This evening, following a good workout at Crossfit and while enjoying a gin and tonic in the bath, I came across this article. For anyone in the same situation as me, i.e. involuntarily childless, it’s a good read. Actually, it’s a good read for anyone. Might make you think a little. Take some time to read it.
So this time, seven months ago, I was just setting out on the IVF journey. It was a short-lived journey, but it was a journey nonetheless. In fact, I’ve just been re-reading that first blog post Motherhood… or not and it’s reminded me just how much I’ve, sorry, we’ve, been through in quite a short space of time. Actually, in reality, I didn’t start the journey seven months ago. It started long before that. But the sciency bit started then. The drugs and the needles started then. The short-lived hope started then. But I always had a plan B. I had to have a plan B. I knew the odds. They were stacked against us from the start.
Plan B was to get fit. To train. To complete three full distance triathlons in 2017. Well here we are, at the end of the season and I have done it. In fact I have spent 13 hours, 55 minutes and 23 seconds racing in full distance triathlons. But that’s not all. I’ve also completed a 10km trail race, a sprint distance triathlon and I’ve started doing Yoga and going to Crossfit. Oh, and I’m taking part in a 100 mile cycle sportive on Sunday… Yep, you got that right, I have become an exercise junkie!
Don’t get me wrong, I still like drinking cider and gin (not together, might I add) and eating cake and I still find running more of a means to an end than something I actually ‘enjoy’ but I’m loving the endorphines that I am getting from it all. The sense of achievement. The focus. The community. It’s what I need. There will always be a huge hole in my life, one that can never be filled with anything else, but this helps. It definitely helps.
So what now? Well, now I’ve proved I can do it, I need to do it better. I want to train properly. I want to improve. I want to get stronger, fitter, better. I want to eat better (that’s going to be the toughest challenge) and I want to feel good about myself. I’ve already signed myself up for a sprint triathlon in March, the Adventure Triathlon Series (same as I’ve done this year) and a trail half marathon. I also want to go out to France and cycle up Mont Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez (I’ve done this one before on our honeymoon but I want to do it properly). I want to get better at lifting weights and I want to improve my flexibility and my core strength. I want to be happy in myself and happy in the life we have without children (obviously Elton has a daughter who I love heaps but you know what I mean) and I want to get joy from the simple things.
I seriously believe that without the training, without the hard work, I would have slipped into a depression. This has saved me and now there is no going back 😀
Blimey. I mean where did it go? Oh to be a child again when summer actually meant something. Time off. Hanging out with friends. Indulging in some freedom. Not the case for us. I suppose it’s our own fault for planning a big trip away at Christmas. Summer meant work. And more work. Although I did manage to squeeze in an additional triathlon 😂
It was great actually. It was a sprint tri in Llanrwst run by a local triathlon club (who I never knew existed but do now and have joined) called GOG Triathlon Club. GOG stands for Great Orme Goats – it’s based in Llandudno, home to the Great Orme and its goats 😀
Previously I have always been put off by sprint triathlons, purely because of the word ‘sprint’, but I thought I’d give it a go. It was great fun, very friendly and I even got my fastest average speed on the bike, managing to overtake 3 people in my wave. They did, of course, take me on the run but I can live with that.
It’s now just 10 days until the Sandman Triathlon, the final one of the Always Aim High adventure series. I’m feeling good and hoping to beat last year’s time but I haven’t done that much specific training. I have, at least, managed to get out in the sea swimming a couple of times which is better than this time last year! Got freaked out by the jellies last time though 😯
Moving back to my health and hormones and stuff, I finally managed to pluck up the courage to see the doctor. He sent me for a full whack of blood tests and they all came back normal apart from a low iron count. Went back for a chat and saw a different lady who has put me on HRT. She said it sounds like I am premenopausal. Great. I knew but I was dreading having it confirmed, which I haven’t really as it’s all speculation. I suppose I’m no better off than I was before 😕 Reading the common side effects of the medication was fun. I may even be worse off…
I haven’t started taking them yet. I’m scared to. I just keep looking at them and feeling a sense of utter sadness. It kind of signifies the end for me. An end to any slight chance that I still might of had of getting pregnant. Even though, realistically, the end has already been and gone with that line in the sand.
To that end it’s been a bit of a g&t month. I’ve been tasting some different gins but my favourite is still Opihr with Fever Tree Elderflower tonic and a slice of orange. Oh yeah 😀 The hubby has been good too and bought me some beautiful flowers. It must be difficult for him. I’m terrible at just cracking on with stuff and filing away my emotions. Don’t listen to my own advice at all.
So here we are, four months on from finding out we’re not going to have children, probably ever. I’ll be honest, I’ve actually dealt with it a lot better than I thought I would, although that may be because I haven’t actually had that much time to think about it. Still, life does go on and on it has gone. So much so that it is now only 41 hours until my second triathlon of the year. Onto that later.
The biggest hurdle I am having to face right now is the fact I am very likely starting the menopause. This is not going down well with me. I am only 43. It wasn’t that long ago that the prospect of having children was still a reality. I don’t know for sure that I’m starting the menopause but there are a few pointers: night sweats and restless nights, very heavy and irregular periods, complete lack of sex drive (which of course doesn’t just affect me). I know I need to go and see the doctor but I’m petrified of having it confirmed. Surely I’m too young? According to the NHS, the average age in the UK for women to start the menopause is 51. I suppose it would confirm why we struggled to conceive.
I found out today another friend is pregnant. Apparently she has had a tough time and has been through the IVF process to get this far. I’m super happy for her. For them both. It’s hard not to feel jealous though. And a bit angry. Not at them, just at life in general. “It’s not fair” is all that is going round my head right now. And that’s true. Life’s not fair. It’s what I tell the young people I work with all the time. But I have a choice. I have a choice to accept it and move on, or not. And I choose moving on, even if sometimes it’s super hard and heart breaking.
Now I’m writing this I can’t stop crying. Ridiculous really as I had a stand-off with a young person the other day who was crying and crying. It started off real and then became purely for attention. I told her that crying was a voluntary process and that she had a choice, a choice to stop crying and get on with the activity or a choice to carry on and get herself into a state. She stopped. I’ve stopped. I digress.
Just looking back at what I’ve written I realise I’ve written a lot about choice. I’m a bit of a follower of William Glasser’s Choice Theory which I read about when I was working as a youth worker. I firmly believe that we set the path of our lives according to the choices we make. For example, I can choose to get angry about the tourists driving around Snowdonia at 40mph or I can choose to not get stressed and leave a little longer for my journey into work in the morning. Likewise, I can choose to get really defeated about the amount of litter around or I can make a positive difference and pick it up. These are smaller choices, granted, but it applies to the big things too. I can choose to wallow in self-pity, wondering ‘why me, why me?’ when it comes to not having children, or I can focus my thoughts on the other things in life that give me joy. Beautiful landscapes, sunsets, rainbows, cuddling up to my husband on the sofa, swimming in the rain, feeling like flying when I’m descending a long hill on my bike, getting to the top of a mountain after a hard slog, gin, watching the waves on the beach, sunrise, running with my dog, cake, the complete exhaustion after a good workout, the sound of the river in full flow, morning cuddles with the cat… I could go on. In the words of Trainspotting, I choose life.
I’m not saying it’s easy, it’s not. I’m not saying I won’t ever have times where it gets me down. Today has just proved that not to be the case. But I will cope. I will survive. I will achieve. I will be the best I can be.
Anyway, I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post that it was 41 hours to my next triathlon. It’s now 40 1/2 hours 🙂 I am quite nervous about this one. The weather forecast is looking a bit pants.
The swim will be manageable as the lake is shallow and warm. In fact, I’m hoping wetsuits won’t be compulsory so I don’t have to try and get out of it in transition (I’m rubbish!!). British Triathlon rules state that the water must be over 14 degrees for wetsuits to become optional. I reckon the lake is warmer than that, the problem is the amount of rain we have had over the last few days as it might have cooled.
The bike ride is 70km around Snowdonia. with 1,132m of ascent. I don’t mind hills so much on the bike (although I’m better at going down than up) but if it’s wet and windy this is going to be horrendous. And then, to top it all off, the 9km run is an ascent and descent of Moel Siabod (featured image on this post) with 696m of ascent 😮
So why do I do these things? I’m not really sure is the answer to that. I enjoy being pushed physically. I enjoy a challenge. I like the sense of achievement for finishing. I want to improve and get stronger and fitter and healthier. I enjoy being part of something. I’m competitive. It’s outside. There’s lots of reasons although today, looking out of the window, I’m not so sure… 🙂
Last Sunday I took part in the Scott Snowdonia Trail Marathon. I didn’t run the marathon, I ran the 10k. Elton was in the marathon but unfortunately he tore his hamstring at about 7km into the race and had to quit. This was really hard for him. His blog about it is here. I went into the race thinking that I would just treat it as a training run for this weekend. I didn’t want to kill myself the week before the triathlon. It was a super hilly route! I was actually really pleased to complete it in 1:18:33. Not bad when I definitely could have run it faster 🙂
I’ve also got a new addiction. I’ve started Crossfit. For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about, check out this video. I’m right at the beginning of my Crossfit journey but it’s great. There’s definitely a real sense of community, no preening and looking in the mirror, just people of all shapes and sizes, working out, getting strong and challenging themselves. It’s fab!! I go to the Crossfit Place on Anglesey.
Sorry for the disjointed blog post and for leaving it so long in between posts. Some of you may be thinking that I’m trying to throw myself into too much fitness ‘stuff’ in order to stop falling down the rabbit hole of post-IVF-fail depression. Maybe I am. But it’s working 😀
39 hours to go…
I’ve been wanting to write another blog post for a while. After all, it’s been a month since my last one. Problem is I’m not sure where to start, how the middle is going to work out and I’m definitely unsure of the ending. There’s an advert on TV at the moment, I can’t remember what for – internet or mobile phones or something – anyway, there’s a moment when a woman turns on a blender and the top isn’t on it and her smoothie goes all over her face. It always makes me giggle. Problem is, I’ve been worried that this blog post is going to end up a bit like that. A kind of uncapped explosion from my brain that ends up in a big mess all over my face. But without the comedy. Hmmm 😮
I’ve been sat staring at the screen for a while now since writing that first paragraph. I hoped that once I got started it would just flow. I was wrong. It’s not even that I’m feeling low or having a particularly bad time, I just have a whole heap of stuff in my head that I feel like I need to get out. But now I’ve come to get it out, I can’t quite verbalise any of it. Very frustrating 😦
Well, I’ve got to start with something so I’ll start with babies. I’ve now managed to get up close and personal with a baby. In fact, it was the same baby that I deliberately avoided during a friend’s hen weekend (see a previous blog post). That friend has since got married and, at the wedding, I managed baby cuddles. The first since IVF fail. It was fine. Well it was mainly fine. It was fine until someone said to my husband ‘watch out, you’ll be next’. That wasn’t fine. Still, I wonder how many times I have said something to someone without really thinking about whether or not it could stab through their heart like a knife. Do we really know anyone? Do we really know what could be a trigger? Of course not. It’s just one of those things. I’m sure it won’t be the last time.
I’ve also managed good friends of mine having a baby. I haven’t met said baby yet, but I am super happy for them. Genuinely. I can’t think of two more wonderful people to bring a child into this world. That does bring me onto a slightly different topic however (see, it’s flowing now). Friends. I feel like I’m slipping away from my friends. Not all of them obviously, but certainly those that are far away from where I live. Those that I have considered my closest friends for the last 12 years or so I just don’t see anymore. I feel like we have less and less in common although in reality there is just the one thing. Children. Wow. I didn’t realise how upset that is making me. Just writing that down is making me cry. Ok, time to move on to another topic.
My garden. I am completely and utterly in love with my new garden. Sorry, our new garden (it’s mine really, it came out of my head!) 😀 I love sitting in it, I love eating breakfast in it, I love doing yoga (badly) in it, I love watering the plants, I love watching the cat roll around on the paving and I love the dog curling up on the small section of luscious grass. Did I mention that I love our garden. It has become my solace. When I look out of the window at it, I smile. When I get back from work and walk down through it, I smile. It’s the tiniest of gardens but it’s ours and it’s beautiful.
Work. I’m currently covering someone’s maternity leave. Ironic? Maybe. Anyway, I love my job and I love where I work and the people I work with. I’m super lucky. I was working there for a year and a bit on supply before I got the maternity contract. I don’t want to go back to supply. I like being permanent. It’s nearly July. That leaves me with around 4 months of stability before things suddenly get out of control again. I’m worried. I’ve got used to having a stable income coming in. As much as I love working freelance, I also quite like the security of permanent. Part-time permanent would be my ideal situation but then I can’t choose. My husband is self-employed. Winter is never good for us work-wise. I feel like my future is a bit out of my hands at the moment which is just another thing rolling around my head.
Training. I’m back training. Ridiculously I have got myself into exactly the same situation. I now have only 6 weeks until my next triathlon. Training had to go on hold for two weeks as I slipped at work in the mine and gashed my shin really badly on a slate boulder. My leg then got infected and I was on antibiotics for a week and a half, unable to run and cycle and not allowed to get my leg wet (not great for swimming). Thankfully I have kick-started although my body is aching right now. Run on Tuesday morning (where I managed a couple of PBs no less), open water swim on Tuesday evening, yoga on Wednesday morning (this is where the aching has come from), a cycle to work and back yesterday (back nearly killed me as the wind was so strong) and a pool swim this morning. I’m feeling quite good but nowhere near ready yet.
Things are going to slip a little next week as well as I’m away working in Austria. I might be able to get a couple of runs in (I’m definitely packing my running shoes) but everything else might have to go on hold. Problem is the next triathlon, the Snowman, another classic from Always Aim High Events, is a real toughie. 1km swim in the lake, 70km bike ride around Snowdonia and 10k run up and down Moel Siabod (that’s a mountain for those of you that don’t know the area). It’s a beast.
Right, that’s enough head mess for now. I’m knackered just talking about it all. Hopefully that means I’ll sleep like a brick. Luckily, I usually do 😉
It’s really hard not to think about it. Has it worked? Has it failed? It’s impossible to tell either way until test day and that’s not until Monday. Four days away. That seems like an age. At least I’m past the half way point I suppose. And I’m working the weekend which will keep me distracted. Hopefully. Still, it’s driving me mad. I keep thinking I’m about to get my period. I don’t know why. There are no indications that it is about to happen. But then my palms start itching again. It’s only the progesterone I’m taking but it reminds me of when I was pregnant before.
In my mind I have to think that it’s failed. That’s the safe thing to do. That way there’ll be less disappointment. Won’t there? But what if? Can I let myself think about the what if? I seem to veer from one to the other in a matter of minutes. The fact that I’m still ill with this damn cough isn’t helping. I’m desperate for Night Nurse but I can’t take it, just in case. Tell you what, if it’s negative on Monday then I am getting pissed and washing it all down with a big glug of Night Nurse. At least I’ll have a good night’s sleep, something that’s definitely been lacking in the last 7 days.
What if it’s positive? What then? I haven’t really thought past this stage. I suppose I shouldn’t really as I’ll only be disappointed but is it not a good idea to prepare? I have a very active job. What will I be able to do? More to the point, what won’t I be able to do?
I think I have worked out that I’m not very good at waiting. Waiting sucks. Especially when it involves massive life-changing decisions like this. Grrrr.
The weekend was tricky for me. I’m not used to not coping but Saturday I definitely wasn’t coping (my blog post probably hinted at that). Thankfully I think I’ve passed that, for now. Well, the self deprecation anyway, not the illness. I was worried that I had overdone it, that I was ill and it was my fault. That my body was going to be trying to fight the illness so much that it wouldn’t be focusing on bringing life to my embryos. A very good friend of mine put it in perspective for me. Maybe the whole reason I was ill was because my body was too busy focusing on the embryos it didn’t have time to deal with a silly little virus.
And a virus is what it is. I have had two visits to the doctor since Saturday morning and have been given a ventolin inhaler to use alongside my normal inhaler and some steroids, both to try and ease my cough as I have had a total of about 5 hours sleep in the last two nights. I’m shattered 😦 There is nothing I can do about my coldsore, it will go away on its own. I just have to put up with it and probably stop fiddling with it… 😮
My parents have been visiting yesterday and today and we had takeaway curry last night and went to the garden centre today to look at flowers and pots to put in my currently being built garden. We bought some lavender to plant round the bottom of my apple tree (see previous blog on the M word) and it smells divine. That was a nice distraction 🙂 Now they’ve gone and I’ve got to get my head back into work mode. I’m back in tomorrow, although potentially not working directly with the kids as my cough is still pretty bad. At least the weather is looking to improve this week so I shouldn’t be getting a soaking like I did on Friday. Still, this is North Wales and unpredictable weather is the norm here.
There is another couple going through the IVF process a few days ahead of me who I have been following intently through their blogs. It is looking like bad news for them this time and I feel terribly for them. Reading their blogs brought me to tears. Because our timelines are so close together it is difficult not to feel involved, even though I don’t know them and they live the other side of the country. She is ten years younger than me. Her odds are much higher than mine, more like 4 in 10 (mine are 1 in 15). She has the possibility of going again with two frozen embryos. This is our only chance. It’s hard not to think doom and gloom. I have another whole week to wait before I can do my test. Seven days. Well six and a half now as I have to do it first thing in the morning.
I don’t feel pregnant but then this cold definitely has a hold of me and doesn’t really allow me time to feel anything else. I have sore boobs but that would be normal if I was about to get my period. My palms are itchy as they were when I was pregnant before but that’s just the progesterone I’m taking. I’m peeing all the time but that’s hardly surprising when I’m having to sip water all the time to keep my cough at bay. My moods are up and down but then my body has been under huge stress for the last few weeks and I’m taking hormones.
And so we wait.
So today went as well as it could I guess. The whole procedure of having two embryos inserted into my uterus was remarkably easy. The hardest thing was having to have a full bladder and worrying I was actually going to pee on Dr. Massoud. I don’t think that would have gone down too well 😮
When we arrived at the hospital we had a chat with one of the embryologists who informed us that both embryos had developed well. They like to see between 6 and 8 cells at this stage and both of ours were split into 8 which is great. The not such good news was that out of a grading of 1 to 4 (with 1 being the best quality) both of ours were graded 3. This means that either the cells weren’t equal in size and/or there was some fragmentation of the cells. Still, they wouldn’t transfer them unless they believed there was a chance, albeit about 1 in 15.
Saying it like that though, 1 in 15, sounds better than between 5 and 10%. I can imagine myself in a group of 15 people and being the only one who likes spiders or who is coeliac or who is an outdoor teacher. Being the only one to get pregnant in that group of people doesn’t seem quite so out of reach after all.
Still, from now on, it is all in the hands of nature. Science has done its bit. It all boils down to whether or not the lining of my uterus accepts those precious little packages of cells. It could accept neither, it could accept one and it could accept both (giving us the possibility of having quads as Gwen the hilarious nurse mentioned??!!) 😮
So I have been sent home with a little picture of the moment the embryos went shooting from the catheter into my uterus and instructions to just get on with life as normal, without overdoing it and getting too stressed. On Monday 27th March – two weeks from now – I have to take a pregnancy test and then all will be revealed.
Surprisingly I actually feel quite calm about the whole thing now. The last two weeks have been fairly stressful and yesterday was just damn awful but now it’s really out of my hands. It will either work or it won’t. This is our only chance. We only get one shot on the NHS and we can’t afford to go privately. In all seriousness, even if we could afford it, I don’t think I’d do it. Perhaps if we’d had spare to freeze we might have gone down that route but we didn’t so there’s not point thinking about it.
If it doesn’t work then I just have to get used to the fact my life will be childless. I won’t be the only woman on this planet who wants children but can’t have them. Elton has a daughter who I love very much. We will be ok. Life goes on. We will probably go on some faraway holiday somewhere. I have my back up plan of the numerous triathlons that I have scheduled for this year as well as a 100 mile closed road cycle sportive in September. My mind will be occupied with training. I have my dog. I have my friends. I have a good life and we are happy.
I just want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been reading this blog and giving us their support. It means a lot. It’s been an interesting journey which isn’t quite over yet… 🙂
If I thought I was tense yesterday, it was nothing to how I was feeling this morning. After a night of broken sleep, constantly needing to pee and very weird dreams, I finally woke up around 8:30. Then the anxiety started. When were they going to phone? I felt sick. I managed a cup of tea but food was out of the question. I spent ages on Facebook looking at stupid videos in an attempt to distract myself from the reality. The reality that there could be bad news, that this could be the end of our journey.
10:00 the phone rang. Jason the embryologist has a soothing voice but was giving nothing away. After he’d confirmed my name and date of birth it happened. ‘Well, it’s good news’. Oh my goodness, the relief that washed over me in that instant was almost overwhelming. I’m glad I was sitting down. Once he’d let me catch my breath he checked that I was in a position to take in all the information. I was. So, the ‘mass’ that they found wasn’t an egg so it was definitely 3 eggs that were taken. That’s fine. The third egg wasn’t mature so that was a no go. Back to the original two eggs. BOTH FERTILISED!! Massive hurdle over 🙂
Jason was very pleased. ‘That’s a 100% success on your viable eggs’. Whoo-hoo! So now I just have to wait until tomorrow to find out if these precious little packages are going to develop into embryos. Apparently each one has a 90% chance of becoming an embryo which is pretty high but it’s not plain sailing. Of course then there’s the major issue of my womb accepting them if they do develop but we’ll cross each hurdle as we get to it. For now at least, we can semi relax, until the anxiety of tomorrow’s phone call sets in…
I managed to get hold of Elton half way up Snowdon with a group. He’s over the moon. Must have been super hard for him setting off for work this morning not knowing what was going on, when I was going to get the phone call, whether he’d have signal to speak to me. At least he is going to be distracted for the rest of the day by work. I, on the other hand, am going to need to do something, anything to keep my mind off things for a while!
I guess it’s time to talk about eggs. You’ve guessed it, as this is a blog about IVF I’m not really talking about the kind of eggs that people eat, I’m talking about the ones that grow in follicles in women’s ovaries. However, bar inserting a tiny camera into my ovary, I’m never going to get a picture of said eggs so everyday eggs, in a bowl, at mum and dad’s will have to do. I could take one off the internet but I’m not going to. I quite like this picture of eggs. Anyway, I digress…
Today was day one of blood tests/scan week. I have to go back on Wednesday for the same thing and then again on Friday. The aim of these tests is to see if the drug I am taking (Menopur) is working. It is meant to be stimulating my ovaries so that follicles grow and within each follicle an egg is harvested.
I arrived at the hospital a little flustered to be honest. My scan wasn’t until 11:30 and I left North Wales in plenty of time but there were about a million roadworks on the way and every single tractor and slow lorry and caravan that could be out was out. It must be national drive slow day today or something. Unfortunately I didn’t get the memo. I actually got to the car park at 10:50 which was fine but I had to have bloods taken before and I was worried that, at this time of day, it would be really busy. My mind was soon set at ease when I walked in and there were only 3 people in front of me. Time to calm down. I’m glad no one was taking my blood pressure as I’m sure it was through the roof this morning.
I was then actually early for my scan and, as the person in front of me in the queue was running late, probably stuck in the same traffic I was, I got taken straight in. Today my ovaries were not playing hide and seek, they were there, very clearly (apparently) for the scanner to see. So all in all the whole process was very quick. In fact, I was out of the scan room before I was even meant to be in there! Very efficient. Next it was a meeting with the nurse.
I was seeing Gwen today. She’s very straight talking. Apparently I should be over the moon. I have one follicle in my right ovary which is 10mm. This might grow so it’s a ‘possible’. In my left ovary I have three follicles, one of 14mm, one of 12mm and one of 6mm. Apparently the 6mm one is a write off (it is very unlikely to grow any bigger) but the other two are ‘dead certs’. For someone of my age and with my blood results this is eggsellent news (see what I did there). So why do I feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach?
These results mean that I am likely to get 2 eggs, possibly 3 eggs for collection next week. Let’s say two as this is what the nurse reckons will be the case. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for bad quality eggs. So I’m relying on those two eggs both being good quality and then both being fertilised by Elton’s little swimmers to give me the highest chance. This also completely removes the possibility of freezing any embryos. Today was the day that I realised that this is our only chance.
Gwen told me I should be leaving with a big smile on my face which I tried very hard to do. Perhaps I haven’t been paying attention along the way or perhaps people just haven’t been that honest with me. Maybe I just haven’t been asking the right questions. I don’t feel eggstatic (I know, that was bad, but I need to keep my humour up) but to say I’m feeling flat is an understatement. Desperately searching for positive thoughts at the moment. Anyone know any good yolks?