Monday, May 22, 2017

From a bag of nerves to feeling zen

The last few days my emotions have been all over the place. I was all set to start IVF round four, then I got a blood test which showed an elevated thyroid (TSH) value which threw a spanner into the works. The GerMann started saying that maybe, what with the cyst that was noticed at my ultrasound, our flights to Ireland for my brother's Irish wedding celebrations in July and now the thyroid issue, we should postpone a few months. My doctor also wants to do the short protocol again instead of the long protocol so I was also freaking out a bit as I thought we'd still have another month of really healthy eating before the egg retrieval but now it'll only be about two weeks!

It's really overwhelming as well knowing this is our final try at this. The guy at my health insurance office had mistakenly told me that I would have 50% coverage for three more IVF rounds and had gotten my hopes up a little... Not that I particularly want to do three more, just nice to have a safety net... Anyway he had filled out the form wrong as I am only entitled to one more round that will be partially covered. Hubby has also reminded me a few times that this is our final try. We have discussed it at length many times and we are both in agreement; there are lots of reasons why we feel like we can't keep going after this, but I guess I'm finding it scary thinking that we might reach the end of this journey without a baby.

It feels overwhelming now that the final round is upon us and I'm terrified to be honest! Part of me is screaming, "I'm not ready yet!", "maybe we should wait another month or two so I can try to eat better as I haven't been as good as I wanted to be the past few weeks". Another voice is saying, "let's not keep postponing and letting my eggs get older, you're as ready as you'll ever be, let's do this! " Basically, I was freaking out a little!

I wouldn't say I'm a very religious person these days. I was brought up catholic and there used to be a time I'd go to mass every week but these days I rarely go and my faith has definitely been questioned over the years. Sometimes I'm not sure what I believe anymore but other times I still feel spiritual and I still pray often. Anyway so I prayed for guidance to help me decide whether to move forward now or wait. The next day I felt oddly remarkably calm. I just had this feeling like this is the right time. (Of course I know this may have all been in my head, but the main thing is I didn't feel as stressed so I'm happy!). I also made the decision that I would trust our doctor at our new clinic.

Long story short I got another ultrasound at my appointment today and it did show two small cysts. However the doctor said that since they are tiny it's not a problem and I can still go ahead. I asked about the thyroid, explaining that this is our final IVF round and we would postpone a month if need be. We were told that even though my TSH value certainly isn't optimal, it is being treated now. I'll get my blood checked again next appointment and we should still go ahead. So long story short, IVF number 4 is a go!

First injection is tomorrow. I'll go back to clinic in a week for a scan and then be told how many more days of injections will be needed and when the egg collection will take place. I have decided that I am going to just take everything one day at a time and try my best to stay calm. Thinking about the future makes me stressed and anxious, so focusing on getting through this step by step seems to be the approach that works best for me! Hubby and I have started eating as healthy as possible for the next two weeks. No alcohol for either of us, lots of fruit and veg, gluten and dairy free for me. I'm off caffeine and he's reducing his two cups of coffee a day to one.

Thanks so much for all the support the past few days by the way!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Pesky thyroid

Last week I'd gone for a so called "check up 35" at my doctor's practice. It's basically a general health check up covered by your insurance here once you turn 35. Anyway I asked to get my thyroid tested during it. When I phoned to ask the results a few days later they said everything was fine. I then asked what exactly my TSH value was. The nurse answered "3.11". I think my reaction was just shock! That is not a good value when you are trying to get pregnant. You really want between 1 and 2, under 2.5 at any rate.

Seriously, what the hell is going on with my thyroid? Last year when I got the extensive blood panel done it had been 2.3 so then I was put on meds for six weeks. It went up a little during IVF last year, which I read is quite common due to the IVF hormones so then my does of Levothyroxine was then increased (from 50mg to 75mg). By the end of February the packet of meds ran out and Dr. Peppy at the fertility clinic gave me another blood test after our appointment early march. She didn't tell me the exact numbers just that my thyroid was perfect so at that stage I went off the meds. Or rather, I wasn't prescribed anymore. I thought my thyroid was fixed but it seems like it has been gradually increasing since then!

I emailed Dr. Peppy about the latest blood test results. I think she may be regretting giving me her email now, haha! Actually she's been very good at emailing me back and really helpful which is nice. I've been trying to not abuse that fact and keeping questions and emails to a minimum.

She said that I should take the thyroid meds again and she would test my blood at my next appointment. So during my lunch break ch break I went to the pharmacy to buy Levothyroxine only to be told that I need a prescription. As soon as I could I emailed the doctor again asking if she could possibly scan the prescription and send it by email. She hadn't replied by the end of that day so then the following morning before work I spoke to the receptionist at the clinic to explain the dilemma. We came up with a solution. I would be sent the prescription by post. In the meantime, she would fax it to my local pharmacy so I could start taking the meds sooner. Perfect! However when I got to the pharmacy no fax had arrived. They tried phoning the clinic several times but couldn't get through. I waited around for awhile then eventually went to work.

Luckily when I went back on my lunch break I was able to collect the thyroid meds so I'm back on 75mg of thyroxine again the past few days. Let's hope my thyroid will be back within the normal range before I get to the IVF transfer stage.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Gearing up for round 4

It was touch and go whether my uterine biopsy results would arrive in time for me to start our next round of IVF. I provisionally made an appointment for early this week and we had left it that I would call that morning to see if the results had arrived in time and presumably if they hadn't I'd need to postpone treatment for another month or two. Although if they showed that I had an infection (Endometritis) then I'd need antibiotics for several weeks and have to postpone anyway.

Both the GerMann and my sister were thinking it would be good if I had Endometritis since it would mean something to treat and a reason IVF hasn't worked until now. Personally I was hoping I wouldn't have it, as I don't particularly want to find another issue potentially wrong. It's already a hassle having all the immune problems.

Dr. Peppy (my nickname for her) had emailed me a few days before my appointment saying that my results arrived and they were "unauffällig" (unremarkable) so nothing stands in my our way now. She sounded excited in her email which was sweet! I was also happy as initially the clinic had phoned hubby to say the results were there but they wouldn't discuss them on the phone which led me to start worrying that maybe they were bad and the doctor wanted to tell me in person!

Several things happened at my appointment this week.

  • The ultrasound showed a cyst (urgh), so I'll need another ultrasound once my period starts to make sure that's gone before I can begin

  • There was a problem with my health insurance (the eejit at my health insurance office had filled out the form wrong. He also had mistakenly told me I'd be covered for three more IVF cycles when actually I should only be covered for one more). so that's a bit disappointing. It all rests on IVF number 4..

  • My womb lining apparently looked nice and thick

  • Dr. Peppy has decided that instead of me doing the long protocol like we had agreed before, she wants me to do the short protocol again but try a new drug called Elonva. You inject it once and it gradually releases the hormone over several days. She has seen promising results from women in her clinic who have taken it

  • The plan is that first we need to get things sorted with my health insurance. Then once my period arrives I need to get checked either at my local doctor or at the clinic to make sure it's gone then I can start with the injections on the third day of my cycle

  • She would like me to start taking a low dose of Prednisolone before transfer this time. They also only administer one round of Intralipids in the weeks before you start IVF. The next one would be after the egg collection. I was able to get my first Intralipid done while I was there. Of course this all assumes that I'll be able to start next week...

So that's where I'm at. I feel a little overwhelmed about going through it all again. Scared too. The only part I'm actually looking forward to is the transfer. I like my doctor though and trust her. I'll know more in a week whether I'm starting or not.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The art of doing nothing #MicroblogMonday

I remember a joke someone shared a few years ago along the lines of, "Adulthood - if you're not tired, you're not doing it right!". These days everyone is so busy. People on trains rarely just look out the window to watch the world go by, but rather stare at their screens. There are always so many obligations and chores it can feel never ending at times. This week I came across; "The psychological importance of wasting time" which is worth a read and has a good message.

It states; The problem comes when we spend so long frantically chasing productivity, we refuse to take real breaks. We put off sleeping in, or going for a long walk, or reading by the window—and, even if we do manage time away from the grind, it comes with a looming awareness of the things we should be doing, and so the experience is weighed down by guilt.

I'm sure most of us to relate to that! I know that I have weekends where I want nothing more than to just relax with a good book but then end up feeling guilty that I'm not tackling one of the things on my to do list or catching up on housework. However having downtime is crucial to all of us. So if you don't manage to do anything productive today, don't worry, you are still doing something right!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

How I've been preparing for my 4th IVF

It's a strange feeling knowing I could be beginning our fourth IVF in just a few weeks, Or I might not be starting for a several months. Would you believe we're still waiting for the results of my uterine biopsy? We emailed our doctor while we were in Australia and she said that it takes about six weeks. So initially we had been told one week by the doctor who performed it, then three to four by the receptionist and now six. The not knowing is frustrating but since there is nothing we can do I'm trying not to think about it too much! Anyway, these are the way I have been preparing for our 4th IVF;

  • Step one - uterine biopsy to rule out any infection such as endometriosis

  • The uterine biopsy and scratch was suggested by Dr. Peppy at our new clinic as it's the one test I haven't had done yet. It was uncomfortable but luckily not painful and only took a few minutes. The long part was getting to and from the clinic, as it's in a different city to where we live. If it turns out that I have an infection such as endometriosis then I'll need to take antibiotics for a month and probably test again so it would definitely affect how soon we can start our next IVF cycle.

  • Step two - go on holidays

  • We went to Australia in April for my brother's wedding and had an amazing time. It was so nice to spend time with family, have a holiday with hubby and just relax and not think about infertility treatments! It was really good for us to take some time off from everything. Traveling is one of my favourite things to do. I'll try to do a separate post on that and share even more photos. I'm really glad we decided to go on the trip in the end. Initially we had been considering staying here to save money and not have to postpone IVF too long, but a family wedding is such a special event and I'm glad to have been a part of it.

    Usually I try to quit alcohol in the months leading up to IVF but I haven't been doing that this time. I haven't been drinking much though, just the odd glass or two of wine at the weekends, but then in Australia I ended up consuming a fair bit, as you do on holidays! For instance, we went on a Swan Valley wine tour one of the days and my sister and I got very tipsy. I hadn't laughed so hard in a long time! I've decided to not let myself feel bad about it as I needed the break after everything. Once I start with the IVF injections I'll cut out alcohol completely.

  • Step three - supplements to prepare ourselves

  • We are both planning to take his and her preconception supplements once we start our IVF cycle. I've also got hubby on Coq10 which has been shown to improve DNA fragmentation. He hasn't been shown to have any issues with his swimmers, but no harm doing whatever we can to improve things. Hubby and I have both been taking vitamin D as our blood tests showed we were low.
    My doctor agreed that I can try DHEA before this cycle which can help women who respond poorly to the IVF hormones. Of course, I'm also on folic acid. For egg quality I'm taking 600mg of coq10 each day and I'm planning to start 3mg of melatonin once I begin the IVF injections stage until the egg retrieval as I've read good things about it. I had taken thyroid meds for several months after my blood tests showed my levels were slightly off but my most recent blood test showed my thyroid is ok now. Let's hope it stays that way!

  • Step four - general health and diet

  • Since January, I decided to go gluten free and eat low dairy and less sugar. Apparently that could help reduce elevated natural killer cells. Hubby and I have also been trying to avoid processed foods as much as possible and generally eat lots of vegetables and legumes. We've both cut down on the amount of animal products in our diet. It has been fun trying out new recipes together and we've both been feeling great. I decided to try going gluten free after reading this study which concluded;

    Patients of childbearing age having fertility problems may have subclinical NCGS and they should be informed that the treatment of NCGS by a gluten free diet might improve their fertility. Based on the case we are presenting, the possible prevention or treatment of reproductive effects may be achieved through a strict gluten free diet.

    NCGS stands for 'non-coeliac gluten sensitivity' by the way. In some people your body apparently mistakenly thinks it is something bad and there can be an autoimmune response. I figure I could try it for a few months, what have I got to lose? Since going gluten free my general digestion has also improved which is a plus. It can be quite challenging following a gluten free low dairy diet living in Germany though, particularly when eating out! Here's a picture of a delicious breakfast I ate in Perth. Vegan buckwheat pancakes with fruit and cashew cream.

  • Step five - general self care

  • I haven't started this yet but I'm planning to try to make more time to do nice relaxing things for myself. I'd like to book a massage for instance, read more as I love reading, take long baths, listen to music and so on. And make sure we also do nice things like go on dates. It's very easy to get into the habit of staying in and binge watching tv shows and as much fun as that is, it's good to get some variety and go out for walks, dinner, cinema etc.

Won't it be nice once all this is over and I can eat, drink and do what I feel like without worrying about affecting my egg quality! Also it will be great once I'm done taking so many tablets each day. But it's ok, I'm happy now as I know that I am doing it all for an important reason. I've also noticed that the Australia trip has done me a world of good! I feel like I got to be myself again. My brother's wedding was so much fun! I was hanging out with a lot of his friends who are about three years younger than me. The handy thing was that none of them were at the kid stage yet (it's quite typical to not get married in Ireland until your 30s) so hubby and I weren't constantly being reminded of our lack of children like we might be when we meet up with friends our age. It was interesting to get to know my brother's friends and his life on the other side of the world. I had fun dancing like crazy on the dancefloor! Myself and some of the other girls from Dublin even attempted to do some Irish dancing, haha!

I would even go so far to say that I feel stronger emotionally after the Australia trip too. For instance on the flight there I refrained from watching "Bad Moms" or "Storks" on the plane as I was still feeling too fragile and worried that they would upset me too much with too many triggers. However on the flight back I watched them both! Bad Moms had some moments about how great it is being a mom and so on but otherwise it was mainly silly and funny and perfect for wasting a few hours on a long flight! During Storks I did cry a bit at the end but everyone did!

Hopefully I'll hear from Dr.Peppy soon so we can finally start planning when our 4th round will start. In the meantime we have another wedding to go to this month, so there will probably be more drinking and hitting the dancefloor!

Monday, April 17, 2017

One lovely blog award

I recently got nominated twice for a lovely blog award which made me happy. So thanks so much to delayedbutnotdeniedblog and ivfbabychick! I feel like I've made some good friends in the blogging world and connected with some great people which has been really nice. Deylaedbutnotdenied and her husband have been trying everything and praying to be able to start a family soon. Pop over and show her some support. Ivfbabychick is currently pregnant with her IVF baby after a hard journey to get there and I'm delighted for her!

The rules of the One Lovely blog award are;

  1. Thank the person that nominated you and leave a link to their blog
  2. Post about the award
  3. Share seven facts about yourself
  4. Nominate other people (15 at most)
  5. Tell your nominees the good news!

So let's see, seven things about me...

1) I'm not particularly adventurous. I enjoy things like reading and going to the cinema as opposed to extreme sports. However, I surprised everyone during my year of travel by pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and even doing a skydive in New Zealand! It was a cool experience for sure. That said, I'm not in a big rush to do another one now I've ticked it off my bucket list!

2) I remember most of my dreams. Occasionally I even have somewhat lucid ones where I have some control over what happens. When that occurs I'll usually try to do something cool like flying. I have a recurring bad dream about a tsunami coming towards me which I often have when I'm feeling overwhelmed by things.

3) I saw Mel Gibson when he was over in Ireland filming Braveheart! He got out of a sports car with a female companion and walked towards the national art gallery. His hair was long. I also saw Kevin Spacey when he was in Ireland filming Ordinary Decent Criminal. It was during my Summer holidays from college and I also got to be an extra walking in the background during one scene. Though I've watched the film and didn't actually see myself so maybe it was cut. Ah well!

4) I can't get enough Karaoke. I can't sing but I love it all the same! When I was about 12 I even had a karaoke party! I had a kid microphone and several video tapes with 80s songs you could sing along to such as Material girl. I also love to dance.

5) In fact I had quite a few "themed" parties over the years. For my 18th birthday I had a murder mystery dinner party. Everyone had to come as a character and had a rough script to follow and then at the end we attempted to guess who the 'murderer' was.

6) Classical studies was my favourite subject in school. We learnt about Greek and Roman mythology and read The Odyssey. What wasn't to like? I had a great teacher which also helped.

7) English is my first language. Irish would probably be my second given I started learning it from a young age in school (like most Irish children do). Ever since moving to Germany, along with the fact I hardly have opportunities to us it any more, I've lost a lot of the language which is a pity. German seems to have replaced it in my brain! I also learned French in school and know a little bit.

So there you have it. I'm not sure how interesting that was, but those were the only things I could think of on the spot!
I would like to nominate the following blogs;

Thursday, April 6, 2017

March recap

Thought I'd share what I've been up to the past few weeks.

What's New With You

At the beginning of the month I took a trip to Dublin. The GerMann wasn't able to make it. It must have been the first time I'd gone back 'home' without him in about three or four years! I mainly caught up with friends and spent time with family. I got to meet up with some old work colleagues I hadn't seen in almost two years as we hadn't been able to get together on my previous visits back, so I'm glad that worked out. We met for lunch near my old company and it was a real trip down memory lane. Crazy thinking I've lived in Germany almost seven years already!

Hubby and I celebrated St. Patrick's day (March 17th) which is always fun. We invited lots of friends, whoever was around basically, to join us at the local Irish pub for drinks and live music. There were about ten of us in the end. It was the perfect evening! We partied a little too hard though and we both felt pretty hungover the following day! Worth it though.

In terms of our journey to try to become parents, we had our appointment at the new clinic at the start of the month. I got a uterine biopsy two weeks later, as suggested by my new doctor and am still waiting for the results before we proceed with a fourth and probably final IVF this Summer at some stage. I'm not sure of the timing yet. Lately I've been feeling like there just aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done. I'm sure everyone has weeks like that though! It's been a busy month between big projects and deadlines at work, trying to get the paperwork sorted for our new clinic, getting organized for the upcoming holiday and keeping up with household stuff. On top of that we had some unforeseen expenses regarding rusty pipes that needed to be replaced and had plumbers come fix things.

Spring has finally sprung and we've been able to sit out and enjoy the sunny weather. The GerMann and I did some gardening! Some flowers he planted several months ago have started to bloom and I planted some herbs and vegetables; basil, spinach, rosemary and pumpkin. I'm excited to see if any of them grow. Gardening reminded me of my previous IVF transfers where the doctor 'plants' the embryo and then it may or may not stick and grow. But then I guess everything reminds me of fertility lately haha!

Last week I went to see the new Beauty and the Beast film with a friend here and we both loved it. It's just feel good and fun! I can imagine that some people might find it too silly and Disneyish but as someone who loved the original film as a kid, I thought it was well done. There were new songs plus Beauty's character was played with more heroically by Emma Watson. The relationship between her and the Beast was more developed and hence believable. We also saw Passengers this month, which couldn't have been more different but also very good, a sort of romance sci-fi set in space.

What did you get up to in March?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Other people's children

On one of my recent posts I mentioned how hard it can be when most of your friends are parents while you so desperately want to be. I longed for more adult type childfree events where I could catch up with my pals without distractions like their toddler running around and to be able to have conversations that didn't revolve around kids when I'm trying my best to take my mind of the topic and focus on what else life has to offer. However that's not to say that I don't enjoy spending time with my friends' kids. I actually really like holding babies! I do get a pang in my heart and hope I will get to experience cuddling my own baby one day, but I still enjoy seeing them as grow and become more responsive. A baby's smile is adorable! Just like with adults, there are also certain children that I have a stronger connection with. It's fun when they get to the age where they can talk and you can play games with them. And my heart fills with warmth, as cheesy as that sounds when a kid tells me they love me or gives me a hug.

Good friends of ours are moving to Canada soon and their daughter told them she's going to miss my husband and I. She made a picture for me and asked my husband and I to write in her friend book. In it she drew herself and I drew myself ( a basic stick figure ) beside her and then she drew a line between our hands to show they were holding. So sweet! She also kept pulling my husband over to help her with a jigsaw puzzle. Actually he was super popular with kids that day, my other friend's son was trying to get his attention too! It was so lovely to see. I've noticed that my husband isn't so good with young babies, but he's great with toddlers and young children, once they can interact more. Whenever I see him playing with them or reading them a story, it also makes me wish so much that he'll get to experience being a Dad. To be honest, the past while I've noticed he seems to have come to terms with the idea that it might not happen for us and he's ok with that. I'm the one who's having more of a hard time with the idea! Lately I've been feeling hopeful and optimistic about our fourth IVF round though.

Another friend's son is a big fan of mine for some reason and he tells me he loves me. He's three. Super sweet! I taught him how to play Hide and Seek and Simon Says. The thing is kids do seem to like me in general. I used to do a lot of babysitting when I was younger, plus being the oldest child in my family so I'm also used to spending time with children. Sometimes I'm able to stop a baby from crying and I feel really proud of myself, haha, but other times I don't know what to do and hand them back to their parents! I've noticed that how I feel about babies and kids is also somewhat dependent on how I'm thinking about our journey to hopefully become parents at the time. When I feel like it's just hopeless then seeing kids can just remind me of what we are missing. However, when I am feeling hopeful and optimistic about our own chances then spending time with children is enjoyable. There's something fun about watching the world through the eye's of a child. They have such an appreciation for the little things.

I've come to terms with the idea now that we'll be very lucky to just have one child and I'm mostly fine with that. One girl or boy would fit into our lives beautifully!