Fretting in the early hours (it’s always the early hours…)

This past 5 days has seen me jolted from my happy, excitable, newly-pregnant state to a miserable, pessimistic bundle-of-nerves, on, not one, but TWO occasions.

The surge of progesterone (coupled with the additional dose of twice daily pessaries) has given me all manner of cramps and niggles – most probably due to physical changes in my uterus and constipation (yay). That is fine. It’s what I’ve wanted for 3 years, and I cannot and will not complain about it.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, I woke up with, what felt like, trapped wind (sorry for the detail). The pain was EVERYWHERE and I spent a good hour on the floor in the foetal position and eventually fell back to sleep. I woke up later to discover I’d been spotting throughout the night, and was still in pain.

As is not uncommon with me, I completely lost all sense of reason, and immediately thought that it was game over. My mind immediately went to my sister-in-law, who is due to deliver in 4 weeks, and that I would possibly have to consider emigration as a coping mechanism. Luckily, EPAS (Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit) where I was due to have my first scan later in the week, slotted me in within the hour.

Words cannot describe how it felt to see that little heart flickering away. We both cried. My 37 year old husband sat and wept in the corner of the scan room. We have a viable singleton! They thought that the bleeding was perhaps some old implantation bleeding, or the second embryo’s remains coming away.

There is a part of me that is a little sad that its twin didn’t make it, but when I think realistically to how risky twin pregnancies are, my little singleton will stand a better chance of making it to term without another one fighting for territory in there.

This reassurance was pretty short-lived though…

Last night, a similar thing happened. This time cramping, like period-pain. On inserting my pessary, I withdrew my finger to find pink-red blood on it 😦 The gynae ward, who are the only people contactable out of hours, got me in to the assessment unit this morning. I was seen by a colleague – a little weird, but you are kind of looked after by your own, and scanned.

Our little jelly bean is still there, and is growing nicely in accordance with its 7+4 dates.

They also did a random Beta level – not entirely sure what the point of it is in isolation, but it was 99,000+ which sounds pretty damn good to me.

What was it this time? Trauma from the pessaries? Those pesky follicles rupturing? Or just one of those things?

My instructions have been to basically “use my medic-head”. If the bleeding is not fresh red, or heavy, it ought to be ignored. Nobody has made me feel at any point, like a neurotic woman, but I DO feel like one. Some of the staff and my friends who have had first-hand experience of IVF are fully aware and understanding of the fact that blood = FEAR OF GOD. I guess I just have to try and relax a little, and accept that this may be a semi-permanent feature for the next couple of weeks or so…

The Fear (Part 2)

Today was the day that, 27 years ago, my mother’s life support was withdrawn on the Intensive Care Unit of our local hospital. This was following a post-partum haemorrhage a few weeks prior, hours after delivering me into the world. My 56 year old father was left widowed and thrown into the deep end of fatherhood like no father ever knew it.

To rub the salt in the wounds, this day coincides with the Sikh celebration of Vaisakhi – the birth of the Sikh faith, and as prominent in the calendar as Easter or Christmas. Although not religious at all myself, I can only imagine the pain of a devout Sikh/Christian/Hindu/Jew/etc to forever associate a bereavement with, what should be, such a joyous occasion in your community.

The past week or so, I have swung between the extremes of sheer excitement at the prospect of being a mum before the year is up, and utter panic at the endless possibilities of what could go wrong between now and then. I am feeling the latter more acutely than ever today, for obvious reasons.

Since getting those magical two lines, that hope that I would suddenly happily launch myself into the world of “baby” has not been forthcoming. Although I “tolerate” (that is not quite the word I’m looking for) the bumps a little more readily, I am wishing the weeks away so that, in Darwinian fashion, my jelly bean would have a chance of making it in this world should anything happen to me. “The bumps” are at that point, where they can happily talk cots, prams and names. I, at 6 weeks today, still have a very long time to go.

It’s all very catastrophic, ruminatory thinking, that’s certainly not being helped by all the pesky hormones. But I don’t know how to make it go away!

My scan is due a week on Wednesday – maybe seeing a viable little bean will inject me with some confidence that this pregnancy WILL be fine.

I went on a spa day with my mother-in-law last week. The girl who was doing my nails announced that she was 10 weeks’ pregnant with her second. I asked her if the worry ever goes away, and she answered with, “I don’t worry about anything. Cos most of the time, whatever you’re worrying about NEVER happens”.

So very true. It must be so nice to be living in that head.

The Fear

“The Fear” is, what we refer to in our house, as that horrid “Sunday night” feeling that hits you at around 6pm, when you know that you’ll shortly be going to bed, and, next thing you know, it’s Monday morning and you’ve got a whole week to battle through.

That feeling is something I haven’t experienced in a very long time, since starting ED, as the concept of the traditional “weekend” as I knew it, became non-existent.

Now, it refers to the fleeting thoughts of, “oh heck, what if these jelly beans don’t like their home for the next 36 weeks?”.

I am horribly aware, through stories of friends, of fellow bloggers, and of course, as an occupational hazard, of the possibility of miscarriage – the possibility that we could go for scan in 3 weeks’ time, and find that the pregnancy isn’t viable, or even after then, the chance that this could all go tits up later on down the line.

I recall an article I read in the Washington Post, that was a link from another blogger’s site, referring to the cruel destiny that we IVFers (and I guess, any other IF treatment recipients) face, to be in a permanent state of anxiety throughout the entire pregnancy. I so badly don’t want to be that neurotic patient that panics over the slightest bit of bleeding or cramping, but how do you not do that, when your pregnancy is so precious?

My anxiety behavioural “thing” is to have a boob grope. My boobs are getting quite sore – especially at night, in their unfettered state, when I roll over and accidentally squash one. And if I go over a bumpy bit in the road. If they start feeling vaguely comfortable, I’ve taken to popping a hand down my top, and giving one a poke *just to make sure* that my precious symptoms aren’t disappearing on me.
The other “classic” is the “knicker-check”. My specialist keeps his IVF-ers on the Cyclogest pessaries, to provide progesterone support until the pregnancy is at the point when it should be adequately producing its own. These delightful pessaries do leak their vegetable oil shell as the day goes on, and it feels a little bit like passing bits of blood/discharge. Ever so occasionally, I pop to the toilet to check that it IS just the white, greasy stuff.
I’m going nuts.
Bring on scan day!

Oh my…

  

Never ever ever, have I produced those magical two lines on a pee stick. 

I don’t often have nothing to say, but I was completely lost for words. He and my mother-in-law cried. The cat ran around my feet in circles, meowing furiously.

I nicked the old-fashioned sticks from the hospital, in preparation for the “big day”, as, I absolutely detest the electronic hourglass, the tentative minute wait, and the glaring black and white result that gives you no gentle pre-warning of what might be to come. 

For the past week, I have been feeling unusually tired. I’ve been struggling to get through 8 hr shifts in ED, which normally fly by, but didn’t know how much was due to the emotional exhaustion. 

My boobs have also been increasingly tender- to the point where, even turning over in bed at night, causes me to wake up and wince. 

What I’ve not been able to deduce, is how much of it is due to the Cyclogest pessaries, and how much of it is my jelly bean(s). 

Still, I feel so so blessed, I will put up with *anything* to nurture my sprog(s). 

Now, just have to try and stay sane until my scan in 3 weeks (no Betas this side of the pond). 

Eeeek!!

IVF number 2

Hello all, happy Spring!

i AM still alive, I promise.

I’ve deliberately been keeping off the site in an attempt not to focus too much on everything this cycle, and instead, just to let it almost be a “sideline”. But here is the update.

I started stimming again the beginning of March. Because of the poor quality of the embryos in IVF-take-1, my schedule was changed to twice daily injections – the morning jab, Buserelin, and the evening jab, the Menopur.

The cycle went pretty smoothly, with a better follicular response earlier on, and I had 17 eggs retrieved in the end. Surprisingly, only 6 fertilised, but we were blessed with better quality embryos this time round and I’ve had 2x Day 3 eight-cell grade 2 jelly beans (grade 1 being the best! – I know the grading systems differ everywhere) put back on Thursday.

It really, really has been a heck of a ride again – leading up to the egg collection, I got news that I’d passed my Emergency Medicine interview and got a job in my first choice region (to commence in August, with 6 years of run-through training to consultancy). That, coupled with my best friend also getting a job against the odds, and the news of our embryos being happier and healthier this time round, has made me feel so much more positive.

During “the week”, another friend was losing his grandfather to terminal cancer at a hospice. He text me on Day 2, saying, “As one life fades, another one is growing. You WILL get pregnant, I just know it”. Although I’m far more of a cynic than an optimist, I really found those words comforting – I can’t explain why! This guy isn’t some kind of prophet, but it just seems to help maintain a positive mindset.

The other thing this cycle, that I have found so helpful, is the complete, heartfelt support of friends and family. In hindsight, I don’t know why I kept our battle with infertility a secret – I guess it was a wish to be giving people news of a pregnancy, and not admitting that I, high-flying, high-achieving, healthy young woman, was struggling to achieve something for the first time in my life. Instead, the words of encouragement and comfort that I’ve had from everybody has been so healing. I genuinely feel that the world is rooting for me, and that is just great.

Over the past 5 days, I am having good days and bad days. As time passes, the anxiety and worry is definitely predominating though I’m trying desperately to bat my chimp away.

Over the past few weeks, a few good friends of mine have got engaged. 7 years ago, when I lost my Dad (my only family), I had this intense need to belong to somebody and be part of a family. I nagged and nagged (not sexy, I know) my better half (who I had been with for 5 years at that point!) to propose. He didn’t succumb to the pressure, and instead chose to do it after I graduated 2 years later! But I spent the best part of those 2 years being massively jealous of anybody who got engaged or married. I am ashamed to say that I was sometimes even *that* typical-American-High-School-bitch, who would take pleasure in criticising the wedding venue, or the flowers, or what the guests were wearing (yes, I know, not one of my finest moments – I have grown up, now!)

BUT, my point being, now that I am happily married, the news of the first of my besties getting hitched made me ECSTATIC and so excited. I.e. the normal reaction to news of somebody you care about getting engaged! And it felt so good.

THAT, ladies, is how I want to feel when I see babies, when I see bumps, when my sister-in-law gives birth in May, and when my (ever increasing) friends and colleagues pop their sprogs.

Come on, jelly beans. Make me a happy mummy.

jelly-beans

Happy New Year, folks! (Yes, I know it’s February!)

Ok, that greeting is getting rather old now… I CANNOT believe we are in February already. When did that happen?!

I realise I’ve been rather anaemic on the blogging front, but I’ve just had to catch up with life, and have had to lock “baby” away in a box for a few months.

Firstly, I’m going through a career change. I have left my training programme to be a General Practitioner and am embarking on the road to becoming an Emergency Medicine doctor. Yes, I’m mad. You’ve read the headlines. I am hereby sacrificing sleep, weekends and sanity to deal with the patient spectrum of “dying from a heart attack” to “stubbed my toe on the end of the bed” (yes, we do get those in A&E). BUT, as I have said previously, I have found an area of medicine that I am passionate about, and enjoy. I cannot mould my entire life to fit around a family that may never happen (though hopefully will) and life has so much else about it.

So the vast majority of the past month or so has been spent preparing for interviews, and deciding how to occupy my next 5 months before formal training begins in August.

In some respects, as much as I complain about it, I have been grateful for the distraction.

I completely and utterly underestimated how emotionally draining IVF would be. I had my medic hat on, and, when I started bleeding and got the negative test, my “human” came to the fore, and my heart broke. That was amidst news of my 39 year old sister-in-law becoming pregnant along with a few friends – some of whom, had been my “infertile buddies” and have received that golden ticket to pregnancy, leaving me behind, all bitter and barren.

I felt myself sinking into that deep, dark hole of depression, again. I cried at the smallest, most insignificant things, I felt irritable, unmotivated, and avoided people and social situations like the plague. I couldn’t sleep with sleeping tablets as my mind just wouldn’t switch off.

Christmas was hard. In fact, I denied most of it, as, all I could feel, was my sense of loss at a time that was for “family”. In hindsight, it was slightly ridiculous – I have a wonderful family, who would move heaven and earth for me. My mother-in-law was devastated when I said that I’d rather spend Christmas sleeping at home. So much so, that I felt immensely guilty and dutifully turned up, ate my dinner and wore my hat. I was glad for it to be over though.

Now my happy pills are doing their job, life seems a lot brighter. My mood is far less labile, and I barely cry. Sometimes, I feel like I struggle to emote at all – it’s like the pills have completely dampened my ability to feel things. But I prefer this to the alternative.

Several other things have also metaphorically kicked me up the arse recently;

1- I discovered a nurse at my workplace who went through many attempts of IVF and has a 7 year old child. Subsequent attempts led to a twin pregnancy, but she lost both babies at 37 weeks due to a cord prolapse. She never had the strength to go through another cycle.

I cannot even begin to imagine what she went through. Miscarriage/stillbirth is horrid at the best of times, but, on a backdrop of infertility and assisted conception, is just EVIL.

Although I mourned my little day 3 embryos, I have been spared that heartache.

She told me that, every time she thought more positively about a cycle, it always seemed to go more successfully than others. So, I have vowed that, for attempt #2, I will adopt a positive mindset.

2- My husband’s best friend, aged 36 years old is dying of cancer. Last year, he was found to have throat and tongue cancer that didn’t look like it had spread beyond a single node. He subsequently went through successful radio- and chemotherapy but, shortly before Xmas, was found to have a lung tumour. This was successfully resected, but he recently started complaining of back pain. Now they’ve discovered 2 tumours in his spine and he has been told he probably only has months to live.

He has a wife, and 5 year old. His mother died of cancer a few months ago. His dad will have lost his wife and son within 12 months of each other.

Isn’t the world just a cruel, cruel place?

It has made me realise, more than ever, that I should spend every day counting my many blessings, and stop fixating on the (very) few things I don’t have in life.

So, as cycle number 2 approaches at the beginning of March, I will be keeping this quote in mind:

eeeeeeeaaaaa

AND breathe…

I am becoming a registered hermit. I’ve decided. This is what I’ll look like next time I post on here:

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I know I’ve not been on here for a while, but I needed some space from it all just to get back to some normality – not that I don’t like to follow all of your journeys and hear your news! There are also some of you, who have had the wonderful, amazing news of a pregnancy after all of your heartache. And as much as I am glad that you have successfully kicked infertility up the jacksie, and wish you all the best, I can’t help wishing it was me.

Shortly after the result, I got news of a close former-work colleague’s son expecting a baby. It threw me a little, but I picked myself back up and I was doing really well and looking ahead to IVF round 2.

I went back to work a few days later, which provided me with all manner of distraction. I have also taken the (perhaps,crazy) decision to leave my current training scheme for General Practice, to pursue a career in Emergency Medicine instead. It will be a lifetime of shift work and unsociable hours, and my training years could see me anywhere within a 50-mile radius, meaning that I could have to live away from my home and husband. It’s scary stuff. But the main reason I chose to be a GP was its family-friendliness; the job itself isn’t that appealing. And that’s just not enough, seeing as work is such a big proportion of life. That now means applications (deadline, next week!), interviews, training courses and exams for the next 6 months. On top of everything else. But as my “mum” says, “Nothing like displacement activity”.

On Saturday, my husband told me he had “something to tell me”. It sounded ominous. I knew I wasn’t going to like it.

My 39 year old sister-in-law, is pregnant.

Do you remember how occasionally I’ve said in the past that I’m so glad I’ve not got the pressure of any babies/future babies in the family? Well, that’s that little blessing out of the window now.

I cried, and cried and cried. Until I gave myself a migraine and had to call in sick.

The good that’s come from it, is that I decided to tell my mother-in-law everything. I needed her to know that I wasn’t being a bitch if I couldn’t talk “baby” or come to family do’s, or even see the baby when it’s born. She held me, and cried with me, and sent some wonderful text messages to me afterwards:

“Dear, dear S – I am so sorry that you are going through such a tough time. I will do whatever I can to help and I hope with all my heart that the treatment will work for you both. Thank you for telling me. We will deal with it as a family and support you whatever. Stay strong and positive lovely lady and all will be well. Love you both X”

“You will get yourself back. Just now you are hostage to your hormones and sense of loss. Stay positive and things will get better. You have time on your side and * clearly loves you to bits. Be happy with that for now and hopefully the little one you are wanting will come. I’m glad I’m your mum-in-law – my lovely, clever and talented daughter-in-law Xx”

Wow, I think my heart melted to a puddle. How lucky am I to have that? It made me wonder why I’d kept it from her, but I guess 1- I didn’t want our disappointment to be somebody’s else’s as well, if things didn’t work out, and 2- I had a lot of faith that the IVF would work, and that I’d be able to be sharing news of a pregnancy, instead.

Yesterday, I was still raw. Today, it was better.

Until my “IF buddy” at work, who has been on Clomid for the past 6 months, told me she, too, was pregnant.

I haven’t really reacted. I think I just feel numb. There’s a part of me that wants to LAUGH maniacally, because, seriously, who else? Is there some fertility virus going around that I’m not a party to?

Yesterday, my other half told me, frankly, that he thought I needed to see my GP. I’ve been struggling to sleep beyond a few hours a night (probably not helping my frame of mind), I’m intermittently tearful, I’m struggling to motivate myself, and all I want to do is comfort eat. I had a mild depressive illness after my father died, and he was starting to recognise those telltale signs, after 2 years of being as happy as Larry. My GP agreed. I’m now back on Prozac.

I will not have a nervous breakdown. I will not have a nervous breakdown. I will not have a nervous breakdown.

INV001

I feel so sad…

It keeps coming over me in waves, sporadically and unprompted.

I cried so much yesterday that I ended up with a migraine. I took a concoction of painkillers, and a sleeping tablet because my mind would not stop racing, and I still didn’t successfully get off to sleep until the early hours. I’ve had to call in sick, because even without the pounding head, I can’t stop my emotions running wild and I’d undoubtedly end up in tears at some point.

I don’t know why I’m feeling quite like this. Well, obviously, I know the root cause, but I DEAL with adversity. It’s what I do so well. My mother died when I was born. I had no other family other than my dad, who was in and out of hospital during my childhood. I cared for him. I got though medical school when he died suddenly. I dealt with it so well. Why does this feel 10x worse?

I envisaged the negative test and that I would simply just pick myself up, start enjoying a bit of normality after months of anything-but, and say, “hey, let’s focus on round 2”

But I keep thinking that, at some point, there were 8 little embryos that had the potential to become 8 little babies. OUR babies. 50% me, 50% him. And they’ve just gone.

I so badly want to start feeling normal again.

Heartbroken

So today was testing morning….and it’s a big fat negative.

Crying Sad Puppy

Deep down, I knew our chances were not good with the grade 4 embryos we had, but there’s still a part of you that hopes for a little miracle.

We were away for a few nights in Oxford, which is a BEAUTIFUL city – home to one of the most prestigious universities in England, and very quaint with cobbled streets, gorgeous old buildings, independent shops and cafes. But the entire break was dominated by thoughts of the 2WW coming to a close. Up until this point, I had been at work, and not had time to dwell on it. There are some advantages to having a life that is work-eat-sleep-repeat.

In an attempt to “wind down”, we had sex (which incidentally, was great – not in accordance with calendars/charts, or forcing it when we’re both completely shattered after long hours at work, or worrying that too much lube would be detrimental to the little swimmers, but because we wanted to!).  If you remember from my previous posts, I was quite unwell around the time of my transfer, and then returned to the shift work, so we’d not been abstaining because anybody had told us to, but because the opportunity hadn’t arisen. There’s some VERY conflicting advice about sex (post-transfer) online – mainly due to the lack of any robust evidence around the area. Some clinics insist on complete abstinence and not even some “self-induced” pleasure in case an orgasm is detrimental to the implantation process. Others say sex as normal, because out-of-context of fertility treatment, who abstains during in the last 2 weeks of their cycle?!

However, I started spotting with streaks of blood shortly afterwards. Not sure if it was some local trauma from the pessaries, or a bit of cervical trauma, or if it was heralding the start of a failed cycle.

The testing was traumatic, to say the least. It was the first time I have ever known that there was a real chance. I actually felt sick to my stomach – worse than when I sat my final exams. I left it on the bed with the other half, and knew that the lack of response from him of any kind after a minute or so meant that it was negative.

I actually feel a little bit like my heart has split itself in two. And there is no plaster big enough to mend it.

All that emotional energy, time, mileage, money, physical trauma, that has been invested in this cycle. It’s all been for nothing.

hurt-sad-heartbreak-Quotes

On a downer – day 6 post-transfer

I’m having a real “woe-is-me” day today.

I keep getting distracted from everything I’m trying to do, to access Dr Google, and so I’ve decided I’m just going to hash it out on here instead.

I cannot stop obsessing over our poor-quality embryos. I guess, as a non-smoking, (newly)-teetotalling, under 30s specimen, I didn’t think for a moment that this would be the case. And it’s really shocked me. I keep wondering if I’ve contributed to it in some way – by not looking after myself. Since qualifying, I’ve run myself into the ground working stupid, long hours, eating rubbish as and when I can, and rarely engaging in time to truly relax.

I’ve been googling incessantly to try and learn more about it as arming myself with information is the way I seem to cope with adversity. There is so much conflicting information out there, and little of it stands out as being research-based or reliable. I can see what there are endless forums of women turning themselves upside down and inside-out.

My head is telling me that there is little chance this cycle will be successful, and that I ought to keep my “realist” hat on and assume it has not been. We go away for 2 nights just before we are due to test (check-out morning is pee-on-a-stick day) and part of me is toying with the idea of letting my hair down and hitting the wine bars. But… ever so occasionally, my heart will pipe up, and say, “there is a chance – don’t abandon hope”, especially when reading the incredibly kind comments you guys have made on my previous post.

I text my other half earlier:

Me: I’m having a “woe is me, I’m never going to be a mother” moment

Him: Try not to get upset. We’ve got plenty of time on our side, and the money needed to keep trying. It’ll all work out. You’re the most important thing to me though.

And he is right, and also the most important thing in my life, too.

Although this is being incredibly pessimistic and defeatist, if – worst case scenario – we were not to have children, I’d have a lifetime with the man that I love more than anything else in this world, Is that so bad?

For now, whilst I dry my eyes and get ready for another 8 hours at work, I’m focussing on one of my favourite quotes:

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