Posts Tagged ‘egg quality’

Assisted Hatching with FET

The last time we saw our clinic we were introduced to the idea of assisted hatching. We have one more attempt left at FET (frozen embryo transfer) and it was advised that we could try AH (assisted hatching) to increase our chances of finally leaving with a baby. I had come across AH in my research but as it had never been recommended to us before hadn’t given it any further thought, but our nurse thinks that it might work for us. She explained that if our embryologist thought our embryos needed an extra push in the right direction, she would perform AH. I say if because AH depends on the outer layer condition of the embryo; if the outer layer looks ‘tough’ then AH is appropriate but if it looks ‘thin’ or ‘fine’ then maybe it isn’t, it’s very much an ‘on the day’ decision. So what exactly is AH? This is what the HFEA state;

Before an embryo can attach to the wall of the womb, it has to break out or ‘hatch’ from its outer layer called the zona pellucida.
It has been suggested that making a hole in or thinning this outer layer may help embryos to ‘hatch’, increasing the chances of the woman becoming pregnant in some cases.

assisted hatching

Ok so that makes sense, although I’d never been aware of that much detail before. I now understand that a small amount of special acid is put on the outer layer to wear it away, allowing the embryo to free itself more easily for implantation. The site continues however, to say…

However, assisted hatching does not improve the quality of embryos.
The NHS guidelines on fertility, issued by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence), say:
‘Assisted hatching is not recommended because it has not been shown to improve pregnancy rates.’
The guidelines also mention that further research is needed to find out whether assisted hatching can have an effect on live birth rates and to examine the consequences for children born as a result of this procedure.

Now that statement that it’s not recommended because it has not been shown to improve pregnancy rates worried me if I’m honest. The AH procedure costs an extra £250 and although infertility isn’t about the money….money is important, and we have never had any help from the NHS so we’re skint basically. I then noticed though that the above was dated 27 March 2009! So surely after 3 years there are more facts and findings, and that’s why my clinic are offering it 🙂 Our nurse also said to us that everyone who had been given the AH procedure at their clinic had ended up pregnant. Wow! That’s an awesome statistic. Trouble is I’m the type of person who then thinks ‘ah, so I’m going to be the one that balances out the stats and doesn’t get pregnant’. I don’t mean that to sound negative (I’m a ridiculously positive person) just realistic. All of us on an infertility journey are secretly petrified of the question ‘am I the one who doesn’t make it?’

I am exhausted by the last 6 years. Utterly drained of emotion, fed up of the needles, drugs and scans, and the next attempt will be our last. We are nearing the end of our journey. So if trying AH will help our Potentials to snuggle in and implant then that’s what I’ll do.

Has anyone else tried AH or know anything of interest? Do please share your stories if you have.

2WW: It’s getting scary now

First week was fine, flew by, I kept myself busy and positive, but now as I enter the second week…..I think it’s beginning to get to me. I have been having random symptoms but the trouble is I’m fully aware that these symptoms could be the drugs, a period or a pregnancy so am trying desperately to ignore them. Also, this morning I had an EPIC freak out when I suddenly realised that I hadn’t been taking the 75mg of aspirin a day!!!!! How the hell did I forget this??!!!!! I am so disappointed in myself (and the hubby for not reminding me), I can’t believe I’ve paid thousands of pounds, gone through physical torture, emotional breakdowns and at the last hurdle forgotten to take something as simple (and cheap) as a daily baby aspirin!!!! WHAT AN IDIOT!!!!

I’m waiting for the clinic to call me back and tell me what an utter doughnut I am.

I have also noticed that I have developed anger issues which I suspect are coming from the steroids. I’m perfectly fine and then all of a sudden I simply want to stab something/someone. It’s really quite that aggressive and kicks in within a second; very strange experience. I had a go at a woman in Asda on Saturday, the normal shopping trolley rage, too many people, not enough brain cells type of shopping experience, but I had to stop in front of the yoghurts and out loud say to myself “Breathe, Jodie, breathe”. God knows what people must have thought of me.

I think I may give being a neurotic woman a go and start taking pregnancy tests everyday, just go with the mental flow as it where. It’ll all be over by the end of the week (ish) one way or another.

BAAAAAAAH!

DON’T IGNORE…THE BASICS

Today is the last day of National Infertility Awareness Week and so I wanted to do one more post. This is actually entered into a competition so do please pass it on and/or comment on what you think of my efforts 🙂
The title for this post is…

DON’T IGNORE THE BASICS

During the last 5 years I have learnt much in how the fertility game works and gained knowledge in an area I was ignorant of before. This knowledge also allows me to see what’s missing however and I constantly now use that old phrase ‘if only I knew then what I know now’.

There are many stages of the infertility journey and unfortunately they do not co-operate/communicate/work with each other. This is a bold statement and of course there are exceptions but I shall break it down;

STAGE 1: Try to get pregnant. Struggle. Speak with FAMILY and FRIENDS (if you choose to, not compulsory). Trying naturally for about 6 months to a year.

STAGE 2: See DOCTOR. DOCTOR checks your basic health, details of how long you’ve been trying, age etc… May advise healthier lifestyle, some basic tests (if you’re lucky at this early stage) and some obvious pregnancy tips (when to do it, how to do it etc..). FAMILY/FRIENDS will offer their feedback on this advice. Come back in 6 months.

infertility doctorsSTAGE 3: DOCTOR refers you to CONSULTANT. CONSULTANT goes through the basics with you again (any notes ever made on you do not get forwarded to anyone else who sees you) and may suggest further tests and offer something like clomid to try for 6 months (as in our case). FAMILY/FRIENDS again have comments on everything you’ve been told and all that you have been offered. Come back in 6 months.

STAGE 4: You now need to visit THE CLINIC for assisted conception advice as the DOCTOR and the CONSULTANT have resulted in a BFP (big fat negative to those unaware of the term). The CLINIC go over your basic details (again!) and all of what you’ve already had tested. They then advise an assisted conception route such as IUI or IVF and it’s down to you to decide when. FAMILY/FRIENDS offer support and further feedback. This takes as long as it takes.

STAGE 5: If the CLINIC get you pregnant, you have to go back to the DOCTOR to announce the pregnancy and start the ‘normal’ pregnant women tests and meet your MIDWIFE who is completely unaware of everything you’ve been through so…you have to go over all your information from day one (because your pregnancy is special and you would like to keep it please and so want everyone to take this all very seriously).

So DOCTOR, CONSULTANT and CLINIC are all trying to achieve a pregnancy, but they don’t work together to do this, and you are the source of all the information (so make sure you write it all down to save time). The problem is I’ve realised that no-one ever really advised us/me on the basic things for me to do/try for MY health. It makes sense that if something physically isn’t working we should try to make ourselves as healthy as possible, try to improve our odds. I often asked the professionals ‘any tips on what I should be eating or drinking?’ and always was met with vague answers of ‘just eat healthy’ and even ‘having a drink is fine, if it keeps you sane throughout all this’. The professionals are trying to create a baby without getting the vessel (me) baby worthy. So I did my own research.

I found out about every herb and it’s properties, I learnt which ones would not work for me as well as those that would as every woman is different. I tried to understand my cycle so that I could improve it without taking modern drugs. I found out about fertility massage, acupuncture and meditation, and started to reduce my stress levels. acupuncture for infertilityThe quick fix was out the window and I’ve started to work on a longer goal period, taking supplements that slowly benefit my developing eggs, rather than taking drugs that simply increase how many I release in one cycle. My weight is being addressed, and I have completely stopped drinking alcohol as there is so much proof that it decreases your chances of pregnancy by up to 50%! I see a counsellor to address my emotions past and present, so that I am basically a better all round human being (and less mental preferably).

FOCUS ON YOUR BASIC HEALTH AND EMOTIONAL STATE AND LET NATURE HAVE A PROPER CHANCE.

My message to all of you out there who are trying is that as soon as I addressed myself as the primary concern, and not my ovaries, I fell naturally pregnant. Nothing comes close to how that felt and I’m about to cry now just thinking about it. Unfortunately it ended in a miscarriage BUT my knowledge and my efforts got me further than my DOCTOR or my CONSULTANT (my CLINIC did get me pregnant too but that also ended in a miscarriage alas). If I had done this 4 years ago I may be in a very different position now.

So to anyone who is thinking that they may need fertility intervention of any kind, start by looking at yourself rather than the quick fix solutions offered by the professionals. I’m not saying don’t see your DOCTOR/CONSULTANT/CLINIC, just to focus on yourself as the important carrier/creator of your baby and therefore the most important part. Get yourself on an organic diet, shed those extra pounds, start taking raspberry tea, find out about natural supplements (maca, wheatgrass, l-argenine, royal jelly) and investigate therapies that you’ve never tried before like yoga, meditation and acupuncture. I was told by someone close to me to start skipping as it ‘refreshes’ your womanly insides. Unfortunately I can’t skip at present due to a very dodgy knee BUT this woman (who is in her 40s) is now naturally pregnant so skip everyone, SKIP! 🙂
The healthier you are the more successful any assisted attempts will be.

I am only human and have had a very depressing week this week, but I still have hope for my baby. Sometimes the hope is small, but it’s still there. I have hope, I have love and now I have better health. I believe these to be very good ingredients for my little one, very good indeed.

Big kisses to you all xxxxxx

For more information on infertility from RESOLVE check out the links below;

It’s ovulation time (but try not to think about it!)

We’ve just been away for a few days in Stratford-upon-Avon (loved it! and it has resurfaced my love of Shakespeare) and now back to normality. According to my Menstrual App (gotta love it) I should be ovulating tomorrow, and my body is in agreement although I will spare you the physical details. I am still tea-total, still taking the supplements and still trying to lose the weight (although trips away make this pretty much impossible), so all good so far. I am strangely excited about the forthcoming 2 weeks, as;

  1. I may be pregnant (we now know it’s not impossible), OR
  2. We have the frozen embryos popped in and I may become pregnant.

Both the above are IFS but at the same time it’s 2 IFS instead of none which is what we’re used to. So I think it’s fair enough for me to be excited about that 🙂

The forward hope that we now have is helping me loads; I am better at focusing on the weight loss and I will absolutely NOT drink any alcohol. I just wish I’d done this sooner, but I guess we can only do what we can at each moment in life by responding to who we are at that very moment. There have been times when I’ve been filled with anger and refused to stop drinking as it was MY choice to do so, and I’m still me, not a baby making machine..blah blah. Times when I couldn’t control my anxiety and convinced myself that I caused the first miscarriage by not being able to stop my panic attacks. Times when I felt like I simply didn’t want to have a baby (massive denial) and times when I felt like I would never get pregnant as Mother Nature is punishing me for all the awful things I’ve ever done in my life. But now? Now I feel completely different. Now I feel like I have control over this ‘situation’ even by accepting what is out of my control like the quality of my eggs. I can still help myself. It sounds really obvious but maybe that’s at the crux of this, we have to start by helping ourselves before we turn to medical intervention.

So anyway, my natural ovulation is starting and I’m going to help myself by trying not to think about it and be normal 😉
Back on that emotional mouse wheel Jodie….

And so to normality…

Ok, so it’s been a month since the miscarriage and I think Auntie Flo is on her way and I appear to have mixed feelings about this. Part of me is devastated and angry as I so DESPERATELY want to be pregnant again (all the positive thinking is helping but I can’t hide from my true feelings), and another part of me is glad my body is returning to normal so that next month I can hopefully be pregnant (being positive there) and my body will be in a good healthy position in order to avoid another miscarriage.

You see there’s a lot of opinions, medically speaking, about when one should try again after a miscarriage. Doctors have been known to recommend leaving it as long as 6 months before trying again, and others say 1 month. The truth is it doesn’t matter physically, as your body will only do what’s right for it anyway. There are people who have fallen immediately after a miscarriage, didn’t even have a period, and had a healthy baby. There are of course others, who fell immediately only to miscarry again, which is why Doctors ask us to wait at least 1 cycle, allowing our bodies to return to normal and be ‘baby ready’. I have been told that leaving it 1 cycle allows the lining to properly restore itself (makes perfect sense), thereby allowing the womb to be perfect. Doctors also want us to deal emotionally with our miscarriages, and not rush into another emotional rollercoaster, and I understand that.

I have dealt with this miscarriage much better than the first one, as it has given me so much hope and spurred me on with the healthy eating and alcohol avoidance (into month 4 now). But I didn’t count on missing the pregnancy symptoms so much! Last years pregnancy was without symptoms, but the February one had them all. I felt sick, my boobs were killing me and my tummy even changed shape, and despite the unpleasantness of these physical feelings…..I really want them back 😦 I think I feel so ready to be pregnant, especially mentally and emotionally, that the frustration and waiting is utterly doing my head in! Even though I am having period symptoms, there is still part of me hoping that they are pregnancy symptoms (as we all know they are pretty much identical, just to confuse us even more!).

So anyway, I know that it’s much better for my body and baby-to-be that I have at least one period before falling again (keep with the positive thinking there Jodie) so this is all fine. It’s also great that I have now got 3 months tea-total under my belt as this is how long it takes for our eggs to mature, meaning that they are as good as they can get from now on. Another achievement is that I’ve lost 4.5 lbs in weight in my first 2 weeks at Weight Watchers, again, all heading in the right direction for a healthy pregnancy. So here I go trying naturally for the first time in several years, having found new hope out of a sad ending. I would say wish me luck, but luck has nothing to do with it, we make our own luck x

Ooh on another note, we saw The Hunger Games at the cinema yesterday and a quote in the film really hit me, so I want to share it with all others who are still trying;

‘The only thing more powerful than fear, is hope’

So ladies, don’t be fearful…..be hopeful 🙂

I’m really feeling rather good – should I be concerned?

I have to say that this alcohol-free lifestyle is truly working for me, my skin looks better and my head seems more organised (I have a tendency towards paranoia when going through hangovers, no fun). I have joined Weight Watchers and am ‘in the zone’ for some serious weight loss, first weigh-in tomorrow and I’ve been really good all week. I’ve been reading a meditation book (slowly admittedly) and have been impressed with how much the penny has been dropping in regards to my outlook on life. I have resisted the charms of Mr Google and asking Him about the latest fertility news, or how fertile I am now I’ve been pregnant, or whether a Tuesday is a good day to have baby-making-sex…you get the idea. I am even showing more confidence at work and am enjoying handling difficult situations that used to reduce me to a dribbling wreck. My hubby and I are an annoyingly happy loved up couple, I just can’t get enough of him! I see a Counsellor and this is going incredibly well and I do feel like I’m dealing with some ‘life shite’ that should have been addressed years ago. So, all in all, I am in a good place. I should be relaxed and happy. Nothing to worry about.

But that is exactly why I have this nagging voice saying “you know it won’t last” and “something bad is round the corner”. My Counsellor has said that this is a form of self-protection and that my mind is just preparing me for the worst, as normally….that’s what happens to me. I also, however, have such a low opinion of myself (thanks to my upbringing) that I truly don’t believe that I deserve anything nice to happen to me; that it’s my lot in life to cope with the bad when it turns up. So I’m supposed to work on this, to stop saying negative phrases and turn them around. So these are a couple of the phrases that I am telling myself constantly, and also the doubts that are still hanging on (for now);

I am fertile (was that my one and only chance at a pregnancy with my hubby?)

I am healthy (yeah, but not as healthy as I should be)

Each pregnancy is a new one, a miscarriage will not happen just because of the two previous ones (really? I’m still nearly 40, my eggs are still rubbish apparently so my chances are still high for a miscarriage) 

I am also trying to work out how you are supposed to ‘stop thinking about getting pregnant’ as I know that therein lies the solution. How?! I feel like a dog when it tries to bite its own tail. It sneaks up on it as if the tail were a separate entity, but we all can see what’s going on and find it hilarious to watch. This is how I see my dilemma, I can’t truly stop thinking about something so that (hopefully) something else will happen … because …. I’m me … and I know what I’m doing. Haha, it’s quite funny really.

So I continue to feel good, to behave well and to learn healthy life lessons and my journey continues. Maybe my negative voices are normal and will diminish over time. Or maybe I’m due a break-down? Oh heck…I’m off again…. 🙂

The clinic that made our IVF possible

In just over a week I’m having knee surgery at the Chiltern Hospital in Great Missenden, and so visited them yesterday for my pre-op blood tests. This also happens to be the same hospital where we had IVF so I couldn’t resist popping in to say hello to Nikki who is my most wonderful IVF Nurse/companion/angel. It made me realise that I should write something about the Clinic which I’ve mentioned in my posts, but not dedicated one to. So here goes.

bmi chiltern fertility

BMI Chiltern is basically the nearest IVF clinic to us but we did look into Oxford and some London places that had satellite clinics near us too. We  made our initial consultation appointment and met with Mr Norman-Taylor who would be doing the IVF procedure. I really liked him; he had a friendly, warm smile and was very matter-of-fact with the conversation, which I like. Sometimes through infertility you need someone who is going to molly coddle you, tell you it will be alright and be overflowing with empathy and sympathy, Sometimes, however you need someone to be blunt, to-the-point, factual and lay it out straight. I know how I want my IVF consultant to be, and Mr N-T was perfect. I needed to feel that this man was doing his job, his calling and performing the best IVF for me he could. He only told me facts that I could digest without filling me with unrealistic hopes. We also met some Nurses who were simply lovely and all staff were informative and reassuring (as we were obviously nervous and didn’t really know what to expect). So the first visit was a success, and we left knowing what was coming, documentation with diagrams scribbled on, and with another appointment booked in 🙂

During the 2 IVFs and the Egg Donation, I have gotten to know the Nurses more and they have had to put up with me! I am an optimist and feel strongly that smiles fix most problems in everyday life, so I’m aware that I was a tad more bubbly than the other women/couples that we saw at the clinic. We all feel awkward; do we say hello, do you engage in eye contact and smile, or do you do the British thing and act like they don’t exist. I talk when I’m nervous, I also talk when I’m happy, or sad…..I talk a lot, but I did try to remain calm, honest. The truth is, going to the clinic got me excited, I was doing something, I was on my journey and trying to make a difference. Admittedly, after the first failed IVF I began to become scared of going to the clinic, as if it promised something that I thought it couldn’t deliver. When driving nearer and nearer I could feel my foot sub-consciously going for the brake pedal (I wasn’t actually driving). I think this is the biggest frustration of IVF, as you know you’re supposed to be positive but it’s really difficult sometimes when you’ve had your heart-broken. Through all my mood swings, my anger, then my upbeat smiley mental moments, the Nurses took it in their stride and got to know me. I always knew I could contact them over anything, no matter how silly I thought I was, and they would always help and re-assure me.

I must also mention my aneasthetist who was just the sweetest man I think I have ever met (I can’t remember his name!). I definitely felt looked after and in good hands when I went through my IVFs, and I had a full on panic attack the first time! The Nurses handled me beautifully and informed that I wasn’t the first and I certainly wouldn’t be the last to freak out over what was happening.

There were times where I felt angry or upset over something, and it’s easy to lay blame with the clinic, or at least associate it as being their fault somehow. But when I look back, I realise they absolutely did their best by me and I couldn’t ask for anymore than that. They are only human, and they work in a very difficult environment which is full of hope and babies, but also tragedy and frustration. It’s important to be empathic to them too.

If you’re looking for your clinic, this would be my advice;

  • get all the documentation from them, and check online for other people’s experiences and feedback (but remember they are not you)
  • visit your shortlisted clinics and ask every question you can think of. Then phone them up with some more.
  • go with your gut. How did the staff make you feel? You don’t have to click with everyone, but you need to feel comfortable with them
  • find out about the financial side. It’s not great talking about money but it’s something you don’t want to be worrying about when going through IVF. BMI do a great finance plan that made it very straightforward for us, and it certainly took the weight of my mind knowing that it was sorted.
  • find out about the support offered. BMI gave me mobile numbers that I could contact at anytime if the clinic was closed, which I did use and was very grateful for. Most clinics do this, but ask.
  • remember that you’re not committed to one clinic. I have a friend who used The Chiltern once, then chose to go somewhere else for her second IVF attempt. She had her reasons, so it was right for her, but when you put your heart into a place it’s easy to end up feeling obliged to them.

Finally be strong and resolved. Our clinic don’t like to give out too much statistical information, which I think is to save us from obsessing and finding hidden hopes that might not be there. For example, I really wanted to know why my eggs ‘weren’t great’ but I had to push for an answer. I do understand why such detail may be irrelevant as it doesn’t change anything, but I’m the kind of person who just likes to know as much as possible about myself. My eggs ‘weren’t great’ because they were highly fragmented, but then that just ends up with my asking what that means? And then the next question pops into your head, and then the next and so on. You can get caught up over-analysing and dissecting terminology, and that’s not good for the stress levels. At the end of the day my clinic tried to get me pregnant, which is what we wanted 🙂

So, to finish this post, I would just like to say that I would definitely recommend my clinic and that Nurse Nikki has become someone special on my fertility journey who I will never forget.