Waiting…waiting…waiting

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You do a lot of waiting when you go through IVF. Waiting for (note not an exhaustive list!):

  • Your period so you can start your IVF round (whilst at the same time hoping it doesn’t come and you’ve experienced a miraculous pregnancy)
  • Your follicles to grow. And then to grow to the right size ready for egg collection
  • Scans (if your clinic is like mine you turn up on time and they keep you waiting as they’re always running late)
  • How many eggs you have following egg collection and the quality of your partner’s sperm ready for fertilisation
  • The fertilisation phone call (heart in mouth as you find out how many embryos you have)
  • Update phone calls (to tell you how many embryos you still have, how many have stopped growing, how many are dividing abnormally)
  • Confirmation of transfer (day 3 or 5 usually) or how many embryos you can freeze
  • PGS results
  • Womb lining to thicken (especially if having a frozen transfer)
  • Embryos to defrost (if a frozen transfer)
  • Your bladder to be full for transfer (and nearly weeing yourself once it is)
  • TWO WEEK WAIT (one of the worst waits of all, crazy time symptom spotting)
  • Pregnancy test results (whether you do it yourself or have a test at the clinic)
  • Waiting for a viability scan (also one of the worst waits of all)
  • A miscarriage to start (goes without saying that this is shit)
  • For a review with the consultant
  • To start all over again

I’m currently waiting for my period. I stopped my medication after my cancelled transfer on 3 March so I’ve been waiting for just over 2 weeks but apart from a bit of period pain now and then nothing. I had a scan today and lining is a pretty thin 3.5mm but no sign of period. So the clinic have put me on cyclo-progynova for 21 days to build a bit of lining and then give me a period. They didn’t think that 7 days of norithisterone (which is what you’d usually have in this situation to bring on a bleed) would do the trick as the lining was too thin so my body wouldn’t play ball. So that’s another 3 weeks before I can even begin to prepare for transfer. I’ve been preparing for transfer since January so I’m pretty fed up.

On the plus side I can hopefully repeat the scratch as my last one was Jan so it was touch and go as to whether it would have any effect by now. Waiting 2

 

Cancelled transfer – again

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This FET seems doomed. My transfer’s been cancelled again. Last month it was because of my high thyroid levels. The good news is a blood test last week showed TSH at 1.2 which is great (ideally you want it between 1-2). I’m staying on the thyroxine.

This cycle has been weird from the start. I started on the oestrogen on day 3 of my cycle but my period went on for about 2 weeks. There was a bit of stopping and starting but it definitely wasn’t spotting – really it was like 2 periods. I phoned my clinic a number of times but they didn’t seem too concerned. Then they scanned me on what should’ve been day 10 of oestrogen but was only 1 day after my period stopped. My lining was only 3.5. I had all sorts of oestrogen added (see my last post) but by the next scan it had only gown to 5.2. Whilst I’ve had issues with my lining before it’s never been this slow growing. I had another scan on Friday and the lining had actually gone down to 4. The Dr could also see a tiny bit of fluid. This suggested it was starting to break down. It didn’t make any sense to continue.

I’m now waiting for my period to start so we can go into transfer attempt no. 3. This time my clinic are trying a different protocol which has apparently worked well for other women with thin lining. I’m going to be mildly stimulated so that my body thinks it’s a normal cycle, rather than shutting down my ovaries. I’ll then be triggered before starting on the oestrogen. The thinking is that my body will produce some of it’s own hormones and therefore oestrogen and be more receptive to the oestrogen I’m receiving. It’ll be weird being stimulated – I thought I was done with all that. The quality doesn’t mater as the eggs aren’t being collected (which seems a bit of a waste) and I’m not allowed to have sex when I’m triggered. I was triggered in a natural FET a few years ago (though not stimulated) and was told the same thing which I ignored. This time I think I’ll have to take their advice, whilst the chances of getting pregnant given my egg quality and my husbands sperm is very low we probably can’t risk it as we’re transferring donor PGS tested embryos.

I’m pretty frustrated but trying not to let it get me down. Plus we have to pay a fee for the cancelled cycle – that smarts!

I mentioned last post about my pregnant friend who is due the same time as I would’ve been. I’ve now go in touch with her and felt much better as a result. It will still be strange for me when her baby is born and I’m not sure when I’ll go and see her but I think I will. She does understand having been through so much herself.

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Lining issues – again! And Viagra.

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I had an appointment at the clinic on Mon to see how my lining was shaping up after 10 days on the oestrogen. Given I’d had a 2 week on off period (usually only happens to me after a miscarriage) I knew that my lining would be thin. I was right, it was just over 3mm. The Dr wasn’t surprised either as given the bleeding there wouldn’t have been time for it to build. So I now have to increase my oestrogen tablets adding another vaginal one, I’m also on Viagra (!) to increase blood flow, plus aspirin and I had to buy this oestrogen liquid to inject in my bum (its like the progesterone in oil) – I was not amused by this as it’s £300 a vial  (f**k me) but luckily one vial lasts for ages. I’m also not keen on medication in oil that needs to be injected into muscles- my experience of the progesterone was very unpleasant and it took months to get rid of the hard lump in my right buttock.

My current medication:

  • 3 x progynova oestrogen tablets orally and 3 x vaginally a day
  • 2 x oestrogen patches changed every other day
  • 0.4ml of oestrogen in oil injected into my bum twice a week
  • 50mg thyroxine each day
  • 40mg of clexane injected (to help blood flow)
  • 2 x Viagra

My supplements (to help lining / blood flow):

  • 800mg of vitamin E each day
  • 1 x aspirin

I also booked some acupuncture but unfortunately had to cancel it as due to storm Doris it took my 2 hours to get home from work the night I had the appointment. I’ve also been drinking raspberry leaf tea (I hate it – I think because I associate it with IVF) and drinking beetroot shots. I’ve got more acupuncture booked in next week. I ate a steak last night and am trying to eat nourishing foods. I’m also wearing socks in bed and sleeping with a hot water bottle on my stomach. I have no idea if these extras really help.

I was rescanned on Fri when my lining was 5mm. I’ve always had thinnish lining but it does seem to be taking a long time to thicken this cycle. The only good thing is that it’s triple striped so in good condition. Plus I’ve got pregnant on more than one cycle with thin lining.

Oh and the Viagra – I think I’m immune to it!! Initially I thought it might be making my lady parts a bit more sensitive but now I’m not really sure. I certainly haven’t felt the urge to have loads of sex – and I don’t feel sexy shoving 3 progynova up my vagina every day – sometimes a slightly blue tinged residue comes out.

I’ve got another scan on Wed so we’ll see. If it hasn’t thickened quite a bit there is a chance my cycle will be cancelled again.

Last week I also had my thyroid levels tested. I should get the results early next week. I really hope the thyroxine has worked.

In other news I’ve injured myself running (long and slightly hilarious story that involved me attempting to race 2 boys during a park run and pulling a muscle – at my age I should know better!) so I’ve had to cut down, instead I’ve been focussing on reformer pilates and yoga – probably a good idea as intense exercise such as running (especially the could possibly divert blood flow from my uterus.

I’ve also been baking a lot – cakes for my husband’s birthday and then my mum’s. My mum has had a bad back for a long time and we weren’t sure if she’d be up to going out so my sister and I made an afternoon tea and took it to her. My sis even made me some gluten free scones (she didn’t inflict these on others as to be honest it’s pretty hard to make scones as good when they’re gluten free) and made mini Victoria sponges gluten free. I made the coffee and walnut cake (also gluten free) and the blueberry polenta cake (gluten free) – see pics. Not sure I should be eating so much sugar at the moment though.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about friendships and how they’re affected by IVF – and seen quite a few posts from other bloggers about the same issue lately. A good friend is due to have her baby in a few weeks and I’ve been avoiding her and lately I’m really missing her (we both had fertility issues and her journey has been so very difficult). We were pregnant at the same time and my due date would’ve been just before hers which is the main reason I’ve been avoiding her. It’s weird as I haven’t dwelt as much on my other due dates, partly as I knew one of the pregnancies couldn’t have had a positive outcome as the chromosomal issue of the baby was incompatible with life outside the womb and the other 2 were also very probably chromosomal. This time we had a supposedly normal embryo and I know it was a girl as it was on my notes after I had it retested after the miscarriage – it just makes it harder when there is no reason and you know more about the baby. Anyway I want to get in touch with her before too much more time goes by, she totally understands but that almost makes it worse – I’ve cut out one person in my life who actually understands what I’m going through. Our friendship will change once her baby is born but I know she’ll still be there for me if I need her, just like 2 of my other friends who also went through tough infertility journeys before having their babies.

 

 

 

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A break away from IVF in Barcelona – but a body that now won’t play ball

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We had a wonderful break in Barcelona – it’s such a lovely city (I’ve been twice before). I like that it’s not that big a city so quite easy to travel round. We had a nice little apartment that was fairly central. My husband made me walk absolutely miles as he wanted to visit a few old haunts (he used to live there). We did a fair bit of sightseeing taking in the usual Gaudi sites of the Segrada Familia (unfortunately the towers were closed due to high winds) and the Casa Batllo, plus we went to Sant Pau hospital (no longer in use) which is not by Gaudi but is in the Art Nouveau style and is a damn sight cheaper than the Gaudi places – I thoroughly recommend it.

We enjoyed some fabulous food and drink (too much of both but then I suppose we were on holiday). I’d forgotten how good Cava is! I treated my husband to a fancy meal on Valentines Day (though that was more of a coincidence – really it was for his birthday this week) at a Michelin Star Restaurant up a tower with amazing views of Barcelona (thanks to my lovely friend Eva for recommending it). The food was outstanding – I even sort of enjoyed the octopus (it was a set menu and whilst I’ll eat most seafood octopus is my least favourite). See my pics of our meal and the view from the restaurant!

Plus we both ran the Barcelona half marathon. I was much faster than my half marathon back in October (8 mins faster), though slightly slower than I wanted to be, partly as it was very windy. It felt good to be back being reasonably competitive and I’m much fitter than I’ve been for the last year as well as looking slimmer.

The break was just what we needed. I even had time to read a book – The Power by Naomi Alderman – I really enjoy feminist utopia/dystopia novels – I’m a huge Margaret Attwood fan and this felt like it was along the same lines. I recommend it – it’s all about gender and power and corruption.

It was quite a shame to come back to the UK and have to go back to work. Plus I’m now on a health kick – no booze!

On the downside my body is not playing ball this cycle at all. I had to inject cetrotide on holiday to shut down my ovaries, and started on my estrogen tablets. and patches. However my period has been going on (and off) for 12days now. It’s very frustrating. I’ve got a scan tomorrow which will hopefully shed some light on it but I doubt very much I’ll have built up any lining. I’m not sure what this means for the timing of our cycle but I’m not going to stress until tomorrow.

Postponed transfer

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Today I made a decision to postpone my frozen transfer.

On Friday I had another blood test to check my iron levels and my thyroid. I got the results today and they showed my iron was right back up to a good level (yay for the iron liquid, steaks and spinach) but that my thyroid has continued to go up despite being on thyroxine for 1.5 weeks and is now at 3.9. I don’t have a history of poor thyroid function. Following my last miscarriage (which was unexplained as it was a PGS tested embryo) my thyroid was bang in the normal for fertility range (1.6). It has been a little high once before after my 3rd miscarriage (about 2.7) but never knowingly this high. For me it’s too high for comfort. In the UK a practising range appears to be 0.25 – 4.5 mIU/L. Some clinicians argue that upper TSH levels shouldn’t exceed 3 (despite what the wanker at my GP surgery said to me the other week) and many fertility experts say it shouldn’t be higher than 2.5. It’s also likely to rise during pregnancy so if it starts off high then this could be an issue. Studies have shown that high TSH causes miscarriage. It may also affect implantation though I found it hard to find definitive advice / research on this and my consultant said it wasn’t clear if it impacted on implantation or not.

After leaving a couple of panicky messages at my clinic my consultant finally phoned me back. He said to increase the thyroxine to 2 tablets a day. However, he was fairly ambivalent about transfer. In the end he agreed that on the whole it might be better to postpone. I think this was largely to appease me and partly because he couldn’t say one way or the other whether it would affect implantation. I actually felt quite relieved despite the waste of money and having put drugs into my body for no reason. It would be far worse if I’d transferred my 2 embryos tomorrow and then spent the next 2 weeks in even more of a panic than usual. If it failed I’d always feel I made a bad decision and we really are close to, if not at the end of our journey – we can’t afford to go ahead if things aren’t looking good.

As I’m going straight into another cycle my scratch shouldn’t need to be repeated. As of tonight I’m off the horrid fake hormones for a few days. Hopefully my period starts quite soon. Hopefully the thyroxine kicks in. Hopefully I’m only postponing for 2-3 weeks.

So whilst this has been a big fat waste of time, money and messing with my body for the last 4 weeks on the plus side I won’t be doing a pregnancy test whilst on holiday in Barcelona and I’ll allow myself to have a couple of drinks whilst there (though not too many as I’ve been so good this last month and don’t want to undo the good work), plus I won’t have to worry about avoiding certain foods. I’ve also got the most horrendous set of deadlines in my new job over the next week and was wondering how this would sit with the transfer and my desire to try and relax. I might try to take a couple of days off once I know when the new transfer date is though – it’s made me realise I was trying to juggle way too much this week.

I actually feel like I took back some control of my body and my mental health today. I didn’t realise how uncomfortable I was feeling about the transfer until I reflected on it tonight.

 

 

 

Rattling with drugs

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I’m now well into my preparation for my frozen transfer. Of course being me it’s been far from straightforward and I’ve come close to cancelling it.

Firstly I had a full blood count done in Nov and the hospital lost it, then they found it in Dec. This is my NHS hospital who also lost my recurrent miscarriage results back in Oct and accused me of not turning up for appointment. They are pretty crap and I hate slating the NHS because of the pressures they’re under, maybe their crapness is partly a result of curtailed funding/staff pressure. Anyway they showed very low iron, low calcium and rising thyroid (still borderline ok). As a runner low iron and calcium is super worrying (you can get stress fractures) and explained a bit my tiredness – though truth be told I didn’t actually feel too crap. As someone about to undertake IVF rising thyroid is not great, though my clinic was ok with it.

I insisted on repeating the tests after a few weeks (have to point out that this time the hospital didn’t lose them and returned the results THE SAME DAY!!!) and despite stuffing iron tablets down my face and trying to up my iron intake through diet my iron had dropped even lower – probably because the tablets give me an upset stomach. By this point I was starting to feel a bit crap. Calcium was ok (probably due to the huge amount of cheese and chocolate I ate over Christmas!). Thyroid was up again.  I phoned my GP but she wasn’t available so I had to speak to another GP at the practice. He was a massive wanker. Totally dismissed my concerns about my iron and my thyroid and gave me a patronising lecture about thyroids even though I told him it was now over the ideal for fertility – he disagreed (it was 3.7) he made me feel like an idiot and a time waster.  I’ve tried to get the nice GP to refer me for an iron injection but she said I would probably get refused on the grounds of not having low haemoglobin as well, she has done the referral though.

I had words with my clinic about the thyroid as I’d already told them I was getting quite concerned. By this point I was also on my oestrogen to build my lining for transfer. They dismissed my concerns. I told them I was cancelling the cycle. Within an hour I got a phone call from my consultant. He put me on thyroxine but even though TSH is over 2.5 he said he wasn’t too concerned.

In the meantime my lining did it’s usual thing of not thickening very quickly. Quality excellent but slow growth. I have had some acupuncture which has helped in the past – not sure its done much this time. I queried why the clinic didn’t put me on oestrogen patches as well as the tablets, as did the sonographer who scanned me. All of a sudden they added patches, massive dose of vitamin E, clexane and asprin. I was actually ok with it taking longer. It gave me longer to take the thyroxine and my new iron drink (and eat lots of steak). This week I finally got the go ahead to add progesterone. Usually I have cyclogest pessaries (or fanny bullets as we call them on one forum – American readers I’m not referring to the bum!) and last time I also had progesterone in oil injections (evil stuff). This time I’m on PIO, progesterone tablets and crinone gel.

I have a few concerns still – my lining was 7 on Monday and in my last cycle whcn I got the go-ahead to add progesterone it was 8.1. I do wonder if the oral oestrogen has just been going straight through me due to my upset stomach. However, my clinic treats everyone a bit like they’re on a conveyor belt (I’m not really warming to them but we are too far along to change clinics) and because they wouldn’t schedule a frozen transfer on the weekend and had run out of slots on the Monday I actually had a couple more days before I started the progesterone so hopefully the lining was a bit thicker once I started on progesterone and will have continued to thicken since. I’m hoping that having been on the thyroxine for nearly 2 weeks will mean my levels are reducing – I’ve had a blood test to check but am waiting for results.

So my drugs (and supplements currently go):

Daily

  • 1 x thyroxine tablet orally (25mg)
  • 3 x oestrogen tablets orally
  • 2 x oestrogen tablets vaginally
  • 6 x progesterone tablets orally
  • 2 x crinone gels vaginally
  • 4 x prednisolone orally (20mg)
  • 20mg of clexane injections
  • 800mg of vitamin e tablets
  • Baby asprin
  • Iron tablet or iron liquid
  • Usual multivitamin supplement

Every other day

  • Oestrogen patches x 2

3 times a week

  • Progesterone in oil injections.

I keep having to check I’m taking it all! This has to be an all time record. I also had some intralipids this week (I’m kind of over them – don’t really believe in them – but too scared to stop just in case).

And we’ve decided to transfer both embryos. Before freezing they were similarly good quality so I don’t think we should be too concerned about the research I posted about last time. Also, we got another lecture on twins from the embryologist. I’m comfortable with the risk. Given my history it’s unlikely both embryos would take and if they did and I managed to stay pregnant (again given history this is a big if) then we’d just deal with it.

Anyway, I’m off to take some more tablets!

 

Is transferring two embryos now a bad idea?

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I’ve always been an advocate of transferring two embryos, statistically it has been shown to increase chances, albeit by a small percentage. My own experience shows that I get pregnant transferring 1 or 2 embryos – though slightly more successful when transferring 2 (by successful I mean positive pregnancy test rather than actually having a baby).

Transfer 1 – 2 poor quality embryos transferred – chemical pregnancy

Transfer 2 – 1 excellent quality hatching embryo transferred – chemical pregnancy

Transfer 3 – 1 ok quality embryo transferred (frozen cycle) – negative

Transfer 4 – 2 good quality embryos transferred – miscarriage (1 embryo)

Transfer 5 – 1 normal PGS tested hatching embryo transferred – negative

Transfer 6 – 2 normal PGS tested embryos transferred (1 hatching) – miscarriage (1 embryo)

With my latest cycle I have 2 normal PGS tested embryos of good quality. My gut feeling is to transfer both as I have never got pregnant with twins when transferring 2 and I think it gives me marginally more chance of success this cycle. Also I’m so sick of taking drugs and if it failed with 1 would find it hard to psyche myself up for a second cycle, though if it fails and I’ve transferred both then I’m out of options.

Also, new research is now suggesting that transferring 2 embryos could have a detrimental impact on your changes of getting pregnant. I need to look into this a bit more but it does read as if the detrimental impact accrues if you have different quality embryos transferred – eg 1 good quality and 1 poor quality – as the body focusses on the poor quality embryo and rejects implantation. I’m not sure how robust this study is – I’ll be looking into it a bit more. I will also raise it with my clinic (though they only want me to transfer 1 embryo so will probably seize on my hesitation). Both my embryos are good quality which the study seems to suggest wouldn’t increase my chances of pregnancy by transferring two but neither would it decrease my chances. And perhaps the fact the embryos are normal could be relevant – the study doesn’t mention PGS tested embryos. Ah, all so confusing just when I had made up my mind!!

 

 

 

 

Christmas cheer and January decisions

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I’ve previously written about coping with Christmas as the years without a baby go by – something I’ve struggled with a bit because I actually loved Christmas before the infertility Grinch ruined it. I come from a big family and it’s always been a time to get together and have fun. It also comes with lots of family traditions – and sometimes family duties!

This year was a different experience in many ways. My husband and I had decided to have Christmas day in our own house – something we’ve never done as we always go to our families (alternating or seeing both as our parents live quite near to each other). My mum and dad were due to stay with my eldest brother so they could see grandchildren. My other siblings live abroad/ had in law duty etc so we weren’t due to have a big family Christmas. However my youngest brother was coming to us for Christmas. We’d planned a nice relaxed day. But then my mum got shingles and couldn’t go and visit the grandchildren as she can’t be near their other Grandpa as he has cancer. This state of affairs resulted in me heading up to the Midlands for 2 days before Christmas to help my sister in law and brother out with childcare. I adore my nieces and nephew and it was lovely to spend time with them. I got loads of cuddles from the younger two, we went out for a bike ride, iced gingerbread cookies, played games and watched movies. I also got slobbered on and cuddles with their gorgeous puppy. Although it did hammer home how different my own Christmas is without children it didn’t upset me too much – instead I was able to appreciate just being an auntie.

So at the last minute my parents also came to us for Christmas Day. Can you believe that at the age of 40 I have never cooked or hosted Christmas dinner (unless you count helping my parents)? My husband and I actually quite enjoyed the whole thing. And on boxing day my husband and I went off to visit his family for a couple of days (a bit longer than I wanted but it’s generally pretty relaxed there – I had time for a few glorious runs in the countryside and some reading – though his parents have the worst taste in wine!). So all in all Christmas wasn’t too bad.

Looking forwards to 2017 it’s pretty IVF focused. I’ve started preparation for my FET which will be end Jan. I had a mock transfer a couple of weeks ago and a 3d scan of my womb (painful!). The mock transfer I’ve never had before but after my difficult transfer last time I was happy to do it – and it went smoothly (although I had a momentary lapse at work and went to the toilet – I was halfway though peeing when I remembered I needed a full bladder – so my bladder when I arrived at the clinic wasn’t really full enough). I felt the womb scan was a waste of money but because I’ve had scarring in the past in the end I agreed to it. I don’t know what we’d have done if they had found scarring as we no longer have private medical cover – in Jan this year I was able to have the scarring from a previous miscarriage removed. Luckily no scarring found this time.

I also had an endometrial scratch this week (see this post about my last scratch if you want more info about them). I totally forgot to drink loads of water (in my defence I got no info from the clinic about prep for it at all, however, given this is the 3rd time I’ve done it you’d think I’d have remembered) but luckily it wasn’t too painful compared to my last two. I’m sold on them – the supportive evidence base on them is stronger than for most other IVF add ons (I’m planning a post on the Panorama programme about these add ons soon).

My consultant only wants us to transfer one embryo (as they’re both PGS tested) but we’re planning to opt for two. Do you agree this is a good idea given our history? My old consultant would say transfer two.

Any my other dilemma is my brother’s wedding in Canada. If the transfer works then it’s quite unlikely (though not impossible) that I’ll be able to go. I did think about delaying the transfer but hubby really wanted to go ahead. Plus given my history the chances of success are probably not that high – so if it doesn’t work at least I have the wedding to look forward to. I did feel a bit weird when catching up with my sister this week and talk turned to our family holiday in Canada – but I will just have to wait and see. There’s no point agonising about options at the moment.

A fellow blogger The Ecofeminist wrote a great post recently ’10 things I’m looking forward to in 2017′. I found this an inspiring post so thought I’d share. I know that New Year can evoke very different feelings in those struggling with fertility issues so I’m not going to say Happy New Year (though 2016 has been weird on so many levels I expect many people will be glad to see the back of it!) – but here’s to looking forward!

Husbands hurt too

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I’ve been meaning to blog for a while but time has just been running away with me! I’ve been really busy with finishing off my old job and I’ve also had quite a few nights/ days out with friends and family. However, my husband has been stuck at home, he’s not working at the moment, he’s been ill with a bacterial infection that he can’t shake, he’s not been able to train (in his sport) as much as normal and after our crappy cycle with the donor and the fact that his sperm would’ve been a major contributor, he’s fallen into quite a depression. If I’m honest I’ve found it very hard to deal with helping him. I don’t know why as I of all people should be the most understanding. But I do find it hard when I get home from work and he’s not done anything all day and I have to do all the household chores as well as working full time. I’ve been seriously worried about him but struggling to find the right words. We finally sat down and had a proper chat. He is just sick of being positive about the IVF when it never works and that has been the final straw in light of all the other things that it feels like are going wrong for him. I’ve been trying to give him more support – it’s upsetting to see him like this as he’s always been the positive one and I hadn’t realised how much I relied on this. I just want to make things better for him but I can’t. He won’t do the counselling thing so I just have to make sure he knows I love him and that we can have a future without kids that is worth fighting for.

We were also waiting for the results of our PGS testing. As mentioned in my last post, despite using donor eggs we’d only had 3 good quality blastocysts to test (last cycle we had 11 to test (mixed quality but all blastocysts) of which 3 were normal, 2 of which we’ve used and the third which is poor quality so we haven’t yet tried to transfer it, and a fairly poor sperm sample, so we weren’t hopeful. The earliest they were due was the 24 Nov. We both suspected the worst and I didn’t bother to chase the clinic, they had said that it was more likely they’d come back the week after. But a week later I didn’t want to chase either. I had a week off before my new job and decided I’d chase then as it would be easier to come to terms with bad news whilst we were together and I didn’t have to work. I also realised that my husband would need a lot more support than usual if the news was bad and I wanted to make sure I was around to give it.

I  phoned on the Monday of the week I was off and was told they weren’t back yet so my husband popped out. Shortly after I had a phone call from the embryologist and my heart stopped as he went through the verification of identity process. I was fully expecting to be told we had no normal embryos but the embryologist said we had 2! I had to get him to repeat it- 2 out of the 3 were normal. Interestingly (I think) the 2 normal ones were the ones that reached blastocyst on day 5 whereas the one that made it on day 6 was the abnormal one. This was a much better result that we had hoped for.

It made my week off a lot nicer, we ended up doing a few Christmassy things (I’m ok with Christmas though I definitely don’t enjoy it the way I used to – see my post from last year on coping with Christmas), going to the theatre and out for cocktails and nice lunches as well as getting some running done. It’s also helped with my husband’s depression – though neither of us wants to get excited about the prospect of a transfer. We also had an appointment with our consultant and surprisingly we are going to do our transfer quite soon. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves though, no excitement in this household at this stage, there is a long way to go and I miscarried a normal PGS embryo last time so even if we get a positive test (and it’s a big if) it will be a nerve wracking time.

There has also been a bit of a focus over here in the UK about fertility treatments with a BBC Panorama investigation criticising the industry for expensive add-ons which aren’t evidence based. I plan to write more on that in my next blog as it is relevant to my treatment plan.

In other news I’ve started my new job. It’s a promotion in the government department I was already in, it’s in a totally new area (I used to work on environmental policy) and I have a steep learning curve plus one person in my team who is making it quite clear she wishes I wasn’t there (I don’t think I’m being slightly paranoid). Lots to deal with. Let’s hope I cope with all the pressure I’m heaping on myself in the next month!

A totally crappy week playing the numbers game

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This has not been a good week.

Last Fri my donor had her egg collection and my husband did his bit. I went out with my sister and proceeded to drink 5 cocktails – much more than I usually do! We had a great time at a cabaret (my birthday present) but didn’t get home until 2am. I was then woken at 8am by my phone. It was the fertilisation call and I wasn’t prepared at all. All my own fault. The news was okish. 13 eggs (we’d hoped for just a few more), 12 mature, 9 fertilised. Not a great fertilisation rate but not awful.

I spent most of the day quite worried, and hungover which didn’t help. As hangover punishment my husband made me visit 2 kitchen showrooms with him.

We weren’t due to get a call on Sun so the next call was on Mon. I wasn’t working luckily (I’ve a lot of leave  /flexi to use up before I start my new job). Of the 9 1 had stopped dividing, 4 looked very good quality, 2 were a little behind and 1 quite behind. I started to panic. I really wanted 6 to biopsy. Also on Mon I fell off my bike twice. I’m crap at cycling and as part of my ‘achievements year’ I want to learn properly. I was trying to avoid a dog in the park and threw myself on the grass. Then I got scared going down hill (it was barely a hill) and hit the brakes hard and threw myself forward on the bike. The bike is too big for me and I whacked my lady bits so hard they bled a bit! I had a little cry but I think it was less about the bleeding and more about the stress of the donor cycle.

Our next call was Wed – day 5 and PGS decision day – do we biopsy the embryos? I was at work and ended up missing a meeting with my manager due to it. The news was pretty bad. We had 2 blastocysts. This was worse than any of my cycles with my own eggs (bar on2). The other 5 embryos were still going but behind. The clinic was reasonably hopefully that another 1 or 2 would reach blastocyst by the next day. I ended up crying at work in a meeting room on my own. In the end we decided to do the PGS. I had a particularly trying meeting that afternoon with another government department. One of the team annoys me anyway and I got very defensive when she had a bit of a go at my team about a paper we’d written and I was quite rude to her. Not my finest negotiating moment. Luckily one of my team played ‘goodish’ cop and we ended up with an ok compromise.

The next day the clinic told me that they’d biopsied 1 more embryo. We also had another blastocyst but it wasn’t good enough to biopsy. I really wish I’d forced them to do it – you play a flat fee for PGS. So 3 biopsied – that is it.

I am not very hopeful. We really wanted 2 normal blastocysts from this cycle. This seems very unlikely and I think we’ll be very lucky to get 1 – if I’m honest I don’t think we’ll get any to transfer (last donor cycle we tested 11 blastocysts and got 3 normal embryos). We have to wait 3-4 weeks to find out the results. I’m also totally gutted about wasting so much money – in our rush to do this round I knew I wasn’t 100% happy with the new clinic and that they didn’t take my request for a good number of eggs seriously.

The reasons for our poor response aren’t clear. It could be a combo of egg and sperm. The donor is youngish (29) and proven (she has 1 child) so the clinic seemed quite keen to blame the sperm. My husbands sperm sample was pretty poor – very low count and morphology though motility and progression were good. This is despite the fact he’s barely drunk any alcohol the last 3 months and been avoiding wheat and dairy, and taking supplements. He fell ill 3 weeks ago with a nasty bacterial sinus infection and has been on antibiotics for a week. We can’t help feel this may have contributed. He has finally agreed to try to get referred to a specialist but it feels like too little too late.

We had agreed this was our final cycle. But if we don’t get to transfer it doesn’t feel like the closure I needed. I need to transfer to feel that I gave it one last go. I don’t know where this leaves us now. Our new clinic is extortionately expensive. My husband hit the roof when I told him the bill. We’ve always said we wanted to use a donor in the UK as it was so important that our child was able to have the chance to know who their donor was. However, we just can’t justify that type of money any longer. If we try again it will have to be in Spain. But we will have to try to do something about the sperm first. Then that really would have to be our last go. Or maybe we just draw the line here.

If I’m honest I know my stress levels are sky high and I’m not coping deep down with what all this means. I can’t be bothered to go back to counselling, I feel I exhausted that route and that blogging helps give me the outlet I need. But I recognise the warning signs, I can’t sleep properly and I always sleep, it’s my special talent, but when I wake up in the early morning grinding my teeth I know I need to get some sort of resolution but how? How do you get that when the only way to get resolution is to be a mother?

And to cap it all off my lovely friend went ‘Facebook official’ with her pregnancy. She has been a rock to me these last few years whilst also struggling with her own fertility – we supported each other. We got pregnant at the same time, she was just 2 weeks behind me. Her pregnancy is a constant reminder of what might have been and I’m slightly ashamed to say I’ve basically cut her out of my life for now. It was the final straw after all my ‘infertile’ friends have managed to get pregnant (apart from one who is no longer trying to).

The Facebook message was posted by my friends husband and was so full of joy and heartfelt acknowledgement of their struggle and my friends bravery in the face of it you couldn’t help but be totally moved for them. The responses on Facebook were so lovely. And I howled inside because I want my husband to be able to post that message, I want people to be happy for us after all we’ve been though. I don’t begrudge my friends their wonderful happy news but it opened up my wounds so badly . It felt like I’d been punched in the gut and waves of grief and jealousy came over me (it didn’t help that I read it on the train after 2 glasses of wine after work – I really am drinking a bit too much lately). I’m grieving the probable end of a dream of being a mother which has come to a head with the fact our latest cycle may not even get to transfer. I don’t want this to be the end but I have to face facts. It’s like grieving the miscarriage all over again and if I think of the miscarriages I’ve been through then I know that it comes in waves and sometimes I’ll be fine, other times I’ll feel so sad and hopeless. I’m weary from this constant struggle of IVF and uncertainty and if we draw a line under it, this will result in getting on with life. It may not be the life I wanted but it will be a life rather than this awful limbo.

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