The start of our IVF journey

Apologies if the sequence is slightly out here but my last post didn’t publish for some reason despite it being written about 6 weeks ago now.

Quite a lot has happened in the intervening period and I am now 3 days into IVF treatment and just starting to feel the effects. We had our treatment planning appointment at the hospital which consisted of a nurse handing me a bag of needles, a planner and a prescription and then showing me how to administer the injections. That was it, no explanation of why or what the drugs would do, what (if any) options there were or what to expect next. Thankfully from our friends having been through it we knew the basics already but I have discovered from Mumsnet that there is still a lot that I don’t know.

I’m on a long protocol (I didn’t even know there was a short protocol and am still not sure why that wasn’t suitable, or considered for us). I have buserelin injections (to block my hormones or “dereg”) for 14 days, then a scan to check the womb lining has thinned, then start on the pen injections (to replace my hormones) before having another scan to check follicles then plan egg collection “EC” which is followed by implantation a few days later.

I am a wimp when it comes to needles so was anxious about injecting every day and I freaked out when I first saw the needle on Friday so my husband is playing nurse for the moment. I will attempt to do it myself at some point so it is not so restrictive for him but need to pluck up the courage first.

Most surprising things about the treatment are that you have to use contraception (what’s that?!) if you have sex and that I can’t do any exercise (bang goes the idea of losing weight). Exercise increases the risk of ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome apparently which can be serious.

I’m 3 injections in, so far I haven’t really felt them but yesterday I was moody and exhausted. This morning I am still exhausted and also ridiculously hot. I know we’ve been having hot weather but I’ve not felt this hot before. Cue menopause symptoms, the joy! The next 2 weeks are not going to be fun!

I am also anxious about EC as it is an operation under anaesthetic and I have never had one before. I’ll keep you posted, keep everything crossed!

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Not pregnant

Today was the date of our second scan, to check progress. It has been the longest 2 weeks of my life!

The scan confirmed what I had feared, I had miscarried our miracle embryo and my uterus is all but empty once again. I was “pregnant” for about 8.5 weeks, my poor body has been through 8.5 weeks of completely alien effects, muscles relaxing and stretching in my back and stomach, extra blood pumping around making it difficult to get it up to my brain, uterus growth and breast expansion. All for nothing. My poor body!

All in all it was an odd experience. I feel somewhat detached, like the whole thing happened to somebody else, the pregnancy and the miscarriage. I have been pregnant, experienced early stage pregnancy, and now I am not. I wonder if I subconsciously knew it would not work out, I didn’t feel as excited as I expected to when we had a positive result (or a BFP as I now know it’s referred to as), I was reluctant to embrace it, to get excited as I was in disbelief, shock perhaps, and anxious about the spotting.

What now? There are thankfully no complications, I don’t need any medical management. I wait until the bleeding stops and then we can start counting again. How disappointing! Back to the drawing board, back to the cycle. Hopefully we can now organise our IVF treatment appointment and start that ball rolling again.

I am going to keep off the coffee and the booze (although treated myself to a flat white this morning) and have reordered the cock pills for my husband (something worked this time). Back on the horse so to speak. Just have to stay in the saddle!

Pregnant?!

So I saw the GP, she calculated that I was around 7-8 weeks pregnant, gave me a midwife pack and referred me to the EPU (early pregnancy unit) for an early scan due to the spotting. She warned me that it could take a while to get an appointment but they asked me to go in that morning so I drove straight up to the hospital and waited for a scan. They did both an external and internal ultrasound. I was measuring 5.5 weeks rather than the 7+ but as my periods are difficult to diarise I wasn’t concerned. Due to the early stage they could not pick up a heart beat but everything looked normal and there was no obvious cause of the spotting. I was told it was quite normal and booked in for another scan in 2 weeks.

Now here I am, 12 (very long) days on, not sure that I am still pregnant. The spotting continued off and on but so did the other pregnancy symptoms. I had the nose of a bloodhound (to the extent that the smoke from a neighbours chimney made me panic that the house was on fire), my boobs went up 2 cup sizes, my stomach bloated up so much I couldn’t do my trousers up, I had constant heartburn, lower back ache coupled with occasional nausea and lightheadedness! I also had one day feeling absolutely dreadful, it was like a hangover without having touched alcohol, my head hurt so badly I thought my skull was splitting. I joined the mumsnet forums, downloaded an app and signed up to nhs updates.

However I remained in disbelief that it was actually happened and concerned at every twinge. It had taken so long to get to this stage and the posters on the wall of the EPU alerted me to the scary fact that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. I was very paranoid and, after two light ‘bleeds’ (pink spotting more than anything), called the EPU for advice. I was told that as I’d already had a scan they were not overly concerned and I should wait for the next appointment. It has been a long long wait!

Then on Friday my symptoms died down, I thought perhaps it was just the hormone levels settling but, on Sunday lunchtime I began to bleed heavily. I then started cramping but nothing more than severe period pains (however not being able to take painkillers is a killer)! I managed to still enjoy the bank holiday and relaxed in the garden in the sunshine, all the time resigning myself to the fact that I was probably miscarrying. Monday afternoon the cramping became unbearable, I was doubled over in pain and my husband called NHS direct whilst I tried to relieve the pain in a warm bath. NHS direct referred us to the out of hours GP and a doctor called me immediately to discuss my symptoms. He however said the same thing, as I’d already had a scan he was not overly concerned. He didn’t actually mention a miscarriage but surely that’s what he was thinking.

The pain gradually subsided (as did the bleeding) and now I’m only in slight discomfort. I am thoroughly confused as I didn’t seem to pass anything more than a heavy period clot, no noticeable tissue and certainly nothing big enough to feel. I wouldn’t call the pain contraction like either which most people seem to. Mumsnet discussions led me to subchorionic hematomas which gave me some hope that all is not lost but in my heart I cannot see how the little embryo can have survived.

That being said my boobs seem to hurt a little again and I have slight heartburn. I also have a slight headache, back ache and cramps but they could all be as a result of the experience of the last two days. One more day until the scan and we can find out whether this is the end of the road for this brief miracle pregnancy or if I have something else to worry about. Either way it is a concern and a worry.

A development!

I can’t believe it has been 10 months since my last post. I had just started typing “No news is not always good news” when I realised that I had already used that last year.

There have been no posts as there hasn’t been anything to report. We went to the private clinic, we had some more tests, they were largely the same, we had a letter from the NHS confirming our appointment there, we went, had more tests, were referred for IVF, had more tests and have been waiting for our treatment consultation since then. It is such a waiting game.

Over that time I have become increasingly depressed and have not been sleeping properly since November! We’ve still been trying, I’ve thrown in a few more supplements (Co-enzyme Q10 which is ridiculously expensive, bee pollen and a specialist fertilisan supplement for him to improve motility).

However, I now finally have some news, having decided we’d give the NHS until May before taking the plunge with the private clinic last month I missed my period! I did a test and, as before, it was negative. I went to the GP, she told me to take another one in the week. In the interim I have been spotting (only lightly but every day) so wasn’t very hopeful but I did a test on Monday and the magical little second line appeared! We were both stunned, we’d all but given up on it ever happening for us.

However we are not getting our hopes up just yet, I know the spotting may be a bad sign (but may be completely normal) and it’s early days but I took another test this morning and there it was again. I have sore breasts, I have lower back ache and I have stomach acid, it all points in a ‘positive’ direction! I will try and get an app to see the GP tomorrow.

Keep everything crossed for us and I’ll update you asap!

Taking the plunge!

So, it’s been nine months since the ‘glitch’, nine months since the GP referral and five months since the hospital acknowledged the referral and I have still not heard anything.  I’m not getting any younger and we’re not having any luck on our own so today we decided to finally contact a private fertility clinic.  

I called Bupa and my policy unfortunately will not cover the fertility investigations so it looks like we’ll be shelling out for them ourselves but the cost is just a drop in the ocean if we actually need fertility treatment.  Besides, I have had enough of waiting and feeling completely helpless! 

My GP said to do some research into the local clinics and look at reviews so that’s what we have done this evening and we have chosen one with a good reputation and some excellent practitioners.  Coincidentially it is also the clinic that our friends who have previously had IVF have used (and are using again at the moment) so we are amongst friends.

If nothing else apparently they have a good coffee machine in the waiting room which is good news.  NHS say that caffeine has no adverse effect on fertility too so I’m glad that’s one thing I don’t have to give up! 

I bought some more fertility lube, started yoga and have been back on the agnus castus too, at least that makes me feel like I’m doing something positive.  Next stop acupuncture!

Now the family’s at it! 

That’s it, I’ve had it, my cousin is pregnant, my delightful, successful, single-until-fairly-recently, younger cousin! Her and her pilot fiancée got engaged last week and we were all thrilled.  She has not had a serious relationship for nearly 20 years and met her fiancé through a friend (who met him on tinder) a year or so ago.  He is lovely and they are so well suited, it was if it was meant to be and now they’re engaged and having a baby! I am insanely jealous!

We’ve been trying for nearly two years now and, apart from the one ‘glitch’ (as the doctor described it), we haven’t even come close to getting pregnant.  I am thoroughly depressed about the whole thing.  

True, I may not have been as pro-active as I could have been (I have still not called Bupa to check my cover and I haven’t altered my diet at all) but the depression has robbed me of any inclination to do so.  Until recently it had really put us off sex too (although we seem to have got over that issue now)!  

I need to pull my finger out, call Bupa, book some acupuncture sessions and start really researching what I should be doing to help. Izzy Judd’s book “Dare to dream” is out tomorrow and I’m thinking that may be a good place to start.  I need to stop resting on my laurels and expecting it just to happen as it is obviously not going to.  

Any pointers as to where to start would be appreciated! 

Yours, frustratedly! 

No news is unfotunately not good news! 

It’s been a while since my last post and for no good reason I’m afraid.  I don’t have any updates, good or bad really and nothing to report but an ominous bout of depression which is forever lurking in the background.

My husband had the results of his tests and they didn’t show anything abnormal as such, the only feedback was that the ‘look’ of the sperm was not great but that in itself does not necessarily cause complications.  I now just have to wait for my next tests.

We have had a bit of a dry patch over the previous months for a number of reasons, I was very busy with work during the first few months of the year and working long hours which meant I was very tired by the time I got home then he had a bout of illness (terrible timing) and I think the frustration of struggling to conceive is getting to us both.  I am determined to get things back on track this month though and we kicked things off with a mini break which helped.

I am putting off researching too much into conception woes as I have heard a few things recently that have scared me.  Of course I know you should try to live a healthy lifestyle and by and large that is not an issue, I exercise regularly (and largely enjoy it), eat healthily, don’t smoke (and never have) and drink lots of water.  I do however have two main vices (i) caffeine and (ii) alcohol.  I know that neither are good for you but I don’t drink either to excess.  I was brought up in a drinking household and have always enjoyed a little tipple.  It helps me relax.  I don’t drink daily  (well not normally) but I don’t deny myself if I fancy a G&T or a glass of wine.  I also like a coffee in the morning or after a meal.  I love my nespresso machine.  I don’t usually exceed more than two (strong) cups a day but that increased to four when I was working long hours (I have cut down again now).

I follow Izzy Judd on social media, I’m not sure how I first came across her.  I wasn’t a Mcfly fan (I’m too old) but love Dougie Poynter and came across Tom  Fletcher in the media (his wedding speech I think) and that led to easy-on-the-eye Harry Judd which led to his wife Izzy.  She has just released a book about her experience of ivf (which I will bring myself to read at some point but it is still early days and I don’t want to run before I can walk) and she recently mentioned that she had given up caffeine completely when trying to conceive (apparently abbreviated to “TTC”).  This was my first scare, I hadn’t thought about it previously, should I be giving up caffeine? This will certainly make everybody at work suspicious and how do I explain away that?! 

I looked at the reader comments on Izzy’s posts and people were sharing what they had given up when TTC.  This scared me even more, people had given up gluten, dairy, carbs, meat and, worse of all (although probably most obvious) alcohol! “Do you think I should stop drinking completely?” I asked my husband.  “How would I explain that to friends?”.  They would automatically assume I was pregnant and answering questions when I wasn’t would be depressing.  

So I am putting off reading anything else.  Can I face giving up alcohol and caffeine when they are two small pleasures in life? I am finding the whole TTC thing quite depressing and I think no alcohol or caffeine will make that even worse.  Of course I want to give myself the best possible chance but will it really help that much? Do I consume enough of either for it to make a difference? Obviously if we were at the IVF stage it would be different, I would give both up straight away then.  Do I need to start phasing them out now? 

To make matters worse I spoke to a colleague last week and in passing she mentioned that she was tee total for 10 years (but isn’t anymore).  When I asked why she said it was because she couldn’t get pregnant so had given up drinking and then when she had her daughter she couldn’t face the thought of a hangover, then she had her son and just didn’t start again for 10 years! I am going to have to change my mindset I think, it is going to take some will power though.

I’ve just seen the GP again, I had asked to be referred privately as the wait for an NHS appointment is apparently ridiculous.  Our IVF friends went privately.  She has said I should research the local clinics to ensure I am getting the best service for my money.  If Bupa won’t cover it that is, need to check my policy.

I have been having some issues with irregular bleeding too though so I mentioned that and she has asked that the hospital expedite my appointment.  She has also suggested an examination and more swabs and booked me in for the morning.  That’ll be fun!