Here we go again

6 months off and we’re back. Loaded with a new agenda. We are having to use a different approach. Donor Sperm. But we are in a good place and being positive. It’s really scary going down this road again, I’m terrified of being disappointed again and knowing that we simply aren’t made of money to keep going and going. It has really dawned on me how terribly unfair the criteria for funding is in this field. A blood test here, £100, a scan there, £375, it is criminal. It’s not our fault. Charge our account to cancer!

Round two. We’re coming for you.

 

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Happy New Year

Christmas was actually OK. Iv’e always thought I was a strong and level headed individual and I have managed to tackle having everyone over for Christmas dinner, working my busiest part of the year and all the other Christmas celebrations and gatherings as well as helping my grandparents settle into their new home I think, quite well.

But that doesn’t mean that inside and quietly I don’t think about our situation and our loss every single day.

After meeting with the consultant, who seems to think that the frozen sperm may have been damaged during the freezing process 20 years ago, we have decided not to talk about anything ‘ baby ‘ related for 3 months and this is advice we have taken. In our own dramatic way we have booked a mini break to Amsterdam ( one of our favourite cities ) for valentines and we will have the ‘ talk ‘ while were away. We have 2 options….

  1. Donor sperm
  2. Try ICSI again and Donor Sperm alongside and see if one works

Well after being told Chris’s frozen sperm is, for want of a better word, rubbish, we can rule out option 2.

January was my first proper period after my treatment. I was 10 days late. I couldn’t help thinking, what if, by some small miracle, could I be pregnant. I know it would be like the second coming Christ, not so much a virgin birth but you know where I’m going, but I had it there in the back of my mind. Please God give me a miracle. Alas, it wasn’t.

I’m finding it hard to hear others baby news too. My FB seems to be filled with scan photos, new baby pics and announcements. I should be doing that now too. It should be me 😦

But in good tight upper lip,  keeping my pecker up and mask in place. Life goes on and I will carry on using my favourite phrase of the moment ‘ Yes, I know it’s terrible what happened but there are others worse off, I just have to turn on the telly and I know how lucky I am ‘. Perfectly positive!

 

Broken

This is incredibly difficult for me to write but I’m hoping it will help others like us who are going through a similar time.

Chris and I were lucky to have 12 eggs collected on our egg removal day and we left the hospital in high spirits. We received a call the next day to say that 7 had not fertilised at all and had gone but 5 eggs showed a little progression so they would keep them that day and over night to see if they progressed. We were told not to get our hopes up but the embryologists weren’t giving up just yet. We had another phone call at 3pm to say there was no change.

We took ourselves off to church. We lit 5 candles, one for each embryo and we prayed hard.

On Friday morning they rang to say that the embryo’s had not changed and they were gone. Also that due to Chris’s frozen sperm being too weak, we would not be able to have children. Cancer has robbed my husband of being a father.

The pain we feel is inconsolable. I can’t stop the tears even as I write this. To have my body prepared and ready for pregnancy and then to be told it’s not going to happen, ever, is too cruel.

We were so naive.

As Chris so rightly put it yesterday, we were both caught up on this wave of ICSI and IVF. We were given the day for Egg transferring, our pregnancy test date, we had talked about names and even had a brief wander around the baby section of IKEA. We planned our anniversary break in a couple of weeks around the understanding that I might be pregnant and even joked that I would be on orange juice come Christmas day.

We are seeing our consultant on Wednesday to discuss what has happened and any other options we may have. We have so many questions to ask.

This truly is the ugly side to IVF.

 

 

 

Scans

I feel rotten! I feel sick, my boobs hurt ( OMG do my boobs fricken hurt ), my belly hurts, i’m hot and flustered and I feel anxious. My brain is fuzzy and Iv’e had a few palpitations, I’m worried about work, i’m worried about the next stage of treatment, i’m restless and uncomfortable, my back is killing me, especially in the mornings and my headaches!

And breathe……………

This is exactly why I decided to do this blog, because I need to say it somewhere. It’s honest and it’s sorrowful and it’s winy and it’s self absorbed but I need to say it!  I mean, I am Ok, I am managing but I am ‘managing’ all the above. I have come off my anxiety meds pretty much completely now so this is probably the reason for my general mood and the physical is more than likely down to the hormone injections but for whatever reason I feel a bit shit!

Last Friday we had our first follicle tracking scan and they suggested I go back on Saturday for another scan as my follicles weren’t  quite the size they want them to be yet. We went back, they did another scan and I now have to go back tomorrow ( Monday ) for another as they are still not quite there. As I had run out that morning of my red pen injection, we were stung for another £126 for two days worth to see me till Monday. I did offer to take a morning swig of Tomorite to help the buggers grow quicker but apparently this only works on tomatoes!

It takes us 1hr 30mins on a good day to get to the clinic ( a 3hr round trip ) depending on traffic but has taken us 2hr 30mins when traffic has been bad. So three appointments in 4 days has been pretty busy. God bless my amazing husband who insists on taking me and staying with me for every appointment. Although he did frighten the life out of two women when we pulled up outside the clinic on Friday. He parked next to their car, not knowing anyone was in it and turned the engine off and at the top of his lungs blared out Living on a Prayer, much to their bewilderment! We had been playing Carpool Karaoke all the way from Bognor!

So we are looking at egg removal for Wednesday  according to our consultant. They advise that you take the next day off work to recover from the operation, so i’m planning a Sex and the City marathon on Thursday if anyone has the box sets to lend me 🙂

Fingers crossed we are good to go tomorrow and as my darling husband puts it, I will be ready to be harvested!

 

 

 

Suppressed…Tick!

Last Wednesday hubby and I went to the baby clinic to see if my ovaries were suppressed following the injections. My blood test results showed I was and I was to start taking my FSH injection along with half the dose of Buselin everyday. So two needles a day is pretty pants but I think I’m getting the hang of it a bit better now. The FSH is going straight in the thigh and the other in my tummy. Hardcore!

I have two scans booked in now. One for the 18th and 21st. These are to track my follicles and to see when i’m ready to have my eggs removed for fertilisation. So all this means that I think the potential bun should be in the oven by the end of the month!!!

Side effects of the injections so far are hot sweats, aching joints, chapped lips and lank hair. I’m seeing my hairdresser next weekend and I’m going to ask for a hair mask or treatment as my mop seems to of lost its shine.I booked in a manicure and eyebrow wax as well this week to give me a boost. I needed to feel ME again and slobbing round the house after work in sweatpants with chapped lips, bruised belly and lank hair was really starting to annoy me!

On a more serious and pressing note, when is it a good time to cut out the alcohol??

The thought of going sober for 9 months is looming in the fore front of my mind. I have become determined to drink at every possible occasion, to enjoy a glass of bubbly for as long as I can before I hit it on the head. A cosy glass of red on chilly evenings in front of the fire or a G&T with friends over a chin wag, will have to be replaced by a Bovril and an elderflower and soda 😦

But tonight I am off out with my sister in law to see a band and have a few glasses of wine so I am going to enjoy it while I can. The Bovril can wait!

 

:(

I have been injecting for a week today and I have some big old ugly bruises to show for it. I’m not sure if it’s my paranoia, but I think it is getting worse the more I inject. It smarts a bit now 😦

A knowledgeable friend at work suggested I rotate my injections from left tummy to right tummy, to left thigh to right thigh. In out In out shake it all about!

Today I feel pants!

I’m not sure if it is the meds or the end of my nasty cold but I am having night sweats and feel quite up tight and ratty. My poor hubby can’t put a foot right at the moment. I can’t decide if i’m hungry, too hot, what to watch on TV, how to get comfy on the sofa or whether I want a cup of tea or a glass of wine! Or maybe that’s just marriage!

In all honesty I think i’m waiting to feel something. I’m waiting for a sudden drop in my mood or to feel sick with over stimulation. I think i’m waiting to feel something so I know things are going as they should. That’s what an over stimulated mind does to you.

Chris and I have been looking through our wedding photos this evening. In everyone we are smiling. We joked that my mouth is open in every photo, either from laughing or smiling so wide! Chris is emotional in 90% of his pictures and anyone can see it was the happiest day of our lives. So after reminiscing i’m going to try and stop over thinking and over analysing things so much and leave our future in God’s hands.

 

 

ICSI

ICSI – intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

One of Chris’s defrosted bad boys is injected directly into the egg. The fertilised egg is then transferred into my womb. This is different to IVF because rather than just putting the eggs and sperm together and letting them find each other, ICSI does the job for them. Lazy!

We have roughly a 45% success rate. My hormone count is quite high so there is a chance I could be over stimulated by the drugs ( since when was over stimulation something to be snuffed at ) so they will keep a close eye on me throughout the treatment.

One of my concerns before entering into ICSI was the condition of Chris’s sperm when they were taken to be frozen. If they were of poor quality, could that affect the baby? Could our baby have special needs or deformities? These were questions I wanted to ask our consultant. I didn’t want to go ahead if the chances were high of this happening. I couldn’t knowingly conceive a child with the knowledge that it would most likely have complications. That is not fair on the child. Luckily our consultant reassured us that although the sperm is last out of the starting block, its’s chromosomes and DNA are all in place!

Iv’e been injecting now for 5 days and apart from some bruising, it’s going OK. I had a lovely Spa day with friends on Saturday with an hours massage which was heavenly. Also an Adele tribute night with dinner in the evening with hubby and Sunday lunch out with family for my mother in laws birthday! I have had a rotten cold all weekend and slunk off work today to recover, after all, I don’t really want to spread my germs amongst the over 80’s.

I have been on anxiety medication for about 10 years now and today I pick up my amended prescription. After chatting to my doctor we have decided that coming off this medication would be better for baby. I’m on a 4 week weening off programme starting tomorrow! Yikes! The doctor was lovely and very supportive. She has even promised me Diazepam on tap if I end up having triplets or quads!

 

 

Injection day

This morning didn’t start well. I knocked a whole cup of tea off my bedside table and into our baby box ( a rather fetching lilac coloured box file with all our paperwork in regarding IVF ) and all over the laptop. Of course it was Chris’s fault for balancing the cup on the edge. As I was laying bits of paper over every radiator in the house to dry I couldn’t help but think, why can’t I be one of those women who seem to do everything perfectly. Not only do I have my med’s being kept in a rusty fridge in the garage by a bag of rotten onions, I now have all my paperwork including my Treatment book, which i’m suppose to take to every appointment, covered in tea stains! I am sure some women are far more organised and have pretty folders with dividers and ovary shaped post it notes!

After a long shower ( prolonging the inevitable ) I got down to business. With syringe in one hand and a hand full of tummy in the other I sat on the bed ready to inject. Chris was with me but I didn’t want him to watch. It truly was pathetic. I sat there for about 10 mins willing myself to put that needle in my belly! Every time I got near I pulled away. I was getting really frustrated and told myself to stop being so bloody stupid. For some reason I thought it would feel like it does when someone takes your blood. I was expecting it to sting and be uncomfortable. For Christ sake, Man up! I pushed the needle in……nothing. I pushed in the liquid……..nothing. It did not hurt one damn bit and this I am convinced is because I am FAT!  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah to a chubby belly!

It itched like mad afterwards and a small raised bump appeared but I am happy to report that it didn’t hurt and also I did not crash the bus on our garden centre trip today. I’d say that’s a good result all round!

This is all to suppress my menstrual cycle and put me into a mini-menopausal state.I now inject daily until my next bleed and continue taking the oral medication too. I ring the clinic when I get my period and have a blood test 4 days later to see if I have been sufficiently suppressed. Now all of this I understand. It’s what happens after that I’m struggling to get my head around.

 

 

Day 20

Tomorrow is Day 21, Injection day. God, I’m really not looking forward to ‘ shooting up ‘. In a moment of madness at work today I decided to look up the side effects of taking Buserelin Injections and read some forums of women who have been through it. Why do we think this is ever a good idea? I am now convinced that along with the early menopause, headaches and sore breasts, the chances of me developing a blood clot in my leg and being covered in a rash are highly likely! What i’m most concerned about is how far do you put the needle in? I think iv’e got the drawing up of the medicine and consistency right but when I grab a lump of my belly just how far into the skin do I insert the needle? Do I go in at an angle or straight down? How slow do I push the liquid in? The nurse said it is quite thick and will smart a bit so not too slow I hope! So maybe i’m  overthinking this a bit too much but i’m only telling you what i’m thinking.

Another worry, yes i’m a worrier, is tomorrow at work I am taking a bus load of my residents ( I work as an events coordinator for an elderly care home ) on a trip to a garden centre for lunch. I am driving the bus, pushing wheelchairs and generally in charge. What if I have a reaction to the injection and I crash the bus!! OK, alright, enough already! I’m driving myself mad! I have always found that thinking of the worst possible scenario or outcome is often the best way to deal with things. By doing this anything less is a bonus.

Talking of my job, I wrote to the residents and relatives this week to explain that I was starting treatment and this might effect my job role due to clinic visits, operations, rest periods and taking on lighter duties over Christmas. One of my residents became very concerned and my Deputy Manager asked me to go up and see her. When I entered her room she threw her arms around me telling me how worried she was for me. She wanted me to know that if I needed her to dress up as Father Christmas and do the dance of the 7 veils ( an interesting thought considering she is 84 ) she was more than willing to help out. She had also spoken to the ‘ older ‘ carers and told them I wasn’t to over do it and to keep an eye on me. I reassured her I would be fine.

How sweet of her. I never thought for a second someone would be so concerned for my welfare. My reason behind the letter was that honesty is the best policy. I wanted people to know so if I did have to have time off or not rush around like a headless chicken so much, they would understand. My life has always been an open book anyway. I organised my wedding with the help of my wonderful residents and I even popped in on my wedding day to show them my dress! It only feels right that they share this next chapter with me too.

 

A bit about us

Well, Day 19 came and went. I popped a pill and didn’t feel any different. Work was crazy busy as always with me showing no signs of slowing down, so all in all Day 19 was somewhat of an anti climax. Instead I thought I would bring you up to speed on our story.

Chris and I met on Plenty of Fish.com. Contrary to what Chris might tell people about us meeting through a ‘ friend ‘ it was a dating website. We went on a date after talking for a few days and fell in love during a drunken pub crawl around Arundel in the snow. I was a single mum to my then 13 yr old son Hal. I had been on my own with Hal for 10 yrs ( give or take the odd online dating disaster ) and was wary of getting into a relationship at first but Chris was the funniest person I had ever met and the kindest. He stole my heart.

Chris proposed to me in Helsinki during a mini break and I couldn’t say yes quick enough. We married the following year at Christmas. This December we will celebrate our 1st Wedding anniversary.

I knew about Chris being infertile from quite early on in our relationship. He kinda blurted it out one night while we were waiting for a taxi after a concert in London. Lots of alcohol had been consumed and it loosens the tongue I suppose. I didn’t really know what to say, being half cut myself, but I suppose having Hal already, numbed the impact as I had resigned myself to just having the one child now.

Chris had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when he was at university. By the time he was diagnosed he was very ill and classified Grade 4 ( this is very bad apparently). Intensive treatment had to start straight away and this would leave him infertile. They took some of his sperm and froze it for future use. As he was so ill at the time the sperm wasn’t of the best quality but it wasn’t useless either. Throughout Chris’s adult life he has put having a child out of his mind and told himself it would never happen. That was until we met.

We started to look into the possibility of having a baby using Chris’s frozen sperm before we got married. I gently asked questions and planted the seed ( pardon the pun ) regarding IVF. In my mind it was worth finding out whether there was a chance of us having a baby, a definite yes you can or no you can’t. Once we knew the score we could decide what to do next.

We discovered the Wessex Fertility Centre online. According to there criteria, we would not qualify for any type of funding towards IVF due to the fact that I had a child already. Regardless of that child coming from another relationship and the fact that it is physically impossible for Chris to father a child naturally. Go Figure! So all in all we were looking at somewhere in the region of £8000 for one go!  We looked at other options, for example I could rope one of my friends in to pretend to be my lesbian lover because apparently that does enable you to have free NHS IVF treatment, regardless of how many children you already have. Another idea was for me to have a one night stand with a random  at our local club, most likely of Eastern European decent. Unsurprisingly, both these options we ruled out.

Once we were married we signed up to the centre and set the wheels in motion. Our initial consultation seemed promising. I have a full hen house according to the consultant, plenty of eggs! I haven’t left it too late ( I wanted to be the right side of 40 ) and all blood tests, thyroid check and hormone levels are perfect. After a nightmare trying to organise the transportation of Chris’s sperm from London to Southampton ( in the end Chris carried the damn freezer through London to get it himself ) and having to postpone the start date as I had too much going on (  in a nutshell, I sold my grandparents house for them, moved them into a new bungalow and during this Grandad had a heart attack )  we are finally underway.

Sometimes I think I must be mad starting again after a 16 yr gap. Hal is 16 now and a fine young man if I do say so myself. But the truth of it is Chris would be the best dad ever. To give him something he never thought he could have is the greatest example of my love for him. When you truly love someone you would give them the world and to Chris his world would be a son or daughter of his own. So this is what I’m going to do.