Friday, 10 April 2015

First scan

There is a lot that is shit about IVF, but the one thing that is brilliant is not having to wait 12 weeks for your first pregnancy scan. Mine was scheduled for 6 weeks and 6 days - last Wednesday.

I was petrified about this scan. I've had a missed miscarriage before, when to all intents and purposes everything seems fine - no blood or pain - but the scan then reveals no heartbeat. Given all the progesterone and other drugs I'm taking to keep this embryo in place it felt perfectly possible that the same thing may have happened again but the drugs prevented any physical manifestations.

I was actually shaking as I lay back on the bed to be scanned.

The sonographer told me she wouldn't keep me in suspense and would tell me as soon as she saw anything. Almost immediately she pointed out the sack and feotal pole then there was a pause whilst she waited to see a heartbeat. I know it can't have been more than two minutes because I didn't breath whilst we waited and  I would have passed out if it had been that long. It was probably only five seconds, it felt longer.

But there it was, a tiny white flash on the screen and proof that this is more than a chemical pregnancy.

I have a new favourite pregnancy web page.

Here Spacefem has a page that shows the statistical likelihood of a miscarriage in early pregnancy. It isn't faultless and there are more factors that should be considered given my age and history. BUT it is encouraging. It shows how quickly the likelihood drops within the first eight weeks to pretty much the same odds a the magic 12 week marker.

It certainly helps me feel more confident that I've cleared some significant hurdles already and the fact there is a heartbeat is convincing me that I might have another baby far more effectively than the positive test which just felt like another step in the right direction rather than an goal in itself.



Saturday, 4 April 2015

Stress and IVF


This IVF was supposed to be the least stressful IVF ever. Before I go any further, let me assure you that so far I have had nothing tangible to stress about with this ... gulp ... pregnancy. Everything seems to be going to plan. 

This IVF was not make or break. It wasn't about whether I would ever be a mother. I have a child, and not just any child. Olive is brilliant - happy, funny, bossy - I'm going to put it out there, she's in definitely in my top ten of tiny people that I like.

Ok - top five. 

This also wasn't my last chance of becoming a mother of two. I had two frozen embryos left; putting one back at a time meant that after this round I still have one more opportunity to try to get pregnant without starting from scratch (or egg collection).

The run up to IVF was so smooth. Too smooth.

What happens after the transfer is crucial. The problem is no one seems to know what you should do to aid implantation. I have read, extensively, on the topic and there seem to be a whole raft ideas based on nothing more than a bit of guesswork or personal experience.

I read a book where the author advised against leaving bed, suggesting a bed is set up downstairs so you don’t disrupt your burrowing embryo if you do have to leave your nest for an emergency. 

It even suggested to try not to poo – all that pushing could dislodge something. (I guess that could explain why the husband has never managed to successfully conceive.) 

My doctor specifically cautioned against being too static. Whilst she warned me against anything too strenuous, she wanted a bit of movement just to ensure that the blood keeps circulating. 

But some things seemed like more of a no brainer. 

Stress for example. 

You’d want to avoid that, right?

My theory is that, back in our hunter gatherer days if the tribe was under extreme stress – being worried by a mammoth, or running from a creeping ice cap - the last thing you’d want is to get pregnant. It’d hold everyone back. So surely stress has to inhibit implantation, right?

Wrong apparently. 

This study shows that stress doesn’t impact on IVF working.

I am also able to endorse this.

Whilst the run up to my IVF went like a  dream, everything seemed to go tits up once the transfer was done. 

The transfer was on a Wednesday. 

On Thursday I had the day off work and Olive was in nursery. 

This was the first day I have had home alone since she was born. Luxury, but also a little bit boring without my pint-sized commander-in-chief telling me to sit down, or put my coat on, or read her a book, or that she's done a poo.

I got a call at about 10:30 from Olive's nursery saying she'd fallen and bumped her head and had a nose bleed. Nothing to worry about but just letting me know.

When I went to collect her in the afternoon she seemed fine. The nursery handed over their standard "head injury" leaflet. Look out for headaches, blurred vision, vomiting. I shoved it in the pram and went home.

Jump forward to one thirty in the morning and, after a perfectly normal evening, Olive woke up screaming. She'd been sick. 

I cleaned her up. 

She was sick again.

The husband joined us as we pondered whether this was a bug or head-injury related chunder. 

We decided to seek help from the experts so phoned NHS direct to ask what we should do. We should have known they'd tell us to take her to Accident and Emergency. The slightest whiff of a head injury and they are all about the Emergency Room.

We got a taxi to the hospital. She barfed in the cab, of course.

Then from 2am until 5am, after a brief inspection from a nurse who was demonstrably unconcerned, we waited with a pukey-smelling, wide-awake baby whilst the husband and I took turns trying to coral her into one area of the waiting room.

Eventually she was seen, given a clear bill of health and we got home to bed at 6am. Not the most restful post-IVF night.

The next day (or the same day I guess as this all happened in the early hours of the morning) was Friday the 13th. 

This is where I have to pause.

I blog about some of the most personal and intimate experiences that happen to me. As a blogger I think you make a pact with the reader to tell the whole truth, unflinchingly. But sometimes things happened that affect me but aren’t about me. When I write about other people on here I generally get their permission and often give them an opportunity to read what I’ve written before I hit publish. (Yes, the husband signed off on the poo gag above).

The next thing that happened on that Friday wasn’t directly about me. It was about one of my nearest and dearest and it was horrendous and horrible news. Three weeks later and I’ve got tears in my eyes writing this.

I’m sorry I can’t tell you more, I haven't asked the person involved if I can write about it. They've got enough on their plate. So there are no more details, this isn't mine to tell, but rest assured that Friday – and the days that followed – were a mess. I didn’t sleep again on Friday night.

On the plus side it put the outcome of IVF for a second child suddenly seem a lot less important.

These were key implantation days. I knew they were implantation days because over the weekend I felt sharp twinges in my urterus and I didn’t know if this was a good or bad sign.

Subsequently I know they were good, I got pregnant didn’t I?

So there you have it. I don’t know what works or what doesn’t when in comes to implantation but don’t stress about it – or rather do – it doesn’t matter. That won’t affect the outcome.

And as for the straining when pooing thing? I’m taking buckets of progesterone, which has a side effect of constipating one. That doesn’t seem to matter too much either. 

Now I wait for my first scan next week, to see if things are continuing to progress.  



Thursday, 26 March 2015

The numbers are in

I had my blood test this morning and got called back this afternoon.

My HCG levels are measuring at 3876, at this point with Olive they were 3762 so incredibly similar.

I guess Olive and this new womb dweller are sort of twins. Well, they were conceived at the same time.

I wonder if there will be any more similarities to come. 



Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Pee stick photos


Every IVF so far I have waited to test. I haven't wanted to see a false negative.

I haven't quite waited the full 16 days but 10 or 11 at least.

Until this time.

After extensive research (googling) I decided that 7 days was the turning point. If you do a google image search for pregnancy test 7DP5DT (which we all know stands for seven days past a five day transfer) you'll see a host of images of neatly lined up pee sticks with varying strengths of second lines all neatly labelled with what day they relate to. 7 days seemed to be the point of no return when the faintest of first positive shows.

Kinda something like this:



Yup.

They are mine.

I would appear to be pregnant.

I have the blood test tomorrow so hoping for a strong number and then another 8 months of barfing and building excitement.




Thursday, 12 March 2015

Fifty Shades of Bruise

Thanks to the recent release of Fifty Shades of Grey I doubt I'm the only woman in the UK walking around with a bruised arse wondering if yesterday's exertions have left me  pregnant.

My bruises are as a result if the progesterone injections rather than any leather-based slap and tickle, though some of the instruments the doctor used yesterday would add a new dimension to the more adventurous bedroom. I'm sure the husband has never examined my cervix as closely as she did when I was winched open.

Erotic.

The husband clearly felt so, I had to stop him nipping into the wankatorium for a quick one off the wrist for old times sake.

Everything went really well.

This is worrying me.

I don't have anything to complain about.

Remember last time when the insertion was - and I can say this with full knowledge now - worst than labour?

Yesterday it was so quick and easy it was almost a pleasure.

The doctor was incredibly upbeat about her "dream team" and their success rates.

And my embryo looks like a perfect little already-hatching baboushka.

If I had one complaint it would the ridiculous length of time I am supposed to wait to test for pregnancy.

16 days.

16?

I mean if I do get pregnant I'll be practically ready to give birth before I find out if it worked at that rate.

I will test a bit earlier, the question is how early.

I've never gone for the testing from 4 days after the transfer I think the earliest has been about 9 or 10 days.

I suspect the reason my clinic asks us to wait so unendurably long isn't because you can't get a positive earlier - of course you can - but maybe they don't want the joy of a positive to be followed by a crash should the pregnancy turn out to be a shortlived chemical one. By 16 days a positive should mean a positive.

So here is the plan.

I am going to try and hold out as long as I can, there is no way I will wait 16 day a max of 14. But I won't post here until two weeks after the transfer.

I'm going to step away from the computer and try and enjoy this purgatory.

Wish me luck!







Sunday, 8 March 2015

Rituals

On Wednesday (defrosting allowing) will be the sixth time I've had embryos put back into my womb.

I am totally getting back into the groove.

Although I worry that of all my prep work for the IVF there isn't a lot that I know will make the difference between success of failure. 

There are admittedly a couple of things that are paramount to its success.

1. The embryo has to go back in
2. I need to take drugs to stop me ovulating

Other than that is it all guess work...

Some frozen embryo transfers are really drugs-light. Mine isn't.

There is my daily Progesterone bum jabs (and yes, before you ask I am using the right needles); Aspirin and Clexane to thin my blood a bit and help it get through to my womb to make it a nutrient-rich, comforting environment; Crinone, Primulot and Evorel patches (totally forgotten what these are supposed to do), intralipids to combat an immune issue that I don't even know if I have (the treatment is cheaper than the tests).

Next I am throwing in some stuff that is touted as things you can do to help, albeit with only a glimmer of scientific rational.

I have my daily snack pack of Brazil nuts.

I'm gonna pick up a pineapple tomorrow (eating the core natch as it is full of bromelain - a natural blood thinner doing what the Aspirin and Clexane are also supposed to do).

I've lined up a comedy podcast to listen to after the transfer - The Bugle - it worked last time.

And finally, of course, the batshit crazy superstitions that have crept it because it worked before.

My lucky socks a washed and ready.

I'm going to have sushi for lunch tomorrow - last time until ... until I know.

I've just had a ceremonious last glass of wine for two weeks or nearer nine months - there is only one way of knowing.

The four-leafed clover is tucked in my wallet.

I plan to have Eggs Royale for breakfast the day after my transfer, again because I did before.

Today I had a bikini wax (full on up and under too). I don't want the doctor to worry he can't see the wood for the trees when putting the embryo back.

I've booked the day off work after the transfer. Olive is still going into the nursery so it'll be my first day home alone without her. I can't decide whether that will be luxurious levels of relaxation or boring as hell.

The only thing I haven't opted for is acupuncture - been there and done that for so long I'm totally over that as a way to help me. (Each to their own I'm sure it helps some people but I'm done.)

So all in all I would say I am totally ready for this.

Bring on Wednesday.



Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Do you feel lucky, punk?

Without really wishing to continue the nauseously upbeat tone of my last post things are still going well.

Today has felt like an unbelievably lucky day.

It started in bed this morning - no I didn't get that lucky - I woke up and checked my emails to find one from the national lottery telling me I'd won.

And it was a genuine email, not from some dodgy lottery that only needed my bank details to confirm a couple of things, it related to an online national lottery ticket I'd bought yesterday to try and cash in on last nights £57 million jackpot.  I hadn't quite hit the jackpot and I have to share the winnings with the six others in my syndicate.

But a win is a win.

Then I took the dog out for a walk and saw a terrier have a lucky escape as it dashed, unsupervised, across the road. I managed to grab it and luckily it had a collar with a contact number on it. I called the number and luckily its owner was driving up the road looking for it. So I could hand it over without worrying about missing my appointment at the clinic this morning.

My luck seemed to turn a bit as I didn't quite make the train I hoped to catch into town which meant I was looking at squeezing on the rush hour tube for the second leg of the trip into town. But luckily my connecting, much more comfortable, overground train was delayed by a crucial five minutes which meant I could hop on that and still make my appointment with a good ten minutes to spare.

I wasn't even kept waiting for my appointment. It was at 9am and at 8:59am I was hooked up to my intralipids and sipping a cup of tea.

The intralipids - in case you've forgotten - is an intravenous drip of an egg-white mix that for some reason seems to suppress ones immune system enough to allow an embryo that might otherwise be kicked out as a foreign body to bed in and hang around for 9 months or so.

The first session is about a week before transfer then I have a couple more top up one in the two week wait and one if, hopefully, I get pregnant.

So all in all it has been a good day, still nothing to concern me about this frozen embryo transfer.

And as for the lottery win? Whilst I am still feeling lucky I am planning on reinvesting my £2 into Friday's 75million pound rollover. Winning that might go someway to reimbursing the money I've spent on all my IVFs to date. 



Monday, 2 March 2015

Up Myself

I once heard an interview with Martin Amis when he admitted in his youth one of his greatest pleasures was rereading his own books.

I can't say I am quite so up myself, nor do I enjoy rereading my own blog with quite so much gusto but it is useful. I would encourage anyone who is doing IVF to keep a diary because when if you do it again it is pretty handy being able to look back and compare and contrast the experience - have an idea of how things are going.

During previous IVFs one thing that never quite went to plan was the thickening of my womb lining.

Before an embryo is shoved back in the doctors like to see a womb lining of between 8-14mm. I've never quite hit it that magic depth.

Last IVF I hit the seven millimeter mark a week into the drugs and then ... nothing. My lining totally failed to grow any more.

This morning, again a week into all the drugs, I prepared myself for a similar depth and steeled myself for the fear it wouldn't get any thicker.

Turns out I was wrong.

In a good way.

My lining is already and plump and juicy 8.5mm. Not only that but it has a beautiful triple layer structure - just like the textbooks say it should.

I guess those two progynova I'm shoving up myself on a nightly basis really are working their magic.

This means are looking good for frozen embryo transfer early next week.

Do you ever get that feeling that something is going too well?



Tuesday, 24 February 2015

PMA

I was grinning as I left the clinic this morning.

My scan showed everything is good. My ovaries are quiet and womb lining thin. Great for now, I have no doubt in about two weeks time I'll be on here bemoaning the fact that my womb lining is still thin and failed to plump up - but for the time being this is a good thing.

As I left clutching my next set of instructions (start the blood thinners and oestrogen) I felt overwhelmingly positive about this cycle.

In fact I was so up beat with the nurse this morning I behaved like an utter tool. I whipped out my phone, showed her a picture of Olive and said "If you could sort me out another one like that, that'd be perfect."

I know.

What a dick!

I was trying to workout why I am so positive.

Admittedly, in the past, I've had the best possible result. But prior to that I've had masses of failures. Forgetting the months when I've ovulated, sexed (yes it's a real word) and not got pregnant, and the IUIs where I've failed to become enpregulated (also a real word, trust me), I've have three fresh rounds of IVF and two frozen embryo transfers. I've had nine viable-looking embryos put back in to an environment where they should thrive and have just one prime specimen snuffling away in her sleep upstairs as I write.

But it all feels so possible.

So exciting.

I've booked in for my magic intralipid drip next week and the embryo - conceived at the same time as Olive - is the same grade that she was should be put back in two weeks.

If a Postive Mental Attitude was all that was required I'd be about to give octomom a run for her money.




Monday, 23 February 2015

Cycle day 1

Things have started, almost without a hitch.

After finishing the Primolut I started my period in record time (two days - thank you very, much no hanging about here).

I gave myself my first injection of Cetrotide and we are well into prime IVF territory.

My Doctor called with my test results and my womb lining is undiseased and all but one of my blood tests came back perfect.

Liver function - I passed with flying colours which just goes to show that a little bit of exercising the liver from time to time clearly isn't a bad thing.

Thyroid good.

Fasting blood - awesome. (she didn't use that word but I could tell she was impressed)

The only area for concern was I have a vitamin D deficiency.

Turns out, after a spot of googling, most of the population of the UK have one. You can get small amounts of vitamin D from food but the main provider is sunshine. Something that we've been severely lacking in the UK for ... oh... the last 38 and a half years. The summer of '76 was our sunny one.

Its nothing that will prevent the Frozen Embryo transfer going ahead. The Husband has previously been diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency so he already has some supplements which he has generously agreed I can 'borrow' (not convinced that he has really thought through what state they'll be in when I return them).

I'm also going to see my GP to see if there is something more hardcore they can do in the meantime. Apparently you can get a massive booster injection so I might try that.

Or... just a thought... but I wonder if one can get prescribed two weeks in the sun on the NHS.