The audition

Mum100-blog-ivf-fertility-treatment-embryo-transfer-future-kidsOn the eve of our frozen embryo transfer, our future daughter and son called us up for an audition. We’re amongst hundreds of thousands of hopeful Mums and Dads, auditioning for conception – did you know the stork delivers 353,000 babies each day?!

Dad 100 and I dressed up in our least creased clothes (we never did get around to buying that iron!) and we put on our best shoes. Off we went to our audition in a small theatre, a short hop from Hackney Downs.

Our future kids called us on to the stage. We stood in the spotlight, adjusting to the bright lights. I squeezed Dad 100’s hand, to disguise my nerves. Dad 100 gave me a smile. Then the questions began.

So Dad 100, what games will you play with us?

We will play hide and seek. We will spin round and round until we all fall down. We’ll play in the park on the swings, the zipline and the climbing frames. 

What will you do to make us laugh, Mum 100?

We will buy ice cream and eat it without spoons. We’ll make animal noises at the zoo. We will jump all over your Dad and play with his face. 

Why do you think you’ll be a good Dad?

I will be daft when I need to be daft. I will be caring when I need to be caring. I will always watch out and be there for you.

What will you teach us, Mum?

Well, I’m learning how to doodle, so we can have lots of fun with colouring pens and paints. I’m not worried about making a mess – Dad 100 says I’m a bit messy anyway.

I’ll also teach you to believe in yourselves.

Are you excited about being our Dad?

Very excited! It will be great fun. I’m looking forward to all the good times together and watching you grow.

Why should we choose you to be our Mum?

Ah, now that is a good question! I thought this one might come up. To be honest, I find it quite hard to answer – but for you, my future kids, I will have a go.

I think you should choose me to be your Mum because I will go to any lengths for your happiness, health and fulfilment in life. I already love you very much and talk to you each day. I think in good times and in tougher times, we’ll make a brilliant team – your Dad, you kids and me.

I’m not any better than any other Mum out there. I’m not any more deserving. All I know is I would love the job!

What about when we get you up at night, Dad – are you up for that?

I’ll do whatever it takes to make you happy and comfortable and secure. Even if that means getting up at 3 in the morning, and 4 in the morning, and 5 in the morning…

What stories will you read us in bed, Mum?

I will write you stories, where you are the heroes of your own adventures. You tell me where you want to go – to the moon, to sea, to a faraway land or a castle in the clouds. Then I’ll make up a story to take you there. 

I’ll also read you books I loved as a child. Roald Dahl stories. Mr Men. The Magic Faraway Tree. The Little Prince. 

Thank you for coming to audition today – we’ll let you know in two weeks if you’ve got the part.

Thanks future kids!

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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.

Mum100_blog_IVF_Doctor_Google_fertility_treatment_advice_answers_truth

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!

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.

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!

Sex_Pistols_The_Queen_of_England

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 ??!!)

A big question surrounded by smaller questions

Ask a big question, then delay answering it – that is the structure of most stories. Smaller questions also get asked and answered along the way, but the big question is unresolved until the end.

Stories are told in this way because humans are typically more interested in what they don’t know, than what they do know. This is why I love stories: they make me wait.

So, why then do I wrestle with this structure in my own story? Is it because I don’t have a sense of how long my story is? There is no book to weigh in my hand, no film running time to measure.

Is it because I am required to believe what I cannot see – that my story has a coherent structure, a reasonable timeline, that there will be a satisfying resolution?

Of course, the truth is simpler than this. My big question will definitely be answered. I can relax in the knowledge that I will find out.

For today, that’s all I need to know.

Introducing Edgy McSpark

At 9.23pm last night, the doorbell went bzzzzzzz.

I went downstairs and found a curious creature on my doorstep – part hedgehog, part lightning bolt.

Mum100_blog_Edgy_McSpark_business_cardHe handed me his business card.

EDGY McSPARK
Flipper, flapper & general scrapper

“No flipping, flapping or scrapping required in this dwelling,” I said.

Edgy edged inside.

Upstairs, I switched on an Evel Knievel documentary. Edgy put his pointy red feet up and he polished off my chicken dinner. We were happy!

Then I did my twelfth night injection and Edgy turned. Scrapping and flapping, he was, chewing my fella’s ear.

Later on, Edgy was too hot and scratchy to sleep.

Peculiar fellow! I wonder how long he’s going to stay?

PS. As an antidote to Edgy’s behaviour, I really like Sabbir Muslim’s ideas on how to heal physical illness or pain, including cancelling beliefs in adverse side effects from medication. Sabbir has an incredible personal story of overcoming kidney failure through finding a spiritual solution.

So, you’re welcome to stay, Edgy, but I don’t have to buy into your flipping and flapping and scrapping! 🙂

Sunday in the park with the kids

A friend suggested talking to my future kids. It seemed a novel idea, plucked from the plane of perception.

So I took a Sunday stroll to our local green space. The sun was bright, the breeze a gentle nip. In the park, there were families, dogs, joggers, footballers, press-up people, bikers and bookworms on the grass.

My kids joined me beneath a big tree.

“Your Dad and I love you very much,” I said. “We are making provision for you. We are doing our best to welcome you.”

I can imagine the scene. It fills me with joy and serenity.

It all holds together, miraculously

My fella taught me to lift my eyes to the moon and stars. Whenever uncertainty creeps in, I look up and doubt scurries off like a shy goblin.

Tonight, we walked home at twilight. The sky was flame blue, the sun pointing its western torchlight at our patch of sky. There was the crescent moon, the dark silver disc across its face – dressed for a celestial masked ball.

We like to pick out the planets. Is that Jupiter on parade? Saturn or Mars? I’m quite good at finding them now, the boldest lights of our galaxy. They reassure me, immensely.