Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Right Words

I went swimming with my mum this morning - a nice little Tuesday routine we've got into since I've been on maternity leave. On the way in, a woman said "hi" to me. At first, I didn't recognise her and looked behind me to see who she was really talking to, but there was noone there. So I turned back and she said "yes - I mean you".

It turned out that she was the mother of one of the children in the class of 6-year-olds I left in October. I hadn't taught them for long and I was meeting her out of context - and my brain has left work behind pretty thoroughly. I did remember her daughter, thankfully, and we chatted a bit about the class - they like their new teacher, but they like me more and she hopes they'll get me back when I return to work in the new school year (thank you!).

Talk turned to the pregnancy and the fact I'd stopped work so early. She had also stopped early when she was pregnant with her daughter - she was an older mother who had done IVF! "Me too", I said. She then went on to talk about her sister who had lost pregnancies and done IVF. "Me too", I said. We talked about how hard it is to keep trying when you've had so many disappointments and how easy it is to resent fertiles who appear to churn out kids with no effort or appreciation. She says she still feels that way sometimes, even though she has her little girl (no siblings - she decided to quit while she was ahead, a sentiment I understand very well).

I hadn't said anything about how I was feeling about imminent birth, but as we were about to go our separate ways she said, "Don't be scared. When I was getting close to birth, I was terrified the baby would die". I couldn't say anything at this point.

"But they want to live," she said. It's no guarantee - there are none of those in this business - but I needed to hear that.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Different Sad

For the last seven years, on the night of 4th December, I have gone to bed and lain for a bit thinking, "I should be clearing up from a 1st / 2nd / 3rd etc birthday party and where there is a room full of boxes there should be a baby's / toddler's / child's room". Most years I have cried bitterly, some years I have tried to shove the thoughts and feelings out of the way.

December 4th was the only due date we ever had for any of our 6 lost pregnancies. It was the first. After that, I put serious effort into not finding our or working out any others. This last Saturday (or thereabouts, since so few babies arrive on their due date), our first child would have been seven years old. I did think about it this year, but it felt different. For a start, that room that was full of boxes is now transformed into our bedroom but mainly, in about a month, we will (please God) be sharing that room with our baby.

The new life does not cancel out the ones we lost - it will never be OK that we went through that - but it does take away a lot of the pain. Since our losses were so early, I do not mourn an individual child in the way those who have lost babies later in pregnancy do, I mourn the loss of potential and the loss of a life we could have led as a family - and a whole load of other more hidden things that IF/loss does a number on (intimacy, confidence, friends, financial stability etc, etc). Finally, that potential and that life look like they might actually become real.

I have poked and prodded myself to see if my inability to have a genetically related child pains me much, and it really doesn't. In fact, as time goes by I a) feel so much that this child is mine in every important sense and b) think that not passing on some of my seriously dodgy genes is probably a very good thing - I mean, genetic clotting conditions, high blood pressure and all the other possibly inherited health issues are not something any child's going to thank me for.

So this year, on the night of 4th December, I still thought of that first baby and felt sad, but it was a different sad - a gentle, regretful sad, not a raw, stinging one. Next year, I will still remember, still feel sad, but I hope (I pray) that next year will be even more different in an even better way.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Roccie has nudged me into putting in a post - thank you!

The title refers to a nice little article I read on my iPh.one as I tried to relax over an eggn.og lat.te and toasted frui.tbread (guess where I had elevenses today?!). As if losing multiple pregnancies is not upsetting and scary enough, this article in the BBC news online today suggests that those of us who have had more than 3 miscarriages are at a 500% increased risk of having a heart attack in middle-age or after. Although they pussy-foot around a bit about causation, I'll eat my hat if clotting is not the link here. It seems on the evidence of this pregnancy that my main problem was bad eggs and that having a donor fixed that problem. BUT who's to say that, if I had done a donor cycle without aspi.rin (125mg) and Cle.xane (40mg), I wouldn't have lost this pregnancy too - possibly at a later stage, since my clotting condition (Fact.or V Lei.den) tends to be a 2nd/3rd trimester issue. I know at least three people who have been diagnosed with Hug.hes Syn.drome (Anti-phos.pholipid An.tibodies) through testing for recurrent miscarriage and more who have, like me, an additional unidentified clotting issue which was identified through a TEG (throm.bo-elast.ogram). I'm now off my aspirin so that it doesn't affect the baby or bleeding during labour, but I intend to get back on a low dose ASAP afterwards - it helps to control my migraines and I can only hope it might help to protect me from future heart problems.

I am still here and still pregnant - 35 weeks now. I am still anxious too, but things seem to be going well. In a way, I wish I didn't know the stories of several bloggers who lost their babies at term, during labour, or my own friend's story of how she lost her two week old baby girl to Group B Strep. These were avoidable losses and reminders that, however far I get past the time of my own losses, I could still lose my precious baby for some totally unrelated reason. In another way, I feel thankful to these girls, who have used their blogs to educate and inform so that hopefully others might push hospitals to check things they might otherwise have ignored. I spoke to the senior registrar who was taking the high-risk clinic last Friday about my anxieties and pessimism and she was lovely. She said that of course nobody had a crystal ball and nobody could promise me that nothing would go wrong, but these things were rare (though she and I both acknowledged that they still happened more often that they should). She also didn't belittle my fears, saying that with my history it wasn't at all surprising that I was anxious. She is referring me to the hospital's consultant midwife to talk about my fears about giving birth.

My various health issues are conspiring to make labour and birth even more scary and complicated. I saw the anaesthetist on Friday and she is very keen for me to have an early epidural, as they have the convenient side-effect of reducing blood pressure - convenient for me at least, since high BP is one of my issues. My BP is also labile - it goes up even further when I am stressed or in pain, which are givens while in natural labour, so it would help with that too (protecting my blood vessels from BP surges). BUT - I can't have an epidural if I've had my Cle.xane in the previous 12 hours because of the risk of bleeding - nor could I have a spinal if I needed a C-section. So, if I go into labour within the 12 hours after my Cle.xane dose (7.30 in the morning), it's a natural labour or a C-section with a general anaesthetic for me. AND, because of my sleep apnoea - if I have a general, I would then be at risk of stopping breathing during recovery and I'd have to spend time in the ordinary high dependency unit, not the maternity one, because the maternity one isn't set up to deal with apnoea patients, and I'd be separated from my wee boy. I also would not be allowed any heavy-duty op.iate pain-killers because they affect the breathing centres in the brain.

To me, then, the obvious thing seemed to be to schedule a C-section or an induction. That way, I would know when not to take my Cle.xane and everything would be more straightforward (barring disasters or early labour). But no - they explained that a C-section is not ideal (major operation, increased risk of clotting for me, restricted movement after birth etc) and nor is early induction (if my body and baby weren't ready to go, it could lead to slow, unproductive labour, a distressed baby and an emergency C-section). They really would like me to go into labour naturally, as they feel that is my best chance of a good labour and birth. The consultant assured me that most women manage to get the Cle.xane timing right and that most first labours have a long, slow first stage so, even if I had taken the blood thinners, there would be time for them to work through my system before I needed an epidural. Well, I don't know if labour runs in families but my mother was in labour for 12 hours in total with me and when my sister gave birth to my niece, she went from twinges to birth in an hour and a half!! I can only hope that they have other ways of controlling my blood pressure, should I follow my mum and sister!

I really must get round to writing the second half of my "Why Donor Eggs?" post. All I can say just now is that I cannot imagine being any more bonded to a baby than I am to this one. I love him completely already and feel so protective of him, regardless of genetics.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts

Not really. These gifts were given with the best of intentions, but my response was tears (thankfully not in front of the person who gave them).

I went to my hairdresser today - a wonderful woman who cured me of my hairdresser phobia - and had my hair cut a little too short, in case it's a while before I can have it done again. As I left, she gave me a package.

I opened it up when I got home and found a really cute outfit for age 6 months and a book in which to record important things about the baby's first year. And I cried, because all I could think was "what if I never get to use these?".

I'm really not doing well with the anxiety here.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Neither Here Nor There

I read a couple of great blog posts this week that really got me thinking about the whole "them and us" thing around those still coping with infertility / pregnancy loss and those who are parents. Loribeth's post Facebook and the Great Parental Disconnect and the several linked items are both amusing and poignant and remind me of the times when various form of social networking have brought me to tears with unexpected photos, news etc. Over at Waiting for a Baby Bump, Separated from the Wolf Pack made me cry because it so completely reflected my feelings of being left out as more and more friends and relatives became parents while we continued to lose pregnancies and fail cycles.

The Facebook-related post also made me realise that I had posted my scan photo on the last post with no warning. I know that a) not many people are reading my blog anyway and b) many girls who are still in the trenches of IF/pregnancy loss will be avoiding it because it's too painful (I know, because I've been there myself). But still, I should have put a warning in the title for anyone who stumbled in while in a vulnerable place. It also made me wonder about the bump photo I put on Facebook the other week - although I did think quite hard before I put it on and decided that it was probably OK as ALL of my friends know what our path to this point has been and the one friend that I know has had issues with TTC has OKed such communications on FB - I checked first. But still, I have a lingering feeling of guilt about it - and then I feel sad about not being able to enjoy these little things in the way that the vast majority of my friends have done.

Anyhow, the main point of this post is to process some of the feelings that I have while in this limbo of pregnancy after loss and IF:
  • I am pregnant, but I do not feel like a parent - even though the woman that leads our NCT class calls us mums and dads. I had to laugh when she spoke about the intimacy of parents during the birth process in relation to the "inevitable" intimacy during conception - my husband and I weren't even in the same city when our wee one was conceived!
  • My pregnancy seems to be progressing healthily but I live in daily (hourly!) fear of something going wrong. The two-weekly visits to the high-risk clinic both help with this and serve to remind me that this is not a normal or average pregnancy.
  • Our flat is beginning to fill with baby items that I feel extremely ambivalent about - I hope we'll need them - and I even experienced brief feelings of pleasure when buying them / getting them from relatives and friends - but I'm aware we may never get to use them and I am very superstitious about having them before we have the baby.
  • I am now regularly meeting with other pregnant women and hearing about births and continue to feel jealous - their pregnancies (in general) came easily, are low-risk and they don't know the desperately sad stories that I do about what can go wrong in pregnancy and birth.
  • Friends who previously avoided talking to me about pregnancy (or avoided talking to me altogether at times!) now want to have in-depth conversations about topics ranging from nappies to pain-relief during childbirth to bre.astfeeding. Part of me wants to pick up all the tips I can, part of me is terrified to listen (after all, it might jinx my pregnancy!) and a very big part of me feels angry and upset that I am only included now because I'm part of "the club".
It's that last one that made the "Separated from the Wolf Pack" post feel so relevant. I am unbelievably grateful to be pregnant (and especially to be this pregnant - a stage I've never achieved before). And I know that these people mean well when they are giving me their advice and sharing their experiences. And honestly, I could write a book about how to get pregnant and about pregnancy loss, but I have no clue about being pregnant or having a newborn, so I should probably listen to them. And I have moments of happiness that I can have these conversations at last and feel part of something I never thought I would experience. Being able to talk to my mother and sister about pregnancy has been very special - they always supported me through the tough times. BUT . . . I do have moments where I want to ask some of these people why they couldn't be as chatty and supportive when my heart was breaking and I felt terribly alone. And I have moments of rather unpleasant clarity that my new-found position among my fertile friends depends entirely on a successful pregnancy and birth - if early losses can send people running as fast as mine did, I can only imagine what a very late one would do! Although, maybe I am being unfair. Maybe it is the "invisibility" of an early loss that makes it so hard for others to cope with - I don't know - that's a whole other post (or 20)!

The one place I have found true comradeship is among my friends - IRL and online - who have been through IF / pregnancy loss and are now pregnant or have kids through natural conception (does that really happen), IVF, donor eggs or adoption. They understand that very uncomfortable mixture of joy and terror that a post-IF/loss pregnancy or possible adoption brings. They were fantastically supportive while I was still trying and an absolute Godsend since this cycle worked.

Last week I went along to a "Pregnancy After Loss" support group in the same place I used to attend the miscarriage support group and then the infertility support group, where I met most of these lovely people I now call friends. There was only one other girl there and she had only found out that she was pregnant the day before the meeting. She had had one early loss and a late one at 21 weeks. I felt a bit of a fraud alongside her - while I've had a lot of losses and a lot of trouble getting pregnant, my body has been ruthlessly efficient at getting rid of pregnancies and that caused me a lot of pain but spared me a lot more. I tried to blink away tears as she described her birth story and the memorial for her little girl. It breaks my heart when I hear or read stories like hers.

There are a couple of bloggers I read who are living childless and who have lost pregnancies late on, and the further through my pregnancy I get, the more I admire them for just being able to breathe and get out of bed. I came to their blogs because I was coming to the point where I thought I was going to be living a childless life (and trust me, I am not making any assumptions that I won't still be!) and it was that aspect of their blogs that I focused on - I needed to know that not having children wasn't going to kill me (because, I admit that there were times when I really couldn't see the point of life without children). Time and reading blogs like theirs gave me perspective and, ironically, not long before we had the DE cycle, I came to a place where I thought that I might just be able to have a good life without offspring - I even found myself getting excited about things like travel and our new home. And had I not got pregnant on this cycle, or even if I'd had another early loss, I know I would have been OK. Now, I have gone back and read their pregnancy and loss stories and have a whole new perspective on their strength and tenacity. I cannot fathom how I would ever recover from losing this pregnancy now or sometime in the future or losing a child I had birthed.

So here I am. I am not comfortable in the world of fertiles - and I certainly don't consider myself one of them. I am feeling separated from my infertile friends who are still trying and missing them and wishing and wishing that something would work for them. I still have a few friends who get where I am right now because they're there too (or have been recently). But more than anything else, I have an ever-increasing respect for a group of women whose shoes I have not walked in, who have lost their babies at a point where they had seen a heartbeat on an ultrasound, felt them move, bought nursery furniture for them or had actually given birth to them, whether they were stillborn or died after birth. I have been invited to attend our local SANDS Christmas service and I hope to go and say a special thank you for the baby I am carrying now and a prayer for those who have lost theirs. And I never, ever forget how very fragile happiness can be.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Quite a Moment (WARNING - contains 3D scan photo)

Yesterday, we went to have a 3D / 4D scan done (photo at bottom - spaced down so you can avoid it if you want). It felt like a very indulgent, possibly slightly tacky thing to do (at least it certainly would have been if we'd gone for the cute captions on the DVD) and the frame we got was not something we would normally have chosen (I know - call me a snob!). But it's something I've wanted to do since I saw the one my sister had of my (now 8-year-old) niece - taken on what was then a very new kind of machine in the early pregnancy unit she worked in as a midwife. When we got home we picked our favourite picture and put it in the frame. So finally, after more than seven years of trying, sitting on our mantelpiece among the photos of all of our nephews and nieces there is a photo of OUR baby. We're not there yet - 29 weeks tomorrow - and I know there's still so much that can go wrong, but what a feeling it gives me to look up at that photo! I wish the same for all of you who are still trying.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Why Donor Eggs, Part I

I've been trying to finish this post for two months, and not doing a great job of it. Turns out that being pregnant at 41 with health issues and working full time is not conducive to, well, anything else. So I'm going to put out what I've got so far and probably finish it off once I stop work, which should be in about 4 weeks according to the docs - just past 28 weeks.

We have been very honest about the fact that this pregnancy is thanks to donor eggs and that, of course, has raised the question of "why?". I don't have a simple answer to that question, but I want to talk about it here and I want a record of it to remind myself of the process.

Needless to say, there are two strands to the answer - the physical one and the emotional one. I may well repeat things that I have said in previous posts, but I don't remember clearly what I have and haven't said and I certainly don't think anyone reading it will, so I'm just going to stick in what's relevant.

We started trying to conceive more than seven years ago and our journey includes:
• 6 natural conceptions, all of which ended in an early loss
• 6 cycles of Clomid, all producing at least 2 follicles and all ending in BFN
• 1 IUI - BFN
• 1 straight IVF (16 eggs; 13 embryos; a grade 2, 3 cell and a grade 3, 4 cell embryo transferred on day 2; none for freezing) - BFN
• 1 ICSI with immune treatment and CGH array (5 eggs; 1 normal, resulting in a 4 cell embryo on day 3 (not sure of grade, but not great)) - BFN
• 1 IVF with donor eggs (5 eggs; 4 grade 1/2 embryos at 8-12 cells on day 3; 1 grade 1, 12 cell "perfect" embryo "on a mission" transferred on day 3; 3 frozen embryos) - BFP

And that would tell you the physical story right there! We could get pregnant on our own, at intervals of about 1 year, but it always ended around 5-7 weeks. We could NOT get pregnant on any kind of fertility treatment with my eggs - and the embryos we produced were rubbish! On the donor cycle, the embryos were great.

After loss number 6, a kind nurse in the pregnancy support unit asked if we'd considered donor eggs (not at that stage), so we spoke to our IVF consultant who agreed it might be worth a try, as did our recurrent miscarriage consultant. Everyone seemed to agree that it seemed likely that my eggs were an issue - physically, I knew that was a possibility but emotionally, I wasn't ready to consider that.

Right from the first pregnancy (the first month we tried - ha!) and loss, I had a feeling that something was not right. I had desperately wanted to get pregnant, but was not nearly as happy as I felt I should be when I found out that I was. I knew that something had gone wrong with the pregnancy, even thought the doctor assured me that losing symptoms for a while was very common. He took a blood test, I went on holiday, checked my messages at the end of day one to find an urgent message to call my GP. I phoned them and was told I should expect to miscarry at any time - it started the following morning, while we were on holiday abroad.

After another 6 months of trying (and assurances that one loss was very common and that it was a very good sign that we had got pregnant so easily) there was no 2nd pregnancy and our GP started to investigate - my hormones were OK (slight signs of PCOS) and CM's sperm analysis was also OK (not stellar on the formation front, but not bad enough to cause problems). Try some more . . . referral to infertility specialist. Two months before that appointment, I got pregnant again and lost it again. Infertility specialist refused to do any testing/treatment as I have been pregnant in the last 6 months. Marvellous!

Thankfully, I found a great GP within my practice who was prepared to refer me to the local recurrent miscarriage clinic for testing, which showed up my Factor V Leiden, which I briefly thought might be the issue - a haematologist soon cleared that up for me: 2nd and 3rd trimester losses, but nothing as early as mine. This was when we approached a private consultant and started on the Clomid.

My sister had conceived on Clomid and, although she'd had a missed miscarriage (a blighted ovum), she had, very quickly afterwards, conceived my nephew on it. I thought it was a slam dunk and so did the consultant. It wasn't! Neither was the IVF we went on to. In the meantime, I was diagnosed with PCOS, insulin resistance, low thyroid and another, non-specific clotting issue in addition to the FVL, all of which were treated. Three more natural pregnancies, three more losses. More Clomid, in combination with Metformin, more BFNs.

So, that’s the physical. As you can tell, we'd never had an issue with using medical advances in our pursuit of parenthood. By this time though, we were starting to lose faith - I had also tried homeopathy, reflexology, chinese herbs, acupuncture, nutritional testing and supplements, hypnosis and anything else I thought might give me an edge.

In terms of the emotional side, during all this treatment and time my attitude to our attempts to become parents started to gel. It's best described as follows: if you wanted a doughnut (for example), the first place you would look would be in your kitchen; if you couldn't find one there, you would go to the corner shop; if they were out, you would go to your nearest supermarket; if they didn't have what you wanted, and you still really wanted it, you'd go further, try harder and consider possibilities you thought you'd never entertain when the need for a doughnut first came upon you.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lost Blogger - Can Anyone Help?

Just a very quick post to see if I have missed something. I have been trying to read Waiting for a Baby Bump since her last post, but keep getting the message that "The blog you were looking for was not found.". Has she gone private or is there a fault. I can see that there is a new post - I just can't read it!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


We interrupt this blog to bring you a moan and a whine! I am in the middle of writing a loooooong post on why we went with donor eggs, but have been waylayed by health issues.

Since coming back from holiday three weeks ago, I have had a horrible cough - tickly and coughing stuff up and, short of honey and lemon which does NOTHING, I can't take anything to make it better. I was given antibiotics (pregnancy-friendly ones), which I took, but the cough remains. On top of that, I have developed a lovely cold (or at least extensive nasal congestion) on top of the cough - just since last week. I literally cannot breathe through my nose - no air will pass through it at all! I have tried saline do.uches, steam, menthol sweets - no joy. I said to CM the other day, that I feel like this is how I'm going to be for the rest of my life. Normally, I get a cold and after a week, I'm better. This cough and the stopped-up nose will.not.go.away!

My blood pressure medication has been changed (about 6 weeks ago) and is no longer a be.ta-block.er and my resting heartrate is now around 95 - not enjoying that, and worrying that along with the BP it's something underlying that's going to end this pregnancy, if not me too.

And then there's the sleep ap.noea diagnosis I received two weeks ago. I went in last night to be fitted with a CP.AP mask and machine that should hopefully stop me from ceasing to breath 30 times an hour while I sleep, as I do now. However, I made a total arse of myself, had a panic attack when they put the mask on, only managed 45 minutes in it all told (none of them asleep) and cried on one of the nurses. It was probably optimistic to think that blowing air down my throat was going to be a fun thing while my nose doesn't work and my throat goes into spasms every 10 minutes even without such encouragement, but I am so terrified that these gaps in my breathing are going to affect the baby that I was determined to give it a shot. And I failed.

What made me cry was the thought of my poor baby struggling for oxygen, and the thought that I wasn't able to do the one thing that might make it better. I just want my baby to be alright. Needless to say, I have resorted to Dr Goo.gle who tells me that low birthweight/growth restriction might be a possibility - I try to comfort myself with the thought that the baby's measurements have all been bang on. I couldn't find anything telling me my baby might die as a result of my apn.oea, but I did find something linking it to pre-eclamp.sia (my pet worry). However, it seemed to be more that women with pre-eclamp.sia (whose babies can be growth restricted because of the PE) are more prone to sleep ap.noea rather than the other way round. I asked the sleep clinic nurse to get one of the consultants to give me a call to talk more. In the meantime, I am praying for a speedy recovery so I can make a big effort to get this mask to work.

Again, I'm left feeling ungrateful for not being happier during this pregnancy. I know how incredibly lucky I am, and this pregnancy - this baby - is the most important thing in my life. But because of this, I am also terrified. I have survived early losses (quite a few), but I don't think I would survive losing this one. One thing became incredibly clear to me last night - the fact that this pregnancy is not genetically mine makes not one, tiny difference to how much I love and want it. I knew this intellectually before, but last night it was visceral.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

And . . . Relax (Mostly)

I am on holiday and I have reached my second trimester: two very good reasons to be happy.

I have finally managed to comment on the blogs I follow, though it has taken me several days to do it. You see, we are in a rather hilly, remote part of the UK in a cottage with no internet connection. We brought mobile broadband dongles with us, but they only work if we point everything in the right direction, at certain times of the day, if we stand on one leg and chant an incantation as we do it. You get the picture! Most of the comments were written while balancing my laptop on a window ledge (the walls of the cottage are so thick that all internet and phone usage must be done at a window) with the dongle, on the end of its extension cable) wedged into a bit of the sash-and case window lock. For some obscure reason, I was unable to comment on 2 blogs - Last Chance IVF and Waiting for a Baby Bump. The little pull-down menus that allow you to choose an identity weren't functional and it wouldn't let me submit without the identity. However, I am now on a train with wi-fi access and have managed to resolve that.

The holiday is very welcome - as you might be able to tell from the last post. After telling me I didn’t need to move rooms, my boss then changed her mind. And my co-teacher had a load of interviews and meetings, so I was rather overloaded in the last week or so of term! So far, we haven't done a lot. We have visited a couple of stately home, mainly to wander their grounds and admire the wildlife. We've also had a couple of days of doing very little of anything. I finally got hold of the complete remastered Twin Peaks and we're working our way through that in the evenings or when the weather's a bit wild. I don't usually watch anything more than once, but Twin Peaks is my big exception. I think this may be the 15th time I've watched it and I'm still noticing new things - the remastering helps with that!

The reason I am on a train is that I have just returned my lovely niece (aged 8) to her home city after a stay of a couple of days. Her older brother came to the cottage when we were last here two years ago and she's been keen to have her turn. We took her to an amazing castle that's a cross between a stately home and a theme park. We hope she enjoyed it as much as we did. She was also excited at the prospect of staying up late to watch the wildlife on CCTV. No, we are not at a well-known country park, family resort-type-thing (cen.ter.pa.rcs - my idea of hell as an infertile and I can't see my view changing even if this pregnancy works out with a baby at the end!). We are in a small cottage on a working farm and they did the CCTV thing very early on. We can watch foxes and badgers come to feed in a barn and a barn owl and her mate who have, we think, 11 eggs at present. I was saying it would be amazing if they hatched while my niece was here, but CM reckons if she goes home with a story like that, my nephew will be on the next train here to fight the one-upmanship! As it turned out, one egg did hatch and she saw some badgers, which she loved, but I think the staying up late was as much of an attraction in itself.

While she was staying with us, I got a little taste of what life may be like if this pregnancy works out. My niece would come into our room and I would get up and make her breakfast and see that she was OK and make sure she got dressed and brushed her teeth. Then I would deal with my own morning routine. Meanwhile, CM would continue to lie in bed, then have a shower and then come down once he was dressed and ready. Hmmmm. He did cook in the evenings, I’ll give him that. But I ended up tired and going to bed at the same time as my niece, then getting up with her, and so having no “grownup” time and no time to myself. I already have issues with this, as my job is such a people-heavy one - I am never, ever on my own at work - and CM is almost always at home when I get back and then I go to bed before he does. I tend to go out a LOT more than he does, and go away for weekends to see my sister etc. So he gets quite a lot of “me” time and never needs to ask for it. I, on the other hand, have to ask and then get a very grumpy response about “why should he have to remove himself for my convenience” etc. I sympathise with the idea that he doesn’t want to go out just because I want him to. On the other hand, I love him dearly, but if I don’t get some time and space to myself occasionally, I am NOT a happy person. I can see this being even more of an issue later on. Something to discuss, methinks!

As I said when I commented on one of the blogs I read, I have been mulling over a post on why we went for donor eggs in the end (or, more accurately, why I did - I can’t really speak for CM). I think that will be what comes next here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Too Busy!!!

I am far, far too busy for someone "in my condition".

This post is by way of an excuse for a) not posting in a while and b) not being very good at commenting on other folks' blogs just now.

We are in the worst time of year at school:
1. We have just finished carrying out and marking assessments.
2. We are trying desperately to finish all the work we put in our forward plans.
3. My class and the other 2 P1 classes are being split up and recombined to form 3 equally sized classes, which involves an awful lot of paperwork and meetings etc.
4. We have to totally strip all the walls in the classroom.
5. I have to pack up all my belongings and those of the children, ready to move to a new classroom.

And we're trying to do all this in a heat of 30 degrees centigrade as the "Hut" that I teach in must originally have been designed as an industrial sized oven. All day we try and coax the children through the remaining work, until the room gets too hot and we have to decant to the playground. Once the children go home, it's time to mark, organise, meet and pack. I'm rarely leaving work before 6pm and have to stay later when I can.

On top of this, we have multiple appointments relating to the pregnancy and my parents are moving house this Friday and we're due to go on holiday this Saturday.

I am exhausted and cannot wait for it all to stop - school finishes this Thursday and then I hope to get back on here (if I can get a signal from where I'm escaping to) and blog and comment again. In the meantime, I am reading blogs whenever I can to keep up to date and am thinking of you all.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Still Here

Nearly 11 weeks and I still appear to be pregnant - and am still scared, excited, disbelieving and a whole lot of other mixed emotions.

I have had two more scans. One fantastic one at 9 weeks, with a lovely sonographer who showed us something that looked like a baby and was moving! That was incredible! The last one, at 10 weeks, was less amazing and involved an argument with a sonographer who wanted to work out my due date, even though I'd already told her it was the 3rd of January. Despite the fact that I'd already told her it was a donor egg, she asked when my last period was, and when I reminded her that this was a bit different and that I knew what the conception date was, she asked what date the transfer was on. She was going to work back 2 weeks from transfer to my "period" - at that point (still no ultrasound going on and worried whether there might be a baby in there still) I got a bit snippy and said that I knew when conception was, I had been given a due date and could I please have an ultrasound. We both warmed up a bit as the scan got going, but it was quicker and less reassuring than the last. However, there was a baby with a heartbeat that was measuring correctly and did at least one wee wave for us.

The next scan is the 12 week one - or two. We're having one at the local hospital for official purposes and one at a private clinic for more detail and with a blood test - we want to be prepared.

We have also had our first high-risk appointments. Wow - that was fun! NOT! I showed up with protein in my wee at a level that was pretty high. Too early for pre-eclamp.sia, but since I have high blood pressure and take a range of drugs that could affect my kidneys, I was still worried. We waited for about 4 hours - one appointment was 3 hours late because I don't have the right paperwork yet. I had to change my blood pressure medication to one that is not working so well and move my anti-clotting medication by two hours every couple of days to get it to the morning rather than the evening (this means taking it to work and trying to find a private place in school that is bright enough so that I can avoid my previous bruises when I inject). Various scary discussions about all the risks I'm under - particularly pre-eclamp.sia - were also had. Not my most favourite bit of the pregnancy stuff so far. We're back there again next week for a similar length of visit and some feedback on the follow-up tests on the wee!

On a brighter note, my boss has been lovely. I have been given a class for next year that should minimise my stress and she's arranged for me not to have to move room - that'll be brilliant, not to have to pack everything up and beg other people to carry it all. She has also been incredibly accommodating of all the appointments (mind you, I have done my very best to minimise any time out) and very nice to me as a person. She told me the other day that the baby has to be my priority, not work! I am extremely grateful to have one potential source of stress removed.

My work-mates have also been incredibly kind. One colleague/friend, who struggle for a while to have her one child, even offered to help me move and set up my new room if I had to shift. Folk are always asking me if I'm OK and telling me how happy they are that it's all still going. I still feel a bit of a fraud and I still feel like I'm living on borrowed time with this pregnancy and I find myself trying to brush off any "future" questions - when will I take maternity leave, how long will I take off, what kind of birth am I planning.

One bullet I'm going to have to bite soon is the issue of clothes. Since about 6 weeks, my br.as have been on the tight side and I have put off buying any new ones. Now my trousers are getting too tight as well. My wee sister is coming up for a weekend in two weeks time and has promised to come shopping with me. By that time, I'll be past 12 weeks - hopefully - and might feel a bit more able to acknowledge all this.

My sister is coming up to say goodbye to our childhood home, where my parents have lived since I was 6 months old. They are moving out in 3 weeks time, into what my mother calls a "two-story caravan" - a modern rented house. Saying goodbye to the house that is still "home" to me - even though I haven't lived there for 23 years - is going to be really tough. I have been listening to Mir.anda Lam.bert's The House That Built Me and sobbing at the lyrics, which could have been written for me - especially the line about the back room where she did her homework and learned to play the guitar and another about her favourite dog being burried in the backyard. I'm not usually a country music fan, but I heard that song just around the time we bought the new place and it really affected me.

One funny moment from our first midwife appointment - we went through all the losses, treatments and medical issues I'd had/have and when we finally got to the end, the midwife leaned towards me and said, "Now . . . you don't have any silly ideas about a home birth, do you?". I laughed and assured her that if I was indeed going to give birth, I intended it to be in hospital with all the medical staff, equipment and drugs I could get hold of. "Oh good!" she said.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Another Bit of Teacher Blogging

Another in my (very) occasional series of observations on the kids I teach - with names changed to protect the innocent (that would mostly be me!). The kids I teach are all aged 5 & 6.

I was reminded of this one by a round robin email I was sent today called "Why Teachers Drink". It was a series of exam questions with what purports to be the real answers kids gave. One of them was as follows:
Q - Explain why phosphorous trichloride (PCI3) is polar.
A - God made it that way.

I'm inclined to believe that one really is a real answer, because I got almost the same one from a child the other week. We were reading a book - part of a reading scheme that those in the UK will recognise if I mention the names Bi.ff, Ch.ip and Kip.per. I'm disguising the names because . . . well imagine a kid doing a search on his or her favourite characters and ending up HERE!

Anyhow, it was all about the central characters going back in time to Victorian London. On the front cover we see the protagonists and a London city scene, complete with a good 'ol pea-souper behind them. We had talked about the whole no-electricity thing, about real fires and gas lamps.

So I asked the group, "Why is the sky a funny colour? Why is it not the same colour as the sky we see outside just now?". To which I got the answer, "Because it was Victorian times and God made the sky a different colour then?". When I told my teaching partner, it led to a rather silly discussion on whether God might have colour-coded the centuries and if we were to hop in a time-machine we might be able to chart our course by the changing hues of the sky.

But the best ever response during a reading session was from one child in response to another. We were reading a very short encyclopedia of dinosaurs, with the names phonetically spelled to help the children sound them out. One child was struggling over ankylosaurus - "an - ki . . . ", "ank - ilo . . ." and then gave out a mighty sneeze, "ATISHOO!". To which the wee girl opposite, quick as a flash, came back, "Well, that's a funny name for a dinosaur!". It took me a while to recover my composure.

I really do love my job!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Breathing Again

We had our scan tonight and it was fantastic!

The consultant was absolutely lovely. I have graduated to scans from the outside - no more dil.do-cam - whoopee! We started off on a scanning machine from the dark ages and I could see NOTHING! Terrifying! She saw a heartbeat though, at which point I started to breathe again. Then she gave up and took us to a better machine and I saw what she was talking about. Though it was less clear that the internal scan, it's amazing what a difference a week makes for the embryo. The yolk sac is now quite separate and I could see the beginning of legs and a umbilical cord.

The baby is now measuring 1 day ahead of my 8 weeks 2 days - though the measurement last week that put us two days behind was probably inaccurate. This measurement was taken much more carefully and several times.

She now wants me to be scanned roughly once a week till the 12 week scan - and I wasn't going to argue with her!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sometimes I Hate to be Right

It turns out some of my worries are justifiable.

The recurrent miscarriage consultant wants to see me for a scan tomorrow evening (she's going to fit us in between delivering high-risk babies!). She feels that the discharge coming out with the Cri.none gel and the absence of significant symptoms merits it.

I have my first midwife appointment tomorrow morning and it's going to be really hard to talk about birth plans and breastfeeding when I don't even know if there's a baby still in there!

Someone I know on my message board has just discovered that her baby stopped growing over a week ago, at 9 weeks. I feel awful for her and scared for myself.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Oh Worry, Worry, Worry

As a good Scot, Billy Connolly is one of my favourite comedians - one of the few that makes me laugh till I hurt. One of my favourite quotes from his routines is one where he's talking about his own anxieties, especially in the middle of the night. He shakes his head and his longish grey curly hair from side to side, pretending he's tossing and turning on his pillow, and says "Oh worry, worry, worry! How does the man who drives the snowplough get to his work in the morning?!".

Well, right now, that's me. I spend every waking minute (and quite a few of my sleeping ones, if my dreams are any indication) worrying about stuff. Mainly the pregnancy of course. Was that a twinge? Why am I not feeling more nauseous? Why would this one work when all the others didn't? What on earth is that grey/black/brown stuff that's coming out with the remains of my Cri.none Gel? That last one combines well with "Why am I not more nauseous?" into "I'm sure that my symptoms are waning, I'm bleeding and this pregnancy is all over".

And if I'm not worrying about the pregnancy, I'm worrying about the house. Will my parents sell their's? Will the mortgage we're taking on mean we will have to live on cold beans for the rest of our lives? How on earth are we going to get this flat ready to sell when I'm either sleeping or working and CM is spending every waking minute on dealing with the new place?

And if it's not the house, it's work. Why did I leave my reports to the last minute? How am I going to cope with teaching alongside two different people when my friend returns from maternity leave next week? What is the end of term going to be like when we have to divide up the classes for the next year?

The real humdingers, though, are where these various worries combine. How on earth are we going to afford to look after a baby with a mortgage the size we're taking on? Am I going to have to go back to work sooner than I thought for money reasons? Will the temperature in my classroom (which can reach 38 degrees Celcius during the summer) be detrimental to my blood pressure and the pregnancy? What if I get given a tricky class or stage next term and I get stressed, which will affect the pregnancy, and don't have time to spend on getting the flat in order?


And, naturally, this is the time I have chosen to start reducing the anti-anxiety meds I'm on! Some studies have linked them to heart problems and increased risk of early birth etc. The high-risk doc I saw last year was happy for me to stay on them during pregnancy - the main reason I'm on them is to stop my BP from spiking and she reckoned the risks were low compared to the benefits. But when I spoke to the BP consultant last week, he seemed to think that an increase in the BP meds could take care of that, so I'm at least going to lessen my dose. I won't come off it before I have my high-risk appointment in a fortnight - I'll see what they say.

I have a couple of friends who have also just had BFPs - one just ahead of me, one who got her's yesterday. Both of them have had losses, one has had exactly the same number as me, and they're feeling just the same as me - so I'm as normal as them, at least. I said to one of them that I don't really feel like I'm pregnant - I feel like I'm waiting to miscarry.

On the bright side, our lovely recurrent miscarriage consultant is going to arrange for me to have another scan before the 12 week one. That really is some comfort.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


We had our first scan today. We saw a heartbeat.

The woman scanning me asked me how I could manage not to cry, given our history. But it's because of our history that I was dry-eyed. It just didn't seem real! The baby measured at 6 weeks 6 days - I'm 7 weeks 1 day today (though the nurse insisted I was 7 weeks - since this was IVF, I think I can be pretty sure on this). The woman scanning said that the measurements can be + or - 5 days and my sister, the ex-midwife, reassured me that at such a tiny size, all it would take would be an odd angle, or a click just inside the line instead of on it, and you could be a week out.

We are delighted - of course - but my happiness is muted by the fact that a) I am still aware of all that could go wrong for us and b) I am also aware of what is going wrong for others. Rebecca, over at Which Way to Baby is having a horrible time just now - having the kind of experience I remember very well myself, and it stinks! And I heard today from a long-term IF pal who has also just done her first donor egg cycle, after many straight IVFs and a loss, and it didn't work. Another friend tests on Friday, but is not feeling optimistic - I hope she is wrong.

The whole thing seems like such a lottery and it really shouldn't be. If you could earn babies, these women would have had theirs a long time ago.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More Good Numbers

Today's beta was 21,071 - which, from last week's 3515 gives a doubling time of about 63 hours. Since it's supposed to slow down to 72-96 hours by this point, that seems pretty good to me!

My dilemma now is whether to try and get a scan at our local Pregnancy Support clinic. Basically, because our losses have been early and my body seems to be ruthlessly efficient at getting rid of embryos, the only scans we've ever had have shown some fluid but nothing else to suggest I was ever pregnant. Even if this pregnancy still goes wrong - and I know it could well do that - after six failed attempts, I'd love to have the experience (and even a photo) of a scan that showed an embryo.

I actually tried to call them after I got the HCG level, but kept getting punted back to the receptionist at the hospital so gave up. Might try again tomorrow. I know I could claim to have bleeding and cramping and get in there, but I don't want to lie to them - and I know there are so many people who desperately need them (I've been one!). I would just be totally honest and see if they could do it. If they say no, I'd just have to wait.

I have been telling some people that I am "the P word". I have been incredibly touched by the responses. I've a feeling that pretty much everyone at work will know soon, because I quietly told a friend the other day and she grabbed me and hugged me. Somebody did ask me if I should be telling people this early. Good question! I'm only telling the people who know that we've had losses and IVF etc - the ones who have been kind and sympathetic, who I would need if this all went wrong tomorrow. I don't think of myself as a popular person - I'm not deep in a group of friends - I have a couple of very close friends and lots of acquaintances, I thought - but some people's reactions have been quite emotional.

The thing that has touched me most though, has been the reaction of several friends who are still in the IF trenches. They have been incredibly generous and supportive in their responses - as have commenters lastchanceivf and Rebecca from Which Way to Baby? (who may just have a little good news herself!) - and that means more than anything. These are the people I would hate to hurt - they are me at a different time. I've read it before in other long-term IF when they have a pregnancy - this inability to move camps - and I totally get it. I'm barely on my message board these days, because I can't bring myself to join a pregnant thread - that would just be too much presumption! But I know I can't hang out on my ttc board because I don't want my presence to upset anyone.

I am in limbo! But that's OK for now.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wouldn't you just know it!

Well - this pregnancy had bl**dy well better work out now!

My parent's house, which is right next door to the one we've bought and will hopefully move into in about a year, has been on the market for almost a week now and they've had two very interested families visiting (one of them twice). And both of the women are pregnant! Of course they are!

Ever get the feeling you're being followed - by an entire subset of the population?!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Times Ten

I had another beta done this Thursday (six days after the last) and the level was 3515! More than 10 times what it was at the previous one.

I had a moment of elation and then realised that it meant that the HCG had not continued to double as fast as it had done between 15 and 17dpo. Panic - it's all going wrong, the beginning of the end . . . and then something tickled the back of my brain - doesn't the doubling start to slow down at some point? Thanks to Dr Google, I discovered that it does slow down around 1200. Some semblance of calm was resumed.

It didn't last long though. I am plagued by a lack of symptoms - or an inconsistency in symptoms - or both. I have had occasional mild nausea, but have had days with none. Sometimes I run to the loo with frightening regularity, sometimes hardly at all. I have bad heartburn (I have reflux anyway) but isn't that supposed to come much later?

I have tended to have nausea very early on in my pregnancies (as early as about 8 dpo) and the waning of symptoms has always signaled the end for the pregnancy. So, like most folk who've had a shaky time reproductively, I would LOVE some real morning sickness. My sister, the ex-midwife and mother-of-two, tells me to be grateful and wait for how bad it gets later, but I have no faith in a "later".

We got the house we were bidding on with my parents. Now there's another scary venture fraught with the possibilities of wonderful happiness or utter disaster. Because my parents now have to sell their house to fund the buying of the new one. It's been on the market for three days and there's been one viewer. We're all panicking!

While I'm using the house as a distraction from the pregnancy, my mother is doing the reverse. She really wants to talk pregnancy with me. She is so optimistic that she's going to get another grandchild and I feel so mean when I tell her I can't talk about a baby's room or maternity clothes. I feel like I'm depriving her of an experience that she's waited for so long. My sister is a lot more private than I am, so I'm guessing that she didn't overshare with my mum when she was pregnant, so this might be my mother's big chance. And I just keep pouring cold water on the whole thing. I was so determined to enjoy what I could of this pregnancy, but so far it seems like that lasts for about 2 minutes after the news of a good beta.

Talking of which, I am going back for another beta this Thursday - seven days after the last. By my reckoning, it should have double twice plus a little more by then. Or stopped altogether!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Double, Double, Toil & Trouble

. . . To quote the Scottish play.

Today's HCG was 340, so it has more than doubled. I was very pleased about that! Then I saw that someone had posted on my message board that she had a positive today that was "well over 250" at 14dpo with a 3 day transfer. So her 1st level was twice as high as my 1st one with one day less cooking. And now I feel worried again! Hence the toil & trouble, She did have two embryos put back, so maybe it's twins, but why can I not be happy with what I know was a perfectly good starting level and a fantastic increase over 48 hrs?!

Because I have to worry about something! Ugh! I feel like an ungrateful female canine!

And now I am at my mother-in-law's for the weekend, surrounded by family, so I shall shut up and concentrate on enjoying myself and appreciate the time that I have with this pregnancy.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Territory

My HCG level today, at the equivalent of 15dpo, is 120. According to Dr Google, average for this point is about 60, so that would be a good positive.

I've just posted on the IF message board I've been on for the last five years and I feel like a total fraud - why would I be posting a "BFP" - that's just like setting myself up for the biggest fall ever. My magical, superstitious thinking has had me denying any possibility of success (or happiness) since the bombshell of my first loss. I heard I was going to miscarry while on the first day of a romantic holiday in Bil.bao, I started miscarrying on the second day. Up till that point, I had seen no reason why a positive pee stick wouldn't lead to a baby. How different my world was after that! With hindsight, the doctor's test on my pee on the first day of my missed period came back as "equivocal", which didn't worry me at the time, but should have. And I took a pack of sanit.ary tow.els with me in my suitcase - totally subconscious but a godsend, as it turns out.

Seven years, five more losses, many rounds of fertility treatment later and I have learned to take nothing for granted. For example, there's a bit of me thinking that a good HCG level at this point is brand new - we've had blood levels on 14 dpo for four pregnancies - 28, 6, 17 and one where it had already gone back to less than 5 between the pee test on the Sunday and the blood test on the Monday. BUT although the pee test on the first pregnancy was equivocal, the level at 5 weeks 5 days was over 120, and that was not long before I lost the pregnancy so it was probably on its way down from a higher level - and maybe I'd miscalculated my dates and ov.ulated later than I thought.

What I'm trying to say is that, although the title of this post is "New Territory", I know it might not be - it's possible that we might just have a repeat run of the first pregnancy.

I'm going back for a repeat test on Friday to look for doubling and I have a scan booked on 21st May. That is really weird - the only scans I've ever had have been as part of a treatment cycle or to check that my losses have been complete. I've never even gotten to the stage of booking a pregnancy scan, never mind having one.

I am also painfully aware of how much my success to this point will hurt some of my friends in the IF world - and that I may lose my small readership here just as it started to take off a little. As I said on the message board, I still feel like one of you and I am still convinced this is not going to work out. But, as my wee sister (who had her own struggles having her kids) has said, being miserable will not change the outcome and, if this is the last experience I ever have of being pregnant, I should enjoy it. I remember reading the blog of someone who had lost a baby at around 20 weeks and being incredibly moved by the fact that she spoke of having enjoyed her pregnancy. Her loss seemed unbearable to me - much worse than anything I had been through - yet despite the awful pain and loss she had suffered, she had held on to those incredibly precious memories and treasured them. An amazing example!

So even if I only have a good positive for tonight, I am going to try and enjoy it at least a little.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Mr Clear.blue Dig.ital tells me I am pregnant. Furthermore, he tells me it has been 1-2 weeks since conception. Indeed it has - the embryo was conceived not last Tuesday but the one before!

BUT - this is pregnancy number 7, and the others didn't go so well, so I am very, very anxious. I sent my poor husband out to find an old-style Clear.blue so I could see how blue the line comes up. In the past, the lines have been visible only, to quote another blogger I can't remember the name of right now, "by the light of a million suns". The line did take a moment or two to come up and it started quite faint but it's definitely there. It's been about 4 years since the last time I saw a positive test, so obviously the comparison is tricky, but CM says he thinks it's the clearest one of ours he's seen - which isn't saying much :-/ .

Apart from the cramping, which continues on and off and is worrying me now I know I'm pregnant (even though I know that implantation cramping is normal [sigh]), I'm not really having much in the way of symptoms. I've been a tiny bit nauseous, but then I was really nauseous before the embryo went in and I think the Pro.gynova was to blame. I am also worrying about immune symptoms (sore throat and a bit of a headache today) as I've been told I have immune issues, but I'm not sure if I believe in all that anymore after the cycle from hell a couple of years ago.

The beta is on Wednesday morning with results after 4pm - that'll be a fun day! I'll be asking for another on Friday to see what the levels are doing. I am very tempted to go and try and get a beta at the early pregnancy unit tomorrow, but I don't want to muddy the waters and I think waiting till Wednesday is the sensible thing to do.

Kind of wishing I hadn't tested now and just waited for the bloods. I'd had forgotten how terrifying this is!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Nothing Much Happening Round Here

But a heck of a lot could be happening next week. Just checking in to say I have no idea whether this cycle has worked or not.

The urge to pee on a stick came upon me on Thursday - almost a whole week after the transfer, which is some kind of record for me (I tested daily from the HCG shot last IVF - yeah, before the embryo even went back in!). And I resisted it - yay for me! I have a two-pack of the most expensive pee tests I've ever bought - the Clear.blue digital ones that, as well as telling you whether you are pregnant, tell you how pregnant you are (or, in my case, probably how pregnant I'm not). I will collect some early morning pee tomorrow, but won't test till I've been to my friend's son's Christening - an event I wouldn't contemplate attending if I were to pee on a stick and get a negative.

I've been having some cramping for the last couple of days - just a little. I'm bemused by it though, as it's not like the cramping I've had in early pregnancy before (which felt like someone poking me from the inside) but as my pro.stap shot still has almost a week's life in it and I'm still taking the pro.gynova and the crin.one gel, my period should not be starting either. I have never bled while taking any kind of progesterone. Possibly psychosomatic then . . .

Ah well, tomorrow will tell. If it's a negative, then I can be 99.9% sure that the cycle is a bust. I have always had a positive pee test by that point in a pregnancy, even when the bHCG numbers turned out to be very low indeed. As Carrie over at Precious Little texted me today "Sometimes the not knowing is easier to deal with than the knowing".

I don't think I've mentioned before now that, since January, we have been making plans to buy a house with my parents and subdivide it - we would live on the first floor and they would have ground-floor-only living for their anticipated old age. The house is right next door to the one they live in now - the one they have lived in since I was 6 months old. CM is an architect and has drawn up detailed plans and got it through the first stages (no guarantees) of planning. Only thing is that the house isn't ours and there is another party interested. To say we have a lot invested in this would be an understatement. It would give my parents a sensible place to live for as long as they could cope on their own, and longer since we'd be upstairs to help out. It would allow them to stay in the neighbourhood they've lived in for 41 years and with the neighbours they've had for much of that time. It would give us a much quieter and nicer place to live and let us stay in an area we love and would mean that when my parents need help, I wouldn't need to trek for miles to give it to them. We've also invested a fair amount financially too, in terms of legal advice etc.

It all seems to be coming to a head now, so by this time next week we could have a pregnancy and a house project on our hands, or one and not the other. I dread the idea that we could end next week with neither.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Testing, testing. First attempt to blog by email!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Little Bit More Hope

So, as of yesterday, I have a day three, 12 cell (!) "perfect" (no fragmentation at all, all cells perfectly even) embryo on board and in the freezer we have two 9 cells and an 8 cell, all also "perfect" (apparently they have a tiny, tiny bit of fragmentation, but they think it's just a by-product of the division that will disappear, not a result of the cells themselves breaking down). One embryo stopped developing properly, sadly.

After another chat with our friendly embryologist, who had held my hand through the IVF or ICSI decision (we chose IVF and got 100% ferlisation), we decided not to wait till day five and risk losing the chance of a future frozen embryo transfer. You see, despite having been pregnant six times naturally, I have not ever, not once, even slightly got pregnant on any kind of medicated cycle. Six rounds of Clo.mid, one IUI, one IVF and one ICSI and not even a biochemical pregnancy. I know several other girls with a similar history, one of whom has only ever had a positive on a natural FET. I just wonder if the drugs don't agree with me. So, if we'd got to day five and only had one embryo to put back (or even one to put back and one to freeze - since the defrosting process is risky) and then this cycle hadn't worked, I'd always be wondering whether the drugs were the reason.

Plus, I have to say, if this round is a bust, then knowing it's not the end and that we don't have to go on a long list or try abroad will be a comfort. I think the clinic agreed with our decision as they kept talking about us having made "best use" of the embryos and saying that we were in a "fantastic" position. One of the nurses said that they can never seek to influence us, only give us the facts, but it's always a relief when the patient makes a sensible decision.

We decided to go for a single embryo transfer even before we knew how good the one that went back was. As I said in a previous post, any pregnancy I might have would be high-risk because of my age and underlying health conditions and there was no way I wanted to add twins to the cocktail of risk factors. If it had been my own eggs, I would have asked them to chuck in at least two - possibly the lot! But, we're in a new place here. The embryologist has said that, while noone can give us a completely conclusive theory, it does seem from the way that these embryos have behaved, as compared to the one from my own eggs, that my eggs may have been our issue all along. It's kind of a relief to have as near to an answer as I think we're going to get for just now. Of course, if I get pregnant and then have another early loss, then it's all up for grabs again!

The embryo went back in on my Godson's birthday and my official test date is Wednesday 28th April, two days after what would have been my much-loved maternal grandmother's 100th birthday. My superstitious, magical thinking side says these are good omens. I will pee on a stick before the 28th though, but not until after I've been to the Christening of a good friend's baby next weekend. She's been through miscarriage too, and has been very sweet to me and I really want to go to the ceremony. But if I've just found out I'm not pregnant, it would be too hard to go. So I shall remain in ignorance, and maybe even have a couple of flights of fancy during the service and smile wistfully, and then come back down to earth after I've done my duty.

I really like the embryologist! Not only has he been very patient and helpful at each stage of the process, but he's also funny and friendly. We finally met him yesterday and he shook our hands warmly and said how lovely it was to meet us both at last. Then he told us about our embryos and what good decisions we'd made. He was so enthusiastic about the quality of the embryo that was going back that I had to laugh a little. Maybe everyone gets the same speech, but he said it was the best embryo he could remember seeing for a long, long time. He called it "an embryo on a mission" and said "it knew where it was going". I said to CM afterwards that if it really knew where it was going and what my uterus did to embryos, it would have upped and run in the opposite direction.

But still, there's that hope again, dammit!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Little Hope is a Dangerous Thing!

So - we're in the middle of a donor egg cycle.

We got a call about two months ago to tell us that the clinic had a egg-share donor for us. We'd promised ourselves that, having twice said no to donors because it was the wrong time (I know, I know - it seems mad, but I'm glad we did it), we would say yes to the next one regardless of what they said about her (eg job, eye-colour etc). So I was a bit nervous, to say the least.

I haven't really talked much about our donor egg process on here. It was after the 6th miscarriage that a lovely nurse who saw me in the early pregnancy unit asked me if we had considered donor eggs. We had, in theory, but had thought that - hoped that - it wouldn't come to that. Several friends offered to give me their eggs - how lucky am I! - but they were all the same age as me (or older) and had all had issues of their own with getting or staying pregnant, so they weren't suitable. Plus, I really wasn't sure I could put them through the regime, never mind the issues surrounding their existing kids. And that's before all the concerns about whether I could cope with the idea of the child not being genetically mine. Still, we found a brand new clinic at a city near home that was doing egg-share and we put our names on the list.

A year later, we heard from them and that bit I have blogged about. The first donor came at a time when I had a temporary promoted post and the second just as we heard about the array CGH cycle possibility. So it all went on hold. Then there was the hypertension diagnosis and the concern that all thoughts of pregnancy might be over for good. But we got the go ahead to try, had a little bit of "normal life" and a nice holiday in Chicago and then told the clinic we were ready to go for it. In the meantime, I came to terms (as much as anyone can, I think) with the thought of giving up on the idea of my own genetic child.

However, I was worried. Our clinic has been at great pains to tell me all about the physical features of our possible donors - height, hair colour, eye colour. But, really, I really couldn't care less about that - our family has ranged in height from 6'2" down to 4'11"; we have blue, grey, brown and green eyes in our range; my grandmother was a redhead, my sister is mostly blond, my mum is mousey-brown, I am dark brown and my dad has black hair; my paternal grandfather had tight, tight curls while my mother's hair is as straight as anything; My skin is, as Billy Connolly joked, a typically Scots "blue - it takes me a week in the sun to go white" (actually, I burn in seconds and am covered in freckles) while my sister goes golden-brown after an hour. Short of a totally different skin colour (which, frankly, only bothers me in terms of the prejudice the child might face from the ignorant of the world), you could give us any combination of physical features and we could track it back to a close relative. Plus, since we're planning on being totally up-front about the fact that any child that might result from this is a donor child, we don't really see the point of making sure that their features match mine faithfully.

Call me an intellectual snob, but intelligence was important though. Not book-learning, mind, or social class, just common-sense smarts. My mother's side of the family is upper-middle class and I'm the fourth generation of women on that side to go to university. My dad's family is very working class and my sister and I are still the only women on that side of the family to have gone to university. BUT - both sides of the family are smart people - my dad's mum would have loved to have continued her education beyond the age of fourteen (and would have been well able to), but she had to go out to work to support her family and only her brothers got to stay on at school. Opportunity is everything, so I know very well that your level of education and your social class indicate nothing about your IQ. How on earth do you work that one out from the very limited info you get about a donor?!

Well, we hit extremely luck with ours. While it sounds like she probably hasn't been to uni, she goes to night classes and her main interests are the same as mine and CM's - art and music. That's all I needed to know - she is interested in learning and she values some of the same bits of life. That's more than good enough for me! I said yes without even consulting CM. He was as delighted as me.

We're now at the stage where I've downregulated (prostap injection, then another 3.5 weeks later when it became clear that my donor was a wee bit further behind than me) and been taking progynova for two weeks. I'm feeling a bit nauseous and lethargic, which I think is down to the progynova. The donor has had egg-collection and we got five eggs - I felt a little disappointed, but cheered up when I heard that all five had fertilised and that, if we manage to get four good embryos, we might go to blastocyst.

Just hearing that all five eggs had fertilised catapulted me into an optimism I really didn't want to feel. That optimism seems to come with every cycle - first time it was getting 16 eggs and then 13 embryos (all of which were slow growing and relatively poor quality and led to a BFN), second time it was hearing that one of my own five eggs was genetically normal and had turned into an embryo (but that was slow growing and also led to a BFN). A bit of me would love to dive deeper into that optimism and enjoy it while it lasts, but a bit of me is terrified that it will end in the same way as the cycles with my own eggs (and the IUI and the six cycles with Clomid and the countless totally natural attempts that ended in BFNs or miscarriages). Superstition, white magic and bargains with God are all under consideration at this point!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Head and Heart

Almost exactly a year ago, my favourite musician died.

John Martyn was 60 when he died - a miraculously grand age for someone who lived the life that he did, but it was far too young for those of us who loved his music (and, of course, for his family and friends). His music plays pretty much every day in my house, my car, where I work, on my iPod when I'm walking and often in my head, and has done for more than 20 years. His music featured heavily in my courtship with my now-husband. His music played at my wedding and I want it played at my funeral. If we ever manage to have a child, his music will play at their naming ceremony.

I saw him in concert four times - I wish it had been more. When I was very, very low and extremely anxious after my sixth miscarriage, my father's cancer and two serious health scares of my own and was off work and housebound with fear and misery, one of his concerts was the only thing that managed to get me out - not only out of the house but out of the city - and got my life moving again. I saw him in concert again, just after my last spectacular IVF failure that left me on blood pressure medication. Both of these times, I was taken out of my infertility orbit and managed to spend a bit of time just being me and being happy.

I was supposed to see him play again, in March last year, in a tiny, intimate venue, but on January 29th he died. I can honestly say that I have never mourned so much for a person I hadn't actually met - except for the babies that never were. For about a month, I was under a big, dark cloud, broken only briefly by the light of my 40th birthday celebration, which came a week after his death.

Maybe it's because it's January and the darkest, most depressing time of the year; maybe it's because the last member of the oldest generation of our extended "family", my honorary grandmother, is dying; maybe it's because, once again, I am surrounded by people succeeding where I have failed in the reproduction department; maybe it's because I'm waiting to start a donor egg cycle (if my sm*ear results come in OK, which I'm worried about, because I bled when they took it and because, well, I worry); maybe it's because it's nearly the first anniversary of John Martyn's death; maybe it's all of these things, but I am feeling desperately in need of an experience like the ones I had at those concerts of his.

I need to be reminded that I can enjoy life, even with the big hole in it where my children should be. I can, can't I?