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Throughout my journey I’d have appreciated more balanced, frank & informative information, so for you like-minded people, I’m writing it myself…no sugar coating here!

Those of you who are reading this now, I feel your pain, grief, desperation, your feeling of helplessness and distraught but also the hope and positivity that continues to motivate you. Riding the ‘Fertility Roller-coaster’ showed me what an increasingly big business fertility is becoming, with poor regard for people’s emotions and quality of living. Although clinics provide support groups or counselling, some people find better solace in the comfort and privacy of their own homes…here. And although we may have friends/family who offer support, it can be easier and more helpful to speak with those who have been/are going through the process; sharing our experiences is a positive form of therapy, easing anxiety.

I’ll share my thoughts on finding the most suited clinic, the clinic I chose and why as well as why I’m pleased with them. I’ll tell you about my fertility treatments, the experiences I’ve endured, what I’ve learned from them and how I am changing as a person and will be a better parent/carer/teacher/colleague as a result of it all.

Questions and comments would be much appreciated as we ride through this together!

In-between…at Christmas

Pre Christmas

I’ve been reading many blog posts and comments on social media which have motivated me to face my anxiety about those in my ‘outer circle’ knowing my (fertility) fight. The lack of awareness and insensitivity on the subject is my main motivation to now broadcast my current position regarding fertility (never ‘infertility’ as I DO ovulate and produce eggs, albeit poor quality eggs hence the lack of full term pregnancy).

Although I haven’t written for some time, while on my ‘break’ from IVF, I continue to think about it – when should I book my first appointment for my next step with the new clinic? What will the process be? How much will I be affected by it? Will it work? And if I’m not thinking about it, I’m definitely reminded of it for two reasons – 1. following a miscarriage one always counts each month, thinking about each stage and 2. I have been blessed with FIVE nieces! All of whom I adore, all of whom I have a different yet special and unique relationship with. And with children/babies in your life comes celebrations, playing, gifts, discussions around motherhood etc. I love a good time, playing with and watching the girls and I actually really enjoy talking baby/motherhood, but I do have to admit that it does depend on the content of the conversation and sometimes I’m really not the best person to be saying certain things to. I haven’t got my own baby/child yet so certain things may upset me (considering how sensitive fertility struggles can make one feel)…or even not interest me, having not been through it. On the other hand, due to my own experience of helping a lot with my brother (who is 8yrs my junior), reading a lot and having several friends who are mothers, there are certain subjects for which I may have something to contribute.

I go about my weekly routine, getting on with life (carrying the grief) but with every month that passes I think about what would have been had the IVF been more successful…or if, at that 9 week scan, there was a heartbeat and in the October which has just passed I’d given birth alongside some friends…It wasn’t to be this time. Is it ever to be? Christmas is looming…I feel that I was supposed to have my own baby this time around, I tell myself it’s ok and that it’ll work out but deep down (where I bury the pain) I’m devastated, deeply and utterly devastated (again, cue heightened emotions and sensitivity). Of course, I do have my moments of releasing this pain (sometimes through tears and unfortunately, sometimes through a sharp toned response to a comment which may have pressed the wrong button), sometimes alone and sometimes not,but I don’t walk around moping, I have a life to live, I have responsibilities, I don’t have time to really stop and think too much. I want to enjoy the now, the present, after all the pain and obstacles I’ve faced throughout my life, one learns there’s a time to recoup and my time is now, once more before the next fertility round. I’ve spent the past three years saving and sacrificing for the IVF, putting things on hold…now I feel like I’m living again, doing all the things that make me happy and feel alive. ‘Doing all the things that make me feel alive’…implies that I didn’t feel alive before, which is very near the truth. As said in previous posts, I got up so that I could go to work, I went to work to earn money, I earned money to pay for the IVF, and that was my life, all while friends around me were literally popping babies out and if they’re not popping them out they’re jetting off. I felt like a zombie, a zombie with extremely heightened emotions, very sad emotions and although I still carry that grief and sadness, I go to work to earn money, the money is used to pay for things, things that I enjoy and for having a good time due to which I’m now feeling a buzz. As a result, I’ve formed new strong bonds with people which is great…

Post Christmas

So…who have I been spending all this time #livinlife with while friends are having children and I’m left behind? Those I spend most of my life with at the moment…my work family. I have a very good strong group of friends outside of work, many of whom are basically family, but for many of them their lives are trudging along on the ‘conventional train’, the train that I’m not on. Their lives consist of baby groups and feeding times and, although as a teacher I’m with children for most of my days, I’m not in the same ‘club’ (or on the same train) and need people with whom I can socialise on a regular basis with. 11.30 brunch? Absolutely! Drinks from 6? I’m there. In some ways this sounds good…but I’m about to hit 39 and although it’s enjoyable, I’ve been doing this for 20 years and (even though there’s nothing wrong with it-enjoying life as it is) I’m feeling very much left behind; the doors closed on that train and I’m left on the silent platform…then the party train comes along and it’s either jump on or stay on the silent, lonely platform…which would you choose? I’m truly grateful for those with whom I am spending my time enjoying life with, they have shown extreme sensitivity, support and loyalty throughout and we’ve had and continue to plan lovely trips and good times that I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced, from which I’ll have stories and memories galore, which is what I believe life is about.

have recently read a few articles and blog posts about the impact that fertility struggles can have on relationships, be they family, partners or friendships; I’ve mentioned this in a previous post. The Christmas period has been particularly challenging for me, I’m not going to delve too much but for a lot of us Christmas is about children and it’s very hard to watch without having a good cry at some point. This year I have made more of an effort not to eat and drink too much because I feel guilty about those who ‘don’t have’ and I don’t like the glutinous manner in which we all celebrate this time of year. There’s nothing better than time with our nearest and dearest (for some of us), but we don’t need to eat and drink for the sake of it (like so many of us often do). Anyway, I’m beginning to understand the impact that these writers are talking about, I can see how some friendships can take a hit (with emotions running high!), but I honestly believe that the impact of fertility struggles on any relationship highly depends how those involved treat each other- communication, patience, sensitivity (but not taking things too personally), understanding, an effort from all involved to show all these qualities is a must if relationships are to continue to be strong. 

So…Christmas is basically over, the new year is looming and I feel that I have a lot to think about regarding what I want to get out of 2018. #1 Definitely being a baby! #2 Further #livinlife! #3 Ensuring that I’m (even) more honest and open. 

Once I have started the process of my next batch of treatment with my first consultation I will continue with updates, as this time my plan is to go abroad and use both donor egg and donor sperm…

Thank you mum for giving me strength (it’s Christmas after all…cheers to all absentees!)

xXx

My Personal Fertility Journey: An On Going Roller-coaster! Part VI…The Aftermath

A few weeks on and I’m not sure how much has changed…grief stricken, I’m super emotional and cry most days, telling myself that it’s okay and that I’ll soon feel better (although, over the past week it seems to have eased a little). I’ve booked a ‘bucket list’ trip (having not been abroad for 3.5yrs due to saving for the treatment, which didn’t hugely bother me), trying to look ahead to living a little without the noose that is ‘poor’ fertility (I’m not infertile!) + treatment. For the past several years, the aim of a successful pregnancy and live birth has motivated everything I’ve done. On those mornings that I got up for work, wishing that I could change my job, I reminded myself that it’s all so that I can pay for my treatment and then reap the rewards with ‘full’ maternity pay. Each year that I didn’t go on holiday so that I could pay for the treatment, I reminded myself that I will reap the rewards once I have my baby in my arms. My treatment is now over and there is no reward. I do not have any regrets, how could I? I tried and it didn’t work. However, that doesn’t dilute the pain, I tried and it didn’t work…that means that my options to have my own (biological) baby have, in a sense, almost vanished like magic. But did I know this was going to happen? I certainly had an inkling, I just chose to ignore it and hoped that my ‘feeling’ was wrong this time. 

 

Reasoning & Justifying:

In previous posts I’ve written about visualisation and about the belief that what you say, believe and put out into the universe could impact on what actually happens. I also told you about how several years ago, I told my best friend that I thought (had a ‘feeling’) that I’d struggle to conceive and that she would be fine. I was right. There are all sorts of opinions on both these ‘beliefs’ and at night I begin to wonder about them both and why I have found myself in the situation that I’m in as well as how I knew that I would struggle to conceive and how I knew that my friend wouldn’t. It’s all part of processing and coming to terms with grief. I recently read a blog post about how we (mums in waiting) wonder all sorts of things – Is this a punishment? Am I not conceiving because my body wouldn’t be able to handle pregnancy? Does G-d (if one believes in Him) have other plans for me? Is my purpose to adopt? Wanting answers…it did make me feel better knowing that how I’m feeling and what I’m thinking is totally normal and made me realise that I should try to stop wondering as it only upsets me (probably one of the reasons for feeling a little less emotional now). 

When I’m really upset I always try to put things into perspective, telling myself that I’ve been through worse and that whatever it is doesn’t compare with losing a mum at the age of 19 years old and becoming the primary carer for an 11yr old brother. But, I’m now going through something that triggers the same emotions, I have zero control over it, I feel like my children have been taken from me, those children that I’d dreamed of…while my motherly instincts linger, wait (as well as my womb). But, due to the difference in nature of losing a live person compared with losing the idea of someone or something the support differs significantly, even though both trigger grief. What doesn’t help is the reminders that I keep getting – the increased bra size (even though the rest of the pregnancy weight has gone) and the continued itchy breasts since the pregnancy in March (which resulted in miscarriage – see my post ‘Angels’), and twinges as if I’m pregnant, it feels like my body wants to be pregnant, is waiting for it…but it’s not happening. Something is certainly lingering and going on and at some point I will become a mother, one way or another. 

 

Self Preservation:

Due to the result of the treatment and the conclusion following it, I’m obviously super sensitive, as mentioned in my previous post ‘My Personal Fertility Journey: An On Going Roller-coaster! Part V…The End?’. I recently read a blog post in which the woman wrote about the effects of social media on those with poor fertility. Facebook in particular has become a platform for people to post all the happiness in their lives, and at my age that means lots of family photos, new arrivals announcements or scan pictures. Each time one of these pops up is like a stab in the heart, a trigger for the grief. She wrote that what helped her was to take control of what she allowed into her life, she ‘unfollowed’ people who either had children (cue holiday snaps, first day at school, first haircut etc.) or were pregnant and soon to be parents. To be honest, I did that about two years ago, it’s not something one can discuss with a lot of mothers with children (there are exceptions as always). I want to add that not all people with children post much about their children and also, of course, everyone has the right to post what they wish, especially for families who live across the globe. My cousin and his girlfriend have done something which I think is a fantastic idea, created a separate closed/private account on social media just for updates/photos of their little one. It means, for me, that posts aren’t necessarily going to pop up on my feed and catch me off-guard. I have taken control by choosing to follow the account user. This is different from following a friend who could post ‘happy family’ pictures at any moment to pop up and catch me off-guard whereby I then have the urge to hide posts which results in me not seeing anything at all (not a huge deal). I fully understand how this may all sound petite, but it is something that many of us who go through fertility treatment have to deal with. When I saw this blog post I was so relieved that I had someone else to talk to who understood and who I could bounce off of, someone who wouldn’t judge me or take offence. So, if you are struggling, even though there are painful posts everywhere, I’ve found some solace in social media (having hidden some people’s posts) and also, those I’ve met through social media, having gone through treatment, say that this super sensitivity does continue to ease further and the pangs significantly subside. 

When you’re going through fertility treatment everyone has something to say or offer whether you’ve asked for it or not and, in addition, everyone has thoughts about and may even be judging you on how you’re coping, what you say, your mood and your sensitivity. For ‘us’ (mothers in waiting), while going through one of the toughest experiences some of us may face plus carrying grief, we are having to be careful of what we say to friends/family so as not to upset or offend them. It’s frustrating because we’re aware that we are super sensitive but wouldn’t be had everything been fine with our fertility. And although we try to be sensitive when speaking about our feelings and thoughts, it’s much harder when people aren’t showing the same respect back, making insensitive remarks without even realising. I’ve found myself biting my tongue more than I should have needed to and I’m also fully aware that I may have been a little sharp with a couple of people (very few, considering) in response to extremely hurtful (for me) and flippant comments. Hopefully, by writing this blog I’ve enhanced awareness and understanding and also, obviously, we all know that people’s hearts are usually in the right place which is why I don’t always say something. 

It takes a huge amount of strength to protect oneself from hurt, especially one who feels the need to avoid friends with children in some way…even writing open blogs takes a certain level of bravery – who knows the reaction one might receive. In turn, it also takes an equally high level of strength not to avoid friends with children and to embrace it all and celebrate their children with them and spend lots of time with them. Either way, it can be a huge drain on some, but for some it may be just what they need; the distraction children provide can bring joy and act as a sort of therapy, many will feel both negative and positive feelings simultaneously. I recently met my best friends for lunch, both have children, they arrive with their pushchairs, sorting themselves out…for me, it’s just me, there’s no need to elaborate on this, I’ll just say that it does highlight my situation (in my own mind) and makes me feel somewhat isolated and lonely, the pang in my heart is hard to ignore. What pushes that pain away is when the little ones smile and engage with you and are happy to sit with you. In those moments, you’re forced to be happy and laugh, what better therapy. I cherish moments I have with all my ‘nieces’, those who’ve played and giggled with me and those who’ve fallen asleep on me…I count myself lucky and blessed to have those experiences and it’s extremely important for me to have a good relationship and bond with each of them, knowing that each relationship will differ, just like my relationships with their mums/dads.

I don’t believe that one should cut off their nose to spite their face…

 

So…

So now I must think about ‘What Next…?’. Well, I’ve booked my ‘bucket list holiday’, a spa weekend with the girls and a theatre trip…’What Next…?’ will come in several months, once I’ve calmed down and enjoyed my ‘Freedom From Treatment’ for a while. My ‘What Next…?’ options are to either use a donor egg or adopt…I feel, for me, that adoption is a huge deal, it’s a huge deal for the child involved. On the flip side, using an egg donor is a huge expense, which means more sacrificing, again. I am going to do a lot of research into both and will write about it all in future posts. Something that has helped me feel a little better about my new options is finding out that there are many more in my position than I realised, many women in the public eye (as well as those not in the public eye) have had to use other options and there are even mothers who have had children naturally but may choose to perhaps adopt or use a donor or surrogate the next time around due to different complications or difficulties they may have faced the first time around…What I mean by feel a little better is that I feel less alone in my experience and ultimately, when one does have a child using ‘alternative routes’ that child may struggle at some point with their identity and sense of belonging so it’s important for that child to have others that they have this in common with since this is still all relatively ‘recent’…

My Personal Fertility Journey: An On Going Roller-coaster! Part V…The End?

29.7.17

Intro…

I’ve sat down to write, unsure of what I’m going to write or how I’m going to word things. I’m not pregnant and I’ve no idea what to say or how to express how I’m feeling in order to help others understand the pain and for those going through it to be able to relate. I could say I’m disappointed, of course I am, anyone would be, but that implies that I’m okay about it, that I don’t feel any pain and that I’m simply moving on without having to address anything emotionally and psychologically. In my post ‘Coping…we’re only human’ I describe and discuss the impact of having tried for a baby with little success, I will delve a little deeper into my own feelings and thoughts in this post having now failed the 3 cycles of IVF that I’d paid for up front (one resulted in miscarriage, see my post ‘Angels’). I say ‘failed’ but at least my body responded once, in the 2nd cycle, which brings me some level of comfort. While writing and researching for ‘Coping…we’re only human…’, I came across an American website (‘resolve’ – The National Infertility Association) that offers a range of guidance regarding failed attempts, it describes one’s feelings (mainly grief) and the impact of those feelings (a wound which reopens with each failed attempt) and offers information for coping. 

So my final cycle is done and I now have to think about what I want to do, but before I can think about that I need to give myself time…time out. I was half prepared due to what the embryologist had said regarding the quality of the embryos, but I also felt that I deserved it so much and had been through a lot thus far (in life) that perhaps this time I’d catch a break and things would work out. Not so much. I was in shock at first, but I also had so much going on with work that I was very distracted…4 days later it finally began to register, this is typical of me and how I always react to sad experiences. In one way I want to go away for a while and then come back once I feel better…there is no right or wrong (like I always say), and I will deal with this in whatever way that suits me, go with the flow and hope that the hurt ceases soon. If I were a friend of mine looking on I’d see that I’m coping but only to an extent and I’d be concerned about my breaking point and want to ensure I’m keeping tabs, but when you have so much going on in your own life how do you do that? Especially when the person whom you want to ensure is okay tells you that they’re coping but behind closed doors perhaps isn’t as okay as they may make out (totally me, but I’m working on it and improving).

 

Support…

Considering my previous experiences, it often takes a while before I register then crumble and by then it’s become rather deep rooted…I’m a work in progress. So, who do I talk to?…This is tricky because there’s who I want to talk to, who I should talk to, who I can talk to…who I choose is dependent on each person’s potential level of support and how well they know or understand me. Of course, most would go to their mother for support (not an option for me), next option is a sibling and mine is great (my brother), he says the right things, things you need to hear to stop the negative thoughts embedding in one’s subconscious. But he can’t necessarily provide that affection one needs when one is sad and hurt. Fortunately, I have a partner to release to, very understanding and supportive (most of the time). However, for some their partners aren’t very good in these situations and what if, like me, your parents aren’t around? How many people have got a good few hours to come and sit with you on your sofa to listen to your pain and let you cry until your eyes are swollen and vent until the cows come home? This is when you consider whether you need some help from a professional, just so that you do have someone with whom you can release it all to which is important to prevent any kind of resentment and hurt which can manifest and become dangerous, affecting both your mind and your relationships.

 

Consider…

How do you tell your friends about how you’re feeling without triggering negative thoughts or feelings from either party (will what you say offend them)?? Some are very good at getting everything out, they view as their prerogative and some feel guilty, as if they’re being dramatic. How do you tell your friends who have got exactly what you want and want to celebrate it that right now is not the best time without offending them? How do you continue talking about it with a friend who may have recently started trying and says “I know…I don’t understand it either, I’ve been trying for a few months and I’m also struggling.”? By the time one has had a couple of failed fertility treatments they’ve been trying at least 2 years. That’s at least 24 months of failed attempts and now potentially the prospect of it never working…sensitivity is key from all parties on this subject which I’ll continue to touch on.

If you are supporting someone who’s had poor success with their treatment this will be an extremely sensitive time, with emotions running very very high. Be careful with what you say, we all want to show our support and that we care and empathise but at such a highly sensitive time the smallest thing that you say could trigger negative feelings due to the anger, upset and anxiety that the loss is causing. Right now it’s hard see the light and that’s hard to deal with – the unknown and how it will all sort itself out (because it will, eventually, one way or another…but how? When?). It is a very unsettling period with all sorts of questions hanging overhead – Will I ever have a child? How long will this all go on for? What should I do now/next? What do I want from life? Many questions which only the person asking the questions and their consultant can really answer. But with some support – someone to bounce off of and talk to about it, the person should eventually (we can’t say how long) begin to feel a little less sad, angry and anxious. Remember, this person is grieving for the loss of the child that they were expecting and haven’t got and their emotions can be triggered and come out at any moment. Something as small as seeing a ‘Baby on Board’ sign in a car, or someone saying how awful their baby was the other night or how proud they are of their child/baby, or how they need a break from it, it does sound petite but at this stage sensitivity is super high. It is very unfortunate for all involved, but all this person wants is to have a baby, they want to have baby things to discuss and moan about and it hurts that they can’t experience things such as bed time, trouble with nursing or sorting the pram. There isn’t much one can say as there isn’t anything anyone can do to solve the lack of success at this moment in time and right now, they will feel stuck. I’ve described it as feeling stuck in a portal but being able to look out at others enjoying their children, cooing and celebrating, bursting with pride. I was once stuck on a tube in a tunnel, we were there for a good 40 odd minutes when eventually all passengers had to walk to the front of the train and walk the rest of the way through the tunnel to the next station. For those who have claustrophobia it must have been awful, stuck, no way out of the situation even though they knew that eventually we would all get out and all would be fine once more. My partner was with me and suffers from claustrophobia, there was nothing that I could say or do to soothe him (I quickly realised that it was better to stay silent), I just had to let him deal with it in his own way and be by his side.

 

01.8.17

Addressing…

As well as feeling sad, angry and stuck, I also initially felt panicked. I was panicking about the amount of time I have due to my age (38yrs old) and the lack of finances. Having had my follow up consultation this morning I feel much less panicked, in fact, quite the opposite. I really don’t have to worry about rushing any longer due to the conclusion from my 3 cycles; my consultant described my eggs as misbehaving (of course!), they’re not developing as they should, it is not age related and they can’t really say why without further tests. My embryos were ‘filmed’ using a method called ‘time-lapsing’ whereby they are photographed every 10 minutes to observe their development. Being the honest and to the point man that he came across as, my consultant advised me not to consider further IVF using my own eggs (unlike some consultants who allow clients to continue on and do several more cycles) as, considering probabilities, the odds are against me. I’m aware that there have been many cases in which women have been told that they’ll struggle to conceive but have eventually been successful, so it’s not a given but I don’t really have the luxury of time. So, I now have to accept that the dream of creating and having my own child (with my DNA) has been shattered (something for those of you supporting someone to consider). I will not have the pleasure of hearing “They look just like you.” or “Your laugh is the same.” but I have had the luxury of having it said to me about me and my mum and that means the world to me. I remember having a photo taken of me sitting on the sofa holding my new baby brother (several weeks old) and thinking “One day I will be sitting on the sofa holding my own baby and I can’t wait.” I was 8 years old (30 years ago). I’ve dreamt of being pregnant, I’ve dreamt of the sleepless nights…almost everything a new mother experiences I’ve fantasised about it. So when, one by one, those experiences/dreams begin to slip away it’s very hard to swallow and even more so when having to watch others have the absolute pleasure of ‘living the dream’. I don’t know whether I will ever get pregnant and be able to hold my baby from the moment it’s born and the consequential hurt will last a long while. But, following my consultation, I know that I now don’t need to rush because if I do go for further treatment I’ll be using donor eggs, so I can relax a little, recuperate from an intense year and focus on my well-being a bit. 

 

Everyone has their own experiences and qualities…

Those I grew up with (my friends and their parents/my mum’s friends) saw how I cared for my brother, changed countless nappies, dressed him, soothed him…as we had a single mother who worked nights and then became unwell I did a lot to help as I was old enough and my maturity meant that I asked my mum questions about how to look after a baby because I was so impressed by my mum that I wanted to be similar (she was super laid back with babies) and not forgetting my dream. I watched her do almost everything on her own, she made it look very easy (I now know that it clearly wasn’t that easy), she just took everything in her stride, never panicking…but then she did say that my brother was a good sleeper. Anyway, one of the hardest challenges for me is engaging in conversations with mothers about their children/babies because I feel that I’m viewed as someone who wouldn’t understand or know as much until having one of my own. But, having had the experience I’ve had and having read as much as I have and having observed so many others and listened to many others I feel that what I have to offer is almost equally as valuable. I may not have a physical baby with me wherever I go, but, like my mum’s best friends have both said, I’ve done it, I’ve been mum. There are many Godmothers, aunts, big sisters and so on who have cried with pride when their God-child, niece/nephew or younger sibling received their exam results and who contact them on weekends to make sure that they’re okay and alive or who are called in times of need. In one sense I’ve done it and should be grateful, but in another sense I want to do it again, from day zero with my own baby in my arms. And I will…eventually! (This is me geeing myself up, trying to be positive) Clearly I just have a longer wait than anticipated and I am/will be going about having a child differently to how I’d planned (I shouldn’t be surprised, those who know me will understand why). Until then I will give myself time to calm down and wait for the upset to ease whereby I don’t get upset at the little triggers anymore. 

 

Conclusion…

So, with so many thoughts and emotions it is clear that it is such a sensitive subject and time for all involved and, therefore, above empathy, both understanding and sensitivity are key. Armed with those, one must then show patience while the emotions and sensitivity subside, then provide further support for discussion regarding next steps. And, I’d say, try to make the ‘childless mother’ that you know feel included and valued as a mother, they are a mother (in waiting), they may not be exhausted from the sleepless nights or early mornings, but they are exhausted from the intensity of the treatment over the past 18 months or so and equally emotional. In addition, while some like to live vicariously through others and are happy to ‘talk baby’, others will find ‘baby talk’ extremely challenging and it’s down to everyone else to observe and gauge which your friend/family member is. It may be that some things are very easy to engage in while other things will trigger the upset.

My mum hasn’t sung yet…she was a fat lady.

 

My Personal Fertility Journey: An On Going Roller-coaster! Part IV…Final Stretch

 

Yesterday (08.7.17) I was feeling very anxious but spent a lot of the day watching films on the sofa.

09.7.17

Two embryos were transferred into my uterus, although they are weak and slow. The embryologist was not optimistic at all, stating that, in his experience, embryos like this don’t normally continue to develop. I had different options put to me while sitting in my gown with a full bladder in theatre; do I wait another day or so to see whether or not they reach full blastocyst stage and then potentially have them frozen to be transferred next month (as I’ll have missed the window of transfer if I wait)? Do I transfer them today with the chance that they may well be abnormal? What a decision to make on a full bladder in theatre…in hind sight I wish I’d have asked for some time to think about it. I decided to transfer today, even though the embryologist said that evidence suggests freezing could increase chances by 10%-15% (as long as they reach blastocyst but that wasn’t guaranteed), because I felt that if they are abnormal my body will abort them anyway and if they’re simply slow where better for them to be than in my uterus. The embryologists response was to go with my gut instinct which I found interesting and the doctor who was doing the procedure then “You never know, you could end up with twins.” and it’s that kind of optimism I’ve tried to focus on throughout this whole cycle. I haven’t lost yet. 

So I now have 2 morulae inside me and, having been off work for the past week for recovery from the egg collection, I’m feeling a little anxious about going back in to face people at such an intense time for me with my emotions running much higher. Fortunately for me, my best friend suggested that I have a response ready for people who ask. The last thing I want to do is start talking about how everything is and how I’m feeling…I feel like I want to be left alone and not to have to talk about it but just to kind of focus in one way and get on with things in another (obviously I understand that people care and want to make sure that I’m ok…and want to hear good news). Due to the nature of the embryos this time around, I feel like I want to take a little more care of myself compared with last time…I’ve heard that said child in my previous post (My Personal Fertility Journey: An On Going Roller-coaster! Part III Full Steam Ahead) shouldn’t be in until lunch time tomorrow which takes the pressure off somewhat so all I need to think about is what I can do with the children which they can mostly get on with independently…

So now for the ‘2WW’ (Two Week Wait) – two weeks until the advised day to take the home pregnancy test. Following today’s news regarding the embryos I feel disappointed and anxious BUT! I went for acupuncture straight after the transfer and Leila said that she feels that I’ve made the right decision and that she’s had clients with the same experience who’ve gone on to give birth to healthy babies, equally she’s had clients with perfect embryos who haven’t fallen pregnant. Like I said in the ‘Angels‘ post, there is very little medics and scientists know about what is actually going on in the uterus with the embryo/fetus once they are inside, they cannot always know why attempts sometimes end without a healthy pregnancy. And, if there is an abnormality the body will abort it. At this moment in time, I believe that my embryos are not abnormal but just slow, I could be proven wrong and that’s fine, I appreciate that the body must do its’ job. 

Extra morula information – https://baby-pedia.com/morula-stage-transfer-possible/  

 

14.7.17

I’s been a hectic week, my emotions and adrenaline were both pushed sky high due to some stressful news and incidents at work. Research advises that high levels of adrenaline and stress can prevent a pregnancy from continuing. So, initially all I had to worry about was whether the embryos would develop and implant or not, then I had work stresses, then I was worrying about the effect of the work stresses on the potential pregnancy. I was so angry that I’d potentially put myself into harm’s way and felt that I needed to be away from work again. I thought about taking the following day off (Wednesday) and knew that I’d relax at home but that I may perhaps continue to worry, I then considered going in and facing work in the hope that everything would bubble over and make me feel better. I decided on the latter and I made the right decision, the day was much better and so was the rest of the week and I’m glad I followed my instinct. 

Although I feel much better and my emotions have calmed down, I still feel rather emotional, more than on my previous cycle, I’m sure due to work stresses and the fact that this is the final cycle out of the ‘3 cycle package’, but I’m wondering whether I had lingering hormones from the pregnancy at all in any way considering the fact that my embryos reacted completely differently this time compared with the previous two cycles and that my breasts have continued to itch…and today I was light headed and didn’t feel particularly well either, on top of the fact that my appetite is out of sorts and food ‘cravings’ are back. There’s no way of knowing whether it’s been a success and I’m trying to do what I did last cycle whereby I ignored every symptom and it did me well, but I am finding it more of a challenge this time around. 

Tomorrow I have acupuncture which I’m hoping will perhaps give some sort of indication but at the same time I’m also feeling rather anxious in case it is bad news, whether it be tomorrow or in a week when I take the test.

I have naughtily gone online to read things which make me feel better, I’m fully aware that I’m only reading what I want to hear but that is my objective, to calm me down, reducing the anxiety and stress. I’m also fully aware that I cannot base my own cycle and experience on anybody else’s for obvious reasons; my body is unique as are all our bodies, therefore, my embryos won’t necessarily behave in the same way as anyone else’s, in the same way that they don’t react to the meds in the same way for each cycle even in the same body with the exact same meds and dosage. 

More than half way through the cycle and half way through the 2WW.

 

15.7.17

Had acupuncture which was very peaceful, but I know nothing more than before it. I now feel that I want to talk about it with people to gain some kind of reassurance but there really is no way of knowing for sure one way or another. Last cycle I took the test 9 days after having the embryos transferred but as I have a lot going on at work and it’s only one more week left of work and only 4 days more of waiting (than last time) to take the test, I will take it once I have broken up for the summer holidays. 

 

 

My Personal Fertility Journey: An On Going Roller-coaster! Part III Full Steam Ahead…

A week before the cycle begins and I can feel the anxiety which I’m trying to ease through acupuncture and self hypnosis/visualisation…I’ve also started back at the gym. I’ve improved my eating further but I’m struggling with some stress (a challenging child) at work which is making me feel more anxious. I know that I must remain as calm and peaceful as possible but when I’ve got a stressful variable in the equation I worry, when I worry, I worry about worrying, a vicious cycle which then makes me feel unwell and troubles my sleep.

 

17.6.17:

Acupuncture 3-4 days before my 3rd and final IVF cycle (out of my 3 cycle package). I really opened up to Leila today as it’s my final go and I need to give it absolutely everything and with everything I’ve learned over the past several months I’ve realised that there is a lot going on inside me which I need support with smoothing out. The (acupuncture) pressure point which deals with my anxieties was very tingly (and painful) when the needle was put in today, it felt like I’d hit my ‘funny bone’  but it was in my foot (it felt the same on Wednesday’s session as well), this indicates the high level of sadness/anxiety I’m truly feeling. I’m glad that I’m aware of it though so that I can do something about it.

Went over to my best friend’s for the evening and had a good chat, feeling much better- more positive and rational.

 

21.6.17:

Cycle has started, called clinic- baseline scan tomorrow.

 

22.6.17:

Scan was good, all looks good! The left ovary has less follicles (4) compared with the right which has 7. Contacted Leila Bux (my fertility acupuncturist), booked in for Sunday (3 days time) to stimulate the ovaries. Asked the clinic to remind me of my previous follicle counts – a total of 6 1st time around, and 14 the 2nd time around so I’m pleased.

Clinic called to tell me to start taking my medication this evening: injections -100iu Gonal F x2 daily, 0.25ml Buserelin x2 daily, tablet – 0.25mg Dexamethasone x1 daily. I’m booked in to check progress on Tuesday (5 days time).

Continuing to visualise and use Marisa Peer’s technique, reading specific paragraphs in her book ‘Trying to get Pregnant (and Succeeding)’ twice daily, which is helping how I feel, my level of positivity.

 

25.6.17:

Acupuncture was good, looked over my previous cycle’s initial and final follicle count- initially, the left ovary had 7 and the right had 3 (the opposite to this time) but the final count improved to a total of 14 post acupuncture which reassures me about this time around.

 

27.6.17:

(The photo shows the cycle day and date across the bottom and the follicle measurements along the left side. The blue dots show the follicles from the right hand sided ovary and the yellow dots show the follicles from the left hand side ovary.)

8.30am appointment at the clinic for an internal scan and blood test to check progress from meds. The doctor who scanned me said all looked good, then afterwards in the review meeting the nurse was a little negative, saying that the follicles appeared to be growing a little slower than my last cycle. Last cycle I had a few more and they were all a little bigger and progressing at the same pace and measuring similarly as well. This cycle the follicles are a little more scattered and slightly smaller so far. I’m presuming this could mean that my egg collection won’t be on ‘cycle day 11’ like the previous cycles but perhaps day 12 or even 13. However, you never know! Things can change in a heartbeat. The nurse explained that the cause could be lingering hormones from what happened in my last cycle with the miscarriage (I do still have itchy breasts) that may be having this affect on the follicles (one follicle has zoomed ahead and is almost ready but will have to be sacrificed). But also, she added, each cycle is different. 

Leila (my acupuncturist) said all looks good so I’m focusing on the positive from what both the doctor who scanned me and Leila have said. Marisa Peer Trying to get Pregnant (and Succeeding) 2012,tells us to “…accept only positive ideas about your response to IVF…” (pg 133). I’m finding that having both Leila to discuss things with and using Marisa Peer’s technique is helping how I feel, reducing my anxiety.

 

28.6.17:

Went to my acupuncturist (Leila Bux), discussed the last appointment at the clinic and the progress so far, Leila was very reassuring and helped put my mind to rest further. She worked on the ‘weaker’ ovary (the left one which had less follicles).

 

29.6.17:

Cycle day 9 – appointment at the clinic went well, after the acupuncture the follicles in the left ovary have caught up with the ones on the right and there is even an extra one…coincidence? Who knows, but in my opinion it isn’t. I’m happy with how this cycle is going and so are the staff at the clinic so I’m feeling positive, and the continued techniques of Marisa Peer’s are certainly helping my mind, along with the acupuncture. Egg collection is due to be cycle day 13 this time…I’m hoping this means that with the follicles progressing a little slower the eggs inside them will have more time to mature which could result in more eggs to choose from or to have left over for freezing…we’ll see…

I feel like this cycle is less stressful which I think may be due to a couple of reasons – firstly, it’s my 3rd time so I know what to expect. Secondly, writing this blog has helped people around me understand the whole process more and understand how I may be feeling so they seem to be less inquisitive with some leaving me totally to it and some just ‘checking in’ quickly after appointments. 

 

01.7.17:

Scan showed fair follicular growth, the nurse predicted egg collection for Wednesday and, therefore, booked me in for another internal scan and blood test for Monday, but my consultant has requested egg collection for Tuesday (cycle day 14) first thing. Had acupuncture after the appointment and she was happy with how the follicles were looking, explaining that slow and steady is better, like she said the other day – it gives the eggs more opportunity to mature.

One thing I haven’t done enough of is drink milk, so I will try and have more.

 

02.7.17:

The trigger has been injected! This is it…no going back…feeling a little more anxious (me trying to play it down as always – it’s more than a little!!) so will try to do more meditation and visualisation…

Only a small handful of people are aware which means I’m not discussing it much and I’m just focusing on it mentally with the script (for IVF Conception) from Marisa Peer‘s book (‘Trying to Conceive (and Succeeding)’) and her advice on visualisation (as well as the meditation during acupuncture).

 

4th July ’17!:

Egg collection – got up just before 7am to be at the clinic just after 8am; all went smoothly, was in and out within 2 hours, the quickest yet, usually I’m there for 3-4 hours. 100% success – all follicles had eggs (first time)…Marisa Peer’s script for ‘IVF Conception’ self hypnosis, Marisa Peer Trying to get Pregnant (and Succeeding) 2012, reads …’You achieve 100% success at egg collection…’ (pg 132). Later on I continued to repeat phrases form the script and visualised, putting ‘it’ out in the universe. The sentence in the script continues …’and 100% at fertilisation, and 100% success at egg transfer.’ (pg 132). 

Each time I’ve been under general anaesthetic I’ve responded differently, this time felt like a hangover.

 

05.7.17:

This time my fibroids have disappeared, this can apparently happen as a result of a pregnancy (my last IVF cycle) and means that there is less swelling and discomfort around my uterus. Had acupuncture today to ease the swelling, Leila said that at this point in my last cycle my tummy was very swollen and that I didn’t look well at all, this cycle is the inverse which is good. 

The embryologist called first thing this morning with good news – six out of the nine eggs collected have fertilised and are doing well, I’m therefore booked in for 5 days time to have blastocysts transferred. From now on I will be focusing on my mind and body, resting to ensure my swelling goes down and for my subconscious to have only positive thoughts, ready for the transfer.

Feeling positive (even though a little anxious, of course)- there’s no reason for it not to work this time, last time I fell pregnant, my womb was receptive…this time the same will happen but the embryo will continue to develop into a fetus then into a healthy strong baby for me to give birth to. I’m putting out into the universe.

I’ve successfully managed to continue to keep it on the down low and those who do know are also continuing to give me the space I need which I really appreciate. It’s allowed me to focus more on what I need to and keeping the anxiety at bay as sometimes talking about it can trigger negative emotions – sadness, anxiety etc.

 

06.7.17

Beautiful start to the day weather wise, no sign of the pending thunder and showers as yet, in fact the whole week has been much better weather than anticipated…no news – no news is good news! Well done embryos! You’ll be back in my womb very soon.

Feeling better as each day passes and my mind is beginning to feel a lot clearer as well, due to the time off for recovery. I’ve realised that a week off at this point in the cycle, and even before egg collection and after egg transfer is essential for such an invasive procedure and an intense experience. I do appreciate the distraction of work to a point which is why I didn’t take any more time off than I have.

 

09.7.17

‘Angels’

 

 

Introduction:

When I miscarried on my most recent IVF cycle, my consultant told me that a miscarriage is technically an abortion, he went on to explain that essentially it is a natural abortion whereby the body decides to abort the embryo/fetus/baby often due to its’ abnormality. What we usually consider to be an abortion refers to a conscious decision of ours to ‘get rid of’ and what we consider to be a miscarriage is not a conscious decision of ours, but the body’s decision to abort it. Either way, whatever one has been through, one can be highly affected by it and I wouldn’t ever want to engage in a discussion to compare the two considering the sensitive nature of the subject. Two close people have confided in me about their decision to abort, they said that they think about that (potential) child daily as do some who have ‘miscarried’. The thought that the body decides to take control of a situation that we are totally unaware of is something I prefer to focus on, it’s one of many reasons for which I feel we must give our bodies huge credit, an aspect that we take for granted and, in addition, can have many negative feelings about. But what an amazing thing! That our bodies are so advanced that they do such things automatically, on their own; it is a conscious decision, not by us as we know it but by nature.

We have very little information (due to the complexities) about what’s going on inside the uterus with the baby during a pregnancy and whether or not there are devastating abnormalities which can be detected. Some less harmful abnormalities are never detected and, even once the baby’s born, can take several years to identify. Although it is incredibly saddening to lose a baby at any stage, especially when you really want one or have been trying to conceive for a long time, there is a positive and on the flip side, although it can be very worrying and demanding to have a child with special needs, they continue to bring joy with their personalities and successes. As a teacher, I’ve worked with all sorts of children, with all sorts of needs, some due to nature and some due to nurture, both types of children are equally joyful and fun, which is what I see children as bringing to life – joy and fun! 

So, if you’ve got an angel up above, keep in mind that the body has done it’s job, it’s done what we need it to do in that particular circumstance and try not to be angry with your body or feel like its failing you in some way, in fact it’s doing the absolute opposite for you.

 

Reasons & Types:

There are a range of different reasons for a miscarriage and often we end up with very little explanation, only that there was an abnormality; I wouldn’t expect a doctor to know exactly what was going on. How could they? For some it may be that the fetus died/stopped developing, for others it may be that there was a different kind of abnormality. Most women who miscarry before the 12 week scan will never know. Mine was that the embryo had stopped developing (due to a chromosomal abnormality) and, although the gestational sac continued to grow, it was empty (I know because when one is going through fertility treatment scans are carried out from 6 weeks, observing the fetus’s development). This is known as a blighted ovum. I’d never heard of it but once I’d researched into it I realised that it counts for 40% of miscarriages, very common. With this said, I couldn’t find much information about it or people’s experiences of it, so again, hence this blog.

There are also a range of ways in which a miscarriage will happen, some women have very similar experiences and some are totally different. Some experiences can be extremely traumatic which result in hospitalisation and some are very simple and quick to recover from. There are different ways in which a miscarriage will be dealt with, there are both procedures and treatments as some need the fetus removed using either a procedure or medication (those for which it happens naturally may not need any intervention). I had the SMM (procedure) but there was still some residue when I went for my scan (to check all was well), for which my acupuncturist (who specialises in fertility) gave me some Chinese herbs for and which completely did the trick (some may say it was coincidence). 

Many feel the need to have answers for the cause of their miscarriage, but like I said earlier, the body will abort anything which shows signs of abnormalities. Some women have several miscarriages and some only have one. One friend told me that before having each of her children she miscarried, almost like a ritual. In addition to the need for answers, many women feel a sense of huge guilt and failure once a miscarriage occurs – my body is incapable of doing things correctly, my body can’t make a baby properly, my body won’t hold on to a baby, what’s wrong with me, did I do something which caused harm…the list goes on. Again, remember, usually a miscarriage is for the best, have faith in your body for doing what it knows best and if you have a few consecutive miscarriages then seek advice from a professional. Remember, many many women have miscarriages and those who ‘haven’t’ may have but just thought that they were ‘late’, nature knows exactly what it’s doing, have faith in it. And many women who miscarry often fall pregnant soon after! Research suggests trying to conceive within three months of a miscarriage improves chances of conceiving and going full term.

 

Coping:

Grief – any loss will trigger grief, the breakdown or loss of any kind of relationship, home, job…and, of course, miscarriage. It is important to acknowledge the fact that you have actually lost something and, for which, you need to grieve, something you were excited about and, for some, already felt a huge amount of love and protection for. Having coped with grief a few times myself (primarily and mainly for the loss of my mum), it’s important for me to be aware of how I’m feeling and to have someone with whom I can share my feelings and thoughts with. It is also important to understand grief itself, it has different stages and, in my opinion, is also on a spectrum – each individual will experience the different stages of grief in either more extreme or more moderate ways. When you understand the stages of grief you can rationalise how you’re feeling more and understand why. Never feel guilty or embarrassed of how you’re dealing with it, it is YOUR way! There’s no right or wrong here. I remember while at my mum’s funeral, a friend of hers whose daughter I’d fallen out with several years prior (and was no longer friends with) was overheard saying to my friend’s mum that I didn’t seem to be upset enough (pure ignorance, I took no notice). Never allow yourself to take on board other people’s opinions on how you should grieve or deal with such emotional experiences! If it is someone close to you perhaps you could talk them through what’s going on and share what you’ve learned about grief to help them understand you better and how to help and support and if you need to talk with someone else, ensure that you’re completely honest with them so that they can help you properly.

In the same way that each miscarriage differs, so too does the way in which women deal with the suffering, some choose to join groups, some choose to write diaries, some go for some form of private therapy and some, like me, choose simply to ignore it and keep going (although I have had therapy previously and I do recommend it). There’s no right or wrong, as long as you’re coping and it’s not affecting you too much. 

Any angel (lost baby), whether they’ve been consciously aborted or ‘miscarried’, may remain in their parents hearts forever, and although loss is not thought of as a positive experience, losing a baby may give you more strength and a new, healthier perspective on life. Whenever we lose, we learn in some way and it’s so important to try to look for the positives in life. My mum having terminal cancer meant that I saw many parts of the world that I may not have seen and had experiences that I may not have had otherwise (she saw it as an opportunity to make the most of the time left) and perhaps, had I not lost her, I wouldn’t be able to put things into perspective in the way that I can now (most of the time, as I do have my moments, as we all do). Once she passed I truly saw the strength that I was given which gave me a new confidence, I was suddenly more aware of myself and these two qualities gave me an enhanced sense of control over some things that I never knew I had.

Many of us have miscarried without even ‘fully knowing’…I miscarried in 2003, I wasn’t completely sure whether it was a miscarriage or not at the time, I was young and naive with nobody to talk to about it, but a couple of years later I learned more about it and realised that it was a miscarriage for certain. I still remember it clearly and even though I didn’t feel ready for a child at that time I do regret that it didn’t go full term and I always think about what stage of life it would be at. It was years before I shared it, I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know how others would react (whether they’d believe me) and also my way of dealing with things is to keep going and not make a drama out of them. There’s not enough awareness about it considering how common it is, were people more open about their experiences perhaps more of us would start talking about it as well. It wasn’t until a couple of people told me that they’d suffered a miscarriage that I opened up too and began to realise how common it is, more than we realise; often we may think we’re late but, in fact, we may well have miscarried. Of course, sometimes a late cycle may simply be the result of others factors. 

There is now a lot of support for those who’ve lost a baby or miscarried, but I wouldn’t advise seeking it simply because you want answers, one goes for support to deal with the emotions triggered, the trauma of it. Like I said earlier, the reason isn’t necessarily always clear. Fertility issues occur for all sorts of reasons, and as long as we are aware, we must take as much care of ourselves as possible, both physically and mentally.

 

Further Links (explanations, treatments, symptoms):

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Miscarriage/Pages/Introduction.aspx

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/miscarriage.aspx

Coping…we’re only human…

For starters, I want people to be aware that when people have been trying for a baby with little or no success and have had to go down the route of fertility treatment and have had numerous rounds, the emotional impact can potentially be quite devastating. Many, sometimes without even realising, feel grief, grief for the loss of the baby they expected to have by now, for the thought that they may not ever have a baby. It’s imperative that everyone is aware of this, whether you know someone or are someone going through it. Having lost my mum just before I was 20, I recognise the feeling and the thoughts which go with it; the pain I feel and thoughts I have about not holding my baby in my arms yet is almost equal to the pain I feel and thoughts I have daily for not being able to be held in my mum’s arms. The problem with grief is, if left to manifest, it can result in depression and once one has depression, however mild it may be, it can always be triggered and requires a lot of control and even ‘training’ (that’s my perception of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – CBT, training the mind). Another thing to consider is – when has one reached the point at which they’re not coping and need intervention (support/therapy)? How do we know whether we’re at breaking point? I came across an American website (‘resolve’ – The National Infertility Association) which offers all sorts of information about infertility, including advice on coping with it. It describes unexplained infertility as a wound which reopens with each unsuccessful cycle (whereby one does not give birth to a healthy baby), and with each round the grief is triggered; it isn’t just with each IVF cycle, it’s also triggered each time a friend or family member gets pregnant and then gives birth to a new baby and the fact that such a negative feeling surfaces,at what is supposed to be a celebratory time, can make us feel even worse (due to the guilt).

So how does one cope with this? Everyone has their own way. First, one must acknowledge how they’re feeling and secondly must make those around them aware (I find this very challenging). It can feel like you’re making a mountain out of a mole hill, BUT if professionals recognise the emotional impact on us (as grief) then we can rest assured that we are certainly not making something out of nothing and simply being dramatic but instead need support, compassion and understanding with a whole load of sensitivity on top. I’ve struggled with some people’s lack of understanding and sensitivity towards me during the experience and have had to explain myself a lot, like I’ve said in other posts – no need to feel guilty about how we’re feeling or how much we wish to share, this is OUR experience.

Once we’ve made that initial step and shared how we’re feeling and looked for the right support/therapy, we can all cope. However, one can feel quite overwhelmed with emotions and to look into help can also be daunting for some, especially if you don’t know where to start. There is a lot of information available online, it’s important to keep an open mind and for the people around you to do the same. I had people telling me what they did or what someone they knew did, this helped, it gave me something to work with, a starting point. Don’t forget that the clinic will also offer counselling (they have to legally) and have information about where else you can find support.

Use your friends as well; I’d pick a friend with whom you have confidence in and feel comfortable with to confide in, who will be able to support you in a way which makes you feel like they’re almost in it with you, making the right kind of suggestions to help you cope with it all (not about the treatment as it’s extremely complicated and you’ll have discussed options with the consultant), making sure they fully understand what you’re talking about, how you’re feeling and why and, at all times, showing sensitivity. It’s not easy talking about it but it is important if you are to cope. You may want to have a few friends, I wouldn’t have too many or you’ll find that it’s all you’re talking about and it’s equally important to be able to forget for a bit and talk about other things without having the treatment underlying and waiting to come up. It’s really important to be honest as well, IVF can affect all sorts of relationships so it’s important that whoever you choose is someone who is non-judgemental and understands the complexities of the situation and strains you and your nearest and dearest are under. 

Therapies-

Alternative therapy: Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, Homeopathy, Cupping, Maya Fertility Massage, Hypnotherapy, Meditation & Visualisation

Emotional (mental) therapy: Hypnotherapy (again), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Neuroscience Therapy, Counselling

AND MANY MORE!

All these therapies have practitioners who specialise in fertility, there is research for all of them and more, all with similar positive findings (although not hugely significant, but enough for me). None are harmful so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain! Of course, research is important when choosing the right type for you and you can go with multiple therapies simultaneously as long as they compliment each other.

I often wonder whether the trauma of losing my mum has had such an impact on my mind that it’s caused an imbalance and is affecting my ability to conceive and carry a baby. Many people have lost a parent, but we all deal with it in different ways as it affects us in different ways, plus we were extremely close, she was my ‘bestest’ friend. I’m wondering whether it has affected me more deeply than I thought and perhaps due to the closeness we had. If I’m still trying to cope daily with the loss of my mum how can my body be strong enough and have all its’ chemicals balanced appropriately and a smooth chi for a successful full term pregnancy? On the other hand could it be my negative thoughts and anxiety about conceiving – when I told my friend “I think I will struggle to conceive, even though I come from a seemingly ‘fertile family’, simply because I want a child so much.” this planted negative thoughts into my subconscious which not only affects the chemicals bodies produce and one’s chi, but may also affect how the body responds to an embryo/fetus.

I chose my first form of therapy – Acupuncture, to try and help with the sadness I carry from losing my mum and try to help improve my balance (Chi). I researched into fertility specialists and found one that I thought was suitable for me (Leila Bux). It has helped me in various ways and I notice the difference in myself when I haven’t been, in addition, Leila is such a lovely lady, so easy to talk to and understands completely what fertility treatments entail and, therefore, gives good guidance as well. She acts as a counsellor, I have to tell her everything I’m feeling and thinking in order for her to treat the right areas in order for the sessions to be successful and my payment to be worth it. I was also very interested in Maya Fertility Massage but they’re both pricey and I felt it was indulgent to do both.

After a long while, a friend recommended a ‘speaker’ (Marisa Peer) on ‘self hypnosis’ (that’s what I call it) and when researching her, unbeknown to my friend, I found out that following her own fertility issues she created a programme to help others. She explains how our anxieties about becoming pregnant can prevent success (referring to them as ‘Baby Blocks’), so I bought her book ‘Trying to get Pregnant (and Succeeding)’ and registered for her free videos and, again, I’ve noticed that I feel more positive from it. One hears of so many people’s experiences of ‘self hypnosis’ and visualisation. It is something that one must commit to completely though to truly reap rewards, I’m constantly telling myself affirmations and reminding myself to visualise. I realised that I’d planted negative thoughts into my subconscious (when I started expressing worries that I would struggle to conceive, long before I’d even started trying) and have continued to use phrases which start with ‘I hope…’, ‘Hopefully this time…’, ‘Fingers crossed’, which, even hearing others use the same phrases when speaking about the treatment, can potentially be harmful to the subconscious. For this reason I don’t like the phrase ‘unexplained infertility’ as it’s negative, it implies that we can’t conceive, but we can, it’s possible, many women have been told that they’d never conceive due to medical conditions but defied the doctors’ prognoses. This proves that there is a lot more for them to learn about how the body works and perhaps how significant a part the mind may play. The word ‘unsuccessful’ regarding fertility treatments – another negative which implies that there have been zero successes all the way, Marisa Peer advises us to focus on the positives – if you reach the point of the egg transfer, you’ve had 100% success at every stage up until then – follicle count, egg collection, fertilisation to transfer and for some even implantation (like my last one). Alongside the visualisation and affirmations she advises us to walk down the baby aisles in the supermarket or even go into baby shops and have a browse to see what we’d buy our expected baby. As painful as it can be and having spent so long avoiding them so as not to be reminded of the ‘loss’ and feel further grief, it does make me feel stronger, more in control and more positive. Marisa believes that if we practice all these techniques our subconscious believes that we are expecting a baby, getting rid of our negative thoughts about it (baby blocks), which tells the body to act accordingly, I’ve even bought an item for the baby (a form of visualisation) which I see daily as soon as I wake and just before I go to sleep which is when the subconscious is most sensitive and receptive. 

I want to end with this – if you start telling yourself that it will happen you start to see it, if you see it you start to believe it, if you believe it it’ll happen! Get your support, think positively and believe you can do it!

 

My Personal Fertility Journey: An On Going Roller-coaster! Part II An extremely personal account

…I’m going to take a couple of steps back to put everything into context (here’s the detail). 

NB – It’s a long one! Get a cuppa…or glass of vino!!

*Please read ‘IVF:The Process‘ to further understand the journey – I’d had 9 days of approximately: 3 vaginal scans, 3 blood tests, injections 3x daily plus a tablet then the egg collection under general anaesthetic (plus recovery), the egg transfer and finally the ‘2 week wait’. I was pumped with medication, had super swollen ovaries and fibroids which caused huge discomfort as the fibroids were pushing against my uterus and I was highly hormonal (for obvious reasons) and feeling guilty due to all the disruption to my job. **What helped me keep my cool? You’ll soon find out…  

When going through IVF you’re monitored regularly which is different to those who fall pregnant naturally, take the test and then go in for the ‘3 month’ scan. I went in to check my HCG level (pregnancy hormone) after getting a positive on my home pregnancy test, the test indicated that the level was a little low so I was told I’d need another test a few days later, this time it had dropped slightly which, the clinic told me, indicated that the embryo had died. When going through fertility treatment and having a positive pregnancy test, clinics will test you once or twice a week to follow your HCG level (back down to zero if there’s sign of failed pregnancy)…when I went the following week to check, my HCG had risen (significantly), the clinic had never witnessed this (and I couldn’t find anything online regarding fluctuating HCG levels, hence this blog). I had a couple of scans and another HCG check over the following several days and, although my HCG continued to rise, the gestational sac seemed abnormal whereby they couldn’t quite see if there was anything growing inside it yet (yolk sac), and I found out that the HCG level will continue to rise as long as there’s a developing gestational sac (another instance I couldn’t find information about online).

The clinic told me to refer myself to an Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) on the NHS as I’d need continued checks which is free on the NHS. By this point I was in a bit of a mess emotionally as I’d been told I was pregnant, then that the embryo had died, then that I actually was pregnant, but OH NO!- There’s a problem…so a few hours after being told about the abnormality (and also calling work in a mess to say that I wouldn’t be in, again) I’d managed to refer myself to Queen Charlotte’s EPU (West London, where I was born, I chose it as it’s a ‘baby specialist’ hospital). Remember- I’m a primary school teacher and all this meant last minute time off (*thank you SLT for your compassion!). Initially the receptionist on the telephone at the EPU told me that I’d need to be referred by a doctor but when I explained my situation she checked and I was told to go in ASAP! NB– Always push for what you want with the NHS, I find they’re reasonable once you reason calmly with them. I came out of the unit feeling much better; they told me that all looked fine and to go back in 2 weeks. A week later was when the ‘Morning Sickness’ began, although for me it was waves of nausea all day and night, worse in the morning and it woke me in the nights, I wore the motion sickness bands which certainly helped me…I’d never been so happy to feel sick! This was a positive sign- my body was reacting well to the ‘pregnancy’ and it was further than I’d ever got. I’d also started to ‘show’- my body was changing, bigger breasts, bloated stomach…the scan was approaching and I was at a point where I needed new clothes/underwear, but I wanted to wait for the result of the scan. Not good news- the sac had continued to grow but the embryo had not, referred to as a blighted ovum, so I was booked in for a final scan (to double check that the embryo hadn’t grown) the following week with the prospect of an ‘induced miscarriage‘. Legally the gestational sac must reach 25mm before removing it.

Devastated, but having been prepared and having miscarried 14 years ago it wasn’t as hard as it could have been. I bought new clothes, just a bigger size (not maternity). I was still very pleased with how the ‘cycle’ had gone and that my body proved its’ receptiveness to embryos and can fall pregnant (a worry I’d had). For me, it was like being in battle, fighting through soldiers with swords, defeating some and getting hurt by others – although it had gone well, more friends were pregnant now (one cannot deny the pain and resentment with one’s own situation each time a friend/family member falls pregnant). It’s hard to talk about with people, people don’t know what to say and often there are others around or you’re in a public place. Had my mother been alive, this whole experience would have been different (still hard, but there’s nothing like a mother’s hug, where you cry endlessly to release all the hurt and where you know she won’t let go until you feel better, however long it takes). However, this is my life and it’s one of many situations where I’ve needed her but have pulled through, and I have more to come (this thought doesn’t make it easier).

So, the final scan showed that nothing had changed, the sac had also stopped growing, my options were- take a tablet which induces a ‘natural’ miscarriage, wait for my body to naturally abort it or have a procedure whereby it’s removed (Surgical Management of Miscarriage known as SMM or D&C). I went for SMM, a friend had had one, I’d also found out that a friend’s family member was due to give birth the same week as me, also miscarried and had chosen to wait for her body to abort it itself, there’s no right or wrong and having heard of her experience I wouldn’t say which is best as it depends on each individual. 

The day of the procedure was not smooth, they didn’t have me down and I therefore had to wait, having arrived at 10.45am I waited in a bed on a ward, nil by mouth until I was eventually seen for the procedure at 7.45pm. People couldn’t believe it when I told them, some felt that I should complain, I did nag them a little but saw no point in losing my temper, understanding the pressures of the NHS and being a teacher myself (under similar pressures)…

**What helped me keep my cool? My mother’s words which played in my mind over and over, even though I felt very alone and felt the absence of my mum more so, her words kept reminding me of how lucky I am to have food and shelter and that a day waiting at the hospital without food is nothing in the grand scheme of things. Her constant reminders of how grateful I should be and not complain are what always help me through these types of instances. She’d often remind me that there have been, and still are, people living through war, are starving and living in much worse circumstances than us (thank you mum for giving me something to hold on to through the years which provides me with the strength and perspective I always need).

If I’d have had someone there I’d have felt bad about how long it was all taking, which is an extra stress (except for if that person was my mum, of course). I’d like to add here that I was collected from the hospital (I was discharged at midnight!) by my fantastic cousin who was close to my mum and had her in her thoughts, she waited in the wings and very kindly came out at that time, looked after me and dropped me home. The procedure went well and I then had to wait for a scan to check how my uterus was (once my next period had come and gone), in the meantime the bleeding was on and off with painful cramps as well for a couple of weeks. My period came a month after the procedure which, again, I was really pleased about as for some it can take months before a natural cycle takes place. Once that was over I had the scan (HyCoSy) to check my tubes and uterus and all was well, I had the go ahead for the next IVF cycle.

I want to make clear that at each stage I’m grateful for the positives and the only problems are my emotions, which I’m working on controlling and will discuss strategies and therapies in my post ‘Coping‘.

IVF: The Process…

With more people turning to fertility treatment or being more openly vocal about it, the prospect of needing IVF is being imposed on many people’s minds, and with it worries over whether it may work. For some this is where the IVF journey begins; fortunately for most, it’s also where it ends – with just their thoughts. 

Those about to embark on IVF, or those already going through it, all have their own way of dealing with it; some don’t wish to discuss it at all due to the sensitive nature of it. When someone wants to ask another about their IVF experience, what they could be forgetting is that this obstacle isn’t a new one, emotions are high due to having tried for what can seem like a very long time with little or no success. Already, one can feel very anxious, upset and frustrated with their situation and may not wish to discuss it when asked. On the other hand, there are many who are ‘fine’ discussing it, and actually find that sharing their experience is a form of stress release; like all negative things in life, many don’t wish to share with everyone, but perhaps need to share with their absolute nearest and dearest.

The first step towards IVF is to acknowledge that perhaps assistance is required, once the decision to check whether assistance is indeed needed has been made, and having been to the GP, the appointments begin – scans and blood tests – very invasive, emotionally and physically. The desperation can begin to settle into the mind along with more anxiety, having been worried for a while as to why there’s been no success as yet, this can result in…lots of tears. People continue with their lives, going to work everyday, meeting up with friends, going to family gatherings etc. All the while, consciously or subconsciously, thinking about what they’re going through, for most at this stage – secretly. Those who have told people that they’ve started the road to fertility treatment often end up being asked about their treatment – this can happen at ‘drinks out’, weddings, birthdays… often inappropriate times and places. The IVF process is a complex one which requires a lot of explanation, not the type of subject one can discuss in detail at public gatherings and not one which can be explained fully without a few cuppas and slices of cake on the sofa with just some friends or family (in my opinion and experience), as it can be emotional to discuss and needs a lot of time in a comfortable, safe and private environment. 

Once the initial checks are complete, and whether something is found or not, a referral is made to a hospital or one researches into assistance themselves (a ‘big job’), conjuring up many negative thoughts (‘Why me?’ etc). After the first consultation, time is required to process all the information and what the IVF actually entails. What many don’t realise is that those first few appointments (checks & consultations) is only just the beginning, a taster, the start of many many appointments, this is when it really starts. 

The pressure is suddenly increased threefold, it can affect all sorts of relationships – family, partner, friendships, simply due to emotions running high. There’s disruption to daily routines for appointment after appointment, some struggle to relax and enjoy celebrations or ‘dos’ due to checks the following day or having to go home to inject. Alternatively, some don’t mind the process at all, they see it as something they are doing in order to receive the best reward imaginable, going home to inject can become part of the excitement of the pending baby and it can also strengthen some relationships!!

The next step is when the cycle starts, what will the consultant be looking at now- the meds are stimulants, so the consultant wants to monitor the amount of follicles (the eggs are contained in the follicles), some follicles are empty but whether they contain eggs or not won’t be apparent until ‘egg collection’ (ET). Not only will they be looking at the amount but also the follicles’ growth- whether they’re all growing at similar rates or whether some are growing faster. Where there are follicles growing at different rates, one could end up with fewer eggs for fertilisation. When the biggest (most mature) follicle has reached its peak the ‘trigger’ is injected, a hormone which releases all the follicles ready for egg collection. If the follicles haven’t all grown at similar rates, and there are some which haven’t reached maturity, only those which have reached maturity will fertilise (if at all- some simply don’t fertilise for all sorts of reasons). My 1st cycle was a little like this but my 2nd cycle was much better due to the ‘short protocol‘ plan my consultant created, which aids increased control over the follicles. This is an anxious time for all, and as well as the follicles being monitored, the uterine lining is too and both of which are checked using a trans-vaginal ultrasound. In addition, regular blood tests are also required to monitor hormone levels, and as a result of all these checks, women end up going into clinics every couple of days for the 1st 11 days or so of the cycle. I personally don’t mind any of these appointments as I really like my clinic, staff there get to know you quickly and always smile (I know, it’s their job!).

Around the 11th day of a cycle is when the eggs are collected, another emotional time- How many did I produce? How healthy are they? As the procedure requires anaesthetic, recovery can take a few days and without the distraction of work or the usual daily routine, some can become more anxious, waiting for an update on the eggs- Have they fertilised? Are they going to make the 3-5 day mark in order to be transferred back in? 

If you’re fortunate enough to have eggs transferred (a fertilised egg put into the uterus) you’ve done amazingly well, you’ve succeeded at every step and now it’s the ‘2 week wait’ (2WW), this is the time between egg transfer and taking the pregnancy test. Two weeks of hoping, wondering…some constantly looking for symptoms, reading online fertility forums which can either provide a sense of relief or further anxiety (DON’T READ ONLINE FERTILITY FORUMS!). My 1st cycle didn’t result in implantation, but I felt that I had all the symptoms, having read online what others’ experiences were, I really believed that I was pregnant. My 2nd cycle was completely different – I didn’t read a thing online and I ignored any symptom, telling myself that they were simply from the meds and to relax and get on with my life (I was indeed pregnant! – Read ‘My Personal Journey’). Once the end of the ‘2WW’ is nigh, some cannot wait to take their pregnancy test, while others can feel too anxious and put it off, some feel both and battle with themselves as to what to do.

A true roller-coaster of emotions and events…for further information click this link

My Personal Fertility Journey: An Ongoing Roller-coaster! Part I

Currently coasting, having just taken a few corkscrews! I’ve read some blogs where posts give very detailed (and, in my opinion, long) accounts of people’s experiences, don’t expect too much detail from me. This post is my own experience, meaning it is my own perspective on it and my own feelings towards the different aspects of it (there’s no right or wrong way to think or feel about one’s own experience and it’s important to consider that at all times when going through something). Naturally, you will develop your own thoughts and feelings about how you’d feel if you were to go through the same experiences or have felt having gone through them…and, in addition, what you feel/think about my thoughts/feelings.

I’m unsure as to when my journey actually began…did it begin when I first thought “I can’t wait to have children…”? Or when my anxiety about not being able to conceive set in (with no evidence and having not even tried)? I remember sitting in my best friend’s garden one summer’s afternoon, discussing the future and, of course, having children (about 7 years ago) and I said that I think I will struggle to conceive, even though I come from a seemingly ‘fertile family’, simply because I want a child so much (irrational reasoning, I know!). I will discuss this at some other time. For now, I’ll start from not having conceived naturally with my partner (having tried for 7 months).

Seven months isn’t long, we’re told, but…I was 32 years old and anxious, so I lied to the doctor and said we’d tried for one year. My partner has 3 children from a previous relationship, so the NHS clinic we were referred to wouldn’t give us the treatment for free, I now know that if you check their policies you may find a loop hole and they may have to give you one free attempt…!

The Bridge Centre, here I come (see my posts How To Find The Most Suited Clinic & Clinics & Treatments)! Naively, I decided to try IUI first, which was unsuccessful (surprise, surprise!), as I don’t agree that this treatment should be available, I won’t waste time on it- DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY, TIME OR ENERGY ON IUI!! Fertility treatment is stressful in many ways, IUI doesn’t have great success rates (whatever the statistics say) and it can result with you feeling even more anxious and emotional than you did prior to it. Starting with IVF as a first attempt at fertility treatment could help, as your attitude and mind set will be healthier, and as some of us are aware, mind set can have a significant affect on conceiving.

I chose a package called ‘3 Cycle Natural IVF Package‘ (I basically got one cycle ‘free’). The first cycle is a basic attempt based on your hormone levels and scans, for some this can result in a successful cycle whereby you fall pregnant, going full term and giving birth to a live baby. For me (and most others going through IVF), the first cycle was ‘unsuccessful’. I’m using the word ‘unsuccessful’ but I don’t like it, so I’m going to change it (again, I will discuss this some other time, along with my beliefs about my fertility prior to trying). So, the first attempt didn’t result in a pregnancy, but I did have a ‘5 day blastocyst‘ which was a huge relief! The first cycle is a learning curve- controlling your emotions and anxieties, focusing, learning to change how you think- trying to learn positive thinking…and all the injections- pumping you with hormones and coping with the pain and soreness from the needles. I felt very isolated and alone. The whole experience, although I practised positive thinking and meditation, became quite negative, one can begin to resent it. I cried a lot. Luckily, I did it while I had time off work as it can become your life/disrupt your life for a month. After not conceiving I became very down, depressed, I needed time to regain my strength and sooth my wound.

Cycle 2 (5 months later, with Christmas in between), 3 friends had had babies and 3 more were pregnant. I decided it was time to try again, especially as the package contract provides you with a one year deadline to use up all 3 cycles. This time I was prepared for the injections (even though I dreaded them, I was hopeful that knowing what I now knew I’d manage it all better), I had a better idea of what was to come and the ‘treatment plan’ had been drawn up based on how cycle 1 went, it was more suited to my needs. Once I got the details I researched into the meds and found out that the plan is known as ‘short protocol‘ (as oppose to long protocol which is also a treatment plan). It sounded good to me, seemed to ‘address my needs’ (couldn’t think of a better way of putting it). I felt confident in the plan and also in my consultant and rightly so…‘Cycle 2’ was a good cycle! I’d injected myself 3 times daily and had a tablet to take as well (felt like a marathon). I knew that I had to spread the injections out across my tummy, alternating sides/areas so that I wasn’t injecting areas recently injected into, which relieved soreness and, in turn, how I’d previously felt when injecting (if only someone had told me this on my first cycle!). I was going in for scans/blood tests 2 to 3 times a week, meaning I was having to go into work late (an added stress for a primary school teacher), but the staff at the clinic were great and, fortunately, my managers were accommodating. Two ‘5 day blastocysts’ were transferred and one implanted- fantastic news! The treatment worked! However, although one of the embryos implanted and even though the gestational sac continued to grow, there was something not quite right…

see ‘Part II