IVF follow up appointment

We had our IVF follow up appointment last week, Or what is more affectionately known as the ‘wtf’ appointment in the infertility world!

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I wasn’t expecting too much from it to be honest, but I couldn’t go into another cycle without making the long trip back to the clinic to ask some questions about why they felt we may have been unsuccessful, or what we might be able to change when we cycle again. We are very lucky to be getting two attempts on the NHS and I want to try and ensure we give our final attempt our very best shot so off we went to the clinic armed with all our questions.

My main focus I suppose was on response and quality from the cycle, all along I was told that due to having a good level of AMH that I was at a high level of over responding to the stimulation drugs and therefore was put on the lowest dose of Gonal F. When I had gone to my scan during stims I was expecting lots of follicles and was disappointed with only having 10, now I know that for some that is an amazing result but I suppose that when you are thinking you might over respond, 10 doesn’t seem that many. Obviously I wouldn’t want to over respond either so there goes the emotional see saw of infertility again, carefully trying to balance everything, wanting a good response but not too good a response. The consultant was okay with my response but did say that they would like to see a response of around 8-15 eggs so although my final count of 9 mature eggs was good it was at the bottom end of the scale so for our next cycle we will up the stimulation drugs to 225 Gonal F.

That brought us onto the topic of the next cycle. It was initially suggested I re cycle with the increase in stimulation drugs but keeping everything else the same so long protocol like this one which lasts around 7/8 weeks

IMG_1007.JPG Image Credit ~ Ninewells ACU

However I wanted to speak directly to the consultant about the side effects that I had using the down regulation drug or mainly the hearing loss I had and the tinnitus that I still have 3 months later! Again the consultant was of the opinion that it was unlikely to have been caused by that but I’m not convinced that it could just be a coincidence that it happened when I took it and as it is listed though seems to be a very rare side effect of this drug. We had quite a bit of discussion about it and he offered me the chance to do a Short Protocol it had been something that was on my list to discuss as I had read that it was good for people with a good AMH level. It lasts 4 weeks from start to finish and no waiting on Day 21 to start with Dundee starting this type of cycle at Day 3 of your cycle, so very fast.

The consultant felt that we have no egg or sperm quality issues, or at least none that are overly obvious from this cycle anyway and felt if we decided to swap to a short protocol we would be looking at 1-2 eggs less than a long cycle but with the increase in stims we would hopefully get around the same as our first cycle. He left it up to me to decide what I wanted to do as obviously he doesn’t have a crystal ball and can’t tell exactly what will happen but was agreeable that I could go into the next cycle on a short protocol. Cue, a tweet of ‘help’ when I got home and lots of advice from Twitter ladies who have done a short protocol and particularly those who have switched from long to short. It was so helpful and thank you to everyone who helped me over those next couple of days. The general consensus seems to be that a short protocol is not only faster but is kinder to you without the effect of the down regulating drugs and all the twitter ladies felt it helped them with egg quality compare to their previous cycles. I know the consultant felt quality was not jumping out as a issue but our embryos dwindled very quickly leaving us with only one left to transfer so if I can do anything to help then I will, so it’s a Short Protocol for us for our next cycle. Nerve wracking but exciting!

Because I’ve decided to do a short protocol I’ve also decided to delay for a month. I never thought I would be saying that, that’s for sure, but it makes more sense and I’m happy with our decision. I’m pleased we went to the appointment, it was good to talk through some of our concerns and to get a plan for the next cycle that we are all happy with.

I’ve now got a few months between treatments, we will off course keep trying naturally as you know there’s always a chance even if it’s a small one. My main focus is now going to be on losing more weight, using supplements to enhance fertility and looking into natural fertility approaches. I have found a natural fertility centre in Edinburgh that I’ve made an appointment with so hopefully I’ll blog about that soon.

Before I go I just want to say thanks to you all for reading and supporting me. It’s been so much easier knowing I’m not alone.

Claire

Weight Loss Wednesday

After a slight break for a week in the sun, weight loss Wednesday is back in my life. I did weigh myself on the Monday we got back from holiday and wasn’t surprised with a gain.

IMG_9043.JPG I think most of that was on vodka! But I went there with the full intention of putting the last few months behind me and that I did. I started back on Slimming World on the Monday so this weeks weigh in a 10 day one.

I’m working to increase my walking back up again and I’m quite happy with

IMG_9042.JPG I normally average between 22-25 miles per week and still love using my Fitbit.

I was very happy with the scales this morning and am pleased to report the holiday gain is gone!

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I’m giving my diet an overall as well in an attempt to plan for our next IVF, I’m hoping that following a fertility friendly diet will also help with my weight loss. We are not looking to cycle again for at least another few months so my focus is on to get my weight as low as I can before then. Wish me luck.

Claire xx

It’s the small things ~ October Edition

The small things that have made me happy over the last month.

IMG_8693.JPG There was a double rainbow and a wish made.

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Autum Schnauzers posing.

IMG_8772.JPG Saturday afternoon cocktail drinking.

IMG_8777.JPG Amazing cocktails drank, hair let down and all the worries of the last few weeks let go.

IMG_8784.JPG Seaside visits that were good for the soul.

IMG_8840.JPG Autumn batch cooking.

IMG_8844.JPG 3rd Wedding Anniversary celebrated.

IMG_8845.JPG and because I love our wedding photos an extra picture!

IMG_8852.JPG Amazing gifts from very special friends.

IMG_8868.JPG A well needed holiday countdown begun!

IMG_8878.JPG The last park walk done until the light nights come back .

IMG_8892.JPG Autumn holidays departed.

IMG_8898.JPG life celebrated with cocktails in the sun.

IMG_8894.JPG Beach sunsets admired and all troubles pushed to the back of our minds

Claire xx

The need to return Weight Loss Wednesday

Here I am again! Weight Loss Wednesday returns and boy is it needed. I didn’t weigh myself the whole way through the IVF cycle so we can blame the drugs, the isotonic drinks, the high protein diet, the inability to walk anywhere due to the sheer exhaustion of down regulating hell and of course the chocolate which to be honest going through the hell of IVF should just be prescribed alongside the drugs!

None of this of course was good for my waistline that’s for sure. I had last entered my weight on my app the day before IVF started and got back on the scales the day of my official test day and this was the rather embarrassing result.

IMG_8843.JPG I had expected to gain weight but tbh I’m a bit disgusted with myself at that weight gain. It also threw my weight back up again over the IVF target weight for the clinic so if it stayed that way it would mean I wouldn’t be eligible for treatment again. It was only 4.5lbs over so achievable enough to get it back down before my follow up appointment.

So back to my old faithful Slimming world and up with the challenging myself to more steps on my fitbit. This week I’ve managed

IMG_8863.JPG I have been trying to make myself move more and get my motivation back and I’m feeling quite good for it.

IMG_8861.JPG I’m happy with this as my first week back, especially seeing as we have had visitors, dinners out, wine and our wedding anniversary all in this week.

Only one pound to get back to my IVF target!

Claire

Official test day ~ IVF

Well today was official test day, the day that was given to us with much excitement two weeks ago, God is that all it was, it feels like months ago now with all the emotional rollercoaster we’ve been on since we knew the cycle failed.

Anyway, despite knowing it failed, even I’m not delusional enough to think that what I had last week was anything but my period. We still had to pee on a stick this morning and call the result into the clinic. I don’t take pregnancy tests, I’ve only done two the whole three years of trying so to take one this morning knowing 100% I wasn’t pregnant was weird to say the least. Of course the result was just as I was expecting.

IMG_8827.JPG BFN ~ Big Fat Negative in fertility speak.

Surprisingly I was okay with it, I wasn’t expecting it to be anything else and the thought of doing it was far worse than actually doing it. I made the call to the clinic with a fake smile plastered on and got the we’re very sorry, there’s nothing else that can be said is there? I’ve asked to be booked in for a follow up appointment. I would like to speak with the consultant on whether there are some parts of my protocol that can be changed for our final attempt on the NHS. I know there are no real answers to why it failed but I want to throw everything at the next cycle. I have lots of questions about this one that I’m hoping they can at least attempt to give some sort of answers too even if it isn’t clear cut.

I’ve come to terms with it and we are going to take some time out to remember who we are in the middle of all this. We can still try naturally which is one positive of ‘unexplained infertility’ and that will be our plan for a while. Not this month though, this month is just about us…

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Claire xx

The IVF two week wait that never was.

IMG_8532.JPGImage Credit

This post shouldn’t have been going live until next week, I had planned on giving a run down of how I kept myself sane, things I did and the run down of ‘progesterone pregnancy symptoms’

Instead my two week wait only lasted for 7 days as on the morning of 8dp5dt (8 days post 5 day transfer) I started spotting. Hit like a ton of bricks with the heart pounding/stopping moment, this couldn’t be happening, my test date wasn’t for another 6 days but it was happening and with a heavy heart I went to tell my husband. I very rarely see him cry but today has put an end to that and to be honest I don’t know what’s harder, seeing him devastated or being devastated myself.

IMG_8742.JPG All I could do was apologise, I know in my heart that this is not my fault but it’s my body therefore it feels like it’s my fault.
Why did my body reject the embryo?why did my period start so early?
what the hell is wrong with me when everyone keeps telling me there is nothing bloody wrong with me!!
What the hell do I need to do to make this work?

I’m angry and I’m sad, no matter what small percentage that they give you for IVF success you want to be in that percentage, you want to hope that you are one of the lucky ones and why wouldn’t we think that when there is nothing wrong with us?! Over the course of the day the bleeding got heavier, I couldn’t kid myself on that this was anything other than the end of this cycle. To be hit with failure even when you always knew it could happen but didn’t want to dwell on it just winds you. It leaves you numb and just in disbelief. Why could it not be us that were one of those lucky works first time IVF’ers? But we’re not….

I know I’m not the only one that this has happened to and I know I won’t be the last. I also know that there is just as much chance of this happening when we get round to cycle number 2 whenever that may be.

IMG_8744.JPG But within the pain we are feeling we have to pick ourselves up again, we have to believe that one day we will be successful.

Infertility is a soul sucking shit of a evil thing, one that I wouldn’t wish on anyone

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Thank you to each and every one of you, for reading my blog, for tweeting me, for texting and asking after me every step of this journey. You will never know how much every one of you have helped me and I can never repay you but I want you to know it did and does mean the world to me, thank you.

Claire xx

It’s the small things ~ September Edition

Some of the small things that have made me happy over the last month.

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Flat out Schanuzers

IMG_8529.JPG There has been plenty of daring to believe this month.

IMG_8537.JPG Sneaky little winter sun holiday breaks booked.

IMG_8555.JPG Important votes cast.

IMG_8563.JPG There was a mammoth meeting of Schnauzers at the beach.

IMG_8571.JPG New colourful crochet hooks purchased.

IMG_8575.JPG Wet but nice dog walks.

IMG_8591.JPG Amazing new chocolate found.

IMG_8604.JPG Sunday morning Starbucks enjoyed.

IMG_8624.JPG Sunshine and autumn leaves canal walks.

IMG_8646.JPG There were amazing cupcakes and best friend meet ups.

IMG_8660.JPG There has been plenty of wearing this and believing miracles can happen.

IMG_8681.JPG And Schnauzer sunny shadows.

September has been a hard month emotionally but we got through it and despite everything else that has been going on its great to look back at all the small things that have helped to keep me going and put a smile on my face.

Claire xx

Our IVF journey at Ninewells Dundee ~ Egg transfer

Well after a very stressful couple of days we made it back to Dundee for transfer day. We had had the call from the embryologist on day 3 and it wasn’t the news we had been hoping for. Of the seven that fertilised, four had not developed any further than 2-3 cells so were discarded and it was gutting. Of the other three, only one was graded as good with the other two being okay but not as good as they would like on day 3. It was like being kicked in the stomach, telling my husband was devastating. Would we even have one left on transfer day? Dundee culture all embryos to day 5 in the hope that they get to blastocyst stage which is the top quality embryo. This is good as hopefully you will get a great looking embryo at the end but it also means you run a very high chance of losing a lot of embryos that don’t manage to make it to day 5 and that’s what happened to us.

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The day before transfer and waiting to meet with the embryologist was one of the most nerve wracking times I’ve had. I kept repeating to myself we would have one to transfer and one was enough, it was all in my power to get rid of the bad thoughts that maybe we had none….it wasn’t helped by the embryologist being slightly delayed to do our consultation. Every negative thought I had was creeping back in then.

Finally after what felt like weeks to us but was in fact only 20mins we went to meet with the embryologist to discuss how the embryos were looking and to find it if we had any to transfer. To hear the words as the door closed ‘it’s okay, it’s good news’ was more than a relief. I could have cried there and then with the relief. We only had one worth discussing for transfer but it was looking good. Embryos are graded and we had one good looking grade 4ab little blastocyst! The others really weren’t good enough to transfer back and he really didn’t think they would increase our chances of getting pregnant so it was recommended that we just put our one blasto back, which we agreed.

Thankfully I didn’t need to wait to long to go into the transfer room as the full bladder needed was starting to get a little uncomfortable. My husband did a good job of taking my mind of it, even if it meant giggling at him in his scrubs and hat for transfer. Everyone in the transfer room were lovely and put me at ease. I hadn’t read to much about transfer point so wasn’t sure what to expect. It was more uncomfortable than I thought it would be and must have been pulling some faces as my husband was telling me to squeeze is arm as much as I needed to. Oops.

Thankfully transfer doesn’t take to long and we got to watch it all on the ultrasound. Not that there is much to see, the embryo is that tiny that the only visible part is when it is released from the catheter and a small white speck appears on the screen then quickly disappears. If you weren’t watching and didn’t believe the consultant when he pointed it out you could be forgiven in thinking everyone had lost the plot.

However as it’s the first ultrasound of what will hopefully be our first baby I’m going to share with you our tiny little speck.

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It was an emotional time, I think it was everything coming together, knowing that you have this fertilised little egg back on board, that we managed to get here, that we were in with a chance, it was all overwhelming and when we got back to the room we both hugged each other so tightly and both cried. It’s such a surreal feeling, we did joke that this is the most pregnant I have ever been and I’m now PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise) * infertility speak* Now we wait……

Snuggle in tight blasto baby.

C xx

Our IVF journey at Ninewells Dundee ~ Egg Collection

My second progress scan showed a good improvement in my follies from the scan 3 days before. I still only had the two on my left ovary but they were now up to 16mm each and my right had 1 x 20mm, 3 x 18mm, 1 x 17mm, 1 x 16mm, 1 x 14, 1 x 13mm & 2 x 10mm which was a great improvement on the Friday.

I had to wait on a call back from the clinic after my results were reviewed and that came around lunchtime. We were good to go for collection and it was booked in for Wednesday morning.

IMG_8631.JPG I was instructed to take my trigger shot at 11pm which was 35.5 hours before the planned collection and told to fast from the midnight before. All of my other Injections were to stop which meant that I got an Injection free day the day before collection.

We had to be on the ward at 8.15am so it was a very early start to do the 1 1/4 hour journey up there. No food from midnight the night before and I was only allowed up to 250ml of clear fluid before 7am.

We got to the ward at 8.10am and were quickly shown to our bed space. It was a hive of activity then, getting booked in, meeting the consultant, getting prepped for theatre and meeting with the embryologist. Everyone was so nice and put us at ease from the minute we walked in. I was third on the list so we had a little bit of a wait but not too long, luckily I had brought some magazines so we read those to pass the time.

Suddenly it was my turn and I was wheeled of to the theatre and hubby was sent to the men’s room to do his bit. I can’t remember much of this part, Dundee use deep sedation which I was told was a level down from a general anaesthetic, before I went in I was told that I would answer questions if I was asked them but wouldn’t recall any of it and boy is that true! I can remember a slight pain then the next thing was I was in the corridor being wheeled back with them telling me I had talked throughout and told them all about the blog! It’s as well I’ve not said any bad things.

Once back on the ward area my stats were checked and we were told we got nine eggs, we were really happy with that as the consultant in the morning had estimated it at 7. I was a little uncomfortable, like a bad period pain, I had been given some pain relief in theatre but did eventually ask for some paracetamol as well which helped ease the cramps.

IMG_8645.JPG After some tea and toast (much needed) and a couple of glasses of water I felt good enough to get up and moving about. Before discharge I just needed to make sure I could go to the bathroom with no issues, which was fine and we were good to go, along with a big bag of progesterone pessaries…..nice! I was instructed to use one that night then one every day up until our official test day. And we were on our way home to await the call from the embryologist the next day to let us know how many fertilised.

I was uncomfortable for the rest of the night so I spent most of it dosing on the sofa with a hot water bottle attached to my tummy which really did help. My husband was great looking after me and making sure I still kept up with my water intake. I was still very bloated and that continued on the day after but thankfully 2 days post egg collection I don’t feel the size of a house. Thankfully I have no signs of ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome which was always in the back of my mind and I feel back to myself today.

We got a call nice and early the day after egg collection to say that 7 out of our 9 eggs have fertilised so we were both very happy about that. They will check them again on day 3 and give us a call to let us know how many are continuing to grow and to give us a time for egg transfer on day 5. The clinic aim to do all transfers on day 5 and will discuss with us on that day how they are looking again. They aim to do a single embryo transfer only if any have managed to get to the top level but if they haven’t then we may need to be discussing if we want to return more than one. This of course would increase the risk of twins so I think we have some discussing to do incase this is what happens!

Claire xx

Our IVF journey at Ninewells Dundee ~ Stimming

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Yay we made it onto stimming, baseline scan at the end of down regulating went well, both ovaries were inactive and lining was thin so we did some injection training for the stimming drugs. It comes in an auto injector pen which I had never used before but after a quick demo by the nurse I felt confident enough. This is where my nurse training really comes in, yes giving myself the injections has been odd but the actually medical side of it all means I’m taking that part in my stride.

IMG_6347.JPG. I have been started on 150 of Gonal F. I’m not sure if this is the norm or not but from what I’ve seen it might be classed as a lower dose which I think is probably due to my high AMH. My clinic advise you to take your stimming medications in the evening so I’ve decided on 7.30pm, it seems to be when will fit in better for me and gives me a nice 12 hour gap between the two injections.

I had read so much about stims helping people feel better from the side effects of Down Regulating and I’d hoped it would for me too. It did, for the first day or two at least, even letting me have some motivation to plan things for the two week wait but it hasn’t lasted and day 4 of stimming was awful. I really struggled at work, constantly not feeling with it which is not good when trying to recall things and sort out other peoples problems, feeling exhausted, tearful and agitated. Not a good mix! And the bloat, let’s not forget the bloat, my tummy feels as hard as a rock and I look about 3 months pregnant every night. It does get worse at night and is mostly away in the morning so it’s definitely bloating. Am I selling it to you yet? Now is the time that you repeat the mantra *it’s all for a good reason **repeats all day.

Water and isotonic drinks are now my new best friend

IMG_0977.JPG Every one on twitter and the fertility forums are all for the drinking lots and lots of water and isotonic drinks, not just through stimming but through Down Regulating as well. It seems to be recommended for the fluid nourishing the eggs, for rehydration, helping headaches and it has been reported to help prevent Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome I’m trying to drink at least 2litres of water a day and one isotonic drink so along with bloating, I’m constantly running to the loo too, the price we pay for stimming!

One of the other things that is meant to help is a hot water bottle on your tummy to gently heat the area and encourage the follicles to grow. Now whether this works or not I don’t know but my pink furry friend is now joining me on the sofa for a while every night after my injection.

IMG_0979.JPG Even if it doesn’t encourage follicles to grow it does help with feeling that bit more comfortable in the evening. I can’t actually find any evidence to support using heat to encourage follicles to grow but it doesn’t appear to hurt either.

One of the things I wasn’t expecting so I thought it would be good to mention it here was getting EWCM and boy did I get it. Enough to send me into a bit of a panic that I was going to ovulate before I even managed to get to my scan. After a quick panic stop tour of Dr Google it appears that this is very normal and people even experience more than they would usually do on an unmedicated cycle. My clinic want you to stim for around 9-10 days on average with a progress scan booked in for day 8.

IMG_8603.JPG I had hoped for a good response at my first scan but was disappointed. The clinic though did tell me things were fine but I needed to stim for another couple of days and get rescanned in a further two days. I only had two follies on my Left ovary at 10mm & 12mm and 2 small and five on my Right ovary, 3 x 13mm & 2 x 12mm along with 4 small. The clinic need them to be around the 18mm mark before they want to trigger but they were hopeful that at my next scan they would be ready and egg collection could get booked in. It will be the full 10 days stimming for me then!

Claire xx

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