Sunday, 26 December 2010

The Empress’ New Operation

“Right, last item on the agenda:

What are we going to do about this persistent emailer and phoner?

Of course I mean Liz.

If I’m honest we did say that we’d do the operation in early January but actually, looking at my diary, I don’t have a slot until March. Any ideas how we can get round this?

What was that Sandra?

No, if we just send an appointment through for March, then she’ll kick up a stink about getting older and probably bring up all the other months she has spent waiting for other appointments. We need to think clever…

That, my dear, is a fantastic idea. We’ll offer her an appointment on Christmas Eve. She’s a posh type, so is bound to be going off to the countryside with Mummy and Daddy and can’t possibly be able to make it. But if we offer it to her then she’ll have no come back if we send her next appointment through for March.

I’ll phone her now.

Shhh … it is ringing … stop giggling.

Er… ahem … Hello. Is that Elizabeth?

Great, well, we have an appointment date for you. The 24th of December.

Yes, Christmas eve. Can you make it?

Oh. Oh you can? Er, I see. Well. Great. See you there.

Bye.

Shit, shit, shit. She can only bloody come in? What now?

There is no way there’ll be a slot in surgery on Christmas Eve.

Look, Sandy, does that anaesthetist still fancy you? Good. I’ve got a plan.

We’ll get her in. Knock her out for about an hour and just tell her we’ve done the operation when she comes round.

No, of course she won’t be able to tell that we’ve done nothing. She’ll just think that she was knocked out for all of it. She won’t expect to feel anything. And we’ll just tell her to keep taking the pain killers so that if she wonders why she doesn’t feel any pain she’ll just assume that they are fantastic drugs.

Of course we’ll give her the placebos.

Well I think that is all.

Thanks for your time.

Oh, wait a minute.

Wait … hello … bugger, everyone has gone. Only I was wondering who was going to write the fake notes for her operation.

Dammit. Well, I’m not going to do it. She’s mouthy enough she can damn well tell them what she wants herself when she goes for her ‘operation’.”

****

This is what I like to call: ‘a comedic way of explaining why I feel so well and unviolated after my so called operation’ and what the husband likes to call: ‘Oh no, you didn’t try and do a funny did you? Don’t do funnies’.


Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Starts ... Now

At 9:30 this morning I had that impending sense of doom that only seems to come during battles with the NHS.

The nurse started by telling me they didn't have my notes.

Once they were found I had my consultation with the surgeon. Her opening gambit to me was "These notes are very confusing. Are you having a Mirena coil put in?"

If I hadn't been in such a weakened state from lack of food and drink I might have concussed myself from banging my head repeatedly against the table. This may be the reason they ban folk from sustenance prior to operations.

Luckily something about yesterday's pre-op had given me an inkling this might happen so I had carefully written out my expectations for the operation, what drugs I am taking now, what drugs I expected afterwards.

Once we had sorted that out and I'd waited, and waited, and a bit more waiting I went up for the anaesthetic.

Frankly my dears, opiates are for the win.

I loved it.

I was only out for an hour and woke feeling refreshed, happy, compos mentis and in absolutely no pain.

Now, a few hours later, I'm on the sofa - watching my choice of TV - and feeling a little light headed but generally all good. It really wasn't bad at all.

You are welcome to leave comments pointing out that a) you told me so and b) that I should stop being such a big girl's blouse.

And in return, I want to wish all of you a FANTASTIC CHRISTMAS!

Have a great ones, dudes.


Thursday, 23 December 2010

Pre-Op (not in a transexual way)

It would be fair to say I was already feeling somewhat trepidacious about tomorrow’s operation, today’s pre-op appointment added new worries.

Oddly enough it wasn't the actual scrape (despite the archaic image that conjures) but the general anaesthetic that was causing me the most fear.

I imagined being strapped to a hospital trolley whilst a large rubber mask piping sleep-gas half suffocated me, or maybe cotton wool soaked in ethanol would be administered from behind whilst I struggle to free myself.

It is possible I have read too many Agatha Christie's.

I confided my fears to the husband who laughed in my face gently explained that nowadays anaesthetics are done by injection. So that was a relief.

(Although now I am imagining tranquiliser darts.)

Melodramatic? Moi?

But now I have a new worry. The girl (and yes, I do mean that in a somewhat derogatory way) who went through the pre-op form with me today was less than helpful.

She checked my file and confidently wrote down the procedure I was due to have ‘Hysteroscopy and Mirena Coil insertion’.

I gently pointed out I have had this. In August.

I tried to explain the procedure I was due to have but came up with an unforeseen problem. How the hell do you pronounce ‘curettage’? I tried three times before resorting to womb scrape.

She crossed out the Mirena Coil bit.

We continued the pre-op questions. At the end of the appointment I wasn’t happy. Call me pernickety but I was really quite keen to establish that they would perform the right operation.

The girl disregarded my concerns with a, “You haven’t signed the consent form so they won’t be able to do anything without you checking it is the right procedure.”

I countered with a “But do you have my up-to-date notes? Do you know what the surgery should be?”

“Your notes are all here” she confidently tapped the pile of notes from which only moments earlier she had extracted the wrong information about what procedure I was due to have.

“Yes, but, why then did you not have the right information about what procedure I am supposed to have tomorrow?”

She looked at me with utter incomprehension, her expression for all the world like my dog’s when I explain why he can’t eat any of my pizza. Eager to please, hopeful, but really very, very little going on behind the eyes (I leave it to you to decide whether that last sentence referred to my dog, the pre-op nurse, or both).

In one last desperate attempt to get her point across she reiterated that I’d be signing the consent form the next day so could check then.

Next I asked her what time I should get the husband to come and collected me after surgery. She was on much happier ground here stating, “Obviously we don’t have the list of appointments yet, so we don’t know when you’ll be finished.”

The use of the word ‘Obviously’ irked me. Is it ‘obvious’ that you wouldn’t have a list of operations happening tomorrow morning in your hospital. I mean I get there can be emergency admissions and not everything is set in stone, but a ball-park time, maybe?

No, clearly not.

So tomorrow I will be up earlier than a child at Christmas [see, keeping it topical] to go for an operation apparently of my choosing. What shall I go for? Designer Vagina? A bit of Christmas Vajazzle? (That last link is not suitable for work, if any of you are still at work.)


Saturday, 18 December 2010

A Christmas Cracker

Once again Womb For Improvement Incorporated brings you the game you can't afford to be without this Christmas.

Building on the long term success of Barren Bingo and last year's surprise hit Conceive Or Deceive, we are delighted to announce, new for 2010, Conceive Or Concede, based on much loved childhood games of Snakes and Ladders and the Monopoly Chance card.

This deceptively simple game give you the opportunity to pit chance against your uterus and see if you can get impregnated, or will you simply concede defeat?

Download the game here and (using your own dice and counters) simply throw the dice and see if you can get from cycle day one all the way to pregnancy on day thirty.

MANUFACTURERS NOTE: There have been some scurrilous rumours in the gutter press that this game is impossible. It is perfectly easy to win on your first go, you simply need to throw five sixes in a row.

DISCLAIMER: You success, or otherwise, in this game bears no actual bearing on your success at getting pregnant. This is born out by the fact that in controlled conditions men appear to be more successful at this game than women.


Wednesday, 15 December 2010

‘Twill be the day before Christmas

‘Twill be the day before Christmas, when all through the streets
People will be rushing, buying last minute treats
But Womb For Improvement will miss this preparation
As I’ll be in hospital for a womb-cleaning operation

I didn’t write to Santa, he didn’t get my letter
I’d emailed the nurses, but then gone one better
A plea to the Doc with my one festive wish
Brought a Christmas Eve appointment and an end to anguish

At half seven in the morning I’ll arrive, nill by mouth
And the doctor’s attentions will head further south
He’ll scurry up my chimney and clear out my womb
In the hope it’ll kick start next year’s Baby Boom

I have no idea how I’ll feel the next day
This site seems to think that I should be OK
But I suspect it’ll scupper my chance to indulge
How better to bypass the post-Christmas bulge?

****

This time apologies must go to, um, Clement Clarke Moore. And for those of you groaning at the back, I promise that this is the last poem post I'll do for a while (well the next date that lends itself to it is Burns Night in January and I don't think I could tackle 'Ode to a Haggis').

And for those who found the post a little obtuse: I emailed my consultant and his secretary called within hours, giving me an appointment for the 24 of December.


Monday, 13 December 2010

Elephantitis of the Topic

On Saturday we went round to dinner with a couple of mates.

Good friends. Old friends. They have a daughter who is a year and a half.

Within moments of entering their house my pregno-dar was off the hook, beeping like a Geiger-counter at Chernobyl.

It wasn't so much the refusal of wine, as the protruding stomach that gave it away. I'm guessing she is 3/4 months in.

We chatted all night, about work, mortgages, student protests, the state of the nation, Nigel Slater, the voice over man from Come Dine With Me - normal middle-class London chatter. What we didn't talk about was our infertility (they know, they've known for a couple of years - although don't know about this blog), or their pregnancy (I don't think they thought we'd clocked it).

It became almost a challenge. I engineered several openings for them, from asking how her work was going and how long she thought she'd stay where she was - the perfect opportunity for maternity-leave talk. To a discussion about their two bed-roomed house and if they were thinking of moving, she even went as far as talking in vague terms about if they, as a family, expanded. This, as she was expanding before my very eyes.

For me, the whole night was dominated by this elephant in the room. (A metaphorical one, she isn't that big).

It was almost painful. I wanted to say "So have you any news ... " trailing off and leaving a pregnant pause for a pregnancy announcement. But I've been at the other end of that kind of statement so I didn't. I just waited. And waited.

And they said nothing.

I presume they feel awkward telling us, knowing full well that we had already been trying for a couple of years when they (easily) conceived their first. But they must know we'll find out soon enough.

Obviously what they should have done was emailed or texted in advance. But as they hadn't I was a bit lost as what to say or do. Which prompted an idea. We need a James Bond-style code, one that is revealed on a strip of pregnancy test paper with the application of urine imbibed with the hCG hormone, (a which would denote a positive test, for those not in the know).

So we'd say, "The Salmon are migrating."

And if they are pregnant they'd respond with the revealed response "Yes, they return to where they are born to spawn."

And if they aren't pregnant they say, "What?! What the fuck are you going on about? You don't fish do you?"

So GSK, Unilever, and other manufacturers of pregnancy tests, do you reckon you could sort that one out for me?

Thanks.


Saturday, 11 December 2010

It Worked ... And It Didn't Work

On Friday, less than 24 hours after I emailed, I got a call from the nurse (the one the Doctor has specifically name checked as the person who would be booking me in for my appointment). I missed the call but got a long, rambling answer phone message, the essence of which was:

I'm not sure what the procedure you are going to be booked in for is, so it is difficult for me to advise you about how much recovery time you'll need.

The message was long with a real emphasis on how much time I may or may not need for recovery, which was incredibly frustrating. I don't really care about how much time I need to take off work. I'll deal with that when I have to. All I want to know is ‘WHEN IS MY APPOINTMENT?’.

In retrospect it is fair enough, my email concentrated on the recovery time. But that was just a way to draw her in. What I really wanted to make sure of was that somebody, somewhere is blocking out the Doctor's diary with my name in big bold letters.

So I sent another email thanking her for getting in touch and asked her if she thought there was anyone else I should possibly be in touch with.

I haven't heard back.

I think there are lessons to be learned from this.

Namely I should know my limits, and shouldn’t try to be clever in future.


Thursday, 9 December 2010

In Which I Try A Spot Of Manipulation

I am becoming more and more manipulative. And I like it.

Those who follow the nail-biting story of months of inactivity punctured by the brief flurries of excitement that is my quest for kids will know that, on Tuesday, I was promised a manual womb scrape.

This isn't the sort of offer a girl like me likes to turn down. Who needs a facial micro dermal abrasion when something like this is on offer?

The problem is I wasn't given an exact date. Just the vague promise of early January. And this from the same doctor who, in March, confidently predicted I'd have IVF in late Spring - not realising the next available appointment was in June, quite apart from the subsequent medical problems that was never going to happen.

So what to do? Back in the day, I would have waited patiently for a letter informing me of the appointment.

More recently I would have tried ringing and left numerous messages, on a machine that I strongly suspect doesn't have any tape in it, to try and secure the appointment.

Just last week I might have sent an email asking when my appointment would be.

Today I decided to try another tack. I emailed the nurse who is due to book me in, but, and here is the fiendishly clever bit:

The explicit purpose of the email wasn't to ask when my appointment would be.

I simply asked how many days she thought I'd need to take off work to recover from the general anaesthetic. And then I added, just as a casual side note, that it'd be good to get the date for the appointment soon, just so I could clear it with work.

See the difference? What I did was ask a question that would appeal to her caring, nurturing, professional-opinion side I even added, in brackets, that I had never had a general anaesthetic before. Thus displaying a heart-tugging amount of vulnerability. (That wasn't a lie, I haven't, the closest I have been to one was when the wombmate had her adenoids out aged 5. I remember her saying she woke up with sick on the pillow and I gave her a Mr Men book as a get well present, ever since the idea of a general has both repelled and appealed to me in equal measure.*)

So there you go, more manipulative than someone who posts on twitter "I am really upset" and sits back awaiting the direct messages.

How long do you reckon before I get a response?

*Obviously by recalling this 29 year old anecdote I am in no way suggesting that when I do have a general anaesthetic the womb mate should repay the debt by getting me a present.

Not at all.

I would never be so manipulative.

Nope.

Wombmate, Don't even let it cross your mind.

You put that purse away.

I mean, if you did want to get me maybe a ... I dunno ... DVD to watch from the sofa whilst recovering I obviously couldn't stop you.

(I'll send you my wish list from Amazon, shall I?).


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

There Is A Plan

The appointment today wasn’t quite what I expected.

I’d anticipated another biopsy so had done the requisite preparations (taken pain killers, shaved legs, waxed muff, painted toe nails – one likes to make a good impression) but it was just a chat about the next step.

And it was broadly positive.

The doctor seems to have a grudging admiration for the tenacity of my diseased womb lining.

“It just won’t shift. This is beyond a joke now.” He stated the obvious (and I wondered whether he’d read this blog, as the past few posts have also been beyond a joke).

The plan is to give me a curettage (manual scraping of the womb) in early January. Thankfully he wants to do this whilst I am under a general anaesthetic so, as he said “I can have a good rummage around without worrying about hurting you.” (I’m getting increasingly convinced he reads my blog, I’m sure I’ve used that phrase before).

This should clear my womb and then I am going to start taking Zoladex to bring on a menopause (reversible, he assured me). I’ll take this for one or two months depending on how well I respond. Which, looking on the brightside isn’t too bad, my office is freezing so hot flushes during January and February would be welcome.

Then I go straight onto IVF in February or March.

The doctor was incredibly positive about my chances with IVF, he was very complimentary about my egg quality and overall health. It is just this (very) bloody womb lining which prevents implantation, so there is no point in progressing until it is resolved.

I asked what they would do if the curettage and Zoladex didn’t work. Apparently I’ll go on the drugs for longer and he’ll look at freezing some embryos so that if there are further delays I won’t then be subjected to age-related infertility.

And if that doesn’t work, the next option is surrogacy.

“But it won’t come to that,” he pledged. His eyes narrowed, and suddenly he wasn’t speaking to me but levying a threat direct to my womb lining, “I’ve not failed before, and I am not about to be defeated now.”

I feel reassured, and looked after. I get the impression this is personal now, the doctor is looking out for me.

In fact, I was filled with such confidence that I forgot to ask about going private.

Now I just have to hope that I really do get my appointment for the womb deep-clean in early January rather than experiencing more delays.

And this Christmas I am going to overindulge without any guilt.


Sunday, 5 December 2010

You Are All Wonderful

Thank you all for your wonderful comments. They really did cheer me up. I want to thank you all individually. In fact *runs off and taps on computer for a moment* I just have. I've been a bit lazy about replying to comments recently, and I am sorry, I will do better.

Another big shout out goes to the husband who jettisoned his works Christmas party - and more importantly a free bar - to come home and sit with a wife who was quite frankly poor company.

Tuesday's appointment is creeping up, but I don't expect many answers. The Doctor will do another biopsy and, in my more optimistic moments I wonder if the second biopsy might give me the all clear. But I won't get the results for at least a week, or four.

The most I can hope from this appointment is options. What they'll do if the biopsy is clear (unlikely) or not (likely).

But I do think it is also time to discuss with the Doctor my treatment options. I am so grateful to the NHS for their virtually free service, but it isn't without its downsides.

Namely the waiting.

In the last year I have had three months of treatment and the rest of the time has been weeks of inactivity and waiting. If I had been doing all the tests and appointments privately I reckon it would have taken me a maximum of 5 months to get here, rather than almost a year.

I can't wait another year. I can't do this again. The time has come to throw money at the problem, or at the very least extract a solemn pledge from the Doctor that the fannying around will desist. (By which I mean the waiting, I suspect I have an awful lot fannying around still to come).


Thursday, 2 December 2010

Operation Mojo: Day 4: Results

I'll cut to the chase.

I got the long awaited biopsy results today.

It is a FAIL.

There is still some endometrial hyperplasia kicking around. I go back to the Doctor on Tuesday for another biopsy, and hysteroscopy and a plan of what they'll do next. I don't know what that will be, but I can be pretty confident that it won't be IVF in January.

I don't know what the mojo measurement for distraught is, but I imagine it is somewhere on a par with the temperatures here in London. (Minus figures, for those who aren't in the know).

I give up on the mojo challenge.

I am going to have a glass of wine just now. And maybe another cry. And a bath.

***

Updated to add:

It was the nurse who phoned with me with my results. She could tell I was upset with the news and didn't say much on the phone. But she has just sent me an email (at five to eight on a Thursday night) which is worth quoting in full.

Hi Elizabeth
I just wanted to say I am so sorry the results were not what we had all hoped for, and there is nothing I can say which will make you feel any better right now.

I hope after seeing Mr **** Tuesday things will not seem so dark.

I have asked the reception staff to send you a letter confirming this, however if you don't receive it, please still come to clinic 3 at 2-30 and advise them you are here to see him.

Do take care .
Elsa

I've said it before, and I will no doubt say it again, and again, but once you get past the administration fuck-ups the NHS staff are second to none.



Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Operation Mojo: Day 3: No Endorphins

Today's post was going to be about how the natural endorphins released by vigorous exercise can help restore the balance of one's moods.

However, my personal trainer cancelled on me, and the husband is out. So I won't be getting hot and sweaty with any man tonight.

Actually, fuck endorphins, finding out that I couldn't go for my training session raised my spirits immeasurably. Friends, I have tried, I have really, really tried, but ... I hate the gym.

When I started going (again) I pictured myself morphing in a few short months into one of those lycra-clad women. You know the type, the ones who don't wear a free, 5-year-old, radio-station, baggy T-shirt to the the gym. The women who just wear a bra to work out in, because they want to show off their washboard stomach (I have a washing machine stomach - complete with the gurgling noises). The women who can actually exercise in front of the floor-to-ceiling mirrors
without experiencing the urge to gouge their own eyes out. Women who finish their exercise glowing charmingly, not collapsed in a puddle emitting more heat than a domestic oven.

I will never join those ranks.

My personal trainer is encouraging, but I see myself reflected in his eyes. An uncoordinated, soft-round the edges, middle-aged woman (I'm not middle aged, I am a respectable 34 but this guy is about 24 so to him I am O-L-D). I swear some weeks, when he gets me to balance on some playground contraption and move one leg one way whilst doing something different with my arms he just does it for his own light relief, inwardly mocking me as I flail around like an epileptic disc jockey, (remember I am wearing an XFM breakfast show T-shirt - it all links up).

Actually the personal trainer is a nice guy, and I know he is trying his best with what I have presented him with. But I have grown to kinda hate him. So, apologies if this is your father's, brother's, lover's, favourite Jackson's or most revered female eunuch's name; but I am not going to be naming my first born Jermaine after this dude. He sacrificed all naming rights when he made me do squats, followed my pelvic thrusts in the weight room amongst all the steriod-pumped guys.

And if any one of you suggests that, even without the trainer, I could have gone to the gym by myself anyway then, so help me, I will find a way of blocking you from this site.

After an unexpected reprieve from exercise my mojo is now hovering around 5.

(Bought down by the fact I do feel a bit guilty for sofa snuggling tonight and, despite phone calls and emails, STILL no biopsy results.)


Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Operation Mojo: Day 2: Drag Queens

There are few things more likely to raise my spirits than man in a frock and disco tunes.

Unfortunately the husband refuses to indulge this passion other than the day we wed, when he wore a skirt and we danced with, almost, gay abandon to Donna Summer. (Alright so technically he wore a kilt, but my point stands, since that day he has been fully trousered).

Tonight I went to see the stage show of 'Priscilla Queen of the Desert'. Buff men in skimpy, sequined numbers belting out mojo-lifting tunes such as "I Will Survive" and "Someone Left The Cake Out in The Rain," (I'm sure there is a metaphor in there somewhere).

And what better way to end the show than with a rousing chorus of "Finally It Has Happened To Me"?

It is my new mantra.

I've been singing it all the way home, which has the added benefit of ensuring I got a double seat to myself on the bus.

Mojo rating: 8 out of 10.

(Down two points because I am STILL waiting for my biopsy results, it'll be a month tomorrow since they took the bloody sample).


Monday, 29 November 2010

Operation Mojo: Day 1: Hippy Cure

I have decided, rather than wait for my mojo to come back of its own volition, I have to actively pursue it. So I have given myself a task; every day this week I am going to try something different to regain my mojo.

Today is the turn of the hippy cure.

I've mentioned my in-laws and their crystal-waving ways before. I love them dearly, but they are on a whole different plain spiritually to me. They are the only people close to us who don't know about our quest for kids. We've wanted to tell them, we've even tried to tell them. I've blogged about it, several times. But I can't think of the words, and the husband is petrified of us being overwhelmed with new age cures.

However, it isn't just a barren womb that would prompt an inundatement of magic. The husband complained to them that he was still suffering after-effects of the dysentery. So they sent down some magic stickers.

I promise you I am not making this up.

Apparently the symbol on these stickers holds some arcane secret. You put one on the inside of your wrist (exhibit a)


Exhibit A

And (I quote) "The sticker will stay on as long as it needs."

So with nothing better to do I popped one on last Thursday. It is winter so I thought with long sleeves it would remain undetected. I now realise that I have a little 'tell' in meetings, when making a point I have a habit of pushing my sleeves up my arms, and in the past few days that body tick has been swiftly followed by me hurriedly pulling the sleeves right back down again.

The sticker fell off today (leaving an itchy red mark), so according to the rules that was as long as I needed.

Mojo still hovering at a lethargic, disgruntled two out of ten. That'll be a fail for the magic stickers.

Going to try something new tomorrow.


Saturday, 27 November 2010

I wouldn't bother if I was you

Infertility is a lot of things; painful, distressing, unfair.

For me, just now, it is mainly boring.

The whole year has lurched from waiting for appointments, to waiting for tests, and more tests, and delays, to waiting for the coil to be put in, to waiting three months for the coil to work, and waiting for the coil to be removed. Now I am STILL waiting for the results of the last biopsy, three and a half weeks after it was performed and a week and a half after I was due to have it.

I am fed up of preceding every sentence with, "If the results are ok ..."

I can't think of a single witticism or funny anecdote. Because nothing is happening, I am in limbo.

I even tried to write a post of twenty six words starting in alphabetical order, I was that bored. (I only got a far as "A Biopsy Can Determine Everything..." before I got bored of that too.)

Hmpf. Has anyone seen my mojo?


Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Vignettes

I know Wednesdays post was long but that was even after some judicious editing.

Below are a few little vignettes (I know look at me all fancy with the French words) that amused me at the time but were ruthlessly cut. I hope in reinstating them they, may prove diverting for you.

*****

Whilst in the waiting room one of my favourite Doctors emerged from his surgery (him of the Doc & The Dude fame). He looked at me blankly, "Are you here for a scan?" he enquired.

Charming.

This is a man who has worn me like a glove puppet, yet he looked me full in the face without a hint of recognition flickering across his countenance. As he moved off I grumbled quietly to the husband that I should be sitting in the waiting room 'fud oot'. (A charming Scottishism which can be essentially translated as 'exposing one's vagina'). However, the Doctor redeemed himself some minutes later by popping back and saying, "Sorry, I do recognise you now. Good Luck!"

And no, before you ask I wasn't flashing the second time he came past.

*****

Rather than haul me back in when (or if) I get my biopsy results the Doctor asked if it was OK if he phoned me. He asked for my phone number. (All this whilst the husband was sat right next to me - I didn't know where to look!) Anyway, he whipped out a hand-held mechanical device to note down my number, "Don't worry" he assured me "this is completely secure." I peered closer to see what high-tech spyware he was using.

An iPhone.

Using the standard notebook app.

He still hasn't called.

****

Once again the Doc was keen to impress on me the risks of IVF.

Twins, he said, were just about alright, triplets were a worry. Bashfully I admitted I would be happy with twins, being one myself. "Not from IVF" the doctor chortled. It wasn't a question, it was a statement.

Now, the oldest IVF child is Louise Brown, she is two years younger than me. So clearly I couldn't be an IVF child. Fair enough. But the doctor didn't even glance at my date of birth on the medical records before him. One look at my care-worn face and he dismissed the very idea that I could possibly be within the IVF age bracket. Bedside manner my arse.

****

When I went to collect my drugs and paid approximately 5% of their street value to take them home, the keen, fresh-faced pharmacist tried to get me to sign up for a prepayment scheme for his medicinal goodies. Telling me it would mean that "next time" I would have to pay significantly less for my potions. I gently pointed out that I rather hoped there wouldn't be a next time.

I'm not sure he got it.

***

So um... that's all I got really. Amuse me with an anecdote in the comments about your recent appointment.

Please.

I need distractions.

(Yes Wig, even you, you've been uncharacteristically quiet during this pregnancy. Can't think why. Was it something I said? xx)


Saturday, 20 November 2010

A Royal Engagement

Last week, in a flurry of flash photography, the (balding, horse-faced, dimwit*) second-in-line to the throne announced his engagement to his long-term girlfriend.

How we yawned.

The news has been greeted by my friends with a barrage of apathy, and a fizzing disinterest. Or it was, until T wondered aloud whether she and/or I would manage to get knocked up before Kate does. A train of thought that lead us to ponder whether her fertility has been fully probed.

And I do mean ‘probed’ literally.

I wonder if, to avoid the Saxe-Coburg Windsor dynasty going the way of the Tudors, there is now a royal decree that ensures potential consorts of monarchs should have their fertility investigated before the ring is handed over.

Has she had an HSG to ensure her tubes aren’t block? Have her anti-mullerian hormone levels been checked to ascertain that she has enough eggs to produce a brood to rival Queen Victoria’s nine children?

But as many of us know fertility doesn’t just rest with the woman. What if, having been given a clean bill of health she doesn’t conceive? Then you’d presume the efficacy of his aristocratic ejaculate would need to be analysed.

That opens a whole host of possibilities. I very much doubt he’d be whacking his royal sceptre whilst leafing through a copy of “Posh Totty” in a Harley Street clinic’s special wipe clean room. Doubtless he’d do it in the privacy of Buck House.

Which begs the question, who’d take his royal sample to be analysed? You’d have to hope he’d be more trust worthy than the Paul Burrells of this world, otherwise I forsee a black market springing up for the royal DNA.

He’d have to be pretty confident that his regal swimmers would end up under the microscope rather than shoved into the nearest breeder. Because, let’s face it, in that there Tupperware is the potential for the domination of Britain. If an enterprising young woman wanted to ensure the best possible inheritance for her progengy then surely it would be worth bribing the nearest courtier to allow her to swipe a turkey-baster full to try and ensure she succeeds where our Queen-in-waiting fails. (This does of course assume the problem lies in unexplained infertility rather than a genuine problem with his swimmers).

Because if Wills and Kate fail to produce, then next in line would then be a toss up between an illegitimate not quite test tube baby or Prince Harry (who if the scurrilous British press are to believed has about as much royal blood as me - or maybe a little bit less).

But I am jumping a head of myself. A large part of me feels sorry for the girl.

If I thought there was pressure to procreate from the moment I had a ring on my finger (wedding ring! tsk) then it’ll be nothing compared to the eyes of the nation on this couple. Talk about performance anxiety. How will she ‘just relax’ with that kind of media attention?

Anyway, I'm taking bets. How long after the wedding do you reckon her pregnancy will be announced?

*description added by the husband, he's not exactly a Royalist.



Wednesday, 17 November 2010

One step forward ... ?

It was, I suppose, inevitable that today's appointment wasn't going to go exactly to plan. When has any of my appointments?

The plan was to go through the results of the biopsy that I had two weeks ago, and (all being well) to start IVF.

Naturally the biopsy results weren't available

Scuppered from the start really.

But the Doctor valiantly soldiered on against administrative adversity.

We discussed possible ways forward.

The one scenario that the Doctor almost dismissed out of hand was the biopsy result showing the endometrial atypia hadn't been eradicated. He thought this was highly unlikely and decided to proceed with my protocol as though I've already had the all clear.

Although this might sound like a high risk strategy, it isn't - he is going to call me once the results are back and if there is a problem we will halt the wheels of IVF that, as of today, are in motion.

Yup, today I start birth control for two months.

That, Alanis, is irony.

Most women having IVF will be suppressed for a month first (by which I mean their ovaries are prevented from producing eggs, I'm not advocating removing their right to vote or ensuring they stay holed up in the kitchen from dawn 'til dusk).

Normally the Doctor would wait until the first day of my next period and then just give me birth control for a month. However, there are two factors preventing this being 'normal'.

1) I have a history of 80 day cycles and there is a worry that the endometrium, even if it has gone now, might grow back if they give it any time not closely and hormonally controlled. So I start the birth control as of today.

2) 'And why two months' worth rather than one?' I hear you cry. Because the IVF clinic is closed from the 10 December until the 10 of January. They say it is for a deep clean, although I can't help but think it is so they can spend December in an oblivion of Christmas cheer, with a ten day hangover tacked on the end.

So I am in a holding pattern until the 18th of January.

The exciting thing is I was given my own private pharmacy-worth of drugs for the entire treatment.

Obligatory drug photo here:

(That yellow and purple sharps bucket is going to play havoc with my colour-scheme)

The whole haul cost me the princely sum of £57.60 ($91.47). Oh, despite everything, I do love the NHS.

Even whilst at the pharmacy there was a glitch; one of the drugs they have prescribed is of the same family as a drug called Minocycline that I took when I was 19, as a contraception and something to keep my terrible PCOS-induced acne at bay. (One could argue that this wasn't needed as the acne was a contraceptive in itself). The drug gave me lupus (arthritis). Which I had for a year whilst various consultants scratched their head and wondered what on earth had bought it on, none of them even considering the Minocycline as it was such a common drug. Eventually I stopped taking the drug of my own accord and, literally overnight, I recovered.

Naturally, I am keen to avoid any similar drugs so there was much discussion about what to do about a replacement. In the end they are going to have a discussion internally (I wouldn't have needed it until January anyway) so we shall see what alternatives I have in the New Year.

All in all it was broadly positive. I just have to hope the biopsy result, when it does come, doesn't propell me back to square one.


Monday, 15 November 2010

I say, I say, I say

I got an anonymous comment on Friday's post (the one about how the fertiles tend to mishear us somewhat) it said:

On behalf of your fertile readership (I know we are in the minority!), can I request a follow up post to this with suggestions of what is the right thing to say. It can be a hard thing to get right!

As I was rubbing my hands with glee, and contemplating my response, I got a phone call from a mate.

She apologised for writing the comment, explaining that she was in a bad mood at the time.

I hadn’t even read the comment in a negative way (as trolls go my friends have a lot to learn), but it did get me thinking about how I can be misinterpreted.

So let me be clear.

Despite my acerbic rantings, I don't hate fertile folk, all some most of my best friends are fertile.

I would do anything to be fertile. (Well, I don’t know about anything, but certainly IVF).

Any bitterness that you detect in my writing is jealousy. Pure and simple. But not the sort of jealousy when you don't want anyone else to have what you don't.

That, plus the fact that I’ll do anything for a laugh, even a bit of fertile-bashing.

Please, don't take me too seriously.

And as for saying the wrong thing, if anyone understands 'foot in mouth' syndrome it is me. Remember, I am the girl who asked her friend, on his way to a funeral, whether he had a dead body in his car.

So back to the original question. What should you say?

Don't give advice, don't try and say what you think the infertiles want to hear (like how you met someone who got pregnant with IVF, or didn't get pregnant with IVF but then got pregnant when she gave up, or was told she could never get pregnant but then just chilled the fuck out and bingo).

Just say that you are sorry, and of course, "You should read this blog I know, Womb For Improvement, it's awesome."

That'd be good.


Friday, 12 November 2010

Hearing aid part 2

Following from Monday's post it can, of course, work both ways, there are times when they (the fertiles) mishear us:

We say: "I'm infertile."

They hear: "I'm melodramatic. I've only been trying for five minutes."

***

We say: "I'm having IVF."

They hear: "I'm definitely going to get pregnant. With sextuplets."

***

We say: "I can't get pregnant."

They hear: "I'm really stressed at work. I probably need a holiday."

***

We say: "I've been monitoring my cycles and I know from a combination of temperature charting and ovulation predictor kits that I am not getting the surge of Luteinizing Hormone that is required to trigger ovulation ..."

They hear: "Please tell me how to get pregnant because I don't have a clue. What is this 'sex' that you speak of?"

***

We say: "Sometimes it can feel physically painful to see parents in playgrounds on a Sunday afternoon with their young children."

They hear: "We have so much free time, and I can lie in all weekend."

***

We say: "We're having medical intervention to try and get pregnant."

They hear: "We can't be bothered having sex."

***

We say: "We've been trying to conceive, unsuccessfully, for a long time."

They hear: "We've been trying to conceive for one, or two, months. Bored now."

***

Come on, you did brilliantly in the comments from Monday's post. More please!


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Four years

I have just written a post and then deleted it. It was about today, our fourth wedding anniversary.

Every time I try to put into words how happy I am to be married to the husband, and how lucky I feel, it manages to read as either nauseatingly smug or saturated with sarcasm - depending on the internal tone of voice you choose to adopt. And, to be frank, I can't even fall back on the sex gag, it being our anniversary it just wouldn't be appropriate.

(I can't, for example, repeat the quip I made the other day after a disappointing meal out. "It wasn't very good, but it filled a hole" the husband grumbled, "I know exactly what you mean" I sighed. It was a JOKE - a rather good one I thought ... we only just made it to four years after that.)

So, instead of a post, I think my face on our wedding day sums up my feelings nicely.


Note: this was taken on the top of a double-decker London bus, hence the husband’s slightly awkward pose and the no smoking signs. And our friend taking the photo was below us, my chin isn't that big in reality.

But the smile, I still feel like that today.

And it would churlish to point out that today is another anniversary. Four fruitless years...

Lets hope this anniversary is both the fourth of many, and the very last.


Monday, 8 November 2010

Hearing aid

Infertiles hear things differently to other people.

They say: "So what's new?"

You hear: "Are you pregnant"

***

They say: "You look well!"

You hear: "You are glowing, are you pregnant?"

***

They say: "Happy Birthday"

You hear: "You're getting on a bit, isn't it time you have children?"

***

They say: "I've got some good news"

You hear: "I'm pregnant"

***

They say: "You'll never guess what!"

You hear: "I'm pregnant"

***

They say: "I feel a bit sick"

You hear: "I'm pregnant"

***

They say: "I'm pregnant"

You hear: "I'm pregnant, and you're not"

***

Any other suggestions?


Thursday, 4 November 2010

Hard Times

I love Dickens.

No, oh filthy-minded readership of mine, I refer to the author Charles, not to any below belt activity.

About six years ago I was living in a part of London called Somers Town. It is where Boz (as I like to call him) lived, and it is mentioned in several of his books. This coincided with a Dickens spree I went on. (Again. No! I merely am refering to reading several of his novels, cover to cover, back to back.)

I'd read of the exploits of Nicholas Nickleby, tales of him walking from Somers Town to the court on the Strand. I'd wander those same streets and wonder what it was like to live in Dickensian London.

Last week I got a little glimpse into that life.

That food poisoning I got in Morocco. Well, a stool sample confirmed it was, in fact, dysentery.

Fucking dysentery.

Luckily it had sorted itself out by the time I got the result.

Now I'm steering well clear of the young cock-er-ney scamps round my flat in case they impishly start to pull ribbons of brightly coloured 'kerchiefs from my waist-coat pocket whilst doffing their top hats and calling me guv'ner.

What is the most Victorian happening that you have encountered of late?


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Uncoiled

The coil has gone.

I am without contraception for the first time in three months.

I presented my eager beaver, and the biopsy was done swiftly and painfully, and has been sent to the lab for analysis to see if it has rid my womb of its atypical cells.

There is now a two-week wait until the appointment that will determine whether I can go ahead with IVF, or whether the Doctor will tell me where to shove it. (Note: I already know where to shove it and that hasn't helped to date).

I might spend the next 14 days peeing on ovulation tests. Just in case. Last time I had the coil removed I ovulated after just eleven days, admittedly that was with added clomid, but jut imagine if my womb is clear, and if I do ovulate, and if I do get pregnant and don't need IVF afterall.

Just imagine.

That's what I've been spending the afternoon doing.


Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Coil is in trouble


Double, double coil and trouble
Womb burn, and stomach bubble

Three days ‘til the coil goes
And I’ll see what the biopsy shows
I’m looking for IVF approval
The best outcome for coil removal
For three long months I’ve waited
For an outcome that has kept my breath baited

Double, double coil and trouble
Womb burn, and stomach bubble

Folic acid I must take
To ensure a healthy baby bake
Deny alcohol and puff of smoke
Remove all caffeine, even coke
Organic meat and nuts and grain
For a healthy conception game
Pineapple for implantation
Is the route to celebration

Going on a bit of a Halloween tip here. Even resurrecting a vintage header for the occasion.

Usual apologies to old Bill Shakespeare.

Until Wednesday, my friends, when hopefully I'll come before you uncoiled. But who knows what stunts the NHS will play before then.

Wish me luck!


Thursday, 28 October 2010

Phone Call

The number was blocked. I answered it anyway.

"Hello. Is that Elizabeth?" A gentle female voice inquired.

"Yes" For 'twas I, (the hospital tend not to shorten my first name).

"Hello, my darling, I am calling from the hysteroscopy clinic and we are just looking through the appointments for next week and I saw you have an appointment on Wednesday. Did you know that, my love?"

"Yes. Absolutely. To get the coil removed." I confirmed eagerly, this was a good sign that they were on top of everything, I mistakenly thought.

"Well, unfortunately the coil hasn't been in long enough to do its job. It needs three months." She delivered a crushing blow.

"But? What? I mean, I know and next week is exactly three months. 12 weeks." I stumbled.

"No because you have the coil inserted on the 11 of September so you see it can't possibly be three months. October, November ..."

"When I booked the appointment we counted 12 weeks, three months, let me check. Wait, a minute, 11 of September? I'm sure I had it inserted in August. Let me find the date." I'm on the point of doing the unthinkable, opening my blog on a work computer just so I can double check the day.

"Really, my love? [pause] Oh! yes here it is. 11 August."

Relieved, "Yes, that's right."

"So it still isn't quite three months, sweetheart."

"We counted it out when I booked the appointment!" An edge of hysteria creeping into my voice.

"Let's see" she patronised, "one, two, three, four, five" I could hear her tapping the weeks on her calendar, "six, seven, eight, nine, ten, er ... eleven, oh! Twelve. Yes you're right. Oh well, that's fine. See you next week, my love."

"Thanks, bye".

Another appointment crisis. This time averted. Just.


Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Round Up

Thank you all so much for making the womb-mate feel so welcome, I know she appreciated every one of your comments. And so did I.

The consensus seems to be not to worry about having an infertile child. (Odd that, considering this consensus was reached by a bunch of infertiles!). And that the wasted two years weren't a waste, everything helps.

As some of you noted, it might well mean that the two of us go through IVF at the same time. Although judging by the delays I've had to endure I'm not counting on anything. (But it would be kinda cool if we did go through it at the same time, and we were both successful ... maybe this is the way to have 'twins' without the risk factor).

And for those of you who were surprised to hear that I had a womb-mate this is the quite remarkable story of our birth. (Well, more specifically my birth, but she has a supporting role).

The Cous Cous Curse/ Tagine Trots/ Moroccan Rock'An'Roll-Around-On-The-Floor-Clutching-My-Stomach is still hanging around. The cramps got so bad at one point I began to wonder if the coil had somehow ruptured in my womb. But the lack of blood has been reassuring.

Talking of which, only one week today until I get uncoiled.

Oh, and a little thing that might interest you. I discovered the cure for infertility whilst on holiday. The teacher on the cooking class told us. Chicken Soup. Simple as. I don't mind telling you I feel like an utter numpty for wasting the last four years with various fertility treatments when the answer was staring at me from the inside of a Campell's Soup can all this time.

You live and learn, eh?


Monday, 25 October 2010

And relax ...

We went to Morocco.

It is one of those places I have longed to see but hesitated booking to go, I wasn't sure it was a place I'd like to visit if pregnant. Having three months of enforced contraception gave us a window of opportunity for exotic travel, so we grasped it. My fears of food poisoning turned out to be justified, but more on that later.

We went to Fes and Tangier. The latter at the husband's desire to keep it real and see the city feted as a destination for the beat poets and the literary dispossessed, the former because I wanted to see a bit of the touristy sights.

It was amazing. We stayed in guest houses, Riads, that looked like nothing from the outside - just a tiny door in a blank wall, but opened up tardis-like into courtyards dripping with foliage and gleaming with intricate tiles.

We plunged into the Medina (the old town), a space that seems to defy normal compass conventions, turning down blind alley after blind alley in streets so dense and tiny one wrong turn and you could walk into someones house without realising you had left the street behind.


Donkeys roamed these passageways, carrying loads as wide as the street and paying no attention to a couple of British tourists coming the other way.


On the streets that were wide enough for cars, drivers had a cavalier attitude to the laws of the road, just as pedestrians cultivated a kamicazi one. It was exciting, and at times terrifying.

We took a cooking class - learning how to roast aubergines (eggplants) on the hob to achieve the smokey flavour of their salads was worth the price of the class alone.

I had a hamman. A traditional steam then aggressive rub, removing any vestige of dead skin. For someone who has grown use to cheerfully displaying her vagina to anyone with medical training I found having a male attendant diligently scraping my whole body (with the exception of the part covered by my bikini bottoms) quite disconcerting. I resisted the urge to laugh at the absurdity of the situation until he reached my armpits - there was no keeping a straight face then. Afterwards my skin felt incredible, could this be the closest to baby soft skin I'll ever get?

I practiced my haggling skills. They were terrible. I managed to shave just three pounds off a beautiful leather bag, but it still cost significantly less than I would have spent in the UK so both the trader and I were happy. But, I am shamed to confess, I want the bag not for handbag (too big) or overnight case (too small) rather, how adorable would this look hung over the handles of a pram stuffed with nappies, a spare, tiny, pair of trousers and a bottle or two of milk?
Above all we relaxed. I don't know if it was having finished the pill but this week saw more ... ahem ... relaxation than the last three month combined. We relaxed frequently, and like rabbits. Such a shame it is all for nought until the coil is removed, still practice makes perfect.

But all good things come to an end and unfortunately ours was a premature one. On day 5 we were struck with fairly chronic food poisoning, that is still working its way out of our system in the most base way possible. We spent the last two days of the holiday shut in our room shuttling between the bed and the en suite. The unholy sounds that emanated from that en suite has scarred us both. I am not sure whether the husband and I will ever be able to be fully relaxed in each others company again.

*shudder*


Sunday, 17 October 2010

The End Of An Ordeal; Good News For Minors?

The coil has now been entrenched in the dark, moist, recesses of my hostile uterus for ten weeks. It was prescribed for three months and I am counting down the few days left until its eventual liberation*.

On the third of November, with none of the world's media watching, it will start its journey to freedom. Although the process will only take a few minutes for it will feel like much longer, as it makes its slow painful journey through the tight tunnel of my vagina. A space more use to a shaft going in than anything coming out.

It will emerge, bloodied, spent, but hopefully triumphant, after three months of non-stop work in frankly horrific conditions. Conditions that have to-date proven completely inhospitable to any form of life. A post-removal biopsy will confirm whether what it has done has been enough, whether it has chipped away at all the diseased womb-lining.

But whilst the coil has had to work in almost unbearable conditions it has not been completely abandoned. A oral progesterone team has been supporting the coil, conducting heroic rescue work on my womb from the outside. They started work the moment I was told that I needed to take progesterone for three months, the coil took a bit more kicking and screaming (on my part) before it was inserted.

Today the oral team have completed their twelve week stint. I have just taken my last pill.

Now we are in the downward slide towards the coil's removal. There is, quite literally light at the end of the tunnel.

Fingers crossed, the biopsy will be clear and I will be able to start IVF. Which will eventually give the husband and I an opportunity to raise our own minors. I might even rename my vagina 'camp hope' - or do you think that could be misconstrued?

With just two and half weeks to go until I can rid my womb of its unwanted inhabitant I am doing what any sensible person would do. I'm going on holiday today, for a week, a last opportunity to relax without intent before I have to really RELAX (because, as we all know, that is the only sure fire way to get pregnant). Allegedly.

But never fear you will not be totally abandoned. I have a very, very special guest post planned for Wednesday, from someone not usually given to bearing her soul in this way, so I urge you to read and lend a supportive comment - even if you normally only lurk here.

This is Womb For Improvement reporting from London, England and saying Goodbye (for a week or so).


*Regarding the Chilean miners (no, I don't know why they just sprung to mind either), you must read Adele's post on the topic.


Thursday, 14 October 2010

Acupuncture Appointment: The Dog Speaks

I tell you what, since I swapped my illustrious athletics career on the green fields of Walthamstow Dog Track for the mean streets on London I have seen some batshit crazy stuff. But today, this takes the dog biscuit.

Tonight started like any other. The flatmate (the shorter female version) comes home from wherever she goes during daylight hours. We go out for a walk. So far so normal. We take a new route, I'm always up for a bit of variety - new pee-mails to pick up, it is all good.

Suddenly she's ringing the bell of a strange house and we are careering up some stairs. There's a bloke at the top, who I swear I have never seen before in my life. But he seems to know me. He's all "Hello Moon, what a beautiful dog." Getting all in my face with his heavy patting. I mean come on, boundaries man, it isn't like I head straight for the crotch and get in about it for a good sniff. Well, ok, I do, but I'm a dog - I have an excuse.

The man, who for some reason reminded me of the vet that I occasionally get dragged to, tells the flatmate to strip down to her underwear and he'll be back in a moment.

Hang on a cotton picking minute. I won't claim to be the biggest expert in human relationships but I have a pretty strong hunch that she should be keeping her kit on in front of anyone who isn't the male flatmate. Still she covers her scanties with a blanket and I lie down and start to relax.

But no. The geezer comes back in the room. I'm up in a trice (I was always fast out of the trap).

And then, guys, you would not believe what happened then. He starts sticking pins in her. Pins! And she, she doesn't even flinch. It was like she was dead from the neck down, a charge I am sure I've heard the other flatmate levy at her of late. So I stick my cold, wet nose on a spare bit of flesh. But it is alright she can still feel something. Have you ever seen a grown woman levitate?

So this goes on for about an hour and all the while the two of them are jabbering on about women's things, periods, progesterone, emotions ... yadda, yadda, yadda. I relax back into sleep, drop an air biscuit (which for some reason is the source of great hilarity amongst the humans in the room) and start to gently snore.

It was alright. Weird. But alright. I might start coming to these acupuncture appointments on a more regular basis.


Wednesday, 13 October 2010

I Am Not A Single Young Man Writing From My Mother's Basement - FACT

My day was totally made today when I discovered that this blog had been name checked in The Independent's* list of top ten blogs written by folk who were neither pimply, single, or cauliflower-nosed. (It is a well defined demographic).

The full article is here.

My fifteen minutes of fame is here. Ok, so my blog isn't exactly one of the top ten but Handpicked Media (the blogging collective I am part of) is, and they chose to quote one of the lines I was most pleased with from this post.

That is all I wanted to say.

As you were.



*UK national newspaper

Yeah, so I was just in the online version.

In the Gadgets and Tech section.

In a pop up.

But let's not focus on that. National Newspaper, dudes!



Sunday, 10 October 2010

Ripped and Pumped

The title refers to my muscles, not some heady night in a five-star hotel room in the company of half of the Manchester United squad.

I am stronger than ever. When I started going to the gym I could barely hold 'the plank' for twenty seconds, now I can last a minute and could probably push it further if required. My personal trainer is telling me he is working me way harder than before - I can't tell the difference, every session still feels like torture to me.

My trousers are loser. My body is contracting, everything is getting tighter. Under this bodysuit of flab I am ripped. And therein lies the problem, the muscles aren't getting any closer to the surface.

At the time or writing I am just 1 pound lighter than I was at the the start of this athletic endeavour. And don't give me that 'muscles are heavier than fat' shit, I tentatively proposed that theory to my trainer and he looked rather doubtful and said that this might be the case for body builders who gain weight as they build muscle rather than lose fat but, in my case (he said, with a swift glance up and down my torso) he didn't think that was the case.

I have, however, got a theory as to why my scales aren't tipping any less. I am currently taking a triple dose of progesterone. For most people only one Cerazette (a progesterone only pill) is needed - I get to neck two pills on a daily basis; couple that with the Mirena coil leaking its progesterone-goodies into my uterus and I'm like a walking hormone (just not in the way that teenage boys are, quite the opposite in fact - remind me, what is this sex drive you speak of?).

Extensive googling library research has shown that many women who are just taking one dose of one of the aforementioned contraceptives often suffer horrendous side-effects, including weight gain.

So, quite frankly, managing to maintain a constant weight and actually feeling pretty darn good on it feels like a win.


Tuesday, 5 October 2010

BT = Baby Time

I was going to post about this ages ago but resisted because it was playing into ‘their’ hands. ‘Them’ being the advertisers. By mentioning it on my blog I would be doing exactly what they wanted, creating a buzz.

Shudder.

Capitalist, advertising scum*.

But, Comrades, I cannot be quiet any longer.

Allow me to back track.

There is a proud history in the UK of character-based advertising.

Take the Bisto family – for years we watched them have roast diner after roast diner slathered in thick unappealing gravy. We grew up with them.

Then there was the Gold Blend couple; one moment he is knocking on his neighbour’s door asking to borrow some sugar, next they are shagging on coffee beans and before you know it he is stuck in some high school library training the new generation of vampire killers.

Yes it is him:


The latest incarnation to hit our small screen is the BT (British Telecom, for you non-Brits) couple. It is very modern. She is (whisper) divorced, with two children. He is her toyboy whose stag do appeared to revolve around watching an online video in the middle of the day, as a testament to the protagonist's WiFi connection – rock and roll.

Here is a summary (although only half the screen appears in my browser, but you'll get the idea):



The latest cliff hanger had her on the phone. About to reveal something. BT wanted us to decide what. Can you guess? Can you?



Is she pregnant or not?

Ladies, I, sticking up for the infertiles, proudly voted for NOT PREGNANT. I mean come on, the woman already has two children, and the bloke hasn't done anything to convince me he should procreate.

But there was another reason for the no vote.

Surely it is time for mainstream advertising tackle an easy story line like secondary infertility – lets see how they manage to make the infertiles want to switch to a different type of broadband. Maybe they’ll show ‘Jane’ on the phone to another friend who announces their pregnancy – this will be a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate how the mute button on the phone works giving her a moment to scream and wail before taking the phone off mute and heartily congratulating her pal.

Or possibly BT could illustrate how important fast broadband is when googling the shit out of any conceivable (or should that be inconceivable?) twinge to see if it could be an early pregnancy symptom.

And as for their TV package, well, they could demonstrate the enormous channel options by showing the ubiquity of pregnant women on telly. Maybe have 'Jane' flicking through channels increasingly frustrated as she lurches from Super Nanny, to Smarter than an 10 year old, Kate plus 8 and “I have 13 children by 15 different fathers” (or whatever they call the Jeremy Kyle show nowadays).

However it turns out that not just me, but the nation voted. 1.6million of them. Bear in mind I voted that she wasn’t pregnant. 72% or 1,184,032 of the British public disagreed.

So she is now pregnant.

Now I can’t even rely on the ad breaks to give me a break from my fertility failings.



*Have I mentioned that the husband works in advertising?


Sunday, 3 October 2010

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

Regrets, I've had a few. Just few enough to mention:
  • Just about every haircut I have ever had. Luckily it grows, so no long term worries there.
  • Picking scabs on my legs as a child. I still have the scars - that, and my unfeasibly short legs, put an end to any ambitions I harboured as a leg model.
  • Not picking up on the small print about being liable for freeholder repairs when we purchased our flat - the eventual bill was the same as the price of my first flat. Literally. Gulp.
  • Staying at a job I hated for two years, rather than quitting it after 2 weeks when I realised it wasn't for me and if I stayed any longer I would be reduced to a weeping, quivering wreck. (I was, it wasn't pretty).
  • Picking the Etruscan module rather than Greek Literature in my final year at Uni. (No long term impact for this, but I'd already studied most of the texts for A Level, so missed an easy ride there).
  • Not asking my Mum how she made her lamb and mint casserole. I have never been able to recreate that dish.
All of these things I had absolute control over and I made a wrong decision. And I've regretted it. There are other worse things that have happened that were beyond my control, that I wish hadn't happened but I had no power over them, so therefore no regret.

Sorrow. But not regret.

It is for this reason that I am being so extreme about my pre-IVF plan. Realistically I don't think that the total abstinence of booze, or tea, is going to have a dramatic effect on my fertility. I am slightly dubious as to whether my weekly yoga class does anything other than hammer home just how unsupple I have become in the last ten years since I practiced yoga regularly. And I have to stifle a giggle sometimes, when my acupuncturist starts getting too overexcited about aligning energy or some such nonsense.

If, when the coil is removed in November, I am not deemed suitable for IVF, or have IVF and it fails, I don't want to be able to blame myself for any of it. I don't want to look back and wish I had done something differently.

And so far I feel relatively at ease with how I have played this hand I've been dealt. Sure, I wish I had pushed more for appointments and investigations and compressed the last four years into two. But generally I feel OK.

I don't even, not seriously, wish we had started trying for a child earlier. My infertility doesn't seem to be age related (yet). The husband and I have been together since we were teenagers, but we didn't rush into procreation, we started trying when we were both genuinely ready.

If we had started earlier I would have spent my twenties checking ovulation tests, abstaining from booze and saving for potential IVF. Instead my twenties were a time when I enjoyed living in London. I went out too late, I made friends who will be friends for life, I visited foreign countries, I clambered, in an ungainly manner, up the career ladder. And I had no idea that conception would prove so illusive.

Ignorance truly was bliss.

I don't regret that for a moment.

And I will do whatever I can to ensure that what comes next won't be a source of regret in the future.


Wednesday, 29 September 2010

In Which I Am Highly Inappropriate

Maybe it was the way that the shop had laid out the cards that made me do it. They'd chosen a chronological order; engagement cards, followed by wedding cards, followed by new home and then 'Congratulations on your baby' cards - because as we all know that is exactly how it works.

I'm only stunned they didn't squash the 'Deepest Sympathy' cards against the 'Congratulations on reaching 80' ones.

So I'm perusing the options for my friend's new baby. And somehow none of the cutesy ones with bunnies and booties and bouncing babies did it for me. I'm not fluffy at the best of times and, whilst I am delighted for my friend, if I'd sent any of them it just wouldn't have felt sincere.

I veered off into the humour section. I found a card that made me laugh out loud. I bought it.

In retrospect maybe it isn't the most appropriate one:












If you can't read it it says:

"Where do babies come from? The woman or the man?"
"The stork"
"But who fucks the stork?"
"Good question"

(Card by Cyanide and Happiness (c) http://www.explosm.net)

Sure, she might have to hide the card behind the others when her aged relatives come to adore the new baby, but it felt right. And it mentions babies so it is sort of topical.

And I do have a history of giving inappropriate cards.

I got this for the husband to mark our first wedding anniversary:

Words:
"This bloke I married in your church turned out to be a fucking waste of space."
"You still got the certificate?"

(card by Modern Toss)

I'm lucky I have some very forgiving friends / spouse.

And they do occasionally get their own back on me.


Sunday, 26 September 2010

When Good News is Bad News

"Do you want the good news or the bad news?" Asks the husband.

I'm in bed playing a game on my phone at full volume. The husband is getting undressed.

"The good news." I declare.

"There isn't any ..." he is waiting expectantly.

But I know his game, this has happened before. I know the 'bad news' is that I need to turn the sound off my phone because he wants to listen to music, or sleep. Or that I have to walk the dog tomorrow morning, despite it being his turn, because he's just had an email about an early meeting. Or he has just realised the prawns in the fridge are out of date so has had to chuck them.

"Do you want the bad news?"

"Nope"

"Oh"

He looks a little disconcerted. Gets ready for bed, on his way to the bathroom he turns back again. "Are you sure?"

"Yup." I mean how important can it be? And I know he'll tell me anyway.

He's back in the room, now looking positively worried, standing at the end of the bed shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

"Look I've got to tell you because otherwise if you don't know you'll only get upset later."

Shit, now I'm worried.

"Oh! You've got real bad news? What is it?"

"No, it isn't real bad news, I mean its good, but it'll upset you."

It could only be one thing.

"Who's pregnant?"

"Helen*"

Helen lives with Steve* who the husband use to work with. They are a lovely couple we don't see them very often, maybe a few times a year. The last few of times I saw her she wasn't drinking but this has been going on longer than nine months so it clearly wasn't a (viable) pregnancy that had been stopping her. So I suspected they were trying and having difficulty, and from the email they sent they had obviously clocked the same thing about us.

Steve's email was perfect. It was sent to the husband so he could break the news gently to me. It didn't include scan pictures, or massive excitement. He even said he hadn't done a mass email because this had been quite a sensitive issue for them and they were sensitive to others now, but they wanted us to know before we saw them for lunch on Sunday that she was "quite pregnant" (Seven months, it turned out. No hiding that.).

I still found myself in floods of tears, raging against fairness and asking why it was just me who can't get pregnant.

Quite frankly even as I was wailing it I knew it was blatantly untrue. I know lots several people who can't get pregnant. And it isn't even like I don't want people to get pregnant. But this news has come along with a spate of other announcements and, honestly, it is getting pretty lonely here at the bottom.

I remember the years before we started trying. I would be ridiculously excited when friends announced their pregnancies. I'd bombard them with questions, write their scan dates in my diary, be the first to shoot my hand out to cop a feel as soon as they said the baby was moving, buy a present when they reached the 12 week mark and squirrel it away until the birth-day. It isn't like that anymore. And I don't blame the pregnant person, but I resent infertility and how it has changed me.

But luckily pregnancy take nine long months. So by the time the baby is actually born I am excited and delighted for my friends. As I discovered to my delight 28 minutes ago, when I got a text announcing the birth of another friend's little girl.

*names changed to protect the fertile.



Thursday, 23 September 2010

Coming soon to a small screen near you ...

I don't normally nick content, or post you tube clips, but this was too perfect to ignore (it gets relevant from about 50 seconds in):



I am hoping for naming royalties of course.


Tuesday, 21 September 2010

How Am I Doing?

Do you remember my montage?

I am one month in and I have no doubt you are quite simply gagging to know whether WFI.2 has emerged from the chrysalis of my former self.

Let's break this one down.
  • Acupuncturist
No problems there. The guy is brilliant. Actually, I have no idea how he is as an acupuncturist other than he manages to stick pins in me and it doesn't hurt (which, I discovered after trying to pin a hem the other day, whilst wearing the trousers, is a rare skill). What I particularly like about him is that rather than skinning me for every penny he can make, with appointments every week, I am only having a session every three weeks whilst I'm on a conception hiatus. And he said I could bring the dog with me next time (that's got to be a post by itself).

  • Caffeine
I've had one diet coke. I'm drinking red bush tea like its the real thing. I've hardly had a cup of tea since July 2009 - this one is a piece of piss (which coincidentally is exactly how most herbal teas taste).
  • Booze
Not complete abstinence, anyone who read this post must have realised that was going to be tough. But we are talking one drink on a special occasion. A champagne cocktail at the top of the Gherkin with my cousins. A wee snifter at my bosses' leaving do. A glass of wine to help me through a particularly awkward social event. But, I promise you, no more than one glass a week. And I've got to keep my liver exercised, talking of which...
  • Gym
I am officially a Gym bunny.

Four times a week!

Fact.

After first three weeks I'd lost no weight, and I kept having to repeat the mantra "it is about health not scales, health not scales". However finally, this week I managed to skim off a profoundly unimpressive 3 pounds (yes, fine in one week but that is 3 pounds in a month). Pathetic - I'll lose more than that on the Euro millions this weekend (£23million Jackpot, how many rounds of IVF do you reckon that'd cover?).
  • Vitamins
This is a fail, which is ridiculous because it is by far the easiest thing to do. But I do have an excuse. Have you read the instructions on the package of preconception vitamins? Allow me to quote - "Use [insert brand name here] as soon as you start trying for a baby ... it can even be used up to 3 months before you start to try for a baby." This panicked me. Can I overdose on vitamins? And what if I take them for three months and then don't get pregnant for another, oh, let's pluck a time period out of the air ... four years. I have been taking these pills on and off for almost half a decade (does that sound dramatic enough?) so I actually decided to give my body a break. I'll start the pills in October - hopefully three months before I have IVF.

So as far as my montage goes, I reckon I've hit the rousing chorus bit.


Saturday, 18 September 2010

A Day At The Museum

I imagine that it is pretty apparent to all who read this blog that I nurture an inner geek.

I studied Ancient History and Classical Archaeology at University and then went on to do an MA in Museum Studies. Whilst my career has diverged from its original path, I have always had a soft spot for museums.

This morning I took my eldest nephew to the British Museum - ostensibly as a treat for him.

"First stop", I was cautioned by my sister, "wee wee".

It was only when I got to the toilets that I realised I was faced with a dilemma. Do I shove him into the Gents unaccompanied, or take him into the Ladies with me. We eyed each other, cautiously weighing up the possibilities.

"That's where the boys go." My nephew stated the obvious.

"Do you want to go in there?" I questioned, really meaning - 'Do you normally go in there?'

"Well." (He says 'well' a lot) "I could, but I think it is probably best I don't go by myself."

We gratefully agreed that he'd come into the ladies with me.

Next we went to collect the kids activity pack. The woman on the desk asked how old he was.

I smiled indulgently and asked the nephew to tell the lady his age, all the while wracking my brain; 'He's four, isn't he? Of course he's four he definitely isn't three and I'm sure he hasn't turned five yet'. But I knew if I guessed his age wrong he'd shout me down and I'd be marked as an abducteress.

Once he confirmed he was four and three quarters he was offered a treasure trail. "Well. Actually I've done that before and it is quite boring."

The attendee explained the back packs were for older children, "Well. I'm quite clever." He reassured her. "So I think I will be OK".

Naturally we took the Ancient Greek back pack.

We did the activities and I couldn't resist giving just a little bit more information than was on the cards. He was a bit overwhelmed by the idea of other people who lived differently so many years before he was born, "I always thought we were the first people." He confided.

Now I don't want to boast (I do, I really do, the whole point of this post is to boast) but he was entranced by my tales of the Labours of Herakles illustrated by the vase paintings. And later when we met up with his parents he remembered all the salient points about the many headed hydra who sprouts two heads for each one cut off, the fierce dog in the underworld with three heads, the birds that shoot their feathers as arrows. Yeah, mainly the violent stuff.

I really enjoyed myself and, despite being surrounded by children, I didn't think once about my own infertility; I was too busy answering questions, asking him what he thought and feeling a warm, little hand happily grasping my own.

And later, once reunited with his parents he asked if I was going to come with them. My heart swelled with joy and love, he'd had as much fun in my company as I'd had in his.

"Well. You should come with us, because then we can play on your iPhone."

I went home.


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Pontificating

The Pope and I have a lot in common.

We were both raised Catholic. Sure in adulthood our paths have diverged somewhat. Whilst he has really pushed Catholicism to the max, I got married in a Registry Office ... 'nuff said.

We are both opposed to contraception. Although the Pope takes this to a global scale, I insist on it only between the husband and I (and when I haven't been put on it for medical reasons). Indeed I positively encourage it in the wider world; anything to avoid yet another pregnancy announcement.

And I love kids, the Pope ... shall I not go there?

The Pontiff is about to arrive on our shores for a state visit. This has resulted in the newspapers going all out for stories featuring his Holiness - with links to previous, relevant articles. I can't imagine what it was about this headline (from 2008) that caught my eye:


The church has decreed that "most forms of artificial fertilisation were 'to be excluded' on the grounds that they replaced 'the conjugal act' as a means of reproduction". Believe me, the husband and I have conjugalled with the best of them (and more importantly with each other), IVF won't replace the act but hopefully be a hell of a lot more effective.

It appears that there is another issue with IVF, namely that very often there will be embryo's that are surplus to requirements and the difficulty lies in what to do with these. The Vatican's treatise on the subject appears to rule out every possible use for the embryos: their destruction, their donation to infertile couples and their use for therapeutic or experimental purposes.

I can see it isn't an easy decision. Months ago, when I had to sign all the IVF consent forms, my pen hovered over the 'what to do with the embryo's' tick box.

Even if the NHS was willing to put everything I produce back in, I wouldn't have gone for that option. I do want children but, please, not eight at once.

I have thought about donating to other couples, and I haven't ruled it out in the future, but I really think I need to have a child first before I start imagining whether another woman - however deserving - has born the fruit of my loins. Though quite what the Church's objection (beyond the replacement of the fruitless conjugal act) to this is, I am mystified.

Disposal. I would have difficulty flushing a dead goldfish down the pan. I don't think I could consent to this.

Use for experimental purposes. This isn't an easy decision. Even though rationally, unlike the Pope and his minions, I don't think this early cluster of cells is a life, but the idea of experimentation conjures up images of kittens with scart leads in the heads and electric shocks being administered by aliens in stainless steel laboratories.

But how did we get here?

How did we manage to get to the point that my eggs can be grown, harvested, kept in a liquid solution perfectly calibrated to encourage growth, be fertilised by sperm that have been individually quality controlled, left to divide and develop, to eventually be at a stage that then can go back into a womb and produce a perfect child.

It wasn't all theory worked out on the back of an envelope. Every stage was tested, experimented with, failed, tried again, refined and worked on. IVF is only possible because of previous embryos that were experimented on. And the process isn't flawless, there is still work to be done, refinements to be made, more couples who will be helped.

How can I not consent to using excess embryos (should there be some) for tests? Of course I consented.

So despite our uncanny similarities it would be fair to say that on this subject the Pope and I are most certainly not singing from the same hymn sheet.

Another point of difference between Benedict and I is I am not convinced of my papal infallibility.

So tell me do you disagree with me, or the Pope? Have you had to make a decision about embryos? What do you reckon?


Sunday, 12 September 2010

IF

If you can keep your happy face when all about you
Are announcing pregnancies and blaming faulty condoms
If you can remain calm when forever told to “just relax”
Yet make allowances for the naivety of the fertile
If you believe you’ll achieve conception, despite your own body’s effective contraception
Or you’ll carry a child, and not give way to miscarriage
Or allow your men to pause, without fear of hitting the menopause
And don’t panic at the tick of the biological clock

If you can talk at baby showers, and keep your tears in check
If you can read I.F, without seeing the word infertile
If you can plan more nine months hence
And not be stifled with thoughts of ‘maybe…’
But enjoy what happens day by day without mourning the life you planned

If you can meet your period and a positive ovulation and treat those two the same
If you can fill an unsuccessful cycle with 28 more days of hope and love
If you can be pumped full of hormones and remain unmoved
Not crying more, nor allowing yourself to dream

Then yours one day will be the child, and all the love born from sacrifice
And – which is more – you’ll no longer be infertile.

And you’ll be doing a fuck of a lot better than me.

(With apologies to Rudyard Kipling)


If you liked this, click here for some more of my better posts (sifting through the dross, so you don't have to).