Sunday, 14 July 2013

Thank you

I just wanted to stop in to say thank you for all the kind words, thoughts and support.

I will be back blogging very soon.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

June ICLW and gargoyles

Today my husband and I took an impromptu trip to Oxford, just to escape our worries for a few hours. We took lots of photos as we strolled around the city. I didn't stop thinking about what might be going on inside me but it was a lovely few hours. I did realise, whilst wandering along a cobbled street, that I have done nothing for ICLW this month. This isn't good and I will attempt to rectify my error with gargoyles.

Two and a half weeks ago a doctor placed two perfect embryos into my well prepared uterus. The whole experience was spellbinding and I held out for a staggering six days before I buckled and took a pregnancy test.

Two perfect pink lines popped up. Shocked, I don't know why getting pregnant via IVF is shocking but it is, my husband and I celebrated.

Things started to go a bit wobbly when I couldn't stop myself from peeing on the dreaded sticks. 

The blasted things refused to go darker or to stop fading in and out. 

I wished, hoped and prayed. It didn't help; the darn tests refused to comply. I succumbed to the fear and begged my GP for a blood test.

The result, from a blood sample taken at 13dp5dt, was 81mIU/mL. The doctor said this was low and ordered a second test.

I duly submitted my arm to the phlebotomist fifteen days after our exquisite embryos had entered my uterus.

There was 130mIU/mL of hCG in my blood at 18dp5dt 15dp5dt. This is low, low, low. My GP warned of an ectopic pregnancy and instructed me to call my clinic. My clinic confirmed fears of an ectopic pregnancy, told me what to watch out for and said the hCG was low and slow.

My husband went on an internet rampage and found a chart that we hoped would comfort us.

If you look closely you can see our first blood test just scraped into the minimum acceptable level. However, our second blood test result has fallen off the bottom of the bloomin' scale. The doubling time for my hCG hormone level is 75 hours. Not great. Ideally the hormone should double every 48 hours but anything faster than 72 hours is considered okay.

Recently my husband and I have been doing a lot of this:

It could still all be fine and dandy but it isn't looking likely. So we are still doing this:

Friday, 21 June 2013

Second beta at 15dp5dt - Bugger

Just a quick update. There are no pictures today or silliness about chocolate lollipops.

My beta has gone from 81 on 13dp5dt (18dpo) to 130 on 15dp5dt (20dpo). Those measurements were  over 52 hours apart. My clinic isn’t too hopeful; the lovely people who help me there have gone from being chirpy to gloomy. The clinic and my GP suspect that I might be in possession of an ectopic pregnancy. Quite handily, they have given me a list of warning signs which, if any of them happen, should send me galloping on over to my local hospital. I will have another beta on Monday and, if I make it, a scan next Friday. There is a small chance that this pregnancy will work out but you'd really need a high powered microscope to see it now. I am clinging on to that small shred of hope. I want to keep my diamond, dammit.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Pregnant? Yes, just a little bit.

It was supposed to reassure me and make it all crystal clear. A blood test would tell me if this was going to be okay. However, the universe looked at my plans, took a deep breath and laughed in my face. A huge great belly busting shriek of a laugh.

My blood test results are back. I am pregnant. No doubt about it. This is good, right? It's what I wanted, right? Achieving pregnancy is the first step on the winding, probably uphill, road to reach this:

 My beta-hCG result is 81 mIU/mL at 13dp5dt (or 18 days past ovulation).

That is not a sparkly, glittery or exhilarating number. That, my friends, is a number that is an excruciatingly low, frighteningly poor number. It is the type of number that could mean this pregnancy is going nowhere fast. My GP was kind but not thoughtful; beginning the conversation by asking if I was bleeding wasn't going to make me feel at ease or anticipate good news. In fact, it was blanket hiding time again.

How did I react to this agonising news? I scoffed my way through a bag of chocolate lollipops, a chocolate bar and a coffee, and not the decaff stuff either. I know, I know, I am wild and reckless. However, that was only stage one of post-beta meltdown.

Stage two involved trawling the internet, until my bum went numb, searching for success stories. As the pages loaded in front of me, the steaming pile of crap got higher and higher. I waded through the mountain of misery, reading about loss after loss, miscarriage after miscarriage, and then, I saw it, just poking out of the top of the mountain of soggy, stinking dung: a diamond. My eyes focused on the gleaming words. It happened, it was real. Someone out there had the same dismal number as me and won. For a while, all I could see was the sparkling gem of hope. Now, I can still see the shit but I am holding tightly onto my nugget of faith.

Stage three comprised of flicking through  the maternity wardrobe of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Not literally, obviously, but courtesy of Go Fug Yourself. I don't know why I choose to punch myself in the gut quite so hard. I felt better when I remembered that she had married into the royal family and all the beautiful bump flattering clothes in the world can't make up for that.

So what have I learnt today:

  • I'm pregnant but probably possibly won't stay that way
  • Sometimes people beat the odds
  • Eating chocolate on sticks is highly enjoyable
  • Kate Middleton is a beautiful pregnant lady
  • I'm not feeling creative and am resorting to recycling pictures

I had another blood test today and, hopefully, I will get the results tomorrow.

I thought I would leave you all with a very special treat:


Sunday, 16 June 2013

Am I? I think I am.

This week has been, as I suspected it would be, utterly crazy. Pregnancy tests suck! I hate them, I hate them, I hate them. Ahhh....that's better.  

I didn't wait until Friday to test; I didn't make it until Thursday or even Wednesday. By the time Monday turned up I was already clinging on to the last shreds of my very fragile mind. I didn't want to break but how could I resist? I needed to know. The agony of being so close to pregnancy was driving me insane, really it was climbing the walls time; it was also torturing my husband. We went back and forth. Shall we? No let's not. It won't hurt. No we can't. Eventually, on Tuesday, we flipped a coin. Heads I test, tails I don't. The coin spun in the air, landed on my hand and I peeked. Tails! Arrggghhh. Not tails, surely!?! That was it. Our will was broken.

I unwrapped that first magic stick and let the urine flow. Had I drunk too much? Not enough? Was it too early? Should I wait to use my morning wee? Too late, the stick was soaked. Placing the test face down on our dining room table, we waited. Three agonising minutes passed. We couldn't look, we held each other and then we saw this:

It wasn't the darkest line in the world but, look, there's definitely a second line.

We went to bed happy. Oh so very happy. My mind was filled with bliss, until the next morning when I decided, as you do, that one test wasn't enough to keep me going and I got slapped round the face with this little beast:

Yes, you're right, the second line has vanished. What on earth did that mean? Was I pregnant or not?
Life was not fun that day. The birds weren't singing and the sun didn't shine. I couldn't wait to get home and pee, and pee I most certainly did; this is what we saw:
Yipee! Oh, do pardon the pee pun. The second line returned. We could be happy again. We chatted joyfully about how it would finally be our turn for a little one. Until, of course, I lost my shit and went for another test and then, because I am a lunatic, another. I don't know how anyone stops at one. Good Lord, I admire you solo testers. To me pregnancy tests have the same allure as heroine does to the most drug addled junkie. In case you haven't guessed, and I imagine it's the same for any addict, the fix did not make me smile; we got these suckers:
The lighting is a little different but the story is the same. The final test was lighter than the previous one. What the crappity crap does that mean? Can you get pregnant, a smidgen more pregnant and then less pregnant again? Since that fateful evening there have been two more tests and they don't seem to be progressing in the way any IVF survivor would be proud of. 

I'm not an expert, not in anyone's book, but several hours of scouring the Internet makes me believe that something isn't quite right here. Tests shouldn't fade in and out, and by 11pd5dt, or sixteen days past ovulation if you prefer, the test line should be jumping right out of that oval window; it shouldn't pale into insignificance in comparison to the control line.
I am trying to remain hopeful, optimistic and bright. I mean, I've got two lines on a test so why am I even complaining? How ridiculous that I am not shouting "yay! yay! yay!" but instead I am whimpering over relative densities.
Maybe it's all okay. Maybe my embryos are just slow starters. Who knows? I heard on the pregnancy grapevine that sometimes test lines can be stubborn and refuse to pop out as quickly as you'd wish.
Tomorrow is my official test day and I will, once again, be peeing on one of those little devils but this time I can actually tell my clinic I have done so. I will also have to admit that I have been testing for some time now and that I am going berserk. I have no idea what they will say or do about my woes. Under normal circumstances - I think we have established these aren't normal circumstances - the lovely receptionist would book me an appointment for my seven week scan but, holy cow, I can't wait three more agonising weeks.
When I wake tomorrow, assuming I sleep at all tonight, I will also call my GP and beg her to do sequential blood pregnancy tests (betas) to see if the pregnancy hormone is doubling normally. My GP's practice is terrifyingly tight-fisted. The doctors there are so mean they point blank refuse to write a prescription for more than four weeks' worth of medication at a time, even if you need the meds permanently. If they cast me aside when I fall on my knees and cry for help, which is certainly possible, I am going to resort to begging the lovely doctors who took care of my first pregnancy to save me from despair. They made the foolish mistake of writing us a kind letter to let us know that nothing would be too much trouble if I ever got pregnant again.
One more thing, just before I sign off and while I have your attention: I am developing a constant pain on my right side just under my bikini line. Anyone know if that's not something to go a little bit mental about?
If you do have any answers, advice or any knowledge at all, please share. There's a handy comment box below to write out all your thoughts.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Good luck embryos

I have been away, not literally, just metaphorically; I needed some time to prepare myself for the upcoming crazy and I have no doubt there will be crazy.

Since I posted about my excitement of getting nine eggs, after I had thought I would be lucky to get seven, my IVF cycle has been moving forward. Like many things in life, IVF has a terrible habit of plodding on whether you are ready for it or not. You might think you are all prepared and set to get going but, quite often at the last moment, you realise you are not. Is anyone ever ready to be permanently attached to their phone whilst they go through the tightrope walking terror that is waiting for a daily embryo report?

On Saturday, the day after the egg retrieval, I nearly threw every last shred of sanity I possessed out the window when I missed the call from the embryologist, simply because I hadn't taken my phone to the toilet with me. I haven't made that mistake again. Honestly, what a stupendous blunder! The missed call led to several minutes of sheer horror when I realised that firstly, I wasn't holding a pen to write down the embryologists number and secondly, I had no idea how to save the message into my phone. The panic reached dizzying heights when the crackly voice of the embryologist was thoughtless enough to announce that she "would like to speak" with me. Arrggghhh....far too formal and far too scary. Surely it would have been much better for her to say "please call me back I have good news for you".

After much hopping round the living room, some deep breathing and muttering "think clearly woman", I did manage to sufficiently figure out my phone, retrieve the message, although I am not sure I could do it again, and call the good embryologist lady back. I held my breath as she told me all nine eggs had fertilised. Yes, all nine! I thanked her at least ten times, if not more, and smiled solidly for, oh I don't know, an hour or maybe even longer.

Then the madness started.

Once that phone call, which contained the first update of our potential babies, was over very little has entered my brain, except thoughts of embryos. Where they are? How they are doing? Are they are still growing? Did they mind being imaged every five minutes?  

We had further embryo reports on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Every time there was a sigh of relief as I was told that all nine were still going strong.

Then came transfer.

The embryo transfer isn't difficult or painful, at least no more so than your average smear test, but it is odd. First you need to get used to being half naked, with your legs in stirrups, in a room full of people. Unsurprisingly, this can be awkward, not least because you are positioned directly in front of the embryology lab door. I am getting proficient at making being publicly bottomless look like the most natural thing in the world; I can now chat away happily as if we were all enjoying nibbles at particularly good Christmas do.

The best part about the transfer is you get to see the embryos; it's amazing, almost life changing and it blows my mind every time. It is life in its rawest form. Life just five days old. I look at those embryos and I can't help but gaze at my husband and marvel that they are made from a little piece of him and a little piece of me. Like I said, totally mind-blowing stuff.

This time, prior to our embryo transfer, whilst by legs were uncomfortably hoisted in the air, the doctor, Mr F, who was performing our transfer, told us that the blasts we were about to place into my uterus were of extremely high quality and asked if we really wanted to go ahead with two.

Ummmm.....arrggggh....ooohhh. Did we really? 

We thought we did. Mr F, who is Mr T's boss, cautioned about the risks of multiples and we all exchanged glances. My husband and I nodded; we were going to stick with two.

Not long after the decision was made, those two beautiful blastocysts were sliding down the catheter, all snugly wrapped in a good dose of EmbryoGlue, into my well prepared cushiony uterus and, as usual, I whispered a silent prayer.

The madness has continued. There is a constant soundtrack running through my mind: Am I pregnant yet? Will I get pregnant? When shall I test? It never stops. Sometimes my subconscious plays the "I hope I get pregnant" track over and over again. If you have suffered from any kind of fertility problems, or even if you are just trying to get pregnant a little longer than most, you may have heard the "I hope I get pregnant track" yourself.

I can't believe this is my third transfer. I struggle to comprehend that I am getting used to going through IVF. How can it be that my uterus has now been host to six different embryos and my apartment isn't over run with baby clothes, I haven't got sick in my hair and the dark circles under my eyes aren't from gently rocking a crying baby back to sleep in the early hours of the morning? I am choosing to have faith that it just hasn't happened yet. Not yet, but please God soon.  

We are now two days past the transfer and too early for a pregnancy test to be useful. I know from my first cycle that a good, and extremely expensive, test will detect a pregnancy at four days past transfer. Now, only a crazy fool would test when the embryos have only had four days to get themselves comfy and start pumping out the pregnancy hormone. Hey! Who are you calling a fool? Okay, I admit it, I am not good at the holding out part. This time, and I know I will look back at this in shame, I am planning to wait until Friday 14 July June 2013 to test. I am hoping that by writing it out so formally my subconscious will take the hint and back off a little. Hmm, only time will tell.

I have also been hiding because one of my friends gave birth to her baby girl almost exactly on my twin girls due date. The announcement was accompanied by an email full of photos and a trip, thankfully without said baby, to the local Mamas and Papas shop to buy the tiny girl a gift. Let's just say it wasn't easy but it's done now.

Ugghh....infertility is some mean shit.

So for those of your who haven't worked it out from my post, yes, we included the Eeva and the EmbryoGlue in our cycle. In the end, even though I don't really think it makes any difference, I couldn't say no to the Eeva. My mind was really made up by the nurse informing me, when I called to find out when we had to decide, that I may have already have left it too late and it was possible that there wouldn't be available space in the Eeva incubator. It is funny how, as soon as you think that you might not be able to have something, it suddenly becomes a whole load more attractive.

In the end Eeva rated six of embryos high (the top score) and, of those six perfect embryos, two were transferred into my uterus and three others were lucky enough to have the privilege of hanging out in liquid nitrogen for a while. The ones that got to have the first go at being babies were chosen because they made it to blast slightly faster than the others and, sadly, not because Eeva had indicated that they were any better. I hate to say it but I think I just spent £800 on slightly easing my mind for five days. 

As for the EmbryoGlue, well that decision turned out to be a little easier. There is real clinic evidence presented in a meta-analysis performed as part of a Cochrane Review that EmbryoGlue, or any transfer medium that contains hyaluronan, will significantly increase clinical pregnancy rates. That was good enough for me. There have been conflicting studies since the review was published but, overall, it seems like the EmbryoGlue really does work.

Well, this post is very me, me, me, isn't is? There is another person going through all this too. My lovely husband, or Mr H as I just decided to call him, has also been struck down with the crazy fever. Today he has asked me: Are you pregnant? Can you feel anything? Do you want to take a test today? Are sure you are taking your progesterone? and, my favourite: When will you know if you are pregnant? Poor, dear Mr H. He certainly wasn't like this during out first IVF cycle; I suspect the crazy is contagious or, maybe, it just gets a harder each time we haul our miserable selves through it.

Sorry this post is a bit scrappy but I hope I can redeem myself by leaving you with a picture of our miraculous, and I do think development of IVF has been a miracle, embryos.

They are both sitting in a bubble of EmbryoGlue; the top one has begun hatching out of its shell and the bottom one is almost ready to start hatching.

Good luck little embryos.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Oh My God - I won something!

Hello lovely readers,

I expect you are hoping for an update on my IVF cycle; it's coming tomorrow I promise.

Now onto to really important matters, I have been nominated for my first ever blog award. Yes, you are right, it is just too exciting for words.

The most lovely and wonderful Aislinn from Baby Making and the stupendously super Jenni at Unconceivably Blessed have nominated me for the Super Sweet Blogging Award. Yikes! Thank you so much ladies, I am not sure I can handle the responsibility but I'll give it a go. 

As with most great things in life there are some rules. Right, here we go....

 Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you.
Oh ladies, thank you so much. It is so lovely to know that you thought my blog worthy of sharing it with others.
 Answer 5 super sweet questions. I have done this below.
 Include the Super Sweet Blogging award image in the blog post .
 If you look very closely you will find the image towards the top of this blog. It's a bit like Where's Wally but hopefully a little easier.
 Nominate 12 other bloggers
Okay I know I am going to struggle with this. I am really just finding my blogging feet but I hope I can manage a few.
Now for the Super Sweet Questions:
1. Cookies or cake? Gosh, what a question! For those of you in the UK, this is very much like the Daddy or chips question. For those of you who don't know what I am talking about, a clip that will explain all is below. It's great. Even though it's a tough one, I am going to go with cake.

2. Chocolate or vanilla? Has anyone ever gone for vanilla? This is definitely not a Daddy or chips dilemma: chocolate all the way.

3. Favourite sweet treat? Ummm...hmmm...ahhh...tough. I have just gone through an eclair phase, so I guess that would be it right now. I am hoping the eclair phase was Gonal-F related because I can tell you an eclair a day does no favours to your waistline.

4. When do you crave sweet things the most? I am not sure I do crave them. I just really like them and don't have the will power to say no to myself. Having given up cigarrettes and caffeine I can say cravings can be mean. With sweet things I quite often think "hmmm, that would be nice" and that thought it quickly followed by "ohhh, go on then, I am sure you deserve it".

5. Sweet nickname? Okay, I couldn't think of any. So, I asked my husband and his response, and I am quoting, was "oh, I don't bloody know". Huh, charming. Hmmm....I am feeling pretty boring without a sweet nickname. Maybe I could make one up now? I am feeling a bit old for a new glucose-laden title but lets see......hmmm....still nothing. Okay, back to the husband.

Me: hypothetical question dear, if you were going to give me a nickname what would it be?

Him: Chook

So there we have it. Chook. In case you don't know what that means the Urban Dictionary tells me it is an Australian slang word for chicken. In case you are wondering, there was no explanation - just chook.

Right, that's the questions done. Now for the nominations. I can tell you know I won't make 12 but I am going to go for as many as possible.

  • Sadie at My Invincible Spring is just amazing. She writes so beautifully. She was the first person I came into contact with who had a similar loss to my own. I am so thankful that she found my blog and so grateful that her posts are full of optimism, hope and love for her son.

  • The Infertile Chemist writes an excellent blog. Ever want to know how pregnancy tests work or what all the meds do? Check out her blog, her explanations of the science stuff are great!

  • Lauren at On Fecund Thought is another truly lovely writer. I love her blog. She writes with such insight about the really tough stuff. She also helped me figure out how to fix my comments for which I will be forever grateful. We have so many random connections it is strange but lovely too.

  • MrsDJRass at Baby Baby...Please is a new blog to me and I am really enjoying it. She has just gone through a frozen embryo transfer so I expect she is going through crazy hellish mind games right now. Go now quickly and congratulate her on getting this far.

  • Cindy at My journey through infertility, pregnancy & loss has been a great support. She is starting a cycle to do a frozen embryo transfer and also suffered the loss of her daughter Olivia. Her posts are often a testament to the love she feels for the girl she lost.

  • Lisa at The Pursuit of Pregnancy left the first ever comment on my blog and has been like a blogging mentor to me. She introduced me to ICLW and to some great blogs, but, best of all, her blog is beautiful. I love reading about her pregnancy and it is so inspirational to see someone make it to the other side infertility.

  • Maria from Gutter to Stars has a very interesting blog. She is currently completing her PhD and loves science too.

  • Ariel at Journey of a New IVF Mum is another information led blogger and she has come through IVF and has achieved the holy grail. Yes, she has a baby!

Okay, I know that is no where near twelve but it's late and I am tired (it's been a long exciting day). I hope the Award Police don't come and take my award away. Also, I am curious, who starts these awards?