Infused

So this morning I sat for an hour having an intralipid infusion. It’s basically a white liquid that drips into your veins, and is to help my immune system not to try to fight off my little implanted embryo once we get to that stage.  It was all quite uneventful really. I also started the dexamethasone steroid this morning, that is to help with egg quality. Then tonight I have my first Burselin injection for down regulation to begin.  This is what the paraphernalia looks like for this.

Last cycle I took these drugs via a nasal sniffer so this is a different approach for me. I am excited things are now really getting going. On Friday OH and I visited the clinic to sign all our legal documentation. The nurse was really nice, loved how organised I was with having all the paperwork ready with just tabs on pages we had queries on  (yes I am “that” kind of person!), and she said how calm and grounded we seemed about the whole process. Which was really nice to know. I’m not stressed by this, and I’m trying to stay calm and hopeful that this is our time.

In other news, we had a lovely shiny new sparkly range cooker delivered on Saturday. It’s SO much better than the old one left in our house when we bought it. It has windows in the ovens so I can see how the cooking is going! Both ovens will work! It has a third slow cooking small oven too!  Unfortunately the installers hit a snag, it’s dual fuel and the electric connection behind our old cooker is not powerful enough. Bah:( So I can use the gas hobs for now but that’s it. Had electrician over quickly today to suss out the extent of the work… And it’s not going to be a quick and easy job ūüė¶ He’ll send over the quote in a day or two, but it’s an unplanned expense we could do without at this expensive stage in our year! But needs must, and I can’t wait to get cooking with the new ovens – particularly for thanksgiving dinner! My mother is American and we celebrate thanksgiving every November.  

OH woke up with a crick in his neck this morning.. So he is in quite a bit of pain and had to work from home as he couldn’t drive. He made me laugh as he is annoyed he didn’t get it in a more manly way! Just to wake up with it is a bit rubbish. Let’s hope it improves soon.

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Safe transfer

So today OH’s frozen sperm was successful transferred from our old clinic to the new one. Yay! The cost was quite ridiculous, admin charges from both clinics, courier charges, new clinic storage charges. But it was still cheaper than him having to have another surgical sperm operation. I am relieved it is now safe ready for our next round.

OH’s Muliple sclerosis prevents us getting his sperm in the err.. shall we just say..normal fashion. It is the greatest frustration to him, and to be honest one I think perhaps as a woman I cannot fully comprehend the extent of. So last year he had to have a surgical sperm retrieval operation. He was very nervous. What man wouldn’t be!… But it all went easily and smoothly, he was happily high as a kite after the op on the meds (why couldn’t I have that feeling after egg collection?! I felt ROUGH!), and he had very little pain afterwards. The sperm was also all good.. Plenty there and with good motility.   When I told one friend about the ivf, she joked about “oh my goodness all the wanking!”, but she doesn’t know about the MS so I couldn’t actually explain OH gets to miss the unglamorous prospect of being sent to a room to “produce” at the same time as I have egg collection!

Tomorrow we have our nurses consultation to sign all the forms and be shown how to do the Burselin injections (last cycle I was on a sniffer not injections), and then on Monday treatment properly starts! Onwards and upwards! 

Hardware failure

Sometimes losing something makes you realise how much you value it. I thought I knew how much I appreciated the website I use to meet others like me, to support and share our experiences on this fertility journey. But today the site is down and I feel bereft! I was checking it at regular intervals all evening but it would just hang and say the server was unavailable, but now there is a message to say they’ve had a hardware failure and it will be down for a few days until they can fix it. 

A FEW DAYS?!?!  

I’m amazed at how hard I feel this is going to be. I look forward every day to reading the updates of my cycle buddies, what stages they are at, how treatment is going, what is going on in their lives. They are people I never met in person, may never meet unless perhaps I form a close friendship with some, yet I feel I can tell them anything and they will understand. I know they’ll provide support if I’ve had a bad day or am feeling down, just like I will for them. Together we are going to go through something amazing, and some of us will come out the other side with radiant hearts and two lines on the test kit, and some of us will feel crushed that we don’t. It is sad to think we aren’t likely to all find success this time, but whatever the outcome I know the next few weeks will be made easier because we are together and looking out for each other.  But now I must deal with a silent front for a few days. Thank goodness I’m not in the two week wait, then it’s absence would be far worse! 

So yes, I knew I valued the site, but now I know quite how much!

Farewell my Gilbert Blythe

Right from when my aunt bought me the first three Anne of Green Gables books in one, back in 1989 when I was 11 going on 12, I was hooked. From then until this day I have, and will always continue to be, a huge fan. When the TV series came out in my later teens I loved it. Megan Fellows played a fabulous Anne, Matthew and Marilla were perfect, and Gilbert…. sigh, Gilbert!…Jonathan Crombie was the Gilbert I had imagined when reading the books and was probably my “first love”. I wanted so to meet someone in real life just like him, to sweep me off my feet!  So I was so very saddened yesterday to hear of Jonathan Crombie’s early passing. 

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve watched the series. I had it videoed from the TV, then I bought the proper videos, and now I own the DVD’s. I know so much of it by heart. I have so many friends who love it too, and it’s not usually that long before we say we ought to have another Anne of Green Gables day. I’m sure now another one will be due soon. It’s my go to program when I’m feeling poorly and just want to curl up on the sofa with my duvet. And the moments that touch your heart.. Anne’s joy when Marilla says she can stay at a Green Gables, Matthew’s silent love for her and the moment his heart gives out (I shed a tear every time), Gilbert giving up the job in the local school so she can take it and stay in Avonlea with Marilla (when he strokes her hair and gently calls her carrots), his pained expression when she turns down his first proposal, his look as he leaves her in the pavilion through the rain after he’s told her he is engaged to someone else, and her look as he leaves by train when she first realises she loves him but it is too late. I could be here hours listing them. 

If I’m blessed enough to have a daughter I want to share my love of Anne and Gilbert with her. But most of all I want any child of mine to learn many of life’s lessons that are shown in the story, and to always remember that “Tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it yet.”

  

Preparations

It seems so many clinics just focus on the medical side of IVF treatment, apart from telling you to take folic acid and drink lots of water during the stimulation phase. I strongly believe there is more we can do to increase chances of success, and thankfully this is also the view of my new clinic, who take a far more holistic approach. So today’s blog is a quick summary of what I’ve been doing:

  • Taking pre-conception multi-vitamins, omega 3 oils, and antioxidants (last cycle I only took the multi-vitamins)
  • Taking co-enzyme Q10 up until egg collection (new for me this cycle)
  • Taking Vitamin D supplements, as I was tested earlier this year and my levels were really low. Probably not uncommon for many of us in the UK! My complexion has really cleared up since doing this which has been super, but it should increase the ivf chances too. There are loads of articles online about this
  • Eating more protein than I was, and with every meal… During Stimms I will increase it even more to help towards best egg quality possible
  • Trying to eat 7-10 portions of fruit/veg a day – at my new clinic you see a nutritionist and this is what she recommended, but it can be a challenge!
  • Minimising sugar
  • Very little caffeine (switched to decaf tea and I don’t drink coffee anyway)
  • Pretty much no alcohol at the moment (occasionally a tiny sip of OH’s G&T!)
  • Acupuncture sessions – I’ve been having regular sessions for almost a year now and it helps with my stress levels (work is very busy). I go once a month, but more during down regging, Stimms, and pre and post embryo transfer. It can help with your womb lining and studies have shown those who had pre and post transfer acupuncture had higher chances of success.
  • This cycle my boss knows and he agreed to let me go down to 3 days a week for 3 months. I started these hours at the start of April and it’s been great ūüėČ Definately has reduced my stress levels, and hopefully taking a pay cut for a few months will be worth it.
  • Good amount of exercise, at least until I start Stimms 

I think there are always more things you can do. Reducing stress is a big one and my clinic also offers hypnotherapy and counselling, but I’ve not chosen to try these just now. I also heard seeing an osteopath a few months before can be good to check your pelvis is all in alignment etc.. Abdominal massage, again a few months prior, can also be good. If I’d heard of these last two before now I may have tried them, but I’m a bit too close to treatment now.

So I feel like I am doing enough to prepare, perhaps not as much as in theory could be done in a perfect world, but I’m happy with the situation.  A week tomorrow I start the down reg drugs, and I’ve already been on the pill since my April period.. All part of the process for the clinic to control what my body is doing ready for the stimulation phase.

The difference in clinics

This IVF cycle will be different to our last. If we stayed with the clinic we were with last time my treatment would have been exactly the same*… which you can argue did work after a fashion as I did get pregnant. However, we didn’t just want to take the chance that my miscarriage was just “one of those things” that sadly happens in they say 1 in 4 pregnancies. What if there could be another underlying cause? Many clinics won’t investigate this unless you’d had several miscarriages, but since our ability to fund cycles is limited, we didn’t want to just necessarily try again without further investigations. So we went to a different clinic for a second opinion, at a clinic that also specialises in immune treatment (the old clinic does nothing on immune side).

Whilst last year’s clinic took good care of us, and the staff were friendly and nurses caring, it was quite a scientific and sterile place.  Going for a consultation at the new clinic felt worlds apart! It felt homely and welcoming.  Rather than just publishing success rates, the evidence was right in front of you – the consultants office walls were covered in baby pictures, and his furniture strewn in new baby and thank you cards. It made you feel so hopeful inside, that if they could achieve this dream for so many others, it could happen for you too.  Looking at our notes his treatment plan for us would be slightly different and he recommended immune tests and explained why.  OH and I only had to look at each to agree this was a better place for our journey to continue.

17 vials of blood and a few weeks later my immune tests came back, and they did reveal some issues. I tested homozygous positive for the PAI-1 gene polymorphism. This apparently means I am at higher risk of blood clotting so I will be on drugs for that. In my immune cells I had some elevated “natural killer cell activity” and my CD19+ and CD5+  immune cells tested high too (at 22 when normal is less than 10). So more drugs for these things too, as we don’t want my immune system trying to fight off a baby!  Whilst the science on immune systems and fertility is all a bit bamboozling to me to understand, I feel in safe and in experienced hands, and so now on the medical side I feel we are doing everything possible to give this try the best chance. More on other preparations next time…

* actually not 100% the same. Last time I stopped progesterone very early on at the clinics guidelines. Most UK clinics have you take this until 12 weeks. The doctor at the clinic was very sure this didn’t play a part in my miscarriage, BUT somewhat suspiciously their protocol has now changed to prescribe progesterone until 12 weeks! Also I will never be convinced it didn’t have a bearing on my miscarriage since my immune issues also mean I would need more aggressive luteal support.. so both progesterone and estrogen.

Adventures on the road of life….

Blog number one! For years I’ve vaguely thought about writing a blog, and now finally here I am…¬†¬†still trying to work out how to use this site, but at least I’m¬†over the hurdle of picking a name and getting started.

So why am I blogging? I’m 37 years old and have been with my lovely other half (OH) for coming up on 4 years. I’ve had a great,¬†active, life with many awesome¬†experiences, and whilst I like kids, I have never been the “broody” type. ¬†For a while I thought perhaps I wouldn’t have children as my previous long term boyfriend had no desire for parenthood, and I thought I was fine with that. ¬†However as the years passed I realised¬†I couldn’t imagine not having¬†kids in my future, or at least trying for that. If I tried and it wasn’t to be, then I knew I would¬†deal with it¬†and find other life goals, but I wasn’t happy to never try. ¬†And then I met OH, the right one¬†to share my life long term and hopefully a parenting¬†adventure. ¬†Whilst many women these days still have kids well into their forties, clearly time is not on our side. ¬†And unfortunately as it turns out, nor is nature.

OH has had multiple sclerosis for the past 10 or so years. Most people don’t know and if you met him on the street you’d never guess. ¬†It does affect his life and limits the¬†things he can do which is a great frustration to him. ¬†It also¬†unfortunately prevents us from conceiving naturally. ¬†Having bought a house and enjoyed life together for a while as a couple, by the time we decided we were ready to seek medical help it turned out I was too “old” for NHS funding in my county, which just sucks. Especially as NICE guidelines say women under 40 should be funded 3 IVF cycles. ¬†It is such a postcode lottery, as we could move to a different area and be covered.. but I won’t get started on that injustice now! ¬†We dug into our savings¬†and last summer we funded our first IVF cycle. Which was successful! Getting a BFP (big fat positive) on the¬†first ever¬†pregnancy test in my life was such a rollercoaster of emotions, and we were on a happy high for several weeks. I was joyfully imagining life this year with a new addition to our family and a year on maternity leave!

The day of our first scan dawned when I was 8 weeks pregnant but it turned out to be a day full of sorrow and tears as our little one had no heart beat. I’d had a MMC (missed miscarriage) and our little one was less than 6 weeks in size. It was the saddest day of my life and I cried until I was so emotionally drained I just slept. ¬†I wanted the pregnancy¬†to end naturally, but the waiting was scary and I was very apprehensive. In the end after 3 weeks I gave in and had a small removal¬†operation at a local hospital, and then at least physically it was over.

We still had one little frozen embryo from our cycle so after a few months for my body to recover from the drugs in the previous IVF cycle and the miscarriage, and for time to heal our sadness, we tried a natural drug free frozen embryo transfer (FET).  I felt really ready. I was positive and hopeful. But it was not our time.

So here we are now, about to embark upon our second IVF journey. We can only really afford it thanks to our parents who would so love to be grandparents one day, and we probably can’t manage more than this one more try (although we could try further FET’s¬†if we are lucky enough to get enough good quality embryos this time around to freeze some, since a FET is¬†not as costly as IVF). ¬†Whilst I hope and pray this is the start of our parenting road, I also am realistic enough to know it could also be the end of our current dream. Some ladies are lucky enough to be able to try and try and try and eventually succeed, but finances aside, we have agreed we don’t want to put ourselves through the emotional turmoil of years of fertility treatment and putting other aspects of life on hold because you are constantly going through treatment, or waiting for the next round. ¬†If it turns out it is not to be, then we will deal with that together, find acceptance, and work out what new journey our lives will take us on instead.

I look forward to sharing our adventures with you, whatever road they take.