35+4 weeks – the Cautious Countdown Commences

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So here I am….amazingly still pregnant. If all goes to plan these babies will arrive by C-section on 15th August, just 10 days from now. I’m nervous, grateful and excited all rolled into one. It has been a long, long road to get here.

There’s something about an IVF pregnancy that makes you doubly, trebly, quadrupully anxious. I’m scared of the ‘jinx’. I’ve avoided talking about these babies too much – at least in real life, not on this blog. I’ve been waiting for the next thing to go wrong. I’ve been expecting a big ‘yahh boo’ from the universe in return for getting my hopes up. And yet here we are, nearly at the end. And I’m still worried something will go awry.

I read sad news from fellow blogger The EcoFeminist this morning. I’ve been in her shoes and it is a hateful, angry, lonely place. There’s really nothing anyone can say or do to make it better. ‘Don’t give up’ is not good advice. Quite frankly many people do give up and it’s the right thing to do. Infertility is all consuming; it’s like a black hole of relationships, hope and money. Sometimes there is a happy ending – oftentimes there is not. Obviously I’m glad  we decided to keep trying but I’m not sure how I would have coped with another loss. You put your mental health and happiness on the line every time you have another spin on the wheel of fortune.

So, in a nutshell, this incredible twin pregnancy is a result of:

  • 2 years of ‘trying naturally’ with OPKs
  • 5 back to back cycles of own-egg IVF
  • 1 frozen egg cycle
  • 2 miscarriages
  • 1 donor egg cycle in Spain
  • 1 hideous first trimester of heavy bleeding
  • 1 very short cervix and 1 magical rubber pessary
  • Thousands of £ sterling
  • Many, many hours of tears, terror and hopefulness

And we’re almost there. I will say no more! I don’t want to jinx it (even though ‘jinx’ is a silly, childish concept). I just can’t wait to see these much-wished for babies in my husband’s arms on 15th August. Wish us luck.

 

 

 

 

 

The myth and misappropriation of the ‘biological clock’

Great long read article in The Guardian today on the ‘Foul Reign of the Biological Clock’. The term was applied to female fertility in the late 70s (by way of a single newspaper article) and has been manipulated and misused ever since.

There’s so much bogus bad science related to IVF and infertility. Why does nobody talk about age-related male infertility?  Why aren’t men pressured to freeze their sperm in the same way that women are encouraged to do so with their eggs? How has infertility become linked to selfish ‘career women’ and women desperate to ‘have it all’?

Anyway, good article. Made me annoyed, sad and depressed all rolled into one.

My luxurious triple lined uterus

Happy to report that my womb lining is both ‘triple lined’ and ‘luxurious’ according to my lovely Egyptian gynaecologist. He is always enthusiastic about my uterus, which is nice.

Anyway all is looking good down below. My donor (donor C…Carmen as I like to call her) is also doing well. We’re heading to Madrid tomorrow so we’re  ready as soon as she’s  ready for egg collection. There will be lots of hanging around and waiting this week but that’s ok. I suppose there are worse places to hang around and wait than Madrid.

We’ve booked into an AirBnB place and guess what the owner’s mother is called? Carmen. Yep, we’re meeting Carmen tomorrow to pick up the keys. Karma (Carmen) or what?

In Madrid

….our first appointment with the donor egg clinic is tomorrow. Strangely nervous – I’ve been eyeing up all the young women in the neighbourhood wondering which one could be ‘the one’. Definitely more Penelope Cruz -a-likes than pale English roses but that’s fine by me.

Anyway, more tomorrow. For now we are enjoying the 26c sunshine, the tapas and the cerveza. Hasta mañana.

An update

So my period arrived yesterday….exactly 21 days since my last period. 21 days?! What’s going on? Officially my shortest ever cycle. Does this count as an AF PB?

I’m usually 27 days, nice and predictable. Could this be related to the IVF? Hopefully I’ll revert back to normal next month. I don’t like it – makes me think of the M word (Menopause! Menopause! MENOPAUSE! ).

Anyway, I know I need to get a grip. In other news, I am officially still not pregnant despite hopeful fornication around ovulation this month. In addition to that, we need to get retested for HIV, hepatitis and syphilis (hey, a new disease!) before our trip to the Madrid donor egg clinic next month. Imagine if, all this time, rampant syphilis has been to blame for our infertility. That would definitely be one for the Wandsworth Guardian (local newspaper).

DH also needs to find out his blood type. I’m B positive, in case you were wondering (I discovered this only recently). Apparently this makes me artistic, sensitive and prone to colds, according to one crackpot website I browsed. Sadly it didn’t mention that it may also makes me prone to pregnancy.

Plan B(aby)

I’m feeling better this week. Dare I say (cautiously) optimistic, (quietly) hopeful and even (a bit) excited? It’s time for plan B.

Farewell own egg IVF, you cruel mistress. Hello donor egg IVF, you beguiling temptress.

After 5 miserable rounds of IVF we have decided to try something different. Well, ‘decided to try’ is a bit coy; we HAVE to try something different. We have two options at this stage – donor eggs or adoption. I want to be pregnant. I want the morning sickness, swollen ankles and stretch marks. I want to give birth. I want to be one of those people who post annoying bump photos on Facebook (no I don’t). I want a baby which is genetically half ours, and will hopefully get my husband’s smile, eyes, killer bod and BBQ skills. Maybe I’m a bit selfish but I would love to experience motherhood and birth in the ‘traditional’ manner. We are both keen on the idea of adoption and that will certainly be plan C, but I think donor eggs are the way forward for now. If it doesn’t work out then at least we’ll know that we did everything possible to make pregnancy a reality. I know adoption could work for us, but I’m just not ready for that yet.

So – we’re off to Madrid! There are lots of highly regarded clinics in Spain and no waiting lists for donors. It’s cheaper than the UK. Our hospital consultant in London has given us his blessing and recommended a couple of clinics. I’ll be able to have scans with him in London and just fly to Madrid twice – once for the initial consultation in September, and then later on for the egg transfer. I won’t need to do any injections or rely on my creaky old ovaries. I just need to make sure that my womb is ready to receive 1-2 nice embryos courtesy of our young, fertile donor and husband’s sperm.

That’s the weird part I suppose. No getting around it – after our first meeting the clinic will match us with a donor who is blue eyed, blond’ish, slim and about my height. They’ll check that she is healthy and of sound mind. We’ll never find out who she is or see a photograph. We just need to rely on the clinic to do their part (and this is where the wonderful world of internet reviews come in….Madrid is a good place for blue eyed donors as there are plenty of international students from Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and other blonde countries).

Anyway, I’m less concerned about physiological factors. I firmly believe that if we’re lucky enough to get pregnant the baby will be ‘mine’, hair colour or otherwise. The study of epigenetics has shown that much more goes into ‘building a baby’ than DNA. Our (imaginary, at this stage) baby will be loved and cared for, and we’ll tell her/him about the helpful donor when he/she is old enough to understand. I think that’s all that really matters. Who knows if we’ll make it that far? We just want to give it our best try.

Our first appointment will be on 21st September. In the meantime I remain (cautiously) optimistic, (quietly) hopeful and even (a bit) excited.

A Forest

Well, it has been a funny old week. I have had a Cure earworm for the last 5 days (earworm…where a song sticks in your head and won’t get out). It’s ‘A Forest’, which seems pretty apt at the moment. Not because I’m camping, or because I’m an 80s goth, but because of my current frame of mind:

I don’t really know what to do with myself. The last 18 months have been reassuringly organised. I’ve either been planning an IVF cycle or doing an IVF cycle. Now…I’m not, because I’m not doing any more IVF cycles, ever again. 

I’ve been crying rather a lot. Not in a dramatic fashion next to the coffee machine, but quietly and spontaneously, on my walk home, whilst listening to ‘Desert Island Discs’ or when I hug my husband. There’s a beautiful Christopher Wren church near my office where I go sometimes – I sit in an empty pew, close my eyes and enjoy the smell of polished wood and old Bibles. I talk to everyone in my head – family members here and departed, the ‘inner me’, God, although I feel strange doing that, like an imposter – and it just helps me feel better somehow. I went in there a few days ago for a quiet sob. The Vicar came over for a chat and I explained what has been going on. He’s a lovely man. It felt good to spill the beans to someone who knows nothing about infertility treatment. Maybe I needed that.

I do worry that I might have some sort of screaming meltdown at any moment. I’m doing fine on the outside – getting on with work, smiling, planning a family visit – but every now and again I’m gripped by the realisation that I AM NOT GOING TO GET PREGNANT WITH OUR OWN BABY. Our 5 cycles of IVF were a complete bust. I’m acting like a ‘normal person’ but on the inside I feel like I’m barely holding it together. What do people do in these situations? Quietly sob? Talk to a Vicar? Write a blog and get on with their lives? That’s what I’m doing. I think that’s probably the traditional British approach (perhaps minus the blog and the Vicar).

I’m also aware of the fact that I need to get a grip and remember there are people in far worse situations than me. I could be a disabled beggar in Kinshasa. I could be living in a makeshift refugee camp in Calais. I could be single and desperate for a baby. At least I’m halfway there.

So, what next? Well, I’m a hardcore organiser. I cannot relax. I must have spreadsheets. I am compelled to ‘do’. So it’s only natural that I’ve already started the quest for Plan B. More on that in the next post. For now, please enjoy the Cure.