Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Liebster Blog Award

My good friend Caz has kindly nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award.   This award is for blogs that have fewer than 300 subscibers (I have 6 at the last count!) and so I'm very touched by Caz, who nominated me.  Caz is a constant inspiration in my life.  Despite everything she and her husband have been through, she continues to support me, give me advice or even (virtual) hugs when needed.  She is a wonderful mother to angel Anabelle and I greatly admire her.

So, I should pass on this award.  I will pass on the award to those whose blogs have not already been given the award, despite me wanting to return the honour to so many who have already been awarded!

I'd like to give the award to Due South - a blog of one of my many friends from the forum I visit.  Due South is such an interesting read.  It's all about a family's move to The Falklands Islands and their time spent there, though I believe a subsequent move to Qatar is now on the cards! Being a keen traveller, I love reading all about the family's adventures over there (and am a little jealous!).  Of course, I have to love it even more because they live in a place called Stanley!  

I'd also like to give the award to Deb Runs (another friend from the forum!) as she is training to run the Scottish Half Marathon for Macmillan Cancer Support, a charity which I also support as they were a great help to my mum.  Deb is what I would love to be - to enjoy running and to be fit! Having done a half marathon myself I know how hard it is - and how difficult it was for me to keep motivated during training! Go Deb Go!

As for me, there have been a few little developments, which I will document another time.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Not Waiting for as long as we thought...

It's been a few weeks since I posted.  What a few weeks it's been!

On the 10th of March we went to our hospital for the IVF information session.  It lasted two hours.  There were so many people there, couples from all walks of life - same sex (women), older, younger, every race/combination... it surprised me that there were so many of us having the same thing. What surprised me most was the amount of young couples, that looked just like us - that looked 'normal'.

All the staff were so so lovely! So reassuring. The nurse told us that our chances are higher than the quoted 40% because that includes all IVF cycles for under 35s, not just ICSI. She said that with ICSI it's usually the male with the problem and the ICSI overcomes that one problem and therefore the results are higher/better and our chances are good. She really did make me feel so much at ease.

At the same time I was scared. They showed pictures of surgery and it was all green gowns and sheets etc. and I stupidly thought it'd be like when I'm having a scan, not full on surgery. They said I'd be heavily sedated.

They kept going on about it taking over your life during treatment and that work will be the thing that gets in the way. I talked to her afterwards and she said that some teachers try and schedule things for holidays if they can but it rarely works out like that. She also said that being a teacher means I'm super organised and therefore always expect things to go on schedule/like to know when things are going to happen and she said that I will need to be flexible and to stuff school! I was going to anyway. She said one of the best ways is to get signed off from the doctor during treatment! Not sure how I'd feel about that.

She said that at that moment, people who are reaching the top of the list are booking egg collections for June, so treatment starts about 6 weeks before that, so I was looking at mid-late September for it to start I think. I was thinking that if we were get to the top of the list at the start of June as planned, we would then have to wait for the consultant appointment, then book in the egg collection after that. So it' was probably further away than I thought. 

That evening I felt so many emotions - anxious, excited, happy, scared, amazed.  Everything going.  I put something along those lines on my facebook status and got a few people asking if I was pregnant.  Expecting.  I guess I am expecting, in one way at least.  I'm waiting to be expecting.  I got my period that day too and it served as a reminder that we are infertile.  I felt so down and that life is very unfair.

That weekend I decided to make some positive changes.  I'd already given up alcohol before Christmas and we started eating healthier and sticking to it at New Year.  After we got back from Russia we also got back on track with our conception vitamins and minerals.  So at the weekend, it was all about me getting my head sorted.  I downloaded some relaxation apps on my phone and since then I've listened to the relaxation app all but one night since.  It really put me into a deep sleep and I felt so much better. I also downloaded a positive affirmations app and I copied out some of them onto coloured paper and stuck them around my dressing table and have been reading them every day and saying a few out loud.  I have also been tracking my mood and what makes me anxious.  

So, earlier in the week my mood was ok, if a little low but then it has been for a while, what with everything that we have to cope with.  On Tuesday night I was feeling really low about TTC.  I wrote a post about it on the TTC thread of a board I post on: 

My husband has fallen asleep on the sofa in his jimjams, watching the football. The cat is sleeping in her bed. I've just read through most of the TTC thread from when we first moved to this board, almost a year ago.

A year ago I was so hopeful. Hopeful of a honeymoon baby (Man, I wish I was going back to Cuba in a couple of weeks!). Then I read my "first fertility appointment" thread from start to finish and re-lived the whole journey to get here. I read things I've written over that time and just can't believe that I'm still here! I've read people start trying, get pregnant, miscarry, get pregnant, have their babies. It's been such a year on this thread. And, if I'm honest, it just doesn't seem fair that I'm still on it.

I was worrying about missing work due to blood tests for fertility tests in September, and now I'm worried about the same thing but for IVF. Will I still be here in a year? In a year will I still be reading about things now - will I be reading this post and nothing will have changed? Or will I be like some of the others?

I'm looking around me at what I've got (my amazing, wonderful husband asleep, and my cat too) and I feel so happy but then I just think there's one thing missing. The baby that should be here, in a moses basket, or being heard over the monitor. Will I have that in a year? Two?

I've relived my entire journey over the last year and it just saddens me that nothing's changed. Our progress TTC has been backwards really (you know what I mean). I know we're just on this really long bendy path, and others get on the road and run, or take the short path, but I just want to know that I'm at least half way there, than in a year I'll be nearly there. But it's impossible to ever know that.

Sorry for the waffle. I am actually feeling ok. I think I feel better knowing what's wrong, and enjoying sex for sex's sake not because we're trying to make a baby etc. For that I'm pleased. My husband and I really are a team now and we're so much closer. So that's good too. But I'm looking at him, with tears in my eyes, thinking how perfect it would be if he had a sleeping baby on him, in its jimjams too. It would just make it better, make it perfect. He deserves to be a dad so much and I wish I could make it happen for him. Sad

So Tuesday night was a low night.  Wednesdays are my day off and so on Wednesday I had a lazy start and was browsing the internet and making a photo book of our recent holiday when the postman knocked on the door.  I nearly didn't answer it since I was still in my pyjamas and dressing gown at 11am!  I'm so glad I did as that letter has changed everything.  

It was a letter from the hospital giving me a date for our Top of the Waiting List appointment with the consultant for the 31st May.  I read it twice, triple checked that that's what it said and then actually did a happy dance around the living room while letting out a few squeals.  I couldn't believe it, the 31st May, that's so soon! 

Then I realised that I couldn't go to that appointment because I'm taking 50 kids to France with school.  Panic set in.   I phoned the lovely people at the hospital who said that the next appointments aren't available until July and I was so sad and disappointed.  Then she said: "Erm, could you possibly be able to come in tomorrow, we have had a cancelation?".  I could NOT believe it.  Straight away I said 'Yes' and said I'd have to sort work out.  I  then did an even more animated leap around the living room.  Five minutes earlier I'd been celebrating an end of May appointment and here I was now celebrating an appointment the next day! 

The next thing I had to do was ring work.  I phoned but the person I needed to speak to was not at her desk so she ended up ringing me back five minutes later.  She stated that as five members of staff were off ill that she was not able to authorise both my and my husband's absences for the afternoon.  I was devastated.  I felt like we'd made such progress and it was being snatched away from us.  She said she would have to speak to the head teacher but that she would get back to me.  Five minutes later she phoned back to tell me it was ok, that we had permission to be off and that senior management and the headteacher himself were going to cover our absences.

I was now feeling really weak and exhausted.  I think I felt every emotion going and was up and down so many times - I couldn't concentrate.  It was then that I realised I was supposed to be meeting  my grandparents and cousin for lunch and that I would be late! I could hardly eat anything over lunch, I was far too excited.  I had to tell my cousin what was going on as I was fit to burst and hadn't been able to even speak to my husband about it. 

We had the appointment at 2pm on Thursday, only a week after we'd had the information evening, only a week after I'd thought it would be September time when we started.  The consultant went through everything and we handed over countless consent forms.  We consented to my eggs being mixed with my husband's sperm; to our eggs and sperm being stored if necessary; to go through with the procedure despite the risks (one of which was cited as 'death'); that we would bring up the resulting child(ren) responsibly; that we consented to being contacted for research later; and that we consented to our criminal records being checked to verify that we are fit to be parents.  It made me a little sad as 'normal' couples don't have to have that before they have sex to conceive a child. 

We went through our treatment plan.  I will be on the long protocol for IVF with ICSI.  This means that I will start on the contraceptive pill first to stop my own cycle, then I will inject daily to put my body into a menopausal state before I inject to over-stimulate my ovaries so that they produce many eggs.  The consultant also said he wants to put me on Metformin - a drug that will reduce the risks of my ovaries hyperstimulating.  This isn't normal procedure but he believes I have a high chance of it given my age and my antral follicle count from the scan I had.  Basically, I'm super fertile so should respond very easily to the drugs and perhaps respond too much.  This made my husband feel a bit sad as he feels that the infertility is all his 'fault'.  Still, it can only be a good thing that I have superb ovaries.  After all these drugs they will collect my eggs via the operation - he wants us to have about 8-10 eggs.  They will then inject a single sperm into each one and hope they fertilise.  The consultant wants us to wait for our embryos to turn into blastocysts. This means that they will be out of my body for 5 days and will have about 1000 cells each before they are put back in.  We are allowed no more than two embryos and sometimes they insist on only one, though we will push for two as we've discussed it and think it's the right thing for us.  The only risk is that the embryos might die before day 5 as not all make it to that point.  However, if they do, the chances of the treatment working is increased to about 50-60%, apparently.

I had to phone the hospital the next day (yesterday) to book in treatment.  I was nervous because I realised we'd jumped the queue for treatment and therefore the lady may make us wait our turn and go back to the original plan.  The lady on the phone was lovely and so reassuring.  We couldn't start at my next period date as there were no slots available for the predicted egg collection week so we've planned to start at the cycle after this one.  I had to predict what day my period would arrive then and we've gone for May the 8th.  When I get my period I have to phone the hospital and arrange a blood test on day 3 of my cycle.  If it's a weekend I have to just turn up to the hospital on the Monday for the blood test.  Then I'll get my prescriptions and it's all go from there.  My predicted egg collection date is booked in for the week commencing the 20th June. The day after my  husband's birthday and father's day!

I can't believe it.  It feels like we're finally going to become parents.  I feel like my positive thinking and affirmations have paid off.  I feel like we deserve this and I've felt invincible since Wednesday.  I'm finally going to become a mummy.  My husband and I both have a good feeling about it.  It will work. The positivity is there.  I'm sure my mum is looking down on me, and maybe she had a hand in helping this happen for us.  I don't believe in fate usually but I'm starting to.  If I hadn't been in on Wednesday morning to answer the postman none of this would've happened so soon.  If school had said no to time off we wouldn't be where we are now.  I think positive thinking has a lot to answer for. 

I've never been as happy as I am now since I got that brief positive pregnancy test.  It's the same excitement and happiness that I felt then.  I've never once wished for my periods to hurry up and get here but I am now.  Roll on the 8th May or there abouts!