So…a blog. Didn’t see this coming.

unnamedFor those who don’t have a clue who I am, my name is Keeley and I am a 39 year old Producer, who lives in East London (/ Essex border) with her gorgeous husband, aka Dwighty.

Some people know about our journey, others don’t but probably suspect/ assume, so I decided to have a go at writing this blog.  Not only to help me work through this strange, confusing, and hopefully exciting period in our lives, but also in the hope that by sharing my experiences I might help someone else feel something, something that resonates with them in some way, hopefully. There are people out there going through stuff good and bad, and it’s good to know that we aren’t all going mad and feeling all these things. Right?!

I know it can be a very sensitive subject, and a private one, but personally I’ve found it so much more liberating being completely open about our situation. One, I’m too old for people not to ask the bloody question, ” so how many kids do you have?”, or to completely avoid it as they assume (rightly or wrongly) something must be wrong for it to  have been so long and not have any, when we are very open about wanting the little blighters! Two, it saves a hell of a lot of exhausting lying about our alcohol intake and refusing social invitations, when we would always clearly go to anything and everything!  It just makes it all easier. The whole thing is stressful enough without lying to everyone you give a shit about.
There are a lot of amazing women writing about being a mum and all that that entails, from the challenge of life itself changing, to the much needed glass of vino, (I mean who doesn’t need that, kids or no kids!). But as I was searching around, there didn’t seem to be many writing or sharing about actually trying to be a mum in the first place. So here we go…
This is my first ever blog (it’s quite scary!),  and I’m still getting to grips with it all (ha technically that is, sorry I know they are supposed to be pretty straightforward!), but the aim is to share past and current experiences, not only of fertility treatment but the rest of life that goes with it. Don’t worry it won’t be all serious stuff, hopefully some light hearted humour will help!

Hopefully someone, somewhere, might find something in it for them. If not… haha, it’s going to be like therapy for me 🙂

K x

Eggs, Eggs, Eggs!

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Photocredit:@sohohouse – chose it because I loved it, and it’s better than an image of eggs!

The fact is, for me, it really does all come down to EGGS, EGGS, EGGS / EMBRYOS now. I mean I know it does for everyone, but given that we have tried nearly everything, had every test known to man and we still don’t know what happens to the little blighters once they are back in my gorgeous uterus, that’s what we have to really concentrate on. Not just me, I will hasten to add, Dwighty has to make sure those boys are also in tip top form as well. So now I’ve been switching a few things up to try and maximise the old “egg health”. These aren’t ground breaking solutions, and to be honest I’ve been doing a lot of it already, but what I’ve realised is at this stage in the game it’s all about the tweaking.

With this in mind, I found a great nutritionist (who also happens to live very close to my house, bonus) and booked up an appointment. This is the first time I have contemplated going to see a nutritionist throughout this whole process. I’m now thinking what the hell was I doing?! (and so are you probably). But hey we can’t regret what we didn’t do. The fact is, I am a generally fit and healthy person. We have always eaten a healthy balanced diet (for the most part), and the only real lifestyle change we had to make was ditching the booze, and let’s be honest a lot of what we need to do for our bodies during this time, is really just common sense (or is that just me?!). Obviously there are specific things if you have a specific issue that you are trying to address, but when you are in my position and “unexplained”, you often feel like you are throwing the kitchen sink at it, and just seeing what sticks! We eat shed loads of leafy greens, protein, pulses, rarely consume refined sugar (I mean we do occasionally, we are all human!), pomegranate juice daily and various other weird and wonderful items/ powders to supplement my diet. Over the last few years, I have cultivated my own “fertility diet”, drawing from various sources of inspiration, but what I was really interested in was whether I was actually doing it right (maybe needed some validation too;), and if there was any other item of the kitchen I could throw at this, aside from the sink, to make my eggs tip top ahead of round six.

Suffice to say I was pretty relieved, that after going through our diet, and talking about various facets of our treatment, she basically said, I don’t see there is anything I can do for your diet in general and that we were doing all the right things! Yeah!! (*maybe I should change my vocation!).

But what was really interesting was what she had to say about the supplements I was taking and actually a discussion around my thyroid.

Still with me?

Thryoid. Who knew how important this was in becoming pregnant, being pregnant and giving birth?! If any of you knew this going into treatment then I take off my hat to you, because I had no idea and I consider myself a fairly intelligent human being who passed GCSE Science with flying colours. I mean I know it regulates most of the body’s energy, and works bloody hard, but I had no idea what it does for pregnancy. During early pregnancy it’s crucial for the development of the baby’s brain and nervous system and the baby doesn’t start producing it’s own thyroid hormone until 18-20 weeks, so yours is still working extra hard. Apologies if this is sucking eggs for anyone (pardon the pun), but I would hazard a guess that there are a lot of people out there, particularly those who fall pregnant naturally, that have no idea!

During round 4 of treatment, my thyroid was tested and actually came back a little higher than ideal, so for rounds 4 & 5 I was on a course of Thyroxine to try and help reduce that level, but only during treatment, and like everything my dose changed a few times during a very short period.

So… when I saw lovely Jodie (I need to call her by her name because typing nutritionist every time is a bit tedious), she immediately asked about my thyroid levels. So we discussed them, and although my levels are actually “in range”, they are a little higher than ideal for making the babies, hence the Thyroxine. Ideally, so I’ve been told by my consultant, they like them to be between 1 – 2.6 for fertility, and mine generally sit around the 3.4 mark, therefore in their opinion very borderline and consequently I don’t fall into either camp of hyperthyroidism, or hypothyroidism. Therefore her first point of call, and the thing that she could add to my treatment, was how to bring that down naturally. Bingo! So the biggest things that I am doing right now, on top of the usual bits, are:

 

  • Eliminating gluten (wheat, spelt, barley, rye) and dairy, as these may be having an effect on my thyroid and immune health
  • Zinc rich foods to help with immune system and the thyroid: Oysters (don’t mind if I do;)), red meat (organic lamb and beef), pumpkin seeds; iodine rich foods: seaweeds. (nibbling on some ITSU seaweed thins as I type!)
  • Opting for a fluoride-free toothpaste (found one it’s pretty decent – Aloe Dent) and using a water filter, as fluoride can negatively impact the thyroid. The water thing is a bit of revelation, more just because it tastes so clean!
  • Avoiding raw green veg as these are goitrogens (substances that disrupt the production of thyroid hormones).
  • And am using a collagen protein, instead of a dairy protein, in smoothies, porridge etc.

 

And I have to say it’s all good, although I am missing my raw spinach in a smoothie. However, the gluten/ dairy elimination has been a little trickier. It’s not that I even eat that much bread/ pasta etc, but I do have the odd avo and sourdough, and I do love a decaff flat white or a cappuccino (I’m predictably middle class). It’s the small things though, ie that dash of milk in your tea, and actually you don’t realise how many products DO have gluten in, it’s incredible, and how many places don’t cater for it! I take my hat off to all those who are gluten/ wheat/ dairy intolerant and who suffer badly with reactions from these, it’s a minefield! I’m doing my absolute best and have found some interesting products, and this is the bit that I do love, finding new things to try and experiment with. I found a recipe for dairy free/ vegan butter yesterday, and I think I’m going to try it out! (I did buy some for the interim ready made but if I make it myself I cut out even more crap!). I do honestly have to laugh at myself sometimes, if you had said to me three years ago I would be making vegan butter I would have laughed in your face, whilst clutching a steak sandwich and quaffing on a glass of red!

Interestingly, following the appointment, I had my thyroid tested again last week and it came back lower than previously but still borderline, so my clinic have decided to put me on Thyroxine before my treatment, which they have never done before. I did question this, not only because I was pissed off that it was me that had asked for the test and brought it to their attention (I mean how much money am I paying them??!), but also because now I’m thinking maybe that would have made all the difference??! (am pretty sure it wouldn’t have been the primary reason btw), but that’s how the brain works doesn’t it?! However, having discussed with my consultant, I realise the reasons why they hadn’t. So now I’m thinking a bit of Thyroxine and all of the above, surely my thyroid is going to be screaming at the top of its lungs “Keels, you are a legend! ”. I live in hope.

So the food stuff has really just been a tweak.

Still here?… Excellent!

However what was really interesting, and clearly I am already preaching to many who have made these changes and who are probably thinking I am mental for not doing having done this already, but hey, was the discussion around supplements. I didn’t really realise that some of the supplements I’ve been taking, mainly revolving around my Holland & Barrett loyalty card, are basically a bit shit, full of synthetic rubbish and it’s very likely that my body hasn’t been absorbing them at all. So we’ve shelved all of the H&B and am now on purely organic products with all the right amounts of good stuff in! Clearly I now think that the next round is going to work because of this, I mean of course it is, otherwise I want all my money back!

I’m now taking a multivitamin, with everything I need in, including folate (not folic! Which of course I had read about, but no one (including my consultant) had told me any different, sometimes blind faith is dangerous!), Selenium (in drop form), Omega 3 and Ubiquinol (but I’ve changed brands from previous). Dwighty is also now just on a chewable multivit that has everything he needs. We are set.

 

THIS IS A GAME CHANGER!… who am I trying to kid?! BUT you never bloody know do you? So I’d rather try some new strategies, and fail, than never be in the race at all!

 

K x

 

Ps. I know that I don’t always use parentheses or quotation marks (in particular) correctly when writing these posts, but that’s just me and the way I write so yeah. It’s a Keelsism. Just wanted to point it out in case people were questioning whether I passed English… I did… a long time ago;)

The big 4-0!

 

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I mean what the hell, how did that happen?! I cannot be 40… I am no way near grown up enough, I still have to ask my mum about simple life tasks! But mostly I think the inevitable and most obvious thought enters your head first…wait I cannot be 40 and still not have a baby!

Half of my friends are well out the other side of having young children, and I haven’t even begun. It’s the old adage isn’t it, and it’s a terrible feeling, but I honestly just feel like we’ve been left behind. I always envisaged my friends and I’s kids playing together, hanging out at weekends, going on great holidays together and it all working because we all had kids the same age. At this rate, and all things being well, they’ll all be babysitting my kids! (but hey never look a gift horse in the mouth!).

I’ve seen this a lot recently actually, this concept of “being left behind”, and not always in relation to fertility. In a culture where we are constantly comparing our lives to others, I guess this feeling is inevitable, but it’s not good for us. I think there is a fine line between being ambitious in whatever sphere you want to apply that to, and being wholly aware of exactly where you are and what you actually need. A very smart cookie of a friend of mine, who is also a counsellor, said that actually decade birthdays (whichever they might be), are often times when we pause and reflect on where we are or aren’t, or thought we would be. Also, that as we age, we increasingly need to accept what we can’t control and just be ok with that, rather than fighting it. God, that couldn’t be truer than in fertility I think!

In relation to fertility though, the reality is that this is super hard. If you have made a conscious decision to not have children, then that is your prerogative, or have accepted that that is not your path in life, for whatever reason that might be, then I think it’s different. There is whole debate, which I’m not going to get into here, about the fact that some women are upset because they think having children is presumed to define you as a woman. They are absolutely right, it shouldn’t and it doesn’t, but for those of us who do want to be a mum, it absolutely does define us in every way, whether that’s right or wrong. However “strong” people think you are, or that indeed you believe yourself to be, when you can’t make something happen and that “something” is really your current identity, then that is, well it’s just sh*t.

I think the “being left behind” in fertility is just more evident as you get older, at least it feels like that to me and is my personal experience. Believe me, I’m not saying that you wouldn’t feel this at 26, and there may be a host of reasons why this would absolutely be relevant, dependent on everyone’s individual situation, but at 40 there are a shed load of other variables to consider. I don’t want this to sound negative, it’s just reality, and something you have to seriously consider. I guess that relates back to the “acceptance” of where you are and what you can’t change. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no giving up on this side, but the window for certain options is certainly getting smaller and that cannot be denied.

I’m 40! Aside from being classed as a geriatric mother since the day I started trying to conceive, now I’m categorically a dinosaur, barely capable of moving my zimmer frame through the clinic doors. I’m now in a completely different bracket, and even though I’ve been in the reduced fertility bracket for forever, now it will be the even sadder eyes that confront me every time I have to give my date of birth at my blood tests, and tick that tick box and it be reiterated to me, that “because of my age”, blah blah blah. OK, I know that I’m on another “drop off” stage, but I’m not out of the game yet!

Me at 40, what did I think I would see?

I saw myself still leading a successful career in production and bossing it like any other ambitious member of the sisterhood out there, alongside juggling the pressures of motherhood… like all of my friends.

I saw myself with a 3year old and possibly one on the way (cos it’s that easy!)

I saw us finding cool “family friendly” holiday destinations and I saw our nephews and nieces playing with our kids and looking after their “younger cousins”.

I saw me celebrating this year with my mates, maybe on a cheeky trip to somewhere sunny, quaffing prosecco and gin and dancing till late at a fabulous party I organised! (some of which I am still doing, with or without prosecco!)
But as they say, you can’t change where you are, and now I have a different path. Doesn’t mean that someday the “dreamed” path and the real one won’t converge but there’s definitely a different narrative and likely a different ending, and hopefully I don’t mean in a bad way.

 

So being 40 means different things for me now.

It means my fertility journey is still very much ongoing, in fact it’s entered into another phase. Another avenue of myriad options and decisions.

It means that there isn’t an awful lot to celebrate, that sounds awfully morose but I just mean not in the way I thought and hoped ie pregnant or with a young bubba. Fear not, I will still be celebrating, would be rude not to, it will just be without the f*ck off party (that’s for next year when all of these hopes have come true obviously!)

It means that I have been married to the love of my life and my absolute hero for nearly five years, and I am thankful for that everyday. I’m hoping by the time he is 40, I can give him the best birthday present ever! (Toyboy! haha he’s probably regretting the older woman choice now;)

It means I still don’t know when my “career break” will be over, but I accept that the decisions we have made have been for the right reasons and I still believe cultivating a better “self care” environment has only been a good thing.

It means that I cherish my family and my friends (and their kids) more than ever, I’m pretty damn lucky, they are awesome.

I take nothing for granted and I firmly believe that 41 will be the new 40!

Next year is my year to celebrate this milestone and converge those paths and tell a new story.

Well here’s hoping!

So bring on the celebrations, hand me that glass of fizz and let’s kick 40 into touch (for now).

 

K x

 

Photo Credit: Alice Tonge (she has always been my personal photographer;)))

Where the hell are we now?

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I realise that I haven’t really updated as to where the hell we are on this damn rollercoaster, but I’ve been enjoying myself! 🙂

I think after having our follow up appointment last week, it was actually really nice to switch off for a few days, digest all the information and make our plan from there…

So the appointment was as expected really.

Again we were unlucky, shock!

I guess the reality is that we really are, but it would nice to be told something we don’t know for a change. Obviously there was always a slightly lower chance with our last round, as we only had one egg and then embryo to roll the dice with, but in some ways I think I felt maybe this was a good thing, and the irony of all ironies would have been if that had been the one that had stuck!

It was interesting that the first question our consultant asked us, is what do you guys want to do? What do you feel you can do? I completely understand this question, given that we are now onto Round 6, and yes emotionally and financially it is bloody hard, BUT we are absolutely ready to go again, if there is a chance then we will take it. I also think that every couple/ individual is different as to how they react and no decision is a wrong decision if you know it to be true.

So this is now the plan…

Given that we have never got pregnant through IVF, there are questions around why the embryos aren’t implanting, despite all best efforts to help that with the old blood thinners/ immune treatment etc etc. A lot of this is down to my age, and my now low ovarian reserve, and consequently the quality of my eggs. Although we have never had a problem with fertilisation or supposed quality, clearly the embryos are not developing once they are back inside little old me. We had so many questions about the different options on how we try and ascertain exactly how we can get closer to understanding our embryo development. Ie if we got 4 next time round, could we put one or two back in and then see if a third goes to blastocyst and then put it back in. It’s very interesting, especially when you start to see/ read other stories about transfer and optimum days etc. My clinic believes in getting those bad boys back in, particularly in my situation, where we have a lower number of eggs and my age. The best place is back in the oven, which I don’t disagree with, but clearly you are always going over scenarios in your head! Oh and the only added benefit of having a “big” birthday this month, is apparently I now qualify for having three embryos transferred back, if we should even be so lucky to get that many! I don’t meant to sound trite, and that decision is never taken lightly, but to be honest, get those three bad boys in and let’s make a mini rugby team!

It’s a difficult one to process, as overall optimum egg/ sperm quality has always been paramount to us. We always eat a ridiculously healthy diet leading up to treatment (90% of the time ;)), we take the supplements, bucketfuls of water, no caffeine, no alcohol, blah blah… but we will try again this round to make this even better….

So, what are we doing differently…

I am adding back in UBIQUINOL and more Omega 3 (on top of Folic and Vit D), and Dwighty is upping VIT E and adding Wellman (on top of Zinc, Sellenium, and) Vit C. I am also going to start taking DHEA, which could worst case scenario have some interesting side effects. Essentially it’s a testerone supplement, as apparently the level of this drops off in the female body after the age of 25 and is very important in baby making (I mean again who knew?!)… so it may transpire that I start sporting a rather fetching whispy hipster beard, teenage acne and sound more like Dwighty, but hey in for a penny, in for a pound! N.b clearly if any of these side effects starts to happen I stop immediately under advice of the doctor!

I also may have another drug leading up to treatment if my immunes are high, which is something different to what I’ve had previously, and is a tablet rather than an infusion which should be interesting (eek can’t remember the name of it, but again whack it in there!).

I’m reducing even further “our toxic load”, using organic alternatives for cleaning products, body lotion, deodorant, moisturisers etc. I mean why not!?! I think Dwight might think I’m going mad, but if we don’t try it we’ll never have to say “what if”.

All in all, we are aiming to go ahead again and try and make something stick, but to give all these things the best chances of working, it’s likely we won’t have treatment again now until the end of May. Throw into that, acupuncture, fertility massage, energy therapy, and I’m going to see a nutritionist to make sure I’m not making it all up, I’m not sure there are any other bases we can cover!

Once we have had our next round, and should it not happen again (for gods sake it has to be our time!), there are then other options we will need to consider, and have already spoken with our consultant about,  depending on how many more times we want to try and make it happen with just us.

We will enjoy my birthday “month” (it has sort of become a month long celebration, which is something our families are quite keen on – I mean who am I to argue/!), indulge in a few glasses of bubbles, and then we will be back to living like saints and eating like vegan yogees! (which I secretly love, most of the time!;))

I guess today’s @YESMUM Fertility card pretty much sums it up – I TAKE EACH DAY AS IT COMES!

K x x

Ps. Apologies if that wasn’t injected with the usual amount of humour I reserve for blog posts, but when there is a shed load of information, that even I don’t remember, I think it’s less confusing to just get it all down!

IVF – loves a bloody abbreviation!

IVF... WTF is a ..???

 

So following my shameful admission on Insta stories, that I didn’t actually know that TTC was the common parlance for this process we are all going through, sorry about that, I decided to bring myself bang up to date on all things in the IVF abbreviation world! You may all be laughing at me, and given that I’m about to embark on round number 5, that these would/ should be ingrained on my brain already.

However, I feel like I need to explain why I don’t know, or rather haven’t engaged in a lot of these abbreviations to date. When we first started out on our fertility journey, I did initially go onto some forums / message boards, but I almost immediately realised that they just weren’t for me. I actually found most of them really negative and really serious (I’m not pretending this isn’t serious, but everything needs a little hint of a smile surely?),  and all they did was use abbreviations, so I just stopped. The instagram community is completely different, couldn’t be more different. Yes, lots of people do use these abbreviations, but it feels like a completely different context for some reason. It’s positive, supportive and cuddly and often feels like I’m on an American High School Cheerleading team (without having to be back in high school, or indeed dressed in tan tights and leotards!), which is brilliant!

We decided, however, that we would not surround ourselves with negativity or guesswork, and although we did plenty of research about our treatments/ investigations, we just made sure to ask the right people the right questions. Every one is different, and everyone has a different plan. (REMEMBER DON’T COMPARE!) At least Dwighty asked the right questions, I was always a bit overwhelmed by those meetings, having dropped my trousers and had a cold wand up there, I felt my bit was done! 🙂 That is not to say that I don’t completely understand why they are used so extensively. Most of the terms, procedures etc have lengthy and not the most tactile of names/ labels, but I just can’t get to grips with them. I’m one of those people that don’t use abbreviations in text messages, I have to write words in full and compose a text as I would a conversation. Aside from a few emojis and using “lols” ironically, that’s as far as I go.

The other reason why I thought this post might be useful, is actually for all the people who aren’t necessarily in the TTC (see what I did there!) community, or maybe you are and you are like me, or just starting out on this confusing, exciting, exhausting but hopefully rewarding journey.

Part of the reason I started the blog was to help people who weren’t in the process, those slightly on the outside ie friends and family, in trying to help understand it. Trying to help them be able to be informed about how you might be feeling and about how the whole thing bloody works to be honest. Also, just to give an insight into why your friends might be cancelling last minute, because the woman feels like a beached whale and can’t sit comfortably at a dinner table for long periods of time, or that they need to take an injection in their arse, which isn’t conducive to drinks in the pub. One of the biggest compliments I’ve had to date about my blog, was from an editor I worked with a couple of times, who found my blog through another colleague of his. He sent me a message to say thanks, because one of his best friends was just about to go through it, and he wasn’t sure how to talk to her about it, but reading my thoughts, really helped him to find a way. It made me smile and cry at the same time, I mean HOW NICE IS THAT!?

For me, and I know everyone is different, it’s really important for people to understand what this is all about, and the most humbling thing for me has been the fact that some of my friends, and a couple in particular, have really gone out of their way to read about IVF, to really take in my words, and even follow a few of the TTC community on Instagram to really try and be on my side. You can’t buy that shit!

So below is a list (not exhaustive as there are SOOOOO many!), of the most common references you might see or hear people refer to. Most of them are pretty self explanatory, but some not… and some I’ve put a VERY brief explanation next to:

n.b I am not a DOCTOR, this is all information widely available on the interweb.

p.s this is really for people outside TTC, or people just starting their journey, or an ignoramus like meJ

2WW – Two week wait

10dp3dt – 10 days past 3day transfer – (transfer meaning when the fertilised eggs are inserted back into the uterus)

AF – Aunt Flo = period arriving / bleeding starting – surely there is a better one for this, it feels a little antiquated? No? Especially when I looked up it’s supposed origin from the 1950s!)

BBT – Basal Body Temperature –   (this terms refers to when women are monitoring their ovulation during their cycle, and is taken when your body is at rest ie when you first wake up in the morning. The change in temperature indicates when ovulation occurs)

BCP – Birth Control Pill

BETAhCG level blood test – literally had never heard this term before, until everyone has been referring to it on Instagram! This measures your HCG(pregnancy hormone) levels.

BFP/ BFNBig Fat Positive/Negative

CD – Cycle Day

DH/DW/DS/DDDear Husband/Wife/Son/Daughter – not sure how Dwighty would feel if I called him Dear Husband, he freaks out if I call him by his first name!

EDEgg Donor

EDDEstimated due date

ER / ET  –  Embryo Retrieval/Transfer

FSH Follical Stimulating Hormone – these are the drugs taken during treatment to do exactly what they say on the tin.

FET – Frozen Embryo Transfer 

hCG – Human Chorionic Gonadfotropin – this is the “pregnancy hormone” that is looked for when taking a pregnancy test. It is also a way of indicating how the pregnancy is progressing in the early days of a positive test. If the HCG falls or does not develop at the right rate, it’s likely the pregnancy won’t be viable. You would not know this detail in a natural pregnancy, you would just know you were pregnant and then go for a scan when you were told. And I think actually not every clinic does this, but I know mine does.

HPTHome Pregnancy Test 

ICSI – Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection – is when sperm is injected directly into the egg.

IUI – Intra-Uterine Insemination – deliberately introducing sperm into the uterus/ cervix

IVF In Vitro Fertilization – fertilisation of egg and sperm happens outside the body

IVIg – Intra-venous immunoglobulin therapy – I’ve had a few of these! It’s basically blood plasma (it’s not red!), and is used to help balance your NK cells. (there is also another version called Intralipids)

LMP – Last Menstrual Period

LH – Luteinizing Hormone – this hormone basically triggers ovulation and release of the egg from the ovary.

LPLuteal Phase – occurs after ovulation and before your period starts. It’s the stage in the cycle when the lining of the uterus gets thicker to prepare for possible pregnancy

MFMale Factor 

NK Cells – Natural Killer Cells – a type of white blood cell that lives in the immune system to help your system keep your body in balance. Ie reject infected cells, but equally they are really important in keeping a pregnancy healthy. Unfortunate term, it doesn’t mean they KILL everything off! And actually it’s a very contentious area of fertility treatment in terms of how your immunes contribute or don’t to the process.

OHSS – Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome – obviously you are stimulated in IVF with drugs, and overstimulated ovaries release chemicals into the blood stream. These fluids can cause problems in other areas of the body.

PCO – Polycystic Ovarian Disease 

PCOS Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

PGDPreimplantation Genetic Diagnosis – Once fertilised, the embryos develop for 5-6 days and then a number of cells are removed from each embryo. The genetic material (DNA or chromosomes) within these cells of the embryo is then tested for the genetic or chromosomal abnormality

PID – Pelvic Inflammatory Disease 

POAS – Pee on a stick (ie home pregnancy test)

PUPOPregnant Until Proven Otherwise – again I had to look this one up! Doesn’t necessarily roll off the tongue for me.

TTC – Trying To Conceive – there it is!

So helpful for some, possibly a laugh for others, I am prepared to be mocked don’t worry.

Just thought it might be a good idea.

Anyway I’m off, because AF might be on her way in, as it’s nearly CD, and am keen to see what my NK cells are doing, and whether I need a good old dose of IVIG 😉 God knows what the DH is up to?!

K

x

 

 

Here we go again…

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Here we go again…

So here we are, back in that lead up to starting treatment. That funny place, where you are desperately trying to top up your body with goodness, relax, and create good energy, and yet not start to stress, feel anxious or overthink what is about to consume your every last breath for the coming weeks.

Bizarrely I quite like this period of time, I feel like all I’m doing is good, although there can be a fine line between feeling fulfilled and being sanctimonious and smug! Which to be honest, I don’t have a problem with, I mean why not?! It might only be because I’m not waking up with hangover at the weekends, that I’m doing more with my days, that my skin is cleaner and hydrated, but I’ll take it. To be honest, in the context of why I am smug, I reckon I’ve earned a right to a small period of smugness. It’s not a feeling I have ever felt comfortable with or like in others, but sod it, if at the moment espousing what makes me feel good and trying to share that with other people, makes me that way, that is me. Mrs Smug. I’m also excited, genuinely excited, not about the endless injections and scans, although they don’t even bother me that much anymore, but about the possibility. I mean that’s why we are on this rollercoaster, to make sure there is a possibility that we can get off with an extra person on board.

Body – Smug Part 1

Part of this smugness comes from the process of putting all that goodness in. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you aren’t always good, but balance is good right! However on the whole, making sure we are getting plenty of protein, eating only good fats and staying away from as much “toxicity” as possible. HAHA having been inundated with articles and documentaries about plastics, I have been trying to be more aware of my part in that… put it this way, it might only be my reusable coffee cup from Natural Kitchen, but that’s good right, small things make big change.

Having finally succumbed to being ill after Christmas, I feel great again. Still got that lingering cough that EVERYONE has had but genuinely feel pretty good. Although I have to admit, having not been ill for over a year, I wasn’t very good at it, and Dwighty was very patient with me!

The one thing that we have always kept up, well we’ve had our lapses I mean we are human (and forgetful), is taking the old vitamin supplements. It was one of the good pieces of advice that we took from our first clinic, particularly for Dwighty. I’ve tried to keep it as simple as possible, and not to try and listen to too much information, or succumbing to any of these “fertility cocktails” or specific vitamins targeting on different aspects of the process, but more just a straight forward approach to overall wellbeing. I think some of it can be really contradictory, I wish there was just a consolidated cheat sheet as to what is good and why, I think that adds to half the stress sometimes. All you want to do is the right thing, but then you hear something different, and you doubt what you are currently doing, that can’t be good or right in my book.

Despite this, Dwighty has a daily intoxicating cocktail of Vitamin C, Zinc, Selenium, and Vitamin E, and I, the wonderful folic acid and good old dose of Vitamin D! Exciting eh?! Vit D is something that the clinic recommended to me after our first round with them, my levels were a little low (Round 3), and I do honestly believe it has made a difference. However I think if you are eating well, then these are just a little top up bonus, maybe even psychologically they do more good than physiologically, who knows, but we will take what we are told! Put it this way my Holland Barrett loyalty card is getting some serious attention these days!This time round, I have however also bought into a few powders to add to the daily smoothies, again just thought why not?! Maca powder, to just help hormonal balance and a little combo of Supergreens, again for a little top up.Finding recipes, tweaking them a bit, and Dwightyfying them is actually really interesting and I sort of love it.

Having said all of the above, I genuinely believe that if you are eating a healthy well balanced diet then that is half the battle. I mean a family bucket of KFC and a litre of coke is definitely not what you need, however much protein you think that battered drumstick is giving you, but don’t sweat the small stuff.

Mind – Smug part 2

This is the tricky one isn’t it? As those who are going through it know, this is the part where smugness is a harder feeling to conjure. On the surface you are in control, positive, peaceful, resilient and strong. The archetypal IVF WARRIOR. The next layer down is doubting whether the first feelings are actually real, or you just know that that is how you are supposed to feel and therefore enforcing it to be the case. The next one down is “sh******t”, do I really have to do this all again? I don’t want to inject, be bruised, feel bloated and crap. What if it doesn’t work? How many more times will this have to happen before we get our dream baby?

For me, personally, I try and mix all those layers together. It’s hard to ignore the negative bits and it’s good to recognise them, but then you can tell them to f*ck off and walk about with a positive sense of purpose and tell yourself that actually you are both pretty amazing to do all this, so go with the flow and try not be consumed by it. It’s an almost impossible ambition, but we are where we are.

Soul – Smug part 3

I guess this is where my smugness comes creeping back round the corner. I think IVF saps the first two, mind and body, but somehow the soul always manages to stay intact, maybe sometimes by a thread, but it stays. Dwighty and I have good souls and I’m proud to say that, and although I don’t necessarily believe in karma, I do believe that good things happen to good people. So for now, that’s as much as we need.

K x

Aka Mrs Smug

N.B IVF diary purchased from @a_diary_for_ivf – although I did buy a notebook to hold all things IVF, I couldn’t resist this as I wish I had come up with the idea, and also to support a small business!

 

 

 

 

Limboland.

LIMBOimage

No, not the homeland of the 60s dance sensation, but one of the most frustrating places to visit whilst going through fertility treatment, made even more so as it’s a somewhere you visit often! I’ve got a bloody loyalty card to the place.

This is where we have been for the last few weeks, which I guess explains the slight radio silence… unusual for me!

After suffering the disappointment, we rode the wave of positivity and moving on, enjoying spending time with friends and family, partaking in some fine wine and just trying to get back to some sort of “normal”.

HAHA and then reality came crashing in! A couple of weeks after the “call”, meltdown occurred:)

I guess it was pretty expected, but it wasn’t expected from me. I think one of the most difficult aspects of this whole journey is time. It’s impossible to manage, impossible to predict and a nightmare to try and negotiate.

I think suddenly the realisation that we had to go through all of this again, and that we have no idea how long this might go on for was overwhelming, and consequently made me feel sort of directionless. On top of this, we still had to wait for our follow up debrief appointment with the clinic, and this happened about 10 days ago (three weeks after the “call”), which again felt like an eternity. I think that the wait was just driving me mad, as at that point there was no plan. I had no sense of what was coming next or when, and that is just really hard.

After planning for so long, it’s hard to not have a plan, especially for someone like me whose whole job used to basically be making a plan!

Alongside this was the fact that we really had no idea what they would say at that follow up appointment, I mean we thought we had an idea, but you never know!

And… we were kind of right on both counts. They too had been hopeful that this round would have worked, for all the same reasons that we did, and there is still no explanation as to why it didn’t. I think this is what some don’t really realise about IVF, and indeed is hard even when you do, that when that embryo goes back in there is nothing “medically” that they can do to ensure success. Nature has to takeover, as you would of course want it to, but it’s hard to accept that you can control (to an extent), everything up to that point, and then you just can’t! And that there is no way of tracking what happens to that little embryo on it’s 10-14 day journey to implantation or not. However, what was discussed was investigating other “possibilities” for the reasons for it not working, which was music to our ears. It was so lovely to hear that they didn’t just want to take our money and go again in blind hope, but they are continually searching for reasons as to why it isn’t happening and one of these might be a genetic chromosome defect. One explanation is that perhaps mine or Dwighty’s chromsomes might be “translocating” (oh yes), and therefore throwing off the balance of those chromosomes and consequently creating a genetic defect whereby the embryo becomes “unviable”. Yeah I know right???!! This is basically a blood test, although they can also perform this test on embryos before they are transferred, but there are more risks involved as they are having to “disturb” the embryo to get the genetic information which they like to avoid, so it makes sense.

If this is the case then this isn’t good news for us, as it means that treatment we are currently following (IVF) would be futile, and although it is very rare for this to be the case, it’s still a possibility. SO… we are currently having our bloods screened for this very scenario, another process that takes 4-6 weeks, so just in time for Christmas! Will either be a great or a shit Christmas present! Super!

If they come back negative, then at least this is another thing we can rule out as being the reason we haven’t fallen pregnant again, which is great, and gives us hope to keep going! I will then have my immunes tested again, to see how my friendly Cytokines are behaving, and if they are all good, we could go again from January, which is exciting (along with the usual trepidation). If it’s positive… we have to completely reassess. We aren’t going there yet.

For now we are keeping everything crossed that this is just a formality, and that the IVF train will be back in full motion in the New Year…Bring it!

So the positivity is back, because there is a plan, and who doesn’t love a plan!?!

K x

 

Managing disappointment… again

 

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I’m not usually one for posting motivational quotes but I found this and it definitely resonated with me. I also just found it really tricky to find an image to go with this post…HAHA no formula or filter for Instagram for this:)

One of the most exhausting aspects of this wonderful process is picking yourself up after a setback. This is where we find ourselves again…unfortunately over the weekend we had our pregnancy test and got that dreaded phone call to tell us “we are sorry but the result is negative”.

As I answered the phone, whilst pondering over a pair of trainers in New Balance on Oxford St, the world fell silent as I heard those very painful words. I closed my eyes and shook my head, as Dwighty looked on helpless and tried to get rid of a slightly shocked shop assistant (poor girl!). We made a quick exit and just stood and hugged each other outside, as the rest of the Saturday shoppers went about their business, oblivious to what we were going through. It’s always a surreal ten minutes straight after “the call”, you are processing the information and working out how you feel, but equally you go a bit numb and it’s very difficult to make any decisions. Luckily we have a pretty standard strategy (having had to deal with this a few times!), which is wander around town, often partake in a glass of something, find some gorgeous bites to eat and then find somewhere else until we feel we should go home (more often that not after too many glasses, which was certainly the case this time). Might not be the right answer, and isn’t everyone’s way of dealing with things, but it’s ours. Fact – I have not missed hangovers!!

As we are gluttons for punishment, you’d think that getting bad news is something we are used to, and it’s true to an extent that we are conditioned to it, and have learnt how to manage this, but it’s still shit. Mostly because, although we never get ahead of ourselves as we know how cruel this friend of ours is, we just thought this was our time. I genuinely felt like this time was different, it felt more calm, more positive (mentally and scientifically) and for f*cks sake it’s our bloody turn!

But the reality is, IVF is a cruel bastard, and it wasn’t our time…YET! As we wandered the streets of London, we chatted a lot about how we felt. Obviously we are incredibly sad, but also in a way we are already prepared for the next phase. This isn’t supposed to sound harsh, and some people might be dubious in that it is recommended that you “grieve” and accept it before you move on. But I honestly feel like now I’m just some sort of social / medical experiment, and that this is my lot in life, to keep going and keep going and not give up. I mean at least it gives me something else to write about, right?! The thought of having to go through this again is exhausting yet also exciting, because it gives us hope.

We won’t really know what the next steps are until we have our “debrief” consultation in a couple of weeks, but we kind of know what to expect ie “it’s a numbers game, keep going” (at least that’s the hope!). But I know we will take whatever advice they give us and know it’s what’s best for us, and not be stubborn about “just making this work”, and ensure that we are ready.

Some things I’ve learnt this time round (and had to remind myself of from before):

  • Having a “calm” frame of mind and the “space” to be able to commit to the process has been invaluable. Even if sometimes you feel like your brain will explode.
  • That you have to put faith in the process, even when it doesn’t work out, you just have to be aware of the odds and play them.
  • Trying to divorce emotion from the facts, however desperate we are for it to work and cold it sounds, is really the best way to get through this.
  • To want to scream at the unfairness of it all, is ok and really important. Anger, frustration and sadness will all play their part, but you get to judge how much attention they get.
  • That more and more I believe that, “every woman who goes through IVF is freaking WARRIOR!” (I can thank my cousin for finding that gem!)
  • We have to keep remembering that this is a learning process and we have to take the things that went well and add to them, that the more they know about both of us and the way we react to treatment, the more we can inform the next round.
  • Don’t dwell on the “what ifs”, it will drive you bloody mad.
  • It’s really easy to beat yourself up, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve apologised to Dwighty. Because whatever you know the truth to be, that it is not your fault, it doesn’t stop you thinking it.
  • Oh and Dwighty’s legend status continues…

Be good to yourself, enjoy the things you love doing, and just get ready… ding ding back in for another round!

It’s our anniversary this week, so for the first time in a couple of years, we are actually able to celebrate and spoil ourselves! (Rather then being under anaesthetic!). So we are taking ourselves away for a country break, donning the walking shoes and Barbours (in true “city” style) to do some good yomping, eat good food, sit by cosy fires and remind ourselves that we are pretty awesome!

 

K x