Tuesday, 25 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: U is for Unicorns

Welcome to Day 21 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

You might have noticed that, along with my thing for rainbows, is that I've got a bit of a thing for unicorns. And that's all because of you.

Unicorns are a bit of a symbol for people undergoing fertility treatments. the saying to 'chase unicorns' means going after the impossible, and let's face it, that's what we were doing when we underwent treatment to bring you into the world. We were told that the likelihood of achieving a successful pregnancy was slim to none. Sounds like we were chasing unicorns to me.

By the same token then, if a person who was told they couldn't possibly get pregnant and then they do (even if it took a lot of time, money and professional help to get there), you might say that they've caught that unicorn they were chasing for so long.

And that's why they became a symbol of something bigger than ourselves during treatment.

Your Dad got me a little stuffed unicorn, with a rainbow mane, who came to all of our appointments as a good luck charm. Each time we went to an appointment and it went well or things turned out better than we were expecting, we knew that Ixi had done his bit.

When I picked out slippers to wear to theatre, the ones I selected were unicorn-themed. We played spot the unicorn when we were out shopping, or watching TV, or surfing the internet. Other people got in on it too; sending unicorn-themed gifts and surprises.

Did it help any? Well, if you're here, perhaps it did. It didn't hurt, and spotting unicorns isn't a bad pastime.

And if it seems especially superstitious, well, forgive us for our quirks. I'm sure you'll have a whole host of your own too; you are my kid after all!

All my love,

Your Mum.

Monday, 24 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: T is for Transfer

Welcome to Day 20 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

The first time you see me will probably be a bit of a traumatic experience for you. Thankfully, years from then, as you are reading this letter, you won't have any recollection of it, so I'm going to take you on a little time travel adventure.

Let's go back in time for a minute.

On the day we meet properly you will be forced from the safe, if somewhat cramped, place you have been calling home for nine months, into somewhere bright and loud and scary. You will cry. So will I. And we'll get to meet each other face to face for the first time.

But it won't be the first time that I'm seeing you.

Thanks to modern technology I'll have been keeping an eye on you (along with yet more medical personnel) over the duration of your stay with me. But would you believe that even on the very first scan I have, the one where we double check you're actually in there, that won't be the first time I'm seeing you?

Oh no, that first glimpse of you will happen roughly four weeks beforehand on the day of your transfer. On that day you'll be able to count almost six days of existence (five of those days taking place in February 2017 and the sixth one taking place in whichever month and year you're thawed out, my clever timey-wimey offspring).

I'm hoping that day will be taking place around a month from the date I'm writing this letter. Your father and I will go to the hospital, full of nerves as we wait to find out whether you have defrosted successfully. I will drink roughly a bottle of water in order to fulfill the requirement of having a 'comfortably full bladder' (there's an oxymoron if I've ever heard one, you should try spending an hour with a comfortably full bladder sometime, preferably when you're old enough to do your own laundry, just in case you find it a bit tricky!) and then we will be summoned through to the room.

Beforehand they will have asked if we want to see you on the screen and of course we will say yes! There will be a brief wait (an excited one for your father; slightly uncomfortable for me) and then you will pop up on the TV screen on the wall.

You probably won't be much to look at for most people, but to me you will be beautiful. You will be vaguely circular and kind of lumpy looking in the middle, perhaps with a bobbly bit around the outside where you are starting to hatch. I could gaze on you all day but there's not time because there's somewhere you're supposed to be (and I'll be desperately in need of a bathroom by this point).

At this point the embryologist will prepare you for the biggest day of your young life. You'll be popped into a catheter and when I'm ready to receive you, you'll be passed through to the doctor performing the transfer.

Your father and I will hold hands as we watch as the catheter is placed in position, then you, and the fluid you've been calling home for the five days leading to this point, will be officially transferred into my womb. We won't be able to see you on the ultrasound, of course, you're much too small for that, but we'll see the flash of the fluid you're in.

And then we'll wait and hope that the next time we're looking at that screen, you'll be very definitely there on it.

So if, all those years later when you're reading this letter, you occasionally catch me looking over at you, studying your features, just know that I've been memorising the way you look ever since you were just a tiny bubble on a screen.

All my love,

Your Mum.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Starting FET #3

Last Tuesday's Easter Weekend wound up being a whole day longer for me because we had an appointment at the hospital at 8:30am. Of course, I didn't get to have a lie in because an 8:30am hospital appointment necessitated a 4:50am wake up call!

We did the usual boat then train part of the journey but we knew we'd be cutting it fine if we'd tried catching the bus. If I'd made the appointment myself I would've asked for one around 9am but this was made for me by a nurse along with a second a couple of weeks later at 4:30pm (which is equally awkward in terms of getting back). I did  make one phone call to try and get the first appointment changed, but then decided I couldn't be bothered playing phone tag so we just forked out the £5 for a taxi up to the hospital. It was all good.

This appointment is the first in our series of appointments for the frozen embryo transfer (which will hopefully take place some time in May). I knew it would involve an injection but I wasn't sure what else would need to be done while we were there.


There were consent forms to sign and paperwork to go over. I came away with a sheet listing the medication I will be on (two drugs longer than the last time), a protocol sheet (detailing what needs to be done when) and a leaflet giving an overview of the frozen embryo transfer process.

I was also weighed, which I wasn't expecting. I briefly regretted all the Easter indulging I'd been doing over the weekend, but my weight was pronounced good. Thankfully!

And then it was time for the injection.

It was a Prostap jab which acts to put my body into a menopausal state, so that the hospital can take over and give me medication to make my body do what they want it to do, rather than what it wants to do. It's a stingy, burny injection which is given intramuscularly. I felt really aware of it for much of that day, in the area where it was injected, up towards my rib cage and down towards my groin. Walking helped to ease it but sitting for too long brought back the weird sensation.

As it puts you into a menopausal state, you can expect to get menopausal symptoms; hot flushes, headaches, mood swings, vaginal dryness (it's so glamourous). One of the ones I clearly remember from the last couple of times I've had it is the spots. I guess since your body is kind of going through puberty backwards, the zit fairy decides to pay a visit.

I've never been a particularly spotty person. I get the odd spot or two around the time my period is due (though I'm never sure if that's linked to the fact I tend to eat loads of crap around that time too), but my spots on Prostap are something else.

And sure enough, on Thursday I started to feel that telltale bump on my chin that heralded an impending spot. I dabbed at it with some TCP (which usually works to quell my spots) but this was not going to be quieted so easily.

By Friday it felt like I was growing a new nose. On my chin. I spent the day at work feeling incredibly self-conscious of the flashing belisha beacon I was sporting on my face. At one point I honestly considered feinting illness to be able to go home early and hide my head in a paper bag.

Friday evening I went to dab it with TCP and it erupted in anger. It was not pleasant. Even now, typing this, I still have an attractive patch on my chin where my skin has decided to rebel against my lack of enthusiasm for my zitty friend.

At least I know the meds are working.

We wrapped up our trip to the hospital with a trek to buy me some much needed new jeans (after one of the boys nibbled a hole in my best pair) and also swung by Paperchase where I became the proud owner of some unicorn stickers and a pencil case. Because if I'm going to get zits like I'm a teenager, I might as well shop like one too!

Now it's just a question of waiting for my body to do its thing. I'll get a bleed after which I'll go back to the hospital to check my lining is nice and thin, ready for them to start artificially plumping it up.

And while I'm not exactly thrilled about my new, spotty face, I'm pretty pleased to be getting things underway again.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: S is for Spare Bedroom

Welcome to Day 19 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.


Dear Bubbles,

When we moved into our first home together, your father and I, we were delighted to find a little cottage with a spare bedroom. This was back in the early days when we had only been trying to bring you into existence for about a year and a half, and we were optimistic that you would soon be joining us to take up residence in the spare room.

Of course, you didn't. And so it became a general dumping ground.

Occasionally we would talk about having a clear out, or we'd go up there with bin bags and be ruthless in sorting out the junk that had accumulated, with a view to making it ready for becoming a nursery.

I'll admit. We had a couple of wobbles. There was a worn out old desk, covered in junk, up there for the longest time because our first go at IVF had been cancelled and we weren't sure we were going to give it another go.

We decided to stick a bed in there so we could actually use it as a bedroom if guests came to stay and secretly hoped that some day it might be your bed. For a while it was 'the boys bedroom'; the rats had a bedroom all to themselves. I stuck a couple of bookcases up there, optimistically filling one up with children's books that I hoped to be able to share with you some day.

But I planned for the day when that room would become a nursery. I thought about where things would go as you grew, how we would fit more than one of you in there should we need to. I looked at that room as a child would, as a teenager, and I panicked about where the hell we were going to put all our crap when that day came!

It would be nice if we've been able to raise you in a house with a spare bedroom, but if not, I hope we've been able to drop the 'spare' bit of its title and that for you it's just your bedroom. Perhaps it's not the biggest. Perhaps you're limited on where your wardrobe can go because of those sloping ceilings. Perhaps it sucks being right opposite the bathroom. Perhaps you bang your head occasionally getting in and out of bed (those sloping ceilings again). But it's the one spot of the house that is truly yours, and we've been planning it that way since we first set foot in the door.

And I hope I finally found somewhere else to keep all those books!

All my love,

Your Mum.

Friday, 21 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letter to my Embryos: R is for Rainbows

Welcome to Day 18 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

You are probably fully aware that I have a bit of a thing for rainbows. I like to point them out when I see one, whether it's on TV, on someone's T-shirt when we're walking down the street, or an actual real life rainbow in its natural habitat. I like seeing rainbows.

But I wonder if I've ever told you why.

You, my precious Bubbles, are my Rainbows.

Rainbows represent the calm after the storm, the hope that follows destruction, and you are my reward for weathering the storm.

A Rainbow Baby is one born after a miscarriage. Your father and I weathered the storm and hopefully, if you are reading this, you were our reward.

I hope that you have grown up knowing that you are my Rainbow because that will mean that you have grown up knowing about the ones who could have come before you. Who, had they been born, probably would have meant we never would have had you. They would have been seven month old infants at the time you were conceived and I'm sure with our hands full of baby twins we wouldn't have ever considered going for another round of IVF.

We needed the storm for you to be here.

And now I spot rainbows to give me hope for the future.

Just a few days before writing this letter to you, just under a week before beginning my first lot of medication for the process which will hopefully allow us to bring you home with us, your father and I were riding in the car, discussing names which might one day be yours, when I spotted a beautiful bold, bright rainbow, arcing across the sky.

And at that moment the car CD player began to play 'Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now'.

Nothing's going to stop us, Bubbles.

All my love,

Your Mum.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: Q is for Quandary

Welcome to Day 17 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

I'm sure you're well aware of this by now, but before you had existed for twenty-four hours we had to make one of the hardest decisions we've ever made. The decision that would affect your whole future and could potentially have made the difference between you being here or not.

Does that sound dramatic? I guess it kind of was, but we didn't make the decision in some big important room with a countdown timer playing. I was lounging in my jammies, in our living room, and recovering from my op.

We got the phone call to let us know we had ten embryos and they wanted to know whether to freeze you then and there or to let you grow for five days. The idea was that if we froze you all then and there, we would know we had ten embryos, but if we let you grow, we'd know what quality you were, who was the strongest and you'd have more chance of surviving the freeze/thaw procedure.

I didn't have too much time to consider this quandary, we needed to give the hospital an immediate response. A brief conversation with your Dad and we decided to let you grow. The Embryologist seemed happy with our choice and we hung up to begin the long five day wait to hear how you got on.

And I immediately panicked because we didn't know if any of you would make it to the blastocyst stage. You were all my potential babies and I couldn't help but wonder if perhaps I'd signed your death warrant, that none of you would make it.

I needn't have worried, of course, you were strong.

But it was a scary fire experience of making importance decisions about you. And even though there might be big decisions I make on your behalf in the future, I'll always know I got that first, most important, one right.

All my love,

Your Mum.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: P is for Phone Call

Welcome to Day 16 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

I owe you an apology. The first time I ever left you in the care of someone else, when they phoned me to let me know how you were getting on, I missed the call.

In my defense, it was the day after you were conceived, I was recovering from surgery, and the last time we'd had a call from an Embryologist to tell us how many embryos we had it wasn't until 10:30am. The fact that your first babysitter (embryositter?) called at 8:30am caught me off guard.

I guess you were kind of ahead of the curve and that's why she was so eager to let me know how you were getting on. But I felt pretty awful. Like I was letting you down in some way because I hadn't been there when I was supposed to be.

Of course, it was okay in the end. I caught her call just a few minutes after I picked up the voicemail. You were on my mind the whole time, even though I didn't know if you existed yet.

I'm fairly certain that this won't be the first important phone call about you that I'll miss. I'm sure there will be messages from school, from your friends' parents, maybe even from you.

But just like that very first time I missed a call about you, I'll always have you on my mind, even if it might not seem like it at the time.

All my love,

Your Mum.