IVF 2, Phase 3: Go!

Hello ladies,

I’ve been busy IVF’ing it up and generally feeling blue. The stim stage seemed to go pretty quickly this time because the DR stage took forever! They finally scanned me on day 19 of Buserelin & gave me the all clear to start stims on day 21.

Stimming went well, I was on double the dose from last time & I responded well. At my final scan I had 23 follicles. Unfortunately 15 of these were on the left side & the front runners were behind the endometrioma & therefore would not be accessible. They didn’t give any indication of expected numbers of eggs to collect but I was hoping for 15 and I got 12, so that was ok.

This morning I got the fertilisation report and of the 12, 8 were mature and 6 of those fertilised. somehow I’ve gone from 23 follicles to 6 embryos in a matter of days. Last time I had 3 embryos so on double the dosage I should expect double the embryos but I feel like they got my hopes up and now despite the good news I’m feeling somewhat deflated.

The weather is beautiful here for once so my sister and I spent the day in the sunshine chilling and having a nice time generally. I had been feeling fine but then this afternoon I got a bit crampy and spotted a lot & now I just want to go and hibernate for the next few weeks.

Tomorrow I go back to work and that may or may not be a good thing. I’m hoping for a day 5 transfer as that would be on Saturday and then I have the whole of next week booked off, but could be looking at a transfer on Thursday, we’ll just have to wait and see.

The timing of this cycle has been a bit crappy in that my due date from the first cycle would have been around now had it been successful. I may have avoided that if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m still keenly following the stories of my original cycle buddies and the birth stories are starting to roll in. I guess that could be me a few months down the line but right now I’m feeling too blah to believe that it could be.

I remember now that this is the worst bit. My mind is in total overdrive and I can’t shut it up.

Right now I have six little tiny potential babies in a lab in London and I’d really like the opportunity to become a parent to at least one of them. I don’t have the mental capacity to focus on much else. Wish me luck as I try to distract myself between now and Thursday’s progress report/ potential day 3 transfer.

Shit just got real. Again.

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IVF 2, Phase 2: Go!

There have been so many things going on recently that I have been avoiding writing a post for fear that my head may explode while I write. But here goes…

In January I had a laparoscopy to remove an endometriotic cyst. In my first IVF cycle the cyst had taken over my left ovary and I didn’t get any eggs from that side. The surgeon told me to start IVF 2 asap as the endometriosis is aggressive and the cyst will regrow. I initiated the process to get the ball rolling with the NHS for cycle 2 and then booked a holiday to fix my broken soul. The holiday was exactly what I needed. As the seaplane dropped us on a little platform in the middle of the Indian Ocean and a Dhoni collected us and took us to our tiny island I could feel all of my cares melting away immediately and it felt good.

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I smiled, I laughed, I relaxed. I enjoyed Ice Cream and alcohol for the first time in FOREVER. I swam with Whale Sharks, Turtles, Eagle Rays and Batfish. I sailed a Catamaran. It was the best holiday of my life and I am so glad that I took the time to recharge my emotional batteries. It was long overdue. The pic above is of me and Mr Turtle and there is NO FILTER. It actually looked like that!

AF got me the day that we got back home from this amazing holiday. I immediately rang the clinic and booked my cycle. I had to start with Buserelin on day 21 to start down regulating – something that I hadn’t had to do last time on the short protocol. Those 21 days felt almost as long and painful as a two week wait. I was a bundle of nerves and apprehension. The post-holiday blues were excruciating. I read a book called On The Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves to try to recapture some of my holiday happiness but I found myself wishing that my seaplane had crashed on the way home, and I really truly meant it.

The first 9 days of Buserelin injections passed slowly, but without many side effects and then all of a sudden BAM: I am a hormonal wreck. It is difficult to distinguish actual emotions and feelings from side effects. Some side effects are obvious. No amount of water could possibly quench my thirst. As I pause between sips I gasp for more and my mouth is dry. My head hurts. My boobs are huge and sensitive. My mouth tastes of metal. I can easily attribute these things to the drug. However, the side effect that is really getting to me now is the D-word. Buserelin can cause temporary depression or worsen existing depression. Unlike simply feeling thirsty, depression is not obviously a side effect of medication. If your face turning purple was a side effect and my face turned purple I could take comfort in the fact that it is a side effect of a drug and it will pass when I stop taking it. Depression on the other hand gets all up in my head and messes with me. It takes me to a dark place and offers no promise that I will come out the other side. It makes me doubt absolutely everything. I struggle to function and completing the simplest of tasks is incredibly difficult.

Stupid Stork linked to a fascinating blog on depression the other day. You can find it here and I highly recommend taking a look as Allie describes the bizarre lack of ability to function as a normal member of society in such an eloquent, beautiful way. I have found myself laying face down on various surfaces: my bed, the rug in the living room, the floor of the study, and I have a sort of out of body experience where I float up above myself, watch myself doing nothing, judge myself, and then continue to do nothing but berate myself in my head.

I worked from home on Thursday and Friday last week and when I say worked from home I mean I laid on the floor with my laptop somewhere in the vicinity and did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I couldn’t concentrate at all, which is another side effect and I vowed that I would absolutely go in to the office on Monday morning and work so hard that I would make up for it. Monday morning came and I. Just. Couldn’t. Do. It. So, off to the doctors I went. I cried and cried at the rather bemused doctor about how plenty of other women survive IVF just fine but that everything makes me cry and I can’t focus on anything or motivate myself to do anything and he passed me a tissue, gave me a sick note for a week and got me the hell out of his office as quickly as he possibly could.

Since then I have been in a pretty heavy shame spiral about how much better everybody else handles IVF. On day 17 of Buserelin injections I hit a blood vessel and gave myself my first ever IVF bruise. On day 19 of Buserelin injections I went in for my query scan and the doctor said that my retroverted, retroflexed uterus makes it really difficult to scan me. She’s the first doctor to admit that. Normally they just plough in there and really hurt me! My lining is nice and thin and my bloodwork looks good so I start stims tomorrow, 225 units of Gonal F. Finally some progress! I would be super happy about this gradutation to phase 2 of IVF 2 if it wasn’t for the fact that my evil left cyst has returned. They drained and burned the thing in January, when it was 2.4cm and already it is 2cm. I haven’t even started the FSH yet, I dread to think how big it will get this time.

So, if I have managed to complete this post without my head actually exploding everywhere this is definite progress and something to celebrate as it means that I was sat upright and focussed on one thing for long enough to complete a task. Maybe moving on to the next stage is dragging me out of this awfully funky headspace and maybe tomorrow I will actually achieve something around the house. Perhaps I’ll even go back to work next week for the distraction and to stop giving myself yet another reason to be disappointed and frustrated. Right now I plan to just take each day as it comes and try to look after myself. Hopefully I’ll be back to ‘normal’ soon, whatever that is.

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Just keep swimming

Hello everyone,

I hope that any Americans reading this are managing to dodge Mother’s Day.

I’m on day 10 of Buserelin injections and I’m getting fidgety. Last cycle, I did the short protocol. Rather unsurprisingly, it was short. This time I’m doing the long protocol. It’s looooong.

Last time, by now I had had 2 scans & was on the home stretch. This time, my first scan is not for another 9 days. It’s getting boring. You’d think I’d be good at waiting by now but I’m not.

My life has been on hold for 3.5 years and it’s getting tiresome, I want to move on to the next phase of my life… Or at very least the next phase of my treatment. So for now I am focussing on keeping my head above water and not letting myself be overwhelmed, which can be hard when it’s just.so.overwhelming.

On a positive note, menopausal May has not been noticeably menopausal yet. The only real side effect so far is that my boobs are ready to Incredible Hulk their way out of my skin. Hubs is happy.

Enjoy the remainder of your weekends and don’t work too hard next week, I know that I don’t intend to.

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The Infertility Lessons

Apparently it’s National Infertility Awareness Week, I figured that was as good a time as any to pull my head out of the sand that it has been buried in for the past 2 months. I start Burselin injections on 3rd May so I really need to accept that IVF cycle 2 is about to be all systems go…

If anybody fertile said “everything happens for a reason” in relation to my infertility I would knock them out. That said, I try to believe it because otherwise everything just seems so f*cking pointless. I’ve spent the last 3+ years on a quest of self improvement. I’ve lost 30 lbs, started an English degree, explored the possibilities of other careers & put the wheels in motion so that one day I can escape my day job. I’ve discovered running, yoga, pilates & kung fu. I joined a fancy gym with a nice pool. I’ve hired a cleaner and had a clear out. I’ve discovered slow cooking, I make better use of my freezer & do grocery shopping online. My diet is now dairy free, gluten free & sugar free. I feel like I’m running out of things to get better at.

I had a moment of clarity this morning when I was going through this list in my head and thinking what else I could possibly work on before motherhood & then I realised the thing that has been going on in the background this whole time: my relationship with my husband has evolved.

To put things into perspective, I will have been with my husband for 13 years in September, we’re pretty tight. But things are better now. So much better.

We got together when I was 15 & he was 16. We were two fiesty, loud, opinionated teenagers and looking back it amazes me that we made it through those first few years. Everything was so incredibly intense. I loved him so much I could strangle him. His opinion mattered so much to me that when we disagreed it drove me crazy. Our fights were heated & loud. We’d laugh til we cried & we spent every second of every day together. He is incredibly funny and silly but he’s also completely able to blend in and behave, which I am not & never have been able to.

I commented once that I felt like the infertility had fundamentally changed me and made me less sparkly. Actually, I think I sparkle more. At least when I’m with him. Perhaps only when I’m with him – my friendships are suffering as a result of all the babies that my friends keep having!

Since we started this journey my cousin’s wife died of ovarian cancer aged 33, my house flooded & we had to move out for 8 weeks while it was completely renovated (I love you house insurance!) and Mr Turtle lost his job & was unemployed for 6 weeks.

What I’ve realised is that if you can function each day, holding down a stressful and high-powered job in the city managing a team of people over two continents when your entire world is falling apart, things don’t get any more difficult. When life is as hard as it gets, it doesn’t get harder. I’ve learnt what is important to me & I’ve learnt that while we disagree on small things we are completely and absolutely in alignment on the big things.

I love how he just has to take one look at me on a bad day & he’ll fetch me a hot water bottle. I love that he’ll help me cook weird and wonderful meals to fit in with my ridiculous dietary requirements & I love that he’ll then go and eat fish and chips with his mates when I’m not looking.

I love that he’s given up booze again in the run up to this cycle & is back in the swing of exercising every day before work (and he’s getting buff – think Eminem in the “Love the way you lie” video. Mmmm)

I love that although he doesn’t do fiction he read through my first creative writing assignment really carefully and made some amazingly astute observations and suggested improvements. I feel like I am one half of a team that would be incredible parents, or incredible fun buddies who travel the world leaving chaos in our midst. If there is only one thing I can be completely and utterly certain on it is him.

We don’t need to fight anymore. There is nothing on this earth worth fighting over.

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IVF Round Two… Go!

What a week: Pancake day, Valentines day, my first run post-op – man did that feel good – and then my appointment letter came through for my next IVF cycle!!!

Pancake day
Is pancake day a thing outside of the UK? I was considering just ignoring it given that I’m sticking to The Endo Diet but I found a recipe for gluten free, dairy free pancakes that consisted of 1 mashed banana & 2 eggs cooked in a little coconut oil. YUM!

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I covered it in pecans, cocoa nibs & agave syrup & it was DELISH.

Valentines Day
This consisted of a trip to see Die Hard & a card from D that made me cry. Inside he wrote some really sweet things & at the end he put ‘don’t ever change’ *sob*.

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And finally, in 10 days I will be discussing round 2 with the IVF hospital. This means that I could start as early as April, although I think I’ll actually be starting in May because of my holiday. I am excited and am focusing on getting my body back in shape between now and then.

Things are finally moving again! X

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Two pregnancy announcements, two reactions

I was numb to my news, I blogged about that numbness and less than 24 hours later I was sobbing about it. It really is an emotional roller coaster this infertility lark. The floodgates opened and it all came pouring out. I was given the diagnosis on Monday afternoon and then I had a very busy week at work. On Saturday and Sunday I had far too much alone time, which meant that I had to really face how I was feeling. It turned out I was not feeling too great.

D had just calmed me down when I felt my iphone vibrate in my pocket. I took it out and would you believe it there was a 12 week scan photo staring back at me. Needless to say the iPhone was thrown across the bedroom and the sobbing started again. The scan pic belonged to a guy friend from our circle, one of the last few childless couples. Bad timing.

And then this evening I am home alone again after another busy day in the office. I checked my reader to see that Kim has got her BFP. I could not be happier. I think that this is Kim’s 5th cycle (2x fresh, 3x frosty).

I am going to use my happiness for Kim to send my friend a congratulatory text as I can’t quite muster up the genuine happiness for him just yet. It will come with time though, it always does. It just takes longer than it used to now that I’ve been stuck here for so long.

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The mixed emotions of a diagnosis

On Monday I was told that I have severe endometriosis and my left ovary is stuck to my uterus and my bowel. The surgeon actually briefly mentioned this immediately after the laparoscopy, but I was too groggy to take it in properly at the time. I couldn’t remember the precise wording that he had used and was hoping that they were wedged there, rather than stuck with adhesions. You know you’ve been in the trenches for too long when you’re hoping that your ovary is wedged between your bowel and your uterus. I had rather optimistically been googling “how do I move my ovary” which returned a disappointingly (but not unsuprisingly) low number of responses. But no, they’re stuck together with nasty black endo goop.

So far I have had no reaction to this news whatsoever. I am numb. I get up, get ready, go to work, come home, eat dinner, go to sleep, and then I start all over again. The repetitive, unstimulating work week has gone by and now I am sat home alone on a Saturday afternoon and I am trying to decide how I feel.

On the one hand, 50% of my ovaries don’t work. This is bad given that 99% of D’s swimmers don’t work. I do not like those odds.

On the other hand, 50% of my ovaries do work. That’s more than some people. I can still create a child that is biologically mine. I should be grateful for this.

The most confusing reaction that I am having is the overwhelming sense of relief. I always knew that there was something wrong with me. Not my borderline PCOS hormone profile, something bigger than that. When doctors asked me how painful AF was I used to comment on the subjective nature of the question and then mention that I needed to medicate for the first couple of days of my cycle. I’m not really one to dramatise my pain and I consider myself to have a high pain threshold. For a while now I had been concerned that endo had spread to my bowel as I was always very uncomfortable before a bowel movement. There is a small part of me that is pleased that I AM NOT GOING CRAZY and that I do know my body. I need to listen to my body more. My infertility struggles have taught me how to do this. I think D was really suprised with this diagnosis. He has been fetching me hot water bottles and watching me bloat up and struggle to fit into my clothes once a month for 13 years and yet I guess he must have thought that that was normal.

I remember being 9 years old on my sister’s first day of school. I couldn’t pick her up afterwards because I had severe AF pains and all I could do was lay on the sofa. I remember being 10 years old and bleeding through my towel at school. I told my teacher and she took me to the staff toilets for supplies. I was wearing a skirt and as we walked, blood started to run down my leg. That memory still freaks me out 18 years later. I wish the doctors had listened to me then. I wish that they cared as much about diet and lifestyle as they do about medicines and surgery. Most of all I wish that this next cycle gives me the family that I long for. Because it is a longing now, I long with every fibre of my being. I am ready to be a mother. Fuck you infertility.

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