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

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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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FET#2: 6dp5dt

So today my patience is starting to wear thin…

As mentioned in my previous post I have come back to see my parents for a few days.

The reason I did this was because I’m not working in Milan at the moment and so I spend a lot of time alone there. In addition my husband is away for a 4 day stag do at the Isle of Wight festival this weekend so if I’d stayed in Milan I would be home alone all weekend there too. So instead I’m here hanging out with retired parents.

I have a weird relationship with my parents where in the first couple of days I really enjoy hanging out with them. But after that the novelty wears off and their constant mothering really starts to bug me (I’m sure I’m not alone in this!) It means that I start to revert to the teenager who wants to escape and rebel and not be bossed around.

Normally (i.e.when not doing IVF) I would keep myself sane by getting out for a run or heading down to London to have drinks with childless mates or seeing friends with kids.

Obviously running is out of bounds at the moment…and to make matters worse my mother is such a worrier that I had a battle just to get out for a walk today.

In terms of friends I have to go into London which is quite a full on journey from where my parents live particularly as it’s hot at the moment. I could probably do it…but I don’t want to overdo it in any way and then regret it afterwards.

So I’m kinda stuck…watching endless debates on the EU referendum which are interesting for the first few hours but after that seem to repeat themselves.

I just feel so stuck.

I know it’s only a few more days and I need to be patient but I’m oscillating wildly at the moment between wanting this all to be over because I’m sick of not living life my way (for more see my ahh f*ck it post) versus moments of optimism and talking to my belly.

Today has mostly been the former, but just as I was about to shed some tears of frustration I came across an album of baby photos of me that I’m not even sure I’ve seen before (see below). My plan is to stare at them until I fall asleep tonight and ask the universe for a couple of day’s more patience. Wish me luck.

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This is me at the grand old age of 20 days

FYI – this FET I am taking…

  • Prometrium progesterone pessaries 3 x day
  • Progynova (estradiol) 4 pills a day
  • Prednisone 5mg per day starting from transfer
  • Aspirin
  • Vit D
  • Methylated Vit B9 & 12 (as I have a MTHFR mutation)

Feeling a little bit lighter…

It’s been a while since my last update as I’ve been away on a short holiday to the UK to visit friends and family and get some much needed perspective after the last few months of misery (FET, chemical pregnancy, being fired, loneliness etc).

I spent the first day at a funeral (see previous post) and then headed down to Cornwall with my parents to hang out, run and do yoga. I caught up with a friend there who I haven’t seen in years who it turns out is also in the throws of multiple IVFs. It was great to be able to talk to someone who just gets it and to be able to just rant without having to worry that we’d upset someone.

I finished the week with a hen do in Bath in the west of England. I’d lost contact with some of the girls so it was great to catch up again. One of them was a former ‘partner in crime’ (in our twenties in London we’d end up going for a ‘quiet drink’ which would turn into a huge bender and possibly calling in sick at work the following day). I was severely limiting my drinking that weekend (due to my impending FET) but we still had a lot of fun with Bollywood dancing lessons and a night out on the town. The weekend was a further reminder of the former me. The one who partied and laughed all the time. The one I’m determined to get back to as soon as possible.

I’m back in Milan now and feeling mentally a little lighter than when I left. And it looks like some things might be starting to go my way at last as I may potentially have a job on the cards. Nothing is guaranteed yet but it feels good to be wanted again. The double blow of FET (with PGS normal embryo) failure and then redundancy in the space of a couple of weeks were a big blow for me.

My period started on Sunday so I’ve started the estrogen pills and booked in for my first lining check next Monday morning. I’m feeling particularly pessimistic about this FET (and so is my husband) but I’m going to do it anyway and instead focus on all the things that I’m gonna do if (i.e. when) the FET fails. So far the list contains…

1) Start dance lessons: I’ve been feeling lonely in Milan and I think dancing would be a great way to connect with other women here. I’m not particularly coordinated but I just about managed the Bollywood lessons and really enjoyed the music and have found some lessons nearby.

2) Restart my boot camp training: I’ve stopped these HIIT sessions as they are too extreme for the FET. But I did really enjoy them and they were sociable. So will for sure be back on them if (i.e. when) the FET fails.

3) Book a holiday in January to Canada to see my cousin: my cousin gave birth to identical twin girls this week (she fell pregnant by accident…however that happens) but I love her dearly and am aching to see her little girls and her. We’ve been putting it off for 3 years due to various things (getting married then infertility stuff) and so I don’t want to put it off any longer.

4) Go to Ibiza this summer to visit my old boss: see previous post

5) Have a few months properly off IVF and anything fertility related: this means eating and drinking exactly what I like and putting off any decisions for a while.

I returned to a glorious sunny day in Milan and thought I’d share with you this photo of the poppies near my house. Happy Thursday everyone…

dav

 

Ahh f*ck it…

So my strange limbo of being off sick at home from work has finally finished and so I am free to leave the house whenever I want to with risk of Italian government inspectors visiting. It’s amazing what you start to appreciate when you’ve had it taken away from you for a while.

I’d been wanting to get out of Italy ever since the redundancy and miscarriage happened back in March, so as soon as my contract ended I booked myself on a flight back to the UK for week.

A couple of week’s ago my husband and I found out that a colleague we used to work with had died suddenly. He was in his late 40s and although he did smoke a lot he was relatively healthy otherwise. The cause of death is still unknown (it wasn’t lung cancer despite the cigarettes). His funeral was yesterday in London so that was my first stop on this trip home.

It might sound strange, but I enjoyed his funeral. He was such a gregarious man who, although not married or with kids, had a large and strong group of friends and family who were absolutely torn apart to see him taken away so early in life. The ceremony itself was heartbreaking but interspersed with humour as the eulogies contained stories of his fantastic sense of humour. It seemed like more of a comedy show with all of us laughing in the pews (just has he would have wanted) in between the tears.

I remember the last time I saw him, a couple of years ago, when he was smoking Marlboro Reds (as he did every day). I remember asking him if he was ever going to give up smoking and he said something along the lines of “Ah f*ck it, I don’t want to live until I’m old, that’s boring, I’m living the way I want to”. And it struck me yesterday as I remembered this conversation that he’d done just what he said, he’d made the most his life by doing exactly what he wanted.

As we raised a glass or two to him at the wake (in a pub obviously) I reconnected with old colleagues and friends. Many of them have taken different journeys through life,  with alternative careers (and some without children) but all of whom seemed fiercely happy. It was truly inspiring.

It made me remember the former me, the me who was always up for a party/drink/late night adventure. I don’t for one second regret those days, but instead look at them and smile inside. I was living the way I wanted to (admittedly with quite a few hangovers).

On the way home it made me wonder about what I’ll do if the next FET fails. I’ve been so boring through the last few years (eating healthily, minimal or no booze etc) that I’ve lost the fun mischievous part of me…and it’s high time that I got a bit stupid again.

So if this FET fails I’m going on a bender… (ok, don’t worry too much, my alcohol tolerance is so low that it probably won’t last long, but I’ll have fun).

Yesterday at the wake my old boss (who’s the most inspiring woman I’ve ever met and who also happens to be childfree in her late 40s) offered me a place to stay in Ibiza this summer. She’s just got a new job running an interactive/immersive/digital events agency there. So who knows, if the FET fails I might head over the Balearics for a party.

If this FET fails I’m gonna have fun, the way I used to, and not feel guilty about any of it any more…

Have a great weekend guys.

 

Loneliness…

Up until yesterday I’d been having a pretty good couple of weeks emotionally. Probably partly due to the exercise and sunshine. I even organised a surprise baby shower for a good friend (who struggled with infertility for 5 years and did IVF). It was a lovely day and great to see her so happy.

Unfortunately I had an unexpected crash yesterday. Something small set it off, as it often does. As I mentioned in my earlier posts I was made redundant from my work (2 days after my embryo transfer). I decided to take long sick leave for the remainder of my work and notice period (which finally finishes this week) as I couldn’t face seeing my nasty boss again. This means that I have been at home, mostly alone, as I’ve had to stay at home for the majority of the day in case the health board come to check up on me (a long story but in short is due to ridiculous rules here in Italy).

These long periods at home alone have been lonely but bearable, due to the exercise and occasionally seeing friends. I’ve made my life small so that I can manage it and overcome the stress that was crushing me before.

Yesterday I was out with my husband and some friends and my two female ex-work colleagues (who are good friends and part of the small ex-pat friendship group I have here in Italy). One of them left our work on Friday and is starting at a new place on Monday….so obviously emotions are flying between the two of them for that reason.

I feel embarrassed to say it but I had the most horrible sense of jealously about their constant hugging and closeness during the weekend and particularly yesterday. It made me feel so left out (and I’m sure it wasn’t meant that way, but I couldn’t help my emotions which ended up coming out in tears like a looney person).

My departure from work was so sudden (I didn’t even have time to say goodbye to anyone). Since then, due to aforementioned logistics, I’ve not seen much of either of them and so I feel quite cut off from them now. It doesn’t help that they are a few years younger than me and obviously have more in common with each other than me, and of course they both don’t have infertility struggles so can drink at parties (which is something I really miss, having been a big party girl in my time).

I feel like I’m struggling with loneliness on three fronts at the moment…

  1. Living in a foreign country makes my friendship group is naturally smaller. We’ve only lived here for 3 years and moved in our mid 30’s so its harder to make loads and loads of friends, and many of them are younger, which can make things harder sometimes. The language barrier also makes things harder, and the fact that many Italian women are very different from me and can be very reserved.
  2. Not working at the moment, and therefore not having daily regular contact with people. This means not having relatively easy chances to make new friends or keep current friendships strong. I am in two minds about working again in the near future due to my the upcoming FET and the stress so am stuck in limbo at the moment.
  3. And of course, infertility, with the disconnection with friends who are mothers and also from single friends who are out partying and drinking (which are of course off limits for me). In addition the sadness of infertility knocks my overall happiness and ability to go out and make new friends.

I know that I’m a resourceful person…but at present, when it comes to this situation, I’m all out of ideas…the combination of these factors seem to be sucking the life out of me right now….

Exercising (and talking) the pain away

The last few days have been a series of ups and downs…

I picked up my immunology blood test results last Friday (see last post) and have been waiting since then to have an appointment with the hospital to discuss the results and next steps. The appointment was meant to be yesterday afternoon and I had done a good job of keeping myself busy and distracted through the weekend. S and I had a last minute trip to Turin with two friends (which was spent mostly walking, talking and eating).

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The house where we stayed in Turin this weekend

But on Monday my patience broke down when I received an email from the clinic to say that my appointment had been moved from Tuesday to Friday (to a time that I couldn’t do). This small hiccup was enough to send me over the edge as I had received these very worrying test results last Friday and was expected to wait probably at least another week to get some sort of conversation about them with a medical professional.

I had a good cry for a couple of hours, screamed at the world and then pulled myself together (well, what else can you do?) then took myself off to a new boot camp club that I had signed up for. There’s nothing like a bit of lactic acid, lung burning exercise to distract yourself from your emotional misery. I came home broken (both physically and emotionally) and passed out in bed…

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This is not me by the way, I look waaaay worse when exercising

Yesterday was spent recovering from the boot camp and waiting for a new appointment. I asked my husband to call the doctor directly and put some pressure on them as I find it hard to have complex nuanced conversations like that in Italian on the phone (I worry that I’ll come across as too direct or too nice or just lose the thread of what they are saying without the visual cues to help me). Late yesterday I found out that the hospital have fitted me in first thing on Friday morning (a huge relief!)

Yesterday I also had my first appointment with a British based infertility counsellor via Skype. It’s been something that I’ve been meaning to do since my last FET failure. I was offered counselling here in Italy and went to one session but as it was all in Italian I found that my brain was too busy processing the language to actually feel any kind of emotional engagement to the session.

The British counsellor was kind and patient, we spent the first session mostly talking about my back story. I feel positive about her and hope that she can help me manage my anxiety through my next FET (whenever that might be).

 

Green fingers (or lack thereof)

I really don’t have much to blog about at the moment as I’m just waiting.  In terms of IVF we have our next appointment at the hospital on Tuesday next week. My period is due around the same time and so I’m really hoping that it doesn’t show up a day or two before because we’ll have to wait until the next cycle to start.

The waiting is more difficult that usual because of my recent work issues which means I am confined to the house at the moment for most of the day and am not working and so steadily getting more and more bored…

I’d like to get another job to keep myself occupied but am reticent to because for me a new job often equals stress which wouldn’t be good for our FET (especially after I got fired during the previous FET). So it’s pottering for me for the next few months…

To occupy myself I have taken up gardening (which I am totally USELESS at…over the years I’ve killed countless numbers of previously healthy plants). This time I’ve researched which to buy for the weather conditions and how to look after them. I’ve even bought some tomato plants and a lemon tree and I’m determined that something in this house will be fertile in the next few months (even if it isn’t me…haha!)

Below is a shot of my kitchen balcony. The lemon tree was already bearing the fruit when I bought it so I can’t take the glory for that unfortunately. Considering buying some herbs as well…hmm any ideas?

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I hope everyone else’s little seeds (human or plant based) are developing and growing well today…

 

The strength to say ‘no’

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I came across an interesting piece this morning on one of my favourite websites about the strength of saying no to IVF.

I like the writer’s attitude, though I am envious of her age and so her ability to be able to say ‘no for now’. I’m 38 and my husband is 42 so we don’t have that time unfortunately.

Sometimes I wonder if we should have started trying sooner. But I quickly dismiss that thought, as I don’t find it useful to ruminate on decisions that were made in the past. We can only focus on the decisions that need to be made now or in the near future.

For the last 2.5 years we’ve been on project ‘make a baby’ and we don’t have an end date in sight, but we do know that we can’t keep doing it forever. It sometimes feels like we’re living that phrase “the definition of madness is doing the same thing and expecting a different result”. At some point we may have to say ‘no’.

For me the first ‘no’ may be looming in the not too distant future. That’s the ‘no’ to trying with my own eggs and so instead moving to donor eggs. It means ‘no’ to the chance of having a child that is genetically related to me…but perhaps on the flipside saying ‘yes’ to a much higher chance of success and a real baby…

So at what point do I feel comfortable with saying ‘no?

Hmm…

 

(photo sourced from Flickr)