Tag Archives: IVF

A Lovely Day

So I had some happy news today.  The Awful Colleague is leaving!!!  This is a huge weight off my mind.  She isn’t even back from maternity leave yet and people have been dreading her return.  She’ll be back in May for a couple of months max and she’ll be off – hurrah!

Secondly my bathroom (which is my current pride and joy) will be finished today.  We have two, young enough-to-drive but borderline old enough-to-drink, lads working on it.  They’ve had some difficulties because my husband is really cheeky and keeps asking them to do extra jobs which weren’t on the list.  I’m really hoping they won’t bill us for them but it’s totally fair enough if they do.  Anyway, to thank them my husband bought them a case of 18 cans of lager (Stella: wife-beater’s lager!).  I bought them a box of Thorntons chocolates.  Then, when pressed one of them admitted he doesn’t drink lager so then I went to buy Jack Daniels and the medium-sized bottle was cheaper than the small one.  Now my husband thinks we should give them the lot!  It’s a family business and their dad is overseeing them (basically on the phone at every step) so I don’t feel it’s responsible to give two young lads all that alcohol.  It was meant to be a token gesture but now it’s escalated thanks to The Boy.  You can totally see how we’re going to parent one day!  Polar opposites . . .

In other news my story was published on Tommys’ website last week.  Here it is:

 

 

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Awakening the unconscious mind

So it’s been a while!  I signed myself off work after my last post – that turned into several weeks as I continued to faint, posing a risk to both myself and more importantly to my patients.  I wasn’t allowed back and this kind of forced my hand.  I was suddenly in a position where I had no choice but to take stock, to grieve properly and to start living again. Otherwise my health was really going to suffer.  During this period I have changed a lot.

I began to see a cognitive hypnotherapist (the one that’s pregnant!).  I have to say she’s been amazing and by some small miracle she has turned me into a positive thinker!  Anybody who has read my blog will not have failed to notice that I have erred on the side of pessismism throughout this journey.  This is a natural protective mechanism that often helps us not to be too disapointed when things don’t go so well.  But it was starting to do me some harm.  I had become struck with terror the moment I discovered I was pregnant for fear of miscarrying (which I inevitably did) and when I collapsed at work back in January I had started to project this terror into my proposed IVF.  I’d convinced myself it couldn’t work.  Then I convinced myself that I had already ruined it with my negative thoughts and I began blaming myself (somewhat pre-emptively!).  I couldn’t break away from this awful circle of negativity.

My “homework” was to spend time listening to hypnosis recordings developed specifically for me, walking in the woods (my happy place), going out for coffee and cake, doing yoga, reading for pleasure, sitting by the fire, enjoying a glass of wine and painting.  Slowly but surely the weight literally lifted from my shoulders.  I’d been having regular massages as my shoulder stiffness was causing headaches – they stopped about six weeks ago.  I began to laugh at my husband’s bad jokes.  I could begin to see positive intentions behind people’s actions – something I’d always struggled to do before, believing that the entire world was somehow against me.  I began to smile more and more, about nothing in particular.  Now, and I can’t believe I am actually writing this, I AM EXCITED ABOUT IVF!  I’m still fully aware of the stats; there is still a chance it won’t work.  But I don’t know the outcome yet, so I have nothing to be fearful of yet.  Who knows, it might actually work!  Stats-wise I seem to have good odds.  I have a 42% chance of success with the first cycle; this rises to 65% in cycle 2 and rises again to about 78% in cycle 3.  At some point it plateaus but we can only really manage 3 cycles (2 on the NHS & we’ll fund 1).

I’m starting to lean away from the herbs & all the alternative stuff.  I’m still organic where I can be but I’m not rigid about it.  I’m not massaging my belly anymore – it was always done in such a rush with no feelings of positivity & it put pressure on my bladder.  It just wasn’t pleasant so I’ve binned that.  I thought I’d feel guilty about giving it all up but for the first time in ages I think I am finally thinking clearly.  My most successful pregnancies (as a good friend pointed out) were when I wasn’t doing any of this stuff.  I’m still having acupuncture because the evidence for this is well-established.

I finally had my surgery by the way.  It hurt like a mother!  That was ten days ago.  Apparently it went really well and the cycst (which had grown again) came away easily.  She checked my the outside of my tubes and the right ovary – all normal – and said the endo wasn’t that bad so she didn’t need to remove it.  She said I might lose some follicles through the surgery but said that we have millions so to lose a few is okay.  Millions?!  I pointed out that I only had five on my right ovary in December and that my follicles were pretty precious to me.  Hopefully none were lost but I’ll never know because the cyst was blocking them anyway.

Typically the surgery occurred the day before I was due to ovulate so the surgeon said I probably wouldn’t release an egg due to the shock, so this month is out.  But she did say that I could start IVF as soon as I feel ready.  I’ll see what my gynae says on Friday but even if he says we can start this month I think I’ll wait until April.  It’s my sister’s 50th on April 1st and we’re going to Lundy Island for a walking & drinking weekend.  That’s basically all there is to do there and I don’t want to be abstaining or worrying about whether I’ve walked too far and all that crap.  It’s worth waiting just one more month I think.

In other pregnancy news my colleague texted me to confirm that I was right, she is pregnant.  I literally must have guessed the week that she found out.  I haven’t seen her yet but my stomach no longer lurches when I see that she’s texted me – I’m just genuinely pleased for her.  A fellow recurrent miscarrier who I met through a forum has also just discovered she’s pregnant again.  I used to stress about other people getting pregnant before me but I now feel pretty neutral about it, like I used to feel about pregnancy before I started trying.  Of course, I still have sporadic twinges of jealousy but they are momentary and I move on pretty quickly.  Sadly two other friends have miscarried recently. One of them must have miscarried 4-5 times in the last twelve months.  The other one has been told by her husband not to tell anyone about it, which perpetuates this feeling of shame that is so dominant in the miscarriage culture.  I totally see why he feels like this though. Tommy’s has a really good campaign for men and women to speak out about their experiences: https://www.tommys.org/miscourage-stories.  I’ve sent them my story but they’ve been so inundated with stories that they’re struggling to put them all onto the site.  It’s so telling that it’s such an unspoken issue, yet they’ve had such a huge response.

In other non-pregnancy news, I’ve rediscovered furniture painting.  I’ll put some before & after pics up once I’ve worked out how.  It’s amazing for mindful therapy.  And we’re having a new bathrom installed, so we’ll have no shower or bath for two weeks starting today.  I’m going to have to join a gym!

So all in all it’s good.  I think the fainting was my unconscious trying to tell me it couldn’t cope.  Apparently this is super common when an event happens that the mind feels too traumatised by to process, so it comes out in physical symptoms.  I stopped fainting about three weeks ago & my new boss seems to be very supportive.  He stopped me returning early twice to make sure I gave myelf a good rest before and after the surgery.  I’m starting back on Monday so wish me luck!

Moving towards ICSI

In about four weeks time I’ll be starting my first cycle of ICSI.  My feelings about this are bitter sweet.  I’m excited of course.  I’m hopeful that it’ll work and that I can put my sadness behind me.  Sometimes I allow myself to believe, just briefly, that it really might work.  And that’s so lovely!  Then logic kicks in and reminds me that statistics are not on our side; my clinic reports a 35%-40% success rate for ICSI in my age-group.  Positively, I thought the stats would be lower and I like to think I’m in the young end of the age bracket (I’ve recently turned 36) and hopefully that helps our odds somewhat.  On the negative side the incidence of things like cerebral palsy and downs increases with IVF.  My only suggestion for why is that women who do IVF are typically older than those who don’t and developmental disorders are often associated with older women.  Probably I’m now classed as an older woman – maybe those things are a risk for me now too.  I know that my egg quality isn’t great, and I suspect my lining might be too thin.  These things will cause problems for us in ICSI.

Anyway, we’ve signed our consent forms.  We had to watch a couple of hours of videos and complete a quiz after each section.   It’s quite a sobering process, learning about how it all works, what can go wrong, the ethics involved, the storage of embryos etc. they cover a lot to make sure we’re fully informed.

We saw our consultant on the day that Panorama did an expose on the Zita West clinic amongst others, stating that a lot of fertility clinics are extortionists.  Our consultant told us about the programme, suggesting that we watch it.  We have agreed to pay for an extra – £680 for an embryoscope to watch the cells develop without disturbing them.  We’re getting everything else for free so I think it’s okay to pay out for this.  The theory is that some cells might develop quickly but not as well as others, so when you get to day 3 or day 5 you really need to see how they developed as well as how far they developed to make sure you’ve got the best one.

My biggest worry is that I don’t know if I’ll manage to produce many eggs.  Apparently my AMH is borderline okay/not okay.  So I’m having the top dose of FSH to maximise my chances of producing lots of eggs.  Some theorists argue this is a bad idea as it could compromise quality in favour of quantity.  At the moment I’m not sure what to think at all; ultimately my consultant needs to get a good look at my eggs and The Boy’s sperm and see what he thinks after the first cycle.  He’s already said he’s got nothing left to throw at it if this cycle doesn’t work.  But at least we’ll know what we’re dealing with I guess.  I think that’s what’s frightening me the most.  What if I don’t produce enough eggs?  What if none fertilise?  What if I miscarry again?  ICSI is potentially our only hope and I’m utterly terrified of finding out there is no hope left for us after this.

I had a phonecall from my best friend a few weeks ago.  She was sobbing; she’d had a miscarriage.  As I heard her speak I felt her pain so deeply that I was transported back to my first miscarriage.  It was interesting that despite all my experiences of miscarriage I didn’t know what to say to her.  I knew what not to say, but I saw her recently too and I didn’t even know how to bring it up to ask where she was up to with it all.  She says that I’m the only person she can speak to about it & I’m grateful that I can put my experiences to some use.  But it’s made me recognise just how hard it is for others to say and do the right thing.  I’ve been so tetchy with people who haven’t responded well to my miscarriages but it was interesting for the shoe to be on the other foot.

In other pregnancy news I think my colleague is pregnant.  She’s one of the loveliest people you could ever meet and I have told her more than once not to make the same mistake as me and wait to have children.  So why did the realisation kick me so hard in the stomach?  I guess the answer is because she’s able to do it so naturally, unlike me.  It’s also highly likely that she’ll make her announcement just as my first ICSI cycle fails.  The last colleague who was pregnant made her announcement while I was waiting for my second miscarriage to be confirmed.  So it’s almost definitely going to happen again.

I’ll try to post how ICSI goes.  Next week we visit the clinic for a scan and to learn how to administer the injections.  I hope The Boy pays attention – I think he’ll need to do them!  I’ll be going back onto the progesterone so I’ve pre-warned my close friends that I’ll be going a little bit loopy and hormonal for a few weeks.  Oh, the joys of subfertility!

Computer Said YES!

It’s been a quiet few months fertility-wise.  I haven’t really been reading many blogs, I’ve not wanted to go onto the forums that much.  I’ve tried to distance myself from the emotional rollercoaster that I’ve been on over the last two and a half years.  I’m still aware that it’s a relatively short period of time, but in that time the majority of “infertile” contacts I’ve had are either pregnant or or they have had their babies by now.  I’m happy for them & it frustrates me that I can’t help perceiving it as a reminder of what I can’t have and I allow it to hurt.  I had thought it would give me hope but none of the other women have the same reason for infertility as us, so I find myself wishing I had an immune condition or a blood clotting condition which is easier to treat.  The success rate for ICSI, which we need, is not as good as I’d hoped.  So I’ve decided that distance is really what I need and I’ve also been trying to start the process of accepting that for me this might not work out.

Emotionally I have started to feel much better and this is for two reasons.  Firstly, I’ve come off the steroids and Progesterone hormones that turned me into a raving, depressed lunatic.  I know that they’re there to help a pregnancy but they failed to stop two of my miscarriages so I don’t think not taking them is a bad thing just yet.  I’ll take them when I do IVF.  Secondly, I am starting to feel that we’re getting towards the end of our journey.  In a year or so we’ll have tried IVF a few times and either it will have worked or it won’t.  But I should hopefully know either way.  This might be a simplistic view – it may take longer than 2 years – but I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere.

Today The Boy & I heard that our request for ICSI funding has been approved.  It took three attempts and six months to get them to say yes.  I used everything I could think of to persuade them: I wrote a literature review about the efficacy of ICSI, I made a Freedom of Information request to find out the cost of my miscarriages to date and totalled how much I’d cost them without ICSI based on the last two years, I was open about how stressed I’d become, I wrote to my MP and she complained to the Chief Executive of the CCG on our behalf.  Our CCG has never said yes to this kind of funding request before but today they did!  I feel quite proud of myself that somehow we may have opened up a precedent for other couples.

I am not complacent.  I do not know if this will work.  But I do know that I have literally done everything I possibly can to have a baby.  And that will help a great deal when the time comes to face our reality – whatever that is.

One door closes . . .

So last week I felt pretty sorry for myself … until I visited my herbalist.  For all her wacky ways she has a way of making me feel much better.  She pointed out that I’m on high doses of hormones and I’ve been on and off steroids for the last few months.  She was impressed that I’ve been managing at all!  Her additional take on this is that I’ve also changed a lot and when I go back to these friends I become the person I once was and I don’t like it.  Interestingly my husband has said that over the last three years I’ve not wanted to go on the weekends away with these girls and I’d stopped reporting that I’d been enjoying them – my best friend echoed the same.  I have changed.  My personality when I’m with my new friends is much different.  I’m more fun, more chilled and generally more like who I want to be.  And I really don’t like becoming the whiney, stroppy girl I was last week.  My herbalist thinks it needed to end in a big bang because I was clinging onto a friendship that wasn’t really going anywhere and that was actually dragging me down.  I think I agree.  Having reflected on the support I’ve had from them since MC number 1 it’s been pretty poor.  So for what purpose do I need to keep trying?

Whilst this was happening I put up a forum post about it on a recurrent miscarriage forum and someone contacted me and asked if I’d like to meet up.  It turns out we live in the same area and so we had coffee & cake on Saturday (don’t tell my herbalist!)  – and she’s so lovely!  So, while the door has definitely closed on the three girls from last weekend, this weekend saw a brand new door open.

I’ve also contacted some girls I’ve made tentative friendships with over the last six months and invited them out for dinner.  I have friend-dates lined up every day for the next two weeks :).  I am getting a new life for myself, and I should probably be grateful for the disastrous events of last weekend for giving me the kick I needed.

My herbalist also pointed out that when I was just following her advice my cycles were perfect: 28 days long, ovulation on Day 14, no mid-cycle bleeds.  Now I bleed just about every day, my cycles are getting shorter and my period lasts for less than a day.  She blames the chemicals (she would!).  But she makes a good point.  So for now because we’re just waiting for IVF anyway I’ve gone back to her regime.  I’ve stopped the Cyclogest and the steroids and have picked the diet back up again (almost).

Time to get back to being the new me!

IVF funding rejected

Recently I went on holiday – just for a week – to my parents who live in France.  I loved it at first but as the end of the holiday came nearer I found my self dreading going home.  I’ve never felt like that before.  I always feel a little bit down about going home but that’s usually it.  This time I cried for the last two days – somewhat ruining the holiday!  I’m also a bit of a sun fiend and the weather is never reliable in France so we had some cloudy days.  My mother takes it really personally if I get upset about the weather – and again it’s never made me cry before – but this time I did & my mother got cross & I left France crying, not speaking to my mother.  Fun times!  It wasn’t my usual post-holiday blues.  This was about returning to “infertility”.  While I was on holiday I could forget it a bit.  It was really lovely & I began to panic when I realised I was coming back to it again.

Once we got back we were literally plunged back to our infertile sub-life as we discovered that my gynaecologist had sent my funding request for IVF.  He’s asking our CCG if they’ll consider funding it even though I don’t meet the criteria.  I don’t meet it because I have been pregnant in the last twelve months but it hardly seems fair because I equally don’t have a baby as a result of my pregnancies.  We quickly sent off a letter in support but it got rejected the next day.  I very much doubt they even read the letter.  So I literally sobbed on the kitchen floor for about two hours until a very kind friend took pity on me & agreed to take me out to get drunk. (I’d done a pregnancy test that day too – negative – very bad day!!).

With the sobbing & drinking done & dusted I finally felt able to form a plan.  Being misdiagnosed with epilepsy has cost me seven years of being able to try for a family.  This is because I was never stable on the medication & a seizure can cause a hypoxia to a baby.  When I started trying in 2014 I was as stable as I could be & I took a very calculated risk.  I miscarried but I hadn’t had a seizure so I didn’t attribute it to that.  However I did think it might be due to my meds.  With my next pregnancy they took me off the meds & all my seizures stopped.  The diagnosis has now been withdrawn & I’ve been seizure-free ever since.

I’ve been in touch with my GP who has already written a letter of appeal, stating that this misdiagnosis has disadvantaged me.  My consultant has done the same and I’ve contacted a friend of mine who writes arguments for a living so hopefully she will be able to help.  This friend does not feel my urgency though.  She will do it in two weeks time.  I’ve been hovering between being eternally grateful that she’s trying & simlutaneously wanting to ask her if she can hurry up.  I’ve opted for being grateful.  She has step-kids and they have put her off having babies for life.  So I really understand why she can’t fathom why this is so important to me.  Finally I’ve written to my MP.  Hopefully she will agree to take on my case and add weight to my appeal.

So that’s that for now.  I am a lot more sane now than I was last week.  Once more I have to wait though & I still haven’t acquired any patience.  Meanwhile I have some horrendous patienTS who are keeping me on my toes – literally for some of them because they are aggressive and bite and spit and hit and molest me when I get close enough.  I am starting to think I would like a nice quiet job in a flower shop.  But then some of my really cognitively impaired but very sweet patients say things that are super nice, or their face lights up when I enter the room & then I think I have the best job ever.  Most of the time.  It’ll do as a distraction while I await the next step of my appeal.