Babies on Board

Babies on Board

Yup, that woman up there ^^^ has two embryos in her. Science has done its part, now it’s up to nature.

Wish me luck.

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Deja Vu

Deja Vu

I think if you ask a non-IVFer what the hardest part of all this process is, they’ll say its the injections, that it must be really difficult to jag yourself every day over and over again. But, in reality that’s probably the easiest part of the whole thing.

I have my second transfer tomorrow and I’m terrified. As the date grows closer, I’ve found myself struggling to sleep. I’m having dreams where I find out the transfer failed again. (I guess they’re more like nightmares then?)

The emotional side of IVF is so much more difficult than any injection could ever be. My hormones are all over the place and I’m an even mixture of excited, apprehensive and just plain scared.

I never imagined I would need another transfer. I always thought I’d get pregnant first time and I’d get my happy ending.

Going in to this 2nd round, I’m more nervous than I’ve ever been.

IVF 10-Step Survival Guide

IVF 10-Step Survival Guide

I’ve put together this handly little guide for anyone who’s about to start IVF or anyone that’s even curious as to what it’s all about. I imagine this guide will become so successful that in the near future it will become compulsory reading in all clinics.

Bear in mind, I’m an NHS funded IVFer so some of my experiences differ, although most will still be roughly the same (especially the dreaded pessaries – more on them later)

1. How many? NHS in Scotland offer 3 fully funded tries. Once you have your baby (whether that be first, second or third attempt) you don’t get any more shots at it. You’re free to take your eggs (if you have any) to a private clinic though.

2. The wait. From my GP referral to my first transfer date, the whole process took about a year. Most of the early stuff is filled with paperwork and having blood taken (seriously, the blood thing gets old). The juicy stuff starts around 9,10 months in.

3. Injections. There’s a few different types you take and I’ll be sure to list all the boring technical rubbish at the bottom. I was dreading these. For a reasonably heavily tattooed woman, I fucking hate needles. But actually, they were fine. I managed to do most myself and I barely felt them. You might get bruising but it’s nothing to worry about. Tip: It’s easier if you sit down and give yourself a little jelly belly so you can pinch easier.

4. Injections. Yup injections again because I lied a little. Not ALL are as nice as each other. “Clexane” is a blood thinning little shit and I shall refer to it as “him” because that’s how much of an irritating little shit he was. Like a little brother or rebound ex boyfriend that you dumped as soon as the alcohol wore off. He stings and itches like hell. Just remember he’s not permanent and you can rejoice by throwing him away the second he’s served his purpose.

5. Don’t make plans. If you do, be prepared to either change them or postpone your treatment. We flew to Greece on the day I was supposed to start my injections so our date had to be pushed back a month. We’ve also had to cancel birthday parties and lunch plans because of IVF. A lot of appointments are last minute and follow-ups depend on how you respond to treatment so there’s not always definite dates for you to follow.

6. Be prepared. If there’s something you really CAN’T cancel, then be prepared to find yourself in the most obscure situations – cue standing in a (hopefully) deserted hallway of a very fancy wedding venue while lifting a floor length fishtail gown up to your armpits while your partner whips out the needle and shoves it in. *cough* “That’s what she said”

7. Egg Retrieval. Admittedly I was shitting myself for retrieval and the aftermath. The process itself was painless (it obviously helped that I was out my face on drugs – the prescribed kind of course) but afterwards I did have a little pain. My tummy was tender and I felt huge. I spent the day in bed feeling sorry for myself, but was back to normal 2 days later. I was lucky enough to have enough egg reserve that I won’t need to retrieve anymore anytime soon.

8. Side effects. Either I didn’t suffer too much or I’m already a crazy bitch but whatever the reason, I didn’t find the side effects too bad. The bloating was pretty bad and I had a few days here and there where I felt a little low or a little short tempered but honestly no more than my usual PMS (again maybe this is dependant on what I took so I’ll add it at the bottom). I was expecting the worst but what I got was far from that. Really, I was a little angel. Hubby would agree, right babe?

9. Transfer. I loved this part. For me, it was the most exciting part of the process. We watched as our embryo was implanted in and got to watch the entire process. It was completely painless before, during and after. Whatever happens through your whole IVF experience, I guarantee you will look back at that moment fondly.

10. Pessaries. The thing you definitely won’t look back at fondly. I like to refer to them as “The Devil’s little hand maidens”. My husband has helped clean me after a miscarriage; he has removed vomit soaked clothing after too much wine and I’ll hold my hands up – he’s seen me poop – but the pessaries are even too much for him to witness. You pop them up your bits (a bit like a tampon, although a tampon doesn’t shed it’s skin on to your pants 30 seconds later). I often imagine an alternate universe where Clexane and Pessaries are sharing a bottle of wine and laughing hysterically at the shit they do to us. The little bastards. Tips for pessaries: wear a pad, not a panty liner because no matter what Google says, a panty liner is no fucking good. Don’t wear good pants unless you want them forever caked in white plastic discharge. NEVER show your partner (trust me, they don’t want to see it). Some people will recommend going through the back door but to be honest both options are equally crappy (scuse the pun)

Now that you have my handy tips on how to get through it, I hope you’ll all enjoy your IVF journey. It might be a royal pain in the arse at times but I honestly wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s been, and continues to be an amazing experience.

********

The boring stuff:

Injections: menopur 150 twice a day. Cetrotide 0.25 once a day taking the place of the evening menopur dose. Clexane (not used in ALL fresh cycles but I have a history of RMC). Once a day.

Tablets: frozen cycle I was on 6mg of progynova (2mg 3x a day)

Nasal spray: frozen cycle I had to take this 4 times a day at specific times. It replaces an injection but unfortunately tastes like shit.

Booster injection: ovitrelle. One injection at a specific time.

Pessaries: cyclogest 400mg. Twice a day. The bastards.

Ring Girl

Ring Girl

Ding ding, Round 2! I sometimes wonder if people would be less inclined to question my childless status if I had a ring girl following me around with what stage of IVF I was in.

Round 1 – Awaiting transfer. Relatively calm. Preparing for her next move.

Round 2 – 2dpt. Waiting impatiently to pee on a stick. Stay the f**k away.

I find it funny how people react when I tell them I’m having IVF. Their reactions can usually be grouped in to 3 sections:

Pity Party – “Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry. Is it you that has the problem? Your husband? Oh my, that’s such a shame. You poor thing. So brave.” (Listen, I’ve woken my husband from a very sound sleep on more than one occasion to get rid of a spider who was doing nothing but minding his own business. I am NOT brave.)

It’s All Relative – My personal favourite. “Oh my aunt/cousin/bridesmaid/boss/cleaners 3rd cousin twice removed dog walkers boyfriends sister went through IVF. Hers never worked but I’m sure you’ll be just fiiiiiiine” You don’t need to prove to me that you understand the process because you know someone that went through it (trust me, it’s not the same) and if you don’t have a story with a positive outcome – don’t bloody tell me it! (Where’s my ring girl when I need her?)

Is there a doctor in the house? – It appears there is yes. Or they MUST have studied for at least a few years otherwise surely they wouldn’t be giving out this invaluable medical advice? “It’s because you’re stressed. You should relax and then it’ll work”. “It’s too much pressure”. Gee. Thanks Doc. Problem solved. Because that’s what they think I have. A problem. A problem that every Tom, Dick and grossly unqualified Harry like to try and fix.

A problem is defined as a harmful situation that needs to be dealt with. That is not what I have. I prefer the term ‘hiccup’. A temporary setback. That’s all it is.

Because I know this won’t be forever.

Birthday

Birthday

I’m 32 today. I’m definitely not at the place I imagined I would be at 32. I’m back at college studying, and I’m in the middle of a very upward struggle toward conceiving.

But this is the happiest I’ve been on a birthday in years. Possibly ever. (I got DreamPhone on my 11th birthday so ya know, that’s tough competition)

I am happy though. Much happier than I was 3 years ago when I lost a baby on my birthday eve. That was not a good one.

We’ve got a couple of IVF tries left then we’re closing the book. And I’m okay with whatever the outcome. My life is pretty good. This time next year I’ll be earning a good wage doing a job I love, spending my nights with Nik and my weekends with him and Kian. We’ll go on holidays and trips and then in a few years he’ll be old enough to bring me coffee in bed. Perfection.

I celebrated my birthday on Saturday so Kian could give me his gifts. He handed me a “Just like a mum” card and I knew I had everything I wanted.

Tonight, hubby and I are doing the Christmas Markets in Glasgow and we’ll have a few drinks and play some pool and finish it off with a churro (well it’s my birthday, I hope I get more than a churro!)

But what more could a girl want for her birthday? A man that loves her, a stepson that dotes on her and a high fat warm sugary Spanish treat dipped in chocolate?

Hopes

Hopes

“We get very good results with frozen transfers here”

So that’s my hopes up now. I promised I wouldn’t let that happen but when you hear a fertility nurse say how good their results are you can’t help but get those butterflies again.

I had my Prostap injection this morning (side effects mirror those of a menopause so this should be a fun few weeks for all!) Then my next appointment isn’t until 15th November. Transfer looks around end of November, start of December which means I get to take 2 weeks off unpaid right before Christmas. Fantastic news. Like I’ve said before, I don’t like to complain too much when I receive free NHS funded fertility treatment, but their timing really does suck!

I’ll keep you posted with side effects and how I’m generally coping. This is my first frozen transfer. No retrieval this time but the dreaded pessaries will still rear their ugly head. The little bastards.

Raising Awareness

Raising Awareness

I’ve always wanted my losses to mean something. For all the hurt and pain I went/am going through to not have been for nothing. That’s why I’ve spent the last few years raising awareness of baby loss through various media campaigns.

I felt so alone when I went through my losses and never knew where to turn. I wasn’t really aware of miscarriages and I had no idea the kind of pain I was about to experience.

I knew pretty quickly that I wanted babyloss to be spoken about, to make sure if the worse did happen to someone, then they would at least know that they would never have to feel alone.

I wanted to share some of the interviews/campaigns I’ve been a part of. They range from newspapers & magazines to campaigns for Miscarriage Association and Tommy’s the Baby Charity. I’ve recorded an interview for a short film that’s being worked on at the minute and I’m really hoping to write a book soon! (Bold move I know)

If anyone’s interested in doing something similar then let me know and I can try give you some advice!

Round 2

Round 2

I.V.F round 2 kicks off on 29th October. I’ve avoided writing about it because if I write about it then I’ll have to think about it. If I think about it then I’ll go crazy.

We had all our hopes pinned on the first round. We knew it would work. There was no hoping, no thinking… we just knew.

To have that come crashing down was hard. Are we ready for that risk again?

I know we can’t put it off forever. The fear will always be there and we need to just face it. I just don’t want to think about it until I absolutely need to.

So… 29th October we have a scan. That’s all. Then 15th November I start estrogen tablets. That’s pretty much all I know so far. It’s my first go at a frozen cycle so I don’t know what to expect or what’s involved.

I’m okay with that. The less I know, the less I have to think about.

Wave Of Light

Wave Of Light

I didn’t feel up to posting yesterday.

I thought about it after we lit our candle but I didn’t feel ready. It’s funny that after 3 years, there are times that are still too difficult for me.

Lighting a candle for my lost babies then immediately writing down my feelings is one of them.

Holding a new born baby is another.

I still worry that it won’t happen for me. I worry our next round of IVF will fail again. I know we won’t have regrets later, how can we regret something we gave our all to? But I fear there will always be a missing piece.

I want to light my candle every year and remember my babies, but a part of me worries if I’ll be able to? If I don’t have a baby this time next year will I still be able to light it? Will I be able to light it every year knowing I never got to be a mum, or will it be a constant reminder of what could have, what should have been?

Miscarriage in Schools

Miscarriage in Schools

“Girls do NOT have unprotected sex because if you do you will get a disease and you will get pregnant and you will have a baby and you will be a teenage mum and that’s that. Life ruined.”

Catholic school sex education 101 right there.

Why is this what our girls are being taught today? (Ok so I’m probably paraphrasing a little but I’m sure its the jist).

But really – why are girls only being told about the dangers of unprotected sex and (on some occasions) unwanted pregnancy.

Why is it that the only thing teenagers hear about after an unplanned pregnancy is abortion? (I’m pro choice by the way, but not all teenagers go down that route so the conversation shouldn’t end there).

I’m not advocating that we encourage unprotected sex in our schools but why exactly do we not hear about miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy? Is it not important enough to tell our 15 year old daughters? Should we leave them completely unprepared to deal with the possibilty of their baby dying? Because of course everyone knows a 15 year old girl is completely prepared to deal with that level of emotional shock and turmoil. I know I coped exceptionally well with mine. (Is my sarcasm reading okay here?)

Teenagers are at greater risk of miscarriage than the average adult woman

Who exactly does she turn to when no-one knew she was pregnant and her school told her it was her own responsibility to have safe sex? Who does she turn to when no-one around her discusses miscarriage? Who does she turn to when the baby she never planned but grew to love suddenly dies and leaves her in physical and emotional agony?

I don’t expect a weekly class on miscarriages but it should at least be mentioned once during sex education. Miscarriage shouldn’t be a foreign word.

If we start by telling our teenagers about baby loss then maybe it will become easier for us to talk about it too. When your child comes home and asks you to bake a cake for “Miscarriage Awareness Day” in school, maybe you won’t feel awkward at the sound of the M word. Maybe the more we normalise it the less shame and guilt those who have suffered will feel. Maybe one day.