Friday, 29 April 2011

The Royal Wedding Day / Reflections on a perfect day

Happy Royal Wedding Day!

I must say, I actually enjoyed watching the Royal Wedding! I never considered myself a particular fan of the royals before but I thought it was a jolly good show :)

So it got me thinking if they'll produce the next in line to the throne for next year.  Already people have suggested that Kate will be pregnant within the year. But what if she wasn't? What if they have to have IVF too? I guess we'll never know if that's the case and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have to wait and would have the best treatment possible (not that I fault my own hospital's treatment of us at all!).

It's been an odd week.  I went to work on Tuesday and Thursday and was thoroughly knackered by last night after only a couple of days' work a day apart! Still, I was broken in gently.  However, going back has made me realise just how much work I have to do this half term.  And how much IVF is going to 'get in the way'.  Actually, how much work is going to get in the way of IVF.

I've made some decisions this week that have already helped my mental well-being.  I removed my facebook wall.  I figured that I was getting jealous of others talking to each other, mainly about babies/children/pregnancy and things that I couldn't get involved with.  I felt that my postings were being ignored and not been seen as remotely relevant to these people and it was upsetting me so I decided to hide my wall so that if there is any interaction with people then it is on my terms.   I know this is a bit weird, but it has actually helped me focus mentally.  Also, I have hidden lots of people from my news feed.  Last weekend I commented on someone close's status about how lucky they are to have their gorgeous child.  That comment was deleted and not referred to.  I have no idea why.  It really hurt.  So I have hidden things like this from view and have vowed not to look at their wall/posts either so that things stay out of my view and therefore are free from troubling me for the next few weeks.  I am going to need all the mental strength I can get.

I really struggled earlier this week.  I saw that we needed to have HIV tests done and that we haven't had them done yet and I couldn't see in the information when we were supposed to have them done. So I panicked.  Silly really.  But it stirred up my ultimate fears.  That this will not work.  Yesterday I had my fortnightly acupuncture and since then I have felt so much better.  Just talking to the guy really helps.  He made me see this IVF journey in the medium term, rather than the short term - to think of where we are aiming to be in a year or two's time, not in a couple of months.  As in, if it doesn't work first time we will try again and it might work.  He has every confidence that it will work for us.  That we are a simple case.  I hope that it's true.

I was looking back at some of my old posts on the forum today. It was from the time when I first started TTC.  I was so bloody naive wasn't I?  And then the ones from when I got pregnant and miscarried.  I was so convinced that it would happen again straight away, and others thought so too.  I never imagined I'd be here a year or so later just about to start the 'real' TTC journey for us.  But looking back is always good.  It does make you realise how far you've come.  How good M and I are as a couple.  How we're so very happily married and get on so well (the only thing missing is the baby).

The wedding today made me think of my own.  They had two of the same hymns as us.  It made me realise how perfect our wedding was.  How many of you can say your husband composed the music you walked down the aisle to? Or that he sang as a part of his speech? I can.  It was amazing. The best day of my life.  Since that time my life has been dominated by tragedy and sadness.  But I know that one day it will get better.  That this is all part of the process of making me into a better person, and subsequently, as a result, a better mummy.  The best mummy (and daddy) that Stanley and Lucy could ever wish for.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

When I turn 28

I'm 27.  I will be 28 in October.  My mum had me when she was 27 and for some reason I always thought I'd follow in her footsteps and have my first child at 27.  I never planned it like that. In fact, if I hadn't have lost my first pregnancy I would've been 26.  Now I will be at least 28 when I have my first child.  At least.  I'm hoping it's not more, or much more.  I'm not sure  I could stand it if I was one of the most unlucky kind of infertiles who go for ten, twelve, more years waiting for their miracle baby.

If IVF works first time I will be 28 when pregnant, 28 when baby arrives.  Therefore, when I'm 28 things will be great.

I heard this song at the end of the film "Whip it!" and it really struck me with the lyrics.  Here they are:

When I Turn 28

Here it comes.
Guess for years I have tried to calm
What's inside me but something's wrong.
I don't know what to say
To give me away.

The dream's the same:
I'm alone on a moving train.
Wake up here and I can't complain,
And there's the first mistake
I tried not to make.
Next time I'm around that's a habit to break
When I turn 28.
Things are gonna be great at 28.

So don't sit so close.
Can't you see that I'm already yours?
Every day I've been living indoors.
Tell them I was brave.
Tell yourself the same.
Tell everyone that I plan to go straight
When I turn 28.
Things are gonna be great at 28.

They said that I would get used to the change
But I can't keep my eyes on the page.
Shouldn't be writing these songs at my age.
The candle's lit
Waiting patient for me to sit,
But none of last year's clothes still fit,
And I keep waiting for you to enter the room.
I made my wish let me give it to you
When I turn 28.
Things are gonna be great at 28.

At 28, tell everyone they'll just have to wait
When I turn 29.
Things are gonna be fine at 29.

Lyrics by Lorene Scafaria.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Almost there...

IVF is in our reach.  Just a couple more weeks to go and I will start on the contraceptive pill(!) that is the start of our treatment.  Ironic, isn't it, that after all this time the next road to a baby is by taking the contraceptive pill, something which I ditched a long time ago.

As it draws nearer I am becoming more hopeful that it might work.  But at the same time I am becoming more frightened that it won't.  I have so many fears.

I fear that I will never get to experience pregnancy; that I will never get to spend hours choosing a pram/clothes/maternity clothes/nursery furniture; that I will never get to decorate the spare room; that I will never get to experience that new born baby placed,  covered in gunk on my chest; that I will never hear that primal scream; that I will never say "he looks like me!"; that I will never get to count his fingers and toes; that I will never get choose his first outfit and dress him in it; that I will never get to change a nappy; that I will never bring him home, in his car seat and sit and stare at him in the silence of our home; that I will never fall in love, that maternal love of which I've only dreamed about; that I will never get to go to the register office to officialise my baby; that I will never use the words "my son" or "my daughter"; that I will never get to experience breast feeding; that I will never get to have cuddles in the middle of the night or watch him as he sleeps in his moses basket; that I will never get to experience sleepless nights; that I will never see that smile that's just for mummy; that I will never be called "mummy"; that I will never have the stresses and strains of having a new born (and I do want them); that I will never have to think about anyone but myself first; that I will never see my baby crawling around my home and garden; that I will never see my husband completely happy and in love; that I will never hear the piano played by little fingers, learning just like his daddy did; that I will never do the school run or see a nativity play; that I will never get to choose God Parents or Guide Parents; that I will always have to say "no" to the question "Do you have any children?"; that I will never hear a little voice say "I love you mummy".

And that is just some of the things that I am scared of.  I could go on, but you get the idea.

Heightened awareness is a stab in the heart to me at the moment. We went shopping today and it was awash with pushchair and prams and bumps.  And maternity sections in shops. Babies. It is inescapable.  It's not like you're dreaming of having a holiday abroad, or a bigger house, because not everyone has those. Almost everyone, like 99% of people will have a child. I want to be in that 99%.

I wonder, how long will I have to wait? Will my infertility journey be a short one? (It's already 18 months but I've heard of women who've tried for 12 years or more.  12 years.  Putting my life on hold for 12 years.    So will IVF be a quick-fire solution for us? Will it work? It has to work. I want to hear Stanley and Lucy say those words: I love you mummy.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Today ended up being a special day!

It's not every day you get to see the gift of life is it?  What I mean is, today was the day we had to do M's semen analysis at the hospital.  Oh the indignities you have to go through to get that much wanted baby!

So the day started as normal, normal things happening etc.  I went for lunch with my auntie and cousin and had a relaxing time of it.  Then time was ticking and I knew I had to be back home, telling my auntie and cousin we were off to look at things for the bedroom, which we've been decorating since Saturday.

So I get home and it's sperm time.   The joys.  I had to hide my face as I was giggling a little too much, mostly through embarrassment (it's not every day you help your husband w*nk into a little pot now is it?!) but quite why I should be embarrassed about it is a mystery...  Apologies if you are eating your dinner at this stage!  I figured, though, that this blog is going to get a lot more gruesome before I finish so I may as well be as open as about it as I can, with my online world at least.  It's not like I'm going to go and describe all this to my work colleagues is it?  So little job done I put it down my top (in the pot, of course) between my (rather ample) bossoms to keep the sample at body temperature as per the instructions.

We head off to the hospital which is about 30 minutes away from home.  When we get there we head to the embryology lab and are let in by a lovely embryologist whose name I don't know, which feels such a shame, given that she was so lovely.  We hand over the pot (which I'd swapped from bossoms to pocket before we got out of the car as I looked like I had three breasts, one of which was rather oddly shaped) and she checked out details.  She asked why they were doing the sample and M explained that she'd have a job finding sperm, in his rather usual, jovial manner.  We explained that we couldn't get the results from the consultant as we didn't have a consultant appointment booked given that we're starting IVF in the next four-five weeks so she said we could stay and wait while she looked at the sample!  So that's what we did.

We went into the little waiting area and discussed what we thought the measurements would be.  I guess at 7 million per millilitre, Matthew 5 (previous results at the pathology lab were 4 million then 1 million).  We decided there'd be an improvement because we'd been so healthy and taking vitamins etc.  Five minutes late she called us in and at first I got a bit scared because I tried to read her face, which I didn't think looked good.  We went into the little room and she said "I really thought there'd be no sperm because of what you said earlier but there are loads, plenty for treatment!".  So then I thought "hurrah! Massive improvement!".  But it wasn't really.  The measurements were 2 million per millilitre (a normally fertile man has about 40 million, with 20 million classed as fertile) but at least it was an improvement on last time!  Then the motility was 39% (last time it was 36%, so again, an improvement - normally fertile men have 50%).  The morphology was 4% (last time it was 1%, this figure varies in what is classed as normal but she believes 4% is on the borderline of normal, which is actually great!).  So although there aren't very many, what there are of them are better quality than last time (quality over quantity!).  And there are plenty for ICSI as they will only need 20 sperm maximum for that and they will pick the best ones! Then she said we could have a look!

It's not every day you get to see human sperm (namely your husband's sperm!) under a microscope is it?! It was amazing! I could see lots of little fast moving sperm (ok so not as many as I've seen on TV examples on Lord Whinston programmes) but there were many to be seen! And there was also lots of dead 'bits' and 'debris'.  But it was amazing! M and I joked afterwards about his little 'fellas', until I pointed out that some are girls already (or will make a girl).  So he said that he could actually see the little Xs and Ys on their backs... he's quite the comedian!

So it turned into a really positive and rather special experience!  We also chatted to the embryologist about our chances.  She said that they were really very good.  Since Christmas about 50% of cycles have resulted in positive tests. She said the figures they give you are actually from a couple of years ago so are not all that accurate for now.  She also said that with my age and the fact that sperm are our only problem (we think) then the outlook is pretty good.  She also said that we need to be positive but a bit realistic and it's getting that balance right that is hard.  She was so lovely and so reassuring.  So I left there feeling positive and beaming, and fascinated.  That was new life in there, my husband's new life.  My Stanley and Lucy will be just like that at some stage.  Maybe they're being made right now somewhere...

Friday, 8 April 2011

A meeting with the big boss man

In anticipation of being off work so much I decided to arrange a meeting with the Head Teacher of the school where both my husband and I work.  I was well prepared for the meeting.  I'd found an example schedule from someone online at my hospital's section so I brought this with me.  I think the Head and other staff were shocked at the amount of time off I will need.  This is what I gave him:

Week commencing 9th May:
Cycle Day 3-4 blood test (Monday, (Wednesday) or Friday from 8am-9am in James Cook).
*Medication starts.

Week commencing 23rd May:

Appointment to learn how to inject (it will be on a Monday (Wednesday )or Friday).

*Start injections.

Week commencing 30th May: (Scheduled, at present, to be in the holidays)
Baseline scan (longer appointment on a Monday, (Wednesday) or a Friday.)
Regular blood tests after about a week/10 days of 1st type of injections (could be later) - (on a Monday, (Wednesday) and Friday)

*Start 2nd additional type of injections

Weeks commencing 6th June:
Blood tests every Monday (& Wednesday) and Friday morning 8-9 am.

Week commencing 13th June: 
Appointment for scan (about ten days later after start 2nd injections). If responding properly, egg collection operation two days later. If not, continue on injections and more scans until eggs are ready.

Week commencing 20th June:

Egg Collection under heavy sedation (predicted). Both Matthew and I are required to attend.
A couple of days to recover from the operation, following consultant advice.

Three to Five days later, possibly running into the week commencing 27th June:
Embryo Transfer procedure (Matthew also required to attend). From this procedure I am considered pregnant until proven otherwise at a test after two weeks.

I also said that this is not set in stone, that this will change depending on how I respond to drugs and how any embryos develop.  The head still wanted to know more detail and asked if I could put this schedule onto my teaching timetable to see how it would affect things.  Obviously I told him that this was impossible, which he did accept.  

It was strange talking to your boss about the most intimate details of your life.  He asked when I would know if it would start.  I had to say "On day 3-4 of my next period".  He looked a bit sheepish.  He said that he would give me a week's paid leave (5 working days) but that these days could be taken in hour slots if needed.  This is much more than the recommended two days from the local authority (which states that any additional time should be taken as annual leave or flexi time, but as a teacher that's impossible!).  However, he said that M's leave would be unpaid.  Now, we disagreed with this as, as an individual employee, he is also entitled to two days paid leave.  Hopefully that situation will rectify itself. We can't deny that he has been generous.  They did say that we were the first case that they've had to deal with, at least in the time that they've worked there and been in charge.  So we're kind of setting a precedent for others.  

The whole idea was to try and minimise stress, but I'm not sure if it's done that yet.  I do feel like I can phone up and they will understand more, so that's good.  Also, the cover supervisor said that if she doesn't have to cover my teaching then she won't put it down as part of the accrued time which is excellent.  Also, as I don't work Wednesdays then any appointments that fall on those days won't count.  I will also take off any time that I need post egg collection and embryo transfer as either self-certified sickness or get a Dr's note. 

So that's the last few days' update! We've broken up for the holidays now - thank goodness! Still on the wait for AF but she's knocking at the door!  I'm still fluctuating on the mood front.  Today I've had moments of worry and fear that it won't work.  I said to M that in a year maybe we will have Stanley and Lucy and we will all be off the Easter Holidays.  He just said "possibly".  I found that scary that it's only possible, not definite.  But we'll see. I am hopeful.  I have to be hopeful.  Stanley and Lucy are on their way, one way or another.  We just have to wait.  And be patient...

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Waiting for AF

AF (Aunt Flo) should be due in a few days or a week.  I am on day 27 and usually my cycles are about 29-30 days.  It's strange because for 19 cycles now I've wanted AF to stay away, to have a positive pregnancy test.  Now I can't wait for it to get here because that means that I'm on a countdown to IVF starting.  The treatment will start on my next period start date.  I'll go for a blood test on day 3-4 and then start the drugs on day 5.  So I'm waiting for it to arrive.   So until then we are eating lots of fruits and vegetables, are not drinking alcohol (well I haven't since before Christmas anyway) and I'm spending lots of time taking it easy and relaxing.

I have had to drop out of the show that I was going to be in.  The show will inevitably be really tiring and a lot of hard work and it is happening at the start of the treatment cycle.  It was a really hard decision to make but a necessary one and everyone was really supportive.  I would like to still be involved in the show, maybe helping out backstage a few nights. I've also started to relax and sleep as much as I can.  Last night I had a long, pampering bath whilst I listed to the Zita West IVF relaxation CD.

After the initial high of finding out that the IVF was fast forwarded there was a subsequent low, a panic that it wouldn't work.  I became scared that, as our chance, our hope, was coming quicker, that the possible failure of it was also looming.  Really, we are closer than ever before to becoming parents.  But if the treatment fails then it will feel like we are further away.  I do need to remember that there is only a 36% chance of it working.  But I also have to believe that we are going to be in that 36%.  That the reason that we haven't conceived yet is because sperm can't reach egg and that the ICSI will eliminate that barrier.  So if the barrier's gone then there should be no problem in the rest.  I know it's not that simple but that's the thought that keeps me going.  We have no reason to believe that my body and eggs are nothing but healthy and fertile and apparently, as I've read in some sources, that and age are the biggest determining factor in IVF success.  And I certainly don't have a problem in the age stakes!  The 36% success is for all IVF cycles under the age of 35.  In my opinion (but what would I really know!) there is a huge difference in a woman's fertility between 27 and 35 so that would mean that our chances are increased.  The 36% also is for all causes of infertility and sperm problems are the ones that are supposedly easy to treat (i.e because you bring sperm to egg).  I know I'm talking myself INTO believing we have a greater success rate but it's how I work to feel positive.  And, who knows, some of it may be true.

Despite all this, and the technicalities of it, normal life resumes.  However, I do think about ICSI at least once every ten minutes on a normal day.  Probably more than that. At the weekend we went to stay with family. Our lovely sister-in-law is about 6 months pregnant (I say about, I don't know in terms of weeks or anything and I couldn't bring myself to ask).  We are so happy for them but it was so hard being there this weekend.  They were great and baby-talk was kept to an absolute minimum but it still was so hard.  Hearing them talk nappies and Mothercare when we were almost out of earshot cuts us to the core.

I heard M talk to his  brother about IVF.  I can't believe that he is having to talk to his brother about such intimate matters.  It's not that I don't want him to, I am thankful that he has finally talked to someone other than me, it's just the fact that he has to talk about it at all.  No one should have to go through this.  It made me realise just how much he knows about the whole process, about the menstrual cycle, about the drugs, about embryos, about me.  How many of your Other Halves would know what a blastocyst is? Ask them! But my other half does.  He knows it's a five-day old embryo that, if implanted, gives us more like a 50-60% chance of the treatment working.  He knows that if we wait to see if the embryos turn into blastocysts then none of them might reach that stage at all and we may go home empty-handied, or empty-bellied.  Even if they do get implanted it still might fail.

We do feel positive a lot of the time.  We talk about Stanley and Lucy a lot still, every day.  It keeps our dream alive.  But what gets me is that so few understand what we are going through.  Don't get me wrong, people are sympathetic but I honestly do not think that anyone has the remotest idea of what this is like unless you've lived it yourself.  Here's an example of what Monday morning was like:

Wake up.  Think about IVF.  Think about IVF.  Go in the shower.  Think about IVF.  Look down at my flat stomach.  Will it to get bigger and be covered in stretch marks.  Get out of the shower.  Think about IVF while drying my hair in what will be Stanley and Lucy's nursery.  Start planning it in my head. Stop myself because it might jinx it. Chastise myself for being so stupid.  Chastise myself for thinking negatively.  Try to think it will work. Repeat "it will work it will work" in my head over and over.  Have a niggling doubt that it won't and feel that the magic positive thinking has then been undone.  Think about the success rates and that we have a good chance.  Think about the people I know who it hasn't worked for.  Put make up on and get dressed.  See my husband and think what an amazing daddy he would be.  Talk to my husband who is crying and suffering from severe anxiety, not sure if he can get out of the front door, never mind to work.  Think about how he should be on medication for this but he won't because of the impending IVF and the effects on his sperm.  Think about how all this is affecting him.  Want him to go on drugs so that he's better.  Don't want him to go on drugs because it may affect his sperm. Look at the side of my bed and see how the space is made for a crib/moses basket. Go through the whole thinking positive/negative debate in my head again. Get in the car.  See my next door neighbour's car still on the drive and feel jealous that she's just started maternity leave and is about to have a baby.  Wish it was me. Head to work (think about it in the car).  Think about it every time I see a baby/small child/pram/nursery school.  Get to work.  Get asked by a 13 year old what I got for Mother's Day.  Say "I didn't get anything".  Get asked what I got my mum.  Say "I didn't. I don't have a mum".  Feel shit that I've had to say that, as if it's denying she ever existed.  Tears pricking my eyes.  See a colleague who's returned from maternity leave.  Give her a 'welcome back' present of chocolates, wine and relaxation goodies.  Wonder if I'll ever have to experience coming back to work after maternity.  Arrange a meeting with work to discuss possible IVF absences.  Think about how much I'm going to be off and how stressful it will be setting work/not being in school/having teacher guilt.  Think about the fact that I may be off that much only for it to fail.  Think about the fact I'm going to have to tell people our most intimate details including when my period starts really.  Think about the fact that it might not work.  Chastise myself for thinking of failure.  Imagine how I would tell people it's not worked.  Imagine telling people it's worked.  Think about next Mother's day wondering what it?  Think about all those people that have what we want.  Hear about another pregnancy. My heart breaks.  I wonder if it will ever mend. If I will ever forget this pain if we have a child. Colleague says "why don't you adopt?".   Can't contemplate that. Yet.  Wonder if we will have to adopt.  How long would that take? Would I ever experience pregnancy? Think about what the Mother-in-law said about us "rushing into having children".  Get angry because after 18 months and impending IVF we are not rushing into anything.  In fact most certainly thought about it more than anyone else ever has (unless they too are infertile).  Think about that word. "INFERTILE".  Think about people who have not contacted us despite knowing what we are going through (knowing, not empathising).  Wonder why they don't bother to get in touch. Think about what they said about not knowing what to say.  Think that's a poor excuse. Think that they're probably too busy with their babies/children.  Think that it wouldn't take a lot to say "how's it going?" "thinking of you".  Remember that not everyone is like me.  Not everyone has the skill of empathy. It depresses me.  Feel bad for thinking such things.  They can't help it, can they?  Get to teach period 1.  It's only 8:45 and I've been up 90 minutes.

That is a realistic example of 90 minutes of my life.  It's probably not detailed ENOUGH. Really.