Green Light

The past few weeks have been extremely difficult. I don’t know whether it’s the cumulative effect of so many problems and delays, or the fact that baby May would have been due on Tuesday, but having to take three whole months off treatment hit me hard and I’ve been feeling close to breaking point.

The good news is I don’t have to take three months of treatment. It just took a little creative thinking and compromise. So what’s been happening while I haven’t been writing?

  • I decided against egg sharing at the private clinic for now. It may seem to make more sense financially, but it just doesn’t feel right. Thinking about it, we wouldn’t really have any less red tape as egg sharers, because we’d be dependent on another couple having IVF at the same time as us and paying for our treatment. I want to stick with our current clinic where the staff are all really lovely (important when they’re shoving catheters in your cervix and taking you on an emotional rollercoaster) – and, as OH noted on her blog, I’m not 100% comfortable with the idea of embryos being created and then thrown away or never used.
  • Nonetheless, we discovered the private clinic are reading our minds (or at least my blog) when they sent me a letter out of the blue offering us a free consultation. We’ve decided to take them up on it, as we haven’t ruled out the option of using them in future, especially if it turns out I need IVF. We might as well ask them all our questions and see whether their staff are lovely too… I didn’t get a great vibe last time, but that might have been because I was new to the idea of treatment and terrified.
  • I saw my whole family the other weekend (a rare occurrence, as we’re scattered all across England, Wales and Scotland) and told my grandparents, uncles and aunt about fertility treatment and my miscarriage. It’s now completely out in the open, which is a relief. Everyone was lovely and seemed pleased for me. I know my aunt struggled with the concept a bit – she isn’t entirely comfortable with the idea of same-sex relationships – but she was very understanding of how difficult it must have been for me to lose a baby while my sister was pregnant, as she’s been unable to have children herself. I’m so glad I had that conversation.
  • OH and I chose our new sperm donor! It’s weird… we have so little information on him, and he comes (no pun intended) with a long number instead of a comedy pseudonym. However, he has similar colouring to OH, which was our main criterion.
  • While we were at the clinic, we explained our predicament about our holiday in June and needing to wait so long for treatment. It turns out their lab is actually closed for maintenance for three weeks in June anyway, coinciding almost exactly with our holiday! That makes me feel a little better about going away. Unfortunately, there was nothing they could do to bring our appointment with the consultant forward, but they booked us in for a practical appointment with the nurses, where we learn all about the protocol and injections. They said we could go straight into superovulation from that appointment, if we didn’t have any questions the nurse couldn’t answer, but that they wouldn’t necessarily recommend it… and after we’d left, I realised that my period was likely to come too early even for that.

And then I had my epiphany. On Sunday. During evensong, when I was failing to pay attention to the sermon.

What if I had another IUI without drugs this month? Now that our new donor’s been sorted, I don’t need any extra appointments for that. Granted, the success rates aren’t brilliant, but that’s kind of the point – superovulation only increases them a little bit, and with odds that low, you have to keep trying as often as you can. The months with treatment are stressful but the limbo in between, the knowing my finite little eggs aren’t even getting the chance to meet some sperm, are worse. I need to keep up that sense of momentum.

So it was with much trepidation that I phoned the fertility clinic yesterday. I didn’t think they could really say no, but… well, actually, I’m not entirely sure what I was scared of, but as OH will confirm, I was terrified. Luckily, when they got back to us today, the nurse was very much on the same page as me. Yes, I can have a fourth natural cycle, and yes, we can still attend our appointments with the consultant and nurse in the mean time so everything will be lined up for superovulation if we need it. Finally, it seems we’ve all found a way to get around the red tape. As the icing on the cake, my period came today rather than on Saturday, which means there’s less chance of me ovulating on a weekend when (a) the lab is closed and (b) I’m supposed to be at a conference.

To me, this is all wonderful news. To OH, it’s more of a mixed bag. She loved my IVF idea, was gutted when I changed my mind, and the prospect of more IUI – of any kind – doesn’t exactly fill her with enthusiasm. I feel horrible about that, but OH has always made it clear that since it’s my body, she wants me to make the treatment decisions and she will support me whatever. I’m so very lucky to have such an understanding and loving partner.

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HSG & A Look Back Over 2012

First things first: after what has seemed like a very long wait, I had my HSG on Friday. I was quite scared of the x-ray, both because of the slight possibility it might show I needed further investigations and/or IVF, and because I’ve heard some women find it excruciating when the dye goes in. I have very painful periods, and a bendy cervix that makes it difficult to insert a catheter, so I’d just about convinced myself I’d be in the “this is agony” category. I needn’t have worried! I warned the nurse about my cervix and she decided to try just holding the catheter against it, which didn’t hurt at all and resulted in about half of the contrast entering my uterus – enough to show that my tubes are absolutely normal. 🙂 As for the promised “period-like pains”, they barely registered. Admittedly I’d taken paracetamol, ibuprofen and diazepam before the procedure, but I was still pleasantly surprised by how quick and easy it was.

Knowing that everything’s normal, and that we can finally try to conceive again next month, has been a wonderful end to the year. 2013 feels like a new start and, although it may take a few attempts, there is no particular reason (statistically or medically) to think that I will not be able to achieve a viable pregnancy. There are no guarantees when it comes to fertility, but I know I am lucky compared to most IF bloggers. In the past few months I have been struck by the unfairness of my situation, that not only do we need to spend thousands of pounds on IUI and donor sperm, we also got hit by pregnancy loss, but that’s only one side of the story.

When I look back over 2012, too, I realise that apart from the miscarriage and the grief of the last four months, it’s been a very good year. This time 12 months ago, OH had just left her job in extremely difficult circumstances and we faced an uncertain future. We didn’t know how we were going to cover her share of the bills, never mind find extra funds for fertility treatment. However, 2012 turned out to be the year when our finances improved drastically thanks to an inheritance. It was the year OH could finally go back to uni to study museum and heritage management, something we never thought would be possible before. It was the year she found a good part-time job reasonably quickly despite the state of the economy and some issues with references. It was the year she landed an amazing placement, which is in such a niche area that I won’t mention it here to protect her privacy, but if you follow me on Facebook you’ll know. And of course it was the year that we were able to get started with fertility treatment after an 18-month wait, even though our first cycle of IUI didn’t have a good outcome.

For me, 2012 has been a year of growing much closer to my family and my in-laws. Again, I can’t go into too many details to protect my relatives’ privacy, but it has been a year of healing rifts and learning to look past imperfections (or even more major flaws) to see the good in people. It was the year I left my therapy group, and came off antidepressants, both with unexpectedly good results that have left me feeling far more empowered regarding my mental health. It was the year we got our wonderful cat Bertie (a local stray who rocked up during my miscarriage in need of some mothering!) and the year we had great fun taking part in a musical show at church. It has also been a year of wrestling with God, but I think on the whole, my faith is stronger than it was 12 months ago.

Bertie the cat

Our newest cat Bertie.

I have joked to a few friends that I have two New Year’s Resolutions for 2013: get pregnant and stay pregnant! Seriously, though, I hope 2013 will be a year that I can continue to develop my relationships with the people in my life and with God. I want to continue to work on reaching out to others and learning to trust them, and to keep up my daily meditations in one form or another. I also hope it will be a year of continuing good mental health without too much heartbreak, but I will have to take that as it comes. And I hope all my readers have an enjoyable and fulfilling 2013, with the strength to cope with whatever life throws at you.