Almost exactly a year ago, in early September 2017, H and I were super egg-cited [sorry bad yoke 😂] to start our first IVF cycle. After a traumatic 11 months of the miscarriage (read my letter to my angel here), the discovery that I had Asherman’s Syndrome (more here), the uterus surgeries and the various hormone therapy treatments (HRTs), we were ready. It had to be our turn now, surely…
I’d received the drug delivery a week earlier. Not knowing what to expect, I ordered it to work. My office used to be located in one of London’s largest shopping centres, so the delivery guy got lost. He called me (from a withheld number) in the middle of the afternoon and asked that I meet him down a dark alley outside Zara Kids. (Shady AF, if you ask me.) I rushed out of the office, not knowing what he looked like. As it turned out, he wasn’t hard to spot – there was one guy standing next to a HUGE box (see picture on my Instagram). Et voilà, my first drug exchange was completed.
One of the most annoying things when you’re trying to conceive is other people’s [unhelpful] comments. The number one classic (which I’m sure you’ve all heard) is: “you two just need a holiday and it will happen…”. I often feel like responding with “well, I’d prefer it if my chopped up uterus didn’t take a holiday”… but, of course, instead I smile awkwardly.
After two and a half years of operations, doctor’s appointments, ultrasound scans, drugs up to my ears and thinking about WHEN I’m going to have a baby 99.9% of the time, day and night, it turns out that what I did need was a holiday – NOT TTC, but to get away from it all.
In fact, this is the first time since the early days of our relationship that H and I actively tried not to get pregnant (and it was rather fun too 😉). With Olaf and Sven (our two chromosomally normal embryos) chilling (literally!) in the Frozen Land (read about our PGS testing here), our consultant urged us not to get pregnant during our three months off before transfer (which should hopefully be in September). I have always thought: “wouldn’t it be romantic or ironic (in the Alanis Morissette sense) if I just fell pregnant naturally midst all this fertility chaos?”
Who am I kidding? H and I have never fallen pregnant naturally (the one and only time was through IUI) so this is really a romantic notion. I’ve now changed my tune: I want a little test-tube baby Jesus.
I consider myself lucky because I have a lot of wonderful friends in a number of corners of the world. With my closest friends, I talk about EVERYTHING, but yet through this process I have felt very lonely at times. I feel that they just don’t get it. In no way have they been rude or unsupportive – in fact, they are my cheerleaders – but there is no way I can expect them to understand what I am going through because they haven’t been through the same thing. They can empathise, but it would be unfair of me to expect them to understand fully the pain and the trials and tribulations of the infertility journey.
One day when I was feeling particularly low – after my second IVF cycle had failed – one of my besties called me. She acknowledged that, having just had her second baby without difficulties, she’d never be able to understand fully what I am going through. She wondered if I’d like to speak to one of her university friends (who I knew briefly) about her infertility journey. She connected us and my friend’s friend (who lives in the US) called me one evening. We spoke for over an hour. She shared her experience of her four-year long IVF journey that ended in a traumatic birth of her beautiful baby girl. She gave me tips on how to cope through the lows and cherish the highs. For the first time in a long time, I felt a little less lonely – there was someone out there who knew exactly what I was going through. And for that I was, and still am, grateful.
Today is the start of new beginnings: the start of my fourth egg collection. I have spent a lot of time over the last couple of months mentally resetting. Right now, I feel positive, hopeful and excited. I saw the lovely nurse at the clinic this morning for an ultrasound scan and the lining looks thin enough (1.7mm) to start . For an Asherman’s survivor having a thin lining fills you with FEAR, but today I’ll take it. Current IVF score after three rounds is: IVF 3 – Me 0. BRING ON ROUND 4.
I began stimulating this evening. For my first three rounds, I took Menopur (300iu in the first round and 450iu in the second and third rounds). This time we are going for the Rolls Royce of stimulation drugs: Bemfola. I will be taking the max dose: 450iu.
I am not squeamish and I’ve never had an issue with needles, so I don’t mind the injection phase – hats off to those of you who have fear of needles and still do this!! I was just thinking about all the odd places in which I have been “shooting up” throughout this process: work loo, random office medical room, a Pilates studio, a wedding (mid-speeches), hotels on work trips and the classiest place must have been the public toilet at Natural Kitchen (somehow it felt more virtuous than doing “it” at Gourmet Burger Kitchen). Sometimes I wonder if I could add to the “Other” section of my CV (or perhaps the dreaded “Interests” section): Highly skilled at self-administering subcutaneous injections in a calm, motivated and efficacious manner.
I started this blog back in January shortly after our second IVF-round had failed. As I’m sure you know if you’re reading this, the infertility journey has its ups and downs and some days, weeks, months are harder than others. After the second round, my heart was shattered and I couldn’t muster up the energy to write. Quite a lot has happened since January: I have had a few more tests done and completed our third IVF-round (a fresh cycle) in March and it was brutal for many reasons. That too failed and, truth be told, my heart was heavier than ever before. We are doing a second ERA now in May and a fourth egg collection round in June. I have no idea how that will go, but I’m ready to write again. So, here we go…
Recently, I’ve been trawling the World Wide Web reading fertility blogs more frequently than I have done in the past. My husband (let’s call him “H”) constantly reminds me to stay away from mumsnet and the like. While I agree with him that mumsnet doesn’t generally do my mental healthy any good, I just can’t seem to get enough of infertility blogs at the moment. I’m addicted to reading success stories – because they give me hope. When babies pop up right, left and centre and all you want is your own baby, it’s nice to know that you’re not the only one riding this [damn] rollercoaster, because more often than not this rollercoaster ride feels lonely.
Without sounding too religious here, I woke up this morning with an urge to write my own infertility blog. I have been writing as I go along in this process, but it is not until now that I decided to publish my thoughts. To be honest, I never thought I’d write one because I did not for a second think I’d have enough material to write one. Naively, I thought that by now, surely, I’d be busy changing nappies, complaining about sore nipples from breastfeeding and going to Gymboree classes instead of doctor’s appointments… But here I am, a good two and a bit years into this journey and I have no baby yet and I am not currently pregnant.
Asherman’s Syndrome, also referred to as intrauterine adhesions (IUA), is a condition that occurs when scar tissue forms on the lining of the uterus, often resulting in infertility. There isn’t any one cause of Asherman’s Syndrome, but it is expected that 90% of the cases are caused by a surgical procedure, and especially D&Cs. The main reasons for having a D&C are:
- after a miscarriage to reduce the risk of a serious infection;
- after childbirth to remove a retained placenta;
- to stop excessive bleeding at birth; and
- after termination of a pregnancy.
Thinking about this, it seems odd that a surgical procedure, which is supposed to help you, causes you further trouble… So, why is this?