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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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: 10dp5dt…BFP!!!

I woke up this morning with a heavy heart. Today was the day I decided to do a home pregnancy test (as I’d decided that I couldn’t hold out until Wednesday after having the chemical pregnancy last time which was only picked up on my first beta at 14dp5dt when I think the HCG was already in decline).

I nearly chickened out as I was fully expecting a negative (see the last few posts for my rather pessimistic mood during this two week wait). But I grabbed the First Response and did it anyway….and within a minute or so there was a second line!! Big fat positive!! I couldn’t believe it!!!

I flew back to Milan last night so am home here alone (my husband returns from the music festival this afternoon/evening). So I’ve been flapping around the house a bit by myself for the past couple of hours not really know what to do with myself. I emailed the hospital and they advised me to start the Clexane injections today (anyone know if there’s a best time to do Clexane…morning/afternoon/evening?)

I haven’t found out whether I should come in early for the HCG beta. I’ll call them later to find out. My test was scheduled for Wednesday but I hope they’ll let me come in tomorrow morning instead.

So yes, in shock right now. Great news but not going to get my hopes too high after last time….just hoping and praying that this one sticks around…

Happy Monday guys!!

dav

 

This morning

This is gonna be me today after a bad night’s sleep. I drifted off at 11pm-ish but woke with a start when my husband came to bed (around 2ish?) and due to a combination of nerves and heat and mosquitoes I didn’t properly sleep from 4am onwards but instead drifted on and out of consciousness. Boh…

tired-dog

At least the tiredness has taken the edge off any nerves. Feeling bizarrely calm again, just expectant instead of panicked. Should get the call in the next two hours to find out if our embryo thawed out ok.

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)

FET #2: Transfer day eve

So it’s the big ‘T’ day tomorrow. I’m feeling weirdly calm about it which is a big improvement from last time so that’s good at least. Not working helps, as does yoga.

I had a mini attack of the nerves last night am proud to say that with a bit of yoga I got over it. I know that tomorrow will be stressful but I’ll just have to deal with it when I get to it.

I have to pop a Prednisone pill in addition to my usual drugs (and pessary) when I first wake up then wait beside the telephone between 8&10am to hear whether our little C grade embryo has defrosted ok. If yes, then they’ll tell me what time to come in to the clinic. That will be followed by lots of waiting around at the hospital with a full bladder (it’s impossible to judge the whole bladder thing because of the random amounts of time they keep you waiting at our hospital…fun fun fun).

It’s a public holiday here in Italy today and 99% of the people in Milan have taken the Friday off for a long weekend. I was worried about my acupuncturist being away but he’s stayed in town especially for me (what an amazing man!) I had my pre session this afternoon with him and have my post one straight after the hospital tomorrow. To thank him I’ve baked some lemon cupcakes (see photo…the lettering spells out ‘grazie mille’). They’re a bit messy and nowhere near as good as Nara’s cupcakes, but hopefully they’ll be appreciated.

dav

So all in all feeling bizarrely ok. I think having low expectations helps this time, oh and knowing that I can’t be sacked midway through the two week wait.

I know that whatever happens we’ll be ok.

I hope everyone else out there is doing ok today. Happy Italian Republic Day from a very rainy Milan.

 

 

FET#2: first monitoring appointment

dildocam

It’s dildocam time!!

Today is cycle day 9 and I was up early and at the hospital for my first endometrial lining check.

As I was sitting in the waiting room one of my favourite doctors walked past and gave me a wave. I waved back and all the other women waiting around me turned to look. At that moment I realised with a slight sinking feeling that I have now become one of the old timers at the clinic. All the staff know me there: partly because I am a ‘difficult case’ (with BT and three IVFs to my name) and partly because I stick out like a sore thumb being foreign and about a foot taller than the majority of their patients (Italian women are extremely short and petite, I am very much the opposite).

The doctors work on rotation for monitoring appointments at the hospital so I get a different one each time. Annoyingly this time I got my least favourite doctor who always rushes through the appointment at incredibly high speed. After a quick dildocam session I found myself stood by her desk still pulling up my trousers whilst she was telling me important information about my drugs. Since I’m an old timer these sort of things don’t panic me like they used to and I am weirdly proud to say that I have mastered the art of conversing in a foreign language about drug schedules whilst  pulling on my underwear or tying up my laces…(not a life skill that I ever pictured myself acquiring).

It turned out that during my previous appointment (which was also rushed) one of the other doctors made a mistake on the drug schedule and I should be on a slightly higher dosage of estogen pills per day by now. It’s not a big deal and doesn’t affect the FET (apart from making the process slightly longer) but it’s pretty annoying as I’d emailed the previous doctor to check and she had confirmed the lower dosage. Grrr…

From today my dosage has been upped to 4 estrogen pills a day. In my previous FET this dosage made me feel generalised anxiety (tight chest, churning guts, general dread feeling). I’m hoping that this time around (without a stressful job) I will feel better. The next appointment is on Friday morning and if the lining is thick enough then I’ll be starting progesterone pessaries for 5 days before doing the transfer.

A complicating factor for this cycle is my sister-in-laws’ wedding which takes place this Saturday in Scotland. We’d booked flights from Italy to Scotland for Thursday evening but today I’ve had to change mine to Friday evening. We’ve now got to keep everything crossed that the hospital doesn’t need to see me again on the Saturday morning (an unlikely scenario I think, but you never know).

The timing is very irritating, and I’d asked the clinic whether I was able to take birth control pills on my previous cycle to time my period and therefore avoid this issue but they told me that it was bad for my body before a transfer cycle, so we’re stuck in this rather difficult situation. My husband’s family are very understanding but it’s not an ideal scenario. Oh well….deep breaths…

Happy Monday everyone.

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

 

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….

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)