Thursday, 24 February 2011

Prickly Subject

OH and I took a trip to meet a fertility acupuncturist for the first time this morning at the crack of dawn (7am?! who starts work at this time?). I've heard a lot of good things about acupuncture for infertility and in the spirit of trying something new we thought we'd give it a go in preparation for our second IVF/ICSI cycle.

I thought it would be fun to get OH (aka "Sun", husband of Moon ;-)) to give his perspective, so I'm allowing him to be a guest blogger on this post, ha ha! Here it is-

As a methodical and logical type I purposely decided to go into this with an open mind and listened carefully to everything Dr Energyflow said and answered his questions honestly - I felt he could see inside my mind so no point in lying here.
A lot of the stuff he covered we already knew about: keep the boys cool and ventilated; organic food; cut down the alcohol; exercise (but not too much); brush twice a day; respect your elders. He also repeated that childhood mumps could be the cause (something our GP and Consultant said could be a contributing factor).

After the general chit-chat I was moved to the table and had the blood pressure and pulse taken. BP was good - 120/70 I pride myself on that; pulse he didn't say, though he wasn't really counting, more manipulating the veins in my wrist. Scary stuff.

Then it was tongue inspection time, from 4 angles no less. My tongue is red on the sides and very slightly bobbled, this means:

  • I may worry/think too much.
  • My body may be heaty (not as in temperature). I have other symptoms of heaty-ness such as feeling hot.
  • Something to do with 'Liver'. Not your physical liver but your Qi/Chi liver and circulation of energy. I get a bit lost at this point.
More tongue diagnosis click here.

Next the weapons came out, 1 under my belly button, 2 in my shins, 1 in each foot, 1 on each side of my neck. I can honestly say that only the left foot hurt momentarily. I was not aware that there were needles in my neck until he took them out. The needles are extremely thin, the stat Dr Energyflow gave was that 20 of these can fit inside a hypodermic needle.

So that was it. Not sure I feel any different. Though the process was rather relaxing, but I wouldn't say any more so than paying £60 to lay on a bed. Sorry the skeptic is coming out again.

The final part was herbs ('erbs for Moon's American friends) and remedies (potions). There are a few common Chinese remedies for male fertility, some of which share common ingredients with the Wellman tablets I'm taking at the moment which contain lot of science. Given my last tests these seem to be working but I'm open to trying anything that can help. Doing some research today I've narrowed the list down to:

Maca - 2000-3000mg/day! (250mg in Wellman). Also known as Peruvian Viagra ladies - the Incas had their priorities right. Supposedly helps with energy, stamina and libido and is 'presumed' to increase sperm count and motility. Wellman tabs have 250mg of this gear.
Ginseng - 500mg/day has shown some effect if taken daily for 2/3 weeks - though there are only 30mg in a Wellman tab. Not to be taken for long periods of time though according to Google. Dr Energyflow said that Chinese or American ginseng was better as it's slow growing. Siberian (the one in Wellman) is less effective and can contribute to a warmer (not temperature) liver (not the thing that cleans your blood).
Pine Bark - Yummy. 25mg/day has shown effects. 30mg in Wellman so covered there.

Here's the interesting one:
"According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a study showed that the level of human sperm motility was significantly higher in groups taking the herbs than in control groups". This is a Japanese herbal remedy containing 10 magic beans:
Astragalus root 
Atractylodes lancea rhizome 
Bupleurum root 
Cimicifuga rhizome 
Citrus unshiu peel 
Ginger rhizome 
Ginseng root 
Glycyrrhiza root 
Japanese angelica root 
Jujube fruit 

Some of these we know about (Ginseng, Ginger) the rest are as yet a mystery. I'm assuming that some of these break down into the compounds and vitamins found in the Wellman tabs. More reading Wikipedia research required here.
Well I hope you enjoyed this first guest blog. Take care and let's catch up again soon :-)

What did you think of the guest blogger? :-)

For my part of the session, I just had the consultation as there was not enough time left for Dr Energyflow to stab me.  
Here are the things that stuck out for me:

1. I need to eat breakfast.

2. My tongue is pale at the sides, I could be slightly anaemic.
3. Eat pâté (?) and iron rich foods.
4. My immune system is active at the moment, I might be coming down with something.
5. We should consider delaying our next treatment cycle for 3 months (whaaaat?)

Err number 5 almost had me in tears . . . we are not delaying our treatment based on the possible chance some 'erbs will make a difference to OH's sperm, I can't wait another 3 months!
On the topic of 'erbs, there were a couple mentioned for me to think about. I'm not keen on the chinese 'erbs at this stage, but I looked them up anyway, the Ying Yang House website was very helpful-

Xiao Yao Wan - Free and Easy Wanderer Pills
Uses: Stress, Depression, Anxiety, PMS. 
Well known ancient Chinese herbal medicine for liver Qi stagnation. 
Caution: Do not use if pregnant.

Ba Zhen Wan Nu Ke Ba Zhen Wan - Women's Eight Treasure Tea Pills

Uses: Anemia, Heavy Menstruation, Painful Cramps, Dizziness, Weakness.
Nourishes vital qi (energy) and benefits the blood. It is used for spontaneous deficiency of both qi and blood marked by pale or sallow complexion, palpitation, shortness of breath, laziness to talk, weakness of limbs, dizziness, loss of appetite, pale tongue with thin and whitish fur, and feeble pulse.
Caution: This formula has a tendency to cause some indigestion problems in certain people, if you have indigestion avoid this formula.  Use with caution if you are pregnant.

cary they both have caution remarks if you are pregnant, I think I'll just stick to the plain old acupuncture for now and stay away from the 'erbs.

Monday, 21 February 2011

More Mooncat

Nothing is quite straightforward with Mooncat (thank you Arohanui at MyCheapViolin for the cool name!), I dropped her off at the vets on Friday so she could chill out there whilst they attempt to take a urine sample, a procedure called cystocentesis (ouch), but oh no . . . Mooncat had other ideas . . . she decided she wouldn't drink much that day and so after 3 attempts they decided her bladder was too small to take a sample.

So Mooncat is back home, happy as Larry. She'll have her anti-stress medication for a month and we'll see how she goes and maybe try again at a later date.

The brother - SIL saga continues, as I mentioned before I'm trying not to talk about it much on here as it is so upsetting but it's hard not to when it's occupying my mind a lot of the time. Via my brother she has accused me of things I haven't said, I have denied them and calmly given my side, there is no way I want a slanging match over it, I cannot understand why anyone would do this. I spoke to my brother last Thursday and thought we had made some head way, as it's unresolvable all we can do is put it behind us, I left him to speak with her about moving on from it as she doesn't need the stress (she is pregnant) and neither do I with my upcoming cycle, I'm looking for support from my family, not this. The next morning she sent me a very abusive text directly to me, I was speechless, it is S-H-O-C-K-I-N-G.  Not once have I made a derogatory remark about her to my brother in all this and so I do not deserve such abuse. After talking with OH this weekend he doesn't think it's a good idea to paste the whole text here as then it's on the internet forever (plus you would be so outraged you'd fall off your chair and I don't want you to injure yourself), but there is one line that I think you will all appreciate is incredibly hurtful (written in text speak as well!), bear in mind she is fully aware of our infertility issues:

"u. sud concentrate on yr family and not mine as we have moved on to the next stage by making a baby out of our love 4 1another & giving yr mum & dad their 1st grandchild & they cant wait bless them."

I have literally been in shock since I got the text. I have forwarded it on to my brother so he can see for himself, of course there has been no reply. I intend to lay low for now, go away on my snowboarding holiday and forget about it all, it's been going on for two weeks today and I'm tired of it, tired of feeling upset about it.

This weekend we travelled up North to see my parents, this is the first time in about 6 months that we have seen them on our own (without my brother/SIL) and my dad feeling well again. It was really really nice. We had fun, took them out and about and it was relaxing, a welcome relief. I haven't mentioned anything about the SIL saga, I don't want them to be involved if I can avoid it.

On to happier things, I'm on a countdown to snowboarding, we are off on a last minute trip on Saturday to Tignes in France with the lovely Mr & Mrs B, only 5 sleeps to go. 

Must remember my mantra too (thanks @saleschick for reminding me!)
  • Take one day at a time
  • Be strong
  • I can do this

Thursday, 17 February 2011

My Cat is Stressed

Uh oh, my cat is stressed out!
I guess you can understand it really . . . life is tough when you have such difficult life decisions to make each day:

- Sleep on the chair
- Sleep on cushion
- Sleep on the sofa
- Sleep on Moon's lap

Now poor kitty does have history, we've had her for about 2 years and she was a rescue cat that was abandoned whilst pregnant (aww). Ever since we got her she has had recurrent cystitis episodes but these have got less frequent over time. 
She pee'd on her cushion yesterday morning, eeeuu (just what you want to wake up to!) so off to the vet she went, it's the second episode in about 2 to 3 months so they want to check her for any underlying causes, although they think it's just stress. So she'll be back at the vets on Friday to stay there for a few hours so they can take a urine sample, surely this is going to stress her out even more!

In the mean time she's on drugs! I'm not sure if you can see in the photo, but the meds are for cat's facing daily stress, bless :-)

Stay tuned for more kitty adventures.

Monday, 14 February 2011

To My Valentine

Look what I made this morning :-))

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Something in the Air

Woah, what a week! It started so so horribly but ended so nicely . . . the horrible bit was seriously upsetting and involved my brother and my SIL, it knocked me for six ALL week, let's call it "confusion" and leave it at that, such "confusion" doesn't deserve any space on this blog and my mood is positively happy right now . . . like there is something in the air . . . maybe it's Valentines, maybe it's being spoilt rotten this weekend . . . I'm not sure, but I do like it :-)

OH is away with work overnight on Valentines evening and so given how low I've been feeling lately he planned a surprise night in London [i am indeed a spoilt princess sometimes] and I had such a lovely time, really put a spring in my step again and a smile on face. I headed into London after work and met OH and we headed off to our first stop . . . a walk along Tower Bridge close to where he proposed all those years ago. 

We had a drink at a bar and then headed over to a dim sum [my fave] restaurant by the river, OH had a booked a table with a view of Tower Bridge, and this was it, fab. We then got a cab to our next destination, the Met Bar, a celeb hang-out, right up my street! Even better we were also staying there overnight at the Metropolitan Hotel and had a great view of Park Lane from our room, I could get used to this!

Hmm we didn't spot any celebs that we recognised, there was the odd couple that were downing their cocktails like there was no tomorrow and some guy that we remember from the telly but his name escaped us. Apparently Rhianna was there the other week, how cool would that have been! Instead we made up some stories ourselves ha ha.
The next morning I was picked up by my darling cousin and her beau and whisked off for some bridesmaid duties, we had a lovely girly day and my heart melted when I saw my cousin try on her first bridal outfit, so excited for her. The nice weekend didn't end there either, we headed out in the evening for spontaneous drinks and a meal to a new Thai restaurant with some dear friends, yum yum in my tum.  I've had such a wonderful weekend, the best in such a long time and IT FEELS GOOD, I don't want this feeling to end.

Thanks so much to one of my fave tweeps LilyTaj for a) being a tweet-heart and b) for giving me a blog award, I'm honoured. Check out her blog, Hoping for Rainbows and send her some much needed love and hugs.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Wordless Wednesday

This is my first Wordless Wednesday post, always wondered why people did this but apparently the whole blogosphere posts photos / pictures with no words to explain it [not doing so well on that bit].

Anyway, here it is, I saw this on This is More Personal (via Breaking Eggs) and it made me chuckle :-D

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


WTF appointment . . . apparently this is what the follow-up appointment after a failed cycle is commonly referred to by my tweeps. I wasn't sure at first if the WTF stood for the same phrase I usually use it for, but I'm assured it does, guess I can see why!
A week last Monday we had our WTF appointment at Bourn Hall to discuss our first failed IVF/ICSI cycle. At the time, I thought it was a great idea to have this booked for our first day back after our holiday [silly silly girl] and in hindsight now I realise it was a bit of a stupid idea.  It was all just too much to come back to straight away and with jet-lag too I was pretty much a crying mess all day. It was very upsetting to be back at the clinic and I hadn't given this a seconds thought before, but it seems obvious now that I would feel emotional to be back there. Anyway, we saw the consultant for about an hour and it was good to talk it all through but all the information was a bit overwhelming.

I made some notes from our appointment . . .
I produced 15 eggs, 13 of these were mature, 8 of these fertilised with ICSI. I was a little disappointed with our fertilisation rate but the consultant said it was just above average, I’m not so sure, sounds average to me. At Day 3 there were possibly 2 embryo’s of good quality [sad there were only 2], after Day 3 there was ‘disappointing progress’, by Day 5 most had deteriorated significantly :-( The embryo transferred in the end on Day 5 was in fact not the one that looked the best at the time of Day 3, instead of a blastocyst, our embryo was a few hours behind, at the morula stage. The consultant said he has seen morulas develop into viable pregnancies so it still could have worked. In the future it may be better for us to stick to Day 2 / 3 transfers instead, but he would repeat the cycle again and if there were enough embryo’s fertilised he would still take them to blastocyst again as each cycle is different and no pattern can be seen yet until we have another go.  This was the part I found most overwhelming, I wasn’t filled with optimism and it feels like we would be setting ourselves up to fail again. It’s such an emotional, physical and mental strain to go through an IVF cycle that I would be absolutely heartbroken if the same happened again by Day 5 and worse still that there would be nothing left to transfer. We discussed this at depth with the consultant and he reassured me each cycle is different and we should try to go to Day 5 again but we can stick with earlier transfers if we prefer, but what do I know, I am no expert. 

My AMH level is low for my age apparently (5.6), as an NHS patient at Bourn they use this value (rather than a baseline scan) to predict the number of follicles I will produce and to calculate my Gonal F stimulation dose (225 IU), apparently I am in the 10% of people they see where AMH is not an accurate predictor of my ovarian reserve (he thinks possibly it was a low trough level for me but it's probably unlikely). They expected me to produce in the region of 5 – 7 follicles and so they think I was close to OHSS (I also had a couple of uncomfortable stomach bloating episodes). For the next cycle he would like to drop my dose down one notch (187.5 IU) in case my other ovary responds and take a more cautious approach (the cycle would have to be cancelled if I suffer OHSS), upping the dose at one of the monitoring scans if needed.

My FSH, LH and estradiol levels and uterine lining were all fine. There were no issues with the embryo transfer.
He said not to be concerned that only one ovary really responded this time, this could happen again or it may not.

I mentioned that I struggled in my third week with the down reg nasal spray (Suprecur), I felt very depressed. For the next cycle he will try to schedule this so I am only on the nasal sprays for three weeks rather than four.
I found the very initial part of egg collection painful (largest speculum in the world maybe? largest needle for local anaesthetic?) but the rest of the procedure was fine, I even watched the egg collection take place on the little screen. He is reluctant to increase the dose of the muscle relaxant drug I took beforehand, my only other option is general anaesthetic which I would rather not do. He suggested I use the gas and air that is available next time [I avoided this the first time as I had a last minute panic that it would make me feel sick and I might ruin the egg collection procedure, no idea why, loopy, yes, must have been the drugs!] and take 12 consecutive breaths of this before the start of the procedure and then I will be fine (hmm!).

The sperm sample on the day of ICSI seemed better on paper than OH’s last sample as the count had doubled, the consultant said that the motility and morphology were similar though. There is not much more that can be done to improve OH’s sperm other than continue taking his Wellman supplements and maybe cut out alcohol as this is a known factor. Other tips were to not be exposed to heat in that area (already got that one covered) and also to not inhale metallic/exhaust fumes (good job OH isn’t a car mechanic?!).

There has to be 6 month gap between fresh cycles (only 3 I think between fresh and FET) according to the new guidelines, and this time line is from egg collection to egg collection. So for me this is 6 months from November 2010 which brings my next NHS funded cycle to May 2011 which is slightly sooner than I thought, the schedule would be something like this depending on my cycle dates - 

Bourn Hall – NHS Funded
Down Reg Mid – April for approx. 3 weeks
Stimulation injections - Early May
Egg collection - Approx. 17 May
Embryo transfer - Approx 20 – 22 May
Test date - Second week of June

After our appointment I felt a bit all over the place for a couple of days, lost in my thoughts, wondering why it has to be this hard and did I do anything to deserve this?
I’m not sure I’m ever going to feel any more ready than I do now for a second cycle, I’m just wondering how to get myself psyched up for it, how do you get yourself ready to go through it again?

Last Friday we met with the Herts & Essex Fertility Centre for our first consultation for a private cycle, all in all we were there for a good couple of hours. Their website claims that they have the highest success rates in the East of England, North and North East London, I’m not sure if I entirely believe this but their rates do look fairly good, they are only about 10 minutes drive from where I live and there is no waiting list.
We met first with a nurse to take some routine measurements and then OH popped off to provide a sperm sample :-) It would be analysed there are then so the results could be reviewed with the consultant. We met with the Medical Director, Mr Michael Ah-Moye, who was a little eccentric but very knowledgeable as you’d expect and talked a lot about recent scientific research.  He looked over our medical notes and the details of our failed cycle, he agreed with much of what we had heard at Bourn except he did not feel I was close to OHSS. In fact he said there were only a few follicles that were at the desired length, the others were a bit shorter. In his opinion he would maintain my Gonal F dose at 225 IU and monitor closely, I would also have a baseline scan to check the number of antral follicles and make a final decision on the dose at that point. I feel comforted that there would be this baseline check before starting the stimulation injections.

For down reg they prefer the use of buserelin injections rather than a nasal spray, he explained the rationale for this and after becoming a dab hand at the injections from my first cycle I’m happy to do this, I think a one a day injection will help me get on with my day and try to be more ‘normal’ [if there is such a thing], the best part being is that I would only need to do this for 2 weeks. For egg collection they use the deep sedation method [I already like the sound of that!], so I will just feel a bit sleepy and I won’t remember anything and the recovery time afterwards is still quick.

The results of the sperm test came in during our consultation, OH’s count has doubled again so this is brilliant news, it’s actually around the 30 million mark now (low count is considered below 20 million). The motility and morphology results still require us to have ICSI but they are very slowly getting better too so heading in the right direction.
With a self funded cycle with this clinic I could start in February if I wanted [omg!!!], OH and I mulled this over and decided perhaps that was a bit too soon and to get our mind in the right frame let’s aim for a March start, this is how the schedule looks -

Herts & Essex – Self Funded
Down Reg Mid – Mid March
Stimulation injections - Early April
Egg collection - Mid April
Embryo transfer - Mid April
Test date - End April

Should we by unlucky again and this not cycle not work I can move my NHS funded cycles to Herts & Essex and have this lined up for afterwards. The 6 month rule only applies to NHS funded cycles and so as long as I’ve had 2 to 3 menstrual cycles after my private funded cycle I could go ahead with the next NHS funded cycle when I’m ready. Feels good to have a back up plan.

When we left Bourn Hall on Monday, OH was thinking that maybe we should wait for the next NHS cycle and go with their cautious approach, but after meeting Herts & Essex we both felt at ease, it is much closer to home, we don’t have to wait until May, so decision made I think, I just need to book our medication teach session with the new clinic closer to the time [and pay the money of course] and we’re good to go.

I thought I would feel immense relief that we can move ahead with the new cycle, or at a least a little bit excited, but I’m not there yet, I feel a bit scared and apprehensive, scared of failing again. If any of you ladies out there know how to psych yourself up for round 2 please let me know!

[longest post ever, if you made it to this point please give yourself a pat on the back :-)]

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Yum Yum in My Tum

I've been suffering from jet-lag this past week so have fallen behind a little on my blogging, plus if I admit it I think I've been hiding too as it's difficult to come back from a lovely holiday and face reality. 

After my last post we spent a few more days in Kuala Lumpur with OH's family, luckily we had no further car drama's but we did continue to stuff our faces will all things spicy :-)
Now, this photo may not look that appetising, but trust me, it is delicious! This is a 'steamboat' restaurant. Each table has a portable cooking pot with it's own gas supply (novel), the pot is split into two sections, one side has tom yam soup, the other side clear soup and you basically steam fish, tofu, noodles and vegetables at your table, the hot soup is completely addictive, yum yum in my tum.
We then headed back to Thailand to have a few days of much needed relaxing time on our own and chose an amazing resort called Indigo Pearl, where every fitting and fixture was in their tin-mining theme, pretty cool. It's their peak dry season there at the moment but we did experience some freakish weather, our first evening there was mad thunderstorms and lightening for about 2 hours, we lost all power and got ready for the evening by torch light (thank you iPhone!), made it interesting though.  We did have grand ideas of taking a boat trip to the Phi Phi islands, but it didn't take long after we arrived to decide we were firmly staying put, the resort was really nice and we didn't want to leave.  
I was hoping that these few days I could really relax and get away from everything and forget my worries . . . felt like it was impossible though to completely forget, infertility is such a big part of our lives now so not sure who I was trying to kid by thinking I could forget it all.  We did have a relaxing time though, our days mainly consisted of laying by the pool, laying by the beach, drinking cocktails, napping, reading and more laying by the pool and laying by the beach. There was a spa on the resort so we treated ourselves to a couples massage and facial, OH skipped the facial and had a steam bath instead though :-) Ironically, the spa package I chose was called a pregnancy package (if only!), this was the only one that had a massage and facial combined so I went for it anyway and very quickly explained ha haa, keep smiling, I'm not pregnant but can I have it anyway, ha haa, keep smiling. What I didn't bargain for was to come away with 12 insect bites, yes 12!! Now, anyone that knows me knows that Moon and insects are NOT FRIENDS, EVER. I tend to have some over-reaction to insect bites and the result is not very pretty, enormous lumps and bumps. Doesn't matter how strong the repellent is and whether I have dosed myself up on antihistamines it happens every time, in fact, it's quite boring now :-) After one trip to the chemist and two very sleepless nights I was better just in time to come home. Just to make sure that I truly had a break from it all, Aunt Flo also made her appearance on my last day, fan-bloody-tastic. Anyhoo, we really did have a lovely time though, and it was really nice to be away and only have to worry about where to sunbathe today and which restaurant to eat in, we had an amazing room, I beat OH at pool (once!) and it was hot hot hot. I read a book called One Day by David Nicholls, a good holiday read that I'd recommend, and I'm about half way through Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert which also seems quite good so far.

Whilst I was away, Shona over at aPGDblog was kind enough to give me a blog award, yay for me. Thanks Shona, I really appreciate it, if you haven't seen Shona's blog, please go over and read her story.

Here are the rules for the acceptance of the award:
  • Thank and link back to the person who awarded you the award.
  • Share 7 things about yourself.
  • Award 15 other bloggers.
  • Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.
Here are the 7 things about me that you may not already know . . .

1. My little kitty cat is called Macy, she was a rescue cat and I love her to bits.

2. I have an unknown allergy and carry an EpiPen (adrenaline). A couple of years ago in Malaysia I suffered an anaphylactic reaction to something I ate (very scary!!) but I have been unable to identify the cause.

3. I have a love hate relationship with snowboarding.

4. I have OCD tendencies and like things to be straight :-)

5. I hate cinnamon.

6. I have this weird fascination with the Gherkin building in London.

7. I miss who I used to be before infertility.

Here are the peeps I'd like to give the award to (in no particular order) . . .

A PGD Blog (rules are for breaking so I'm linking back to you) 

On another note, I've had an eventful week in terms of our TTC journey, on our first day back to work we also had our follow up appointment to discuss our failed cycle (in hindsight, perhaps not a great idea for my first day back, not sure what I was thinking!) and on Friday we had our first appointment with a potential new clinic . . . will blog about this soon.