25 weeks and officially fat

Hey, sorry I haven’t posted on here for quite a while. I’ve been following everyone’s stories and cheering on and commiserating but haven’t felt the urge to post here….partly as I don’t want to rub people’s noses in it. So my updates will be sparing and truthful.

Babywise the pregnancy so far has been great. Measuring on track (well a teeny bit behind at first but a week ahead now). All scans have gone fine and the sonographer announced at our 20 week scan that we’re having a little Scottish Highland warrior (my husband is Scottish and the Italians absolutely love that). Been feeling movement for 6 weeks and bubs seems to be very active which is lovely.

On the downside I’ve had morning sickness which still hasn’t totally gone (now triggered by car or bus journeys only at least) and have vomited on the pavement quite a number of times (not a great look). I’ve also had dizzy spells quite a lot. And oh the fun of pregnancy gums: I had what’s called a pregnancy tumour burnt off my gums a month ago and since then have continued to have painful gingivitis in one area (the area which has never fully recovered from a nightmare wisdom tooth removal 2 years ago). Apparently this will continue until birth. Fun fun fun.

I have to say that the Italian pregnancy system is great: I get tested for lots of things regularly and I can’t fault their thoroughness or the fact that it is mostly free. The only downside is the long waits at appointments (at least an hour is normal) and the crazy paperwork (I have to go to a different clinic to get my blood tests, then return to pick up results, then take results to doctor). The other downside is the sometimes less than impressive bedside manner. Italians aren’t known for their diplomacy and I had a harsh dose of this today when I went for my monthly check up. I’ve put on quite a lot of weight so far (13 kg at 25 weeks). I got told in no uncertain terms that I am now fat and need to limit further weight gain. In Italy the max recommended total weight gain is 12 kg (which seems quite low to me, especially since I’m nearly 5 foot 10 inches tall).

I know weight is my weak point (my family are all overweight and pre-pregnancy I had managed for years be the only one of them with a healthy BMI). I’ve also put on weight due to taking steroids for the first 14 weeks, plus eating seems to be the only way to avoid vomiting. Anyway, I got very clearly told to shift the flab by limiting carbs and sugar (I wanted to scream at this point that I gave up sugar for fertility purposes but held it in and nodded).

Anyway, I’m ok, and more importantly bubs is ok and I passed my gestational diabetes test with flying colours. So I’m going to gently diet a teeny bit and not let the Italian fat shaming get to me.

Hope everyone is doing ok and enjoying the summer (in Italy we’re still in the grips of a massive heatwave, 37 degrees today) but escaping to a cooler climate soon for holidays…yay!

Sending my love.

OMG Scale

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Trigger post: I’m pregnant

Hi, I’ve been meaning to write this post for a couple of months. A mixture of not wanting to jinx things, plus not wanting to upset anyone has stopped me. I know some will have stopped reading already and probably unfollowed me (and I don’t blame you) but I know others who are looking for hope will be heartened by this.

A quick summary: we had our first DEIVF transfer on 27 February, a very relaxed transfer in a private clinic. On the way home we saw a rainbow and I had this intense feeling of joy and knowledge that everything will be ok somehow (even if it didn’t work). It’s hard to explain, but instead of my usual worries and positive/negative daily cycles in previous rounds I was a lot more calm this time and just decided to be happy and positive. I found it a lot less tiring. Don’t get me wrong, I was still mentally preparing myself for failure (researching holidays, booking weekends away etc) but just remaining cheerful and thinking of that rainbow. Because well why not?

I tested at 5am on my official test day and got a blazing positive. I woke up my husband who had been really down the night before and gave him the good news. Then followed a few days of betas and anxious waiting (after my two chemicals last year this was the toughest bit). They came back really high. Another anxious wait followed for the first scan which was perfect, followed by several more. And then getting to the 12 week mark, with nausea, morning sickness and intense work (it’s been a bit of a blur to be honest).

We’re now at nearly 15 weeks (ultrasound below from 12 weeks) and we’ve got our second prenatal appointment tomorrow. Things are starting to real!

I will continue this blog, exploring the experience of being pregnant after infertility, and of DEIVF. I wish everyone the best of luck on your journeys and I want to keep following and cheering and crying and supporting you.

Infertility has changed me and my husband profoundly. It’s beaten and battered us, but we’re still standing and still living, and loving, and that’s the most important thing.

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Sore tonsils and due to start steroids for FET – help!

Ergh so I’m lying here awake due to my tonsils which have come up over night. I fell asleep early but now am lying here in the early hours with a sore throat and feeling hot. I had an avidly feeling in throat last night and was feeling ‘off’ on Tuesday.

I’m on day 10 of my FET cycle so am on 10mg of progynova a day and due for my second scan today to start progesterone and steroids (due to my immune issues).

Common sense tells me that starting high dose steroids when I’ve just come down with a cold doesn’t seem like a great idea. Will have to wait to see what doctor says. But any ideas would be very welcome…

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DEIVF 5 & 6 day updates

So firstly, above all else, I’ve been incredibly proud of my relaxed approach to this 5/6 day wait. It probably helped that I had loads and loads of work to finish before Christmas. But I can honestly say that I really managed to remain distracted. The only difficult night was the night of day 4 where I didn’t sleep so well after my mum had asked me what would happen if we didn’t have any embryos, her face of total shock when I said that we would have to start all over again (with the huge cost for DEIVF in the UK) was not something that I want to see again.

Anyway! Here’s the good news! On Thursday (i.e. day 5) out of a total of 7 embryos fertilised we had 4 blastocysts that were frozen, and two others that were a bit slow but could catch up the following day. And so, hugely relieved that we had a good number, we waited for the final update which we received yesterday. We were pretty amazed to hear that the other two had caught up and so we have a total of 6 FROZEN BLASTOCYSTS!!!

So…now the Christmas break and to start preparing mentally for the really hard bit for me. Now we see if the issues were down to eggs or down to my body and possible immune issues. We are planning to transfer in February (as January is too tight logistically and also for my work which is crazy right now). I’ll be on steroids, intrallipids, clexane on top of the usual estrogen and progesterone and not looking forward to it.

Anyway, its Christmas now, and I’m determined to enjoy it despite being childless for the 4th year in a row. I’m also determined to ignore family arguments/rifts which seem to have hit peak silliness this year (but that’s for another post).

Sending lots of festive cheer to everyone. We’ll get through this.

XXX

(ps here is some London festive cheer, spotted on my last minute Christmas present shopping mission yesterday)

Long overdue update (plus DEIVF)

So hi…yeah sorry…it’s been a while

*embarrassed face*

I’ve been AWOL for quite a while now. But I have been following silently and cheering from the sidelines. I’ve needed time out from blogging all thinking about fertility after 3 years of obsessing over it and driving myself half mad in the process.

I hope you’ll be pleased to hear that the break definitely has done us good. We had a great holiday in August, followed by lots of weekends away with friends in between working really hard in a new job. I’ve found a bit of lightness again in life, things don’t seem quite so heavy and hard (well not always at least). I also made up with my friend that I fell out with in July. Things have just been I guess, ‘normal’ for a while with infertility taking a back seat in life.

This doesn’t mean that our progress has stopped. And so here’s a quick update on where we are…

We decided back in August to definitely pursue DEIVF (donor egg IVF). In October we selected a donor and has to wait for some extra genetic tests (as my husband is a recessive carrier of a rare disease).

The tests were ok and the donor started injections at the start of this month. It has been been very weird carrying on with normal life (and going to Christmas parties) knowing that a complete stranger was injecting herself on behalf of us. I’ve felt humbled and thankful that someone would do this amazing thing for us.

Yesterday was egg retrieval day and my husband had to fly over to the clinic to provide his sperm. Again, very odd for me as it was the first time that I’ve been not been central to the situation. Odd, but not in a bad way.

I got the update from my husband straight after the sperm sample. We got 17 eggs retrieved (wow!!) though we were warned that quite a few of those were not mature. A big surprise was that my husband’s sperm this time was rated at ‘excellent’ (that has NEVER happened before….we did add Proxeed supplements at great cost this time, but we’re still amazed). As a result of this the Drs decided to do straight IVF instead of ICSI. I was slightly nervous about this as we’d always done ICSI, but focused on the thought that natural is generally better if the sperm are good.

Then came the dreaded wait for fertilisation. In my new spirit of getting on with life (for more read: Ahhh f*ck it) and as I was home alone for the weekend I decided to distract myself with a pre-Christmas night out with friends.

This morning I am weirdly proud to say that my distraction mission was accomplished in style: a drink turned into a gig and then a nightclub and dancing until 5am. I was woken up after 5 hours of sleep (luckily without a hangover as I only had 3 small wines) to my mobile ringing. And amazingly I actually had NO IDEA who would be calling me on a Sunday morning and nearly didn’t answer it.

A very nice embryologist asked my name and if I could talk (obviously I tried to sound like I hadn’t been dancing for half the night). And he told me that out of the 17 we have 7 fertilised. He explained that quite a few of the eggs were not mature so that was an ok fertilisation rate. He will now call again on Thursday to tell us if any embryos have made it to freeze.

So now, mission distraction starts again…(not with partying, but with Christmas shopping and preparations). From the last three rounds of IVF I’ve realised that obsessing (and manically googling) at this stage achieves ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

So as they say here in Italy…. “che sarà sarà” (whatever will be will be)

Here’s to a happy Christmas everyone (we all sure deserve it) XXX

Well…hello stranger

Sorry for the radio silence. I’ve been taking a bit of well deserved time out from all things fertility related.

From starting the IVF process in March 2015 we were pretty much either doing or preparing/waiting for IVF/FETs non-stop from then until June 2016. 3 IVFs, 2 FETs and one redundancy later I knew that I needed to let go for a bit. Let go of the relentless fertility diet and permanent guilt after eating sugar or drinking a glass of wine. Let go of the relentless planning around possible procedures (and putting the rest of life on hold). Let go of the seriousness of the situation. Let go of constantly researching possible factors in out infertility. Let go of everything.

And I’m pleased to say that I’ve managed it. I started my new job in July which has kept me busy in a good way. I’ve been out partying with friends, to music festivals to old friends’ weddings and had a lot of fun. There have been some down days of course…but the letting go had helped me get some perspective on things. I’m still alive and however things work out I want to make the most of my life. I’ve laughed more in the last month than I had done in 2.5 years….And it really really helps heal those wounds a little.

Having said that I haven’t given up on fertility stuff completely and have managed to progress things a bit in the meantime, which I’ll leave to another post. But for now I’ve been focusing on enjoying the summer…and it feels really really good.

I’ll be back on reading posts this week and catching up with you all. Hugs to all.

sdr

Lago di Lenno…one of the short trips we’ve made this summer in Italy

 

 

More immune issues

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Just a quick update as I’m at work. But i just found out that I have elevated Natural Killer cells….CD69 to be precise (whatever that means).

So on top of my balanced translocation (which makes it very hard to get a normal embryo) I now have two immune issues: high Anti Nuclear Antibodies (ANAs) and now elevated NK cells.

I guess that it’s fair to assume that the two chemical pregnancies with FETs of PGS normal embryos were caused by these immune issues. The high ANAs were picked up before the second transfer, but my hospital here in Italy only prescribed me heparin and asprin. I argued with the doctor to take prednisolone and he begrudginly agreed but only at 5mg…which I have now found out is way too low a dosage.

So feeling pretty frustrated at my hospital in Italy….it is definitely the time to seek treatment at other hospitals…which a) will cost a lot of money and b) will involve flying to other countries for treatment (probably the UK).

Still haven’t decided what to do about donor eggs versus own eggs. I don’t even know how to begin to decide about that…I really just don’t know where to go from here…

Any ideas? Cause I’m all out of them right now…

The image says it all

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Sorry I’ve been off the radar for a while. It’s been two weeks since we found out about the second chemical pregnancy with a PGS normal embryo. I’ve been attempting to get over the pain and keep myself busy and focused on positive things…with mixed results.

I was back in London for a few days last week to catch up with a very good friend who was visiting from Australia. We got drunk on mojitos and ate Mexican food and it felt great. I also caught up with some other friends and generally tried to stay positive though it wasn’t as easy as expected due to something totally unrelated to infertility…

As you can imagine I’m a strong EU supporter because I’m one of the few British people who have actually used my passport to live and work in Europe. So for me the result of last Thursday’s the EU referendum was a disaster.  Waking up on Friday morning to the Brexit result was a total shock. I felt a heavy sense of grief about the result…about those future generations (perhaps our children) who wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the opportunities that I have had, and also about of xenophobia that is on the rise in my home country.

I was also deeply upset that my father had voted for ‘Leave’ and spent my last two days in the UK in shouting matches with him. Perhaps I was taking very personally because of the extra grief that I’m carrying around due to the IVF. But I can’t help feeling that by voting for Brexit he, and the other Leave voters, have contributed in making my life even more uncertain than ever as my husband and I now face questions about visas and residency here in Italy. And adding more uncertainty to our lives was the last thing we needed. So all in all the trip wasn’t the best distraction from our IVF woes to be honest.

I returned to Italy on Sunday and started my new job this week, it’s been good, really good in fact so far. The people are nice, and I am speaking Italian a lot of the time which helps me feel more connected and integrated (it’s easy to fall into an English ‘bubble’ as an expat). In the last couple of days I’ve been feeling relatively normal in fact.

Unfortunately today I realised with a jolt that these few days had been a fantasy land. One of my of very good friends here in Milan is pregnant (she did IVF twice) and texted me to say that has gone into the hospital this evening to be induced. At first I felt excited and nervous for her and then about 10 minutes later the grief and sadness hit me like a brick wall. I was at my new work and I had to run to the toilets and hide for a while.

I guess it’s understandable as it’s only been two weeks since we found out about the second chemical pregnancy (of our third IVF). I truly am happy for my friend, but it feels like a massive reminder of what my husband and I don’t have. And at the moment our infertility journey looks harder than even.

On that note I took advantage of being in London to see a doctor at the Lister Fertility Clinic that Waiting to Expect had kindly given me. I went into the appointment feeling prepared to talk about donor eggs as a next step, but the doctor actually more pushed the ‘trying again with own egg’ option. As a result I felt like I came out of the appointment feeling even more confused. In terms of logistics doing a full IVF (not just FET) would be pretty hard with my new job in Italy and doing it at this clinic with the PGD testing (for my BT) would cost a fortune…and I feel like we’ve already tried that 3 times.

At the moment I feel like I’m pretty much at the end of my patience with doing full IVFs with egg retrievals (and the dreaded wait for PGS results). Perhaps I’ll feel differently in a few weeks. I just don’t know. I feel like I don’t have a plan anymore…and don’t particularly want one…I just want the hurting to end.

 

Just carrying on

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Today has been a difficult day…

After finding out about out second chemical with a PGD/PGS normal embryo I had a bit of a cry with my husband on Wednesday and then tried to bumble on and focus on happier things. I was pretty surprised that it sort of worked. I kept myself busy seeing friends at the weekend and am preparing to start my new job.

I knew today would be difficult. I had to go back to the fertility clinic first thing to get another HCG test (to check that the numbers are back at zero). I hate returning for those pointless blood tests, it feels like rubbing salt into the wound. In addition my period arrived today, and when changing a tampon earlier I noticed a large clot/red blob. I couldn’t help but think that it was probably our dead embryo/foetus and the full pain of this failure hit me then.

It’s hard to describe real grief to someone who hasn’t felt it. But I guess for me it’s when I experience both acute physical and mental pain. And they actually feed off each other. When the first transfer failed I crumpled to the floor and lay there wailing (like you see those women do on TV news when they’ve found out that their child has died in an airstrike or terrorist attack).

Today was a similar feeling, though not as extreme thankfully (probably due to being toughened up by last time). I feel like I’m  walking around with a big gaping wound that just hurts like hell right now. Ignoring won’t help it heal but instead prolongs the pain. The only way is to face up to it, let it wash over and accept that in time it will ease…because I know it will.

I know we’ll be ok, we’ll get our family somehow. I think it’s likely that I’ll have to grieve lost hopes and broken dreams (i.e. a genetic link to my child or the chance of being pregnant myself versus using a surrogate). I know that these challenges will be hard, but I also know that we’re strong enough to get through them…after all we’ve got this far…and just for that I’m feeling bloody proud.

So, now the longest day of the year is finally over, it’s time to crawl under the bedcovers with the vague hope that things will hurt less tomorrow.

Night night all…

Hello rock bottom, again

So here we are…at rock bottom again…we’ve been here a lot recently…I had a cry yesterday…admittedly not as much as last time but I think that’s because I’m getting used to the disappointment.

I took another pee test this morning (just to double check that some miracle hadn’t happened overnight) but the test was pretty much BFN so that’s my confirmation. I am stopping the drugs today.

I’ve asked to see the boss of the clinic to discuss what happened. The first appointment is 13 July so a few week’s away. I’ve also emailed the Lister clinic in London to see if I can get an appointment for next week, and also IVF Serum in Greece to see when they have availability. We’re not going to rush into any decisions…but instead get opinions from a few different places before working out next steps. My gut is feeling like maybe we should move onto donor eggs (which my husband is in favour of) but then due to the 2 chemicals I’m worried that we’ll have the same issues again. I’ve created a list of questions to ask the clinics, which no doubt will get longer before the appointments.

I guess the only ‘good’ thing that has come out of this is that I feel stronger this time. When I was waiting for the beta results call yesterday I kept telling myself that whatever happened I would be ok. And even though this hurts like hell, I know deep down now that it will be ok. We will get through this, we have before and we will again.

In the previous failed FET I also got made redundant and had a very nasty break up with that employer (involving threats of legal proceedings etc). The two factors combined to nearly push me over the edge. I was in a very dark place for a month or two afterwards and have lost a good friend along the way as a result.

This time around I instead have a new job to look forward to and a bit of free time beforehand to make the most of. So things in the rest of life are much better. I know that this time around I want to get back to the happy me (the one I used to be) as soon as possible. For that reason I’m heading to London next week to catch up with friends and to attempt to smile as much as possible. I’m sure there will be tears too….but if I can even laugh a little bit then I know I’ll be getting better.

So for now I’m clinging to the words of Brene Brown in ‘Rising Strong’…we infertility warriors are the true masters of this…

Happy Thursday folks…

 

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