Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Infertility in the news

Since infertility has been a big subject in my life the past few years, whenever I see things in the news about it, it peaks my interest. Recently a study has come out about men's declining sperm count. "Sperm counts in the West plunge by 60pc in 40 years as 'modern life' damages men's health." The decline shows no sign of stopping either. That is crazy when you think about it!

The article also said that poor sperm can be an indicator of other health problems; Aside from the obvious implications for reproduction, the researchers said the declines were consistent with reported trends in testicular cancer, the number of children born with one or both testicles missing, the onset of male puberty and total testosterone levels. This is not something that should be ignored. There were several possible reasons given in the article; chemicals... BPA... processed meats... but I got the impression they don't really know for sure. If there are chemicals in the food that we are being exposed to that are causing problems like this (plus who knows what other issues could be attributed to it such as cancer), something needs to be done.

The same study was also covered in the Daily mail, which is a tabloid paper. They commented about how women are typically "blamed" for infertility when often it is the man at fault. I really wonder when the blame game of women "being career women" and "waiting too late" is going to stop. Anyway, the article mentioned that maybe men and women will have to start freezing their sperm and eggs when they are young for future use! This is not an ideal solution for numerous reason. It's an interesting idea though. I'm currently reading "The handmaiden's Tale" for my book club and articles like this make the book seem not all that far fetched!

The comments under both articles (there and on the facebook pages) were despicable though. Firstly there were lots of people blaming "feminists" and "feminism". That made my blood boil. Come on! Some people seriously think that women having equal rights and being allowed to work and vote for instance is causing men to feel so threatened that their bodies produce less sperm?! Give me a break! The other most prevalent comment was about "overpopulation" and that this sperm issue is hence "a good thing". That also upset me. I can see how over population can be a problem is certain countries especially with poor access to family planning and contraceptive measures but in the western world we have the opposite problem. Germany has an aging population for instance. Many couples these days only have one kid on average, or none at all! And people not being about to have the choice to have children is in no way a "good thing". I wouldn't wish infertility on my worst enemy! It is heartbreaking to go through.

By the way I wanted to add that by using a picture of the manly Jon Snow from Game of Thrones I'm not in any way suggesting that there might be any issue with his swimmers... But if there were, it wouldn't make me think any less of him!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Weeks 7-9

Trigger warning: pregnancy discussed

Things have been a little up and down since our first appointment where we saw the heartbeat. Mainly great but I've also had some very anxious moments.

Dr. Peppy, the doctor at our fertility clinic gave me a plan for how to taper off Prednisolone the steroids I've been taking. It was quite a steep drop. I was to go from 15mg a day to 10mg then three days later drop again to 5mg then three days later to 2.5mg and then stop completely. I reduced the first amount from 15mg to 10mg but then I noticed my glands were slightly swollen and I wondered whether it might be a side effect. I also started to get nervous about going off the steroids so soon. I did some research online and most women who take prednisolone to reduce inflammation stay on them till the twelfth week of pregnancy before then gradually tapering off.

So I decided it best to phone the immune doctor to confirm with her. The treatment plan I had been given just said to reduce once the heartbeat was established but it was vague. When I phoned and explained the situation the lady at the practice seemed alarmed and said I shouldn't have reduced already, that it was too soon! She said that she would get the doctor to email me to tell me what to do. Obviously that phone call worried me! I decided to not reduce any further and to stay on 10mg until I heard from the doctor. It took several anxiety filled days before I got an email from the immune clinic. The email emphasised again that it had been too soon to go down without having my natural killer cell level activity rechecked. I was asked whether I wanted another treatment plan sent out to which I immediately replied in the affirmative. I was freaking out after the email though. Really worried that I might have ruined everything. My sister had also told me all about a friend of hers who had had a traumatic missed miscarriage at 10 weeks recently and I couldn't stop thinking about it which probably didn't help my worries.

Hubby thought we should trust dr. Peppy. Another friend I asked thought I should listen to the immune doc who is the expert in the area. Hubby offered to phone the practice to discuss what I should do. I thought that would be a good idea because I didn't want anything to be lost in translation (remember all the communication had been in German)! The email had come across as very harsh! But then things in German can often come across that way to non native speakers. Anyway hubby phoned and discussed my treatment with the doctor - He said that the fact that I reduced the prednisolone wasn't that bad, the issue was that I had gone down too severely, I should have only reduced by 2.5mg amounts not 5mg. The new plan was that I stay on 10mg for another two weeks (till week 10) and then in one week intervals start to go down by 2.5mg.

I am also able to reduce the Granocyte injections from every third day to every four for two weeks then every five days. I felt very relieved after that phone call! That said I was still nervous for the eight week scan. This time the appointment was done at my local gyno. It went great thank God! The baby is actually starting to look like a tiny person now, not just a dot! It was really incredible to see the head and tiny hands. Everything looked perfect. The doctor also gave me a book about pregnancy. Afterwards I got another Intralipid infusion done.

The only bad thing was that my doctor was pretty against flying at all during pregnancy. He said it increases the risk of thrombosis and miscarriage slightly so we would be taking a risk travelling to Dublin for my brother's wedding. Hubby and I did discuss whether we should cancel the trip but I really wanted to go. Also lots of people have flown pregnant and been ok so I felt like it should be fine. That doesn't mean I wasn't anxious though! I avoided the x-ray machines in the airport and even wore a "belly band" which is meant to protect against radiation which I'd ordered online! We had a great time, it was so nice seeing everyone. I even told a few friends and an aunt who had been praying for us and knew about our struggles our "news" in person, which was lovely. Everyone has been extremely happy for us. It still all feels surreal though to be honest! I wonder when it will actually feel more real. Part of me is scared at times to enjoy it too much in case I jinx it, but then the other part wants to enjoy every second!

I noticed a few more "symptoms" kicked in since week eight. If I let myself get too hungry I will start to feel quite nauseous. My sense of smell is sharper. I've also been feeling more tired and I've been more forgetful too! After the Ireland trip, I felt exhausted. Work was quite stressful too for various reasons. Then a few days later for the first time in this pregnancy I had some red spotting. It happened late at night. It reminded me of the awful miscarriage I had after our first IVF and for several seconds I just thought "Oh no, no, no..." However it was only a small amount of bleeding and it stopped soon after thankfully. I found it hard to sleep that night and kept wondering what I should do - go to the hospital, phone my gyno in the morning or do nothing and assume everything is fine. In the end I decided to call my doctor first thing. When I phoned and explained about the small amount of bleeding (but no cramps) I was told to make my way there immediately. That was quite nerve wracking as you can imagine! It was a different doctor this time but she was very nice. She checked my cervix which was closed and the right length, and she couldn't locate the source of the bleeding. She said that some spotting can be normal in the first trimester. Then she did a scan to check on the baby.

At first it just looked like a blob this time! I couldn't make out where the head was. She said the baby was in a funny position with his/her head leaning over the body looking at the feet. We both stared at the screen and there was no sign of a heartbeat at first. It seemed like it took forever while the doctor kept moving the ultrasound wand around. I was thinking something like "Oh God, oh God, please can the baby be ok". After what felt like an eternity but was probably only a minute, she found the heartbeat and everything was fine! She did comment that the baby was "small". I didn't like the sound of that. It took ages to get a measurement because of the awkward position but it looked like baby is about a week behind in growth. The doctor said not to worry though. She also wrote me off sick for several days and told me to rest at home and take magnesium. If I have any more bleeding or get cramps outside their practice opening hours then I should go straight to the hospital.

Luckily everything has been fine since then. I've just been taking it very easy. Watching lots of The Good Wife again! I go back for another scan early next week. Hopefully the baby will have grown more by then. I'm trying not to worry about the growth thing. I read on online forums that it's normal enough in the first trimester for the baby to measure a week ahead or behind. I also think that the baby's awkward position could have messed up the measurement. So that's a run down on the last few weeks! Only a few more to get through until, please God, I'll make it safely into the second trimester.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Silly question of the day

This question was doing the rounds on social media recently. If you had a choice of taking a blue pill and restarting your life at age 10 but with all you know now, or of taking a red pill and waking up age 45 with 50 million dollars, what would you choose?

I did think about it for a moment but to me it's clear, I would go for the blue pill! Why would I want to wish the next ten years of my life away? Sure I would get a million dollars but so what, to me the years in between spent with friends and family are a lot more valuable! I do realise that being in a position to turn down a million dollars probably also shows that I already have a certain amount of privilege. I have a roof over my head and plenty of access to food and health care. I'm sure there are lots of people who would be desperate for the money for various reasons.

Life is short and the thought of getting more time is appealing. That said, I don't particularly like the idea of having to start at age 10 all over again! I would have to go through the teenage years with all those crazy hormones, immature friends, not to mention exams which doesn't sound particularly appealing. However I have gained a lot of knowledge by now that I think I could manage it!

The main advantage for me of course would be the opportunity to spend time with my late Mum again. She passed just before my 23rd birthday. The idea of getting another 13 years with her would be amazing. And this time I would make sure we have more quality time. The idea of having to watch her get sick again is hard though, but maybe with my knowledge I could send her to the doctor earlier so she could get diagnosed sooner. I would try to be a better daughter this hypothetical time too.

I also wouldn't care as much about what other people think of me. As I've gotten older I've realised how little that really matters and that you should rather be true to yourself.

I would invest in shares, haha! Google, Facebook, Apple... maybe that way by age 45 I'd easily have saved a million dollars.

I was considering whether I would study something different at university for a total change but then I realised that the subjects I picked (German among others) ended up leading me down a path where I met my now husband and moved to Germany. I'm very happy with these decisions so I'd probably be better off studying the same topics and not changing any of the big life choices I made in the past.

It is also possible that maybe I would drive myself crazy trying to stop awful events which I would know in advance about. There's this character from ancient Greek mythology called Cassandra. She was given the gift of foresight but no one ever believes her so it becomes a horrible curse.

Which would you pick if you were given the choice? I guess choosing neither is also an option.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


Trigger warning: pregnancy mentioned.

Firstly I wanted to say thanks so much for all the lovely comments and messages from everyone! It really means a lot to us.

Well I finally the day I've been waiting years for arrived. It was my first pregnancy ultrasound ever! The appointment wasn't till 5pm and it felt like such a long day waiting for it. On the way to the clinic, hubby and I both felt pretty nervous. I couldn't help thinking that either it was going to be an amazing moment or an awful one! Once we were called in to Dr. Peppy we spoke for a few minutes and then she suggested we do the ultrasound. I jumped up, pretty eager to finally see what's going on in there!

She started having a look and pretty immediately found something - the gestational sac with a tiny fetus..and a heartbeat too! I literally burst into tears at that stage! Mostly from relief to be honest. Just all the anxiety had been building up and I was so relieved and happy to know that everything is ok! The doctor also confirmed that there is only one baby in there. I did feel a little sad thinking about the other embryo that didn't make it but we are still absolutely delighted with one. A multiple pregnancy would have had more risks. We would be so grateful for one healthy baby! Once I pulled myself together and stopped crying I was able to ask some questions. It was so amazing seeing the little heartbeat! You can't really see much at this early stage (six weeks), just that something is there. The baby is only the size of a pomegranate seed!

Then Dr. Peppy discussed all my meds. I am to continue taking something for my thyroid plus baby aspirin. The Granocyte injections will be kept up every three days until I reach the 2nd trimester. I will need to continue getting the intralipid infusions every two weeks until then too. Progesterone tablets and steroids I can gradually start reducing now. And then she said that that would be my last appointment there, the next one would be at my local gyno! Wow, gradation from the fertility clinic already. We thanked the doctor profusely for all her help. She could see how happy and overwhelmed we were!

Afterwards I got another Intralipid done. That took almost two hours. The clinic had really bad reception so it was ages before I was able to message my family to let them know how the appointment went! Everyone was delighted. To be honest this whole experience still feels completely surreal. Sort of like I've woken up in a parallel world where our dream is actually coming true. This morning I phoned my gyno and arranged an appointment for two weeks time. I'll be eight weeks pregnant by then, please God.

I don't think either of us will be able to fully relax until the second trimester to be honest. I still have a fair bit of anxiety. That said, I am absolutely loving the thought that there is a tiny baby growing in there right now. I'm praying so hard that it will be a viable pregnancy and the little one will stick around. So far my only symptoms have been increased appetite, sore boobs, tiredness and lots of heartburn! Hubby is excited too. He's even been thinking about how many months he'd like to take as parental leave (In Germany, you get 14 months to share among the parents). It's so amazing to dream and imagine.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Nice high number

Six days after our first blood test I went in for the second one. I had to get up at 5.30am in order to get to my clinic as early as possible so that I would make it back to my office in time. I didn't mind too much though. After all the challenges of going through IVF it wasn't such a big deal and I'm excited to have a reason to need a second blood test. I also got some of my prescriptions renewed while I was there. The clinic told me they would call between two and three pm. During my lunch break I went home hoping the results might be ready early but no such luck. Hubby was going to get back earlier from work that day so we agreed that he would phone the clinic to find out the results but not tell me until I came home just in case the news was bad.

That was the idea. In practice when I didn't hear anything from hubby I started worrying that maybe it was bad news and he was waiting to tell me in person! The time passed really slowly in the office before I was able to get home and the half hour before I got back, I started getting really anxious thinking how devastating it would be if the news wasn't good. As soon as I arrived in front of the house, hubby rushed out to meet me, smiling, and said it was good news! Thank you God!! I burst into tears again, this has definitely been an emotional time for me lately haha! Happy tears though.

He told me the HCG has gone up to 2343. Amazing!! I put it into into HCG online calculator and it said that's a normal doubling rate. We have an appointment in a week's time for the first ultrasound. How exciting! At that stage we should finally find out whether there are one or two embryos growing and if we are lucky see a heatbeat/heatbeats. It feels so surreal thinking about that! I am still on cloud nine and can't stop smiling.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Pregnancy after loss and cold showers

After the happiness and surprise eventually came the worry. Pregnancy after a loss can be a tricky one to deal with. I remember that hard week after our first IVF when I was technically pregnant but with a low HCG value and was told it could go either way. There was a little spotting some days but it always went away. I had some mild symptoms such as tiredness, increased appetite and sore boobs. I kept doing pregnancy tests hoping the line would get darker but it grew fainter instead which was probably a likely indication that it was non viable. The longer I remained pregnant the more I had hope though that maybe it would still be ok. However the miscarriage begun the night before when our first scan at our previous clinic would have been.

I can't help having some anxiety regarding this pregnancy. I found a link online where you can calculate your miscarriage risk and it said mine was about 26% (at four weeks, it goes down the longer you remain pregnant)! That was stupid of me to look it up. However I then came across a more reassuring link and when you take our strong initial HCG value into account it seems promising that this could be a viable pregnancy. I keep reminding myself that there is no reason to assume that everything isn't fine. This pregnancy already seems stronger than my last (which was a year and a half ago. Crazy). I have barely any symptoms though of course it's super early at this point, just four weeks. It just feels surreal most of the time!

I did a second pregnancy test yesterday for some reassurance and there was a strong second line which was nice to see. The next stage is to go back to my clinic for a second blood test and provided all goes well I could have the first scan a week later. Wouldn't that be exciting!? At our new clinic they make you wait a week for the second blood test which seems so long! I have a dentist appointment that day so I asked if I could come in a day earlier (Monday) for the blood test and that's fine. The HCG is meant to be doubling every few days. A slow rising HCG can be indicative of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. A scan at around 6-7 weeks should be able to show a heartbeat and once a heartbeat is present, then the risk of miscarriage drops to around 5%. So if I could get to that stage I can imagine I'll breathe a huge sigh of relief. One minute I feel ecstatic and love thinking about the future, and another I try to reign myself in, thinking I shouldn't get ahead of myself so early.

In other news, there have been some unexpected house costs lately. There's a problem with our water heating. It came to a head the day of the result actually. Hubby was all stressed but I was barely thinking about it. He said, "don't you care if there's no hot water and you have to have cold showers"? I think my reply was something like, "I would gladly take cold showers for all nine months if I can have a healthy pregnancy!" Anyway it turns out the problem has gotten worse so I have been having to have cold showers lately, haha. And I don't mind as long as the baby or babies on board are doing ok. That said, we are getting someone to come to the house to try to fix the problem as soon as possible. We are hoping it won't be too expensive. There have been quite a few unforeseen repairs that have come up ever since we moved in. I don't think our surveyor did a great job at predicting stuff!

I also wanted to mention that I know I have a lot of followers who are still in the midst of the infertility trenches. I will try my best to be as sensitive as possible regarding our news and I certainly don't intend to turn this into a "pregnancy" blog now. Occasionally I will mention it but I plan to write about plenty of other things too. Of course, it's still at an extremely early stage so I don't feel like I am out of the woods yet by any means but I am incredibly grateful to have reached this point!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Is this for real? Overjoyed!

This morning I went to my clinic for the blood test. I told the nurse that I had already tested yesterday and gotten a positive and asked about getting more prescriptions for my meds. I also inquired about when I should get the next Intralipid infusion done. I had brought it with me just in case. The nurse gave me the prescriptions I would need, about one week's worth by the looks of things and then told me they would administer the intralipid for me today!

I was glad to get it done rather than have to come back a different day though I was annoyed at myself for forgetting to pack a snack. I'd had breakfast at 8.30am but I wouldn't end up getting home until around 2pm. I was told the clinic would phone me between 2 and 3pm. Dr. Peppy who had been on holiday was back and it was really nice to see her again. I asked her what HCG value would they like to see today and she said at least 50.

I only got in the door around 2pm, had some lunch and then around half an hour later the phone rang. I was too scared to answer it! Hubby answered and put it on speaker phone. The woman from the clinic sounded happy so I already had a good feeling. She said that it was positive and all the values were great! Hubby asked what the HCG value was exactly and she said...wait for it... 239!!! Can you believe it? What a great value!!

Back during my first IVF, I only had a value of 28. This pregnancy already feels different and stronger, thank God!! I phoned my Dad on skype and he cried, it was so sweet. I was crying too! This is honestly like a dream come true, though it still feels surreal!

Next week I go back to my clinic for a second blood test. No scan yet unfortunately. They seem to just want you to do several blood tests before the first scan. It's extremely early days, like I'm only 4 weeks now. But, I am so grateful and amazed that our fourth and final IVF may be actually working!! Today is the best day!! Thank you so much everyone for all the support and lovely comments.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Happy tears

I had been debating the merit of testing a day or two before the official blood test. A single pregnancy test was in my drawer so it wasn't like I'd have to actually go out and buy any. For several days I went over the pros and cons of testing early. The main advantage being an extra day to "prepare" myself if it were negative. The last few days I have also had quite a few ups and downs.

One moment convinced this hasn't worked as I don't feel anything and with my bad luck in terms of trying to have a baby why would it? I'd even started thinking what we would do if it failed. Places we could visit for instance Barcelona or Malta sprung to mind. I also was wondering whether it would then make sense to make an appointment at our clinic to find out their thoughts and how low are chances are. However then I'd remind myself to stay hopeful a bit longer. The evening before last I started noticing some twinges around my ovaries which I couldn't help thinking could be a good sign. I've also had heartburn quite frequently. Although anything can be a side effect from all the drugs and hormones!

Ok, I'll get to the point... Before breakfast I decided to sneak away and do a test before hubby could tell me not to. Once I saw the dye initially just create the control test line and nothing else I looked away thinking "oh no, I can't bear this if it will be negative" and I started praying desperately while I waited.

About minute later I peeked at the test and to my absolute shock there was a second line. I looked again closer. It was definitely there! I double checked the instructions on the test, I was doing it right. Then I burst into tears! Extremely happy tears. I was shaking from just feeling so overwhelmed. I'm delighted! I am honestly really happy to have come one step closer. When I went back to the bedroom to tell hubby who was only just waking up, I burst into tears again. At first he got worried and couldn't tell whether I was happy or sad! I managed to get out that they were "happy tears" as he hugged me.

This is just stage one. The next hurdle is getting a good strong beta value at the blood test tomorrow. After our first IVF the HCG value was only 28 which implied it could end up being an early miscarriage which it sadly was. A number over 50 would have been better but ideally over 100. Hubby is still very apprehensive and worried. He told me he's anxious I'm getting my hopes up too much. I told him I am just taking it one day at a time and today I can be happy! I know I still have a long way to go. But the amazing thing is that one or both of our embryos implanted and as of right now, I am pregnant!! Please God the blood test will go well tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Blissful ignorance

Right now I'm in a strange place. Our embryos may have implanted and I could be on my way to our dream of having a baby being fulfilled. Or nothing may be happening and it could end up being another heartbreaking negative call next week. Even though I would usually like the "two week wait" to be over quicker so I can just find out already, a big part of me just wants to remain in blissful ignorance a while longer. If our fourth and final IVF ends up being a negative then I'm in no rush to come crashing down. I'd just like to stay hopeful believing this could still happen for us awhile longer. So that's where I'm at now. One week down and scared for the outcome.

Hubby and I also had a discussion last night about what we would do it this fails. I said I know I would come out the other end eventually but initially I could imagine sinking into depression if it turns out all our efforts to have a family haven't come to pass. There are times when I question all my decisions in life leading up to this point. If I'd known all the challenges we would have had trying to have a baby then of course I would have started trying earlier. A few months probably wouldn't have made a big difference though. Hubby commented that even if I didn't have the issues with my fallopian tubes from previous surgeries I could still have had problems getting and staying pregnant due to the elevated natural killer cells or the missing KIR genes which were discovered during the immune blood panel.

This all sounds pretty depressing. Despite everything I was also thinking recently that we have quite an idyllic life in a lot of ways. We both love our house. That was a great decision and we are getting great joy out of spending time in our garden so far this Summer. We have a happy marriage, that's certainly not a given. Life in Germany is nice. We have a good standard of living. Coming from Ireland I really appreciate having a proper Summer here! We both have decent jobs, our health and a circle of friends, not to mention loving supportive families. So I'll remind myself that whatever happens we will find a way to be complete even if our "family" remains a family of two. In the meantime I'll stay hopeful and believe.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Time for the good wife

The day after our transfer I was injection free which was great! The two week wait of IVF always feels a little strange. You go from having numerous appointments at your clinic every few days and being extra busy to all of a sudden having free time and getting radio silence from your clinic. I'm doing well at the moment though. There were a few times where I got a bit emotional/stressed/overwhelmed thinking about it all but I've mainly been happy and positive. I've been reminded by my lovely blog commentators that each cycle and embryo tells a new story. Just because it hasn't worked for us before doesn't mean it couldn't happen now (sometimes I just think I can't even imagine this actually working..)

I'd taken several days off work after the transfer and I've really been taking it easy which has been nice! Hubby and I have done some things around the house; unpacking and organizing where we put things, cooking and eating lots of healthy meals but also just spending time together watching TV or relaxing in the garden. My favourite two shows at the moment are "The Good Wife" and "Call the Midwife". Hubby jokes I love any shows containing the word "wife" in the title, haha!

I'd actually stopped watching "Call the midwife" after our third round failed as I couldn't face seeing all the pregnancies and babies. However I feel fine about watching it now. I love shows set in the old days. "The Good Wife" is something I begun watching after IVF round three failed. It's perfect as it's a court room drama without a plot involving babies or pregnancies. I love watching shows with strong women characters. There are also about seven seasons on Netflix so lots to catch up on!

Oh yeah, I've also been trying to practice "social isolation" and staying away from other men lately, haha! There was a study which showed that women who avoided males other than their partner for three days after and IVF transfer had a higher rate of becoming pregnant. I figure anything is worth a shot at this point!

Last night I had a really sweet dream. In it, I had twin baby girls. There were about six months old and in a double buggy and I was bringing them around the park and shops with me. I was also tickling their chins and talking to them. They were laughing and smiling at me and I felt a strong sense of love. I woke up thinking how nice a thought it is that the embryos inside me could be communicating in some way. Yes, I know that probably sounds pretty far fetched! It could easily be that I have babies on the brain lately and it meant nothing, but it was sweet all the same! During our first IVF I remember having a dream of boy-girl twins.

A few days after our result we'll be hosting my mother in law's birthday party at our place. I'd offered to do it ages ago, not realising the timing. My MIL said if we get a positive result, it would be the best birthday present ever for her. It was a sweet and well meaning thing to say but for some reason I just felt added pressure, like if this doesn't work I'll be letting everyone down. I know I shouldn't feel like that though. Both sides are the family would just love to be grandparents.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Final transfer

It was strange to think that, considering we have agreed this is our final try of IVF, then today was also the last time our embryos would be transferred into me. Everything went pretty smoothly. The doctor wouldn't tell us the rating of the embryos but commented that one of them had grown particularly fast and was the better of the two.

This morning I went to the hairdresser bright and early at 8am! I wanted to get my hair coloured and cut before the transfer. If all goes well, then I would try to avoid dying my hair for as long as possible and then ideally only with dyes containing less chemicals. It seems overwhelming thinking that in two weeks I'll know the outcome! By then I'll know if it's a total negative and our journey to try to have our child or children will be over and it will be time to look towards a different future.

After the transfer hubby and I had a silly argument. The details are a bit stupid but I ended up getting emotional. All the stress from the past two weeks was getting to me. I'm feeling much better now though. And reasonably positive. Once we got home we had a relaxing afternoon. I've taken several days off work post transfer this time and that will be nice to have some time to relax before going back to work.

This is the top I wore for the transfer. I love butterflies and something about them has always made me feel hopeful. As well as the spotty socks I had worn for my first IVF transfer, the only time I was properly pregnant, even though it was short lived! This evening we watched the latest Muppets film which was a bit of fun.

If I start thinking about things too much then it's a little overwhelming so I'm planning to keep up the philosophy I used at the beginning of this cycle and just take things one day at a time. I am also planning to try to hold off for the official blood test if I can manage it this time. If I do any pregnancy tests beforehand I run the risk of getting false positive again (which happened the previous two times from leftover IVF hormones!). And even if it were an actual positive I wouldn't know the HCG value until the blood test anyway and it could end up being a chemical. So best just to wait it out.

Thanks so much to all my online friends who have been supporting and following along by the way!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Disappointing result but still hope left

Today was quite a let down after the excitement of yesterday. The clinic phoned and told me that out of the five eggs collected, only two of them fertilized. So now because there are so few embryos we'll be doing a three day rather than five day transfer as it's just too risky to wait the extra days. We are getting "assisted hatching" done this time though to hopefully increase our odds a little.

I know I should be grateful that we have two embryos, and I am absolutely, it was just a let down. I feel a bit stupid for the fact I let myself get so excited and carried away (as usual). I thought this cycle was turning out much better than the previous ones but it's just the same. We are still only ending up with two embryos after going through everything. During the previous IVF (third round) we transferred two great quality ones, but it failed nonetheless. These will be the sixth and seventh embryos we have created altogether.

I had a bit of a cry about it. I decided it's better to let the negatively out now and then from transfer day onwards I'll try to get the positivity back! I also decided I owe it to our two potential children growing in a petri dish right now to be hopeful and fight for them! I'm excited for the transfer anyway. That's always the highlight of the IVF process for me! Hubby is coming too.

We ended up having to entertain friends this afternoon which wasn't ideal timing wise! It was a colleague of my husband and his wife plus their seven month old baby. We haven't shared our infertility struggles with them as the guy is quite a gossip and hubby wouldn't want him spreading stories about us. They are nice but literally obsessed with their offspring! I'd be trying to tell them about our Australia trip for instance and then one of them would interrupt to point out that the baby had made a "cute" noise or slapped the table or whatever. A bit rude really. They also insisted on showing me several videos of the kid. I hope if this works out for us then we wouldn't be parents like that who don't have anything else in their lives to talk about!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Today was a good day

Normally the egg retrieval day is one of the worst for me as I've tended to have disappointing results. There was the first IVF where six promising follicles only led to two eggs, followed by the second where only a single egg was collected. My previous cycle was somewhat better with four eggs retrieved. At my old clinic we wouldn't be told how many eggs there were until the appointment with the doctor a few hours later and it was always an agonizing wait!

At my new clinic the doctor told us the egg number immediately after! Such a nicer way of doing things. So I was recovering from the procedure while feeling really happy as this time around, I got five eggs!! Best result yet. Such a relief as after my previous appointment I was terrified we might only end up with one or two. I wasn't in any pain after and generally have been recovering well. The plan is that the clinic will phone to let me know how many of the eggs fertilized. If we have three or more embryos then we will go for a transfer on day five, otherwise day three. The doctor told me that if we end up with only three embryos then it is likely only one will survive till day five. So as usual probably no leftovers to freeze.

I enquired about my thyroid value as it was tested at my last visit. And I could hardly believe it but the TSH value has gone down to 0.9?! Isn't that amazing? It had been 3.11 two weeks ago and I'd even considered postponing our IVF start because of it. Today has just been a really good day. The doctor I had this time (there are about five different ones at the new clinic) commented on how much she loves my accent and hearing me speak which was sweet!

I'll be kept busy the next while keeping up with all the injections and meds I have to take at certain times during the day so it's just as well I have an IVF diary where I've been writing it all down to keep track. As you can see from the picture, it has the Irish flag on the cover! I saw it and thought I could do with the extra "luck" of the Irish, haha! It came with a green pen as well.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Ups and downs of an IVF cycle

Well, I've arrived at the first descending part of the emotional roller coaster that is IVF. After my last appointment, I had two more days of injections to try to encourage the smaller follicles to catch up. At my latest appointment, it wasn't looking as good as I'd hoped. I have two big follicles on my left hand side, the rest are still tiny and it's looking less likely they will catch up. There are also two follicles on the right hand side though these are small. The doctor tried to prepare me by saying that worst case scenario is we might only get two eggs at the retrieval. My heart dropped when she said that. I had really been hoping that this new drug, Elonva which has shown promising results for poor responders like me might help or at least that the DHEA I'd taken for the past two months would if not. The doctor said that she really can't tell how many eggs I will end up with, I might be lucky and get more or not. So now I'm worried about maybe even ending up with less than two! Or if I do get at least two I'll be terrified that they might not be mature enough. During my last IVF attempt I got four eggs at the retrieval but only half of them fertilized. Although, the ones that did then grew into very good quality embryos, I still didn't get pregnant. There are so many unknowns in this whole process.

Yesterday's appointment was disappointing. This time I had a different doctor too and she wasn't as nice as the others have been. When I mentioned I was meant to get blood taken to get my thyroid checked she disagreed and implied I must have misunderstood (with the implication being because my German isn't good enough. Although maybe I'm just extra sensitive at the moment...). When she found a slip in my file which was marked that I WAS meant to get bloods taken she still didn't say anything nice and later when I was anxious about the number of follicles she wasn't exactly encouraging. I also started to worry that she might be turning the egg collection wrong and the follicles would be the wrong size, but I eventually decided that it's better not to second guess the doctor as that would just lead to more stress! I'll keep trying to trust that they know what they are doing.

Following the previous scan where I had seven follicles growing, I had started to get my hopes up thinking how amazing it would be if we ended up with six or seven eggs meaning even extras to freeze (and maybe a potential chance of a second child!). I was getting carried away too far on the positivity cloud and now I feel like I've being rudely awakened from the dream. My thought after the appointment was "I'm just so sick of this sh*t". Excuse the language. I don't normally curse but IVF brings it out of me! Maybe it's a good thing we have decided this is our final round as I feel like I've reached my limit. It's so frustrating to go through a week of injections only to not have your body respond as well as it should.

It was also just one of those days where everything that could go wrong did. A good friends at work announced they would be leaving in a few months. After my appointment I went to the pharmacy beside the clinic and they were out of one of the meds I needed. They had the other two but they wouldn't sell me those as you aren't allowed to get items on a prescription from separate pharmacies apparently. On the way home, I was in a bit of a daze trying to figure out how I'd be able to get the hormones I needed in time to do this morning's shots and I went to the wrong platform just as my train was pulling off. The subsequent train ended up being delayed so I missed my connection and had to wait half an hour in a train station in middle of no where. I didn't end up getting home till almost 10.30pm. It was a long day. There was also storm with really loud thunder and I wasn't able to sleep for ages.

So then this morning I had to get up extra early to go to the pharmacy in town which normally stocks IVF meds (at my local pharmacy you have to order them and it can take several hours at least). Once there after waiting in the queue, I find out that one of the drugs I need isn't available at the moment (Predalon). This is for the trigger shot which I have to give myself tonight at exactly 9pm. When the lady at the pharmacy said I would need a new prescription, I started panicking! It just felt like everyone was going wrong. Luckily she was helpful and said she could phone the clinic and get them to fax over the new prescription (for something called Brevacid which is the same thing just twice the price apparently). Crisis averted. While I was waiting for her to get the meds for me, a pretty young mother came in and then the pharmacist ignored me and went over to 'oo' and 'ahh' at the baby for several minutes. At this stage it was getting later and later. Granted the baby was pretty adorable but come on! Eventually I got my meds, raced home, did the morning injections (I've been told to stimm for one extra day to try to give the follicles a chance to catch up) and then just about made it in to work on time.

The GerMann has been very supportive I must say. He keeps reminding me that he loves me whatever happens and says I'm not letting him down (sometimes I feel like I am). He said that he hadn't been getting his hopes up too much and had been remaining "realistic" about it all. He's used to us only getting a few eggs at the retrieval. I know whatever happens, we will have each other. I still really really want this to work though. The egg collection will be in two days. I'd appreciate if you could please keep sending prayers and positive thoughts my way!

Monday, May 29, 2017

One week in

The first week has gone well. This IVF has felt a lot easier physically than the last ones so far as I've had less injections in the beginning phase. This round my doctor has me trying a relatively new shot called "Elonva". This is a slow releasing hormone so you only need to once to trigger several follicles to grow as opposed to every day like the other drugs. I had to inject it in the evening on day three of my cycle. Then starting four days later I had to start injecting "Orgalutran" to suppress ovulation. After a week I went back for my first check up at the clinic. I had been feeling pretty calm and positive up to then but the night before my scan I started to worry. I haven't felt a whole lot of symptoms so far. Bloating, and the odd stomach cramp but that's it really. I couldn't help worry that maybe I won't respond well to this drug and grow enough follicles.

Luckily the scan went well. I have seven follicles growing at the moment! This is the best number I've had yet. However only two of them are a good size, the other five are still really small and will need to catch up. The doctor wants me to inject a mixture of menogon (called Menopur in US I think and pergoveris) for two more days to try to help the follicles grow bigger and then I'll go back for another scan. At that stage the doctor should be able to tell me when the egg retrial will be, it's looking like it could be about four or five days time.

This IVF cycle we hope to let the embryos grow for five days in the lab instead of three. When you transfer embryos on day five your odds are better as the ones that have survived till then are generally good quality. Our problem is that I have only ended up with a few embryos each cycle so in that case it could be better to transfer them on day three. Dr. Peppy says that if we end up with at least four embryos then we can wait until day five, otherwise we would go with a three day transfer again. We have also chosen to transfer two embryos again.

I asked the doctor who scanned me how many eggs does she think we'll get at the retrieval. She had it's too hard to predict. So yeah I really don't know how it's going to go! The number of follicles won't correspond to the number of mature eggs unfortunately. Each cycle so far I have ended up having some empty follicles. That said I am trying to stay optimistic and just wait and see what happens. I was thinking the other day that I have been coping really well so far with this IVF, but then I remembered that I'm only a week into it and all the much harder stages are still ahead of me! The egg retrieval, the agonizing wait to see if or how many eggs fertilized, the praying that there will be at least one embryo to transfer.. not to mention the dreaded "two week wait" afterwards.

The past two weeks hubby and I have been eating very healthy and I'm really happy about that. The weather has been lovely here and I've been enjoying spending time in our garden. Lots of the herbs I planted several weeks ago have started to grow so we now have some rocket and spinach leaves. I went for a walk and said some positive affirmations in my head. Things like "I am healthy. I am strong. I am growing lots of healthy eggs.." and even "I am fertile". After three and a half years of unsuccessfully attempting to have a baby, I thought it would be good to try to replace some of the negative thoughts with more positive ones. This is a fresh new cycle and we aren't out of the race yet.

On Saturday I decided to "treat" myself to a massage. There's a Thai massage place in town and I booked myself in for an hour long massage focusing on back, shoulders and head. Anyway, I guess I had forgotten how painful Thai massages can be. Yikes! There were some nice relaxing bits but mostly lots of uncomfortable and sore parts. The occasional shoulder pain I get from sitting at a desk job all day was gone after but I also have some sore looking bruises on my arms since! I don't think I'll be going back there in a hurry. One of my colleagues at work even noticed. I told her what happened and she commented that I'm too much of a "princess" for Thai massages. That makes me sound like a bit of a diva or something, doesn't it? Anyway I think I'll stay away from Thai massages for now and go for things that are actually relaxing!

Friday, May 26, 2017

The things left unsaid

Recently I was back in Dublin for a friend's wedding. I had been hoping to see a particular aunt (on my Mum's side) again and my Dad had been messaging her to try to arrange something. This particular aunt had been battling breast cancer the past few years. The last time I had met her was during the Christmas holidays when I was back in Dublin. My brother was over from Australia at the time and saw her too and I'm so glad we all managed to spend time with her then. She has always been a very independent person (she was unmarried with no kids) and she was also quite private about her illness. Not just with us but also with other family members. I remember at Christmas she hinted that things had been hard for her lately but her attitude was that there are people going through worse things and she didn't want to be thinking "poor me". She was incredibly brave. She was really excited to see my brother and his fiance at the time and looking forward to their Irish wedding celebration this Summer.

During my recent trip home my Dad invited her over for dinner on the Friday to see my sister and I. My aunt said she didn't want to commit to it as she wasn't sure how she would feel. We said we would keep it free for her. She then told us that she was actually in hospital but hoping to be released soon. We offered to visit but she said she was feeling too tired. I remember wondering whether we should insist and just show up but we decided that if she said she wasn't up for visitors we should respect that. I was busy Saturday with my friend's wedding so we left it that we would try to meet for lunch on Sunday before I'd travel to the airport. That never happened. We got a call from the hospital Sunday morning to go in as soon as possible. I remember thinking in my head about all the things I wanted to say to her and praying for strength to be able to say them without crying too much!

However once we got into the hospital we found out it was already too late. The nurse told us she had passed an hour earlier. She had taken a bad turn during the night. We were all in shock! Like I mentioned earlier, we had no idea how bad her illness had gotten. We were also really sad that she hadn't let us in as we would have loved to have supported her more through it. It's always the way that after someone is gone, you have regrets about things you wish you had said said and done. I wish I had stayed in touch with her more. It's so easy to get caught up in your own life. It's been hard recently as you can imagine. It has also brought back a lot of sad memories of my own Mum's death. Both her and my aunt had been fighting the cancer for as long as they could.

Living away from home is also more difficult when things like this are going on. I'm glad I was there to pay my respects. We said some prayers with the hospital priest. However I wish I'd gotten to see her alive one more time. And then Mother's day was this month and I remember feeling really sad that there is no such thing as 'aunt's day'. There are so many people who mean a lot and I'm sorry they don't get more recognition. I came across this post recently on the importance of childfree people in children's lives and it mentions aunts in particular. It really does take a village.

On my wedding day I remember how happy and supportive my aunt was for us. She didn't go into the church but wanted to wait to see me arrive in the car! And then she even photobombed some of our wedding photos as she was there beside me fixing my veil. So sweet. During our first dance there are pictures of her watching us and looking so happy. I hadn't spoken to her directly about our struggles to have a family but my sister had and so I knew she was aware and hopeful for us. It still hasn't really sunk in that she's gone. She won't get to be there for my brother's Irish wedding this Summer.

F*ck cancer for taking so many great people away from us too soon.

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!