Fat

I’m fat. A human egg factory.

This is concerning or cheering, depending on your point of view, as I’m only four injections down on the stims  (fifth tonight) and probably 10 days before my egg collection.

What size am I going to be by then?

I already hate my body. It’s still bikini weather where I am. This sucks.

Can’t I just have a baby from having sex? Seems like a much more enjoyable way of making a family.

Ugh.

Advertisements

Always trust your instincts

Today I met up with the rheumatologist doctor who helpfully arranged for me to have approximately 750,000 different immune-related and other types of tests a few weeks ago. As I have Raynaud’s Syndrome which can be an immune-related condition, we have been investigating the possibility that I could be having some immune related issues with keeping embryos alive and growing in my uterus.

I really like my rheumatologist doctor, let’s call him Dr J.  I wish he was actually my full time doctor, but he is a specialist so I only get to hang with him for special stuff.  He went through the extensive (and expensive!!!) test results with hubby and me and tried to play it cool that mainly I’m perfectly okay, but that there are a couple of things I should look into.

What were those things you ask?  Well number one is my thyroid.  Yes, that thing that practically every other IVF doctor in the world tests before starting treatment.  Does my doctor test for this?  No.  I am furious.

Turns out that my thyroid TSH reading comes in at 8.01. Ideally you want to be at 1.0-2.0 for conceiving (normal is 0.2-5.0). This means that I have hypothyroidism. A quick google will show you that hyperthyroidism is a cause of miscarriage.  Oh do you think the IVF doctor might have mentioned that to me after TWO CONSECUTIVE MISCARRIAGES?! No.

Thyroid issues are treatable fairly easily it seems and so off I go next week to chat with an endocrinologist.  The list of doctors on my payroll continues to grow!

Then there is a nice thing called Antithrombin III.  It’s something all about clotting. A normal range is 260-447.  Mine came in at 244 so a little bit low but maybe not super scary low.  In any case Antithrombin III deficiency is another cause of miscarriage.

Finally, there are some things called Complement C3 and C4.  These are also related to immune stuff.  Again, my readings come in below normal suggesting I have a deficiency here.  These are also linked to miscarriage.

Anyone noticing a trend here?

So let’s have a recap of things that could be causing my recurrent miscarriages:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Antithrombin III deficiency
  • Low complement C3 and C4 proteins
  • PCOS
  • Surgery on a fibroid 3 years ago
  • My age (37)
  • Bad luck (IVF doctor’s diagnosis)

My BFF who is an expert in all things immune-related and pregnancy has been giving me some great advice about what to challenge the doctors on.  If there’s one thing I have learned for all of this it is to of course listen to your doctor/s but don’t take everything they say at face value.  DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH!!

In search of the golden egg

Today is the day the stims start again.  Ugh. I have celebrated today by wearing a tight skirt as I am fully aware that in a few days time I will be actively avoiding anything waisted while my alien belly expands with eggs (well, all things going to plan).

I’ve got to say my feelings about this time compared to last time could not be further from each other. I am so ridiculously chilled about needles now.  I am almost blasé about the whole stims process.  At some point – I estimate about 5 days time I will not be chill anymore.  Once the hormones kick in that will probably mean a return to the somewhat unpredictable moods and emotions.  WATCH OUT HUSBAND!

My best friend and I were chatting about the IVF cycle and she said a lovely thing to me. She said she hopes there is a golden egg in there for us this time.  I liked that visual.  I am going to grow an egg that’s so super-special that it is GOLDEN.  Like winning the IVF Olympics or something.

In preparation this IVF round I have gone pretty much sober and taken out practically all caffeine.  I am officially not fun to invite to a dinner/party. I still like and can eat cake though so that’s something.  I’ve also been really committed to yoga since my latest miscarriage in May.  That’s a solid 3 months of getting bendy. I’ve also been doing some nice acupuncture and I really like my guy who does this now.  He’s super supportive and always looking for new treatments that will maximise my chances of baby-making.

He’s quite obsessed with my yin and yang.  I have loads too much yang and not enough yin (yin is also referred to as chi depending on what your following is).  Good ways to increase your chi is to be chilled, to do yoga and walking.  Chi destructors are things like stress, hardcore exercise (say bye to the gym and running) and getting over-tired.  I think I totally ruined my chi during the period when I lost my cat so I’ve been really focusing on getting some good chi going.  My husband thinks I’m nuts!

One of the treatments that my acupuncture guy did this week is he set me on fire! Well, sort of. He set a pile of moxa (acupuncture herb) on fire on my belly which has a warming, healing purpose to it. Looks cool, right? Yes that is smoke coming out of the top like a kind of stomach volcano!

IMG_3906

Please excuse my lack of manicure (since resolved) and instead focus on my currently flat stomach, which in a few days time is going to be anything but.  Am I a believer in acupuncture.  I don’t know, but it’s certainly not hurting me and I’d try practically anything right now.  Because my acupuncture guy also teaches my yoga class it also means that should I ever be lucky enough to get pregnant he can guide me through the yoga classes and tell me what to do and what not to do. This makes me happy.

This week I’ve been really happy.  Happy at work.  Happy at home (little Lucy kitten is such a good mood generator). Just happy.  Such an unfamiliar feeling!

So here we go with the IVF round.  Feeling good right now.  Feeling strong.  Feeling like the golden egg is in there somewhere.  Let’s do this!

 

 

 

Introducing my new baby…

As those of you who are regular readers know, I (literally) lost my cat 7 weeks ago and I have been distraught and heartbroken. She has been my constant companion since I moved to this country 5 years ago and her loss has been immense.

Now that 7 weeks has passed I feel pretty sure that we won’t find her (though I will be delighted if we do) and I felt the only way to find a new normal and do something about this black cloud of grief was to bring some new love to my heart.

And that love comes in the form of the gorgeous Lucy pictured here.  Isn’t she lovely?

IMG_3806

My other 2 cats are slight less enthusiastic about her arrival, but they are fast coming around. She arrived at our house on Wednesday evening and has settled in beautifully.  My husband is also in love with her and her presence has brought a new lightness and joy to our home that we haven’t experienced for a long time.

I actually don’t think there is a lot in the world more sweet and cheering than kittens. I hesitate to say it, but actually the past two days I have felt HAPPY.  Yes, happy.  I didn’t even know that was still possible.  So yeah, get yourself a kitten everyone!

In IVF-news, I visited the doctor today and he gave me the rundown for our next egg collection cycle.  I start the stims next Thursday and it looks like my collection day will be Wednesday 7 September all going well.  Last year egg collection was 3 September so it really is like deja vu!

The doc also gave me a weekly tablet to take to manage my prolactin which is a bit high (864), almost certainly caused by my PCOS. He said he would send me for an MRI scan if my reading was over 3000 as that usually indicates you might have a brain tumour.  I’m glad to say he doesn’t think I have a brain tumour!

And this week I came down with some nasty bronchitis so I’ve also been adding antibiotics to the mix this week. In the past year I think I have taken more medication than during the course of my entire life!

So here we go again on this merry-go-round that is unexplained infertility. I feel good so far, robust and ready to take it on.  Let’s do it!

 

 

Good and bad things to say to someone going through IVF

As I am now easing into season 2 of IVF, I’m reflecting on some of the most kind and helpful things people have said to me during this process, and then some of the most unhelpful things. More often than not the annoying and hurtful comments that fall into the “unhelpful” category are not said maliciously, but that does not dilute how bone-jarringly brutal they can be at times.

So what’s a helpful thing to say to someone struggling to have a baby and/or someone who has recently suffered a loss such as miscarriage?

That is really terrible/sh1t/awful for you.  I’m so sorry.

This, or some kind of variation of this is really the only helpful thing that can be said.  I have also taken comfort and gratitude from those especially close to me who have reached out and asked is there anything I can do for you?  Most often there is not beyond hugs and listening to me go on, but just to know they want to help or support or do something is just beautiful. After my first miscarriage, my best friend sent me flowers.  She’s over the other side of the world from me and that small gesture meant so much to me.  It really touched me and helped me in that terrible time to feel like I wasn’t completely alone.

That same friend is also really good at not asking questions (mostly).  She senses when to question and when to just leave me be.  She has 2 children now and I saw her recently when I headed home and got to cuddle her new baby.  She didn’t say a thing when I sobbed as I held her daughter.  She just quietly went and got me a box of tissues. That is a good friend.

So over to the other side; what are some of the things that you should not say:

You just need to relax and not stress so much
Oh really?  Is that ALL IT TAKES?!  So if this all it takes then why don’t teenage sex ed lessons cover this all-important conception detail, FFS! While of course it would be ideal to be going through IVF in some kind of constant zen-like peace, anyone who has been through it knows it is very difficult to remain calm at all times.  Just hearing people telling me to relax makes me stress more.  So don’t.

You need to stay positive
This is closely linked to the above “relax” point, but the kind of people who say it to you are particularly self-righteous about always being positive.  I think it’s fair to say I started off season 1 of IVF very positive and confident it would result in a baby.  Some may say naive.  But you know, two miscarriages in 5 months is tough.  I will not apologise for being fragile and hesitant going into this process again, and someone militantly insisting I remain positive at all times does not have a grasp of my situation and is better off staying silent.

A friend of my friend’s cousin drank this magical tea/took vitamins and now she’s pregnant
Sure she did. Please stop wasting my time with your BS.

You just need to stop trying and it will happen. My cousin/friend/neighbour did IVF for years and then stopped and they fell pregnant straight away
Even if this was true – and I really do think this is the IVF version of a wives’ tale – it’s not helpful when you are pouring everything you’ve got emotionally into IVF (not to mention the tens of thousands of dollars/pounds/euros spent).

You’ll have a baby eventually
Maybe we will (I hope so), but I’ve looked at the stats and done my research and maybe we won’t, so don’t be putting more pressure on me by expecting that its a foregone conclusion.

Oh you’re so lucky you get to go out to restaurants and go on holidays abroad (said by parents)
Yes, you are probably right that this is one of the few perks of being childless and no doubt parents (especially of young children) probably miss this part of their pre-children lives. In fact, whenever we have had a loss one of the first things we go and do is book some kind of holiday. But look deeper.  This is usually because we need to re-set ourselves and get away from all the sadness.  By being so glib about what childless means is patronising and offensive.

I know exactly how you feel!
This is so often said by people who have gone through infertility challenges themselves and have crossed into the other (dreamed of) side of pregnancy and parenthood.  This is especially stinging because you would think such people should know better. One thing I have learned above everything else from this blog forum is that everyone’s story and pain is different and unique.  My story is different from your story even if we are both going through IVF.  My circumstance, background, age, experiences in the past are different from yours and thus my feelings are a kaleidoscope of those experiences, as are yours.  We might each have great insight and be able to share helpful anecdotes or experience – this is beautiful and should be encouraged. However, if you have been fortunate enough to graduate from the title of infertile to that of pregnant or a parent then do not come and tell me you know how I feel.  You don’t know how I feel any more than I know how you do.

Have I missed any really good ones?  Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.

And then for a bit of light relief, I highly suggest you go and read this excellent and funny piece on IVF and the Dignity Olympics.

Season 2, Episode 1

So we are back for Season 2 of IVF treatment. I clearly remember coming around from my anaesthesia after my egg removal the first time and swearing I would NEVER do this again. Hmmm… and yet here I am again.

During my first season I was very much the naive novice. Somehow I believed it would all just work out and that would be that.  One round and done. Baby in the home and all the suffering worth it.  Hahahahahaha! Oh how I laugh at my own memories.

So while I do still have a frosty in the freezer, after two missed miscarriages and associated D&Cs in a row (not to mention the enormous grief), I kind of feel like that whole batch was cursed, though I’m not sure “cursed” is yet recognised as an official medical term.

Today I am on day 3 of the down-reg drugs (for me it’s Suprefact) and I will confess I am not finding it as easy as last time.  I think there are several reasons for that, but the main one is that I’ve had a pretty mean summer virus for over a week and I think when you’re feeling lousy to start with, jabbing yourself with a bunch of hormones is really never going to end in you feeling better.

During season 1 of Suprefact the main side-effect I experienced was crazy-intense headaches which I could mainly control by drinking a lake full of water each day.  This time round the headache hit with an intensity that made me frown all day. I’ve also been experiencing random sweats which is so unbelievably gross.  I know these are common but I didn’t get them last time so feel a bit annoyed that they seem to have turned up this time.

To say I am not looking forward to the stims round does not even cover how I really, truly feel about it.  In season 1 I was so unbelievably uncomfortable and stretched by my ovaries growing.  And the annoying thing is that it actually gets worse after they take them out!  Having all this knowledge this time is in some ways a good thing, but in others is a horror.  I know exactly what awaits me and how much I don’t like it!

Last night I even had a cry for about an hour after my jab (which do not even hurt so this is completely irrational) about how I just do not want to be doing this again and how awful it will be to go through it without my kitty baby on my feet every night to keep me company.

That’s right, my cat has not been found.  She went missing on 1 July so I don’t have much hope that she’ll come back anytime soon.  Of course I still have 2 others who are gorgeous and I love them, but she was my favourite and my little shadow.  When all of the bad stuff was going down I could always go home to her and bury my sadness in her furry belly.  Anyway, I hope that someone nice has found her and that she’s living the high life on someone else’s sofa now.

As for all of the bazillion blood tests I’ve done recently it seems that I have high prolactin – which could be attributed to my PCOS or could be a brain tumour (side note: don’t you just love how there are such extremes in all of this? – but the other autoimmune tests showed not very much.  I’m going to see my specialist in a couple of weeks about it, but over the phone he told me that if there were no extenuating circumstances then none of these test results would be a cause for concern.

This is great news obviously as it shows there’s nothing wrong with me, but it doesn’t really explain what’s been going on with my two failed pregnancies.  At this point they best answer I seem to get is that it’s all bad luck.

Yes.  I have had some bad luck and bad things happen to me, but can I really blame everything on the randomness of everyday life.  Let’s hope it was just a cursed batch and that Season 2 brings a positive finale.