretty much straight away.

I have at least 8 good sized eggs (some other smaller ones may develop quickly enough to be usable too), which is really good at this stage, the new drugs must be working well, which is a relief as I’d half convinced myself I was doing something wrong with them, that then was the usual paranoia.

Problem is now I’m freaking out, and I’m not really sure why. It could be because things are happening differently this time, I’m in a pretty high emotional state and any change to what I expect is not generally met with any grace at the moment. But this is a good development, I can see that, I think it’s actually hitting a nerve because it’s going well…

…I’m expecting this not to work. It’s mostly a self protection thing, I’m putting myself on the side of the statistics, on the side of experience, and on the side where it will hurt least either way when we do the pregnancy test at the end of this. This works well for most of the time, until something like this comes along to challenge that, until something gives me hope. And hope is not something I’m comfortable with at the moment.

Last year at Greenbelt Festival I was in the Christian bookshop and saw a mug with one word on it ‘Trust’. That one word seemed to sum up a lot of what I was getting out of the festival, and quite out of character, I bought the mug. This year at Greenbelt I found myself in the same part of the same store, and there was another mug with one word on it. ‘Hope’. I felt quite a big reaction against it, decided it was not for me and put it back. Later that day I went back and bought it, for I am nothing if not contrary. I use both mugs, but given a choice I will go for the one that says ‘Trust’.  Hope at the moment is too much of a hornet’s nest.