Thursday, 16 December 2010

Cherry on Top

More choccies from a dear friend (thank you!) . . . gotta stop feeding me these naughty things soon though otherwise I'm gonna be the size of a house before Xmas arrives :-)

I haven't blogged for a little while as I felt like I needed to hide for a while . . . not that hiding solves anything and until now writing has helped me cope these past few weeks, but I guess it's a form of self preservation. I still feel incredibly sad that our treatment cycle didn't work and this is making it difficult to return back to normal, I do keep asking myself though, what is normal? 
My main concerns are that all the drugs, procedures and all the waiting is emotionally and physically draining . . . why were our embryo's not strong enough . . . will it ever work . . . did the other stress I was under affect anything? If I rationalise it, I know it's a numbers game too and I believe in fate and so it wasn't meant to be our turn this time.  Also seeing so many other infertility tweeps get BFPs lately does give me hope that it can happen.
I've surprised myself actually, I usually 'cope' with everything but I guess the accumulation of the events has not helped, not really sure where I go from here, I'm not sure counselling will help as I know I just need to focus on moving on and taking sick leave from work is not going to help me either. So . . . instead we've booked a holiday and boy do I need some pampering time.  So I'll be gone for just over two weeks in January and then it will be February before I know it, perfect, I literally cannot wait to get away and chill out!

I went back and read some of my older posts (makes interesting reading, ha!) and with everything going on I forgot to mention a blog award I received back in November from one of my favourite tweeps, Low Fat Lady, so sorry it's taken so long to post but thank you!  I was so chuffed to get this as this is my first ever blog and was wondering if anyone would enjoy my drivel.

The rules: link back to the person who gave you the award, pass it on to five (or a bunch of) other blogs, and leave them a comment telling them of the award.
So here goes . . . I give this award to (drum roll please) -

Low Fat Lady (rules are for breaking so I'm linking back to you as I love your blog!)

The other day @saleschick reminded me of my mantra from one of my first posts, I'd forgotten all about it!
  • Take one day at a time
  • Be strong
  • I can do this
I need to be stronger and I know that's a state of mind so that's what I'm gonna do, be strong, I know it's ok to cry from time to time, but most of the time I hope to be strong and I know it will get easier.
Actually, I'm currently in a dire 4 hour teleconference (who schedules 4 hour calls?!?!), and I am showing great strength in persevering :-)

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Toast With a Smile

Toast with a smile, that's what I asked for, so that's what I got :-)

I think I've come on quite far these last couple of days, I've made it back to office and I've been to two xmas parties (and experienced the phenomenon of 'having a good time', you should try it, I can highly recommend it). 

There have been four things key to making me strong enough to face the big bad world again
  1. My OH, I would be lost without him.
  2. My closest friends who I know have been thinking of me and are right there if I need them, some of whom have held my hand virtually these last couple of days, words cannot express my gratitude for their help.
  3. My terrific twitterers (of course)
  4. And last (but not least!) wine (obviously) :-)
I have also made some enquiries this week, for my sins I am a planner, I plan even when I'm sleeping (you think I'm lying, sadly I'm not) and so when I remembered that planning always makes me feel better, that's what I did, I took some small steps so that I'm always moving in the right direction.  I don't plan to rush in to anything but it's good to know our options for when we're ready. We fired off a couple of emails to our Primary Care Trust (PCT) and they finally replied on Friday . . . the East of England plan does require there to be a 6 month gap (from egg collection) before starting another fresh cycle with the NHS, we can mix and match private and NHS funded cycles as long as we don't go over 5 (!!) cycles in one year, and I can change from Bourn Hall (an hour away) to the clinic, Herts & Essex Fertility Centre (10 minutes away with excellent statistics), phew, some good news at last. In order to change to the new clinic we have to ask Bourn Hall to refer us to the Oxford Fertility Unit as they have a contract with Herts & Essex, so this is something that we will look into so that our NHS cycle can be lined up if we need it.
So the next steps are to plan a much needed holiday, enjoy the xmas break, have our follow-up appointment on 31 January and then go ahead with a private funded cycle . . . when I'm not sure but I will make some preliminary enquiries with Herts & Essex to see what they say about waiting lists.

I have one other picture to post today, look at these amazing biscuits from Biscuiteers!!
These really brightened my day on Saturday and are from one of the most special people in my life. If it's possible, they taste even more gorgeous than they look and they made me smile like a Cheshire cat. This whole process has reminded me how special my friends are and how important they are to me, thank you darlings.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Must Try Harder

Hmm tough one, I've been trying to write this blog post for a couple of days now, I plucked up the courage yesterday and wrote some notes on how I've been feeling, reading them back now I realise how far I've come today, I feel a bit stronger. In these past few days my tweeps have kept me sane and listened to my sadness, I'm so grateful for their support. I've typed up my notes as I promised myself I would write how I was feeling and I'd be hiding if I didn't post it. 

As I mentioned in my last post, I started spotting on Friday morning, I knew in my heart it was over as I had been experiencing constant stomach cramps since Wednesday, so I stayed home from work anyway so I could take it easy and try my hardest to remain a little positive (an impossible task really).  My brother called that evening, I explained how I was feeling and what not, he then dropped his bombshell (for those select few in my real life reading this, please cover your eyes now), his wife is 5 weeks pregnant, they didn't even realise it could happen so soon . . . and such like phrases. They just got married at the end of August so I can forgive them for thinking it wouldn't happen quite so quickly, ironic really, from one extreme situation to another. I am of course happy for them (I'm going to be an Auntie for the first time!!!!) but their timing is impeccable (he must take after my Dad's timing perhaps) and I guess it just highlights my predicament even more, we really do have a medical problem that prevents us from having children like 'normal' people do.

Needless to say I have been in various stages of a crying mess since Friday reaching it's most advanced stage on Sunday :-( My stomach cramps continued as did the spotting, by Sunday I did a test, I pee'd on a stick (my second one ever since TTC, they don't get any easier do they?). Of course it was negative, what else would it be after the year I've been having? I felt incredibly incredibly sad, the saddest I think I've ever felt, my heart literally feels broken, two months of scary drugs and procedures all for nothing. Not sure what else is worth saying about it really as it's just been more of the same since then, up, down, up, down . . . the up's are really only when I forget for a split second. On the plus side (ha, only kidding!), Aunt Flo has been making herself feel very welcome, it really is like drawn out torture.

I called the clinic yesterday to tell them the news as it was still a day or two before my stupidly long official test day . . . just when you think my day could not get worse, the nurse advises me that the HFEA new rules (she meant PCT I think) mean that there has to be a minimum 6 month break between fresh cycles (we didn't have any super quality embryo's to freeze so no FET cycle for me) . . . 6 months?!?!  they're having a laugh, surely!?  6 months from the end of this cycle too not the start of it.  I can understand perhaps a 3 month break but 6 months feels ridiculous. 
My tweeps tell me that perhaps this is a Bourn Hall thing because their waiting lists are so long as other clinics in the UK advise 3 months only.  I've had a little look online (still cannot find anything official yet), but it seems it's a PCT thing, so it's the East of England's new plan as of this year.  The nurse then went on to tell me that I will receive a letter in the post, it may or may not tell me that I need to come for a follow up appointment, depends if they think there were any issues to discuss . . . Err hold on a minute . . . I may be a crying mess at the moment but I'm not stupid. I'd like to discuss my cycle with someone and get some information about it, the nurse then 'offered' that I could of course book an appointment if I wanted to, well I do want to, so I did, earliest they can see me is 31 Jan.  Have to say that although Bourn Hall have been great until now, like really great (other than all the waiting) their 'after-care' service is a bit lacking, she could have taken the time to explain things and be a bit more gentle.

The day did get a bit better yesterday though (would you believe it, apparently, it is possible for such phenomena to occur). These beautiful flowers arrived from my lovely mother in law from overseas, so sweet and thoughtful.

I still haven't been in to work yet since the spotting started, I couldn't face it.  The office has been a hard place to be lately, the guy opposite me just became a first time father about 2 weeks ago and the office talk is baby related all day long, it's been ok to handle for the most part, but I can't face that right now, there is nowhere to hide there. I know I have to face work some time but I'm worried that I can't just bounce back after all the heartache and sadness, sure I can put on a brave face (I've become a pro these past couple of years), but this IVF cycle and the stress of 2010 has made me feel weak, I don't feel strong any more and I know inside I will continue to suffer for a long time to come. Today is the first day I feel a bit brighter, I just hope it continues.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Spot the Difference

I was hoping that my next blog post could be one a little chirpier for a change, you know about how I'm randomly keeping myself busy through the dreaded 2ww, tick tock, tick tock. I should be so lucky.

I've had stomach cramps pretty much continuously from Wednesday lunchtime, today is Friday and I am 9dp5dt. On the first day the cramps were different to what I've experienced before, but yesterday it was more like AF pains :-(  This morning at around 7:30am I had a little bit of spotting :-((((
I've looked it up . . . I'm sure it signals the end, I called my clinic and they said to continue with the Crinone/progesterone for now, she didn't sound too hopeful but then I guess she is used to people calling up with such news.

I haven't gone in to work today as I can't face anyone and act 'normal' . . . I've been sat here consulting Dr Google, there are stories of people who have had spotting and the treatment has still worked but with my luck of late I think I will not be one of these people.

So, I sit, and I wait.  My cat did a good impression yesterday of how I'm feeling today, perhaps she is psychic?

I still have some cramps, no further spotting as yet, I feel pretty sure that this is the end of this cycle and it makes me feel so sad.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Waiting Game

Hmm this first week of the 2ww really has been tough, just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, it did!

We stayed up North at my parent's place as my dad was due to be discharged on Monday, we finally got the call to pick him up early afternoon. Unfortunately the morning did not get off to the greatest start . . . with all the snow we had overnight we were worried our not so sensible car wouldn't make it up the slope in my parent's street, so we'd made a plan to try move the car in the morning before the next flurry to somewhere more flat so we'd be ready to go. Whilst OH was packing the car he accidentally locked the keys in the car boot! great stuff!  He called a locksmith who couldn't open it . . . we then had the RAC breakdown people out and luckily they were able to open it, phew!  Just in time before we needed to pick up my dad (using their more sensible car!).  When we got to the hospital, his medicines weren't actually ready so we had to wait around for that and finally we got him back home and settled. After our little outing we decided actually we should just take my dad's sensible car home as more snow was due everywhere and it would be safer.

It doesn't take much snow at all to drive our country to a halt, as I type actually there are 7 jacknifed lorries stuck on the motorway not far from here!  Anyhoo, so off we toodle home . . . we get about half way and you would not believe it, but lights start flashing on the dashboard and we break down on the motorway, aarrhhhh!!!
Cue, more waiting, for the RAC breakdown again. It's mad, we never call the breakdown people ever, and we've had to call them twice in one day, I'm jinxed!!  After waiting an hour they turn up just as it starts to snow. So to be safe they tow us all the way back home.  Said car is now in the garage and is not yet fixed.

I feel like nothing is going right in my life right now, in fact all of 2010 has been really tough. Earlier in the year the company I work for announced it was closing my office(!) and the area I work in was no longer being invested in(!!). So right from February, this year has been pretty pants and since then it's been one thing after another . . . I won't bore you with all the details as it's depressing, but on top of this we have started our first IVF cycle after TTC for 2.5 years, ideal timing. 
As we're back home I thought I should go into the office yesterday (the first time in just under a week), but I think it was too soon after all the stress lately, I found it all a bit difficult really to just revert back to normal and get back to all the work as if nothing has happened or is still happening. By the time I got home I just felt so fed up that I just broke down, I'm not really sure why (progesterone? 2ww? going mad?) . . . I guess I'm just desperate for 2010 to not be a complete wash-out and I could really do with just a little bit of good news or a sign of things going my way. 

Remedy - hugs from OH <3  <3 <3  and yummy hot chocolate with biscuits.
Once I sorted myself out we nipped out in the cold to Tesco as I had the munchies and thought this would make me feel better, check out my shopping bill :-)  I didn't eat any of it, but it's all in the house now in case I need a pick me up! Mmmmm yum!

This 2ww stuff is rubbish, this morning I'm technically 7dp5dt, I think the trigger shot will be out of my system by now so I think I could pee-on-a-stick (POAS) now and put myself out of my misery but I'm just to scared of the negative result.  I still don't feel 100% but I'm convinced this is the Crinone/progesterone side effects as I had these symptoms before ET too, they are just less so than before. How do you handle IVF not working?  I think I will just fall into a heap, and then maybe get drunk :-(

This past week I think I have become a pro at the waiting game -
  • waiting for my dad to get better
  • waiting for my dad to be discharged from hospital
  • waiting for the snow to melt
  • waiting for my toes to warm up
  • waiting for the RAC breakdown to get our keys out of the car boot
  • waiting for the RAC breakdown to rescue us from the motorway
  • waiting for the car to be fixed by garage
  • waiting for the shed load of snow to arrive so I can get snowed in and stay at home with my duvet and hide from everyone
  • and more importantly, waiting for the 2ww to be over and for someone to give me break

Sunday, 28 November 2010


Well, this 2ww (two-week-wait) malarky is all a bit pants really.  
It feels different to the usual 2ww's as I'm not left wondering if the little eggie is meeting the little tadpole as I KNOW FOR A FACT they put an embryo back in there! All I need the little bean to do now is to find a nice resting place to implant in my lining and feel at home, how hard can that be? feels somewhat impossible.

I've not been able to blog for a few days as I had to travel up to my parent's place up North, my dad was much more ill than we had thought when I wrote my last post. Unfortunately he had another bleed in the brain (a different side to his first bleed) and this was pushing his brain to one side :-( He needed an urgent operation to drain the bleed and relieve the pressure. Thankfully the operation has gone well and he is recovering nicely, I'm hoping he can be discharged tomorrow and then me and OH will travel back home again (snow permitting!).  Not quite the relaxing start to the 2ww I had planned!
So back to topic! My embryo transfer was last Wednesday so today I think (still trying to get the lingo!) I am 4dp5dt which means 4 days past a 5-day transfer (although technically they transferred a morula rather than a blastocyst so maybe I should call it a 4-day transfer, who knows?).

Symptom check:
Generally - Think I still have the crinone/progestrone side effects like bloating
1dp5dt - Tried to relax, for what, maybe 2 hours, before getting news about my dad
2dp5dt - Some stomach cramps on and off all day, sore (.)(.)
3dp5dt - Cramps seem to have pretty much passed (bad sign?)
4dp5dt - Feeling pretty normal, (.)(.) not as sore any more . . . going mad!?

I'm not really sure what to make of it all, I didn't think I would over analyse all my symptoms (maybe that was silly to think I wouldn't do that as that sounds soooo like me, I love google!) . . . but I have, I've been looking up all sorts in case it's a sign, the result being that I've felt a bit up, a bit down, and a bit all over the place.

Anyhoo, I've persisted with eating the pineapple core and pineapple pieces, drinking pineapple juice and munching brazil nuts, bit sick of it now so I think I've done as much as I can to help with implantation.

It dawned on me this weekend that with blogging it means everyone following this, in real life, or in my infertility world, everyone knows EVERY step, there is no hiding. I know they are all waiting with me and wishing me well, but it does make me feel a bit vulnerable too, not sure how to fix that one.
Righty-ho, I think should do as OH says and put the laptop away and relax. . . hopefully my dad will be discharged tomorrow, the snow will magically disappear (and of course that the little bean has implanted) and we can head back home to some kind of normality. I'm a little sad that the start of my 2ww has not been as chilled and stress-free as I would have hoped, but you can't plan for these things and I had to be with my family, if my little embie makes it through all this then it must be a strong one.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

One on board

Oh my, I have one embie on board!! 

Today was embryo transfer (ET) day and so technically I am pregnant until proven otherwise (PUPO), this term, although true, makes me feel a bit uneasy though as I cannot let myself believe the word 'pregnant' can be associated with me until I pass the next hurdle. I've been a right mix bag of emotions today, anxious, excited, relieved, fearful, hopeful, changes by the minute!

I called the clinic as instructed this morning but they could not tell me anything new and just confirmed by ET appointment for the afternoon. Whilst I was pleased about this I was still a little disappointed that they couldn't give me an update on how our embies were doing, especially after losing two yesterday I really wanted to know how they were.   
I was quite anxious last night too as I found out that my dad (who lives 3 hours away 'oop North) was feeling unwell and I can't remember if I've said before but just before starting IVF he became very ill unexpectedly in September.  He seemed to be making a remarkable recovery but unfortunately he fell ill again on Saturday and so this has set him back. My mum decided not to tell me to avoid stressing me out this week due to the stage of my IVF cycle but my brother knows me better and has let me know secretly (I prefer to have the facts) and so my mum is not yet aware that I know, complicated, yes.  Anyhoo, I was feeling anxious about this as I was worried that maybe his acute brain haematoma may be bleeding again, but if I think logically (and get a grip!), hopefully it is just an infection or something that can be sorted out soon, will have to wait and see. Fingers crossed, it’s difficult to be living away from my parents.

I’m rambling, back to embryo’s :-) On arrival at the clinic we were shown to possibly the smallest room ever, panic!? For a few seconds, we both thought maybe it wasn’t good news and no embies have survived, but the nurse quickly reassured it that this wasn’t the case. Again though, she wasn’t not able to give us any information whatsoever on our embies, so frustrating, gimme the details! Instead she explained the procedure and what to expect . . . I didn’t need a full bladder before arriving, she said sometimes there can be a half an hour wait so it was fine to start drinking from that point. First we met the consultant who would perform the ET, luckily it was the same consultant we had seen back in June so that was good and he was very smiley which was reassuring, although the first time I have had a MAN doing one of my procedures.  The embryologist then arrived, blink and you missed him, he could not wait to escape! He was quite vague and was reluctant to give any details on grading or quality (for my own good I’m sure, but frustrating all the same). He explained they would be transferring just the one embryo back (which I expected as they advocate the one at a time policy) and that it would be a morula.
Err, hold on a minute! took a couple of seconds to process, but so glad I had consulted Dr Google these past few days, I know that a morula is more of a Day 4 embryo and we were hoping for a Day 5 blastocyst. So before he escaped I asked him why, but he was still vague, he said it’s just a few hours behind being a blastocyst (I hope he’s right and I HOPE it does not affect my chances that it’s being a bit slower - OH likes to think it's 'laid-back'!). He said it’s a good morula, the other 2 to 3 embryo's are further behind.
Err, hold on a minute! I asked him to clarify, so there are only 4 left now and not 5, he confirmed that this was the case and he did not sound too hopeful that they would make the grade for freezing, my poor embies, and there goes my back up plan of escaping egg collection if there is to be a second cycle :-(  I blinked and he vanished.

Anyway, FOCUS, I'm still rambling! The procedure was absolutely fine in the end, bit like a smear test but took a bit longer (15 minutes from arriving in the room and meeting the consultant to being back in the waiting room). Me and my OH watched the ultrasound screen together, holding hands (aww) and we saw the catheter go in and then the embryologist returned briefly with the embryo in a thin tube of liquid and passed this over to the consultant for the transfer, hard to ask him any more flaming questions in the position I was in, picture this, legs in the air, practically upside down, not ideal, he escaped, ha!

And that was that, done . . . and then we smiled, how bizarre, there is one on board I hope getting all snuggly!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Fab 5

When the Lucky 7 became the Fab 5, please grow embies, grow and stay strong!

I knew the excitement from yesterday wouldn't last that long, I spoke too soon. If I'm honest, I'm a little gutted that we lost another two embryo's, poor embies :-( I know I just need to be realistic and remember that it's better that the embryo's that are not good enough are better out than in, I still don't know any grading yet so not sure how strong the Fab 5 are.

I'm still set for a Day 5 blastocyst transfer tomorrow, I have to call the clinic in the morning to check on how the embryo's are doing (I'm worried as I know Day 4 to Day 5 is a huge step) and then all being well (#hope) I will be having my transfer in the afternoon.

I've been wondering about the fresh pineapple thing, it's apparently supposed to help with the embryo transfer sticking, I'm a sucker for these things. I've read some conflicting reports though, some say eat the fresh pineapple and others say just the fresh juice (not from concentrate).  My lovely Twitterers (thank you) tell me that eating fresh pineapple (from the core if possible) for 3 - 5 days after transfer is good.  I think I read something about Brazil nuts too.

Here's hoping my Fab 5 make it through the night.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Lucky 7

When 8 became 7, the Lucky 7, grow embies grow :-)

So looks like I really am still set for a Day 5 blastocyst transfer on Wednesday, yippee. I was so anxious before I called the clinic today as I know Day 3 is a big milestone to get to and I was expecting that more of our embryos might not make it.  As I spoke to a nurse she was unable to tell me any information about the grading of the embryo's and explained that the embryologist will go through this on Wednesday, so I have to be patient a little longer (boo).
After that phone call, dare I say it, I felt a teeny weeny bit excited, the first time ever since starting this cycle. I'm so proud our embryo's have made it this far and hope they all keep strong till my transfer day.

I couldn't concentrate on work this afternoon so I did a sneaky bit of research about embryo's and the different stages and came across a useful website, that explains it in simpleton terms:

Day 0  Egg retrieval day. 
Day 1  Eggs checked for fertilisation (looking for the presence of two pronuclei)
Day 2  Embryos that have successfully fertilised should be at the 4-cell stage or more.
Day 3  Embryos should be at the 8-cell stage or more. 
Day 4  Embryos will be at the compacted morula (16-32 cell) stage.
Day 5  Embryos will be at the blastocyst stage of development.

The most important stages in development are:
  • Fertilisation
  • 4 to 8 cell stage
  • Morula to blastocyst stage
More hurdles to pass then! I also hope that I have some quality embryo's left to freeze too, apparently only 10-20% of patients have good quality embryo's to freeze, I'm not sure how true this is or what the cut-off grade is at my clinic to qualify for freezing, will cross that bridge if we get there.
Anyhoo, I will call the clinic again tomorrow and hope my Lucky 7 are still having fun in their petri dishes waiting for me.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Grow Embies Grow

Since my egg collection on Friday I have been busy recovering :-) I even would go as far to say that I feel rather upbeat too and excited about the next stages, now there's a first.

My Weekend:
Lots of attention from my lovely OH tick
Lots of rest tick
Lots of nice food including breakfast in bed tick
Caught up with lovely friends and family tick

I waited anxiously to call the clinic on Saturday at my allotted time to find out how my ickle eggies were doing, the day of egg collection is classed as Day 0 and so Saturday was Day 1 -

Day 1 Update
15 eggs collected
13 suitable for IVF/ICSI
8 embryo's growing, grow embies grow!

Phew! we have 8 little embies growing, thank goodness for that!  My paperwork from the clinic says to expect 70% to fertilise, so depending on how you look at it, of the eggs that were collected 53% fertilised, and of those that were mature and suitable for IVF/ICSI, 60% fertilised, so not too bad I suppose, I just hope they all survive now and are of eggcellant quality :-) Dr Google tells me that grading of the embryo's takes place around Day 3 so I hope I can find out this information when I call tomorrow. 
The clinic I am with usually transfers on Day 2 / 3 or Day 5 (blastocyst) and when I called they said I had enough embies to go forward for a Day 5 transfer (yippee) which is Wednesday (so back to work I go on Monday then). I would have really liked to have called again today to see how they are doing but the clinic were strict on the next update being on Monday, boo! I feel all protective over our little embies!

Whilst it's so nice to not be taking any injections or nasal sprays any more, I haven't fully escaped from all the drugs yet, after my egg collection I started taking Crinone, a progesterone vaginal gel, lovely! 

I have to 'administer' these once a day now in the evening and then walk around for 10-15 minutes to help it get absorbed, just what you want to do when the winter evenings are drawing in, but anyway my OH has said we can go out for a walk each evening along the river by where we live and so maybe it won't be so bad to get some fresh air. So far the side effects I have had have been sore (.)(.) and a bloated stomach, very attractive.

I've added another photo we secretly took, this is my chart of how my follicles were growing, fascinating for me, but maybe that's just because it's my follicles :-) I'm no expert but this chart also shows my endometrial lining thickness, I've just asked Dr Google and it varies what the ideal thickness is at this stage, some say between 8-13mm, and others say 7-12mm, so whichever I'm on the lower end of the range and hope I have a hospitable environment for our little embie. I have all my limbs crossed in the hope that our 8 little embies survive and get stronger each day, grow embies grow!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Cluck Cluck

So I survived! Egg collection, done.

I worked my self up so much in the last couple of days with nerves so I'm really pleased we've passed another hurdle. Luckily for me, we were assigned the super nice fertility nurse from the other day, she is so caring and understanding that she really makes you feel at ease.
On arrival we were shown to my bed for the morning and I was give a window view, bonus (the clinic is in a beautiful setting, in the the middle of nowhere). The nurse went through the drugs I would be taking and I also had a chance to have a minute with the doctor who would be performing my egg collection. She offered that I could switch to a general anaesthetic if I wanted to but as she reassured me that it should be fine I stuck with the local anaesthetic option. My OH was given his instructions for his "specimen" and he went off to the deed, sounds like it was a bit of a military operation with specific instructions to be followed to ensure the sterility of the sample. My vital signs were taken and I was given the pain killer suppository to take (my first ever one, an odd experience!) . . . not long after I was given the two injections in my rear (pethidine and an anti-sickness jab), by 'eck they stung!  I'm sure to have a lovely bruise waiting for me there.
It wasn't that long before the drugs took effect and I felt much more relaxed, a welcome feeling for a change. I was expecting to only wait another half an hour before it was my turn but the lady before me was in theatre for much longer than expected. I'm not sure exactly what her complications were but from our eavesdropping (had to be done!) it seems that she didn't have her light breakfast and so her BP dropped in theatre, she came back eventually and sounded fine.

Finally, it was my turn and off I went into theatre. I was so scared but the staff were very friendly making polite chit-chat conversation. They put the cannula in and hooked me up to the monitoring machines. The first part of the procedure was by far the worst, felt like the speculum they used was some super sized one so they could put the local anaesthetic in. They offered me gas and air as all the machines were bleeping like mad as I found it pretty painful, but when they said it would make me feel dizzy I declined, another minute or so later she removed the speculum and I breathed a great sigh of relief. The next part was not as bad (hard to beat the first part) as they just used the usual ultrasound wand which I'm quite used to now to guide them and I could watch on the screen which was bizarre! The doctor explained everything she was doing, she drained each follicle and placed liquid into test tubes (really is like test tube babies!), it was a little uncomfortable but this part was over in about 15 minutes. During all this, they gave me several antibiotics through the cannula and once the follicles were drained she put the flaming speculum back to check everything over and a antibiotic suppository for good measure, but thankfully that was it!
So, the numbers are in:
Left Ovary
11 follicles gave 11 eggs (the cyst ended up being a follicle I think)
Right Ovary
4 follicles gave 4 eggs (the rest were too teeny)

15 eggs in total, woo hoo! I hadn't expected this many as my right ovary had not been responding very well so I'm pleased and hope most of them survive (grow embies grow).
After a cuppa and and a biccie I was discharged . . . I'm to call tomorrow afternoon for an update on how our embies are doing, hopefully there is a party going on in a petri dish.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Cold Turkey

So I've gone cold turkey, today is my first drug free day for about 40 days, woo hoo!
I'm feeling better today compared to the emotional rollercoaster of yesterday, I've reverted to my favourite coping strategy, denial. It's not happening . . . what's not happening?

Symptom wise I'm doing ok today (is that because I'm drug-free?), my OH said I woke up this morning cradling my bosom (.)(.) ha ha! they are feeling tender today and after lunch the tummy bloating started, two of the known side effects of the Ovitrelle HCG trigger shot. The bloating has continued this evening, tummy feels quite weird really, firm in some places, like my ovaries might burst, I hope there are a lot of eggies waiting.
I'm still petrified about tomorrow but not much I can do about it right now, instead I've packed my little bag so I'm ready to go. I over analyse everything and so I've come to the conclusion that I'm so worried about tomorrow because:
  • It's the fear of the unknown, 
  • It seems like this is the most invasive procedure in the cycle, and 
  • Will I cope with the pain and discomfort of it all.
Not sure when I'll next be back at work, could be Monday, could be late next week maybe (not that I could concentrate much today). I guess this depends on many factors, all of which are out of my control - how many eggs? what quality will the eggs be? am I at risk of OHSS? what quality will my OH's tadpoles be? how many will be suitable for ICSI? how many will fertilise? will they survive? when will the transfer be? so sooo many hurdles.
Anyhoo, needless to say I've said my mantra in my head a couple of times today to get me through it. 
  • Take one day at a time 
  • Be strong 
  • I can do this
Would love to be able to fast forward to about midday tomorrow, when egg collection will be over and it will be another hurdle passed.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Trigger Happy

I waited all day for the magic phone call from the clinic to confirm if I will be taking my HCG trigger injection tonight and if so, at what time. From what I've read the timing is crucial as they will perform my egg collection about 36 hours later. By 3:30pm I grew tired of waiting and called the clinic, they said they were just working on it and I should expect a call soon . . . waited some more and then they finally called at 4:30pm with all the details -
  • Take my last Suprecur nasal spray sniff tonight as usual
  • Take the HCG trigger injection (Ovitrelle) at 11pm 
  • Don't worry about the air bubble, just inject
  • Thursday will be a drug-free day (woo hoo)
  • Light breakfast before 8am, no food/drink after this time
  • Report to the clinic for 9am
  • OH will produce his sample at the clinic (nice)
  • I'll be in theatre about 10:30am (eek)
  • I can watch the egg collection on the screen
I think the nurse on the phone could sense my fear, she reassured me and told me everything would be ok, I managed to hold it together until I put the phone down. I had a big rush of emotion and literally just burst into tears, good job no one else was in the office (wuss I know). I think it's the fear of the unknown and the thought of needing all those drugs to get through the procedure scares me. My evening didn't improve much, I'm feeling pretty emotional and overwhelmed by it all. I wish I could share half the drugs and procedures with my OH, might make it less scary, instead I feel alone again today . . . just want the procedure over and done with.
So my trigger is at 11pm so I thought I'd write my blog entry now and then I will update it either later tonight or tomorrow, I figure I might be best going straight to bed afterwards, after a quick tweet of course ;-)

Update post trigger

I did it, bang on 11pm, woo hoo, trigger happy.
Despite Dr Google, it did not sting at all, it was not as easy as the Gonal F stimm injections, the needle didn't glide in as smoothly but other than that it was ok.

Come on eggies.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Magic Number

First things first . . .

BREAKING NEWS: Prince William & Kate Middleton are engaged to be married!

Jeez, enough already :-) I've been working from home today and ALL the news channels have gone mental. I've just watched their first exclusive interview on the BBC, they seem like ordinary people, nice rock too. The interviewer asked they if they were planning on having a big family or just seeing how it goes (what kind of question is that?!), they handled it well though and said they'd like a family but one step at a time, they just got engaged, give 'em chance.

Anyway, back to real life, had my third monitoring scan today, boy was it busy in the waiting room today, so much so that they did everything back to front, I had my blood test before my scan this time (not that I'm a fusspot (much!) but I'd rather get the dildo-cam out of the way as soon as, it's not like saving the best for last). The lady who took my blood was the loveliest lady I've seen so far, very caring. She said I looked tired (check) and very nervous (check), yup, that's me.  We went through my results from the last scan and she reassured me I was doing well (again obviously well versed in making you feel calm as we all know I could be responding better - c'mon righty!) and she seemed generally pleased. Apparently the magic number they are looking for is about 18mm and she hoped I would have some at that stage already by now. She took some blood and Spy Moon checked out the paperwork, my estradiol level last time was 4912 pg/ml. Now between the last visit and this one I have been using Dr Google and so I asked the lady if she thought it was too high, she just said it was high, but it's good and it's ok as I only have a few follicles, I left it at that.
I had my scan with a different lady and me and my OH sat there and watched the blobs move over the screen . . . no idea how they keep track when they're measuring them, I'm sure she measured one of them twice :-) they just look like bubbles to me.

Left Ovary
9 follicles (err one missing! a couple of these are at 18mm (magic), some about 14mm)
One small cyst (apparently it hasn't grown since last time, about 24mm)
Right Ovary
5 follicles (1 at 11mm (go righty), the rest are teeny tiny).

So my lefty is doing me proud.  They'd like me to take my Gonal F tonight (Day 12 of stimms) so they can give some of my smaller follies a chance to catch up. I've no idea how many eggs this could yield though (another worry for another day). My HCG trigger injection is likely to be tomorrow with egg collection on Friday.
Interestingly both the ladies today said I look terrified, the thought of the egg collection procedure is filling me with dread. They talked me through some of what will happen . . . it will be under a local anaesthetic, I will be given a muscle relaxant injection, pethidine (doesn't that make you feel drunk and usually given for women in labour?!) and an anti sickness injection, both injections in my rear :-( and wait for it, a suppository for pain relief that I can administer myself (gee thanks). What is it with the rear?  I've not had a suppository before . . . after all this they wonder why I look terrified. Apparently I can have gas and air too and there will be 5 people in theatre (surgeon, anaesthetist, two nurses and an assistant). My OH will be giving his sample that morning too, I'm not sure he can hold me hand in theatre though, boo :-( I'll just have to be even more brave.
So we wait . . . the clinic will call tomorrow to confirm if I am to have my trigger injection and what time to take it.
Yours scared, Moon x

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Grow Follies Grow

I've been on my Gonal F stimulation injections for 9 days now if you count tonight, go Moon, lol :-)
These past couple of days though I have been feeling a bit on the bloated side, not a good look I can tell ya. It's usually been happening in the evenings in the safety of my own home, but yesterday my tummy decided to spontaneously bloat out during a meeting with some of my new work colleagues, brilliant! I was wearing smart trousers and a fitted cardigan, nowhere to hide other than behind my pashmina, thought my trouser button was going to pop off (ha!). My boobs are on the up too (.)(.) and are a bit tender but I'm still not complaining about this one. Other things I've noticed is that I am starving ALL the time, either the drugs are doing their magic and working hard or I've turned into a greedy monster, I like to think the former.
So I had my second monitoring visit at the clinic early this morning to see how I'm doing on stimms, I was feeling so anxious about it that I sat bolt upright at 7am before my alarm went off and woke up my OH, oops. I was worried again about my little right ovary not responding and what this could mean and whether there is something wrong with it that we didn't know before. I'm not sure I spoke much on our 45 minute journey to the clinic, lost in my thoughts whirring around my head and of course, fearing the worst. These drugs definitely make you feel up one minute and then you come crashing down the next.
My scan was bit more uncomfortable this time compared to last time but it was worth it as there was some progress thank goodness.

Left Ovary
10 follicles (3 or 4 of these are below 10mm). Go lefty!
One small cyst (still there, but apparently they will aspirate this at egg collection)
Right Ovary
Woo hoo, some activity, only a little, but it's some. 2 teeny tiny follicles.

I didn't manage to get the follie measurements this time but I think some were at the 14mm stage, what size do follicles ideally need to be to release mature eggs?
I asked about my right ovary (again) and I was reassured that I shouldn't worry, it doesn't mean anything is wrong, it could respond on another cycle and that it's just disappointing it isn't responding this time. I'm pleased there is some activity now, might only be two teeny ones, but at least it's woken up, I doubt it will catch up in time but nevermind. I feel quite protective over my right ovary now, poor thing!
I had some more blood taken and collected some more Gonal F, seems I'm sticking to the same dose of 225IU and they'd like to see me again on Tuesday. They didn't call me in the afternoon like last time so I didn't get chance to ask about my estradiol level, guess it's back to the on a need to know basis so no over analysing opportunities :-) probably a good thing.
As we were up so early we tried to make the most of the day, we headed over to a shopping centre for retail therapy (much appreciated) and make a start on our christmas shopping (has to start some day). I was craving my favourite from Starbucks, but went for the decaf option, try saying this, hilarious - tall decaf skinny caramel macchiato with sugar-free vanilla syrup! In the evening my OH took me out for dinner for my favourite, Laksa, yum yum yum, if you haven't had this before, it's a spicy noodle soup with tofu and chicken, tastes divine and is so addictive. 
Bloated stomach + spicy soup = one round Moon.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Wakey Wakey

Another hurdle passed . . . had my first monitoring visit today at Bourn Hall, woo hoo.
I was nervous beforehand but the staff at the clinic are so lovely that they make you feel at ease straight away. I had a blood test and my first transvaginal ultrasound (rolls of the tongue doesn't it), or as I have learnt recently, it is also know as 'dildo-cam', nice!  It wasn't that bad after all, much easier than my smear text experiences so that was a relief. The very nice lady carefully explained everything that she was doing and we were able to watch it on the screen, very bizarre.

So (drum roll please) the results are in:

Left Ovary
3 follicles at 13mm, 12mm, 12mm, and 2 smaller ones. 
One small cyst (she didn't seem concerned at this, hope she is right)
Right Ovary
Looks quite small, not much happening there which makes me feel sad :-((
Thickening up well
3241 (not sure of the units, but she seemed pleased with this)

Needless to say, I'm a little anxious about my right ovary, wakey wakey right ovary, rise and shine! The nice lady didn't seem overly concerned (but I'm sure she is well practised in this art form) and she said that often one ovary progresses quicker than the other and maybe it just doesn't want to play ball, boo.
The clinic called this afternoon to confirm my next monitoring visit will be on Saturday morning, wakey wakey right ovary, please wake up in time.  I also asked the clinic for my estradiol result (3241) but d'oh, forgot to ask about the units (I'm guessing pg/ml), she seemed pleased with that, sounds a bit high to me but I'm no expert so will have to wait and see.
Right, must focus on the positives and go celebrate my left ovary, go ovary go :-)  


Monday, 8 November 2010

Jabba Jabba Doo

  • Injection #4, done
  • My technique, fail :-(
Hmm injection hurt a bit again tonight, OH thinks that when I injected so well that first day that my other hand was supporting the injection pen where it is entering my tummy to hold it steady, so will have to try that again tomorrow. Never mind though, the raspberry trifle I had later more than made up for the pain [dairy and fruit all in one pot, what more could I ask for? all part of the must.put.on.a.few.pounds campaign].

Still suffering from a little insomnia and it's irritating, no sleep = a grumpy Moon.
Tried to look up some practical tips to help and found the following in case any one is suffering the same -
  • Avoid drinking caffeine drinks (I've ditched the caffeine already)
  • Avoid alcohol for 2 hours before bed time (ditto)
  • Relax in the bath tub (hmm maybe, I'm a shower kinda gal)
  • Listen to quiet, relaxing music
  • Exercise during the day but avoid 2 hours before bed time (meh)
  • Avoid eating late in the evening (okay)
  • Avoid working on a computer before bed (hmm point taken)

On that note, I'll close my laptop and retire for the evening, good night!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

First things first, symptoms this weekend include . . .
  • Feeling a tad bit irritable (just in time for the weekend, fab)
  • Odd twinges here and there
  • Feeling lazy (a symptom in my book)
  • Bit spaced out after my 1st and 2nd injection for about 30 minutes
  • Instances of stuck-in-pyjamas-syndrome!
Hmm as my first injection went so well I was a bit over confident with injection #2 on Saturday evening, I just wanted to get it over and done with so I moved at quick speed! Err not recommended for us first timers . . . forgot to pinch my skin to get that roll of fat (d'oh) and so it hurt a bit more than the day before, maybe I hit a capillary, I'm not sure. I thought today's injection #3 would be better, didn't rush this time, but then I forgot to let go of my roll of fat (nice) after injecting and clicking the doses in (double d'oh) so it still hurt a bit!? Maybe that's a symptom, lack of concentration!

I've been worrying a bit more than usual today about anything related to my treatment, the clinic didn't give me any advice on what I do when I'm getting to the end of one of my Gonal F injection pens, am I expected to do a partial dose from my current pen and a partial dose from my new pen, or just use a new pen? according to my tweeps, yes, 2 needles, boo. Given my poor performance with the needles this weekend I think it's wise to use my new injection pen tomorrow and later in the week when I've got the hang of it I will do the 2 partial doses and 2 needles in one night thing.  Also I've been concerned for a little while that for my first IVF cycle I appear to be missing a baseline scan, instead I went straight from down reg to stimm injections all by a mere phone call, feels a bit odd to me but I've done some research online and I think Bourn Hall just doesn't do them any more if you start down reg on Cycle Day 21 (I have been sniffing for 30 days now! yawn) and I wonder if it's because I'm NHS too. OH assures me that I'm sure the clinic knows what they're doing :-)

Anyhoo, back to the title of my post today, . . . that appears to be me this weekend -

Breakfast in bed
OH offered to help make my blog look pretty (hope you like it)
One v small glass of wine on Saturday (is that a crime at this stage??)
A lush lemon drizzle cake candle (smells divine) and . . .


. . . yummy chocolate cupcakes (we have demolished them all already!) from two very sweet friends.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Shooting Up!

It's my first stimming injection day, repeated the mantras several times this evening, LOL!
  • Take one day at a time
  • Be strong
  • I can do this
I can do this, errr can I!!? eeeeek
I was in denial for most of the day, too preoccupied with work (guess it does have its uses sometimes) . . . I knew I could do it, I was just feeling petrified about having to prick myself with the needle for the first time, millions of people do it and are fine I'm sure!  

I got everything out, all nice and straight :-) To psych myself up I watched the video again and then once more for good measure, right, I can do this!

Alcohol swabs at the ready too!  I've posted  a picture of the needle too in case any one wants to see, it's fairly small, but suddenly looks way bigger as you're about to stab it in :-)
Consulted my notes (several times), whilst my OH stood by (camera at the ready) with encouraging excited smiles, I'm looking petrified (obviously!).
Videoing it was banned this evening, need to concentrate!

3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .
No, can't do it, LOL.

3 . . . 2 . . . stab, ha! :)

Easy peasy. The scariest bit is stabbing the needle in, once it's in you really can't feel it. I clicked in the doses and I thought you would be able to feel the drugs going in at each click, but surprisingly you can't. In my relief I lifted my thumb off the plunger button for a second or two (d'oh), but quickly put it back on before withdrawing the needle.
What a relief.  OH observes closely to see emergence of a second head, no sign so far ;-)

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

To Swab or Not to Swab

25th day of sniffing today (yawn)

Getting a bit bored of sniffing Suprecur for down regulating now :-/ can we move on to the next stage now, pretty please (with a cherry on top).  My symptoms are thankfully starting to settle down a bit now though, insomnia is less frequent, headaches have passed and only the odd twinge of pain here and there. My clinic (Bourn Hall) said that I will be starting my Gonal F stimulation injections in the week commencing 1 November . . . well I waited, and waited, and waited some more to hear from them and finally they called yesterday afternoon, seems I will be starting them on Friday 5 November, feels like an age to wait! Even though I'm petrified of starting I was a little disappointed that I have to wait some more till the end of the week. My first monitoring visit to check on my follicles is planned for Thursday 11 November. That's all I know so far . . . as one of my fellow IVF'er twitter-er commented @IVFLondonUK, it's like the CIA, they only give out info on a need to know basis, well I need to know more :-)
Had a little panic on Sunday that I'd forgotten what the pharmacist lady had said about administering the Gonal F injection pen . . . well fear no more, the internet has everything a girl can need. I searched on YouTube and found several (some hilarious) videos on how to do it, I'm not sure some of them helped, but I did find one that I think is worthy of mentioning (Link to Gonal F video).  64 million dollar question is though . . .

To swab or not to swab!

My clinic didn't send me any alcohol swabs but every video I've watched mentions it and so Twitter to the rescue, everyone is using them! I asked the clinic when they called and the nurse assured me that I don't need them, too late though my OH had nipped out of work to buy me some (bless). gate has continued today, I think it's a UK vs US thing, anyhoo, I think I'm convinced to swab now thank you very much.
My stress levels during this entire process have reached all new highs (events at my lovely workplace not making this any easier, how kind of them), how is it possible to stay calm and stress free if you've haven't been through IVF before though? I did find an interesting article from the Telegraph (how intellectual!) about stress and it's effects on IVF and was really surprised by what I found - Link to 'Being-stressed-might-help-IVF-women-get-pregnant'
I'm not sure what to make of it, but if it's right, well I'm on to a winner!