IVF

#CystFreeFriday

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1st of March brought the start of springtime and along with it my overdue monthly visitor.

Hoorah! Never been so happy to see that before.

I headed into the clinic Friday morning for a baseline scan, this is to check you’ve no cysts and your womb is in a good state to begin the process. Were having what’s called a natural frozen cycle – meaning I’ll not need any medication before the embryos are transferred, just supporting medication afterwards.

Anyway, good news – were all clear and good to go. My fried joked it’s #CystFreeFriday – think it might catch on?

This round of IVF has seemed easier as we know what to expect. There’s been less questions to ask, less information to take in. We’ve felt much more in control.

I feel 50% excited and 50% apprehensive. The apprehension comes from knowing how hard it is if it doesn’t work out, it’s a long way to fall. Mentally I’m in a much better place this time around, I’ve even started to look at nursery photos again – all without blubbing into my decaf tea.

I could kill for a glass of wine right now, I resorted to sniffing a friends glass on Friday afternoon. Lets hope that’s as close as I can get till December.

IVF limbo

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If this was the dance version, then it would involve trying to limbo under the low bar with a needle sticking out your gut, whilst simultaneously shoving folic acid and omega 3 fish oils in your gob.

What it actually means is nature is a bitch and I’m stuck in limbo waiting for everything to start. It’s the first time in 4 years I actually want my period to show up, but it hasn’t. And no, there’s no chance before you ask. You can’t even do that!

So my well planned out schedule is in the bin and I have no idea what this week holds. If you have a meeting with me, prepare for it to be moved last minute…

I stumbled across a of blog post today while googling IVF limbo, The Loneliness of Infertility – Anna Hecker describes just how much of your entire life this effects. I looked the author up on Twitter, nice to see she got her happy ending.

How a photograph can break your heart.

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Today began with a relaxing acupuncture session and ended with a drive home sobbing into the steering wheel.

A photograph broke my heart today. Sound a bit dramatic?

It was just a photograph of children playing.
All my close friends children together.
The children that were bumps when I had a bump.
The children that are missing another playmate.
Our missing little girl.
I’m trying not to live in the past really I am, and I am hopeful for the future.
But today that photograph and the sudden reality that our embryo transfer will fall around what would have been my little girls 1st birthday, well that just broke me a tiny bit.

Hope

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It’s been a week of really good news for friends and I’m over the moon.

One friend is finally on the way to the help she needs for endometriosis, and another is being referred for IVF after an incredible year of guts and determination. I’m so proud of both of them for the women they are, and so grateful for their friendship.

Is it just me or does 2017 feel better? Or maybe I’m better.

I’m definitely better.

Whatever it is, there’s hope now, and a lot of it. Despite Trump.


So quick update for you. We have 6 embryos in the freezer and our consultant has said they are all of a really good quality. Last Tuesday I went in for the scratch (you’ll have to Google that, I still can’t bring myself to describe it, and yes it really bloody hurt) and now we’re just waiting for nature to take its course this month – should be Friday 24th.

The scratch was completely new to me as we didn’t have this on the first failed round. It’s generally used for people who’ve experienced unsuccessful IVF cycles, despite good quality embryos having been transferred. The process triggers a repair reaction, making the lining of the womb more receptive to the embryo implantation, which in theory should increase the chance of pregnancy.

I plan to get as much work completed this week as is humanly possible and I have 2 networking events to attend which I’m really looking forward to. I’ve been able to roughly work out when I’ll be off work on the two week wait and keep my diary clear. After the 24th, my diary becomes a daily planning exercise again!

I’ll need to go in for a baseline scan between day 1 & 3 of the cycle, and then again on day 9. After that it could be every other day or daily scans until they are ready to transfer the embryos.

It would be incredible if all 6 embryos make it past defrosting and then another 2 days of growing, getting them to day 5 blastocyst embryos. The likelihood of that is slim as around 10/12% will die after being defrosted.

If that’s not possible, then the result we’re looking for is 4 to make it to day 5. Our consultant has already advised us they will transfer 2 again this time, and then we can re-freeze the remaining 2.

Embryos, much to our surprise, are not like chicken from the freezer.

I’m excited to start, but I am so busy this week that the time is going to fly by!

Confidence

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2016 drained me of my confidence.

I went from someone who’s not afraid to stand up and speak to a room full of people, to someone who struggled to leave the studio for a networking meeting. As the main salesperson or face” of the agency, this was always going to cause problems.

I’m lucky to have a great business partner and team, so despite these setbacks, the business still did well last year. But it didn’t flourish and it didn’t grow.

I accept that I took the time I needed to heal and that was the right thing to do but, by 2017 I was ready to start making an impact again.

A good friend had been asked to join a Mastermind group and suggested I become part of it to.

A Mastermind is a small group of highly motivated people (around 6), all who are looking to support, encourage and help each other improve. The group offers each other suggestions and support for both business and personal issues, anything you are willing to share, everything is in confidence.

Andy Lopata explains this in great detail here.

Last Thursday I took part in the first Mastermind session of the year.

I came away from the meeting with great suggestions of how to improve a business issue I’ve had, and a clear plan of action for the book I’m going to write. I met 2 new contacts who are both incredibly inspiring and, I was able to share my expertise and offer them advice in return.

More importantly, I came away believing in myself again, and that feels really good.

Icelandic Adventure

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I’ve not blogged for a whole 16 days and I’ve missed it.

I was going to update while we were away but, in the end it I thought it would remind me of what was coming next or what we’ve already been through. Its been really nice to just feel normal. No medication, no clinic visits. Just us having a normal life and fun on holiday.

We’ve been away to Iceland for 5 nights. We tend to go away this time of year as it fits well around Lee’s wedding photography business. He’s swamped from March – October time so we take advantage of long haul sunshine.

Unfortunately we’re currently quite limited on where we can travel too that’s warm right now with the Zika virus so widespread. If we took the risk to travel to an affected area, then our IVF treatment would be delayed.

The clinic’s current advice is here.

Travellers returning from affected areas should consider the following guidance to minimise the risk of Zika virus transmission:

  • Female traveller, symptomatic or asymptomatic, should not try to conceive naturally, donate gametes or proceed with fertility treatment for 8 weeks.
  • Male traveller, symptomatic or asymptomatic, should not try to conceive naturally, donate gametes or proceed with fertility treatment for 6 months.

Anyway, seeing the Northern Lights has always been on our bucket lists, so we decided to embrace the cold instead!

Iceland is the most magical place, I’ve never seen scenery like it in my life. We were so very luck to see the Northern Lights on our first night, well morning actually. Our amazing Hotel Ranga had a lights wake up call, and rang us at 5.40am.

In 3 days we took a Golden Circle tour with Valdi from Southcoast Adventure taking in the sights of Gullfoss waterfall, the famous Geysir which all other geysers are named after and walked round Thingvellir National Park. We fell off a snowmobile on top of Katla, an active volcano that is likely to erupt soon. The falling off bit wasn’t one of my holiday highlights!

Two nights at a fab Airbnb in Reykjavik exploring, eating and (amazingly) drinking was so much fun, and the Blue Lagoon was the perfect way to end a trip of a lifetime.

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Video killed the radio star

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Video killed the radio star

Except it didn’t. I’ve got that song on vinyl somewhere in my mums loft.

Yesterday I was invited to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire by Chris Mann to talk about this blog and our IVF journey. If you want to listen you can hear me from about 17 minutes in.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04nztzt#play

It was a lot harder than I thought it would be to talk about. There were moments when I could feel my voice crack a little, but Chris made me feel at ease and asked questions that I could answer comfortably.

There are thousands of people out there going through this and other much worse fertility problems. We’re not special in any way, and I’m not the first person to write a blog about it, but if this helps just one other person, then it was all worth doing.

From all the messages I’ve received today, I know it has helped a lot, and that is truly heartwarming.

I was lucky to share the studio with two incredible women, Nicki Evans and Jade Godier from Made2Aid. They’re organisers of Rise 4 Disability, a disability conference and exhibition designed to help Research and Identify Suitable Equipment. It’s for both health professionals and the general public. You can research new and existing products, network with colleagues and peers and find supporting services and charities.

It’s free to attend on 22nd February at Peterborough Arena. Please share this with anyone you know that would benefit from attending.

www.rise4disability.com


Today we headed back to the clinic to find out what the plan is for transferring the embryos. We know that wont be till around the beginning of March but, we had a lot of questions about the defrosting process!

We learned today that all 6 embryos are good to excellent quality (Lets just stop to give the follicles a round of applause shall we, well done team follicles, well done)

So, what they plan to do is defrost all 6 embryos. There’s a 10/12% chance of embryos not making it past defrosting, so all being good and with a bit of luck, we’d be hoping that 4 of those embryos make the defrosting and then grow on another two days to make them day 5 Blastocyst.

They’ll transfer 2 ready for me to cook, and the other 2 will be re-frozen.

At that point Lee and I both said “Oh, not like chicken then!” which is exactly what we’d been thinking! I was worried that if they defrosted them all, they all made it and then they only transferred 2, we’d then have to throw the others away! I was much happier about the re-freezing.

So for now, we can have a couple of weeks off of IVF and enjoy our holiday and just live. Which is nice.

In about 16 days I’ll need to go back to the clinic for an Endometrial Biopsy. This procedure involves removing some cells from the uterine lining. The healing process from this mild trauma improves implantation potential in the following month. It has to be carried out on a full bladder and sounds delightful. I didn’t have this on our first round so, I’m excited that this could be another factor in making 2017 our year.

I’ll 100% be updating with some smug holiday posts next week. Iceland here we come!

What next?

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I woke up this morning to a little tax rebate. I should buy a lottery ticket tonight, its certainly been a lucky week.

I can’t describe how we’ve felt since Thursday morning, we couldn’t have dreamed of a better result. There is still such a long, long way to go though and so many more hurdles to get past, we have to do everything we can to stay positive.

A few people have asked me what happens next, and honestly, I’m not sure yet.

We have a follow up appointment with our consultant next Thursday where he’ll explain the next part of the process and I guess what they intend to do.

I have so many questions. Will they defrost all 6, or just 3? How many are likely to make it past defrosting? What if they defrost all 6 and then we only use 2, can the other 4 go back in? Do we have enough to try and get them to day 5 embryos, (called Blastocysts) or is it too risky with so few?

In the mean time, I’m going to do as much as I can to be positive, calm and relaxed. I have lots of things I want to try this year so I’m throwing myself in to those while I have this time.

My lovely friend Ellie gave me a lesson in crochet Wednesday night. Look what I made!

 

Yep I made a very tiny pink scarf. I’m making it into a blanket for the soon to be acquired Dachshund – Doris.

This morning I tried Hot Pod Yoga, which was really hard having done zero exercise for a good few months.

I’m usually a very active person. I run and I go to this awesome bootcamp in my village twice a week. During the stimulation phase of IVF (the injection part), you’re not supposed to do any kind of heavy fitness at all. I’ve found this stop/start regime really difficult to motivate myself to be active, especially over the winter months. That’s about to change though. I figure that if your mind and your body is at its best, then those embryos are more likely to want to stick around!

Anyway, back to Hot Pod Yoga. It was great! The pod it like a giant bouncy castle without the bounce, and it’s so warm and cosy inside. The yoga was a lot more strenuous than I expected and I’m pretty sure I’m gonna ache like hell tomorrow. I’m 100% going back.

You might not have seen but, I agreed to go on the Chris Mann show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire next Wednesday to talk about this blog.

I won’t lie, the last few days I’ve been seriously thinking of pulling out. I’m nervous as hell about talking about this out loud, writing seems so much easier. I’m scared about putting so much of myself and Lee out there in the open and what the reaction might be. Will people think this is attention seeking?

A good friend asked me this question:

“At your lowest point, would a similar interview/blog have helped you? And how would you feel if you knew it wouldn’t have been there if not for someone suggesting it was attention-seeking?

Remember, if you help one person and make a difference to their lives, what does it matter if someone else doesn’t like it?”

And he’s right. It would have helped me, and I am sure it will help someone else. And if it does, then I’ve done something good.

The show will be on Wednesday 25th Jan at 4pm.