Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Currently...

Making use of...
... the local library at last!


The library is open late on a Tuesday so I took advantage of this to pop in on the way home from work and pick up the May Book Club book.

Of course, this means that I'm now frantically trying to finish the ebook I'm reading at the moment. It's taking a little while since I'm falling into the habit of nodding off while I'm reading it. The night before last I woke up to find Mr Click blissfully snoring away on top of my Kindle. Luckily there was no harm done.

Preparing...
... for tomorrow! Embryo Transfer Day!

I wrote out a massive list of things I needed to get done this evening. We've got a very early start tomorrow and I've got the complication of meds to take before I go so I need to get as much done as possible tonight.

As I'm writing this, I'm charging my Kindle, Fitbit and powerbank. Next up on the list is organising the clothes I'm planning on wearing (my lucky outfit which I've worn to every appointment on this round, the nurses must think I'm a real skank with only one set of clothes). That's to be followed by doing a stock take of the meds I have in the cupboard (and scattered elsewhere around the house) so I can request extras to see me through to the Official Test Date.

Off...
... for an early night.

We do have an early start after all. And it's kind of an important day for us.

Keep everything crossed for a successful thaw and transfer.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Books 46 & 46 of 2016: The Plains of Passage by Jean M. Auel & Dear Almost a poem by Matthew Thorburn

Yesterday I shared The Hogwarts Tag which included a picture of my Halloween costume for last year. I very carefully hand-lettered a book cover for a Muggle Studies textbook. That 'textbook' was actually the 46th book that I read last year, The Plains of Passage by Jean M. Auel, the fourth book in the Earth's Children series.

When it's not dressed up as a Hogwarts school book, it looks like this:


This book follows Ayla and Jondalar's journey back across all the land that Jondalar spent the last two books travelling through. Their journey is pretty time sensitive as the last bit of the journey requires them to cross a glacier and warmer weather is rapidly approaching. They meet up with a lot of other people and have a lot of hot prehistoric sex!

This is a massive book; it clocks in at 724 pages! This was the main reason I picked it to become a Hogwarts textbook because it looked suitably massive enough to be a magical book. Sadly I don't have Hermione's beaded bag so it took me nearly a month to read as it had to stay at home rather than come out in my bag; if I'd taken it with me there was very little room for anything else!

I think it would have been better as at least two, if not three books. Ayla and Jondalar spend time with several different tribes and since Auel goes into so much detail on everything that even more detail could've been given to the cultures and the book wouldn't have been so huge. There was SO MUCH of this book dedicated to the scenery and the flora and fauna that I couldn't help but skim read those bits.

And then there's the sex. There's so much sex. Ayla and Jondalar regularly stop to 'share Pleasures', which isn't bad in and of itself but the book could have been about two hundred pages shorter if they'd not stopped to bonk quite so often!

When I finished this on the 24th of November I was initially at a bit of loss for what to read next and just planned to select a Christmas read from my Kindle when I arrived home from work to find a package from Stacy @ Stacy's Books. It contained a copy of Dear Almost a poem by Matthew Thorburn.


This is a book length poem, written after the author and his wife experienced a miscarriage. It's addressed to the child who they never got to meet.

It arrived on exactly the right day, the one year anniversary of losing our twins and it was just what I needed to read. I'm not sure I can even formulate the words to explain just how beautiful this book is. I had a physical ache in my chest as I read it. I stopped up late and cried.

You can actually feel the love and grief in the words on the page, but in a way it was also nice to read. Pregnancy loss is one of those things which is so rarely spoken about, it was strangely validating to read a book written by someone who experienced it and had gone through all those emotions you had felt and were feeling.

I don't normally share quotes on my book review posts anymore, but this one had so many quotes I wanted to save in my book journal that I can't help but share the top five I selected to copy out in the the end, because this will explain my feelings for this book far better than any words I can use.

Pages 25 & 26
I want to show you
what life is like
here where you ought to be
with us, but aren't:
a not-uncommon story
though few people will tell you

it's their story too. They choose
not to relive it, relieved
not to revisit what happened
or didn't. What should have.
What went wrong
for no other reason, finally,
than that it didn't go right.
Ours is the story of how
is became was and was became
wasn't, became no,
became not. The story of
our almost girl, our might've been.

Page 41
This is the story of
what's missing, a space
one can see only
because we've filled in
everything around it:
keyhole I peer through
to what I can't hold,
little hole in my heart
where the air leaks out,
little no more, no luck or way
or how.

Page 44
I think of you still,
so still, and not there anymore
in that dark room,
though I ought to know
better, though I feel
the tiny light I cup
deep inside me gutter
and go out. "It's strange,"
Lily says when
I come home, "and unsatisfying, isn't it?
To hurt like this for someone

we never met?"

Pages 53 & 54
There's
a piece of me that's
missing. I almost didn't
know she was there
but she was there and now
she's gone.

Pages 71 & 72
It scares me
I can no longer
picture your face,
which was only ever
my imagining of
how your face
might look someday -
not enough
to hold onto.
I've had to learn to live
with this: we
didn't see you, didn't
meet you, only
knew you
were there a little while
and then you weren't.

There are lots of little repeated motifs through the book as the seasons change and the author seems to come to terms with the loss they experienced. The sense of loving someone you never got to meet and really knew nothing about, but who you loved completely unconditionally.

Even if you've never suffered that kind of loss yourself, read this book. It might just give you a glimpse into what other people have suffered and you might come close to getting a tiny sense of understanding.

Just read it.

Monday, 22 May 2017

The Hogwarts Tag

I've started keeping a little document on my laptop for blog post ideas and when I saw The Hogwarts Tag on A.J. Sterkel's blog @ Read All The Things, I knew that was a thing I needed to do.

Being a massive Harry Potter nerd, who has spent part of the last week planning a trip to London for the studio tour, this seemed right up my street. If it's your kind of thing too, feel free to tag yourself and leave a link in the comments to your answers.


The Hogwarts Tag

Am I a Pureblood, Half-Blood or Muggle Born?
I swing between being Pureblood and Half-Blood. I think maybe I'm technically Pureblood, but there's a Squib in there somewhere which muddies the waters somewhat! I'm happy to embrace my Muggle-ish side.

Which wand chose me?
Laurel, 10 inches, unicorn hair core (of course), slightly springy.


Did I take an owl, cat, rat, or toad with me?
It would obviously be a rat. I just might have to smuggle two in with me, after all, they need ratty company!

For practical reasons, later on I think an owl would be useful, but while I'm at Hogwarts I can use the school owls, right?

Where did the sorting hat put me?
I am so definitely in Ravelclaw! 

Note the rat in my cauldron!
What house did I want to be in?
Ravenclaw all the way. Ever since I first read the Sorting Hat's song in the first book I've known where I truly belong. Pottermore has only confirmed that for me (twice).

What lessons are my favourite and least favourite?
I think I'd be really good at Charms and I would love Transfiguration (though I'd need to put in a little more effort there). History of Magic would come to me relatively easily and I'd do fine with Ancient Runes. I would also really enjoy Muggle Studies.

Potions would not be one of my top subjects. I'd probably be okay on the theory but not so hot on the practical side of things; same with Herbology. I would want to be good at Defense Against the Dark Arts but coming face to face with a Boggart would flummox me!

The form my Patronus takes?
According to Pottermore it's a Sparrowhawk:


But I've always felt that it would be more likely to be a dog, specifically a collie.

Your Patronus can change over time though, right? So perhaps I'll get my collie some day.

What does a Boggart look like for me?
I'm with Ron on this one, a big spider would send me running for the hills. That or a negative pregnancy test perhaps.

Do I partake in any magical hobbies or school sports?
Definitely no on the sports front. Perhaps I'd join the Wizarding Chess Club, or the Charms Club. Perhaps I'd organise a book club or knitting group for my fellow students.

Where would I find myself hanging in my free time?
Either the library or in the Ravenclaw common room. Somewhere peaceful where I can surround myself with books.

What would I most likely get detention for?
I managed to go right the way through school with any 'bad comments', demerits, punishment exercises, or detentions. I was a swot.

Of course, Hogwarts is a different kettle of fish so perhaps getting caught performing a spell that backfires or doing something stupid in class.

What career do I want after leaving Hogwarts?
I imagine I'd go work for the Daily Prophet (or some other Wizarding publication) or perhaps get work in Flourish & Blotts. In the end I'd probably end up working for the Ministry or perhaps finding some way to get back into Hogwarts; Flitwick or McGonagall have to retire sooner or later!


How about you?

Saturday, 20 May 2017

IVF #3, FET#3: Lubion Injection

Something that I learned very early on in the IVF process is that you have to try and learn something from each failure, if you don't you'll probably drive yourself crazy. I think trying to find one positive thing from each disappointment is about one of the only things that has kept me sane during the last four years.

Case in point:

  • IVF #1 - Cancelled cycle due to OHSS. Lessons: I respond (very) well to stimulation meds, hyperstimulation is serious and very, very bad.
  • IVF #2 - four embryos made it to blastocyst, froze three and transferred one fresh which didn't take. Lessons: I can make it to egg collection without hyperstimulation, egg collection isn't fun but I can survive it, our embryos can make it to blasto stage, perhaps fresh transfer isn't best for me as my body might need more time to recover.
  • IVF #2, FET #1 - transferred two embryos and both stuck but suffered an early miscarriage. Lessons: I can get pregnant! Progesterone delivery might be an issue as have had spotting whilst on Cyclogest on both transfers, perhaps it's time to try something different?
  • IVF #2, FET #2 - transferred our last frozen embryo and switched to Crinone Gel for Progesterone support, spectacular failure five days after transfer. Lessons: Progesterone absorption is clearly an issue, time to bring in the big guns! Also, 100% success at thawing our embryos, this is a good thing.
  • IVF #3 - Return of the OHSS, freeze all cycle with 9 fabulous embryos! Lessons: I still respond (very) well to stimulation meds, our embryos appear to be better quality that the ones we produced two years ago so those lifestyle changes we made have obviously helped.
See what I mean?

The major lesson we've taken away from our failed (and briefly successful) transfers is that my body is stubborn about accepting support.

We switched from the Cyclogest pessaries to the Crinone Gel because I liked the idea of getting up and moving around after putting it in, rather than having a lie down for twenty minutes each time. The Cyclogest sort of bullet shaped and in a waxy coating which leaks out afterwards and I was suspicious that perhaps the medication was leaking out as well. It appears that Crinone Gel is even harder for the body to absorb though, so this time we're back on the Cyclogest with the added fun of a Progesterone injection once a day as well.

When this was agreed upon I did what any normal person would do. Promptly logged onto Dr Google and freaked myself the hell out!

Everything I was reading about was Progesterone in Oil (or PIO) injections. This is an oil-based injection, usually sesame (which some people then discover they are allergic to), which is injected in the posterior (and is therefore hard to self-administer), and can cause ongoing discomfort in the form of painful lumps under the skin. Oh, and it's intramuscular which means a massive great big needle. None of this reassured me and there were several moments when, despite identifying Progesterone absorption as being an in issue independently of my doctor, I seriously considered changing mind mind about doing it.

So imagine my surprise at our appointment on Thursday when our nurse, the lovely D, went off to get a collection of syringes, needles and our latest lot of meds, and returned with something called Lubion. I sort of panicked a little because a voice in the back of my head started jumping up and down yelling 'we haven't Googled that one!' but as it turns out, it's a lot easier to use than the alternative.


For one thing, there is no mixing involved! Fertility treatments are so stressful as it is without the added hassle of sucking up liquid from Vial A, injecting it into the powder in Vial B, stirring it around to dissolve it, drawing the resulting solution back into the syringe, switching needles and injecting yourself, all to a set schedule where you're not wanting to be even a minute late with it.

See those little vials, I just suck up the liquid from one of those and inject it into my tummy. And that's right! My tummy! No gymnastics or asking (the chronically needle-phobic) Mr Click to do it for me. I like to be in control of stabby things getting injected into my body, thank you very much.

Since I knew that the PIO injections were a literal pain in the ass, I was prepared for this to be a little uncomfortable. And it was. Not helped by the fact that I nicked something as it was going in and I ended up bleeding right after I took the needle out.


It also seems to be harder to push in than the injections I've been on previously. Normally when you get a stingy one (Cetrotide, I'm looking at you), you whack that sucker in as quick as you can so the burny feeling hits you once it's all in, not halfway down the syringe. Try as I might, there's no way I can get this one in as quick as I'd like to. You just have to keep pushing, grin and bear it.

I was so tender after I did this one yesterday that I had to unbutton my jeans all day, I managed to do it right where my waistband falls and it was pressing against it when I sat down. There's a tiny bruise there too and an area about the size of a 50p piece which hurts when I bent or stretched.

Today's was a lot smoother, no blood and less pain so hopefully I'm getting the hang of it (having said that, I just poked my belly to check if today's injection site is tender and it is when poked so add that to the list of things not to do)!

Fingers crossed I'll still be doing this daily injection in twelve weeks time. I'll be a pro at it by then!

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Pregnancy Paradox

As I write this blog post, I am currently one week, 6 days pregnant. Before you start getting excited and congratulating me, my embryo transfer isn't actually for another six days so there isn't actually anyone in there yet. I'm in this strange mystical stage between being and not being. Is this the point where you're a little bit pregnant?

The reason for my current unpregnancy is because of the way pregnancies are dated. Normal women can't usually pinpoint the exact hour when their offspring were conceived. Normal women don't have regular cycles where they ovulate on Day 14 to allow for an exact gestational age to be calculated. Normal people forget or don't keep track of these things or assume that Tab A fitting into Slot B is all you need to do to get knocked up. Normal people sometimes fudge things, as House so sagely told us, everybody lies; how do the doctors know you conceived when you said you probably did?

So they date pregnancies from the woman's Last Monthly Period and assume most people will ovulate about two weeks after the start of the bleed. This is, of course, wildly inaccurate since you can have a woman with a 30 day cycle who ovulates on Day 19 or a woman with a 28 day cycle who ovulates on Day 11. But this is how it's done. And IVF pregnancies get the same treatment.

Even though I know their exact age, the simple act of them making contact with my body ages them by two weeks. I suspect it's this concept which has been acting on Mr Click over the past decade we've spent together because he went grey very quickly after we got together!

Not only are my embryos magical beings who can survive in suspended animation, they're time travelling as well!

Yesterday we had our hospital appointment in Glasgow to check how I've been responding to the medication I'm on. Answer: well enough to move on to the next stage. My lining was sitting at a happy 7.3mm (they like anything over 6mm, preferably 7mm to progress onto the drugs to prepare the body for transfer).

I was sent away with a fantastic goody bag. No, seriously, look at what was in it:


Not pictured there is my sharps bucket into which the contents of that bag on the right hand side will be going as they're used (along with the preloaded Clexane syringes too) and the Progynova tablets I'm already taking.

Oh yeah, that's about two-three weeks supply just there. Most of these will be taken until I'm twelve weeks pregnant. Yikes!

At the time we left the hospital we didn't know for sure how many days pregnant I could count at that very minute. We'd been told the transfer was likely to be on the Thursday or Friday. I've spent the past three weeks planning for a Friday transfer and hoping it would fall on the 26th just in time for putting my feet up and chilling for the Bank Holiday weekend, the idea that it could fall on a Thursday as well called for some readjustments to my plans!

So we headed into town, and had lunch, and travelled back; the whole time I had a vice-like grip on my phone ready for the Embryologist calling. It came in a little after 4:30pm. Thursday.

And even though my embryos are neither defrosted nor in me, that means that I am unofficially pregnant right now. And by this time next week I will be classed as 'PUPO', an awful acronym which means 'Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise'.

Keep everything crossed!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Dodgy Unicorn

Do you remember a few weeks ago I shared this picture?


The pattern was a wee bit complicated for such a small project and when I reached this point and realised I was supposed to snip through my knitting, unravel it and pick up some stitched that would then be hanging loose, so I promptly stuck it in a bag and put it in time out until I was ready to tackle it.

On Bank Holiday Monday I decided that the time had come to get it finished. So I spent much of my afternoon stuffing and sewing and sorting out the mane.


I wound up not bothering with the fiddly cutting and picking up of stitches. Instead I went for the equally fiddly, but slightly less nerve-wracking, option of casting on the head separately and then sewing it on where I should have picked up the stitches to knit it. It made getting the eyes on a little tricky since there was a blue knitted strip in the way, but otherwise I think it turned out okay.

I also didn't bother stuffing the legs, since they were pretty stable once they were sewn up. The mane could've been a little neater but by the time I got to that bit I was ready to be done with it.

It's ever-so-slightly wonky. The horn has a touch of a curl to it, which I actually quite like, but there's something about the shape of its face and the placement of its eyes, and those massive ears, which makes me think of my little wonky Dodger rat.

I don't think I'll be repeating this patter again, but I might try adapting it into a slightly simpler version because I know of a fair few ladies who would appreciate a little unicorn paying them a visit.