Disconnect

I’m actually a very good sleeper. I sleep a little like a brick, usually from the moment my head touches the pillow until my a few minutes into my sunrise clock coming on in the morning. I might wake up once during the night to pee, but I go straight back to sleep. That is, until I get my period. Then it’s all change. I’m fidgety. More fidgety than usual. I’m hot. I’m cold. I’m hot again. I itch. I itch everywhere. I’m uncomfortable. In every position. It absolutely sucks.

I used to suffer with insomnia a lot when I was younger. Night time was when my brain came to life. When every single problem, no matter how insignificant, came to the forefront of my consciousness. Where all my creativity ignited. It was exhausting, draining, hard to manage. And then I got diagnosed as a coeliac and went on a gluten-free diet and the insomnia stopped. I’m not suggesting for a minute that gluten causes insomnia but it was definitely diet related for me. Apart from when I have my period, obviously. Then it must be hormone related. Damn hormones.

insomnia-14

Anyway, as I’m up, at 3.45am, I might as well put my brain to use instead of just uncomfortably tossing and turning in my bed. There’s been a lot going on recently. I have separated from Elton. Most of you that know me, will know this already as it happened back at the beginning of December. It had been on the cards for a while, things just weren’t right. Unfortunately there has been a lot of grief in our marriage. Miscarriage, failed IVF, the realisation that a family is not what I will have, it’s all tied up with Elton. It’s not his fault but I can’t move on with him. I need to disconnect.

And that just momentarily brings me back to why I’m up at this unsociable hour. Why the fuck do I still get periods? I’ve gone through this before I know, but it still makes me so angry. Not that I’m desperate to go through the menopause but having a monthly reminder of what could have been is just like a sucker punch. Every fucking month. Anyway, I digress…

So, disconnection. It’s an interesting word for me as it has recently come up in my therapy sessions. One thing that I have had an issue with my whole life is feeling disconnected to things that I have done. This struck me most when I got back from nearly two years of travelling. Almost as soon as I got back I felt disconnected from the whole experience. I had memories and a bunch of photographs but, the only way I can describe it was, it felt like it had happened to someone else and I had just been told about it, rather than experiencing it for myself.

I have recently been through this experience again. For those of you that follow my other blog page, you will know that at the beginning of January I ran the equivalent of three marathons in three days as part of an ongoing challenge I have set myself this year. Now I haven’t run a marathon since 2011 and I have NEVER run three back to back. It was incredibly emotional, going through pain, joy, disappointment, happiness, pride, elation, relief and a whole host of other emotions yet almost immediately I felt completely disconnected from it. Like it had happened to someone else.

So this feeling of disconnection became the topic of conversation when I recently met with my therapist. And what an interesting conversation that became! I am adopted. I was removed from my mother after a few days and put in foster care and then adopted at the age of 10 weeks. Just a wee baby. I’ve never had any issues with this. My parents are amazing, loving and incredibly supportive and I have never wanted for anything. I have also met both my natural parents and their families and still have a close relationship with my natural father and my half-siblings. I’ve never felt that my adoption was a ‘trauma’ in my life. However…

The way my therapist described pregnancy is that mother and baby are one. Joined not just by the physical umbilical cord and subsequent breast feeding but in every other way as well. The first three months of a baby’s life are fundamental. The child develops into an individual but is grounded by this continued bond with their mother. Any child removed from their mother during this time is quite likely to go on to develop some issues in adult life – I’m not a psychologist so I’m not going to attempt to go into this any further, suffice to say, the way it was explained to me made sense.

So I went through a physical ‘trauma’ when I was just a couple of days old. I obviously don’t remember this but it has left a scar. I am disconnected. Disconnected from myself. I seek out relationships, activities, experiences, adventures that make me feel things but these feelings are short-lived. They are in the moment. My emotions feel very real, they feel very intense, but then they’re gone. Like they happened to someone else. In order to really ‘feel’ emotions, I need to reconnect to myself.

A dream that I have had many times throughout my life is that I can breathe underwater. How cool is that? I mean, sometimes, when I’m swimming, I actually question whether it’s true as the dreams have felt so real! I’ve always just thought this was a cool dream however, as my therapist pointed out, there is only one place in reality where you can actually breathe underwater. The womb. Boom. When he said this it was like a lightbulb moment. This is my safe space. This is my point of reconnect. These dreams are positive. I need to have more breathing underwater dreams. Slowly but surely I will reconnect with myself and then, maybe, I will be able to connect properly with everything and everyone else.

I think the closest I came to reconnect before was when I was pregnant. And that makes sense to me now. Perhaps that’s why it’s been so hard for me to get over my miscarriage. It wasn’t about losing the child, although that was a huge part of it, it was also about losing part of me. It was like a step backwards in the ongoing reconnect that has been my life.

Sorry, I think I might be rambling. It is 4.30 in the morning and I am tired. And my hormones are all over the place. Damn hormones. Still, this has all been a bit of revelation to me. Some of you may be thinking it all sounds a bit kooky, and I think I would too if you were telling me. But it resonates, it has ignited something inside me. It has raised something in my subconscious. I actually feel the head of the nail has been hit.

Time to go back to bed. Maybe I’ll dream I can breathe underwater. Maybe I’ll have a moment of reconnect. Maybe those moments of reconnect will become more frequent. I can live in hope.

Goodnight.

Line in the sand

It was the news we were expecting. We’re not pregnant. I knew. It doesn’t make it any less sad but we’ve been down this road before and now we are at the end of it. The end of the road, the end of our journey, a line in the sand.

The last couple of years have been an up and down of emotions and the last few weeks have been a condensed version of this. We knew our chances were slim but we had to try. Now it’s time to move on.

I’m sure I have more crying to do but right now I feel a bit numb. But I also feel like I need focus. Luckily I prepared for this. In 8 weeks time I have my first triathlon of the year. I have some serious training to do (after the gin I will be drinking tonight). Time to get back in shape and on with the year ahead.

We are devastated, of course. We both wanted a child to complete our little family, but we will survive. We are strong. Thank you to everyone who has supported us along this IVF journey. It has been so helpful to me to be able to talk about it.

Still waiting…

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 waiting game

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.

Bad mother?

I don’t even know if the IVF has been successful yet but I’m already thinking I’m a bad mother. I haven’t been looking after myself properly. I can’t have been as I’m run down. I have a coldsore. I never get coldsores. I have what is, at worst, a chest infection and at best, a nasty whoopy cough and a cold.

The problem is that I don’t have the sort of job where if I phone in sick the work will wait or someone else will pick it up for me. If I phone in sick there’s a group of year 6 kids left without an instructor to run activities for them.

I felt a bit better yesterday morning too and, as I wasn’t in until lunchtime I was able to have a lie-in. What I would have done, if I wasn’t such a bad mother, is go to the doctor. But I didn’t. I chose to stay in bed instead hoping it would pass. Then, in the evening, I took 30 children on a night walk in the wind and the rain for an hour and a half. The kids loved it. The teachers loved it. I did my job well. I now feel like crap 😷

Now it’s Saturday. I have been sent home from work by my good friend and colleague who has said they will work it out. I need to be in bed. I’m not a good mother. I had to be told to go home. I do, however, have a strong work ethic. Maybe my priorities are all wrong. Perhaps I’m too stuck in my ways. I was told ‘normal life’ and this is ‘normal’ for me.

Typically, as it’s Saturday, I now can’t see the doctor. Bad mother.

Passing the baton from science to nature

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… 🙂

Longest day ever.

My mistake. I was expecting a call before 11. I never got one. Imagine what that did to my mental state. Actually don’t. By the time I did get the call (around 3pm) the inside of my brain probably resembled scrambled egg. 

Anyway, next hurdle crossed. Midday tomorrow we go back into The Royal Shrewsbury where I will have both developed embryos transferred into my womb. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the success rate for a sticking pregnancy for someone of my age is between 5 and 10%. Oh boy. The odds really are stacked against us.

The next two weeks are going to be hell. 

Tense morning or what??!!

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!

Eggs

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?

Hormones, I think…

Well I am now on day 4 of Menopur injections although I haven’t actually done my stabbing duty for today as it doesn’t get done until 10pm. I mentioned in my updated previous post that these injections are a bitch. They are a bitch to sort out and they are a bitch going in. After the first night of doing them and the stress that caused I decided I needed a nice comfortable, quiet place to get on with them. I have now moved my lovely POANG chair up to the bedroom and I have everything set on on a tray, ready for the day ahead. So, in the morning at 7am it’s Buserelin into the tummy and in the evening at 10pm it’s Menopur into the leg. I’m starting to feel a little like a teabag…

So it was Monday night I started the Menopur, after a stressful afternoon wondering if the hospital were going to ring me to say ‘STOP, you’re E2 is still too high’ (which they didn’t) and then umming and ahhing about what time was the most sensible to do them. Tuesday morning I managed a small run with a friend and Baileydog. One friend had mentioned to me that I shouldn’t run but I checked with the hospital and they said it was fine. ‘Normal life’ was what I was told and running is normal life for me. Anyway, managed a run and then got to work to find out I was bleeding. Had a little panic as I had already had a bleed just over a week earlier. I finally managed to get through to the hospital and was told not to worry. Panic over.

Anyway, this post is meant to be about hormones. I think my hormones are starting to do their thing. I have the headaches back. I’m hungry all the time. I have incredible bouts of all out exhaustion where I can hardly stay awake and last night I started night sweats. Oh what a joy that is. For anyone that hasn’t experienced night sweats it’s like waking up and feeling that you have just been in a bath with your pyjamas on (if you sleep in pyjamas that is) and that someone has either soaked the pillow or you have had a real dribbling issue while you’ve been asleep. The problem is when you wake up you are then super cold because you have been sweating, probably tossed the covers off and then got really chilly (after all it’s winter and the heating goes off at 9:30pm). It’s then a struggle to get warm again so you can drift back off to sleep only for the same thing to happen an hour later.

When my alarm did go off at 6:30 this morning, I was so drained that I walked into the bathroom and managed to drop my pint glass of squash straight onto the tiled floor. What a great way to kickstart the day.

This week probably hasn’t been the best week at work for my hormones to be getting the better of me. We have 45 year 5 kiddies in from Salford, many of whom are quite needy in one way or another. My patience has been running thin. In fact, on Tuesday, had it not been for the support of the trainee we have with us at the moment, I may well have eaten a small child. Thankfully it’s Friday tomorrow and they go home. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, just not so much this week 😉

Next week I have a week off for bloods/scans on Monday, Wednesday and Friday so it’s a week with the folks being pampered and getting lots of rest. I am really looking forward to it. What I’m not looking forward to is my body changing shape due to increased egg production (hopefully). I’ve worked hard over the last year to get into the jeans I’m currently wearing. Think it might be a slouchies week next week 😮

Well, let’s hope I finally manage to master the Menopur injections as this weekend in the evenings I am volunteering at the Llanberis Mountain and Adventure Film Festival and I am going to need to do them somewhere other than home. Let’s hope there’s somewhere less seedy than a public toilet…

Have a good one everyone. Especially those of you heading for egg collection next week x