Catch-up!

I am embarrassed that so much time has passed since my last post here. And so much has been happening – it’s not like I had nothing to add!

So since Harri’s birthday, we’ve had Christmas – a lovely quiet affair. Harri spent a good portion of the day being pushed around the house on her new trike, and we spent a good chunk of the day in our jim-jams ☺
Just before Christmas, Harri also started to ‘sign’, which was incredibly exciting for us all. We’d started Sing and Sign classes in September, and just before our last official class she started signing ‘Milk’ and ‘No’!

In January we started our 2nd term of Sing and Sign and since then the signing has completely taken off. It helped that Harri’s Godmother sent her the first stage DVD for Christmas. She has been addicted to it since the first viewing, and still demands it about 5 times a week!
So, in the signing portfolio (as of today, 19th March) are:
Milk
Rabbit
Muslin
Bed/sleep
More
No
Finished/all gone
Giraffe
Frog
Pig
Dog
Bag
Duck
Bird
Bear
Crocodile
Book
Nappy change
Bath
Hat
Drink
Eat
Puffs (Organix Tomato, Cheese and Herb – her favourites!)
Rain
Caterpillar
Bee
Beetle
Spider

Harri has also started using more and more words. She got the hang of Mama and Dada at about 8 months old, but since then has added quite a few!
Again, as of today:
Mama, Dada, Dada work, Bits (the name of one of our cats!), Paula (a friend’s name), no, bed, bag, door, book, spoon, yogurt (or Dodo as she calls it!) fishcake (bizarre, but true!), nana (as in banana), bye bye, la la la (i.e. pretending to sing), Twinkle Twinkle, Up above (as in ‘Up above the world so high’ – it’s how she asks for the song, whereas Twinkle Twinkle is used when she talks about twinkling lights!), uh-oh, spider.

This month we also had ‘first steps’. She is still very wobbly on her feet when free-styling but is quite good when holding hands or with her walker now. We are desperately hoping that she will be walking properly by the time we go on holiday in the summer, as there is a baby club at the resort and we think she’ll enjoy it a lot more if she’s properly mobile.

For the last couple of weeks the teething has started again. At the weekend two bottom molars came through (just the sharp top section at this point), but it’s weird because otherwise on the bottom she only has the two teeth at the very front!

Anyway, more posts to follow – need to get back into the swing of blogging – but this is where we are today!!

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Happy 1st Birthday, Harri!

Apart from a very low profile singing of ‘Happy Birthday’ while she was still in her cot, the day started like any other. I knew it was going to be a tiring one for her, so really wanted her to eat a good breakfast with no distractions. She ate up all her porridge, a good few squares of toast, and a whole banana, so mission accomplished! Then we made Daddy a cup of tea and went to wake him up.
As I brought in a few cards and presents for her to open on our bed, Harri’s face lit up the room! She beamed and beamed with excitement, and set to tearing off wrapping paper and opening envelopes. This lasted about an hour, before she had her milk and I put her down for what was to be her one nap of the day.

Once awake and dressed, we headed off to Fisher’s Farm, all packed up with a Birthday Girl balloon attached to her stroller, and a birthday cake and candles packed in the bottom. We met our friends in the car park and headed straight to the animal pens where we practiced all our animal noises! Here Harri also came face to face with Jessie the Jersey cow for the first, but not the last time that day!
Wandering outside, Harri followed Luke’s lead and had a go on the rip wire ride, with Daddy in close attendance.

Whoaa! Are you sure, Daddy?!


Then there was a ‘Bug Ride’ before we headed off for lunch and some Birthday Cake..Yum, yum!

Happy Birthday to Harri!


In the end it was a bit of a rush to make it to the Animal Theatre, but we just about made it. As lots of children volunteered to get up on stage and handle or feed the animals, Harri was completely gripped. Then the host asked if there were any Birthdays in the room. No one put up a hand, so I indicated that it was Harri’s Birthday, but told them that she was only 1. I was asked if I’d like to take her up on stage, so seeing how excited Harri had been so far, I duly obliged. In hushed tones on the stage, I was told that they were unsure how this was going to work, as the animal about to appear was quite large – it was Jessie the Jersey Cow!
Before Jessie entered the stage, the audience was invited to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Harriet, and about 80 people gave a beautiful rendition while Harri beamed.
Then Jessie arrived. I was given an orange segment to feed to her, and then Harri was allowed to sit on her back and stroke her… More beaming smiles – she was beside herself with excitement!

When we got back to our seats, Chris proudly announced that he’d captured the whole thing on his iPhone video – oh joy! Still, Harri was really happy and I was so happy for her.
Next we had a tractor ride around the farm, and then headed indoors to the soft play area for some milk and for the grown-ups to have a drink! Then we headed home.
Harri was asleep before we got the car out of the farm car park, and slept on in her car seat in the hall when we got back before waking for tea, bath and bed.

All in all, a fabulous day. Thank you so much to the Diver/Fairholme family, and to all at Fisher’s Farm – you made it a real birthday to remember. ☺

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Moving on…

I feel like a bit of a fool really. Having conceived Harri through a natural FET cycle, I had completely forgotten how the IVF drugs could make you feel. And I FELT pregnant! I spent most of Tuesday night lying awake in bed, planning who and when to tell that I was pregnant, thinking about the dreaded wait for the first scan, and dreaming about the arrival of a brother or sister for Harri.
On Wednesday morning, I took the pregnancy test. The first hint that all might not be well was that the digital egg timer on the display was spinning for ages. I remembered that when I was pregnant with Harri, the result came up really quickly. Eventually those words popped up ‘Not Pregnant’. Neither Chris nor I could believe it at first – Chris even suggested it might be a dodgy test, and I should try again with the other one in our Twin Pack. But it suddenly dawned on me that all the pregnancy symptoms I’d been having, even what I had thought to be early onset morning sickness, were also symptoms of the hormone drugs, particularly the progesterone pessaries. I was not pregnant, and our journey was at an end.

Since Wednesday I’ve had a few ‘moments’ where the tears just could not be held back. I thought I would be absolutely fine if the treatment didn’t work, but the ‘feeling pregnant’ and then subsequent disappointment has been more difficult to handle than I expected. Still, I just thank my lucky stars every day that we have Harri. She truly is a miracle in every sense, and although I am disappointed for her that she will have no siblings, I know that she will be an amazing and happy little girl no matter what.

And so we are moving on…. Thoughts have already turned to our next family holiday, and where to go. And of course Harri will be a year old this time next week, so we need to mark that occasion properly.
Our IVF road has reached an end, and we are now ready to embrace how thoroughly liberating that is! It’s been such a big part of our lives for so long that the prospect of now actually living with its outcome for us is very exciting. I may even manage to lose some weight, but hey, one step at a time… ☺

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The Last Chance Saloon

My trigger shot was scheduled for 11.30pm on the Saturday night, for egg collection at 11am on Monday morning. Miraculously I managed to stay awake and take it on time!

We had decided that taking Harri to the clinic with us, despite its complications, was the best option. Bless her little heart, she was immaculately behaved, and we managed to juggle things so that she only had to spend 5 minutes with the clinic manager while neither Chris nor I could look after her.

I had the usual pre-surgery consultation (with Harri!) while Chris went off to do his “bit”, then I shuffled off into theatre. Chris was then back within 5 minutes and took Harri off for a lovely walk through Regent’s Park (it was a beautiful day) looking at ducks, swans, and strange American power-walkers!

As I came around in the recovery area I was told that six eggs had been collected. The embryologist later told me that a number of my follicles had been empty, but that she had also struggled to ‘get to’ my left ovary – this has been a frequent problem for me over the years as apparently it is tucked up behind my uterus – and only managed to get two eggs from that side.

To be honest, I was pretty happy with six eggs! The maximum that could be put back was three, so we still stood a good chance of managing that.

Apart from a little tenderness, I was also feeling pretty good after the op and when Chris and Harri eventually returned from their walk and popped their heads around the curtain while I was getting dressed I remembered and cherished just how lucky I already was.

 

The following morning we got the call from the clinic to tell us that of the six eggs collected, four had fertilised successfully so I should go back to the clinic on Wednesday to have three put back. They also suggested that, since we are in the last chance saloon, we consider “assisted hatching”. We didn’t have a clue what this was, but a simple internet search told us that it is offered to women of my sort of age and who have had a number of failed IVF attempts. It consists of piercing a small hole in the wall of the embryo to help it hatch and hopefully snuggle nicely into the lining of the uterus. The risks seemed minimal save an increased chance of twins! We decided to go for it.

On the Wednesday morning before we left for the clinic we got another call to say that we had 2 x four-cell embryos, 1 x three-cell and 1 x two-cell. We had the three best put back and agreed to let them check on the two-cell the following day and if it hadn’t progressed it would be discarded (which it subsequently was). By 1.30 on Wednesday 21st September, I was PUPO!

Since egg collection I have been taking my usual concoction of drugs – 2 pessaries a day, a baby aspirin, 10mg of prednisolone, 20mg of clexane, my Pregnacare tablet including folic acid and a capsule of omega 3 oil. I now rattle when shaken!

I am struggling with pain, sometimes chronic, in my back and tummy. The tummy has stretching pains, almost as though I have pulled stomach muscles, and my back has actually stopped me from being able to lift Harri on a couple of days. Harri has caught a cold this week too, so is in need of some comfort, so it’s all a bit difficult at the moment.

I take a pregnancy test on Wednesday 5th October assuming I haven’t already started to bleed by then. If you are reading this before that date, please keep everything crossed for us!

I suppose the fortunate thing for me is that whatever the result of the test, I am and will be very happy. If our family still has a chance of growing after Wednesday morning, I will be ecstatic. But if the result means that we are to stay as a snuggly threesome of a family, then I am also very happy and thank my lucky stars every day.

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The Quest for a Sibling

Before we realised that we were having trouble conceiving a child, I think that both Chris and I had imagined that we would have at least two, and possibly three children. Certainly, I was effectively an only child (my mother had two more children, but I barely knew them as children and don’t know them at all now), and I was very envious of all of my friends with siblings to play with and now, later in life, I would love to have a sibling to share the pressure of having aging parents etc.

Having Harri so late though meant that the idea of having more than one child was no longer quite so clear-cut. I am now 43 years old, and any new pregnancy would carry all the associated risks for older women, PLUS it meant getting back on the IVF road, which wasn’t the most pleasant of prospects.

Chris and I discussed the whole thing for the first time when Harri was about 6 months old. He was (and still is) adamant that he is perfectly happy with Harri, but that if I wanted to try for a sibling he would also be delighted to give it a go. I have made up and then changed my mind literally a hundred times.

We went to see our consultant in the middle of June to explain our dilemma and see what he thought about another final roll of the IVF dice. He was incredibly empathetic, and indicated that he would be happy to treat us. He also suggested that we ‘get on with it’ as at my age I shouldn’t ‘fanny around’ for much longer! Nice…

I finally decided in July that we should give it a go, so for the last few weeks I’ve been pumping myself with drugs and feeling fat, emotional and incredibly unsure of myself – what if it all goes wrong? Or it works and I find I can’t cope with two children?!

The list of possible outcomes from this treatment feels quite endless at the moment, and in reality only one, possibly two, could be deemed successful for me – a healthy pregnancy resulting in the birth of a single healthy baby, or possibly twins.

The other possible outcomes are pretty much awful. In order, and starting with the worst-case scenario:

-      a multiple pregnancy with something seriously wrong with one of the babies, resulting in us losing all of them

-      a singleton pregnancy with something seriously wrong with the baby

-      another miscarriage

-      failed treatment ending with a negative pregnancy test

-      triplets (yikes!)

I am trying so hard not to focus on all of the things that could go wrong, but you know what hormones can be like…I’m sure that staying positive will be much easier once I have stopped the hormone injections.

Anyway, today I had a blood test to check my oestrogen levels (which apparently are very good) so tomorrow I will have my last follicle scan before egg collection on Monday. To say I am nervous is a huge understatement!

An added stress is that I don’t think we have anyone who can look after Harri while we are at the clinic on Monday!! We may have to take her with us at this rate, and taking a baby (aside from the issues of sensitivity to the other patients at the fertility clinic) up to London while I have my eggs collected is going to be a real feat of juggling and organisation.

Oh well… I’ll let you know how we get on.

FOOTNOTE: Had my final scan this morning, and my follicles are VERY ripe and ready for collection, which will take place at 11 am on Monday morning. Fingers crossed!

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The Red Book Incident

My goodness….I am still desperately trying to catch up with all the pre-blog history, but at the same time am conscious that time is still moving on and so much is happening with Harri! She is now 10 months old, so it’s time for some real time blogging…

I had waited patiently to be contacted by our Health Visitor to arrange for Harri’s 8 month check, and was surprised no to have heard before our holiday.When Harri caught a cold and went off her milk completely, I rang to speak to Katie to check that it was OK for her to have no formula at all, and for how long. I also took the opportunity to ask about the check-up and when it should happen. It turned out that the 8 month check had been changed to a 10 month check, to reduce the number of call backs for the HVs.Harri’s letter arrived shortly afterwards and it was scheduled for the 12th August.

I was disappointed when we arrived to discover that it wasn’t MY HV that was doing the check, but the HV manager who had visited to talk us through Harri’s heel prick results (see blog on Health Care Workers!). I could only hope that the check would go smoothly and that we could get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible.Most of the assessment seemed to be based on my verbal evidence (which seemed a little odd, but there you go) and then on just a few tests of dexterity done on Harri as she sat on my lap beside the desk. Happily, Harri was very well behaved and performed admirably!She was then weighed and measured, and to my surprise her weight had reached 17lbs – into the 33rd centile from the 15th centile at three months, and her height was up to the 50th centile from the 20th at 13 weeks. She was tall and skinny! Anyway, all was well. There was just one potential issue where the HV couldn’t be sure that one of Harri’s legs wasn’t slightly longer than the other – I’m sure it isn’t – and that it might cause a hip problem if it is, so I need to take her to a walk-in physio to have it checked at the end of this month.When I left, Harri was starting to get tired and grizzly. The timing of the appointment had meant her missing her usual morning nap, and it was starting to take its toll on her. I quickly bundled her into the car, and while I sorted out her car seat I plonked her Red Book on the roof of the car……..yes, you’ve already guessed what happened next.

It was when I got back through the door at home that I realised what I’d done. I left Harri with her Dad, and dashed back to the Family Centre hoping to find it intact on the ground in the car park. But no.

Some letters and leaflets were flying around the car park. I walked part of the way back along my driving route and found Harri’s immunisation booklet outside the post office, and another couple of letters near the traffic lights.

Eventually, I headed back to my car convinced that the Red Book itself was lost forever – I was gutted! On the drive back I went really slowly, and as I approached the petrol station at the back of Waitrose I saw the shining red vision lying in the road. The Red Book!!

It had been driven over a few times, so was a little raggedy, but it was there and intact. In fact the only thing missing after this whole episode was the copy of that day’s 10 month assessment. What a relief!

I had thought that my ‘Baby Brain’ affliction was getting worse as Harri got older, but the Red Book incident was the proof of it. The next day, I also let Harri fall off the sofa while I was busy picking up some of her toys. And then there was the day when I thought I’d lost my purse in Tescos and actually called them to ask them to do a search, only to find the same purse at the bottom of Harri’s swimming bag. Definitely getting worse…….

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Pregnancy

For most pregnant women, morning sickness is a terrible cross to bear. For me it was deliciously reassuring – all the time that I felt ill, I was calmed into believing that the pregnancy was succeeding and that this time, finally, we would get our baby. I was very lucky that the nausea lasted for 13 weeks, so took me right up to my 12-week scan and then stopped soon afterwards.

From Day 1 I had terrible back-ache – actually I still have bad back-ache 10 months after having Harri, so I no longer think it was a pregnancy thing although at the time I was sure that it was! Other than that, the major symptoms I suffered were overheating (sometimes I just COULDN’T cool down and felt I would explode with the heat, especially after a bath) and tummy stretching pains. With the help of Clarins Body Oil, I avoided stretch marks, but sometimes the weight of my bump felt unbearable and I had to take bed rest.

Once the baby started kicking, I also struggled to eat properly. This was particularly the case in the last month or so when her head was engaged and her feet were pointing upwards in my tummy, practically kicking my food back out as I ate it! She was a real fidget and constantly on the move. I remember reading that you should feel at least 10 movements from your baby per day, and at the time I was getting about 10 movements in 5 minutes!

 

All of my midwife and hospital appointments went well. My blood pressure remained good and constant, and I only put on just over 2 stone in weight over the whole pregnancy, so there were lots of reasons for cheer.

Being an older mum, we were quite anxious about the Nuchal Fold scan at 13 weeks. We knew from an early midwife appointment that my age alone gave us a 1 in 97 chance of having a baby with Down’s Syndrome, so when the results of the scan and blood test came back with a revised risk of 1 in 1947 were were absolutely thrilled.

 

Before the 20-week scan Chris and I had to have the conversation about whether or not to find out the sex of the baby. We had said early on that neither of us wanted to know as we wanted to look forward to the ‘surprise’ (how surprising can it really be though, with a one in two chance?!). As the scan loomed, Chris started to waver! He thought that he actually might like to know what sex the baby was so he could start imagining the future with the baby, toddler etc. I was still certain I didn’t want to know though, so Chris was persuaded back to his original decision and we didn’t ask to be told.

We had named the tummy baby ‘Clarence’ in the early days of the pregnancy, so always referred to it as “Him”, and as time went by Chris became more and more convinced that “Clarence” was a boy. In the end, he convinced me too! The name Clarence came from the angel in the film “What a Wonderful Life” – the baby was our little angel…

 

Our NCT classes came and went, and by the end of the pregnancy we literally couldn’t wait for the baby to arrive. Our consultant had classified me as a high risk patient simply because of my age and the IVF conception, so didn’t want me to go over my due date. He really wanted to book me in for a c-section so that he could maintain a lot of control over the birth, but I wanted to give the vaginal delivery a go. So I was booked in for an induction on the 12th October – our due date. When chatting through the induction process with the midwife, it occurred to me that it was unlikely to work straight away, and that the baby could be born on the 13th…… I have never had a problem with the number 13 before (or since!) but that day it totally freaked me out! Suddenly I was in tears, inconsolable, ridiculous. The midwife clearly had no idea what to do with me, so just said “Don’t worry, I’ll speak to your consultant and see if we can change the date”. Sure enough, the induction was shifted to the 14th October, and I was happy again. Phew! What a drama queen….

 

 

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IVF and Conception!

Having left things way too late (due to an over-developed sense of optimism) we didn’t qualify for an NHS-funded cycle of IVF. Where we live in West Sussex, only one cycle is funded and one of the restrictions is that they won’t treat women over 40.

Our NHS consultant agreed to treat us privately though, and said that my FSH levels were really quite good for my age – I bet he says that to all the girls!

He explained that he would manage our drug regime and scans, but that when it came to egg collection and then embryo transfer we would need to go up to the London Fertility Clinic in Harley Street.

We discussed the costs – which are really quite eye-wateringly high – and decided to go for ICSI IVF which cost a little more, but had higher success rates for egg fertilisation than standard IVF as the sperm is injected right into the egg.

Altogether, including about £650 worth of drugs, the cost of a cycle came to about £4,200.

I was already familiar with some of the drugs from our IUI experience, and injecting myself, having been a real dread at the beginning, became second nature. My body responded well to the drugs, and when we made our first trip up to the LFC they managed to collect 14 eggs from me. We were delighted! Ultimately 11 fertilised and 10 went on to become developing embryos. By the time we got back to the clinic three days later, 3 had stopped progressing, so we were left with 7.

2 embryos were put back inside me, and the remaining 5 were frozen for potential future use – little did we know then that our little Harri was being placed into the freezer…..

Again our optimism took over. We flew to Belfast the next day so we could attend my Goddaughter’s christening, and the following week we flew away on holiday. I packed the pregnancy tests completely confident that they would be positive and we could really celebrate on our break in Corsica.The tests were negative, and our holiday was ruined. The devastation was too much for either of us to bear away from home. We didn’t come home early, although I wonder why not sometimes.

From Corsica, we rang the clinic and arranged to go in and see them on our return to the UK to start our second cycle. We could not let that one disappointment derail us.

Attempt two was pretty much the same as our first really. Our consultant prescribed one extra drug – Clexane – another blood thinner, but otherwise the experience felt very similar. My body responded well, and although we had fewer eggs collected, they looked to be of a decent quality and fertilisation rate was good.

This time I had three embryos put back rather than two, and there were none extra that had progressed well enough to freeze.

Two weeks after the embryo transfer, I took a pregnancy test and for the first time in my life it was positive! We were simply ecstatic – we couldn’t control our happiness, but agreed we needed to wait until the 12 week scan before we shared our good news. Chris told his best friend, and I told mine, but otherwise no one knew.

At seven weeks, we went for our first scan….

The doctor could find no heartbeat. He could see the sac that the embryo was supposed to be growing within, but no sign of life. We were devastated. Two days later, we went for a re-scan just to be sure that there was no baby and it confirmed the terrible news.

Unfortunately, because I hadn’t bled, there was a danger that I hadn’t actually miscarried but that I had an ectopic pregnancy. This meant that I had to go for regular blood tests to check that my pregnancy hormone levels were dropping. I started to bleed 4 weeks later. It was all over.

It took a while to decide our next move. We had a few months when my Father-in-Law was very ill, so everything was put on hold. When he had recovered enough to leave the hospital and return home we decided we should try again.

The protocol stayed the same, as the doctor and we put my miscarriage down to pure bad luck.

All seemed to go well again, but ultimately the pregnancy test was negative and we had had another failed cycle.

The fourth attempt was driven by Chris. I was emotionally unsure I could cope with either another failure OR another miscarriage, but Chris was sure that if we ploughed on we WOULD end up with our baby.

I got pregnant again, and although delighted, I couldn’t really relax until we’d had that first scan and seen a heartbeat.

I felt fine – too fine really. At six weeks, on a Sunday night, I started to bleed. I knew it was the end. I didn’t even cry this time. I felt totally numb. I also felt that something was wrong with me that they hadn’t detected in the tests. My confidence was shattered, my body was drugged to the eyeballs, my weight was suffering with every cycle and was really bothering me – everything was Black.

When Chris broached the subject of another attempt, I told him that I didn’t think I could do it. I wanted a rest from the drugs and for my body to have some time to recover. I said that the only way we could have another go at that time was to go back to the frozen embryos from our first attempt, and do it without a drug regime.

We went to see our consultant, and he was reluctant to allow my body to receive the embryos without being artificially stimulated by fertility drugs. I was insistent though, and he relented and allowed a natural cycle. Because of the two miscarriages he DID suggest taking a steroid drug, which had been known to help women suffering multiple losses. Reluctantly, I agreed.

We had five embryos in the freezer at the clinic, so they thawed all five and put back the best three. As a matter of fact, only three survived the thaw, so there was no choice to be made.

When I took the pregnancy test two weeks later and it was positive, I didn’t even smile. In a way it was a result that I’d partially dreaded! I convinced myself that I would cope better with a negative result than I could possibly cope with another miscarriage.

The next few weeks waiting for the first scan were agony. Although I had morning sickness, I was so scared that it would all go wrong again.

When we went for the scan, our consultant couldn’t see a heartbeat. I felt sick. Chris, the same.

We went for a re-scan two days later, and miraculously the nurse found our little girl on the monitor. I cried and cried with relief.

I was still terrified though, and we had weekly scans right up to 10 weeks. Then we had a 12-week scan and at that point I started to relax. We were having a baby…..

 

 

 

 

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Infertility

Having just re-read my Introduction to this blog, I figured that I’d really better start at the very beginning and get down all of the things that are still very much at the root of why I decided to start this blogging process.

Harri was nine months old a few days ago, so I really want to get up to date with things as quickly as possible as so much seems to be happening and changing with her right now. However, I can’t simply ignore how we got here, as it is important to me and hopefully will inform her when she is old enough to understand and be interested in all of this.

I am effectively an only child, and was desperate that Chris and I should have more than one child because I always felt that I missed out by not having siblings. As things have turned out, having our first child at 42 probably means that Harri will also be an only child, and I feel very sad about that, for her and for us.

My husband and I are terrible optimists, and I can honestly say that I now regret that a little as it was the one and only factor that stopped us going to a doctor much earlier about our failure to conceive. We never obsessed about getting pregnant – we just rested easy “knowing” that one day it WOULD happen.

Anyway, I was 39 when we eventually woke ourselves up to the fact that it was getting less and less likely that we were going to conceive naturally. The doctor, when we made our appointment to talk to him about our eight-year history of failure, was very matter-of-fact about it and referred us immediately to St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester to have investigations done to try to establish what the problem was. Our appointment came through really quickly so there wasn’t much time to get nervous about what may be found – we just prayed that there was nothing catastrophically wrong.

I don’t recall the minutiae of the tests that were run. I remember that Chris’s sperm sample was taken quite early on and came back on the low side of average for both count and motility. We were told that this MAY be the reason we hadn’t conceived, but that it was highly unlikely to be the only factor.

I had to have lots of blood tests for FSH levels and the like – all were fine. I had to have scans to check for cysts on my ovaries – nothing found. I also had my ‘tubes’ checked for blockages using an injected dye and an x-ray – both tubes were clear.

My cycles were regular, albeit a little longer than the 28 days average – mine were between 31 and 33 days, but that also appeared not to be a problem.

Finally, our consultant’s appointment came through and we were given the news that they had no idea why we had not managed to get pregnant. They call it ‘Unexplained Infertility’ and it became clear that actually this was probably the worst-case scenario for us, as if they had found something wrong they may have been able to fix it!

As it was, all they could do was recommend fertility treatment that basically controlled and kept a close eye on my ovulation, and made sure Chris’s sperm was introduced at the correct time. We were put on the St Richard’s IUI programme, and were entitled to five attempts under the NHS.

IUI (Intra-Uterine Insemination) meant that I took drugs to stimulate egg production in my ovaries, was scanned to see how the follicles were progressing, then took another drug to trigger ovulation when the follicles were at the correct size. Chris’s sperm was then collected, centrifuged to make it ‘purer’, then injected into my uterus via a catheter. It was relatively straightforward in theory, but the practice felt very amateur – the nurse actually managed to spill some of Chris’s sperm on one occasion – and we quickly lost heart after three failures. Unfortunately, those three attempts had also lost us some valuable time, and my 40th birthday had arrived meaning that I was now too old for an IVF attempt through the NHS. We decided we needed to get serious about things, ditch the IUI process and go private for IVF. Our consultant at St Richards also did private work at the Nuffield Hospital in Chichester, so we made an appointment to see him the following week.

The second part of our journey was about to begin.

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Introduction

So, you decide you’re going to start a blog… but where? how? at this point it all feels quite daunting for some reason.

Really, I’m doing this to have a record, myself, of the story of my becoming a mum and how it all panned out. So far (my daughter is 9 months old) it seems to be going quite well, but who knows where this will end up!? I may find out that I’m the worst mother EVER. Or it may turn into the magical fairytale I’d always dreamed of. My guess is that it’ll pan out to be somewhere in between, but with lots of twists and turns along the way. Anyway, it’s these twists and turns that I’d like to record for myself, my little girl, and for anyone else who cares to read my random utterings.

I suppose I should start by outlining (briefly, or I’ll bore myself) my story so far.

I met my husband Chris in 1993. We started dating in 1994 and eventually married in 1998 when I was 30 years old. I remember vividly the day we decided I should come off the pill and we should start trying for a baby – we were on a flight to the Seychelles in the summer of 1999. I’d been on the pill for over a decade, so we knew it could take a while for the effects to leave my system, and for us to conceive.

Ever optimistic, we carried on “trying” for years. And years. Every holiday we’d say ‘well, if it doesn’t happen in the next 6 months we’ll go and get ourselves checked out’, but then life would take over again and we’d find ourselves a year later on our next summer holiday, and then the next one!

Eventually we went away and I realised I was 39 years old and we still didn’t have a baby… When we got home I booked our appointment with the doctor and got the ball rolling on our infertility investigations.

The result of all the prodding, poking and sperm samples galore was that we had Unexplained Infertility, so were put on the NHS waiting list for treatment.

I’ll go into the details of all of this in a section of my blog, but let’s just say that we ended up going private and after four “fresh” cycles of ICSI IVF (including two miscarriages) we went back to some frozen embryos we had stored following our first cycle. BINGO! Harriet (or Harri as we call her) was conceived having spent 20 months in the freezer at the clinic, next to the raspberry ripple ice-cream.

She was born in October 2010 via c-section, and our world changed. In an amazing, heavenly, unbelievably wonderful way.

I am a stay-at-home Mum, by choice, and by the great fortune of being able to be so, financially. And I love it.

So there we are. This is me in a tiny, tiny nutshell, but more will come out as I drone on about the various issues I have encountered in more detail later.

Well! It looks like we’re up and running… that wasn’t so daunting after all.

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