Monday, April 25, 2016

Brooklyn the movie and me

They say that Ireland's greatest export is its people.  A recent film which deals with Irish immigration is Oscar nominated "Brooklyn" and it's well worth seeing. The main role is played by the mesmerizing Saoirse Ronan and the story is based on a book of the same name. It tells the tale of an Irish girl, Eilis, growing up in 1950s Ireland who has the opportunity to emigrate to New York. The film shows her making friends and finding a job. On the other hand you also see her suffering from homesickness while she attempts to adjust to life there. She eventually ends up meeting an Italian American guy and falling in love. However circumstances change and she has to abruptly return to Ireland. While there she also meets an a potential love interest, not to mention experiencing pressure from family and friends that she should stay. She is then torn between the two worlds. Should she stay in Ireland, her home or go back to America where her new life awaits.

Watching the film I felt like I could relate to her leaving Ireland and feeling homesickness but also having two parallel lives, and trying to choose which direction to go. Germany for me meant being with my soulmate, job prospects, a good life. Ireland was home though where my family and friends were. Anyway, I eventually chose to stay here and I'm happy that I took a chance and I love it now in Germany even though there were times I was very homesick in the beginning and had to deal with culture shock.

I couldn't help but be reminded by the film that emigrating these days is a lot less scary than it was back in the 1950s. I didn't have a long long arduous journey over, only a short flight. In order to talk to my family I can simply arrange a skype chat. Back then there might only have been one shared phone in the house or a pay phone down the street and calls abroad were very expensive. If I would like to go to Ireland at short notice it is usually relatively affordable and possible, which means I get to fly back around three or four times a year while family and friends can also come over here easily for a visit. I guess my point is, I'm very glad I emigrated to Germany in the 2000s and not in the 1950s!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The journey continues

I was tempted to name this blog post something along the lines of "yet another invasive medical procedure on the long journey to have a baby", but I decided that probably sounded too negative!

A few months ago at our appointment to dissect what went wrong during the first round of IVF (I've heard some women refer to this as the WTF appointment!) my doctor, who I'm nicknaming Dr. Direct (since he tends to state it like it is, and has little time for empathy) started off by saying everything went well during the last attempt and he feels good about round two. Next time I'll try different medication, an antagonoist protocol, which should hopefully help more eggs to develop.

I mentioned that the other doctor, who I'm nicknaming Dr. Gentle (because she is the opposite, has lots of empathy and is more caring), had noticed that my womb lining was on the thin side and whether that could be an issue. Dr. Direct looked over his files on us and he said that yes it was thin; only 6mm whereas they like to see between 8 and 10mm. He then suggested I should consider getting a hysteroscopy which is when a camera is inserted into your uterus to see if everything looks ok. He gave me a referral to another doctor for a consultation.

Whenever we leave appointments with Dr. Direct we always end up feeling overwhelmed with information and choices. Neither hubby nor I liked the idea of me having to get another procedure done under general anesthetic but after doing some research I started to think it would be worth doing, just in case there IS some sort of issue and especially once I realized we could combine it with an endometrial scratch.

That's a relatively new pre IVF extra that has shown very promising results in trials. Basically a tiny scratch on your womb causes the lining to be regenerated with new lining that is extra receptive to embryos the following month. In some studies it even doubled the chances of a successful pregnancy from 29% to 49%. I'm loving those improved odds!

We had to postpone when we could start our next IVF for various timing reasons unfortunately but we should be good to go in a few weeks time. The chances of a 2016 baby are no more but I'm hopeful now for 2017. At least our future child will know they were very much wanted as there is no way anyone would put themselves through the gruelling IVF process if they didn't absolutely have to!

Update: I had the hysteroscopy and scratch and it all went well.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Perth and Bali

In my mid twenties, several years into my first job straight after university I decided to pack it all in and go backpacking with a friend. I love traveling and I figured it would be something I would regret if I didn't go. There's a one year work and travel visa you can get for Australia if you are aged between eighteen and thirty one and we both applied for that. The visa restricts you though, you aren't allowed to work for longer than six months in any one job, which pushes you to keep moving around and traveling. We ended up doing a mixture of jobs from waitressing to flipping burgers when we needed money, but we also stayed in a lot of hostels and lived on the cheap, proper backpacking style!

Before the trip I remember having cold feet and wondering if the whole plan was such a good idea after all! Luckily it ended up being a fantastic year. We spent the first six weeks travelling around south east asia (Thailand, Lao, Cambodia, Malaysia), then lived in Sydney for several months followed by more months in Cairns Queensland. Lastly we spent a few more weeks travelling around New Zealand before heading home to Ireland. It was a great experience and I learnt a lot and I think it helped me become more more independent, adaptable and adventurous. I even did a sky dive in New Zealand!

I loved Australia and if it weren't for the fact that it's just so awfully far away I would have considered staying there (despite the fact it's home to the world's most dangerous animals and sometimes I felt brave just for being there!). My recent trip to Perth with my family was my first visit back in the country and it brought back a lot of old memories. We also went to Bali during the holiday and that reminded me of the time we had spent Thailand. Mostly it was so great catching up with my best friend and travel buddy again who lives in Sydney now.

Perth is a cool city and it was great seeing where my brother lives and spending time with him and his girlfriend. The fringe festival was on while we were there which was fun to experience. Perth is also a good base to discover more of western Australia. We took a day trip to Fremantle, a pretty town about an hour's drive, and did a tour of the old prison there which has a very interesting history and we spent three days exploring Margaret river, a fantastic wine region.

Bali was a little disappointing at first. to be honest. It wasn't quite paradise like I had been imagining before going there. The beaches had been nicer in Perth! However from talking to some other people it sounds like we went to the wrong region (Seminyak) and if we had travelled even a few hours further from the airport we might have found the more scenic areas. We had a villa though with our own private pool which was lovely. The people were really friendly and the spa prices are ridiculously cheap so I got some relaxing treatments done while I was there - aromatherapy massage, reflexology, mani-pedi. It rained a lot but it was the rainy season so I guess what do you expect!

All in all it was a fantastic holiday and I hope to make it back to Australia again one day, hopefully next time with the hubby.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

leaving on a jet plane

As you might have noticed I've been rather absent from the blogging world the past few months. So what's been going on in my world recently. We spent Christmas in Germany with hubby's family this year which was different but really nice. As I've mentioned other years, Germans have their big celebration on the 24th. They also eat different food depending on which part of Germany they are from. It's not like in Ireland where pretty much everyone eats turkey! We ate the fish, carp, this year on the 24th and then had turkey on the 25th. Basically there was a lot of food and eating but that's probably the same wherever you are!

At the end of December we flew to Dublin and spent around ten days there which was also really great. It ended up being a jam-packed visit which often happens when I try to fit in meeting relations, various friend groups and of course as much family time as I can. My sister and I have birthdays quite close so we had a joint party at a local tapas bar which worked out well and was fun!

January and February are generally my least favourite months and the weather here has been pretty miserable lately; rainy, dark and cold. But the good news is that I've got a lot of traveling come up.

Last weekend I went to Amsterdam (and I found it very cool that I only needed to pop on a train) to meet a good Canadian friend who I hadn't seen in two years. It was so great catching up!

And next week I am off to Australia with my family to visit my brother for over two weeks! It will be my second time in Oz but first time in Perth. And we'll also be going to Bali which should be amazing. Years ago I spent nearly a full year living and traveling around Thailand, Australia and New Zealand with a really good friend. She ended up meeting her future husband on that trip and she now lives in Sydney. We skype and whatsapp but don't get to see each other often due to the crazy distance but she is going to come to Bali to while I'm there, so I'm really excited about that too!

And at Easter the hubby and I are going to Ireland for a family wedding which will also be fun. So a lot of traveling and trips!

It's been really good actually keeping busy to take my mind off the stress of the previous months of fertility treatments. We plan on doing another round of IVF but probably not until April after all the trips. I still dread the thought of going through it all again to be honest but I hope that by that time I will be physically and mentally strong enough to face it again! In the meantime I'm just going to try to enjoy my travels.

I'm just not so keen on the long haul flight! We'll be traveling for 23 hours. I've bought one of those travel pillows and loads of new books so hopefully the time won't pass by too slowly!

Any tips on how to survive long distance flights?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a happy Christmas season and a great 2016! Or as the Germans say, einen guten Rutsch ins Neue Jahr (a great slide into the new year).

We'll be spending Christmas here in Germany this year with the GerMann's family and then flying to Dublin afterwards for about ten days. Looking forward to meeting up with everyone and of course enjoying Irish food which you can't get over here (such as yummy mince pies)! And here's hoping 2016 will be a great year.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

IVF Diary - it's all over

Well as the title suggests, sadly this pregnancy was very short lived.  I was almost five weeks along and one day before I would have had my first ultrasound and seen our baby. We went to the doctor at my clinic who confirmed that I was having an early miscarriage. She was very kind and said how sorry she was. We asked what went wrong. The embryos looked great apparently. They use a rating system here of 1 to 4 where 1 is the best and one of ours rated 1.5 and the other 2. The doctor said that miscarriages are very common sadly and there was probably just something wrong chromosomally with the embryos. She also said next time I could try a different combination of drugs to hopefully get more eggs and increase our chances.

All the hormones from the past few weeks have left me with some ovarian cysts which would need to clear up before we would be able to do another round. The doctor was qutie positive about our chances of IVF eventually working since the fact that I was able to get pregnant at all was a good sign so I've been clinging on to that hope. It's very common for a couple to need to go through several rounds of IVF before it works unfortunately. I think the average number of cycles for a live baby is 3. Normally if it's going to work at all it would happen by four attempts, after that the odds are very slim.

Right now I just feel so emotionally drained from the rollercoaster of the past few weeks and months that I'm planning to take some time off from it all and focus on enjoying my life again. When you are going through the process everything else can get put partially on hold. I had cut down on social events so it's going to be nice to start meeting up with friends more often. My plan is to just try to relax the next few months and then face the second round of IVF once I feel emotionally and physically prepared to go through it all again.

Obviously I'm feeling sad and very disappointed that it didn't work out... It would have been so nice to have been able to go home at Christmas and announce a pregnancy. And a summer baby next year would have been lovely. But I'm trying to stay hopeful for 2016. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

IVF Diary - Barely Pregnant

It's three days since I was told the "mixed news" that I'm pregnant but with a very low HCG value of 28. I had the idea of taking a home pregnancy test to see if the second line would get darker. On Friday I tested and had a faint but visible line. This morning I tested again and this time the second line was barely visible at all - instead of getting darker, it was even fainter! You probably can't even make out the second line in the pic below. 

Surely the line should be getting darker since the HCG value should be increasing each day so I have already started trying to prepare myself emotionally for the worst. Maybe this might not be our time. However, later I was googling and I read that home pregnancy tests are not very accurate for measuring HCG levels. They can tell if you are pregnant or not but not how pregnant. Some forums I read said that the line can even appear darker or lighter depending on time of day or how dehydrated you are. The only really accurate test is a blood test. I'll have to keep waiting until late next week for that. 

So much waiting. I just want to know if this pregnancy is viable or not! I don't have any symptoms yet either, just possibly sleepiness and an increased appetite. So right now I feel barely pregnant, like this pregnancy is hanging on by a thread. Bring on Thursday so I can have more an idea of what's going on! In the meantime I've been trying to send positive energy to the baby and praying that he or she is a little fighter.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

IVF Diary - Mixed news

Before work on Thursday I went to the clinic and did a blood test and was told I would receive a phone call between 1 and 2pm later that same day. I had taken a half day off from the office so that I could be at home for the news and have some space and time to process it, good or bad.

Waiting by the phone was tortuous and 2pm came and went and still no call. I tried phoning the clinic only to get their answering machine. I gave it a little more time and then was about to go and do a home pregnancy test when the call finally came. The doctor's asked me to confirm my name and date of birth and then said the news was mixed..

I'm pregnant but my HCG hormone level is very low, only 28, which could indicate an imminent miscarriage. They scheduled me an appointment for a week's time for an ultrasound though I might not still be pregnant by then, will have to just wait and see.

I was totally confused and in shock after the phone call. I'd been expecting and preparing myself for either a clear yes or no, good news or bad new, not mixed! After googling more information on what HCG values are normal, it seems that having a low one might not be so bad if the levels start increasing dramatically over the coming few days (though anything under 100 is considered low for an initial value). It's just too soon to tell basically.

Later that day I started feeling happy and more positive and decided I'm going to enjoy being pregnant for as long as I can. At this stage it's so early and it could really go either way but I'm cautiously optimistic!