Change · Clomid · Counselling · Experience · fertility · infertility · Lifestyle · PCOS · Self Acceptance · ttc

Babies Here, Babies There, Babies Everywhere!

It’s one of those things… like when a friend says they’re getting a new car which you’ve never heard of before, so they show you and suddenly you start seeing them everywhere. Parked on the street. Passing you on the road. Pulling up next to you in the supermarket. To me, and a vast majority of women trying to conceive, that’s exactly what it’s like with babies.

At first it was ok, sometimes frustrating to see other people having what I wanted, but I told myself that my time would come soon. That lasted a little while until the desperation started to kick in and along came the bitterness towards others with a family, pregnant women and new Mums pushing their little bundles of joy around the park in a brand new shiny pram. I just felt so alone. Every pregnancy announcement on social media was met with a huff and a rolling of the eyes. I started to avoid friends with children or those who were expecting one. I felt it was a dark time for me.

I feel I must point out though that never once did I wish that these people around me didn’t have what they have… it was purely envy over what they had, and a reminder of what I didn’t.

The cherry on top of the cake was when my best friend got pregnant. It suddenly felt so close to home, this wasn’t just someone I knew, this was my BEST FRIEND. This was having to go through her pregnancy with her. This was having to come to terms with the fact that she was getting what I wanted and so far my attitude towards people with this was bitter… and I couldn’t afford to have bitterness between myself and one of my oldest and dearest friends.

I cranked up the frequency of my counselling sessions and searched desperately for a way to drag myself out of this dark place. I had to use avoidance to start with. It pained me, but it was necessary. I then realised I had good days and bad days. There were days where I would want to soak up every ounce of pregnancy happiness, no matter that it wasn’t me experiencing it physically, then I had other days where I felt if anyone mentioned the word ‘pregnant’ to me I might just punch them in the face. It wasn’t a pretty time for me and I felt it was a very ugly version of myself.

THEN…

… about a month before my best friend was due, she went on maternity leave. We started to see a little more of each other on my days off and whilst out walking one day it hit me like a tonne of bricks – my best friend is having a baby that I get to cuddle, that I get to play with, that I get to laugh and joke and fall in love with. I even feel a bit teary now writing this, but that moment for me was an absolute game changer and has been my saving grace in how I now cope with infertility. Yes I have a deep desire for my own children, but in the meantime I get to explore and learn more about them and also have some extra time to mentally prepare myself for what the next chapter will bring… because there WILL be a next chapter, it may not come about in the way we would like, but we will have our family one day.

I feel extremely lucky to have been able to pull myself out of that dark place and nuzzle myself deep into a positive state of mind. It sounds silly, but some days I feel so full of positive energy that I could physically explode. It’s kind of a bizarre state to be in, but I’m telling myself after being so negative for so long that I deserve a positivity overdose… it can’t hurt right?! I wish I had the recipe of my revelation to share with you all, to help those struggling with infertility cope with watching others experiencing your dreams, but I’m afraid I don’t. Whether it was the counselling or just that I simply couldn’t contain any more negativity, I have no idea… but I am so thankful to have found the strength to keep pushing forward, to keep my head in the game and to welcome any new challenges with a smile and determination.

This is MY life I am living, I do not want to spend it in a cloud of bad vibes and to look back one day to find I have regrets.

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Clomid · Experience · fertility · infertility · PCOS · ttc

“Unexplained Infertility”… Really?

Can we really be fooled into thinking that there is no explanation for our infertility? I suppose if you’re new to this game then you may do, I certainly did at first, but it’s basically a term that you are branded with when funding or testing has been exhausted… but then after all that testing, you find yourself pretty exhausted too and willing to take anything that’s on the table!

So, to catch you up, our last cycle failed… sure it sucks, but you grow a thick skin to it after a while. I chose to believe it was going to happen, which in turn really lifted my spirits. My positive energy was through the roof and when my period arrived I didn’t even cry, well until the following day but that’s progress! Another thing that probably helped was that a few days later we had our ‘next steps’ appointment scheduled at our Fertility Clinic.

Now, a week after our referral back in June we received a letter saying that our clinic would be stopping all assisted treatment from November, so it wasn’t a shock when we were told we are being handed over to a new clinic. At the moment, we don’t know where this will be, but it should only cause a delay of a month or two at the most. Had it been the middle of summer, that might have been hard to deal with, but with Christmas around the corner we’ve got lots to keep us occupied!

We have been purely funded through the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK and are very grateful to receive such good care, however we are aware that the services we receive can be quite limited. Following the tests we’ve had done, we have now been put into the category of having ‘unexplained infertility’. Well, of course there must be SOME reason for our infertility, but all the tests they do through the NHS simply don’t stretch to find out our ‘why’. I could get all upset and frustrated about this, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help us get pregnant.

Due to all my symptoms, I was told I may have mild Endometriosis (which is where tissue that usually lines the uterus grows elsewhere in your body), however because there is none on my ovaries or in my fallopian tubes they no longer need to address this issue, hence why my Laparoscopy was cancelled. I get it, I do… they’re not there to deal with my medical problems, they’re there to get us pregnant.

So, we have a plan! We have been offered three back-to-back rounds of Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and failing that one round of In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) on the NHS. I can imagine if you’re reading this from another country you fully appreciate what a generous offer this is. (I’ll do a post on those procedures as and when we get to them… if you’re not sure what they are, please ask Dr Google). We did have the option to jump straight to IVF, as the success rates for an IUI is only 15%, but we have chosen to believe that WE WILL be in that 15%. Whilst we’re waiting we are continuing on with my old friend, Clomid. I popped my first pill of this round last night… let the fun commence!!

Anxiety · Experience · fertility · infertility · Lifestyle · PCOS · ttc

The Two Week Wait

For those who aren’t familiar with this phrase, it’s pretty clear you’re not trying for a baby. Since we started trying, I’ve opened up a whole new dictionary of words and phrases I never knew existed. At first it felt like everyone was communicating in another language, devised especially for those in the baby making business, but soon I caught on and found myself up to my eyes in acronyms and general trying-to-conceive gibberish.

So, in a nutshell, the ‘two week wait’ is the approximate waiting time between ovulation and finding out if you’re pregnant. For some women it is simply two weeks. Two weeks of normal every day life and either a ‘yay’ or a ‘nay’ at the end of it. For other women time comes almost to a halt,o not enough to actually stop time, but just enough to make every day seem like a year. Then there’s the handful of us who experience the latter and are graced with the crippling reality of infertility.

Hi… yep, me over here. I’m in the club! The infertility club. Should we make some badges or something? I bet they would sell! Not only am I in the club, but I am also four days into my two week wait. So, I thought I would share with you what I’m doing over the week or so… which brings me to my first point:

Keep Busy

There is nothing worse than letting your mind go nuts over wondering what you’re little egg is doing… every single minute of every single day! Just as I am doing right now, right at this moment, I am keeping myself busy. My diary is packed with coffee dates, activities and work to keep my mind occupied. When I find myself without something to do, I lose myself in a box set or a book. I need to keep my mind going. That doesn’t mean that I’m not thinking about it, but I am allowing myself not to obsess over it.

Take Care Of Your Body

This month I am focusing on the foods I eat. I have read many articles and have been told by lots of women to eat warm foods during these couple of weeks. Apparently, by keeping the body warm it makes the uterus more inviting for your little embryo. A lot of women choose to take a multitude of supplements and I recently found myself almost in a state of panic at Holland and Barrett, trying to figure out what to take and what didn’t make my bank account weep. Instead I chose to look closely at the food types I am consuming. I have fallen victim to the old wives tale about pineapple and am scoffing a concoction of nuts and seeds every day to ensure I am feeding my body in the correct way, and that’s good enough for me for now. Some of you may object to what I’m doing, some of you may have good proven scientific evidence that what I’m doing is utter tosh, but to me and my mind, I am doing what I feel comfortable with and that’s all that matters. Also, they say it’s good to take any exercise down a notch. Switch your HIIT workouts for yoga, with some that specialise in fertility, and go for long brisk walks rather than running.

Don’t Symptom Spot

Haahaahaahaa! Ahahaha! Ha! Yeah right, who on earth can honestly say they don’t symptom spot? NOT ME! That’s for sure. Every sore nipple, every twinge in my pelvis and every bit of cervical mucus is mentally documented and analysed. I can’t help it, I feel like I’m programmed to do it… but that’s it, nothing more. Once it’s been noted, forget it. A lot of the typical pregnancy symptoms are also PMS symptoms, so the only definitive way of knowing that you’re pregnant is to wait and see those two juicy lines on a test. It’s good to know what your body is doing, but for reference only. I can’t allow myself to obsess for days over that tiny bit of nausea I felt three days ago, it’s just not healthy for my mind.

Get Support

If you haven’t spoken to anyone about your journey so far, I would urge you to… no matter how far along you are into it. It reeeeeeeeeally helps to have someone to talk to, to shout at or to cry with. Emotions can be high, after all our bodies are naturally gearing up for a pregnancy each month just by producing that egg… whether you choose to fertilise it or not. Also, something you may find absolutely absurd could be absolutely normal. So it’s good to talk, it’s good to share and it’s good to know you’re not alone.

Believe In Yourself

This is something that has only recently come to light for me. Each month I end up telling myself that this isn’t going to work, that I am broken and that it hasn’t happened until now so why should this month be any different. Wow… what a bitch! Would I talk to a friend that way? NO! So why do I think it’s acceptable to talk to myself like this. I think its because I’m trying to protect myself from the heartache of another negative test. I need my body to believe that it CAN happen, so I’ve made a deal with my mind that this month I will believe that I am fully capable of making and growing a baby. My uterus IS inviting. My hormones ARE able to handle it. Positivity is key!

So yeah, that’s what I’m doing with my time and so be it if it comes round every month…

Clomid · Experience · fertility · infertility · PCOS · ttc

Freshly Flushed

Finding myself spread eagled on an x-ray table on a Friday afternoon was not really my idea of fun, but needs must. You see, when struggling with infertility you have to open up your mind (and your legs) to all the testing that comes with it. So, on Friday I had a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), which is basically flushing fluid through your fallopian tubes to see if they’re blocked. From research and feedback of others having had this done, I quickly came to realise that everyone had a different experience in terms of pain, bedside manner, medicine, etc, so my expectations had to be curbed as I was hearing stories of breezing through with no discomfort to feeling contraction-like pain.

Getting the HSG arranged in the first place was pretty easy. I was due to have an investigative operation called a Laparoscopy along with the tube flush three months after our initial consultation in June, but soon that deadline passed and I hadn’t heard anything. A quick phone call later had me set straight with an 8-10 month wait, which would just not do. Fortunately, my consultant appears to be pretty proactive and within a few days I had a letter drop through my door with confirmation of a HSG referral and a telephone number to call when my period started. I also had a one off prescription for an antibiotic to take on the morning of the procedure, in case of any infection whilst my cervix was open, and a recommendation to take painkillers.

Five days later I found myself nervously driving up to the city to Southmead Hospital, where my husband met me to provide me with some much needed support. I actually felt really relaxed going in to the hospital, it’s a fairly new building and set out like an airport. You check in at a kiosk and proceed to a gate, just like going on holiday! Actually, is that some kind of cruel game they’re playing? Next time I go to the airport I’m going to be thinking about this experience!

Anyway, a friendly looking nurse called us through and unfortunately my husband had to sit and wait in a different room, but to know he was there settled my nerves. I got taken into a big wet room with a toilet, shower and a pile of gowns and was given a cup to wee in. A few minutes later the nurse came back and did a pregnancy test just to make sure. “Nope, not pregnant!” she announced. No fucking shit lady! She left to me change into the gown, which I was told must have the flap open at the back and a little while later a second door to the room opened, fortunately I had just about managed to wrap myself up. The fresh faced nurse stood before me smiled and spoke in a very soft Irish accent. She had a calm manner which set me at ease as she helped tie up my gown. Leading me through to a big room she told me to take a seat. I stood there pondering the best possible way to sit down to avoid cheek-on-chair, if you get me… so I opted for the awkward shifting of the gown and perching on the edge.

A few minutes later the door opened and a very together-looking lady walked in. “Hi, I’m Doctor, err… (sorry, can’t remember her name) …and I’m going to talk you through the procedure before we start.” She was very descriptive of what she was going to do, so at least I knew there would be no surprises! Once all explained she asked me to lay on the bed. It was a scary bed, because above it was this big circular thing and monitors and big red and green buttons, just like something I’ve watched on Grey’s Anatomy.

Now, for anyone who has had a cervical screening, the beginning was just like that. There’s a plastic tool called a Speculum that they insert into your vagina. Easy peasy, no problem. Feeling confident about my freshly spruced foof and no desire to pass wind, I allowed myself to relax whilst she had a good look. After a minute or two she popped her head up between my legs and told me that my cervix looked “raw”. Well, I wouldn’t be lying if I didn’t feel like that was true. It’s something I have felt over these past few months with the Clomid periods. I’ll do another post on that, but for now it’s not an issue. She then inserted a tube into my cervix with a little balloon attached to it, which she inflated to hold the tube in place. The nurse pulled down a big piece of equipment over my pelvis and pulled some monitors round, which showed my uterus and fallopian tubes… apparently! Just looked like a load of fuzz to me!

The doctor then attached a big syringe to the end of the tube that she had previously loaded with some sort of clear looking thick gel. This was it, the moment that could change everything… they were either blocked, or not. As the doctor announced she was about to start, the Irish beauty appeared at my head ready with oodles of small talk, I guess designed to take my mind off things, but it’s hard to talk about traffic when someone is hands deep in my vagina! Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but you know what I mean.

Twinge. Light cramp. Bigger cramp. Ouch, this hurts kind of cramp. Oh my fucking hell this is painful kind of cramp. Tears forming in my eyes kind of cramp. What to do? Count, just count Gemma… one. two. threee. ffffour. fiiiiiive. ssssssix. sssevvvven. eeurgheight. niiiiiine…”and we’re done!” The pain instantly left. Thank goodness and a relief to hear her say my tubes were both clear. Phew! So, for me it was painful but it was quick. The staff had an excellent bedside manner and I felt completely at ease and safe in their hands. Once dressed, I was handed a hot cup of coffee and was sent off to join Hubs in the waiting room. I felt a little giddy, but after 10 minutes I was perfectly fine and we were able to leave.

For me, well for us, it was a really positive experience all round. Sure, it’s not a particularly nice procedure, but the way it was all handled before, during and after was excellent in our books. It took me a good sofa session to feel brighter, but there’s nothing wrong with that eh?! I also had some light brown spotting which turned pink for a few days, but nothing a good old panty liner couldn’t handle. The following day I had a letter to say the Laparoscopy had been scheduled for the end of November, as I guess there was a cancellation or something (how bloody typical), so I could have actually had it all done in one go in the end. However, my consultant phoned to say she was happy with the results of the HSG and doesn’t see the need for me to have the surgery, so it’s been cancelled and we have a follow up appointment with her on the 22nd November to discuss the next steps. If we wish to continue with Clomid we may, as we’ve been told any assisted treatment we may have to have won’t start until the New Year, but I need to have a long think about whether I want to tackle another round of Clomid or have a hormonal free Christmas!

Hmmm, tough decision…or is it?