8w6d, cellulitis and other concerns!

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I have cellulitis, or to explain it more explicitly a bacterial infection in my bum cheek muscle caused by the lentogest injections (progesterone in oil). The other day I noticed that there was  a large red, hot area around a bruise on my butt. A quick trip to the GP confirmed it and I was prescribed a week of antibiotics. I wasn’t massively keen on taking them but a bacterial infection could be serious and the ones I’m taking are safe in pregnancy. My clinic didn’t seem overly concerned – apparently it happens with lentogest because the injections go into the muscle. We’d been really careful to clean the injection site etc but I still got the infection. I’ve been advised to put a hot water bottle on the site after injection to help disperse the oil. Trust me to get a butt infection. It actually cleared up after 2 days of antibiotics but I’m taking the whole course.

Last weekend the paranoia got to me a bit. I spent a sleepless night utterly convinced that one or both of the twins had died. There was no real reason for my anxiety other than the timing of my nausea had changed. I was still getting it but for a shorter period of time. I managed to snap out of it to attend a festival with friends (it was one of my best mate’s birthdays) and felt very sick for part of the day so that’ll teach me. I also threw up for the first time when I got home but I think that was because I’d got really hungry as we stayed out longer than anticipated and then I stuffed my face with cheesy crumpets when I got in – like literally inhaled them like a pig without waiting for breath ( I should probably mention that I’ve been stuffing my face a bit – it makes me feel less sick, plus I’m hungry quite often).

Anyway, we decided that to manage my anxiety a bit better (and on the wise advice of a friend who’s been in my shoes) to get another scan. This time we didn’t go to our extortionately expensive clinic, nor could I quite bring myself to go to my EPU as it holds the worst memories for me, so we found a company  that charges less than half what my clinic does, and has sonographers all over the country. I managed to get a lunchtime appointment in central London yesterday not too far from either my or my husband’s work.

This time is wasn’t an internal vaginal scan but on the belly. So much nicer. And the twins are both fine. One measured 9w1d and the other 8w5d (I was officially 8w6d).  Their heartrates are also good. And we could see a real difference since last week in terms of how they look. I’m hoping that scan keeps me sane for another week. I’m acutely aware that things could still go wrong. But yesterday was a happy day.

 

 

 

7w6d 2 hearts

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I didn’t say anything in my last post as I wanted to break my news to a couple of friends who read this blog and didn’t want them to read it on here first. Plus the husband and I were in a bit of shock. So, last week we saw two heartbeats. Yup twins! I had considered twins might be a possibility as my HCG level was high but without knowing how much it was rising it was kind of out of context. So it was a bit of a shock when we were told (though the husband had actually seen both sacs on the ultrasound before the sonographer showed me – I couldn’t see the screen properly at first). One measured 6w5d and one 6w6d (spot on) with good heartbeats.

We had our second scan at 7w6d because of the bleeding last week, and they were looking good. One is now measuring 8w1d and the other was 7w6d. The Dr waited an age to confirm to us – I nearly had a heart attack. We heard the heartbeats too which was special, though the husband didn’t like it because they beat so fast it weirds him out apparently!

No more bleeding though I’m still getting some brown crinone discharge (that stuff is the devil’s work – I never thought I’d say I prefer cyclogest) and the odd very small bit of brown blood (possibly the crinone irritating my cervix) but I’m trying to take it in my stride.

I’m still really nervous. About everything. About getting through each day and still being pregnant (4 miscarriages will do that to you), about carrying twins, about the risks. But for today things are good.

One day at a time…..

Next scan at 10 weeks (if I can last that long).

scan

 

Waiting, bleeding and the 7 week scan

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The wait between the beta hcg result and the first scan is really hard as anyone who’s been in this position knows. The days drag, you find yourself agonising over every symptom and lack of symptom and veering between hope and absolute terror that things aren’t going well. I’m not surprised my boobs hurt – I start and end the day by giving them a good squeeze!

In an effort to distract myself I took a couple of extra days off over the May bank holiday weekend and planned some nice activities. The husband and I went for an early anniversary lunch at Gilbert Scott (a Marcus Wareing restaurant), we got a good deal on a set menu (see pics). I also went for afternoon tea (on a different day!) with my sis and parents for her 30th and then we went for cocktails. My dad was subtle as a brick practically shouting “virgin cocktail? Why?” whilst my mum and sister glared at him (they know I’m planning a transfer soon but I didn’t tell them I’ve already had it – if all goes well I’ll tell them in another week or so). I also went out for dinner and drinks with 2 uni friends – they know a lot about my IVF history and did quiz me on the no drinking – I also told them that we were preparing for transfer.

Last weekend at 6w4d was the day I started bleeding last time. This weekend I went to the Epsom Derby races at with a group of friends (we go most years and my friend makes this amazing picnic). I did have slight cramping resulting in a couple of wary trips to the toilet. Just before going to bed that night came the horrific news of the London Bridge attack (so soon after the Manchester one) and I spent an hour or so checking in with family and friends. I was at London Bridge for the first time since the attack last night for a friends birthday – the sea of flowers, notes and flags from a variety of countries was very moving.

On Monday I worked late and popped to the loo as I was about to leave and saw blood, red blood. I was really not expecting it. I had no cramps or backache like last time. I tried not to panic and made my way home. The bleeding was mainly dark red and stopped after 2 hours – it wasn’t heavy but it was scary.

I phoned the clinic on Tues and they brought my scan forward (it was scheduled for Wed at exactly 7 weeks). I spent a nervous morning at work convinced things were over as my boobs didn’t feel so sore, and my nausea was coming and going.

My husband joined me at the clinic – I was pleased that the appointment was with the really nice sonographer (and not the one who kept messing up my lining measurements). She gave the usual reassurances about how she would take a minute to suss things out so not to worry during that time. She was actually very quick in telling us that there was a good heartbeat and the measurements were spot on at 6w6d (my last pregnancy measured 3 days small and I lost that) and showed us – my husband had actually already seen on the screen as she found it very quickly. She also found the bleeding site and said it looked like it had bled out and I hopefully shouldn’t get any more. Obviously we were overjoyed but very cautions. We’ve been here before and it didn’t end well.

The Dr has taken me off clexane for a few days as a result and has asked me to go in for another scan in a week at 7w6d to check progress and the bleed site.

I’ve been ok. As soon as I hit 7 weeks my nausea increased quite a bit despite the steroids (which can mask it). In some ways this is reassuring. Less reassuring have been 2 days of crinone discharge which is dark brown so obviously stained with old blood. Then yesterday it was a pinky red colour which scared me a bit – although it’s possible the crinone is irritating me – I’ve never used it before and I keep thinking it’s going to give me thrush – I really don’t like it.

I’m sure the day before and day of my next scan the doubts will start to creep in. I’m now 7w3d – in a couple of days it will be roughly the time my last two pregnancies stopped growing.  For now I’m trying to stay as calm as possible.

 

 

 

12dp5dt – unofficial test day

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As mentioned in my last post my official test day was 16 days after my frozen blastocyst transfer. However, my last clinic official test day was 11 days after, and my clinic before that was 13 days after, so I persuaded my husband that I would test on day 12 as I was starting to go insane and just wanted to know. It was also a Saturday giving  me the weekend to get over bad news before going back to work.

The night before I didn’t sleep well. I convinced myself it hadn’t worked as my nausea had diminished. However, I had started to get very tender nipples and my sense of smell was heightened (though I always get this when pregnant, I also get it when my period is due). In reality there was just no way to predict the outcome.

I woke at about 4 needing the loo so I peed in a jug (the jug from my OHSS days – not a jug I use in the kitchen!). I then went back to bed for a few hours but slept fitfully. At about 7 I woke my husband and went to test the pee in the jug. This happened…

12dp5dt

The test line was a lot darker than the control line which was reassuring (having suffered 2 chemical pregnancies in the past). First hurdle passed!

I tested again 2 days later and the result was very similar (with the control line slightly lighter than the test above and patchy). I phoned the clinic as I needed more meds and they booked me in for a beta HCG blood test the next day. I also had another intralipid on my official test day (16dp5dt).

My hcg result on 15 days post 5 day transfer (or 20 days post ovulation) was 3880 which the clinic were very happy with as it’s quite high,  progesterone was 168.3 which was fine (thank goodness no need to increase the frequency of the progesterone in oil injections). My clinic doesn’t repeat the hcg test if results are good and as I’ve not had a repeat I have no idea if it’s rising as it should.

I’m struggling a bit at the moment with my own thoughts. Some days I feel positive but others my past experiences, especially my last pregnancy , are overwhelming and I convince myself there will be no heartbeat on my scan or that we’ll see a heartbeat at viability scan and then on the next scan there will be nothing (which has happened to me twice). It hasn’t helped that my nausea is very unpredictable. Some days it lasts all day and can increase in the evening. Other days nothing. My boobs are still sore – I check them everyday (more than once a day). I have read that prednisolone (the steroids I’m on) can mask symptoms, particularly nausea. I just have to be patient. Viability scan is at 7 weeks. Seems like a lifetime away.

I’m just taking each day but for now I am pregnant and thankful for that!

Symptoms in the 2 week wait, what not to do, and feeling loved

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I meant to document the last ‘2 weeks’ a bit better in real time. Even if it was just to add to the plethora of blog posts about symptoms.

So here is a list of totally meaningless* symptoms from the last few days. *Meaningless as if you consult Dr Google long enough you’ll always find someone who got pregnant with these symptoms and someone who didn’t!

  • 1dp5dt – nothing – to be expected!
  • 2pd5dt – nothing, getting up to pee in the night (always get this from the progesterone).
  • 3dp5dt – nothing, peeing in the night, maybe a little bit of twinging in the ovaries which could be down to  them settling down after the low dose of stimulation
  • 4dp5dt – nothing apart from the peeing.
  • 5dp5dt – nausea. This is new, not had nausea before test day before. Consult Dr Google who informs me this is likely to be due to the very high levels of progesterone I’m on. I was on similar levels last time and didn’t get this (and I got pregnant, albeit briefly). However I’m on different types this time (crinone, prontogest, lentogest) so very explainable.
  • 6dp5dt – nausea. Wondering why my boobs look and feel totally normal. Poke them a lot. The 2 times I didn’t get sore boobs I didn’t get pregnant.
  • 7dp5dt – nausea. Back ache like I get before my period (not as worried about this as might have been as I got this on my last FET).
  • 8dp5dt – nausea getting worse – woke me up. Back ache. Stabbing pain in boobs.
  • 9dp5dt – nausea – wake up in the night and almost puke. Back ache, stomach cramps – like full on period pains. Period would be due now. Poke boobs – little bit sore (maybe because I keep poking them).
  • 10dp5dt – nausea lessoning. Bad period pains. Boobs teeny bit more sore (but only when I squeeze them). I tested this day last time. Husband is refusing to let me test!
  • 11dp5dt – nausea has practically gone. This was official test day at my last clinic.

My official test day is 16dp5dt – this is ridiculous! I’m not waiting til then. I am veering between positivity and negativity. One minute I think it’s worked, the next I don’t think so. You’d think by transfer no 7 (!) that I’d be a bit more practised at the 2 week wait but it really doesn’t get any easier.

Yesterday I received these beautiful flowers from 2 of my friends to let me know they were thinking of me. I’ve hardly told anyone about this cycle but they know. I met them both on an online fertility support forum and we met physically at a meet up and hit it off (partly as we found certain other people on the forum annoying!). We don’t really participate in the forum anymore but remained good friends and have supported each other through failed IVF and miscarriages. They both have their miracles but have remained a great source of support. I was really touched to receive the flowers.

 

flowers

I’ve been pretty busy since the transfer which has been a bit of a distraction but perhaps not the best way to feel ‘relaxed’ in the wait. I’ve tried not to work long hours but inevitably I’ve worked late a few times. I went for drinks with some old work colleagues (managing to more or less get away with the virgin cocktails). I practiced my driving with my husband – this was not the best plan. I stalled the car at a major junction which stressed me (and him) out. Then I freaked out that I’d impacted implantation! My husband had a planned op so I visited him in hospital and then looked after him for a bit (he’s recovered very quickly). So this weekend I’m just busy doing nothing! A little walk, TV, reading and maybe a bit of yoga.

Why is this so hard!?

 

 

The IVF archives: dealing with severe OHSS

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I don’t currently have OHSS. But on my first IVF cycle I did. At the time I was new to IVF and scared and in horrific pain, and there was a real dearth of information out there about OHSS. I’ve been meaning to write about my experience and pass on tips for dealing with it in case it helps anyone who finds themselves in a similar position.

OHSS is ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome. It is highly unusual to get severe OHSS, but those undertaking IVF should be aware of the symptoms and how to manage it. I am not writing this to scare anyone, most women will feel a bit uncomfortable after egg collection but that won’t lead to OHSS. Those who have a lot of eggs / follicles are more likely to be at risk.

OHSS is thought to occur due to the additional liquid in the follicles around the eggs being released and finding it’s way into an alternative cavity – mainly the abdomen. The liquid needs to be dispersed – I think partly back into the areas where it belongs.

Roll back a few years to IVF cycle no.1. This was my one and only NHS funded cycle. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it proceeded once we were in the system. I was initially warned I was at potential risk of OHSS due to my polycystic ovaries and because I was petite. Following my first couple of scans which showed a large number of follicles developing the OHSS warning was repeated and I was advised to drink plenty of fluid – which I was doing already.

Turns out my ovaries were having a field day. Despite not being on a particularly high dosage of Gonal F I had over 30 follicles. I kept exercising for a while but about 7 days into stimming and whilst out running I felt so uncomfortable I knew I had to stop exercising (I didn’t want to get ovarian torsion where the ovaries can twist round and cut off their blood supply). By the day before egg collection it hurt to walk. Apparently my ovaries were the size of large oranges (usually ovaries are 3-5cm).

At egg collection they took out 33 eggs, 26 of which were mature. I felt quite uncomfortable afterwards. I was advised again to drink a lot of fluid.

I continued to feel a bit unwell whilst our embryos developed – quite hot and with intermittent sharp backache. I did get a couple of calls from the nurses to check up on me. I kept drinking a lot – mainly water. I couldn’t eat much. Meanwhile our numbers dwindled – 16 eggs fertilised and by day 5 we had 2 blastocysts. It is likely the huge numbers affected the quality but that is a blog post for another day. In the 5 days since collection I’d noticed that my stomach was swollen and hard. On the night before transfer I had really painful backache and was unable to sleep much. On the day of transfer I planned to go to work for the morning (I’d told no-one there about the IVF) but couldn’t get my skirt on properly – the only way was to pull it up under my boobs – I literally looked about 6 months pregnant. I found some loose trousers and put them on (with the buttons undone). I went into work and on the tube nearly passed out. I somehow got to my office and told my boss I wasn’t feeling good and felt faint. She took one look at me and called me a taxi which I got all the way home.

A few hours later I went for the transfer. I explained I felt unwell and they examined my hard stomach and the embryologist wanted to call off the transfer (the Dr was a bit more ambivalent). But the hospital refused to freeze our 2 embryos so I felt I had no choice but to go ahead and transfer both or I’d have ended up with nothing – no transfer and no frozen embryos.

Following transfer the hospital assigned a nurse to me who would phone every day to check as I was now considered high OHSS risk. She gave me a measuring jug. Basically they wanted to monitor my fluid output. Yes, I had to wee in a jug. I also had to write down how much I was drinking. I asked if there was anything I could drink that would help – they said just lots of water. This is actually poor advice. My research showed that what you needed was to clear the fluid from your system and plain water could just add to the problem. Electrolytes such as coconut water or sports drinks (without the sugar) were actually best. Carbohydrates and sugar should be completely avoided and I should eat protein and salt (though at this point eating was the last thing on my mind). I was also given clexane to inject to prevent blood clots.

That night I had such bad backache I woke up crying. The nurse said to keep up the fluid intake and because I was still peeing a good amount that I was doing ok. But if I stopped being able to pee I had to go straight in. The following night I was screaming with the pain so my husband phoned A&E at the hospital but they said to wait until the IVF clinic opened up as they were best able to deal with me. By the morning I was vomiting but as I hadn’t eaten much it was pretty dry heaving. We went straight to the clinic as soon as it was open. I must’ve looked a right sight – the only thing I could fit in was an old tracksuit, I was white as a sheet and I was unable to stand up properly. My husband literally lost his shit with the receptionist, poor woman, shouting that they do something. The waiting room was full of couples waiting for their IVF appointments and I must’ve looked like the worst IVF advert ever. I was rushed into the IVF theatre very quickly.

Once there I begged them to do something. My Dr wasn’t particularly helpful. She said they could put a drain in my side but it wouldn’t cure the OHSS just help manage it a bit. I had done some research on the drain and begged them to do it. They gave me a local anaesthetic and stuck a scalpel in the right side of my stomach and threaded a drain into it. It was painful but I didn’t care. Right away they opened the valve on the drain which led into a bag and a watery bloody liquid started to drain in. They also put me on a drip to replace fluid. I had to be monitored for a few hours, during which point one of the nurses came over and gave me a hug and said I was going to feel so much better now. She was actually right – as the fluid poured into the bag the incredible pain in my back dwindled. I wish the Dr had had the guts to say that I’d feel better if I had the drain, it’s really all I needed to hear. After they had drained out 2 litres of fluid the valve was closed, they did some blood tests and gave me some strong painkillers (which were apparently ok to take during pregnancy – though by this point I really wasn’t considering the possibility of a successful transfer much). I discharged myself because I was so pissed off with the hospital and because they said I could go home if I wanted. I had to drain off a further litre of fluid later that night. It was very difficult to walk with the drain as small movements made the drain move around and that was painful. I also had to strap the bag for the drain onto my leg but they couldn’t find a strap small enough so although it was supposed to go under my clothes the nurse had to put it outside. I also had to wear compression socks as I was at risk of blood clots.

At home I continued to drink coconut water and sports electrolyte drinks (as I did a lot of running I already had a supply of tablets that could be dissolved in water), and ate small amounts of egg with salt. The drain helped so much. The hospital phoned me every day to check progress, after 2 days I got a slightly panicked call from them. Apparently they’d only just checked my blood results which showed dehydration severe enough to require hospitalisation and I needed to go back to the hospital straight away. Turns out that I was actually hydrated ok by then but should never have been discharged the first day and instead should’ve stayed in hospital overnight.

About a day after that I woke with a really swollen right leg (the same side the drain was in) so had to go back to the hospital to get checked out for blood clots. Luckily I didn’t have any. The swelling was just the liquid collecting in one side of my body – assisted by the fact I could only sleep in a certain position.

Finally 5 days after I had been given the drain it was removed. My stomach was no longer swollen rock hard and my back was no longer in agony. I continued to eat mainly protein and drink electrolytes for a few more days. I was back at work about 12 days after my transfer.

Whilst I had a positive pregnancy test it turned out to be a chemical pregnancy – one of  many false starts under IVF.

So in summary in my experience OHSS manifests itself through a swollen hard belly and very severe backache. If you start vomiting you must attend hospital immediately, likewise if you are unable to pass urine. To manage OHSS drinking electrolytes really helps, as does avoiding carbs and sugar,  eating protein is also a good idea. I found the drain gave me almost immediate relief – but this will only be offered in severe cases. It is quite uncomfortable (I couldn’t leave the house with it in apart from to go to hospital) but worth it.

I hope no one reading this has the same experience as me, but if you are then believe me it will get better. The best thing is to be informed and get regular monitoring.

I changed clinics for my next cycle as I had only one NHS cycle paid for. My new clinic were very on top of the OHSS risks and put me on a different protocol – a bit like a mild cycle. I didn’t get OHSS again.

OHSS Risk Factors:

  • Under 35 (I was 36)
  • thin
  • polycystic ovaries
  • producing lots of follicles
  • high estradiol levels (due to stimulation drugs)
  • HCG trigger

OHSS Symptoms:

Me:

  • Swollen hard belly
  • Abdominal discomfort / pain
  • Weight gain
  • Severe backache
  • Nausea turning to vomiting
  • Frequent peeing
  • Hard to stand up straight
  • Feeling dizzy / faint

Others:

  • Difficulty breathing (if this occurs you must go to A&E immediately)

OHSS treatment

  • Drink plenty of Electrolytes (sugar free sports drinks or coconut water)
  • Plenty of sodium (as part of electrolytes or on food)
  • Cut out carbs and sugar
  • Eat protein
  • Drain / drip (in severe cases only)
  • Compression socks – to prevent possible blood clots (you may also be given clexane if you’re not already taking it).
  • Delay embryo transfer – if there is the option to freeze your embryos this is advised. Getting pregnant can actually make the OHSS worse

 

 

Embryos on board

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I had my transfer earlier this week and all went well. The 2 embryos defrosted without loosing any cells, so were still graded good quality,  and had started to hatch before they were put back. The transfer itself was very smooth which I was very pleased about as my last transfer was very difficult. The consultant was happy with how things went. She wasn’t anyone I’d seen before but really made an effort to put me at ease.

As usual I had to drink a lot of liquid beforehand. As I spent the morning at work I started to feel quite uncomfortable – in fact I had one teleconf with a colleague and really couldn’t concentrate because I needed a wee so badly – I have no idea what I said I just wanted to get off the call. As soon as it was finished I had to go and release some of the tension with a little pee! And then I had to take myself off to the clinic early because I just couldn’t do any more work or think about anything as I was so full and was worried about wetting myself on the tube or not being able to walk to the clinic. On arrival we were kept waiting for a while and in the end I had to go and find a nurse to beg for a wee as I was starting to cramp. They allowed me to have a little one. We were finally shown into a room and the nurse scanned my bladder and commented on how full it was – no kidding! So I was allowed to do a full cup of wee. I had probably over drunk but I was so worried about the transfer not going smoothly because of my slightly tilted uterus.

I was offered pictures of the embryos but I declined. If successful then I may see if I can get hold of them but I just chucked some old embryo pics a few months ago that I’d hidden away in a drawer. I couldn’t quite bring myself to chuck my scan pic from my last but one pregnancy (I didn’t ask for one on my most recent pregnancy – for the same reasons).

I didn’t sleep well the night before transfer and when we got home after the transfer I was so exhausted I had to go to bed – which isn’t like me. I really struggled to get up after an hour for my acupuncture appointment. My usual acupuncturist was on holiday but I’d been lucky to find someone else nearby who specialises in fertility.

Now it’s just time to wait. The last couple of transfers I’ve taken some time off work but I went back to work the next day this time. I’ve made a big effort not to stay too late (which I’ve semi-achieved) and I’ve also gone in 15 mins later each day.  At the last minute I decided to take today off which was just as well as last night I got cystitis. No idea why – perhaps because of how overfull my bladder was on Mon. It was really painful last night but this morning seemed to be gone. I’ve been to the GP this morning just in case and all looked fine.

I’m really trying not to symptom spot – but in truth there’s not much going on as it’s early days. I just need to wee a lot which is probably the progesterone. Next week will be the killer – I’ll be analysing every twinge and absence of twinge.

My clinic have a test date 16 days after a 5 day transfer which is quite ridiculous. My last clinic was 11 days and I think the one before that was 13 days. One of the nurses said I was fine to test on day 9 but if negative they’d make me stay on my meds until day 16. I haven’t decided when I’ll test yet but I don’t think I’ll make it until 16 days! But I may not do it as early as 9 days.

5 day transfer timeline

1 day post transfer – Blastocyst hatches out of shell on this day
2 days post transfer – Blastocyst attaches to a site on the uterine lining
3 days post transfer – Implantation begins, as the blastocyst begins to bury in the lining
4 days post transfer – Implantation process continues and morula buries deeper in the lining
5 days post transfer – Morula is completely inmplanted in the lining and has placenta cells & fetal cells
6 days post transfer – Placenta cells begin to secret HCG in the blood
7 days post transfer – More HCG is produced as fetus develops
8 days post transfer – More HCG is produced as fetus develops
9 days post transfer – HCG levels are now high enough to be immediately detected on HPT

Fertility clinics and exploitation

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This last week has been a bit stressful, largely due to the (you could call it incompetence) of my clinic. It’s fair to say I’m not a big fan of fertility clinics and I’ve got some experience here, it’s not to say there aren’t some good, kind people working in them, but at the end of the day the people behind the clinics seem to be in it for the money.

This has been brought into stark relief with a recent Daily Mail investigation about women going through IVF being coerced into giving up their eggs. I’m aware of egg sharing which is a legitimate practice, although my own clinic doesn’t do it because they think it puts the women in a difficult position – if you’re struggling to pay for your treatment but someone offers you reduced rate IVF if you give up half your eggs this would be very tempting. It is one of the reasons we wanted an altruistic donor who was donating because they wanted to – not because they were getting free treatments and not at the expense of possibly compromising their own chances. Plus I have been on some fertility forum boards where there were damning reports of egg sharing. One woman gave up half her eggs for reduced rate treatment but at the time was unsure of the quality, she ended up having to have donor eggs herself a year or so later. She accidently connected with her recipient on the same forum at the time of the sharing and the recipient was told by the clinic that the donor was having IVF because of male factor when in fact they were at the time unexplained. As the donor said you probably wouldn’t want to take eggs from someone whose infertility was unexplained as it could be an egg issue. In essence, the clinic was exploiting both women. Another awful story was from an egg sharer who was forced by her clinic (which was a very highly regarded London clinic) to give more than half her eggs to the recipient which didn’t seem fair (usual practice is half and half).

Now I don’t read the Daily Mail (with it’s homophobic, racist and sexist undertones) but the IVF activist Jessica Hepburn has written a related opinion piece in the Guardian, which points out that the recent allegations suggest that some clinics are not offering just free treatment but money for eggs (which is not allowed), and that some clinics are proactively promoting the practice in order to obtain eggs to sell on at a significant profit. I made the stupid mistake of reading the reader comments, so hurtful and such a lot of ignorance about IVF, about egg donation and about the mental health impacts of treatment. As Jessica writes “Infertility and assisted conception still carry a stigma that is felt acutely by those going through it, but little understood or empathised with by those who are not. It affects your relationships with your family, your friends, your partner and at work, and above all it decimates your self-esteem.” I’m not sure some of the commentators bothered to read that part of her article. Unfortunately I am not surprised by the expose – I suspect there’s a lot of truth in it.

Now this investigation makes my complaints about my clinic seem a little trivial but I’m going to moan away here anyway. Last weekend my lining was looking fairly good for me so I was quite positive. On Tues I had to go in for another scan. The measurement was quite a bit thinner. So I made a complaint. I pointed out that whilst I accepted a small margin of error there has been a lot of discrepancy this cycle – they keep measuring it one thickness then the next time it’s thinner. I’ve never had this before at any other clinic, and I wanted to speak to my consultant. The problem is that I hardly ever see him unlike at my other two clinics where I saw my consultant on nearly every visit. At my current clinic you see the consultant rarely – which doesn’t help continuity of care. I was really concerned as had I known the lining was thinner I could’ve started taking some more medication to assist – but now I didn’t really have the chance. The clinic didn’t help by saying they couldn’t get me an appointment with the consultant til the next day. I wasn’t having that. I said I was going to cancel my cycle (this is a very good line to use by the way – works every time). Shortly afterwards my consultant’s PA rang me. She was very good and within an hour my consultant phoned me. He asked me to go in the next day when he would do my scan. He also asked me to start supplementing with some extra oestrogen – which I pointed out would’ve been better advice a few days before.

When he scanned me the lining was 7.5 and good quality which was ok but given the Sunday before I’d been told 7.6 I was still a bit annoyed. He was happy though and I moved to set up for transfer.

On Friday I had to go in for intralipids  (I’m not sure I believe in them anymore but too scared not to have them just in case) I wasn’t seen on time and so we started the infusion quite late. After 20 mins the nurses can speed it up which they did so but I noticed it still wasn’t very fast compared to previous infusions. I had an acupuncture appointment to get to with a new acupuncturist as mine is on holiday, and I really didn’t want to miss it. So I asked them to speed it up again. What followed ended up being a bit of an argument between me and the nurse. I really tried to stay calm and explain that I’d had the infusions quite a few times (including once at their clinic on my cancelled cycle) so there was no danger of reaction and that I had an appointment to get to which was to complement my treatment. The nurse showed no empathy whatsoever and said I should’ve rebooked the infusion – given I’d only been given the set up go ahead on Wed afternoon and had to chase the clinic on Thurs for an infusion appointment, and they don’t do them at the weekend I pointed out the impracticality of her reasoning. I also pointed out they started late and kept me waiting  to which she responded that they were busy and didn’t have a bed available at my appointment time. But apparently all this was my fault and at that point I should’ve rearranged. In the end they sped up the drip slightly and I was 10 mins late for my acupuncture appointment. It also turned out on Wed at my nurse appointment that one of my blood tests was missing (I’m not sure it was but was too weary to argue) so I had to pay £75 for the privilege – this is something my GP could’ve done for me, and should’ve been picked up by the clinic a few weeks before.

I find it quite incredible sometimes. We’re paying a massive amount of money for our treatment, and they keep making ‘little’ mistakes (many of which seem to cost me money), their waiting times are awful – I’ve rarely had an appointment on time (the nurse admitted to me they had a real problem with this and basically said they’d taken on too many patients – what greed). All this adds to the overall stress of treatment. It’s really not acceptable. I’m able to stand up for myself, I know how to play this game after so long, but others don’t and we’re all being exploited by these clinics in some way because we’re desperate for children and will put up with all sorts of crap to get there, and we pay for the privilege of being treated like crap. I should add here that my clinic is recognised as being one of the best in terms of success rates – so they must be doing something right. But seriously!

Transfer is next week by the way. I’m quite nervous about the defrost.

 

 

 

Frozen transfer lining sagas continued…

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So it turns out that last week on Sunday when the sonographer measured my lining she did it wrong! WTF! I went in on Tues feeling really positive and the (different) sonographer said it was still thin and 4.7. She seemed a bit unwilling to drop her colleague in it but I was not amused and I went from being positive to thinking that this was going to be yet another dud frozen cycle preparation month. I went back on Thurs and things were looking better as the lining was now 6.1. I then had to go back on Saturday when it was 7.1 and today (Sunday) when it was 7.6. It’s also good quality being triple lined (I don’t usually have a problem with that, it’s just the thickness which is an issue). Whilst I’m pleased that the lining is looking better than the last couple of failed attempts to get to transfer I’m truly fed up with traipsing to that clinic especially when I go in on the weekend as it’s nearly a 2 hour round trip not including the time spent at the actual clinic (it’s much easier if I go on my way to work or when I’m at work as it’s only 25-30 mins from my work). And it’s a bank holiday weekend this weekend and the constant visits have impacted my ability to enjoy the weekend and to relax. I understand that they’re monitoring the follicles and that timing the ovulation is important, not because of the eggs, but in order to get my progesterone started correctly, and also to get the lining to it’s optimum but it’s annoying as being a weekend and then bank holiday the clinic is only open short hours that I have to fit in with. So today when they told me I had to go in tomorrow on bank holiday Mon after going in the last 2 days (and fit in with their shortened hours) as well I really baulked. I was looking forward to a relaxing day (well apart from my driving lesson and my Pilates class) as I’ve been out all day on Sat and Sun (after rushing to fit in the clinic visits both days). I was also quite reluctant to cancel my driving lesson as my instructor is so booked up she wouldn’t be able to rearrange so I’d just have to skip a week, and I’d also get charged to cancel my Pilates class. But I agreed to go in if it was really necessary. Anyway in the end they said I could go in on Tues and do my trigger tomorrow. I’m still not sure when transfer will be as it depends on when the ovulation actually happens (again a bit more uncertain than if I was having my eggs collected and it means I’ll potentially have to go to the clinic every day until it does) but I guess earliest will be a week on Mon.

In terms of what my eggs are doing I have 2 large follicles on my left ovary and a number of smaller ones on my right. The largest follicle is nearly ready hence the need to trigger tomorrow. Even though we’re not using them I thought I’d be more concerned with the number of follicles and potential maturity but I’ve only been taking the stimulation drugs every other day so wasn’t expecting huge numbers and haven’t dwelled on figures too much. Though a little bit of me is sad at the waste even with small numbers particularly when we’re going to be using donor eggs.

Every so often this last week I’ve had the fears about going though the two week wait – I think it gets worse each time as you know in advance how awful it is. Plus my husband put his foot down earlier this week and said he was done with IVF after this try. But I’m trying to put the (hopefully) forthcoming wait and the weight of the importance of it working as it looks like our last shot (although I’ve said that before) from my mind and just take each day at a time. I still have to build this lining and the embryos still have to defrost ok before I can even get to transfer….eeek.

 

 

A marathon not a sprint!

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I had my lining check today. It was 6.3 and triple lined and I’ve still potentially got another week of low dosage stimming to do before I trigger and then a few days after that before I transfer (hopefully) my defrosted embryo(s). So that was pretty good news. Fingers crossed this protocol works for my lining. Grow lining!

Afterwards I nipped along to watch some of the London Marathon. I go up to the course every year to support my club and fairly often my husband and brother in law, and I’ve run it myself 3 times. My husband was running this year but dropped out at mile 19 (this was planned as he has been ill and hadn’t trained for the full distance, he has a championship place which are for fast club runners so just did it as a training run).

In some ways the fertility journey, and in particular the IVF journey, remind me a bit of running a marathon. You prepare for a marathon by taking on proper nutrition and hydrating (as well as doing the actual running prep). When you start out on the marathon course you feel apprehensive and nervous but excited at the same time, for a while (if you’ve trained) you feel pretty good, running along enjoying the support, taking on your nutrition and feeling fairly positive about your prospects. And then somewhere (usually at about 20 miles for me) you start to feel crap, physically and mentally, and there begins a long, hard slog to the finish where you find yourself counting every step and agonising about every twinge  (the last 6 miles is a million times harder than the first 20). Sound familiar? I still love running though, I’d rather run a few more marathons than do IVF!!!

I popped along to our usual marathon pub after the race to celebrate with the finishers from my running club and commiserate with those who hadn’t made it to the start line through injury etc. There are now a lot of babies / small children amongst our friends and sometimes it’s hard, especially when there are more pregnancy announcements in the pub but you have to roll with it. It was nice to see two of our friends who have a little girl through a donor egg (I think we’re the only ones who know this, though others know they’ve had IVF) and see how they are a normal family (I know – why wouldn’t they be? But sometimes I do get the fear about using donor eggs so it really helps me to see this normality).

I’ve started to feel a few more side effects from the stimulation but nothing too bad. I managed to fit a run in this morning and don’t yet feel uncomfortable though I’m definitely peeing a lot more now. Next scan is Tues and I need to remember to check how large my ovaries are as I’m still running at the moment. I usually give up about a week into stimming partly because of potential impacts on egg quality and partly because of risk of ovarian torsion, I don’t have to worry about egg quality this time but do need to check I’m not going to damage my ovaries. Here’s hoping the lining continues to thicken and we see more progress on Tues.