Archive for December, 2011

IVF Part 3: The ‘afterwards’

So after the IVF egg collection and then the subsequent ‘pop back the fertilised ones’ session a few days later, the two week wait (2WW) is upon you. This is really quite tough as it’s as if you have the biggest secret in the world…but can’t do anything with it…as it might just go wrong and then there is no longer a secret to share. So there is this breath holding awesomeness which you can’t help but smile at, coupled with a voice in your head telling you to keep you feet firmly on the ground and think about something else. Yeah right!

For me I didn’t even get to the end of my 2WW as my period came a couple of days before I could even think of testing 😦 I felt robbed even of this moment which is ridiculous when I think about it as it doesn’t make any difference to the overall outcome. But still I wanted to have that morning moment of preparing the test and getting tummy flutters etc.. whilst hubby and I sat watching a pee’d on stick. Nevermind. Maybe I was saved an extra disappointment.

After the realisation of a failed IVF attempt hits you, you are numb. You can’t quite believe that this has just happened to you, and where is the justice or fairness? Anger kicks in quite quickly and along with all the drugs that have been pumped through our system, I think we should all be excused some mental moments. For me, I went back to work as soon as I could, in fact I made sure that our IVF journey had little if any effect on my working day and I strived to keep that part carrying on as normal. I think it helped me to focus on the mundane job stuff, whilst such a tremendous feat was going on in my personal life, it helps to balance life out I guess.

I wanted to begin planning the next IVF attempt, that was how I ‘got over it’. I very quickly tried to deal with the reality that it didn’t work and then map out our next moves. It was now truly confirmed that egg quality was our problem, and so I embraced the research of this and tried to find out everything I could to help improve my scenario. Do check back to my previous posts that refer to what supplements I take in regards to egg quality improving.

My biggest battle though is with myself. For as long as I can remember, when I have a problem in my life I reach for a glass of alcohol. This is not to say I am an alcoholic, but drink has been a comfort during a life filled with awful husbands, a dead mother and a troubled childhood. I know this is my way of ‘losing myself’ when I can’t face reality and I’m sure that I’m not alone with that feeling. If I’m sad, I will have a drink, this then lets me cry openly like a baby and I can ‘let it all out’. It also sometimes lets the anger out too which is not so pleasant for those around me but I’m sure a shrink would encourage that more than the tears. But as you may already be thinking, alcohol is something that I should be avoiding as it is AWFUL for fertility, and so here starts my cycle of self blame. I am currently on holiday and am drinking alcohol until I return home, then my wonderful hubby is going to join me in giving up alcohol altogether for our very last attempt at assisted conception with our frozen embryos in March/April 2012.

I think the big thing to take on board when going down the IVF journey is that you will face your inner demons. If you can embrace them, or even deal with them, then the strength from this will take you as a couple, forward with whatever happens. I suspect I run from mine and don’t face my own truths sometimes, but at least I’m aware of this and so surely that must be positive? I will continue with the yoga and meditation and try to lose the weight, I will keep putting one foot in front of the other and hold my head high even when I am my own worst enemy. Because tomorrow is another day…and maybe it will be a fertile one?

Happy New Year everyone! May next year be filled with happy experiences and lots of positive pregnancy tests! 🙂

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Christmas Eve wishes to all Trying To Conceive (and lose the stress)

IVF Part 3 will have to wait as it’s Christmas Eve and I feel I must quite simply be positive and happy today 🙂

I just wanted to pass on my love to all of you out there trying to create your families and wading through the obstacles that Mother Nature has put before you. I genuinely believe that our state of minds is vitally important and that we should be happy from the inside to help with any assisted conception ahead of us. Stress is the enemy and I know this more than most as it’s something I suffer physically from, often feeling shakey and hot when stress grabs me, or losing the ability to speak even when full panic takes hold. But I know this isn’t good for fertility, and I accept it’s really hard to ‘relax’ when you’re going through something so intense. What I’ve found works for me, and what I’d like to pass on to anyone who needs to slow down and smile their way through Christmas, is meditation.

Now don’t panic I’m not going to get all spiritual on you, I avoid all meditations that bring god/gods into it, but the ones I listen to are quite simply trying to slow me down and turn off the hyper thought patterns that are an unwanted side effect of life. When I first started, I did feel a bit silly, but I would sit on the floor and stare at the flame flickering on a candle with the lights off. It’s strange how this can work and how much time can pass whilst you’re doing it, but my brain never really ‘stopped’. I couldn’t seem to ’empty my thoughts’ as I knew I was supposed to, so I started looking for some meditations I could watch or listen to and learn from. I though I’d give it a proper go basically.

I have an iPhone and would search for free apps on meditation. I still have many that I re-use but I also deleted loads as it’s a personal thing and sometimes I just didn’t like the voice or it was too short/long or became too religious based. I still listen to them when I’m in the bath or when I go to bed early, and I can honestly say that after a few weeks I really noticed a difference in my character. I can also tell when I stop doing it as my anxiety starts creeping back. I’m hesitant to recommend any one particular site, as like I say, it’s a personal preference plus it’s good to find out what doesn’t work for you so I would just recommend that you give it a try and start searching. It will also compliment accupuncture if you’re trying that too.

So anyway, it’s Christmas Eve and love and magic are in the air! I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and let’s hope we all get what we wish for next year. Keep smiling xxx

IVF Part Two: The IVF Procedure

Part Two : The Procedure

When we arrived at the clinic we were shown to our room. I had a 1.30ish appointment for my surgery and so we settled in to wait for someone to come and get me when the time was right. It had been explained to me that although it’s a straightforward procedure, sometimes it can take longer with some women and so the time allocated for me was a guideline. I had to lose hubby for a while whilst he disappeared to ‘do his bit’ into a container, and when he returned we had a giggle about how surreal this all is.

Now I have to explain at this point that I suffer with panic attacks and anxiety, and a new experience, something I haven’t done before, can set me off in to a panic. Well my nerves were utterly shot to pieces on this day. I had full on adrenalin coursing through me, I was sweating and struggling to take breaths. My coping methods are to breathe in for four…and out for four, as this helps to regulate my oxygen levels. I also know that I should keep moving to burn off the adrenalin. So picture this: I am wearing that attractive surgical gown with my bum peeking out the back, jogging on the spot and huffing in and out with a red and flustered face! My hubby did find it amusing. I, on the other hand, thought I was going to die! Please note though that the second IVF experience was a breeze, no anxiety at all 🙂

Annoyingly I didn’t go into surgery until about 3pm and by the time the nurse came for me I thought ‘I can’t do this! I’m going to collapse! My head is about to explode!’ etc..etc.. but the nurses are used to nutcase women so she calmly walked me downstairs to theatre. As soon as I entered theatre…..I relaxed. There’s something about being in the hands of others that just chills me out, and I no longer had to worry. My aneasthetist was an angel; a wonderful man whose main purpose in life at that moment was to make me happy and content. I laid back as people moved around beside me and just thought ‘ok, here we go’. Then I was told that I would start to feel sleepy and before I knew it, I had the most amazingly relaxing drift into sleep I have ever experienced! It was like a big warm hand picks you up and cuddles you off to dreamworld. My main advice to anyone concerned about the surgery is….it will be absolutely fine, in fact you may look back on it fondly x

When I came to, I was fine. Drowsy, dopey, slow and talking utter crap, but absolutely fine. I think I kind of chatted up the porter who wheeled me back to my room.

‘Who are you?’ I slur.

‘Simon’ he replies with a smile.

‘Oooooh my husband is called Simon! This is an omen! You must be a wonderful person to have such a wonderful name! Where are we? Who are you again?’ and so on..

When back in my room, hubby and I both check the back of my hand as we’d been told this is where they would write how many eggs they had retrieved. We looked. We saw. It was 12!!! A fantastic number, very positive. I immediately tried to text people this information, not really knowing what I was doing and who I was texting, and so had a few replies of ‘bakers dozen’ and ‘what eggs? from where?’ and ‘football team it is then’. Then I had to call my daughter who told me later that I sounded completely drunk.

Now I hadn’t eaten since 9am and so my next advice to you is to ORDER EVERYTHING THEY OFFER YOU IN ADVANCE. You will be ravenous! After eating and the nurses making sure that I have had a wee (exciting!) I was allowed home. I can honestly say that I was not in any discomfort that day or evening and that I was pampered beyond belief by hubby (he’s a gem).

The next day however, things start to feel a little more real. My tummy was swollen and actually looked quite comical, and I had ‘period pain’ type symptoms. This was a tad unpleasant but be assured that it really doesn’t last long, a couple of days at most. We waiting for the phone call from the clinic that would tell us how many had fertilised. We waited…and waited…and then it came. 11 out of the 21 had fertilised!!! OMG!! We were ecstatic! More texting and more phone calls to close friends and family (plus a few more who had found out yesterday due to my appallingly drugged up texting session).

The day after that, I had to return for ET (Egg Transfer) and this didn’t bring any anxiety at all funnily enough. The whole cycle had been good, the eggs collected had been plentiful and over 90% had fertilised. It was all looking so positive. Until…. we arrived at the clinic.

We had already asked for 2 eggs to be put back in and when we met our Consultant we were all smiles knowing that there was a good amount of choice. He however, was rather reserved, as were the other nurses and we definitely noticed a sombre mood in the air. We were told that the eggs ‘weren’t great’ and were ‘average at best’ but they would obviously use the best ones possible. Something wasn’t right and so I pushed for more information. And I really had to push as no-one wanted to give me a straightforward answer. I later found out that my eggs were ‘fragmented more than was normal’ and this indicated that they wouldn’t have much of a chance of implantation. They were passed their sell by date is how I look at it 😦 Although they did say that you can just never tell, and it didn’t mean that it wouldn’t work, just that it didn’t look promising right now, Still that vibe in the air was loud and clear.

The ET procedure is basically the same as a smear test; a bit uncomfortable but over quickly enough.

When we left the clinic we had mixed emotions. We knew that at that precise moment I was carrying our 2 fertilised little wanna-be-babies and this was as far as we’d ever been! We also knew that 2 long weeks loomed ahead of us before we could even do a pregnancy test, and we also knew that the clinic didn’t hold much hope for us. I didn’t want to move. I walked like I was a robot, doing slow turns and trying not to bend in the middle. But we were together, and we took each day one at a time.

IVF: Part One

I’ve decided to break down the IVF experience into 3 parts:

  • The preparation
  • The procedure
  • The ‘afterwards’

There is just so much going on with IVF that one post with all of it in would be too long and dreary. And I always find life easier to deal with when it’s divided into manageable chunks rather than one huge mission looming before me!

So here is Part One: The Preparation

After you’ve decided on a clinic to use, you will have a meeting with the Consultant who will be performing the IVF for you.
TIP : See your Consultant as a SURGEON, an expert in performing the IVF procedure. Do not expect him/her to molly coddle you or look after your emotional needs.
They will talk you through what will happen and give you dates, drawings, statistics and loads of information to take home. They will answer any questions you may have and let you know of the other staff members who you can speak with at anytime during the next few months.
TIP 2: Write down your questions and take them with you. You will most likely forget everything during the meeting as your emotions may be all over the place, so you need to have a written down list.
After the meeting you will probably see a Nurse who will book in some blood test dates and give you a prescription for your drugs (or have your drugs ready for you). She/he will also show you how to administer the injections and go over everything again with you to make double sure 🙂
TIP 3: Do try to bond with your Nurse/s. These wonderful ladies (or men) are in their job because they want to help and care, and they’ve seen all sorts of different reactions so don’t be afraid to express yourself. When you need help or advice at 3am, it’s the Nurses who you can call up.
When offered the opportunity to try out an injection in front of a Nurse…please do take it! I didn’t as I was convinced it would be no problem at home…but I was very wrong. My husband had to do all of my injections because I just couldn’t (although I felt an utter banana about this, it was quite nice to have him play such a pivotal role in the IVF process, as I couldn’t have done it without him).

So you can now go home fully loaded with documentation (more than you previously had, which in itself was a garage full right?) and your drugs and a diary of what to do and when to do it. The emotions that came with this first step for us were nearly overwhelming. We were finally doing something! The research, the talking, the presentations, the tears, the financial organising, the moral questioning….all of it had led to this day! But there is also the feeling I can only relate to doing a bungee jump (not that I have ever done one nor will I); standing on the edge, about to jump, but still adjusting to what you’re about to do. It’s exhilarating but petrifying at the same time.

The first thing I did when home was to write in all the dates into my own diary; injection at 10pm, buserelin sniffer at 8am, 12pm, 4pm, 8pm etc… when to stop the sniffer, when to go in for my blood tests, when I would (hopefully) be getting the magical and special LAST injection that has to go in the fridge and I have to take at 3 in the morning before going in for EC (Egg Collection)! Being organised makes me feel more in control, and I know what’s ahead of me.

The first injection was absolutely fine. A lot of panic, stress and tears on my part, only for it to NOT HURT A BIT so I felt like a big girl. I’m not thrilled about the idea of being injected but don’t have an issue with it, except when you have such emotions attached to what you’re doing it’s easy to lose yourself sometimes and become over sensitive. Just keep telling your hubby/partner how you’re feeling, keep communicating and ask him to always hold your hand even when you’ve become a banshee from hell, you still need it. So to reaffirm, the injections do not hurt at all, they are nothing to be feared. Don’t worry 🙂

The side effects for me varied as my first IVF was using a sniffer but they had stopped using them with my 2nd IVF and it was all injections. The sniffer (Buserelin) gave me headaches, similar to hangover type headaches and it tickles and dribbles down your nose (nice). I much prefer the injections which are fine for me, nothing strange happens. In fact I see it that I was ‘stabilised’ by the drugs, my hormones are completely controlled by the clinic and so my normal mental pattern of erratic emotions that I used to get with PMT simply went away.
TIP 4: Try not to argue before an injection, but wait until afterwards. Whether it’s him or you doing the injecting, it’s better to be done without any anger, lol.

It’s amazing how quickly you adjust to incorporating injections into your everyday life. I was always concerned that I would be searched going into a pub and accused of being a drug dealer or something as I carried an injection with me at all times (just in case). My hubby had had a few drinks one time, but still had to inject me. We can laugh about it now but at the time I was convinced he was going to completely miss and I would end up with a needle sticking out of my bellybutton or somewhere. It was fine though.

Every blood test I had was always fine, and every scan they took was also fine. I was progressing exactly as expected and was even referred to as having a ‘perfect cycle’. Do not be put off by this if you encounter any issues as neither of my ‘perfect cycles’ worked.
The scans are an unusual experience, they made me giggly in fact. My hubby has seen my insides! He’s seen my ovaries and follicles and bladder and…. oh that’s enough surely?! I am a curious creature and welcome any opportunity to see something that is not normally available to me, but I was really pleased with how my hubby also found it fascinating. To begin with I felt a bit sad as I wanted the scan to be showing a baby to my hubby, but adjusted to seeing it as showing him the living quarters for his child to be. He came with me to every appointment, without fail. I remember seeing other women at the clinic who were on their own and I felt sad for them. This is a special, unique journey and if you can have your partner with you… then do.
TIP 5: Ask for appointments that suit YOU, don’t fit in with the clinic all the time. You can be selfish about this you know x

Eventually the EC date was upon us and we set every alarm in the house so we wouldn’t miss that final injection at 3am in the morning. Overnight bag packed and off we went to the clinic… Part 2 to follow soon….

Be positive – there’s Christmas magic in the air!

Right my last post was a tad depressing, but to be clear, I just want others going through the same as me to know they’re not alone with having ‘one of those days’. I’m not always so sad, in fact I am rather good at reaching for the positive things, recognising the good stuff and wearing a genuine smile 🙂

So today I’m going to list all the great, positive things that go through my mind, the other flip of the coin if you will;

  • This year we had a successful pregnancy! We actually got pregnant!! This is amazing! Miscarriage is SOOOOOO common that I can’t let it hold me back, and the chances of it happening again are actually quite slim. But I have proved that we can get pregnant!
  • Next year we have 4 frozen embryos to try again with. 4!!!!! That’s actually a great number, so we’re off to a good start already.
  • Through all the pain that the miscarriage put us all through (including my poor 15-year-old daughter who had already began writing a diary to her sibling), we have actually learnt a lot emotionally, pulled together as a family more, seen the bigger picture of life and found a deeper level of love for each other. We recognise that the situation could have been far, far worse and that we are lucky to be able to try again.
  • My daughter is amazing and I love her and her maturity, her intelligence, her emotional capacity and, by golly, she loves me to bits too 🙂 Her support is unconditional, she is becoming my friend who holds my hand and knows when I need a cuddle. I have never leant on her, nor asked her to be more grown up throughout this journey, it has come naturally to her.
  • My husband is the luckiest man on the planet because I am utterly terrific and… only kidding! HE is terrific and I am the luckiest woman. I have never in my entire life been loved so perfectly, and on so many levels. The first reason he wants our baby is because he wants to look after me when I’m pregnant. It’s about me as much as our child, and that’s just beautiful. It’s about us becoming a family.
  • I have discovered so many friends and colleagues who are going through, or have been through, a similar assisted conception journey. I have spoken to other friends about to embark on it and been able to give them some great tips and advice already. In fact this helped push me to write the blog in the first place. A friend of mine once told me that her doctor was going to give her a ‘pill’ that would increase her egg quality…’NOOOOOOOOO’ I screeched, this is complete twaddle!
    Get some proper tests done, I plead with her, change your diet, take supplements, do some research, stop smoking ..etc… BUT DO NOT JUST POP A PILL. I assumed the pill was clomid which does NOT increase egg quality, it just makes you release more eggs. That conversation was paramount to me wanting to help others and pass on my experiences.
  • It’s nearly Christmas and that means there’s magic in the air. Proper magic. Which means to all of you out there who are trying to conceive…I’m sending you some extra Christmas magic. It might not work immediately, but ….. you never know ….. there’s always a chance….. right? 🙂

Fed up with the adverts!!! Babies everywhere!!!

I haven’t posted for a while and I apologise for that, but I have been struggling. On the outside I am still happy, jokey, ‘bit of a twat’ Jodie still, but on the inside the following is going on;

  • I am beginning to think my tv knows when I sit down as it seems that when I do, an advert showing newborn babies comes on!!!! OR an advert for the latest pregnancy test!!!!
  • Despite trying to lose weight, I appear to be getting fatter (might have something to do with all the chocolates I’m cramming in my mouth as I am a depressed train wreck). The fatter I get, the bigger my tummy gets (obviously) but this seems to be particularly evil at present as I keep catching myself in the mirror ‘looking’ pregnant. Weird I know.
  • I am supposed to be 4 months pregnant right now! But thanks to mother nature stealing that from me, I have to watch my colleagues be pregnant instead. I ADORE my colleagues and am truly over the moon for them, but I am SUPPOSED to be pregnant with them.  It hurts 😦
  • We’ve started discussing adoption and fostering quite seriously now, and it’s something I’d really love to do (and have been hoping the day would come when we start this process). But it appears that it’s made me want my own even more!!!!!! That wasn’t supposed to happen! I was going to ‘move on’ and accept things, be an adult; no problem. Plus I can’t have my own anyway, egg donation is the only way for me, and we have simply run out of money.

But I am fighting to get my Christmas spirit back, appreciative of all the things I have in my life and grateful for the love and friendship that keeps me sane. This is the biggest guilt trip of all, knowing that other people have far worse tragedies going on than me. Got to keep the perspective. Got to be positive. Got to keep trying.