Posts Tagged ‘fertility’

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.

Seriously not fair, but that’s life

Yesterday was strange for me as although it was the day when AF* turned up to confirm the FET** had failed and therefore devastating, it also brought relief to me. I had spent the last 7 days in utter hell, going completely insane, not knowing what to do or how to gain some feeling of control. Basically I had been spotting every day since Sunday which could either have meant an implantation bleed (except it went on longer than normal), impending period arrival, the drugs that I was taking were messing up my system or even ‘one of those’ pregnancies where bleeding is normal. Every single second of every single day those options were racing through my mind. I dreaded going to the toilet, but was compelled to go to ‘see’ what was going on; massive catch 22. I wasn’t me at all last week, I was just a crazed woman existing on a day-to-day basis. Deep down I knew it hadn’t worked, I knew I didn’t feel pregnant, but then just as much as I was convinced I knew it, I would then feel tremendous guilt in case I was pregnant, and this emotional rollercoaster would continue on and on and on.. My mental state has found release at least, something for which I know my husband is grateful for (but not as much as I am, trust me!). It’s not nice when you feel you are losing a healthy outlook on life because you are so focused on something that you can’t actually define…I think I developed a ‘mad social grin’ to cover up what I was experiencing inside.

I have spent a little while working out what I did that caused this to fail, and I’m fully aware of the following phrases;

“It’s nobodys’ fault”  –  “There wasn’t anything you could have done”  –  “What will be, will be”  –  “It’s in the hands of Mother Nature”

BUT it’s MY body that keeps screwing this up and there’s no avoiding that and if I want this to work then I should at least be up front and honest about how I see my situation. I tried to carry on during the 2WW as normal as possible, but maybe I should have rested up more (certainly not gone to the pub for example). Some women take those 2 weeks off work  and relax after their IVFs/FETs, but I had always thought that was extreme and unnecessary. Maybe I was wrong. I don’t really think I was wrong, but I’m running out of things to try.

Anyway, today I am at home because I am in some pain and could do with a hot water bottle, some paracetamol and a cup of tea, but tomorrow everything will return to normal. I have decided that the next FET (and there is one more attempt left) will not be blogged about. I don’t regret doing this at all, but I didn’t realise how draining it would be and I just don’t think I could go through it another time. It has been completely amazing to receive such loving support from people I haven’t seen in years, or people I haven’t even met, but the downside is that some people haven’t shown any support….and I thought/hoped they would. Not everyone is the same and people deal with things very differently, and some people can’t deal with things at all, so I’m not saying that anyone is in the wrong for not having posted a comment on my blog for example. What I’m trying to say is that by opening my life and heart to the world I also opened up my expectations of people. I made myself as raw as was possible. This is why I can’t do it again, it starts to make you very confused and I was constantly questioning myself. I don’t think I need that extra stress.

I will continue with my blog but when we go for the next FET …. I’m not telling 🙂

Bottom line is we’re fine, we’re putting one foot in front of the other and continuing with our otherwise-blessed lives.

Thank you all so very much for having been with me through this. I love you all x

 

* AF – Auntie Flo (period)
** FET – Frozen Embryo Transfer

2WW : 3 days in and all’s well

I know it’s only been three days but if you’ve ever gone through a 2WW (the two week wait before you can take a pregnancy test to see if your attempt worked) you will know that every day is excruciating! It’s like being 5 years old and waiting for Christmas to arrive, except there’s a strong chance that you may be getting a lump of coal instead of presents. I am actually doing very well and although I, understandably, have nothing exciting to report yet, I think I’m coping ok 🙂

Knowing that so many people are wishing us good luck and sending their positive vibes, is a huge thing; makes me very humble. My lovely donor friend is excited for us too and I love that we can talk about it together. Today she told me that she couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to help somebody out if they could, and that it’s the same as organ donating or giving blood. She is truly one in a million!

I can really appreciate that this isn’t just a journey to get a baby. There are so many little excursions along the way, and all of them are soul nourishing! Life is full of hope and happiness; it’s not about being lucky enough to find it, it’s about being clever enough to recognise it.

The Two Week wait commences!

Just a quick little post to say that the transfer went perfectly, much to my joy!

Both the embryos/Potentials survived the thaw and we had them both popped in. The process itself was the least painful one I’ve ever had! For those who are unfamiliar with the transfer process it’s similar to a smear test, and the pain varies in my experience. You know how some days your smear test nurse just can’t quite seem to get the job done and it starts making your eyes smart? Well that’s as bad as a transfer can get, so in reality nothing to be afraid of. Us women are good at manning up (says she who was shitting herself all day!)

I’ve been given my instructions (no shellfish, no alcohol/fags, glass of milk daily, at least 2 litres of water daily, no marathon running or weight lifting) and my drugs (aspirin, steroid tablets and progesterone suppositories). My clinic has made a little change to the suppositories this time round…..they’re not going in the same place as before! This is a sensitive subject and I’m conscious that some work colleagues read my blog and may never be able to look at me quite the same ever again if I go into too much detail here. So I’ll just say that my husband thinks it’s hilarious and keeps blowing raspberries at me!

ivf

I am so going to get this…one day.

I asked the lovely Annette (our nurse/fertility expert) today what the situation was with my taking herbal supplements now? A very in-depth conversation followed where she explained that nothing has actually been scientifically proven that supplements/acupuncture/etc.. has increased pregnancies. Now this is something that I agree with and I’ve always viewed meditation and acupuncture as something for the woman, as opposed to creating a pregnancy. And my research into supplements has shown me how complex this field is and how you really shouldn’t chuck tablets down your neck just  because it’s the latest feature article in a Health magazine. Subsequently the tablets I chose to take were quite basic, all round good supplements that would benefit my whole body. I steered away from things like Agnes Castus for example, as I didn’t feel knowledgeable enough to know that I was doing the right thing (Agnus Castus is a supplement that you take for 2 weeks then stay off it for 2 weeks during your cycle, so quite specific, and there is conflicting advice on whether you can take it when pregnant or not). At least this is my thought process, I completely accept and respect that others have differing views on this, I was just trying to help myself as much as possible. Interestingly though, Annette explained that supplements can be quite potent and could interfere with the drugs the clinic provide for example. This is proven with St John’s Wort which can interfere with chemotherapy (http://www.bmj.com/content/325/7362/460.4). So I am now off my supplements. This is a fascinating topic though and please do reply with your thoughts and opinions.

So anyway, I am now officially in the Two Week Wait zone and can do pretty much nothing until I’m allowed to take a pregnancy test. I have no doubt that the time will drag by so I’m going to try to keep myself really busy (but not stressed). I’m helping my Mother-in-Law out with her cake making business and we have our first Wedding Fayre to exhibit at this Sunday! I’ve been making wedding favours and cup cakes by the tonne, trying to find that perfect, original and unique ‘idea’ that will make us our millions 🙂 Her website is www.cakesbymariepike.co.uk if you want to see how great she is. I digress….sorry.

I have (controversially I’m sure) already been conversing with my Potentials and making sure they’re settling in. As soon as I knew I was pregnant with my daughter (nearly 17 years ago) I talked to her constantly, I couldn’t help it, it just seemed natural. So I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t do the same now just because the beginning is slightly different. I’m gonna go with the flow!

BATTLE STATIONS! Smiley face has arrived!

This morning I have been the proud receiver of a smiley face on my ovulation predictor stick! Woohoo! Have called the clinic and am booked in for Monday at 2.30pm for Embryo Transfer – DEFCON 3 AND RISING!!

ovulationMy only instructions are to make sure my bladder is full, but I’m not about to burst, I can handle that. Then I will be given Cyclogest pessaries which I’ll be taking twice a day (how delightful, but an essential supply of progesterone) and Steroid tablets (to hopefully prevent miscarrying). I have already got my Aspirin 75mg tablets (this helps with blood thinning/flow) bought and ready for Monday.

The clinic will let me know if there are any issues when defrosting The Potentials so fingers crossed they’re tough little cookies.

I am feeling really rather great about all this, despite some people finding it hard to be happy for me which I’m finding quite frustrating. I need to let that go though, as they are just concerned it will all end badly again, and they have to deal with how they feel too. I’m just glad I am a more hopeful and happy person 🙂

First scan to start the ball rolling

This morning I had my first scan to make sure everything was as it should so we could continue with this assisted conception attempt. When you’ve had as many scans as I have (and many of you may relate to this) it becomes a very straightforward, even humourous event. Whip your knickers off, hop on the bed and spread ’em! Then hold your breathe for the freezing cold sink plunger to delve into your most precious of places whilst smiling to the nurse and discussing the weather. I love the way they show me the screen, where my insides are artistically displayed in grey tones of pencil like scribblings, and point out which blobby area is what. ‘Ah how sweet’ I think, although I have no idea why I think this is sweet.  I have been informed that this month my left ovary has produced a follicle. Bless it.

So everything was fine and dandy and I was given Clearblue Ovulation sticks to start using every day. Now I’ve used ovulation sticks before, I bought them off Ebay and they were very basic but did the job. This time, however, I feel rather privileged to have CLEARBLUE ones…ooooh get me! The infertility journey isn’t a cheap one, as most of you are aware, and so we cut costs whenever possible (hence Ebay ovulation sticks bought in bulk) but it’s quite nice to have a super-duper-top-of-the-range bit of kit for once 🙂

Clearblue ovulation predictorFor the next few days I shall be the ‘Pee on a Stick’ woman waiting for the circle on the wand to turn into a smiley face (yes I know, a smiley face? really?) indicating ovulation, and when that happens….CALL THE CLINIC!! This all happens really rather quickly as the Clinic will then defrost 2 embryos, check for viability and defrost the other 2 if needed, then I’ll be called in for egg transfer, given some steroids to stop miscarriage, progesterone to help the pregnancy progress and then it’s fingers crossed for 2 weeks! So within 3 weeks we will hopefully be pregnant! Amazing stuff huh?! I am in such a good place about this, it’s so wonderful to be able to actually keep trying for our bambino, knowing that we are far from giving up yet. I completely accept it might not work and that’s fine, I’m not picking a fight with Mother Nature, I’ll just try again. I am slightly worried about having another miscarriage as they are a most horrid thing to experience, but I’m doing everything I can to avoid one.

I have decided to refer to my frozen eggs as The Potentials. It sounds so clinical calling them ‘frozen embryos’, and ‘eggs’ makes me think of chicken eggs, and I think that Potentials is a very hopeful sounding word for them. It also makes them sound like they are part of a 70s tv detective show, which is my attempt at introducing coolness to my infertility. Right on!

So I hope The Potentials are getting ready for their performance; Potential Mama will see you soon x

Assisted conception, natural cycle..here we go

So today I am on Day 4 of my cycle, have contacted the clinic to let them know, and have made the first appointment for next week! This is a strange feeling this time round as it all seems to be happening so quickly, by the time I am Day 28 I should be pregnant…or not of course. With our previous IVF cycles (as most of you may know) it seems to drag on for a couple of months; filled with appointments, drugs and injections. This cycle, however, is a ‘natural’ one so I won’t be taking drugs or having any injections (woohoo!), just going for scans. I might be a bit weird but I find scans quite amusing; ‘oh look, there are my ovaries, and what’s that there..sneaking about… oh! it’s my bladder. Marvellous!’ Not everybody is lucky (?) enough to see their insides on a regular basis you know.

I have been told I will be given ovulation sticks to use daily and then when ovulation is occurring, they will pop in our defrosted, donated embryos. Ta da!! That’s pretty much it. After everything I’ve been through this is rather exciting and relieving. We’ve had an emotional couple of weeks too, so it’s nice that I can look forward to this.

At the weekend I visited my nearest-thing-to-a-sister-type-friend who has become an awesome health professional since the days when we used to play with Barbie dolls, and she helped me out with my latest supplement collection. I’ve actually asked her if she’ll write a fertility post for me so she can share her wisdom and advice to all of us, so watch this space. Her name is Gabriella Clarke and thanks to her I now have the following collection to keep me young and fertile;fertility supplements

  • maca
  • wheatgrass
  • royal jelly
  • l-arginine
  • pre-conception tablets including folic acid

This little lot is a total of 10 tablets and I switched from powder form to tablets on purpose as I had grown tired of the green smoothies I had to make. Not sure if that’s working out for me though as the tablets get stuck in my throat and make me gag! Yes I know, I need to man up.

fertility supplements

My morning fix

I have also managed a nice steady weight loss and have lost nearly a stone, so I’m feeling rather good about myself at present, healthily speaking. I’m also feeling very determined which I think is different to feeling positive. Feeling positive just means that I’m hoping this will all work, I’ve felt positive for some time now (apart from the occasional bad day of course), but feeling determined makes me feel like I have more control…and Jodie likes control! I’m determined to make more of an effort, determined to be healthier, determined to hit the gym, determined to lower my stress RAAAARRRR! 🙂 So I welcome this new attempt with open arms! COME ON! I’M READY FOR YA!