Four weeks pregnant – joy and disbelief

ivf-blog-mum100-pregnancy-sanity-4-weeks-pregnantThe key to serenity is to let go. Surrender the outcome; accept where I am; be at peace. Yes, yes, I know all these marvellous theories of how to live life without going crackers – but can I actually practise them?

On 25th October at 7am, two blue lines appeared. For the first time since we started trying for a baby in 2013, our result on a home pregnancy test was positive. Absolutely no squinting required. I took the test up to our bedroom. I climbed under the duvet with Dad 100. We cuddled up and gazed at the plastic stick with the turquoise lines, as if it was a magic wand.

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We are both delighted, of course. I am also scared. Is this really happening? Can we believe in this result? In bed, I turned over the test stick to check the other side of the window; there were still two blue lines. Relief!

Later that day, I called the hospital with our result.
“Congratulations,” the nurse said. “We’ll book in your 7 week scan. Can you do Monday 14th November at 2.40pm?”

Now in ordinary circumstances, I know that is not long. But my first thought was, really? More waiting????

The three week wait

Daft as it sounds, I wasn’t expecting another wait. I hadn’t given any thought to what happens if it works. For the rest of official test day, the reassurance of those two blue lines settled my nerves. Dad 100 and I had group hugs with our growing embryos between us. I checked the test stick several times, to confirm I wasn’t imagining things.

By next morning, however, I was back in doing mode. I wanted concrete actions to take. How can I possibly wait another three weeks for the scan? I need to organise this pregnancy and fast! Dad 100 and I talked about getting blood tests done. Our new hospital doesn’t offer HCG blood tests as a standard part of the procedure. I looked up private London clinics for beta testing. I called up two clinics for prices. Later, I spoke to a friend who is at the same hospital as me. She suggested I ask the IVF nurses for a blood test, as they did one for her when she requested it.

So, in full organiser mode, I emailed the hospital:

Dear IVF Nurses,

I phoned yesterday to let you know about our positive pregnancy test. We now have our date for the 7-week scan (Monday 14th November). Thank you very much for arranging this.

We were wondering if it’s possible to have a b-HCG blood test in the next few days. We ask this because our last attempt at IVF resulted in an ectopic pregnancy and salpingectomy. It would be good to know that the levels are okay this time, as last time they were very low.

Now, that wasn’t exactly honest of me. Yes, I do have memories of what happened last time, but truthfully the email should have said this:

Please can I have a blood test, ASAP, today if possible? You see I really didn’t think there would be yet more waiting, not after doing a whole two weeks of waiting (okay technically, it was only eleven days of waiting, but it felt like forty). What do you say? Shall we do this blood test?

A nurse replied to my email:

I am happy to hear of your good news. I have spoken to one of our senior doctors in the unit and what they have advised is you come for a scan at 6 weeks instead of 7 weeks, instead of having a blood test. The blood test does not pick up an ectopic pregnancy and the results can come back normal and can still be an ectopic pregnancy. I am more than happy to book you in for your early scan. Please let me know if this is something you are happy with.

Next morning…

I did another pregnancy test (13dp6dt). This time I used a Clearblue digital pregnancy test with conception indicator. The result was good: it came up 2-3 weeks after conception (4 to 5 weeks pregnant).

ivf-blog-mum100-pregnant-2-3-weeks-clearblue-pregnancy-test-on-track

I breathed out and then I realised. I was getting it all wrong again. Now is the time to practise patience. I cannot have total reassurance every minute of the day. Say we go for that scan at six weeks and it’s too early to see a heartbeat – what then? Would I panic about not seeing the heartbeat? Or let’s say we book private blood tests. What if the results come back with HCG numbers we don’t understand? Do we pay for a private consultation, so a brand new doctor can interpret our results? Do we turn to Google? NO, PLEASE NOT GOOGLE!

Fast forwarding the tape, this need for constant reassurance never ends. If I give into the endless demands of anxiety, then I will always need the next fix. After the week 7 scan, there’s another 5-week wait until the week 12 scan. Then there’s another 8-week wait until the week 20 scan.

I may as well stick with being exactly where we are – it’s a much more hopeful place. I want to enjoy this experience as much as I can.

So, I wrote back to our hospital:

Thanks so much for coming back to me. Maybe we’ll stick with the original plan for the 7 week scan, as we’d like to be able see the heartbeat. I’m sure it’ll be fine.

It felt great to send this email – it was another surrender in this uncontrollable process. The nurse was very kind when she replied. She said we could change our mind at any time and come for an early scan. But I know that’s not what we need. Instead, we booked a free counselling appointment at the hospital. That will be far more useful than trying to project manage this pregnancy!

Week 4 pregnancy symptoms 

Throughout week four of pregnancy, I’ve had mild pregnancy symptoms – sore nipples and mild cramps. They come and go. At times, I can sense the changes going on in my body. Other times, I don’t feel anything. It is still very early days. The best symptom of all is my period is now over a week late (we’re doing an unmedicated cycle, so this is a reliable sign). I haven’t had any bleeding since the trace of spotting on day 3 past transfer. I am truly grateful for this.

Week 5 of pregnancy – commitments

To help me stay sane, I’ve made some commitments for the week ahead.

  • Enjoy where I am and be hopeful
  • Go to the London Buddhist Centre on Thursday evening for meditation and Chi Kung (deep breathing exercises)
  • Go to the fireworks on Saturday night and eat Dad 100’s chips
  • Do one final ClearBlue pregnancy test with conception indicator on Friday 4th November
  • Breathe deeply whenever I get scared
  • Do not book private blood tests
  • Do not Google any symptoms or lack of symptoms 

I’ll let you know how I get on! Thank you for always being there xxxxxxx

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The IVF two-week wait: the Land of No Eye Deer

ivf-blog-mum100-two-week-wait-no-eye-deer-instagramWell, here we are again. I haven’t a clue what is happening inside my body. Nine days after our embryo transfer, there are no obvious signs of pregnancy. I am truly grateful, however, that we’re still in the running.

Mum100-blog-IVF-red-admiral-butterfly-bleeding-after-ivf-embryo-transferI’m enjoying the hope and wonder that being PUPO brings. For anyone new to this community, the acronym stands for ‘pregnant until proven otherwise’. When I say, “I am PUPO”, it brings to mind a butterfly inside a chrysalis, preparing to hatch. There is just so much potential for a beautiful outcome. It is also a mental endurance test. Will the butterfly emerge after the two week wait?

Embryo transfer day

We wore our brightest T-shirts to the hospital – neon pink and turquoise. We wanted to celebrate the occasion with colour and this didn’t go unnoticed at the hospital.

“Wow,” our doctor said. “I saw you two coming!”

Outside the transfer room, we covered up with white hairnets and lab coats – in another setting, we would have passed for shift workers at a meat market, clocking on after a rave.

The embryologist broke the news that our day-6 blastocysts had thawed well. “They’re beautiful,” she said on final inspection. Oh, the pride and love we felt. Let nobody tell you that embryos are ‘just cells’ – the attachment is real; the hope is extraordinary.

Our team completed the embryo transfer in less than ten minutes. We travelled home with our micro-babies, inside our bubble of peace.

Rest and relaxation – 1dp6dt & 2dp6dt

For 48 hours, I did next to nothing. Our hospital said it’s fine to carry on as normal but other clinics say to rest. I’ll take any excuse to keep warm on the sofa, watch films and read books. I ate rainbow-coloured foods and drank lots of water. I celebrated our PUPO status by styling this pineapple. He is the legend of IVF folklore, after all, and he laps up female attention!

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Spotting and mini meltdown – 3dp6dt

I had traces of spotting on day three – which may or may not have been implantation bleeding. I remembered the spotting on day three in our first IVF, which rapidly progressed to heavy bleeding. I imagined escaping to India; my default panic setting is to daydream about hot holidays. However, I knew from our first IVF transfer that booking international travel in the two-week wait is daft.

Pale yellow cervical mucus and mild cramping – 4dp6dt & 5dp6dt

My cervical mucus changed colour on day 4 and 5 – marvellous! According to Google, this may or may not be a sign of early pregnancy. And then I had mild cramping on day 5 – yes, you’ve guessed it, another inconclusive sign of pregnancy.

Symptom analysis is truly bonkers. Really, what I’m searching for is certainty, which is an illusion. I am asking a search engine to tell me how my story ends – just stop and think about that for a minute!

All quiet on the uterine front – 6dp6dt onwards

There have been no further symptoms. No fuzzy head. No sore boobs. No nausea. On day 7, I let go. I came back to that peaceful place of acceptance and surrender. I cried tears of relief. All roads in this fertility journey end up in the same place – the heartfelt knowledge that I am not in control.

Dad 100 and I upped the distractions. We went to the London Buddhist Centre to try out Chi Kung. It’s a bit like Tai Chi, moving through set poses with deep breathing. On Friday afternoon, we went to London Zoo. We saw Kumbuka the gorilla, three sleeping lionesses, diving penguins, a growling tiger and this blue poison dart frog – how cool is he!

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In the reptile zone, I discovered I am Harry Potter. I said hello to a puff adder, the deadliest African snake – and I kid you not, the snake popped its head up from a rock, did a small dance, then slithered to the front of the cage. It flicked its tongue and eyeballed me and we carried on our chat. I can speak Parseltongue, people – a talent at last!

The last creature we saw at the zoo was this stork, which made me laugh. We had words, let me tell you, despite the clear warning.

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Today, we’re off to Kent. We’re staying overnight in a cosy B&B, exploring a couple of towns as potential locations for our house move.

Official test day is Tuesday 25th October – 11dp6dt

I’ll take the test first thing in the morning. We will wait for five minutes and we will look at our result. I promise not to squint! Whatever happens, I know we’ll be okay – we have each other and I have you lovely lot.

When I zoom out from all this, I can appreciate that infertility and IVF are great training for the mind. The process is changing me for the better. I am being shown my limitations. I am discovering my strength and resilience.

One line or two on Tuesday, we will carry on.

How not to do the two week wait

We learn along the way in this glorious pond called life, don’t we? And what I’ve learned since our double embryo transfer is:

  1. It’s called the two week wait for a reason
  2. I am not very good at waiting

Yesterday, our third beta/HCG result was 321 – up from 37 last week. We have managed to baffle our doctors enough for them to refer us elsewhere. Next Tuesday, we’re off on a mini-break to the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit, to have a scan.

Er, rewind a minute – was that number in the hundreds? Three hundred and twenty one? Yes, it was my loves! There is absolutely no denying it now. I am pregnant. Astonished and thrilled.

Mum100-blog-how-not-to-do-two-week-wait-IVFYesterday, the nurse said again that our beta/HCG numbers are still too low. ‘Possible ectopic’, ‘unviable’, ‘not what we normally see’. Despite these predictions, I’m taking in the warm encouragement from our community online. The medics do not know everything – and until our scan next Tuesday, I am sticking my fingers in my ears about possible complications.

Instead, I will believe in my baby or babies growing inside me, until such time as someone proves conclusively otherwise – as one IVF friend said to me this week, medical professionals often think the worst.

The way I see it is this – let’s say I have two kids. I’m at their sports day, standing by the race track with the athletics coach. Ready, set, go! The coach blows the whistle and all the kids fly off the starting blocks, except mine. The coach blows again, long and hard. My kids make a slow start but they’re having a go. The coach turns to me and says: “rubbish runners, your kids, look at all the others so much further ahead.”

What would I do in this situation?

  • Would I cheer my kids on?
  • Would I feel proud of them for having a go?
  • Would I still believe they can finish the race?

Of course I would! I would never give up on them and go home. And if the athletics coach piped up again – ‘some kids should just take Art class instead’ – I would bop his boney bum with a baton!

I just need to be a mum right now, to the little life or lives growing inside me. I am truly grateful for this strange and wonderful experience of being pregnant.

THANK YOU MOTHER NATURE FOR OUR FIRST BFP!!

From this point forward, I solemnly promise to:

  • Believe in the life or lives inside me
  • Talk to my future kids everyday
  • Take it day by day
  • Have more fun and distract myself more
  • Stop believing that doctors and nurses know everything
  • Refrain from panic buying another holiday (we have to cancel our holiday next week, but I honestly don’t mind)
  • Eat a combination of healthy food and treats, as it doesn’t have to be perfect
  • Avoid Dr Google – my symptoms are what they are, no amount of misinformation can change them


Mistakes I’ve made…

I also wanted to record here all the mistakes I made in our first two week wait, mainly as impulsive reactions to the ongoing bleeding. If we go through IVF again, I can remind myself what not to do.

Transfer day: two 5-day blastocysts come home to mamma – the happiest day.

1 day and 2 days past transfer: nothing to report – I am confident I will breeze through the 2 weeks.

3 days past 5 day transfer: Cramping, dark blood, mild panic sets in. I Google my symptoms. My TTC sisters cheer me up.

4dp5dt: Fresh bleeding begins – I think it’s all over. I draw a butterfly for about three hours – therapy!

5dp5dt: Bleeding, full flow – I decide the time is now to get a strong body. I go for a run around our local park.

6dp5dt: Bleeding, full flow – sod the TTC menu, I eat an enormous pizza.

7dp5dt: Bleeding, full flow – we book flights to Ibiza and a hotel in Formentera. I dance around the flat to celebrate. Infertility, you will not beat us!

8dp5dt: Bleeding, full flow – I do a handstand to prove I’m still young.

9dp5dt: Bleeding, full flow – we book airbnb apartment in Ibiza Town and more dancing.

10dp5dt: Dark blood – first beta/HCG test is 10 – the hospital say it’s a negative pregnancy test. They advise me to stop taking Progynova and Cyclogest. After encouragement from the TTC community, however, I request a second blood test. Hospital agree, although it’s not something they normally do.

11dp5dt: Trace of dark blood.

12dp5t: Bleeding stops – eat a large curry.

13dp5dt: Second beta/HCG test is 37 – total surprise at the rise. The nurse says the “unviable” word.

14dp5dt: an uneventful day – the official end of the two week wait. Clearance from hospital to go on holiday – hooray!

15dp5dt: Cramping, trace of blood.

16dp5dt: Spotting fresh blood.

17dp5dt: Spotting fresh blood.

18dp5dt: Another uneventful day – hooray.

19dp5dt: Dark blood.

20dp5dt: Dark blood.

21dp5dt: Dark blood and mild cramps. Third beta/HCG test is 321 – utter disbelief and delight, I am pregnant!! Nurse says they suspect ectopic. She refers us to Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit. Advised not to travel. Start process of cancelling our holiday bookings.

22dp5dt: Dark blood and mild cramps. Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit call. Scan booked for Tuesday 6th June at 11am.

Christmas on helium – on the decks

Mum100-blog-Christmas-on-helium-decks-IVF-positivity-music-upbeatI have to thank the red rubber ball in my life – Christmas on helium. He has been doing his bouncy best over the weekend to keep me upbeat, with his mix of feel good tunes. He’s such a helpful little character. He encourages me to get up on the dance floor of life and move my lazy bod!

Our third blood test is tomorrow, so we should be much clearer about the outcome of IVF1 by the afternoon. Phew 🙂

In the mean time, here are Christmas on helium’s top ten tunes, guaranteed to overcome the grimmest of moods – even Glumbags is tapping his toes.

Dance, people!

N-Joi – Anthem

Barbara Tucker – Beautiful People

 First Choice – Let No Man Put Asunder

Marshall Jefferson – Move Your Body

Alison Limerick – Where Loves Lives

Gat Decor – Passion (Do You Want it Right Now)

C + C Music Factory – I Found Love

Byron Stingily – Get Up Everybody

Liquid – Sweet Harmony

Sound of Eden – Shades of Rhythm

I know a big, fat nothing

An extraordinary day

Mum100-blog-IVF-journey-blood-test-results-hopeWe had our second blood test today (day 13 after transfer), following our first pregnancy test three days ago.

The same nurse takes my blood, a kind Filipino woman called Josie. I make a point of asking her name today, because when I walk into her cubicle, she remembers me.

“What was the result of your pregnancy test?” Josie says.

Considering they see hundreds of people in the blood clinic each day, I find it remarkable she recalls this.

“The HCG was very low,” I say. “The fertility clinic said the result was negative, but we’re repeating the test. Just in case.”

Josie smiles. She puts her hand on my arm. “You know, we pray so hard for these things in life. And we do not know when or how they will happen,” she says. “But I am sure this will happen for you.”

Such unexpected kindness, yet again. Josie finds the blood test order on the computer. She inserts the needle into my left arm – I hardly feel the scratch – she patches me up with cotton wool and sticky tape.

“Thank you for remembering me,” I say. “And for your kind words.”

As I leave the blood clinic, a feeling of lightness comes over me. In fact, it’s more than that, I feel joy as I walk along the hospital corridor, past the Costa concession in the reception, out into the bright sunshine.

 

Back at home, two builders arrive at 10.30am. Remember, the mouse problem we had back in March? Well, our furry friends visited us in April and May too. Our landlord sent round his old man to ‘sort it’ – a lovely East End bloke called Terry, with a generous laugh, big hands and a Tenerife tan. Terry and his mate rip out our kitchen units, revealing some rather large holes around the skirting board, where little mice have been sneaking in. They fill the holes with wire and cement. They’re coming back tomorrow to finish the job. Our kitchen is a junkyard right now, but who cares about that!

 

When the time comes for our call to the hospital, Dad 100 joins me on the sofa. I know what the nurse will say, of course – the result is negative and I should stop the medication. I put my mobile on speakerphone. We talk to a nurse called Liz, who has been one of our regular helpers over the last fifteen months.

“Your HCG level has increased to 37,” Liz says.

I almost drop the phone. That’s nearly 4 times higher than Friday. Dad 100 and I look at each other, completely baffled.

“The number is still very low,” Liz says, “so I need to speak to the early pregnancy unit for some advice. I’ll call back later this afternoon.”

Dad 100 and I sit still on the sofa, taking in the news. I put a hand on my belly. After a week of heavy bleeding, we were convinced it was over. We’ve booked a holiday. We’ve eaten pizza and curry. I’ve been dancing around the flat each morning, to get my mojo back. Ooops!

The hospital thought it was over too – it’s only because of suggestions and encouragement from the IVF community, that I requested another test – I must say a special thank you to IVF79, for some very timely advice.

When Liz calls us back, she tells us to come for another blood test on Tuesday 31st May. I should carry on taking the Cyclogest and Progynova. She says if I experience any sudden, sharp pain, on either side, I should go to A&E immediately. She mentions the possibility of ectopic pregnancy, but I’m ‘fingers-in-the-ears’ about this. I am just stunned and delighted with the result.

I call my sister, who is very optimistic by nature. She is thrilled when I share the news. I call my Mum, she is happy but worried. My stepmum and Dad call, they’re going through a big struggle right now, with Dad’s recovery from cancer. I tell my stepmum the news, while my Dad winces with pain in the background (get well soon Dad!). They are, as we are, delighted.

 

This evening, I feel overwhelming peace and gratitude. One or both our embryos are fighting for life inside me. It feels like a miracle, after a week of heavy bleeding.

From now on, I am going to forget everything I think I know. My embie(s) and my body are up to something. I don’t know what is happening, but I’m not meant to know right now. I will celebrate each day and take care of myself.

There is hope.

Drop ’em, Glumbags!

Mum100-blog-IVF-journey-ups-downs-glum-bags-past-futurePut the bags down.

But I like carrying them.

You’ll feel better if you let go.

I will carry my bags until I’m blue in the face.

Er, Glumbags? You looked in a mirror lately?

Nope, eyes down.

You’re blue in the face already!

Really?

Yes indeed.

But if I put down my bags, someone will pinch them.

I promise you, no-one will steal your baggage. No resale value whatsoever.

Excuse me, there are tons of memories and future concerns in here – and they’re very, very precious to me!

How do they make you feel, Glumbags?

Glum.

Do you like feeling glum?

No I don’t.

What have you actually got to be glum about today?

Well, I have to carry these two heavy bags for starters.

Aha! I have a fine solution. Come out and play.

What about my hair? Will the rain mess it up?

Definitely.

Do you know how much Brylcreem I use, to smooth my navy locks?

How about this? After we play, we’ll go to the late night Turkish barber on the High Street.

What is there to do on a Sunday, anyway?

We can do handstands in the park. We can juggle plums at the grocery store. We can gargle the National Anthem in the Rose & Crown. Hey, here’s an idea – we can have a curry!

I like curry.

Let’s go, my treat. We’ll ask Dad 100 if he wants to come with us. And no thinking about babies, deal?

Can I pick up my baggage when we get home?

Sure Glumbags, they will be right here.

Okay, mine’s a king prawn jalfrezi and some sag aloo.

Oh, I love a sag aloo, I do.

To the sea

Mum100-blog-IVF-embryo-transfer-bleeding-loss-acceptance-trustFirst of all, a big thank you, to all the bloggers and tweeters who have supported us during our first IVF cycle. Your encouragement and suggestions have been a blessing. The kindness of strangers is remarkable.

Dad 100 and I are now initiated in the dark side of IVF. Until now, fertility treatment has been a long, but mainly procedural, road including:

  • dozens of hospital appointments (thankfully, close to our home)
  • giving up generous quantities of my blood (that’s fine, I can make more!)
  • countless tablets, injections, supplements and suppositories
  • some emotional ups and downs (Mother’s Day was tough, for example, but mainly there has been hope in abundance)
  • two operations with anaesthetic for me
  • one date with the ‘procurement room’ for Dad 100 😉
  • Olympic-level googling

Overall, our minds were focused on being a first time IVF success story. I pictured receiving my embryos, which our doctor said were good quality blastocysts (oh, the pride when they passed their first test!). I imagined my womb lining as the perfect home for our blasters. I considered how much time I might need off work in the first trimester. I saved every penny I could for maternity leave. The tale I was telling myself was that IVF was as simple as I allowed it to be.

How IVF 1 turned out

Our first IVF journey has taken fifteen months – from attending our first consultation and patient information evening in February 2015, to today, eight days past our double embryo transfer. The transfer was one of the happiest days of my life. Dad 100 was glowing with happiness when we came out of theatre. His face reflected everything I felt inside – the long process was worth it, for the love and connection we felt.

Then, I had some spotting on day three past embryo transfer. I have been bleeding heavily since day four. I am still taking oestrogen and progesterone, as advised by our hospital. However, I don’t have any pregnancy symptoms – and if there was the faintest swirl of nausea, or the tiniest twinge of sore breasts, I would be hanging on to that right now!

On Friday, we have our blood test (day ten past embryo transfer) – the hospital have brought the test forward, due to the amount of bleeding. If we get a negative result, then at least I can stop the meds, including the delightful Cyclogest (which actually isn’t that bad). If we get a positive test result, well, I will officially hand over everything I think I know in a bag marked ‘bollocks’ – then I will dance the tango along Homerton High Street.

Kindness is everything

What has been amazing over the past few days is the kindness that Dad 100 and I have shown to each other. We have talked whenever we needed. We have felt angry and sad and then absolutely fine, and then angry and sad all over again. We both know how important it is not to direct anger at one another. We have just said a lot of nice things to each other, which shoos away the fear and loneliness that creep up.

We’ve had some fun too, including some spontaneous meals out. It really does help to get out, especially when the sun is shining. After 3 days heavy bleeding, I relaxed my ultra-nutritious pregnancy menu and had this f**king gorgeous pizza instead – guilt free.

Mum100-blog-IVF-embryo-transfer-pizza-guilt-free

We’ve also decided to go on holiday. We went to a couple of travel agents, because our planning brains have turned to mashed potato. However, the packages weren’t right for us. Our focus was to find warmth and blue sea – the kind of gentle, turquoise water that you get in the Caribbean. So, last night, we booked our flights to Ibiza – leaving on Monday 6th June. We’re going clubbing, people, we are going clubbing! Party all night, sleep on the beach all day!

Only kidding 😉 When we arrive, we’re taking the ferry from Ibiza Town to Formentera – the very relaxed little sister of Ibiza. Formentera is a small island, which mainly consists of beaches like this. GET IN!!!

Mum100-blog-embryo-transfer-holiday-formentera

(Photo credit: Trip Advisor)

We’ve found a lovely hotel with a pool and spa facilities. They do the best breakfast on the island, including baking all their own bread and pastries. We going to hire mopeds and explore the island and swim swim swim.

My future kids are very happy about this adventure. I am relieved and delighted to say that they’re still with me. When the bleeding first started, I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to connect with my family vision anymore. I feared the trust had gone. In the past, I have walked away from things I have wanted, when they have become tough. Would it be the same with this?

I cried when we did our first meditation after the bleeding started – the peace was overwhelming. However, once I settled into the meditation, the experience was wonderful. Mum100-blog-IVF-embryo-transfer-bleeding-loss-acceptance-trustI saw a picture of my family in a rowing boat at sea, an image which sums up how I feel. We definitely need to work out our new direction, but we’re all still on board, and we are united.

In meditation, I also saw another picture of Dad 100 and me, swinging our future kids round in circles, their faces delighted with how dizzy their Mum and Dad are getting. Future kids, we love you. We’re willing to wait for you. We will step up as best we can to the challenge ahead.

Dad 100 has banned any further IVF research for the rest of this week, because yesterday I went into manic research mode. We have decided to get a second opinion from a private clinic. I spent some time on the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Association website, looking at success rates for fertility clinics in the UK. I made myself feel rubbish, however, looking at how success rates decline as women get older. Dad 100 said it was too soon for figuring out the next steps and he was right.

cool_sunglasses_emoticonSo for now, our focus is on rest, laughter and gratitude. We are feeling the feelings as they come. We are letting them go when they go. And we are getting excited about our little holiday!!

 

How long will the butterfly stay?

Mum100-blog-IVF-red-admiral-butterfly-bleeding-after-ivf-embryo-transferI wanted to draw a tortoiseshell butterfly today. I don’t know why. The image came to me when I woke up, fluttering around my mind.

I used to see these butterflies as a girl, every summer, growing up in the countryside. I loved their flame orange wings with bold black and gold markings. I was fascinated by their furry brown bodies and dotty antennae.

They decorated the flowers in our garden. Their landing pads were bright petals and green leaves, in the beds my Mum created. They flapped from flower to flower; pairs danced in the sky.

I remember trying to catch tortoiseshells in my hands. I approached with the focus of a tiger, steady and soundless. Close in, I held my breath. I raised my hands, and so quickly, I cupped them around a butterfly, catching petals in my hands. Mostly, I missed; the butterfly flapped up and away, zig-zagging across the garden.

Eventually, I caught one. I held my hands in a ball shape, to give enough space and light. I carried it with me, those delicate wings tickling my palms. Then there was the pleasure of opening my hands, a magic trick reveal, before the tortoiseshell took off to the sky.

Occasionally, the butterfly sat in my hands, its tiny feet resting on my palms. That was the greatest wonder of all, those rare times when the little creature chose to stay with me – even for a few extra heartbeats, when it had all the freedom to fly away. In those moments, I believed the butterfly knew I meant it no harm. When it did leave, I watched, both delighted and sad to see it go.

Now I live in the city, I don’t see butterflies so much. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw one. I should get out to the countryside more, to remember those glorious warm summers of childhood. They were endless golden spaces, certainly my memory has made them so. Where we lived, we were surrounded by wheat fields and long grass. There were giant pines and horse chestnuts to climb, apples and blackberries to pick, big ditches to jump and scrape our knees. There were miles of farmland to explore, the roar of green combines at harvest gave such a thrill.

Any adventure was possible in that landscape.

Day 4 past our double embryo transfer

Today, the cramps are much stronger. Since 6am, I have been passing red blood. I have said my prayers of acceptance for whatever is happening to our beautiful blasters. Tears are coming and going. It really helped to draw my little butterfly this morning, there was comfort in that.

I am drawing lots of strength from the words of my IVF sisters yesterday. I know pretty much anything can happen in the two week wait, and still result in a positive pregnancy test. I have read about pregnancies in the IVF community that are nothing short of a miracle.

We spoke to the nurse at the hospital, who said to keep taking the medication and rest. There’s nothing else we can do in this waiting game. The nurse said if it becomes a full period, chances are we’ve lost them. I still have hope.

So, I’m taking to my bed today, to draw and write, read and sleep, whatever I feel like doing or not doing. Dad 100 is making some homemade tomato soup.

I am not in charge of the miracle.

This too shall pass.

Reassurance is human

Mum100-blog-IVF-day-3-past-embryo-transfer-spotting-words-wisdom-welcomeIt’s day 3 past my 5-day embryo transfer. I had mild cramping, low down. Over several hours, I passed a small amount of brown blood. I was frightened when it started. I went for a walk to the shop, to clear my head. A guy with a can of Tennent’s lager called out, “cheer up love”. I managed a smile, further down the road.

Mum100_blog_Doctor_Google_overgoogling_IVF_fertility_treatment_answersDr Google was at my door when I got home. He was making his usual guarantees of total certainty and fast results. I let him into my flat, having promised myself I wouldn’t hang out with him in the two week wait. Dr Google found an article that reflected back exactly what I wanted to see – this one on implantation bleeding. It satisfied me for about five minutes, but then I wanted more!

Thankfully, I soon realised that no amount of googling could solve the real problem. I needed connection with human beings, with people who have been where I have been, people who understand these strange tricks of the mind. So, I reached out to the IVF community on Twitter instead.

Some helpful and kind responses came very quickly (thank you sisters!) – reassuring me that my symptoms are perfectly normal, and more importantly, reminding me I’m not alone. I also asked Dad 100 for a hug.

I’ve learned again today that reassurance is provided by humans not internet searches. A Google search is a sprint in the darkness: I will get somewhere fast, but I might slam into a brick wall!

IVF sisters – I really appreciate your company and kindness. Thank you!

 

Professor Wilson’s embryo transfer menu – help!

Mum100_blog_fertility_food_ivf_embryo_transfer_two_week_wait_nutritionIn his monkey wisdom, Professor Wilson has decided we’re having a food and drink dress rehearsal. From Monday to Friday, we’ll be following the food plan that he’s created for day 1 to 5 after embryo transfer. (We don’t know our transfer date yet but we have our second scan tomorrow – so we know it’s coming soon!).

Lovely bloggers: please leave your comments about how to improve this food plan. The monkey and I want to tweak it, based on your suggestions, to create our final menu.

The Professor’s menu is inspired by:

  • the chapter in Rebecca Fett’s book “It Starts with the Egg” about Mediterranean diet
  • tons of information from other IVF bloggers – thank you, lovely ones 🙂
  • Doctor Google’s more sensible suggestions (nothing too wacky, just the clear favourites)
  • food and drink I enjoy (the monkey knows it’s very important that I’m happy in the two week wonder!)
  • a smattering of monkey intuition (in other words, bananas)

His general principles are:

  • Organic food, wherever possible
  • Homemade meals
  • Simple and colourful meals
  • Protein and greens everyday, with lower GI carbohydrates
  • Lots of mineral water in between meals
  • Either hot lemon water or herbal tea to start each day
  • Supplements: the recommended doses of Zita West Vitafem, Vitafem Boost, Vital DHA Omega 3 capsules and Vitamin D spray
  • Fertility meds (obviously!)

The food plan for day 1 – 5 (dress rehearsal!):

Monday breakfast:

  • 1 slice of pineapple with core
  • 2 x soft boiled eggs
  • Asparagus & spinach with lemon and olive oil

Monday lunch:

  • Small glass of beetroot juice
  • Grilled sardines
  • Watercress, rocket & tomato salad
  • Quinoa with pine nuts, lemon & olive oil

Monday dinner:

  • I’m taking Dad 100 on a surprise date to the Sky Garden in London – free tickets available here. So in this practice week, we’ll be eating out.

Tuesday breakfast:

  • 1 slice of pineapple with core
  • Porridge with almond milk + blueberries + dried figs + soaked brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds

Tuesday lunch:

  • Small glass of beetroot juice
  • 2 x soft boiled eggs
  • Nutribullet smoothie:
    • avocado, banana, celery, spinach, spirulina powder
    • milled brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Tuesday dinner:

  • Chicken broth with white chicken meat, celery, carrot, peas, butterbeans, black beans, thyme and parsley

Wednesday breakfast:

  • 1 slice of pineapple with core
  • 2 x poached eggs, grilled tomatoes, spinach
  • 1 slice of rye bread with olive oil

Wednesday lunch:

  • Small glass of beetroot juice
  • Seared scallops (marinated in fresh orange and lime juice, garlic, olive oil and paprika)
  • Sweet potato wedges
  • Avocado, rocket and fig salad

Wednesday dinner:

  • Houmous (made with chickpeas, natural yoghurt, tahini, lemon juice and garlic)
  • Carrot, celery and red pepper batons
  • Fruit salad: orange, blueberry and apple with natural yoghurt

Thursday breakfast:

  • 1 slice of pineapple with core
  • Porridge with almond milk + pomegranate + soaked brazil nuts, almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Thursday lunch:

  • Small glass of beetroot juice
  • Chicken broth with white chicken meat, celery, carrot, peas, butterbeans, black beans, thyme and parsley

Thursday dinner:

  • Nutribullet smoothie:
    • avocado, cherry, spinach, spirulina powder, hemp powder
    • milled brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Friday breakfast:

  • 1 slice of pineapple with core
  • Mashed avocado, chilli flakes and lime
  • 1 slice of rye toast with olive oil

Friday lunch:

  • Small glass of beetroot juice
  • Vegetarian chilli (made with sweet potato, kidney beans, red pepper, onion, tomatoes and mixed spices)
  • Brown rice
  • Topping of natural yoghurt and small handful of grated cheese

Friday dinner:

  • Baked wild salmon
  • Broccoli with lemon and olive oil
  • Roasted peppers + cherry tomatoes
  • Brown rice

So, what do you think? Please share your comments with the monkey and me. 

THANK YOU!