Today, yesterday, tomorrow

Today

My intention this morning was to write a post about keeping busy and cheerful – and the day did begin on track. I danced to some tunes in the living room. I air-boxed infertility. I had a soak in the bath and enjoyed the warmth on my back. I used generous quantities of sea salt body scrub. Then I tucked into a large bowl of porridge with banana and nuts. I was set up for the day.

After breakfast, I sat down at the computer. I intended to create my plan for staying positive. The blank page would not be filled, however. My eyes glazed over and my brain switched to standby mode. I just couldn’t make myself think. I flicked through social media instead, to find a hook back into the world. Somehow, I managed to send the hospital report to Airbnb, who are considering our refund request for the Ibiza accommodation. It took an hour to achieve that, however, as I couldn’t work out how to attach the document on the website. I cried on the phone to the Airbnb agent, who said I could email the report to him instead – thank you Paolo.

For lunch, we had homemade soup and a long hug, which is when I remembered that I don’t get to decide how this goes. Many people have said to take it easy, that the feelings will come and go. So I went back to bed this afternoon and slept for an hour, which was the perfect medicine.

At tea time, I had peanut butter and honey on toast (a suggestion from a friend on Twitter, which sounded so disgustingly delicious, I had to try it). Then the spark came to do a quick drawing, as we’re packing for the seaside and I didn’t want to go without saying thank you for the loving messages – they take the loneliness out of this experience.

Mum100-IVF-blog-miscarriage-back-soon

Yesterday

We had a three hour wait for our blood test results, which would indicate whether a scan was required. While we waited, we left the hospital for a walk in the sunshine and some lunch (another great suggestion from an IVF sister). On the way back to the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit, we picked up a new prescription from the hospital pharmacy for Progynova and Cyclogest – to signal our confidence to each other that there was good news ahead. When we returned to the unit, there was an episode of Jeremy Kyle on the waiting room TV. It was a DNA testing episode, where they prove conclusively who is or isn’t the daddy. Cue the shouting and finger pointing and storming off set – nightmare show!

Thankfully, we were called by the nurse. She was quick to tell us the result.
“I’m afraid it’s not good news,” she said. Six little words that ended IVF1.

We were taken through to the doctor’s room. It was Nargis, the same doctor as last Thursday. She was kind and very clear. She said to stop taking the medication now. I felt a bit daft clutching the prescription bag.
“Come back in a week’s time for another blood test,” Nargis said. “We need to monitor the hormone levels, to make sure they drop further.”

Walking out of hospital, there were just sounds – footsteps, alarm beeps, doors opening and closing. It was a strange experience of shrinking inside myself, like a hedgehog curling up. People were featureless shapes in the corridor. It is true that the world blurs with bad news. In the hospital entrance, we were stuck in a buggy jam, but the sensory shutdown protected me. The buggies were just dark blobs. With his arm around my waist, Dad 100 steered me through the gap. When we got to the car, we sat for a minute, holding hands.

Naively, we thought we were prepared for this outcome. Since our double embryo transfer, there have been so many warnings that things weren’t right. Low beta results, continuous bleeding, medics giving opinions – but of course, hope is stronger than all of that. The instinct to protect and believe in the life inside me superseded all the gloom. So when the conclusive statement came – “your beta-HCG levels have dropped, which confirms the miscarriage” – we both felt a fresh punch.

Tomorrow

In the morning, we’re heading to the east coast for our overnight stay. We have booked a comfortable hotel room with a big bed and sea view. I’m really looking forward to the fresh air and the old-fashioned arcade games on Southwold pier. Sunshine is forecast when we get into town. See you all very soon – thank you so much for your friendship.

Mum100-blog-weather-Southwold

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On control and surrender

Mum100-blog-IVF-treatment-journey-letting-go-control-surrenderThis tweet on Tuesday helped me enormously – thank you Susan for saying the right thing at the right time, as so often happens in our community.

Mum100-blog-IVF-treatment-control-surrender-letting-go-peaceWhen I accept that I do not control the miracle of conception, I am free. I am glad to be in with a chance of having a baby. I am proud of myself for having the courage to show up for fertility treatment. By letting go of the final outcome, however, I feel peace.

It’s vital, of course, that I take action towards my dream of being a mum – that I take my medication on time and show up at the hospital, that I inform myself about the process and seek specialist care.

There are so many things, however, that I have no control over:

  • how many embies will grow?
  • will my embies survive the freeze?
  • will they stick in the right place?
  • will my baby grow inside me?
  • will it be completely healthy?
  • when will I hold my baby in my arms?

There are many times when I forget this. I search for magical formulae of precise behaviour combinations – a + b + a + b + y = a baby – right? I try to strike deals with Mother Nature. I chase after the Creative Director of the Universe to sign my agreement.

It feels better to pray

I don’t have a religion but I do pray for guidance and miracles, specifically in terms of how to be useful in this world – and I do feel strongly that I can useful as a mum.

This morning, I started out well. I prayed for direction in all areas of my life, including with motherhood. Then I listened to this Eckhart Tolle video in my meditation practice. I’ve not read any of Eckhart Tolle’s books – he just came up in my YouTube search today. In this video, Eckhart says, “can you feel how painful it is to internally stand in opposition to what is? When you recognise this, you also realise that you are now free to give up this futile conflict, this inner state of war.”

He is right, of course, the clever German sausage!

Feeling the feelings when they come

I also do not control when strong emotions will be triggered in me. Yesterday, for example, Dad 100 and I were out for lunch. I looked across the cafe and there was a little baby in a high chair. He was looking across at me. He smiled so freely, gazing with that absorption and presence that babies often have; it touched my soul in the way that all mothers-at-heart know. I cried with the unexpected connection – because I am a mother, I know this is true. It was good to allow a few tears to come in the cafe, rather than fight them back like a good British citizen! A friend of mine, Sabbir, always says this to me – when the feelings come, feel them, don’t run away. Feelings won’t kill me, but repressing them might.

The best support

In the last few weeks, I’ve experienced many acts of kindness from friends and strangers. The best support is where people allow me to feel whatever I am feeling in that particular moment – sadness, anger, joy, peace, contentment, hope, despair, grief or excitement. I have had all of these feelings in the last few weeks – I really must thank the TTC community online, who just allow me to feel whatever I need to feel. I do not sense fear of the feelings I’m having from people in our community. I’m sure this is down to the soul connection which comes through shared experience, especially where there is pain and great challenge. This connection with others is so freeing – it’s why I feel so welcome here – I can be Glumbags or Christmas on helium or Edgy McSpark or Professor Wilson or just me, Mum 100 – all of my characters seem to be equally welcome!

I think it takes a really emotionally developed person to do that – to just allow other people to express what they’re feeling, in the moment. I really value people in my life who can hold the space with me, without trying to make me “feel better” in an instant, without running away if I am experiencing strong emotion. I know that it’s human nature to want to relieve suffering as quickly as possible. I do this often when I see people in pain. I want to share experiences or suggestions, in an attempt to reduce or remove their pain. But really the truth is this, I don’t control other people’s feelings either.  Maybe it is better to acknowledge the feeling someone is having – to offer hugs and love  and identification where I can – but not to attempt to patch over people’s emotion.

Of course, if a friend has painful feelings that linger for weeks or months on end, then maybe that’s different – possibly that is where good friends do step in and make suggestions – but when feelings first appear, I believe the greatest act of friendship is to allow the person to express themselves, however they choose.

I will come to terms in my own time with this IVF journey – and I truly believe that by feeling my feelings, I will reach acceptance faster. For me, pain and emotions are not the enemy. Fear of pain and emotions is the enemy. And whenever I act from fear, invariably I panic and make the wrong choices.

The three week wait

Next Tuesday is our third blood test, three weeks after our double embryo transfer. Today, I do feel acceptance about the result. I don’t know what is or isn’t happening inside me. As many of you know, we had a strange set of blood test results at day 10 (HCG 10 – BFN) and day 13 (HCG 37) – very low numbers, according to our hospital, and yet the numbers did rise. I still have no pregnancy symptoms at all – but that is fine too.

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I want this level of acceptance that Susan writes about. I know that this process without that principle can be unbearable. When that obsession of the mind takes me over, I feel extreme pressure – that if only I find the right clinic + the right food + the right supplements + the right magic spell + the right wizard, then I will achieve my dream!

I know I’m human, however. I am committing to this principle, but there will be many times along the way that I forget. So, I’m calling on everyone to remind me:

  • to feel the feelings that come
  • to let go of what I don’t control
  • to take action where I can
  • and most of all, to live my life today, as best I can.

I am good enough and today is good enough

Dad 100 and I are getting ready for our little holiday on 6th June. We are both very excited about this trip to the white sand and blue sea. We called the hospital to make sure it was okay to travel in our situation. The nurse said it’s fine. We explained our situation to the travel insurance company, they are fine with it too (hooray!). These are little miracles at work. We can go. We can be free little bees by the sea. I may even treat myself to a new bikini!

Conversations of delight and wonder – our double embryo transfer

First, a quick recap: we decided to start a family in 2013 and when that didn’t work out, our GP referred us to our local hospital for fertility treatment. We’ve been going there since February 2015. This is our first IVF cycle (with blastocyst embryos created and frozen last November). 

And finally, transfer day arrived – truly, one of the happiest days of my life. For our box of memories, I recorded our conversations on the way to the hospital and on the way home…

9.50am, on our way to hospital:

Mum 100 (M): How are you feeling?

Dad 100 (D): Excited. It’s an historic day.

M: Historic! That sounds very grand. Well, we certainly have some lovely English rain for transfer day – it’s nice to be cool. I have to say, I am very excited too.

D: It feels like a big event.

M: Like Christmas times fifty. I hope they’re doing well, our blasters. They should be thawed out by now.

D: I’m picturing them as actual babies.

M: Tell me what you’re seeing.

D: They’ve got bald heads like me! Their eyes are half open. They are small and pink with tiny hands and fingers.

M: Aaaaah, that’s so lovely. What’s been the best part of this process for you?

D: Right now. This process has gone on for so long that it has felt remote at times – but now it’s transfer day, it’s very exciting.

Mum100_blog_ivf_icsi_the_family_and_other_animalsM: In my hypnosis session this morning, I saw our cartoon family. I am so glad I’m doing this with you. You’ve been a good friend along the way. You’ve helped with the injections and made our medication wallcharts. You’ve put up with Edgy McSpark.

D: Good old Edgy.

M: Final thought, before we get to the hospital – what’s in your heart, right now?

D: That our blasters are healthy and happy. I’m picturing the outcome and I do feel a warm connection to them – it’s an ‘aaaaah’ kind of feeling!

M: Oh yeah, I have that feeling too. I feel so proud of our blasters and their incredible journey across 240 degrees, to come back to us today. Please let them be safe! I can’t wait to bring them home and feed them lots of nutritious food – that their Dad is going to cook for us.

D: Ha!

 

11.38am – driving home from hospital:

Mum100-blog-IVF-frozen-embryo-transfer-day-TTC-blastocystsM: How did you feel in there?

D: Quite emotional actually. I felt very proud of you and I had a very happy, warm feeling towards our babies. I was welling up in there.

M: So was I. What an amazing team, three brilliant women – our nurse, embryologist and doctor. They were so calm and friendly.

When the embryologist told us she had thawed out two of our four blastocysts, I felt complete joy. One embryo was exactly how it was before going in the freezer :-). The other embryo had ‘collapsed’, but apparently that’s okay – we’ll take her word on that!

D: The embryologist was so smiley, wasn’t she? She seemed so happy our blasters made it back.

M: Yeah, she was so lovely. The whole team there really enjoy their work, which makes me feel very confident.

I can’t believe my bladder was too full when the doctor first went in. There I was, downing water in the waiting room before we were called. I was worried I hadn’t drunk enough.

D: You had to go and let some wee out. Haha!

M: I was in the loo thinking, ‘is this enough? do I let out more? am I about to ruin everything?’ Talk about pressure pee!

Thankfully, second time around my uterus was in the right position. On the monitor, we saw the first catheter going in – a white line against the grey – like a super highway for our blasters! Then the doctor called through the embryologist. She brought in a very thin catheter with our babies inside. Our babies!!

D: Another ID check, just to make 100% sure.

M: I felt so happy and emotional at that point. I gave my name and date of birth and I squeezed your hand so tight. Did you feel that?

D: I did.

M: I said a little prayer as our blasters were transferred – a prayer of acceptance, handing it all over to Mother Nature. What did you see when you were looking at the screen?

D: Lots of grey blobs! And when they did the transfer, I saw the bright liquid come out of the catheter. Our blasters, landing inside you!

What about you?

Mum100-blog-IVF-embryo-transfer-scan-hospital-blastocystsM: Just that bright light, like a shooting star. The doctor said she put them back near some thick lining. I think our embryos hatch and implant over the next three days.

D: Is that what they do?

M: Yeah, they settle in. Aaaaaah, I love our blasters. They made it back from the cryosphere.

D: And when the embryologist checked the catheter afterwards, to make sure they’d definitely been transferred – that was brilliant when she gave the thumbs up.

M: Pure delight. I could have kissed them all!

D: And now, we’re bringing them home. There are four of us now. We’ll say a prayer for them everyday.

M: Let’s do one now.

D: Please look after our little embryos and help them embed into the lining. Let them grow over the next two weeks, so that when we go back for our blood test in two weeks, it’s positive. Please help them thrive in there and grow into healthy babies.

M: Aaaah I feel so happy!

D: I am very proud of you.

 

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!

BOUNCING all the way to TRANSFER DAY!!

Mum100_blog_IVF_embryo_transfer_excitement_excited_celebrationOi oi! Christmas on helium here – jacking this blog while Mum 100 has an afternoon snoozicle.

Boy oh boy, what a day baby! We’re on our way to transfer day, we are on our blimming way! Fifteen months of bouncing backwards and forwards to the hospital – lovely people those doctors and nurses, some fantastic walls to bounce off in the clinic – but the truth is I have been looking forward to this day, since before Donald Trump was even a thing. Imagine that, people?!  That’s forever ago!

“Everything is looking good with the lining,” the doctor said at today’s scan.
Well, I couldn’t help myself. I planted a
red rubbery kiss  on her cheek.
Waaaaaaaaayyyyaaaaaaaaaah, I cried (without the tears or too much dribble).
The nurse grinned at me and said, “it’s been a long time getting here, right?”
RIGHT!

Tuesday 10th May  is our date for bringing home two little blasters. That’s my future brother and sister we’re talking about, people! We are going to play so many helium-inspired games. 

To celebrate this great day, I’m bouncing floor to ceiling in the flat, spinning some tunes from my sherbet-fuelled youth!

Here we go – it’s transfer time!

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!

What’s your IVF rollercoaster ride?

Build your own IVF theme park ride in three easy steps.

Step 1

Start with The

Step 2

Add the word next to your birth month…

  • January: Ovarian
  • February: Fertility
  • March: Eggy
  • April: Conception
  • May: Pregnancy
  • June: Baby
  • July: Uterine
  • August: TTC
  • September: Embryo
  • October: Hormonal
  • November: Injection
  • December: IVF

Step 3

Add the word next to the initial of your first name…

  • A-B: Bender
  • C-D: Loop
  • E-F: Escapade
  • G-H: Twister
  • I-J: Screamer
  • K-L: Mare
  • M-N: Whirlwind
  • O-P: Shaker
  • Q-R: Adventure
  • S-T: Howler
  • U-V-W: Intensity
  • X-Y-Z: Tornado

What’s your IVF rollercoaster ride?

Mine’s The Ovarian Loop!

Sounds quite fun. HA!

This post is dedicated to all my courageous IVF sisters and brothers – particularly IVF79 and IVF Keyboard Therapy right now. Hang in there xxxxxx

 

Procreation, do we have a deal?

Throughout this fertility treatment, I’ve been seeking an agreement.

Dear Procreation,

If I:
a) take vitamins
b) eat healthily
a) drink water
b) do what the doctors say
y) relax

Then you will give me a baby.

Deal?

Mum 100

 

Dear Mum 100

 Good letter, funny!

 You forgot to mention the unquantifiable x – where x equals all the mysterious elements that you cannot plan or predict.

 Keep trying,

 Procreation

 

So what’s the solution?

Well, for now, I’m giving my monkey mind something else to control. Writing 100 word blog posts, for example.

He’ll go bananas if he finds out.

Love the monkey

On Monday afternoons, I take Professor Wilson to hypnotherapy.

I booked sessions for the little monkster because he overthinks everything. Right now, his favourite subjects are babies and a secure home.

He has hair-brained ideas about what’s best for me – so I decided the gift of relaxation was the best thing for him.

After five sessions, I know it’s working. The hypnotherapy chills him out. His little monkey brain stops whizzing. He forgets his worries. He goofs around afterwards.

As for me, the hypnotherapy makes me love him a bit more. He only worries because he wants to protect me.

Professor Wilson’s baby brain

Professor Wilson hijacked my brain at work today.

“Let’s think about babies.”
“Not now, Professor, I’m working.”
“Come on!”
“Sssssh, I have to concentrate.”
“Babies, babies, BABIES.”
“Oh gord.”

We phone the hospital this month, on day one of my cycle – for once, I can’t wait for my period to start.

It’s our last month trying naturally before our frozen embryo transfer. I’m pretty sure I’m not preggers, but I don’t feel sad this time.

I’m excited.

And this means Professor Wilson is my constant companion, dancing around my head.

I accept and love you, Professor – you baby-brained monkey mind!