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).

sdr

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…

myfitnesspal-burpees

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).

 

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How many issues can one person have?!

Ok so today has been an unexpectedly eventful day and I’m still not sure how to feel about it. I’m trying to see the positives, but it’s hard…

I started spotting very lightly late yesterday and was really really hoping to be able to do my next FET on my upcoming cycle, so started panicking that my period would arrive before our scheduled hospital appointment on Tuesday.

The date was set for Tuesday because on Monday I was due to receive the results for some blood test results done after our FET with a chromosomally normal embryo (that ended in a chemical pregnancy). Late yesterday I decided to call the blood test centre to see if the results were ready early, and indeed they were. So this morning I rushed over to the centre to pick up the results with the aim of trying to move our hospital appointment to today.

For some reason I wasn’t particularly concerned about what the results would say…I assumed that they would come back normal and I’d be ok to go straight on to do the FET if I could just get hold of my doctor. So I grabbed the results and called the hospital and got told everything was fully booked. Dejectedly I trudged home and only then, about 30 minutes later, did I actually open the results.

It was not what I was expecting….

In addition to my Balanced Translocation, my low-ish AMH/high-ish FSH and my husband’s borderline/low sperm it seems that I have not one but TWO more issues…

Firstly, I have what is called a gene mutation called a MTHFR (its not an acronym for a swearword…honest!) From my frenzied Googling this doesn’t seem TOO bad…it means that I need to ditch taking folic acid and vitamin B complex (which I though had been helping in fertility, but seem to have been having the opposite effect for me). I might have to take aspirin as well.

Secondly, I have anti-nuclear antibodies present in my blood and it looks as if my body produced them in response to our embryo. The thought that my body killed off our embryo with an immune reaction is pretty heart-wrenching to be honest…it’s making me a bit teary to think about…so I’m trying not to. It seems like there is hopefully treatment for this, but it looks like we might need more tests first to work out which drugs I’ll need to take.

It’s hard to know where my emotions are right now…

On the negative side I’m feeling pretty sorry for myself…how can one person draw so many short straws in the fertility lottery?

On the positive side I’m trying to look at this as progress: more issues identified hopefully means that they can be treated and can get us one step closer to our goal.

As I couldn’t get an early appointment with my doctor I’ve emailed him the results and am hoping he’ll magically have time to reply in the next hour or so before he goes home for the day (but I doubt it as its not a private hospital). So it looks like I’ll probably have to wait until our scheduled appointment on Tuesday.  And so the chances of doing our FET on the upcoming cycle are looking very very slim indeed.

sigh

Post failed FET: picking up the pieces

And so, after three IVFs and one failed FET and a lost job here I am. Somehow still standing…well just about.

It’s been possibly the most difficult two weeks of my life. Finding reasons to get out of bed and to find anything to feel remotely positive about has been excruciatingly difficult. My period started on Sunday which was a small relief (as I had read about the small chance of an ectopic).

We had an appointment two days ago with our hospital where the doctors were very sympathetic. They are stumped as to why our transfer didn’t work with a PGD/PGS normal embryo and a perfect lining. They have given me more blood tests (mainly to check for immunological issues) and will put me on aspirin for the next transfer.

I went to get the blood tests done this morning and hope that they will be back in time for us to do the second FET (of our final remaining embryo) in May with my next cycle. But that depends on when my period comes and if the last 2.5 years are anything to go it will probably arrive at exactly the wrong time, thereby causing maximum possible delays and frustration.

We’re off for a short break out of Italy for Easter which we both desperately need. It’s hard not to associate Italy with our infertility struggles and what with the extra delays caused by bureaucracy and my horrendous treatment at work recently I have a desperate need to escape this country for a while…

Happy Easter everyone. I hope you get few days to relax away from the struggles of infertility and daily life and take a much needed recharge. That’s what I intend to do.

X

How we got here part 3: BT

So the story continues….

After our first failed IVF I was pretty distraught, as I imagine most people are. The stress and hope is so new and a lot to deal with when it all comes crashing back down to nothing.

As mentioned in an earlier post we got most of the first cycle for free here in Italy which was amazing but we did have to wait 5 months for treatment due to various bureaucratic delays. After the failed cycle I was feeling particularly frustrated by these delays and also felt that the hospital has not tested everything they needed to before proceeding with the IVF.

The other challenge we were up against is the way Italy works in the summer. As it was June 2015 by then it looked like the next viable date for a second IVF would be late July/August and that’s when everything shuts in Italy for holidays. I didn’t want to have to wait until September as the year was slipping by so fast so we decided to go private.

We chose a clinic in Barcelona in Spain called Institut Marques. I had heard good reports on UK fertility forums, mainly for their egg donation programme but we decided to give them a try. We had an initial appointment with a doctor in Milan who gave us more tests including a karyotype for me as it hadn’t been done before.

A couple of weeks later I got a call from the blood test centre saying that I needed to come in to see a specialist to get the results of my kayrotype exam as there was an abnormality. It was a Friday morning and the earliest they could do was the Monday morning. As the day wore on the fear seeped into my bones…I started googling the hell out of abnormalities with karyotype tests and concluded that it could be one of three things…

  1. I had a Balanced Translocation where my chromosome were rearranged
  2. I had advanced cancer and my chromosomes had changed in mutated cells in my blood
  3. I was actually a man (OK well this last one was particularly unlikely….but you know it’s amazing what you can semi convince yourself of with too many Google searches)

I spent a very bizarre weekend waiting for the results. We had planned to go on a day trip as a group to Lake Como and there wasn’t any point cancelling. My husband and I spent the day lounging by the lake, eating pizza and hanging out and trying to not ask ourselves “What’s the worst that can happen?” (as for once the answer was really really bad)

We went to the clinic hand in hand on the Monday morning. I still recall every single thing about the room they asked as to wait in: from the grey walls to the poor quality reproduction on the wall. I was preparing myself to be told that I only had a few months to live.

When the geneticist informed me that I had a Robertsonian Balanced Translocation I felt a massive wave of relief flood through me. I wasn’t dying!!

This bizarre weekend was in some ways an amazing jolt of perspective on this whole journey. Knowing that I didn’t have cancer was much more important than my fertility issues.

We had already started planning our second IVF cycle in Barcelona in August, and the real impact that this diagnosis meant was that we’d have to pay a few thousand more for pre-implantation genetic testing (PGD/PGS) and know that our odds of success were not great. But at least I was alive…we were feeling positive…

How we got here part 1: testing, testing, testing

So as mentioned in my previous post we’ve been on this IVF journey for a while, so I thought I’d better give you a quick summary.

It all began in September 2013 with gloriously beautiful and happy wedding to my long time boyfriend and best friend ‘S’. S and I met in 2000 when working at the same company in our first jobs. We became firm friends and over the years this turned into something more. We got together in 2007 and then were engaged in 2012 and married a year and a half later by the seaside in Cornwall in England.

Our first 12 months of trying to conceive were, I’m sure, pretty similar to most couples who face this challenge: a few months of blissful ignorance and arrogant belief that it would happen soon enough, followed by a few months of using OPKs, temping and obsessing over diets, then followed by a visit to the doctor for fertility tests.

After a series of initial tests it appeared that S had the problem, with borderline or low sperm results. In October 2014 he bravely went under the knife to remove a varicocele from his testicles. The operation went well but it wasn’t clear if there was any discernible improvement, and there was still no pregnancy. We were advised that due to his issues we needed to proceed with IVF as our only option. This was a blow, but we knew of others who’d had success so we maintained some hope.

And so the waiting continued…