Monday, 28 February 2011

Waiting for IVF

It's almost three months since we were put on the IVF waiting list.  Therefore, in just over three months, we should hopefully reach the top.  This is what I've discovered from others going through the same thing on the fertility friends forum, on the section for our local hospital.

We have our open evening next week, on Thursday at 3pm.  This is a school day so my husband and I are having to leave work early to make the session, something which won't go unnoticed.  I'm hoping it's ignored.  But since we work at the same place it's hard for people not to notice when your name's on the board as being out.  And people jump to conclusions.  And the obvious conclusion for a couple married a year and a bit is that it's a 12 week scan appointment.  Oh how wrong they would be.  I just hope no one thinks to comment. Watch this space.

Anyway, work has been a difficult time for me.  Just before half term I had an absence review.  This is because I triggered a review due to two separate absences in a two month period (bad cysitis and then norovirus).  My attendance record has always been excellent really.  The reason I'm being monitored is because I had four weeks off when my mum died and I then had a miscarriage on my return to work day.  Since then they've been monitoring my absence, which seems ridiculous.

So I had this review meeting.  I informed the manager that I will be expecting and needing to have lots of time off, most likely in September, due to the IVF as I believe this is when it will fall.  It's not ideal - it could have been in the holidays.  But I don't have the control over that.  The manager asked what time off I'd need and I said I didn't know.  I can't imagine but I know it will be quite a lot, the odd morning here and there, a day or two for egg collection etc.  I might find out more when we have the meeting next week.

I left the meeting feeling upset.  The manager said that it was "my choice" to have IVF and if I needed to take time off work then that was my choice. Choice.


What a word to use.  In fact, my CHOICE has been taken away from me. I can't just have sex and get pregnant like almost everyone else.  We have to schedule it in.  We have a 32% (or thereabouts) chance of conceiving in one, expensive cycle.  Everyone else has that chance EVERY month they try. Every month they have sex.  So, no, it's not OUR choice to have this treatment.  She seemed to believe that, or rather implied, that we don't necessarily need the treatment. That if we didn't have it we'd eventually conceive (we're young, we've got loads of time....!).  On the one hand I hope she's right. I hope that it may happen on its own.  If not this time, then maybe once Stanley and/or Lucy have arrived.  A second or a third baby by accident.

It made me so angry and upset about the way she said this. And to top it all off my absence monitoring has been extended to December.  I'll have been monitored for two years then.  And this is someone who when at school (the school I currently work in!) had one day off in five years.  My absence clearly isn't a problem but it's been made out to be and I feel guilty for it.  I couldn't have avoided my absence if I'd tried.  One day I actually got sent home because it was so bad.  I nearly went to A&E, called the doctor out etc.  Yet, here I was explaining the intricacies of the treatment I had for each illness, the medication I took, the doctor's advice not to mention all of the symptoms I experienced. Yes, all of them.  It was such an invasion of privacy.  Why isn't saying you had norovirus (extreme sickness and diarrhea for four days - only two of which needed me to miss work) enough?

So I decided to ring HR to see what their view on my future absence for IVF would be like.  I wish I hadn't bothered. I felt even more deflated.  The woman on the end of the phone clearly had no idea what IVF entails.  Instead she said I should try to negotiate my treatment, to think of the school too, the job I do is important don't you know.  I should "meet them half way".  I should try to book my appointments outside of school's hours, like you would for the dentist.  The dentist.  It's a bit more than that, love!

I was even more upset after that.  I explained how it's the most important thing I'll ever do, it's my future, my life.  Yet, no one seems to grasp the magnitude.  I explained that I can't control the appointments and they are very precise.

So at the moment, I don't know where I stand with it. So far, all appointments have been paid, but there have only been two.  I will know more in July when I see the consultant.  In the meantime I may contact the unions for advice.  One union states that fertility treatment should be paid.  After all, everyone else manages to conceive without needing time off work.  Surely if I need the time off work and if it's unpaid then it's discrimination against infertile (or rather 'subfertile' as they say now) people.  Watch this space I guess.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

'cause baby I'm a firework

In the efforts to feel happier and better in myself I made the list mentioned in the previous post.  A friend of mine also pointed out the lyrics to the song below, particularly the line "There's still a chance for you".   Ever since then I have heard this song a lot.  I know it's probably because it's popular at the moment, but quite often I feel it comes at appropriate times.  Just now it came on the radio when I was feeling down about work, and feeling scared about flying to Russia on Saturday having been refused some anti-anxiety medication from the doctor today.  So here are the lyrics.  Like me, probably haven't listened to them before, not really listened. Despite me not normally rating Katy Perry songs, I love these lyrics.  When I feel down/scared/angry or when someone has made me feel like I am not good enough, I have started singing this song in my head and it works - people and problems do not get to me nearly as much.  

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting throught the wind
Wanting to start again

Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards
One blow from caving in

Do you ever feel already buried deep
Six feet under scream
But no one seems to hear a thing

Do you know that there's still a chance for you
Cause there's a spark in you

You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine
Just own the night
Like the Fourth of July

Cause baby you're a firework
Come on show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby you're a firework
Come on let your colors burst
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
You're gunna leave 'em fallin' down-own-own

You don't have to feel like a waste of space
You're original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow

Maybe you're reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road

Like a lightning bolt, your heart will blow
And when it's time, you'll know

You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine
Just own the night
Like the Fourth of July

Cause baby you're a firework
Come on show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby you're a firework
Come on let your colors burst
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
You're gonna leave 'em all in awe-awe-awe"

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It's always been inside of you, you, you
And now it's time to let it through

Cause baby you're a firework
Come on show 'em what your worth
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby you're a firework
Come on slet your colors burst
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
You're gonna leave 'em all in awe-awe-awe

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Waiting for the bedroom designer!

Today we're having a visit from a designer to draw up some plans and give us a quote for fitting wardrobes in our bedroom.  We're notoriously unorganised in the bedroom and have far too many clothes and not enough space. At present, the spare room is the dumping ground with separate piles of clean and dirty washing, the ironing board (so we can iron before we wear as if we put stuff hung up in the wardrobe it will end up creased anyway) and the heated airer.  We booked the visit spontaneously on Saturday while chatting over lunch in a cafe.  We were chatting about the future and Stanley and Lucy and I got thinking about how we'd need to be a lot more organised.  We also have a pot of inheritance money sitting there and were discussing what we could do with it. The plan is to save most of it for Stanley and Lucy and all the baby things we'll need, or subsequent IVF sessions if we have to pay for them after the free ones.  But we decided to put some to good use and sort out our bedroom as our current wardrobes are falling to pieces and very wobbly!  We're hoping that a newly decorated bedroom with lots more storage will help us be more organised so that Stanley and Lucy's room could be ready for them if needed.

I'm still struggling emotionally like I do most weeks and days that go by.  It does feel as if the IVF is approaching, slowly but surely.  It's three months and two weeks away roughly. Well, I doubt it will start then, but we should reach the top of the waiting list then.  And soon it will be the open evening at the hospital where we'll meet all the team and they'll go through the process with us.  That's like the half way point for us.  I know the waiting list is only six months but really we've been waiting for 18 months to get pregnant now.  And I was desperate for a baby at least a year before that! I just hope and pray it will work first time.  I've no reason to think it won't and I just hope we're one of the lucky couples.

Last week I talked to a friend who is a life coach.  She helped me see through some of my problems and I have been feeling lots better since chatting to her. She prompted me to say what I could do to help myself, or rather, if she was me, what would I tell her to do.  So I actually ended up helping myself.  She set me the challenge of listing all of the things that I am good at, as this is what I said I would have advised her to do if she was saying what I was saying.  I found it quite hard.   I wanted to add things on the end like "but so-and-so does it better/is better" but of course I haven't.  Here is my list: (and now I'm wondering if you think I am big-headed!)

1. Foreign Languages.  I can speak French and Spanish fluently and I love speaking them.
2. Singing & musical theatre.  I am involved in two theatrical groups already and have been invited to join another group which is a closed group that is for recommended people only.  I am amazed to have been invited as there are other people I would have considered to be better than me at this but I have been chosen, along with my husband.  The person who invited me said that we have what they need, and would fit in really well with the group.
3. Admin tasks.  Ok so it might sound a bit geeky but I do love doing admin things - writing letters, organising spreadsheets, booklets etc.  I am taking a group of students to France in May and this is one part of my job that I really love - sorting out all the paper work etc.  I wish I could say I was as organised in the other parts of my job!
4. Sewing - I have made a few things which I consider to be very good.
5. Knowing what suits me clothes-wise/fashion-wise.  And I can put make up on well too.
6. Listening.  I would say I am a good listening and generally good at empathising with others.  I even think I am quite good at giving advice and often think I should take my own sometimes!
7. Not being afraid to say what I think.  I am quite confident - I will tell others if I don't like something if it will help the situation that I am in.  I don't mind complaining if I've had bad service, for example.
8. Learning things.  I did really well at school and can pick things up easily.
9. Dancing. We won a school 'Strictly Come Dancing' show a couple of years ago and I enjoy doing the dancing parts of the musical productions, even if it does take me a while to be able to remember it all!
10. Photography.  I love taking photos and have taken some really good ones. This is something I'd like to keep going with.
11. Quizzes.  I am a fact geek and love a good quiz.
12. Getting on with people - I think I am generally a nice person and can get along with almost anyone.

Writing this list made me focus on what I do well and it did make me feel better.  I now know I have to stop ending each of those things with "but X is better" or adding "but I'm crap at this."  Also, it got me thinking about how I am lucky in lots of ways.

While I am waiting for Stanley and Lucy  I am doing lots of lovely, exciting things.  I've been going out for meals, having my husband cook me lovely things, snuggling with my cat who I love like she was my baby already, booking in spa days, rehearsing for up-and-coming shows and productions that I am in, shopping and sleepovers with my sister, going on holiday (we're going to Russia on Saturday!) and seeing some sparkle come back into my dad's eyes with him having met someone.  All these things make me happy. Sometimes the sadness is still there.  Most of the time actually.  But I do still enjoy these things. I just know I'd enjoy them more if my dreams were more in my reach.  They might be soon and I try to remind myself of that.  I am so lucky in so many ways.  I have an amazing family: a wonderful husband who couldn't treat me better, who showers me with affection, well-thought out gifts, cooking, cuddles, ideas that he knows will excite me, who cries at Marley and Me because he loves our cat so much, who matches his ties to the dress I am wearing, who tells me I look good, even in old pyjamas, who wrote a poem about his feelings on not having Stanley and Lucy yet, who is talented, gifted and doesn't even know it.

So, all in all, despite having to wait for my babies to come, I am very lucky and I need to remember that.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Waiting for Guiness instead?

My husband said to me today that we should maybe call one of our children Guiness.  "Good things come to those who wait" and all that. It made me smile at least.  He also said that when it'll be our turn we'll get two babies in one go to make up for the wait as he is convinced that IVF will give us twins.  Strangely, I hope he is right.  Subsequent IVF cycles (once we've had one that works) will have to be paid for.  This would be somewhere in the region of £3000-5000+, money that we just don't want to have to spend to get what most people manage by having a one-night stand.  So there potentially would be no sibling for our offspring.  Therefore, two in one go sounds ideal.  Evidently, it's not that straightforward and, of course, it is more risky.  But, with my mum having done it I don't fear it.  And it would be good for me to experience the same as she did.  It's just a shame she won't be around to give me a hand, or help me through all this.  I also think that being a twin myself would make me a prime 'candidate' to be a mum of multiples.

But, at the end of the day, I would settle for one baby.  Just one.  Only one forever if that's all I could have.  I always said I wanted a big family, three children ideally but at least two.  Now I'd 'settle' for one.  Only it's not settling, it never would be as I would be so eternally grateful to be lucky enough to have one.

I am finding it hard today.  I feel like I am constantly surrounded by pregnancies and babies.  Just today a colleague officially announced her pregnancy and it hurts like hell.  Why can't that be us? I know I have heightened awareness and am understandably sensitive but it still knocks me for six, even when I feel 'prepared' for it to happen as I did today (I'd heard that this person was pregnant a few days ago).  I'm not sure how I am going to get through the next few months but I know I will because I've somehow got through the last year feeling pretty similar to this and, although it's been awful, I've survived.  It does feel like a case of survival.  I feel like I am waiting all the time, hence the aptly named blog.  But, like my amazing husband said (as well as some Guiness slogan-creator): Good things come to those who wait.  And it will be good, more than good, better than in my wildest dreams.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

I'm waiting for Stanley and Lucy

Who are Stanley and Lucy anyway?

Stanley and Lucy are my future children.  Am I pregnant with twins? No, not even close.  My husband and I have fertility problems and have so far been unsuccessful in trying to become parents to Stanley and Lucy. You may think that this is the very start of our journey to become parents with this being my first post.   In reality we're already 18 months into our journey with no sign of the finish line just yet. 

We started trying for a baby a few months before our wedding, naively hoping that by our wedding I'd be secretly carrying our first child.  Stanley and Lucy did not exist then, though.  It was just any baby we were wanting.  Now, though, after all the trying, it's Stanley and Lucy we want.  It may seem strange to you but to us it's more like we already know our children and we are just waiting for them.  Or, they are waiting for us.  When we refer to our future as parents, we do not simply say "we'll have to come here with our baby", we say "We'll have to bring Stanley and Lucy here one day".  For us, it keeps the dream alive that one day we will be a mummy and a daddy.  That, one day, Stanley and Lucy will be here.  They will know how wanted they were from the very beginning, or from even before their very beginning.  They might come together or one at a time.  But they will come. 

At present, we are waiting for our referral for IVF with ICSI.  We expect to hear from our hospital around June time.  In fact, the waiting list is quite short (only six months) in comparison to a lot of other NHS waiting lists.  At our hospital they also allow you to have three attempts at the procedure. After that, you must pay for treatment.  We hope we will not need to get to this point; that one of our 'free' turns is successful, hopefully the first one.  We were told we have a 36% chance of the treatment being successful.  Apparently this is good. However, being a "glass half empty" person, I see this as a 64% failure rate.  There is a 64% chance that we will not have Stanley and Lucy each time.  

I have looked into treatment and what it entails.  It is quite a lengthy and scary process.  I decided, therefore, to keep a diary from January to enable me to voice my worries and thoughts.  I made the decision to publish my thoughts in this blog too.  

My journey to get to this point has been horrific quite frankly.  In the space of us being at our happiest, starting to try for a baby and being hopeful and positive, we have been through so much: getting married, losing my mum suddenly, having what's called a 'chemical pregnancy' (early miscarriage), depression, anxiety, the fear of redundancy, stressful teaching jobs and then finding out we have fertility problems that merit IVF treatment.  Throughout this time I could not have got through it without the support of my amazing husband.  He is truly the best thing that has ever happened to me.  Still, what would make both our lives complete is having Stanley and Lucy.  Our babies. 

I cannot pretend that I am ever in a good place.  That we are ever happy.  We are always just waiting for that happiness to arrive.  In the mean time, we see friends and relatives have babies with seemingly relative ease.  Of course, we feel happiness for them, we feel love for their babies, but it does not cancel out or help us.  It is painful to us. The thing that keeps us going is that one day it will be us.  The thing that knocks us down is the thought that it might never be us.  That is a real possibility and it's one that I think about and get scared about every single day. 

I have to hope.  I know people who've been where I am now.  They've come out or are coming out the other side of this nightmare. I have to believe that one day that might be me.  I might have Stanley and Lucy one day. Keeping that faith is so difficult.  I feel tortured every day by our inability to have what people were put on this earth to do.  I feel guilty that I think as such because my husband blames himself.  Is it so bad to want something so badly that sometimes it seems that nothing else matters to you as much any more?  Am I a bad person for feeling resentment towards lovely people for whom getting pregnant has been a breeze, a one-month journey rather than eighteen months and counting? And they are lovely people who certainly do not deserve any resentment. It's a weird mix of emotions - I feel delighted yet envious, happy but angry.  

This is shaping me into being someone I'm not. I can't pretend I like it.  I hate it all.  The only good thing is that  I know that I will not take Stanley and Lucy for granted.  That they will be the most loved, cherished and adored children that exist. I know already that I would give my life up for them.  Well, I feel like I am giving up a part of my life already, just to get them in this world.  It will be so very worth it when I have my babies.