Hope snowflakes

Mother Nature performed an impressive repertoire today – bold orange sun, whipping wind, grey storm clouds and pellets of ice, with splashes of blue sky in between.

At lunch time, I sheltered from the hail in the post office doorway, thinking of our four frozen blastocysts. I still marvel that they are suspended in time at -196 degrees. How is this possible?  Today’s play fight between winter and summer symbolised their journey home from the cryosphere. An incredible adventure across 240 degrees! I pray for their safe thaw and those vital sparks of cellular sunlight.

We’re investing all our hope in this miracle!

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Christmas on helium – the one with bounce and squeak

Mum100_blog_IVF_fertility_treatment_excitement_excited_Christmas_on_heliumYou’ll spot him skateboarding on the M25 or splashing in the lido at London Fields. Half rubber ball, half red dwarf, his biggest inspirations are:

  • MC Hammer
  • trombones
  • small dogs in windows of fast cars
  • Elvis impersonators
  • Cadbury’s creme eggs

His mission in life is to remind me how exciting this baby-making business is. He boinged on to bed this morning, bashing his head on the ceiling.

“Only four sleeps until your next scan!” he said.

I do love this little character. He’s the one who believes it’s all entirely possible. He wants to play Basement Jaxx now and dance around the flat – who am I to argue?

Trust me, I’m a search engine

Mum100_blog_Doctor_Google_overgoogling_IVF_fertility_treatment_answersIt’s about time we officially welcomed Dr Google into my family and other characters. He does house calls during IVF treatment, any time of day or night.

With his glowing yellow hair and his promise of omniscience, I always invite him in for a boiled egg or three – even when there’s absolutely nothing wrong with me. There’s just something about his open arms, his unlikely lips.

“Ask me anything,” Dr Google says.
“Why is your hair so yellow?” I say.
“It is styled with organic eggs.”
“Why are your lips so red?”
“They are glossed with Tuscan tomatoes.”
“Why are your trousers so green?”
“They are sown from the seeds of Wimbledon grass.”
“Why are your boots so blue?”
“They are made from the Mediterranean sea.”
“Doctor Google, are you telling me the truth?”

He gazes at me across the kitchen table. He spoons a whole golden yolk into his magnificent mouth.

“Brrrring, brrrring,” he says.
“Why are you making that sound?”
“Brrrring, brrrring.”
He puts on his stethoscope headset and holds the chest piece to his lips.
“Dr Google here, feeling lucky?…Man on all fours under desk, you say?…Woman shaking phone?…Kids on bed, playing iPad frisbee?”
“What’s happened?” I say.
“Wifi crash on Rectory Road. Must dash.”

Mum100_blog_Lancome_L'Absolu_Rouge_lipstick_Dr_GoogleDr Google reaches into my makeup bag. He pulls out my Lancome L’Absolu Rouge lipstick. He applies a coat to his lips. He pulls a flashing blue light from his pocket and straps it to his heart-shaped head. He pelts downstairs, making siren sounds.

“Same time tomorrow?” I call after him.

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2 little changes I’ve made after reading “It Starts with the Egg”

Mum100_blog_It_Starts_With_The_Egg_Rebecca_Fett_vitamin_D_plastic_BPA_IVF_fertilityI’ve had a few days now, to absorb all the information in Rebecca Fett’s book – “It Starts with the Egg”. I devoured this book in one sitting because the evidence base was so compelling. I rely far too much on Dr Google, so it was fantastic to read such clear guidance and see how much research Rebecca had studied to draw her conclusions (on the Kindle version of her book, p245 to p303 are the list of references she cites!).

To be honest, the book sent me into a bit of a spin for 24 hours. I thought, right, I have to implement every single one of Rebecca Fett’s recommendations today – ha! Thankfully, common sense has returned and now I have taken a couple of actions, which feel most relevant for me.

Vitamin D spray

I’ve topped up my vitamin supply with some Zita West Vitamin D spray. Here are three quotes from “It Starts with the Egg”, which convinced me this was a good idea – it’s possibly worth getting a test for vitamin D deficiency first, for those with time to play with, but my embryo transfer is just weeks away:

  • “In one of the most compelling studies, which was published in 2012, researchers at Columbia University and the University of Southern California measured vitamin D levels in nearly 200 women undergoing IVF. Of the Caucasian women in the group, the odds of pregnancy were four times higher for women with high vitamin D levels compared to those with a vitamin D deficiency. This trend was not seen in women of Asian ethnicity, but for Caucasian women there was such a powerful difference in the chance of becoming pregnant that it should make anyone about to go through IVF think twice about their own vitamin D levels.”
  • “It is not yet known how vitamin D is involved in fertility, but researchers suspect that one of the ways it may improve fertility is by making the uterine lining more receptive to pregnancy. Specifically, some scientists think that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to infertility by interrupting the estrogen system and also reducing production of antimullerian hormone which is involved in the growth of ovarian follicles. Another enticing clue about the role of vitamin D in fertility is the discovery that there are specific receptors for vitamin D in cells in the ovaries and the uterus.”
  • “It is likely that vitamin D supplements can only improve fertility if you are currently deficient, but a deficiency is surprisingly common, particularly in cooler climates. By some estimates, as much as 36% of the U.S. population is deficient, and the rate nearly doubled from 1994 to 2004. Researchers believe this is largely due to reduced time outdoors and greater use of sunscreen because even though we obtain small amounts from food, the vast majority of vitamin D in the body is made after skin is exposed to sunlight.”

Given the facts that I live in England, I work indoors and it’s been a long cold winter, I’m going for it.

Glass food storage containers

Secondly, I’ve chucked out my tatty plastic storage containers and I’ve bought a glass food storage set. They still have plastic lids, but they are BPA-free (which is the worst offender, according to Fett) and the food will only be in contact with glass. Rebecca writes that as long as you don’t damage the plastic by heating it up or washing with harsh detergents in hot water, then the nasty BPA is less likely to leach out. She suggests washing all plastics in cold water to minimise this.

Other information in “It Starts with the Egg”

There’s so much more good information in “It Starts with the Egg” about phthalates and other toxins, thyroid problems, vitamins, coenzyme Q10, Mediterranean diet, PCOS, DHEA for dimished ovarian reserve, blood sugar and insulin, antioxidants, sperm quality and much more – with basic, intermediate and advanced action plans to follow, if you want to implement suggestions she makes.

Finally, I love the quote Rebecca Fett puts at the start of her action plan chapter:

  • “Forget past mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you are going to do now and do it” – William Durant

That sums it up for me because according to her book, I have made quite a few mistakes. But that’s alright, because I didn’t know any different!

Buckle up, I’m on the oestrogen!

Mum100_blog_progynova_oestrogen_tablets_IVF_rocket_fuelThree little blue pills each day: IVF science is launching me skywards after my fake menopause! We’re on countdown to my beautiful blasters coming home to mama.

Thankfully, all went well at our first pre-transfer scan. Our nurse reduced my Suprecur injections to 0.3ml per night. She added in 6mg of oestrogen – aka rocket fuel.

Mum100_blog_starship_oestrogen_ivf_embryo_transfer_up_and_awayEdgy McSpark is still on the scene, but he definitely approves of the impressive spacecraft flames.

To all my IVF sisters and brothers, I couldn’t do this daring adventure without you. Thank you for lighting up the galaxy for me with your experience and encouragement.

Soft boiled egg and soldiers – er hello, big kid alert!

Mum100_blog_IVF_fertility_food_soft_boiled_eggHere’s a meal that takes me right back to childhood.

Bash the egg’s head. Slice off the top. Mind your fingers on the hot shell – ouch!

Inside, is the yolk runny? Yes! Then the first dip of toast, that burst of bright gold like liquid sun.

On the phone last night, my Mum said she can see the happy child in my blog. It’s true that IVF is making me reach instinctively for the things I loved as a kid. Playing, drawing cartoons, eating a boiled egg or two (which gives me a dose of protein, B vitamins, vitamin D and selenium).

Perhaps I’ll paint some eggs and take them rollerskating. In the world according to me, this may just be the decider for IVF success!

Just the six of us

Mum100_blog_ivf_icsi_the_family_and_other_animalsAt 4.48am, Edgy McSpark wakes up, hot and scratchy. In his neon wisdom, he reaches for my mobile phone and starts flicking. He comes across “It Starts with the Egg” by Rebecca Fett. He pays for the book with my debit card and begins reading the first chapter.

“Oi, Professor Wilson,” Edgy says. “Come and have a read of this. It’s proper sciency.”

Professor Wilson jumps out of bed like Christmas on helium. He grabs the book. By 7am, he’s on page 225. His monkey mind fizzes with fertility research.

At 7.21am, the Professor and Edgy huddle in a corner of my bedroom. They decide that all Fett’s suggestions for optimising fertility must be implemented – TODAY. They pull my big toes until I agree to do everything they tell me.

Edgy, the Professor and I then read extracts from Fett’s very informative book to Dad 100, explaining why we’re doing fertility all wrong.

“We have to throw out every plastic item in the house,” I say. “Containers, bowls, spatulas – the lot.”
“Shall we have some tea first?” Dad 100 says.

 

Around 1pm, my brain short circuits.

“I’m going out for some sunshine and food,” I say.
“We’ve got our scan appointment at the hospital,” Dad 100 calls down the stairs.

I wander around Whole Foods with Edgy McSpark. There is now nothing I can buy in this shop. Every lunch choice is wrapped in plastic. Finally, I settle on the salad bar – filling my paper carton, leaving the plastic lid behind.

 

At the hospital, Evie the nurse and Dr Mehra greet us like old friends.

“How’s it all going?” Evie says.
“Edgy, monkey mind, but other than that – I’m doing really well.”
“Perfectly normal to get mood swings, hot flushes, sore breasts,” she says. “The Suprecur brings on a false menopause.”
“Hooray!”
“We’ll get you scanned to see how things are.”

Evie scans me with the magic wand. The lining is getting thinner, which confuses me a bit – but Evie and the doctor seem pleased. Evie shows me my ovaries on the monitor.

“Nice and quiet,” she says. “Just what we want to see. So, we’ll start you on the oestrogen. Three little blue pills, 6mg a day, same time as your injection. And you can reduce the Suprecur to 0.3ml. We’ll have you back on 2nd May for your second scan. We’ll soon be popping your embryos back in.”

As easy as that. Every muscle in my body relaxes. My reproductive organs are doing what they’re supposed to do. Perhaps I’m not dying from plastic poisoning after all. A smile spreads across my face.

 

After the hospital, Dad 100 and I go to the park.The trees along the pathway are giants. We decide they are 300 years old. We spread a big towel on the grass. We lie down in the sunshine and have a cuddle. We talk to our future kids. A plane leaves a white vapour trail across bright blue sky.

Introducing Dad 100

I asked my fella if I could interview him for my blog and he said yes :-). In a longer post than my usual 100 words, here are some of his thoughts about our fertility treatment so far….

What has been the best part of doing fertility treatment?

The best part has been the hope. It’s only recently that I’ve come to the realisation that it’s actually happening. In the early stages, we were going along to the hospital for lots of tests and consultations with the doctors, but now I am getting very hopeful for the future. I’m beginning to feel strong paternal feelings.

What’s been the hardest part?

The amount of waiting. It’s gone on for a long time and we’ve still got a long way to go.

What’s been the hardest part of being my partner during our treatment?

Dealing with the mood swings. That has been tricky at times. But to be fair, you’ve been good most of the time. The fire-breathing monster only emerges occasionally!

What’s been the best part of doing this treatment together?

Creating our little vision board for our family, where we put up pictures of our four blastocysts, baby pictures and our ideal home. Just the hope it represents, really, it’s lovely. I think you’re ahead of me in all this. You were having these thoughts and feelings about all the possibilities years ago. It’s only just hitting me now.

Why do you think it took longer to dawn on you, what we were doing?

Probably because I have to do the least amount of work, physically. I’ve had to do the business in the ‘procurement room’ at the appointed time – that’s it! You’ve had to do a lot more than I have, so I think you’re further ahead than me, psychologically.

If you knew when we started the treatment how much there was to it, would you still do it?

Yes, of course, because it’s what we want – to have a family.

The pomegranate – half queen, half punk rocker

Mum100_blog_ivf_fertility_food_pomegranateYour name means ‘seeded apple’ but to me you’re a royal punk rocker.

Your smooth case and ruby gleam are your queenly qualities. Then bam – there’s the burst of sweet and sharp juice, the gritty seed inside pink pulp. Chew on that, Johnny Rotten!

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You’re on my fertility food list because of your vitamin content (C, K and B especially).

Okay, so you’re a bugger to peel – but I forgive you because you slow me down and it’s satisfying to separate your seeds from the membrane.

Breakfast heaven is pomegranate porridge with soaked almonds – God save the queen to that!

Skydiving cat – oh, that’s supposed to be me!

On Friday, I worked my last day for a longstanding client. I gave notice in February because I’m not Superwoman. For me, busy work life doesn’t mix with a frozen embryo transfer.

I was touched by the send off from colleagues – lunch, flowers and a funny card. I thought, nothing says fertility treatment quite like a madcap cat, seconds after diving from a plane!

I trust that leaving work is the right thing to do. We’ve been saving since 2013, when we started trying for a baby. Now is the time to invest in peace and spaciousness.

(Now, where’s that ripcord ??!!)