The Phantom of the Uterus

….. is there.

Inside my mind!

One for the fans of show tunes there!

The Phantom of the Uterus is in full session right now at 6dp5dt. I have symptoms galore and I’m not sure which are my imagination, which are the result of the medications, and which might (might) represent a potential BFP. I am sharing these “symptoms” here merely as a record of my observations and of course if I get a BFN at the end of this week you can all laugh at me for my vivid imagination.

Boobs

Yesterday I was quite confident my boobs were bigger. Husband came home yesterday (yay!) and was required to do a full visual and feeling test to assess their growth or lack of (he gets all the good jobs!!). He confirmed that he too believes them to be bigger – and was incredulous that I was doubting it. This morning I woke up and they feel even bigger and more sore which I’m delighted about. This is probably the best bit of all of this for the husband as my usually micro-sized boobs grow to be quite a lovely size and shape. Of course they usually get really sore at a certain point and then he can’t touch them so he has to enjoy them while he can! Haha!

Fatigue/sleep

I have felt a tiny bit more tired than normal, but nothing like previously when I had BFPs. This could be for several reasons, one of which being there is no BFP (not the option I’m going for), but most likely is because I am taking 16mg of Prednisolone and from all reports that gives you a lot more pep in your step than you might otherwise have. I did go to bed a little earlier than normal last night at 10:30pm, but I was then WIDE AWAKE and ready to party at 5am this morning, which is great except there was no one who wanted to party at that hour with me. I also needed a 5am toilet visit which has previously been a sign of BFP, but maybe this is just because I went to bed a little earlier than usual. Hmmm….

Bloating/cramps

I am very bloated (eeewww) and I seem to be having low level cramps on and off almost constantly. I think I’m a tiny bit more hungry than usual too, but I’m not sure if that’s just because I’m back in the office this week and being in an office usually makes me crave the munchies. 

Husband is convinced the transfer has worked and is expecting a BFP. I am afraid he is a little over confident but don’t want to ruin his buzz as he is in charge of positivity in our partnership. But I bought a double-pack pregnancy test yesterday so that we can test before the blood test on Friday. I know some people like the element of surprise, but for me I like to have a sense of what to expect in advance of the ominous call with the blood test results.  No testing before Thursday though. 

Please, please let this little one stick!

Hello my pretties!

Today my doctor came back from his holidays so I got the first scan of my stims round. Yes, you got that right… 11 jabs in and I get my first scan. Anyway, I’ve been feeling uncharacteriscally calm about this round of treatment although I am resembling a hippo (see previous post). I have been confident that there was some good egg growth going on but then when I was in the waiting room the fear crept in that maybe I didn’t have so many eggs this time. 

Well that was silly. 

When the doctor checked me he made the rather un-doctor like exclamation of “Whoa!!” I did not find this comforting so I asked him to clarify what that actually means! His next answer was “There are millions in there!”

Millions actually turned out to be 25. Yes. TWENTY-FIVE potential golden eggs!  

Last time I had 20 follicles with 18 eggs. He did qualify that about 10 of my follicles look a little smaller/immature but that’s still a good number. I know this game is all about quality not quantity but the doctor actually seemed amazed at my performance. 

Go ovaries!

This means that it’s trigger shot tonight and collection Wednesday morning. We had an extended conversation about OHSS because 25 follicles puts me at quite a high risk of it. Last time he was all yeah whatever about it but this time he’s going to prescribe me some Suprefact to see if that calms my ovaries down a bit. 

I won’t lie that I’m a bit nervous about after the EC because I was quite poorly last time for a couple of weeks and I had a bunch less eggs. Oh and this weekend is the baptism of the brother-in-law’s baby. Perfect timing as always! 

Feeling like today is a good day! Bring on the egg collection! 

A turd in a pool

I am a big fan of the hippopotamus. I like the water and I like horses which is what the name hippopotamus translates to be in Greek – water horse. I also like that they have really big mouths and scary looking teeth. Plus, I took a really great photo at the zoo when I was in high school of a hippopotamus under water (through glass) and the photo makes the hippo really just looks like a giant turd swimming in a pool. That is some serious camouflage. I kind of hope technological advances have not since changed this photographic phenomenon because others should get to experience the same joy as me when they flick through old photo albums and see multiple images of a giant turd in a pool (or a hippopotamus, depending on how optimistic you’re feeling).

Anyway, I’m feeling like a hippopotamus today – the animal.  I’m not feeling especially like a turd in a pool so that’s something positive at least. I took a photo of my belly in knickers and a tank top for my best friend and sent it to her with the caveat that she should delete it after viewing.  She kindly responded by saying my belly looks normal to everyone else and it only looks huge to me, which was a) kind and b) not true.

So I reckon something is going on in ovaries land.

The reason I don’t know precisely what’s going on in ovaries land is because my doctor is crap (maybe he’s the turd in the pool?!). He’s currently on holiday and due back on Monday, which is when my appointment is.  Given that my egg collection is preliminarily scheduled for Wednesday this means that I’ve not been supervised at all throughout the stims process.  I read other people’s blogs and how they have to go to their doctor/clinic every 2-3 days and then I wonder why my doctor does not observe me at all? He doesn’t do tests. I am none the wiser as to how many follicles are potentially growing.  It’s all a big mystery-surprise.

If I had not done this whole shebang a year ago and experienced the hippopotamus side effects I would be properly freaking out right now. I am pretty confident that my giant belly is about the same size at the same time as last year and I got 18 eggs, nine of which fertilised and four of which made it to five days blastocyst stage.  I’m not so focused this year on the overall egg count, but am keen to get my embryo count up a bit this time.  Hubby better bring his A-game swimmers!

I had my appointment with the endocrinologist on Friday and that was pretty good, as far as these things go. It was a lady doctor (yay, feminism!) and she did an ultrasound on my neck (got to leave my clothes on for once which was a nice change) confirming that my thyroid is smaller in size than normal, but also confirming no other nasties like inflammation and nodules and whatever else hell thing can exist.  This means that my thyroid issue is probably pretty new. I asked how I came to suddenly have a thyroid issue and she explained that one of the most likely causes was the large spikes and drops in my hormones caused by two pregnancies and two miscarriages in the space of five months.

Any normal person would have been very sad about this news, and lets face it a thyroid problem is not exactly ideal, but I actually felt a bit relieved about the diagnosis.  I have been feeling entirely devoid of energy for MONTHS now and perhaps this at least partially explains it. My lady doctor was entirely confident she could get my thyroid reading under 2.0 before November, the likely month of my first transfer all things going to plan, and so on to more meds I go! For those who love this stuff, I’ve been prescribed Euthryrox 50 mg, which has the active ingredient of Levothyroxine sodium. Fun times! I get to take one a day, six days a week (Sunday is my rest day).

I also had my first session with a life coach / counsellor who I recruited in one of my dark days earlier in August. By the time the appointment came around I almost cancelled it, but hubby insisted. Anyway, it was good actually. She came to my house, played with my baby kitty, listened to me pour my heart out (it was sooooo good to say some of the stuff I did), and then told me which things I was being overly harsh about and validated some other stuff.  It was actually all very healthy and I liked her a lot which might have been helped by her telling me she thought I was highly intelligent and a high achiever (flattery!)…. although 100 EUR is a lot to pay for what I would probably have gotten from my best friend if she was just down the street rather than on the other side of the world.

She gave me some homework, one of which is that I – literally – have to count my blessings (one of them that I volunteered was my long legs, because I have a really short sister and I genuinely know how difficult she finds some stuff, but the counsellor lady did think that was a pretty unusual blessing to count). She also gave me some notes to read through to remind myself of some important stuff.  Here is one of them which I think might have some relevance to some of my blog friends who I regularly correspond with:

I accept that not everyone is the same, not everyone is able to show empathy in the same way, nor to be supportive in the same way. Some people are limited in this respect. This has nothing to do with me. Other people’s incompetence in being highly sensitive or empathetic has nothing to do with me. I accept their limitations along with their good intentions. I acknowledge the their “offensive intrusiveness” is something that I dot have to take personally. I choose not to take other people’s limitations personally. I am not responsible for them; I am responsible only for myself. 

That last part is really good. I choose not to take other people’s limitations personally. I am not responsible for them; I am responsible only for myself. 

Yes. I am only responsible for myself.

Only. For. Myself.

Love, the Hippopotamus.

 

 

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.

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!

 

 

Symptoms or imagination?

I have officially reached the stage where I am trying to self-diagnose every single ache, pain and twinge in my body and attribute it to a sign that this transfer has worked. Ugh.

I am without any doubt bloated, but that is almost certainly due to the evil progesterone pessaries (which also generate wind; IVF is so sexy!). Regardless, it’s never fun to have a sticky-out belly without being sure there is a baby inside.

I really hope there is a baby inside.

For most of yesterday afternoon and evening I had quite substantial backache and this has started to excite me – the only time that backache can be considered legitimately exciting. During my last FET (which was successful until miscarriage at 9 weeks) I also had quite strong backache but I think it was on day 5, not day 3 as it was yesterday.

 

I have read, during my excessive online searches, that if implantation is successful the embryo starts burrowing into the lining on day 3 which could – technically – cause backache.  But also I’ve not been moving about very much these past few days and maybe I just have backache in general. So I am no closer to understanding if backache is good, bad or means nothing. Does anyone have any suggestions?

I have been off work since Tuesday and I return on Monday, which will hopefully give the little embryo some chill time to make it’s way into my lining and set up home. I’ve got to say that this time off work has felt ultra-indulgent (not in a good way) and also I’ve been quite bored. Even though there are things I could do to pass the time, I have felt a bit listless and had difficulty concentrating.  All I can think is has this worked??!!!! 

Apart from my boss at work and hubby, there is no one else who knows we have made this transfer which has made my restlessness even harder. People are asking why I’m not at the gym, why I’m not participating in the annual local running festival this weekend, and why we haven’t booked a summer holiday. They must think I’m a really boring person because my standard response is I can’t be bothered when that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Please let this one work.

 

 

Things you should know before IVF

When we started the IVF process we went into it pretty relaxed. I know several people who have had long and drawn out IVF treatments and yet for some reason I thought it was going to be easy for us. I don’t know where this unfounded optimism came from. It now seems as though it was misplaced arrogance, but really I think it was naivety.

I used to read about celebrity couples who have had IVF babies, perhaps later in life than normal, and I used to think it was easier for them because they just handed over the money and then they had a baby.

I don’t think that any more.

Now I know that when you go through the IVF process, whether you’re famous or not, it is long, it is stressful, it’s painful at times and even after all of that you’re not guaranteed a baby.

When I see the likes of Chrissie Teigan speak openly about the struggles of IVF treatment I applaud her. I wish more people spoke the truth.

Here’s a few things I learned about IVF that I didn’t know about before I started:

  • It takes a lot longer than I ever thought. There are two “protocols” for IVF treatment, a long one and a short one. If you want to know more about these I suggest you ask your doctor or read Zita West’s excellent book. In any case, my doctor used the long protocol on me so this meant 1 month of being on the pill, almost 1 month of daily injections to “shut down” my reproductive system (a bit like menopause), about 10 days of stimulation injections, egg collection under general anaesthetic, 5 days before they can transfer the fertilised embryo/s back in and then another 10 days-2 weeks to wait to see if it worked. That’s around 2.5 months. And that doesn’t count in any unexpected delays. It might even be longer in some cases.
  • It makes you feel (and sometimes look) like a whale. All those extra hormones running about your blood give you all sorts of weird physical and emotional symptoms that make you feel anything but hot. And sometimes you look pregnant which is awful because you’re not and it’s the last thing you want people to think about you.
  • You can’t have sex. Hahaha! Yes, you’re trying to make a baby but can’t have sex at times. Oh the irony.
  • You don’t want to have sex because you feel like a whale, so that’s really the only advantage to that. There is no advantage for your partner.
  • It gives you cellulite. Well it did for me anyway. I’ve always been the envy of my friends with my long, slender, athletic legs so you can imagine the trauma for me when I realised I was growing cellulite on my thighs at an alarming rate (I have suggestions for getting rid of it later by the way). Hormones are a bitch.
  • There are so many side-effects. Most of them horrible. I was constantly thirsty. Had headaches. Became horribly bloated and had all kinds of tummy/digestive troubles. And I think I got off lightly.
  • You go a bit crazy. All of the unknowns really drive you nuts. How many eggs am going to produce? How many will fertilise? Should I eat this? Is this symptom normal? Will it really compromise my eggs if I have this cup of weak tea? What if after all of this it doesn’t work and I never have a baby?   That last one is the worst.
  • IVF makes or breaks couples. It’s really tough on your relationship, but we’ve been fortunate that, in our case, it’s brought us closer together, not further apart. My husband is amazing.

This list is not to put you off having IVF, but just to give you a taste of what’s to come. So that if you do wake up one day and find a bunch of cellulite has turned up you will at least know why. And know if you’re one of the lucky ones with few symptoms then I might just hate you a tiny bit.