Sunday, February 19, 2017

February highs and lows

If I had to choose my least favourite month of the year I'd pick February without a doubt. It's normally around this time that I just get fed up with winter! Not much happens in February either and it tends to be cold, grey and dark. The good thing is that it's a short month. When March comes around there's St. Patrick's day to look forward to and the start of Spring. However, this February two of my good friends from Dublin came over and we all had the best time! Now that we have the house there is plenty of room for visitors especially since our green room is still empty. We enjoyed showing the girls around where we live, cooking for them and we also took a trip to Baden Baden for the day and went to the thermal pools there. On Saturday night we went to a mexican restaurant for good food, cocktails and then we went out dancing afterwards. More fun than I've had in awhile!

In fact I had a really good few weeks despite everything. The GerMann even commented recently that "there are advantages to not having children". Usually I would hate him saying something like that but this time I agreed. If having children isn't in the cards for us, I could see how we could still have a very nice life. I can't say I don't enjoy being able to be spontaneous, go out in the evenings when we want and plan a big holidays like our trip to Australia in April. Hubby and I have also been getting on very well lately. We're both grateful to have found each other as corny as that sounds! He makes me laugh and we just click really well. He wrote me a nice message in my Valentine's card this year along the lines of whatever happens he loves me so much and will always be there for me.... I'd also written something similar in my card to him, that I know I'll have a lovely future with him by my side no matter what. It's a different message to our previous year's cards where we wrote along the lines of, "I can't wait to start a family with you" back when we still had more faith that IVF would work.

The past while, I'd also been so focused on my goal of having a baby that I think I had forgotten that it wouldn't be all rainbows and unicorns! I've been reminded from conversations I had with my friends who have kids lately how hard and stressful it can be. I think in my head I'd built the idea of having our child to this amazing magical thing. Hearing stories from my friends about babies screaming all night long, sick kids, toddler tantrums and so on, reminded me that my life at the moment is nice, in it's own way. I'm not saying I still wouldn't want to have children, just that I took the rose tinted spectacles off and could see how IF it isn't in the cards for us, we'd still be happy (down the line, as obviously if it doesn't work out, I'll still be very disappointed at first.) Maybe you could say I've been starting to come to terms with things.


Mali from nokiddinginnz wrote about how hope can change over time for those struggling with infertility, and I guess you could say that's been happening to me. I'm still hoping that it might one day happen for us but I'm also becoming more realistic and facing the alternative. My path to mommyhood and differentshoresblog wrote about enjoying life without children, "because I don't have children" and how that can bring up complicated feelings. We don't want people to think we didn't/don't really want children hard enough because we are able to enjoy the time without them or that or that our lives are somehow "perfect" either because it hasn't been easy ending up on this path but at the same time it's nice to enjoy ourselves when we can. Life is really so short after all- It's good to try to make the most of things and be as happy as you can with the life you have. So yeah I'm going to enjoy that glass or two of wine and sleep in on the weekends then have a lazy breakfast making pancakes with hubby, and try to plan trips and holidays and be spontaneous when I can.

However, despite the really good few weeks where I felt happy and more like myself again (I feel like going through infertility has definitely made me more world weary in general. Less carefree and positive than I'd like to be...), I started feeling really down last weekend. I guess there had been a few "triggers". There's a girl from my old neighbourhood back home, a year younger than me who recently had her second baby, and she keeps sharing the adorable pics on facebook, practically giving a week by week account. We visited friends of ours who did their first IVF round the same time as our second round and now have lovely twin girls. And there's a work colleague who's walking around with her lovely pregnant bump at the moment. Happy for them all, sad for us.

There can also be a disconnect between me and my friends here. All my close friends have kids now and there are times when I just feel left out. And since I don't have children I'd like to make the most of the "advantages" and go out for dinner, drinks and dancing for instance. However the girls can only meet day time during certain windows around baby nap times, and then only at kid friendly cafes. Plus children often get sick so they need to cancel or postpone a lot. I do enjoy spending time with my friends' kids, I'd just like to have more adult only events too. Look the thing is, I totally get it, of course if you have kids your schedule is different and you may have to cancel or postpone, I'm just saying it can be hard for the childfree friend now and then.

Recently we arranged to meet up for lunch and I ended up having to wait half an hour on my own as the others were late. Once everyone eventually arrived we had a really nice afternoon. One of the girls commented to me later though that she was glad it was me who had to wait the half hour and not her or one of the others as they wouldn't have been able to wait that long with the kids. I know she didn't mean anything bad by it but my immediate thought was "Right, because as a person without children my time is therefore less valuable". If any of my friends with kids read this, I want to stress that I love you all, I'm just trying to give an example how it can be hard when you're at different life stages to your friends.

When I was feeling down those few days I did have a nice Skype with my sister which helped (she said I could be experiencing "friend withdrawal" after the fun visit!) and hubby noticed something was off and suggested I tell him everything that was bothering me (it wasn't only related to our problems building a family though that was probably the main thing upsetting me at that moment..). I ended up having a good cry. Getting it all out and having his support helped and I felt a whole lot better afterwards, and lighter even!

I actually have a lot more friends back in Dublin without kids so in some ways if I were still living there, not having kids wouldn't bother me as much. I've booked a trip back to Dublin by myself for a few days the end of this month. I had some extra leave I'd carried over from last year which I have to use up by end of March so I figured why not go back for a long weekend. I can try to meet up with some of the friends I didn't get a chance to meet up with over Christmas and just spend time with family. We're going to go out for afternoon tea as well at some point which is one of my favourite things to do. I've even considering having a section on my blog where i review all the best places to go for afternoon tea in Dublin, haha! Full of photos of cakes and scones of course.


I was chatting to one of my best friends here who had a baby after her third round of IVF and she totally gets some of the things I've been feeling lately. It's the not knowing the outcome which is really hard! If I already knew that we won't be able to have our own biological children, then I would be able to start coming to terms with that and accepting it. However since I don't know yet, I'm still living in this limbo land with the hope that it might work, therefore I keep imaging a different future for us. I was also telling her about x,y,z I read about recently wondering whether this or that might be the problem why it hasn't work for us. (For instance, should I get my blocked tube clipped/removed/dye put through it again, or should I get a sample from my uterus in case there's an inflammation and I need antibiotics...etc etc) and she said she remembers being the same way.

It's frustrating not knowing IF it will happen and the exact reason of why it hasn't happened so far (no doctor can really tell you why, there are just so many unknowns in the land of fertility! It's a wonder people manage to have children at all considering the amount of things that need to go right in order for it to happen!). The IVF cycle that worked for that friend was the one she did with the new clinic we are getting a consultation at in March. We just sent off all our paperwork including a very detailed eight page questionnaire last week. Our plan is still to wait and see what they advise us and then we'll be able to come up with an action plan.

In the meantime though, I can say I've mainly been making the most of our childfree life, and that can only be a good thing!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sing Street #MicroblogMonday

One of the movies that stood out for us last year was "Sing Street", a low-budget Irish movie. Often I find that there are so many huge blockbusters full of special effects and fight scenes these days that I miss the simpler films with more of a story to them! Sing Street is set in Dublin in the 1980s and as someone who grew up around then, I enjoyed feeling nostalgic watching it. A bit like how "Stranger Days" the Netflix series was also set in the 80s. Both reminded me of the time before smartphones and constant access to internet, when you would go out all day with your friends on adventures.

Sing Street revolves around a 16 year old boy who moves to a new school. Life is hard. There's a bully, a principal who has it in for him, and to top it off his parents might be getting a divorce. He soon falls for a 17 year old girl who wants to move to London and become a model. In order to impress her he decides to form a music band and make videos together. That's all I'll say without spoiling anything. The music was really good. I've even been listening to the soundtrack since ("drive it like you stole it" is the name of the catchy theme song). Dublin also looked lovely in it. Overall it was just a fun film that left you in a good mood after watching.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Our five snowflakes that weren't

Over the course of the last year and a half we've had three IVF cycles and I've had a total of five embryos transferred into me. Five little snowflakes which had the potential to grow into babies but sadly didn't. I can't help wondering what kind of people they might have one day become. How many of them were boys, how many girls? Would they have had my eyes? My husband's smile? Or even our bad eye sight (haha)? Even though they were only growing and alive for such a small amount of time, I loved them wholeheartedly.

Last week we had the follow up appointment at our clinic ( also nicknamed the "WTF meeting!"). It turns out the two embryos that were transferred during our last failed IVF were rated 1 (which is the best possible mark here!) and 2 (which is also very good). Since hearing that, I have felt mixed feelings. Sad to think of our perfect embryos that weren't to be and wondering what went wrong, why even one of the two didn't take. The doctor put it down to bad luck. Everything looked great he said. It should have worked...

I've felt happy though that my partner and I are still able to create such good quality embryos despite the fact that I'm classed a poor responder to IVF hormones and don't have that many eggs grow each time. The doctor said that our egg and sperm quality are great which means we *should* be able to have a biological child. However, there are no guarantees with IVF, I've learnt that lesson time and time again. Sometimes you can have everything go right, transfer a perfect embryo and for whatever reason it just doesn't implant.

The good news is that the doctor says he's not worried about me running out of time and my fertility decreasing if I want to take several months break. That's a relief and I feel justified now in our decision to book our flights to Oz. I asked if it would be ok to wait until this summer and he said absolutely. I actually hate the thought of going through it all again; the Intralipid infusions, the injections, the feeling crappy, the egg retrieval procedure, the emotional upheaval. So I will need several months just to be able to gather my strength before I can try again anyway.

On Wednesday I went to my gyno. I told him about our plan to try the other clinic. He doesn't think they are any better than our local one, in fact he says their results are generally slightly worse. That was disappointing to hear! But he understands our wish for a second opinion after three failed IVFs at one place. He kindly offered that if we decide to go ahead with treatment at the other clinic, he could do some of the ultrasounds for me here and send them the results so that I wouldn't need to travel 60 kilometers there and back each time. That was a nice offer! I'll ask at the new clinic whether that would be feasible. He said he'll try to support me whatever way he can. For instance if I want to get the intralipids done again. He's a good doctor, I like him a lot.

He's not too impressed with natural IVF though when I asked him his thoughts on that because it still includes the egg retrieval procedure but has only low chances of success with one egg. He said it only makes sense for older women or poor responders. I explained that I AM a poor responder since he might not have realised. I only had 2 eggs during IVF#1, 1 during IVF#2 and four during IVF#3. He agreed it might make sense in my case then. Our fertility doctor isn't a big fan of natural IVF either. They don't even offer it here. But he encouraged us to go for a consultation at the other clinic to decide if it could be right for us. He said many women do a low dose / mini IVF with the drug Clomid which is much cheaper than the other meds once they run out of IVF rounds covered by their insurance. I couldn't help feeling a little sorry for them (and us). It's no fun reaching this stage!

That said, overall the appointments went well. It's great to have the support from my gyno in terms of getting intralipids or ultrasounds done so I wouldn't need to travel to the other clinic every time if we decide to get treatment with them (I'll just need to find out how much extra that might cost). And I'm happy to hear that we are still able to create great embryos together and that having a few months off shouldn't affect things negatively (that was one of my worries particularly after turning 35 last month). I've decided I do want to go for a fourth IVF, whether it will be normal / natural or mini, probably sometime this Summer because I feel (hopefully not naively) like there is still a little hope that it might work for us.. And my husband has also agreed to us trying one more time. At that stage we will both feel like we have given it our best shot and can then move on with our lives one way or the other!


After our appointment at the clinic I went shopping and bought myself some new Summery clothes for our trip to Perth in a few months time. A bit of retail therapy can be good sometimes! I am so over this freezing cold never ending winter here. It even reached minus 10 degrees this week. I hope the weather is a bit nicer wherever you are!

Monday, January 9, 2017

What next?

Well I still can't really believe that we have three failed IVFs behind us now. How did I end up here? I just really thought that it would be third time lucky for us and I had already planned it all out in my head - how far along in the pregnancy I would be by which month and even when I would be due. It all seems a bit stupid now of course. If it had worked I would have had my first scan last Thursday. Wouldn't that have been something? The odd thing is that our first IVF was actually the most successful in that I was properly pregnant and for the longest, even though it only lasted five weeks. These past several months between the immune testing and treatments not to mention the IVF itself was just so all consuming. Now that it's over I've been feeling at a loss. Sort of aimless and unsure of myself. The support from all of you has helped me a lot. It really means a lot to me, so thank you so much!

While I was googling IVF failure, I came across this article which I found very helpful. There are few resources available for when infertility treatments don't work so it can be a hard and lonely time. It's been difficult as you can imagine but I think I am handling it well all things considering. I was grateful that I had a few days off before I had to go back to the office. I'm still feeling quite fragile. It seems like every time I log onto facebook there's a new pregnancy or baby announcement! How I wish that were us. Yesterday hubby told me that friends of ours had their twins on Christmas day. I am embarrassed to admit this but I burst into tears when I heard. They also went through infertility and had a long journey. Actually when I did my second round of IVF, they did their first and for them it was successful. I am delighted for them, just disappointed for us.

I would have been due this month if the second round had worked. I probably wouldn't have been able to travel to Ireland in that case if I was so far along, and I would have missed out on a lovely Christmas with my family though. I liked the suggestion in that article to take up a new hobby or write a list of things you'd like to do. So I've decided to jot down lots of simple things like restaurants we've been meaning to try out, places I'd like to visit and so on. I've also thought about possible hobbies like doing a dance class, writing a book or taking up painting so maybe I will try something new. It would be good to focus on something else for awhile.

We've gotten an appointment at the other clinic I mentioned for early March. It's actually nearly an hour and a half away but I have heard great stories from people who have gone there. I'm really happy we have this appointment and keen to hear what they tell us. We'll have a long list of questions for them! I've read about some women having success with certain supplements such as DHEA and royal jelly but I'd prefer to get a doctor's advice before taking them. They offer natural IVF at the other clinic and I'm planning to discuss whether that might be something we should try. I'm also wondering whether it would be a good idea to get the scratch done (again) to increase our chances and whether it would make sense to check my tubes to see if one is still unblocked. In the meantime we have to fill out a three page questionnaire and send them all our medical records etc. I'll have to go back to my gyno to get a referral.

Hubby and I watched a few Netflix documentaries recently that revolved around food and health that made an impact on us. The documentaries were basically about how there is way too much processed and fast food these days. And also that people should cut back on animal products and dairy. So we decided to make an effort to eat healthier this month. We have been trying out some new recipes and cooking together more which has been fun! Just trying to incorporate lots more vegetables in our diet, more home made stuff, less sugar. I've also decided to try cutting out gluten. I've been having some digestion issues on and off for awhile now and I've noticed on days I avoid gluten it tends to be better so I'm going to give it a go. I also came across some research indicating that a gluten intolerance could lead to overactive natural killer cells in some women so I've been wondering if that might be what's happening to me. If I can improve my digestion, be healthier and improve the NK cells over the next few months that would be great!

I'm also hoping to get my thyroid values back under control. The day after our transfer I got my blood tested and found out my TSH value had gone up not down (it went from 2.30 to 2.46)! This is despite taking meds to reduce it the previous six weeks. I freaked out, worrying that it would affect the embryos implanting (and maybe it did...) I went to my doctor and she prescribed me stronger thyroid meds as the ideal value for pregnancy is around 1 and definitely under 2. Not sure why mine went up not down though I've read that IVF hormones can affect it. A higher TSH value means underactive thyroid. So my plan is to keep taking the meds and hopefully get my thyroid under control over the next few months.

Several people have asked us recently about adoption. It saddens me a bit as it sounds like they don't think we'll be able to have kids ourselves whereas we haven't moved on from that hope yet. Years ago when we started having problems hubby and I had a chat about what things we would consider and he said he doesn't want to go down the adoption route. I remember feeling sad at the time thinking that if IVF doesn't work then we would end up totally childless but when I thought about it more a few days later I realised that I also don't feel particularly drawn to adoption myself. It's a great thing for loads of people, don't get me wrong, I just don't feel like it's right for us. I can't imagine having the energy to start down that long road either if our other treatment attempts fail. Also for me the biological connection is very important. My Mum died when I was younger and I love the idea of a part of her living on.

People have told me about friends who adopted and then got pregnant naturally implying it might work in our case but that's not a good reason to pursue adoption! We also don't feel comfortable with the idea of donor eggs or sperm. Both are illegal in Germany actually (However it is actually legal to "adopt" already created embryos from another couple here). Update: only donor eggs are illegal here. Basically if it doesn't work with our own DNA we would stop. Hubby didn't even want to try IVF initially but luckily came around to the idea. And at the beginning we had agreed on 3 (or max 4) rounds. I have been starting to wonder about what I would consider depending on what we are told at our next doctor's appointment. Going through infertility means you end up having to think about all sorts of things. One friend even suggested we go to India to find a surrogate! I can't imagine ever doing that and thankfully I haven't been told that I can't carry my own child so we don't need to consider options like that. Our doctor has never said there are any issues with our own eggs or sperm either. Both are good quality. I think the main problem is that I don't respond well to the IVF hormones and we don't end up with many embryos. Maybe our thoughts on donor eggs or adoption might change in the future but for now we are still hopeful that we might be able to have a biological child. I hope that doesn't come across the wrong way. Each couple has to decide what is right for them.

Our plan is to see what they say at the other clinic and then decide our next steps. I am open to doing a fourth round at some point. Hubby isn't so keen on the idea, like I mentioned before, he's already ready to stop and try to move on. However he's open to finding out what the new doctors have to say. He just hates seeing how hard IVF is on me. I have heard of women who take five or six rounds to be successful but I don't know how much more I can take. I tell myself it will be worth it in the end when we have our baby but I do worry about the long term effects. The emotional rollercoaster isn't good for my mental health either. Each failure just feels worse than the last! The hardest thing at the moment is deciding where to draw the line. If IVF is never going to work for me then I would obviously rather stop now than keep putting myself through it (and spending more money)! Our health insurance will pay towards a fourth round and it's great to have that option.

So that's where we are at now. I hope my post didn't sound too sad. It has been an incredibly disappointing time. I'm doing ok though. Feeling a little better each day and I am hopeful that maybe something will still work this year. I would love to be pregnant by the summer. Oh man, we would love that baby (or babies) so much! I would be the happiest woman in the world if it worked out. But I also want the doctors to tell it to us straight. If our chances are slim, I will try to accept that. In which case I will also start moving on. Hubby and I have also discussed what that might mean for us. We could consider getting a pet. Or we could plan some amazing holidays. Hubby has never been to Thailand. We would both love to go to the States together. It would also be such a relief to be done with all the doctor's appointments and injections. I hope by this summer we will have our answer either way. Please God we'll be able to have a healthy baby one day.

We are hoping to fly to Australia for my brother's wedding in April. It would be something to look forward to! Initially I had been thinking about staying here so that any potential treatments wouldn't have to be postponed but then I realised that I would regret missing out on seeing my brother get married and a month or two delay shouldn't make a big difference. My life has revolved around infertility treatments so much the past while and I'd like to focus on other things and try to enjoy life again!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

When IVF fails

Well the title says it all unfortunately. Obviously I wish I could be sharing happy news. The first few days in Ireland when I still thought I could be pregnant, I had a great time. It was really nice spending so much time with family and catching up with friends and it was also an ideal distraction from the stress of the past few weeks. On Christmas eve morning I did a pregnancy test and there was a very faint second line. That told me nothing though as I had given myself a shot of the HCG hormone three days earlier which could have still been in my system. I wanted to test again the next day but hubby wouldn't let me as he didn't want a potential bad result to spoil my Christmas.

The following day I woke up extra early and thought I felt different and decided to try again. I thought it would be a stronger positive and was thinking how nice it would to give my family the good news while I was there. The test was negative. At that stage I was just in shock and really upset. I had been so sure that it had worked this time that I hadn't really thought about the alternative. When I joined my family in the kitchen for breakfast I just burst into tears. They told me it was still early and not to give up hope until the blood test but I just knew. Still, I read some stories of women online who had negative pregnancy tests but nonetheless got a positive result in the end and I was praying for a miracle, though I just knew something like that wouldn't happen to me.

I felt really down that day. Having my sister there helped a lot and it was good to talk about it all. The GerMann was also really supportive and loving. We met up with a relation who has been dealing with serious health problems lately but she said she refuses to think "poor me" since so many other people are going through worse. Everyone has their own struggles (even though you would never think it from facebook sometimes!). Her courage also inspired me. The last few days of our trip I started to feel a bit more optimistic about things. I still knew it would be a negative result but I was able to focus on the good things in my life; that I have a great husband, my health and lots of people who care about me and that we would find a way to be ok whatever happens (even if children are not on the cards for us).

Today has been tough though. Even though I was prepared, getting the negative phone call is never easy. And I also feel a bit homesick. We had such a nice time in Dublin. We were constantly busy actually with so many people to spend time with that out house here in Germany now feels quite empty and quiet. I'm very disappointed as you can imagine. I really thought that IVF round three would work. Especially since I did all the extra immune treatment against my elevated natural killer cells. The GerMann thinks that this means that I don't need the immune treatment but at best your odds of IVF working are only around 30% anyway.


It is hard to know where to go from here. I would like to get a consultation at another clinic which is over an hour away which I've heard good things about. If they think they can help us then I would do a fourth IVF with them. That would be my last one though, I don't want to keep doing IVF over and over. Hubby would stop already. He thinks it would have worked by now if it is going to, that we should just try naturally and start attempting to move on. It can be hard when you aren't on the same page. He's agreed to going for a consultation at the other clinic though. They are closed now over Christmas and they have long waiting times but hopefully we'll get an appointment there within a few months. In the meantime we've been thinking about planning a holiday together. Funds are tight what with all the house related expenses and all the IVF and immune treatment but it would be good for us to have something to look forward to.

I considered the idea of going straight into a fourth round immediately. January and February are normally dull months anyway, maybe I could just get through that and then I would be done with it. Then I wouldn't need to start all the intralipids from scratch either. You see you are meant to get two rounds of intralipids done in the month before you start IVF so if I wait several months I would need to get them done again, that is if I would still continue with the immune treatment. However I think it would be too much for us to go straight into another round and I also feel let down by my clinic and think that the other place might be able to give me a better protocol. They also offer natural IVF there I've heard. Our plan is to just try to get our lives back and take a break from it all over the next few months and then depending on what the other doctor advises we'll decide whether to go for a fourth round or not. We also have an appointment at our current clinic in a few weeks to discuss what went wrong.

We did have a wonderful time in Dublin over Christmas. It had been ages since my whole family was all together. We didn't manage to meet up with everyone we would have liked to but we got to meet the majority of people. We're missing my cousin's wedding though since we thought I would be pregnant at the time and have to be back in Germany for treatment and monitoring but it turns out we could have gone. (Too late now, have already RSVP'd, plus haven't booked the days off work, no flights). Also I missed my Christmas work party which was around the egg retrieval. So that was annoying. Now we are finished IVF for now at least we can start doing things again and being social!

In February we have two friends from Ireland coming over to visit so I'm excited about that. We had some really nice chats in Ireland too. We met up with good family friends and I was open about our struggles to have a baby. It turns out it took them eleven years to have their son and they were able to relate to how hard a time it is when you wonder will you ever have children but can't look into the future. We have so many people praying and hoping for us. It will be sad telling them all that it didn't work. My mother in law sounded really upset on the phone when I spoke to her earlier. Infertility doesn't just affect the couple going through it but also their family, relations and friends. It's been a hard few days but in general I'm feeling ok and I know that we will find a way to keep going forward whatever the future has in store for us. I won't let this beat me.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Eating for three

Yesterday I had the transfer. The GerMann was able to come with me this time which was nice and hopefully brings us some extra luck! On the way to the clinic I was feeling anxious. If two of my eggs didn't even fertilize maybe it was a bad batch altogether? Or maybe one of the embryos might have arrested and stopped growing. Once we got to the clinic the nurse at the reception remembered who I was and immediately told me that our two embryos were doing great. That was a relief and great to hear!

I listed to the Zita West relaxation meditation tape beforehand to get into the right frame of mind. The transfer itself went absolutely fine. The doctor said the two embryos are schön (beautiful) and four cell. I've since googled it and at 48 hours after egg retrieval you want the embryos to be 2-4 cells so 4 is great!

It was a lovely day. Hubby was very sweet to me and it was nice to feel hopeful. I mainly took it easy. The nurse had advised not to sit too much, so I lay down watching tv (Call the Midwife & New girl), baked some muffins and did a few things around the house. She had also advised me to eat lots of protein so I made some scrambled eggs and avocado for lunch.

A side effect from steroids can be weight gain and apparently increased appetite is the reason. I've already noticed I've been feeling extra hungry! I had a second breakfast after I came home from the transfer. I figure I'm not going to stress about gaining a few kilos. It doesn't matter in the scheme of things at all. When hubby and I were discussing what we'd have for dinner yesterday he remarked that I'm "eating for two..no wait, for three now"! It was a cute moment.

I had my third intralipid infusion today and that went fine. It took almost two hours and was mainly just boring! The GerMann says I get bored easily though. I guess that can be true as I do find it hard to sit still for a long time. At the end of the Intralipid infusion it occurred to me that I'll only be getting the next one done if I'm pregnant in two weeks time. I so wish I could see the future! Tomorrow I'm going to my GP before work to get blood taken to check my thyroid levels have gone down. A TSH level below 2 is better for pregnancy according to the immune doctor.

I've been worrying and feeling anxious a lot lately. And then I worry that all this anxiety could be bad for the embryos so I try to stop myself! Before we started this third round of IVF I had been thinking that if it doesn't work there is always a plan B of going to another clinic for a second opinion and maybe trying the natural protocol. However lately I've just been thinking that I can't bear the thought of going through this all again. And would there even be any point? I'm not exactly an ideal candidate for IVF being a poor responder to the hormones. I would definitely need to take several months off from doctor's appointments and treatments if this fails before I could even contemplate next steps but then the thing with infertility is that time generally isn't on your side. The GerMann is ready to stop with treatments whenever I am. He didn't even want to do IVF in the first place. My desire for a baby has always been stronger.

I'm happy that the next two weeks I'll have quite a few distractions between working, visiting my husband's family and then Christmas in Dublin. The doctor gave me a note for the airport to say that I require certain medications so that I should hopefully not have any issues bringing them in my carry on luggage. I've worked out I'll only have to give myself two injections while I'm staying with my family which shouldn't be too tricky. Other than that I'll just need to remember the progesterone three times a day, the steroid tablets plus baby aspirin in the mornings and and a prenatal.

My moods are quite all over the place at the moment, which you might have noticed. Swinging from positivity to despair in a moment. I'm definitely feeling extra sensitive today. The best way for me to not stress as much I've found seems to be by not letting myself think about all the what ifs and just focus on the moment. Trying to do things that make me happy also helps. I created an upbeat 80s music playlist which I've been singing along to, plus drinking large amounts of (decaf)Barry's tea. Tonight we'll watch an Irish movie (Sing street). Other than that we'll just keep praying and crossing our fingers that it might be third time lucky.

Wishing everyone who reads this a lovely Christmas season and all the best for 2017!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Finding it all hard going

Where do I start? Yesterday I had the egg retrieval procedure. Even though it was my third time, I don't think it gets any easier. I still felt anxious beforehand. Afterwards I was very tired and groggy which I was expecting but I also had really bad cramps. There was a nice nurse looking after everyone that day and she gave me some strong painkillers. While I was recovering I remember just laying there thinking that I hate putting my body through all this and I don't want to have to do another egg retrieval again. General anesthetics often lead me to feeling quite low afterwards I've noticed in the past so it could be partly down to that. But I at the moment I've been feeling like I've reached my limit and I don't want to do IVF again!


After a few hours and a cup of tea the cramps were much fainter and I felt more like myself again. We went in to the check up with the doctor. This time it was the lady who I nicknamed Dr. Gentle on this blog. She's really nice. She looked at my chart and said they got four eggs from me this time. We were really happy with that news! Four eggs probably doesn't sound like many to the average person doing IVF but me being a poor responder it wasn't too bad at all. Our best result ever considering we got two during the first IVF and only one egg last time! I'd had six follicles so I guess two of them must have been empty. Yesterday afternoon and evening we were feeling generally happy and I texted everyone how it went. I was particularly excited thinking that we could even have extra embryos to freeze this time! That would be great as it would mean if this round fails I wouldn't have to go through the whole injections and retrieval again.

Today I've been feeling more disappointed though. Of course it wouldn't be IVF without being an emotional rollercoaster! The lab called and said that two of the eggs didn't fertilize at all! They didn't know why. We still have two embryos growing now though. And believe me we are grateful to have two, don't get me wrong. But. Sigh. I couldn't help feeling sad that we'd gone from having four eggs and hope for extras to now just having two. I've also been wondering whether I did something wrong. I've barely had any alcohol or caffeine the past few months, tried my best to eat healthy and taken supplements but could I have done more? I guess it's quite common that not all eggs fertilize. I'd just been lucky and had a 100% fertilization rate in the past. Maybe my eggs are starting to get old! Who knows, but I was feeling down today.

Yesterday afternoon ended up being a bit stressful trying to plan and figure out the extra immune treatments. I have so much to keep track of now, what with the usual meds from my fertility clinic doctor such as progesterone tablets every 8 hours and HCG shots on particular days, but now I also have prednisolon which is a low dose steroid, baby aspirin and Granocyte an extra injection. The latter I won't start taking until five days after transfer and then only on certain days. We went to the pharmacy and it costs almost 800€ here in Germany! It's not covered by my health insurance. We remembered that the immune doctor had told us it's much cheaper in France so when we got home hubby spent over an hour researching which pharmacies could have it. We found a place that delivers to Germany via express post and it only costs closer to 400€ which is great. However then I started stressing out that the fertility clinic doctor had given me the wrong amount on the prescription. It looked like I hadn't been prescribed enough to last until the pregnancy test. Anyway we wrote to the place in france to clarify the amounts and it's ok now. If I get pregnant then I would need to get a new prescription asap to order more though. I was chatting to my sister last night and just saying how stressful it is trying to keep track of everything I need to take and when and making sure I have the right amounts!

This morning after the phonecall I had a bit of a cry. I guess I'd had high hopes for the antagonist protocol working wonders and was really hoping it would lead to me getting way more embryos than usual. Maybe the natural IVF would be better in my case. Today just reminded me that you never know what's going to happen. I'm also just feeling down that we have to do IVF at all. And even if I do manage to get pregnant, it would be considered high risk and I'd have to be monitored closely (my immune doctor said)! I'm doing the intralipid infusions and taking low dose steroids to prevent my overactive immune system from treating the embryos as foreign bodies. On top of that I'll be injecting myself with Granocyte, something used for cancer patients, because I am missing certain KIR genes which are important for placenta formation and it is has been found to help reduce the risk of miscarriage in women who lack those genes. It's all just overwhelming sometimes!

But anyway I need to pull myself out of this slump. We still have two potential future babies growing right now in a lab so I'll try to focus on that. Tomorrow I go in for a two day transfer. Once I have them on board I'll start feeling happy and more hopeful again! There's nothing wrong with a good cry now and then though. No one can be strong all the time.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

So far so good

On Wednesday I had an ultrasound to see how I'm responding after almost a week of IVF hormones. The days leading up to the appointment I started feeling a little nervous. I've had some stomach twinges and light cramps now and then but otherwise no symptoms at all. During my second IVF cycle I barely responded to the meds so I was worried that the same thing might happen again. However I decided that worrying isn't going to change the result either way and I would try my best to just wait and see how the appointment goes.

The ultrasound showed that I only have one follicle growing on the right hand side unfortunately, but the good news is that there are five on the left. Interesting since the right hand side is also where my blocked fallopian tube is. Of course, I won't know how many eggs we'll end up with until after the retrieval and I've had empty follicles both times before. All things considered though, I am feeling happy enough with how things are going. I am trying different meds this time which could lead to a better outcome and we should at least get a few good eggs from the six follicles. All we really need at the end of the day is the one perfect embryo!

I was told to keep doing the injections for three more days and then this evening I'll do the trigger shot. For anyone reading who's not in the know, the trigger shot is the one that brings on ovulation 36 hours later. The timing is crucial! I'll have to give myself two trigger shots this time (Decapeptyl), one at exactly 10pm on one tummy side and the other at 11pm on the other side. The egg retrieval procedure is scheduled for Monday morning. That means today I'll have had a total of five injections! I was just contemplating recently how far I've come. I used to be scared of needles and I didn't know how on earth I would be able to do IVF which involves giving yourself daily injections. The first IVF I found them quite hard to be honest and I would dread doing them each day. The second IVF it was a lot easier and now for the third it's practically a breeze! Ok, it can still hurt a bit and it takes time preparing the meds and so on but I have no big problems with injecting myself anymore! Never thought I'd hear myself say that. It feels good to conquer that fear.

This weekend we don't have any big plans so I'll mainly be taking it easy. Right now is not the time to come down with anything so I'm also thinking of avoiding the shopping crowds in town. I'll be transferring two embryos next week, if all goes well! We decided to stick with two even though our doctor was pushing for three. I've read a German study that says that there is no need for so many, that two is the ideal number (for a three day transfer). We just want the lab technician to select the best two and if there are any decent ones leftover freeze them. Another thing I've heard is that embryos can split so even if you only transfer one it is still possible to end up with twins! Something to be aware of. When I was waiting for my last appointment at the fertility clinic a couple with triplet toddlers arrived! The kids were cute but very loud and it was exhausting just watching them. And that couple are back for more, Yikes!

I mentioned I've been feeling mainly positive this IVF cycle. I've decided to let myself be optimistic and hopeful. Focusing on getting through each day at a time is also helping I find. Plus eating loads of chocolate! I'll update again next week after the egg retrieval, finger's crossed that will go well!