Hello lovely people, I’m Mum 100. I’ve been blogging since March 2016. I started out writing posts that were exactly 100 words, mainly because it gave me something to control down to the last word! Our first frozen embryo transfer was in May 2016 and this blog helped me to find the IVF and infertility community online – thank goodness. I am so grateful for the relief that comes from connecting with people who understand.
Soon after starting my blog, I began to doodle. I discovered that drawing was a way of accessing peacefulness, even on difficult days. My Mum says I could always draw but the truth is I haven’t picked up a colouring pen since I was a kid. I’m enjoying learning how to draw now. It’s been a lovely surprise of keeping this site, expressing myself visually along side the words.
A month after starting my blog, I realised that I needed to write more freely, so I dropped the 100-word limit, but my name stuck. So here I am, Mum 100 – it’s lovely to share this adventure with you. One day, I will ‘come out’, but as I find my way, the anonymity helps me to express myself.
I’ve met so many lovely people through keeping this blog, who are all having their own fertility adventures. Thank you for your friendship and support – each connection with you is a drop of sanity, in this baffling and wonderful process! I want every single one of us to find peace in this rocky, hopeful journey. Each time someone announces a pregnancy in our community, I take heart. Each time someone goes through a tough time, I realise I’m not alone in the struggle. I passionately believe that all our stories are valid and important to share – whatever the outcome.
This is my fiancé, Dad 100. We got engaged in 2012 but so far we’ve been too lazy to plan the wedding. Dad 100 always wears that hat, even on sunny days. He’s a kind and loving man, who loves the idea of having kids with me.
We have a really clear vision of our family – we keep a noticeboard in our front room, where we stick up pictures of our ideal home environment. There are lots of baby pictures on this board and we would love to own a home in London one day.
Dad 100 always tells me I would make a great mum and I tell him he would make a great dad – and yes, we have watched the Michael McIntyre sketch about how oblivious non-parents are when they decide to have a family. It makes us laugh, that sketch – and we would absolutely love to see the day when our kids rule the house!
Dad 100 and I met at a wedding in September 2011, when I was 34 years old. He asked me out the next day, but I was leaving London three days later for a solo travel adventure in India. We wrote to each other for five months. He was my virtual companion in the dusty streets of Delhi, the backwaters of Kerala, beside the boulders of Hampi and amongst the colourful chaos of Varanasi. I grew to love Dad 100’s consistency; he made the effort to keep in touch. What started out as messages once a week became daily instant messaging and yes, some virtual flirting too. When I came back to London in January 2012, he asked me out. In June 2012, we moved in together to a one-bed flat in North London.
We did what most couples do in the early days – we spent all our spare cash trying to impress each other. We went on mini-breaks, gazed at each other, whilst sampling the world’s cuisine in London restaurants. Whilst on holiday in Turkey in October 2013, we made our decision to start a family. I had to come off some low dose oestrogen gel and progesterone tablets, which I had been prescribed the previous year for painful, heavy periods. I have never had any formal diagnosis of gynaecological problems, so it had never concerned me too much (until now).
From the moment we decided to try for a baby, I became a mother. I changed from someone who didn’t put a penny aside in savings (why save when you can spend on lovely fun?) to someone who saved as much as I could from my earnings. I thought differently about work – even the jobs that I didn’t much like – it all helped to build up our funds, to pay for my maternity leave (we’re both self-employed, so we need to plan in advance for time off).
At first, we tried to get pregnant without thinking – I really was convinced it would take two or three months. I told family members and some friends that we had decided to have a family. I’ve always had regular periods. My Mum had three kids, no problem. My brother and sister have kids.
After about six months, I started to use Pink Pad app to chart my periods and fertile window. I used ovulation sticks a few times, before they did my head in and I chucked them out. We had sex every couple of days, as recommended by fertility specialists. I listened to lots of tales from women who had kids:
- “gravity helps” (cue the awkward shoulder stands after sex)
- “just relax” (I’ve never meditated so much in my life)
- “go on holiday” (any excuse is good with me)
- “it will happen when you’re least expecting it” (is that like “he’s behind you” in pantos?)
- “are you sure you’re having enough sex?” (well, according to my Pink Pad, we’re a pair of rabbits)
- “maybe your partner has reluctant sperm?” (amazing! I love the idea of a frowning sperm, arms folded, shaking his head at my egg)
Despite all these marvellous suggestions, after 15 months we were not pregnant. Apart from one strange early period, there was no sign of sore boobs or nausea, never once did I have to take a pregnancy test because my period was late. We went back to see our GP and she referred us to our local hospital – normally they wait for two years, but because of my age at the time, 37, our GP was happy to refer us. From this moment on, I became very aware of how much of a factor female age is in reproduction. THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR, they state, so very clearly! Until this point, I’ve always enjoyed getting older because with each year that passes, I like myself more – but now there were constant reminders about THE ANNOYING CLOCK!
In February 2015, we attended our first appointment and a patient information evening at our local hospital. We are amongst the lucky few in England who qualify for 3 cycles of NHS treatment (although funding finishes when I am 40, so with waiting times we may not get all three). There began the graphs and statistics and screens and needles, the doctors and nurses and consultations. We had entered the Clinical Zone of Baby-Making! On the one hand, I found all the science fascinating, but on the other hand, this medical model of procreation was as romantic as mouldy chocolate. Dad 100 and I settled in for the next 6 months of blood draws and semen analysis, tube testing and scans. My AMH is very good, we found out, and my tubes are fine. Dad 100’s sperm tested okay too. The docs found a 3cm x 5cm cyst on my left ovary – but they didn’t seem too fussed about it (later, they drained it via keyhole surgery before my egg collection in October 2015).
After all the testing, our diagnosis was ‘unexplained infertility’. Officially, there was no medical reason whatsoever why we couldn’t conceive.
The rest is all on my blog, the ins and outs and upside downs. Below are some of the characters who have been created along the way – they have been born out of necessity to find the lighter side of infertility and IVF.
Our future kids
My vision is really clear: Dad 100 and I have two children. I draw them on this blog. Here we are in the park. I talk to my future kids regularly. This was a suggestion from a friend to get to know them, to enjoy all the good feelings of motherhood now, I didn’t have to wait. I think it’s really important to stay connected to my future kids, especially in tough times – because motherhood is about being there for my kids, whatever is happening to me or Dad 100.
Here we all are in a boat. I did this drawing during our first two week wait, after 4 days of early bleeding. It helped me enormously to do this doodle, to see that my vision for having a family was still strong, despite the bleeding. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to see the kids after that experience in my first IVF, but there they were, still bright and alive.
Professor Wilson is my science-obsessed monkey mind. He’s a fan of fertility facts, IVF research and anything that whiffs of evidence. He loves a story about IVF successes – he peers over people’s shoulders on the tube, when he spots a relevant story in the newspaper. He presses hearts on Instagram or Twitter, when people share the specifics of their IVF protocol and successful conceptions. He absolutely loved reading Rebecca Fett’s book, ‘It Starts with the Egg’ – there is just so much science in that book, he devoured the contents in one sitting!
The Professor skips up to me in the street on sunny days, reminding me to sunbathe for a dose of Vitamin D. He’s in charge of the food and drink I consume, what vitamins and supplements I take. He is a also a bit of a worrier about whether this will all work out. He has been known to discard a banana skin in my path.
Edgy McSpark is part hedgehog, part lightning bolt. He is a fiery yet curiously short fellow. Edgy knocked on my door during the down regulation phase of our first IVF cycle – when my body was experiencing a false menopause (the hospital gives us information on a ‘need to know basis’, so that came as a surprise first time).
Edgy’s business card says it all – he’s a flipper, flapper and general scrapper. When he’s around, he is very demanding, but then he’s gone in a flash.
Dad 100 knows to tread carefully when Edgy comes to stay. Really, we both know that this little character needs a good cuddle. It’s just that cuddling a lightning bolt has unpredictable results!
Doctor Google is a charming fellow with yolk yellow hair and unlikely red lips. He does regular house calls during IVF treatment – and yes, he comes very quickly. Day or night, he promises omniscience, fast.
I like Doctor Google, really I do. He leads me to interesting articles and helpful tips. It’s just when I’m searching for explanations about symptoms or when I want reassurance that IVF will work out, then Doctor Google is like a sprint in the darkness: I will get somewhere fast but I might run face first into a wall.
Christmas on helium
Christmas on helium is just incredibly excited about the future kids arriving. Part rubber ball, part red dwarf – Christmas on helium sees nothing other than the amazing opportunity that IVF represents. In his mind, we will be the lucky ones. He bounces around the flat, imagining the extraordinary possibilities. He is utterly convinced we will have two or three or four babies, cats, chickens – the works.
When I’m feeling low, Christmas on helium is a diamond. He spins the tunes (mainly songs I danced all night to as a teenager). He pulls me up on to the dancefloor of life and gets me moving my lazy bod.
Ah, Glumbags. The one with the blue face and pear drop head. He uses ample Brylcreem to style his navy locks, flat to his forehead.
Glumbags is very attached to his heavy orange bags. He carries tons of precious memories and future concerns in his bags. When he shows up in my life, it’s a job to persuade him to put his bags down. He is convinced someone will steal them. I encourage him to put the bags down and join me in the moment.
When he does put down his bags, Glumbags is quite good company. His favourite food is king prawn jalfrezi. Very occasionally, I catch him tapping his toes to Christmas on helium’s records. He does want to be happy really.