Unlucky 13?

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So we had the call from the embryologist. We had 18 eggs but only 13 have fertilised and made it to the next stage. I’m a little disappointed but let’s see what happens over the next few days…

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Egg Collection

a follicle.jpgToday was my egg collection and suddenly the whole thing felt very real. To my surprise the nurse, anesthetist and embryologist remembered us and greeted us warmly. The procedure was a fairly unremarkable experience since I was under general anesthetic. One minute I was having a chat with the doctor, the next I woke up in the recovery room and it was all done!

The egg collection was a success and they retrieved 18 eggs. Now we must wait to hear how many fertilised. It is hard not to compare everything to last time. But since our eggs and sperm are 2 years older I don’t suppose the outcome is comparable. However last time I had 16 eggs so already we are in a better position. However it’s all to play for now as there are a multitude of variables which will dictate the outcome.

Tomorrow, and for the next 5 days, I will receive a phone call with updates on the progress of the embryos. All being well we will have a few that make it to blastocyst stage, one of which we can transfer in 5 days time. The waiting begins.

Human Pin Cushion

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So the shots are in full swing. To be honest I don’t find them too bad. Each night my husband gets the needles ready and I lie on the bed with my t-shirt held up as a sort of shield to prevent me from seeing whats happening and we get it done. Side effects? Not really. Last time I recall being far more swollen and bloated to this time. However my husband would certainly say that I have been somewhat hormonal! In my defense I have been rather distracted by the stomach bug that has terrorised our home taking down my son, husband and myself. Nursing an ill baby whilst being ill and undergoing IVF is not ideal.

On alternate days I am required to have a scan to see the changes the drugs are having on my follicles. The scans themselves are not an issue. I don’t find them too unpleasant. The tricky part is going to the scans with an 8 month old. You would think an IVF clinic, whose job is to create babies, would be more accommodating to mothers visiting with babies. The lift is at top of a flight of stairs, the doors are heavy and too narrow to wheel a pram in and they are without fail always running late. Having arranged naps and snacks around these visits it is infuriating. However this phase is almost over. The egg collection is two days away and then the next stage will be upon us.

Watch this space!

Here We Go Again!

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Never would we have imagined that the journey to motherhood was going to be so long and painful. However once we knew the challenges we faced and that we would only be able to have a child using IVF we decided that after baby number 1 was born we wouldn’t wait too long to have baby number 2.

When we decided to try for a baby the first time we were full of naive excitement and total ignorance. We never thought we would be the ones who needed fertility treatment or lost a baby. The benefit of hindsight means that we are fully aware of the potential set backs that lay ahead. We know it may take a long time and it may be a bumpy ride so why wait when we know we want another child?

While I was pregnant with our little boy we decided that as soon as there was the chance to try again we would. We would save our frozen embryo for the future and, while I was relatively young, make some more embryos. That was the plan. That seemed like the most sensible idea. Once my body had returned to normal we thought we’d get going on IVF number 2. All of that was until our little bundle of joy arrived and turned our lives spectacularly upside down! So when the opportunity to try again came while our baby was still such hard work we took one look at each other and agreed that in no way were we ready to cope with two little monsters! We were exhausted and our little baby was a complete handful. In many ways he still is!

So when asked by friends and family when we would try again we quite honestly said next year. However we now have got to the point where we feel like (relatively) confident parents who have, to some degree, begun to resume normal life. We sleep pretty well and are enjoying our son so much that we now feel that its time to do it all over again! Are we mad?

Despite the craziness of our lives now, the stress of pregnancy and the ordeal of trying to conceive, absolutely nothing is better than the love I have for my son. I would feel so blessed to have another little one to join our family. Last time we shared it all with our close family and friends. We needed the support as we blindly went through IVF. This time we know what lies ahead, so unbeknownst to all our friends and family we have began the process! Today is day 4 of my shots and next week may be the egg collection. It’s mad. Totally mad and completely exciting!

The Definition of Love

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Recently a mother who has undergone IVF posted a picture of her beautiful baby girl lying asleep in the middle of hundred of syringes. Why? To illustrate the physical and emotional turmoil experienced by people who go through IVF. The child’s mother finally succeeded in becoming pregnant after more than a year-and-a-half of cycles.

It was shared more than 3,000 times as parents around the globe have opened up about their stories of trying to conceive a baby biologically related to them.

The baby’s mother told couples trying to conceive to “hang in there”.

“The needles were the easy part. It was the emotional struggle, the ups and downs, that really took a toll, I waited a long time for a husband to come. And then by that time it was difficult to get pregnant.”

What a poignant image of a gorgeous miracle baby.

Sperm Shortage

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I was shocked to learn last week that there are just nine men registered as sperm donors at the national sperm bank. 9! This is terrible news for anyone requiring donor sperm to have a child, particularly lesbian couples or those with male fertility issues.

It is thought that a change in UK law in 2005, removing anonymity for sperm donors, is thought to have led to a drop in volunteers. The change in the rules in 2005 means children conceived using donor eggs or sperm will be able to trace their biological parent in the same way as children who are adopted. Those children will have no legal or financial claim against the donor parent. Equally donors do not have the right to trace their offspring.

I hope that men will not feel too discouraged by this. By donating they have the potential to do something truly wonderful for another couple. Equally I hope that men who are unable to naturally conceive do not feel threatened by the prospect of their sperm donor coming into their child’s life and making some parental claim over their child. They will be the father – legally and emotionally.

I suppose it depends on how one defines a father. In my opinion the ability to provide sperm is not what makes a father, a father is infinitely more. I say this both based on the wonderful father I have, but mostly from watching my incredible husband father our son. Being a father is about love, commitment and devotion. It’s about feeding at 3am, wiping away tears, laughing and giggling, wiping bottoms, singing at bath time, early morning cuddles and so so much more.

McPregnant

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Another week and another celebrity couple to reveal that they have undergone IVF. McBusted star Harry Judd and his wife Izzy have publicised that the baby they are expecting in January is the result of IVF. Talking of their struggle to conceive and the heartache of a miscarriage from their first attempt at IVF last year they explained…

“You feel like you are never going to be the ones who get to say, ‘We are having a baby’. That is why we feel so blessed now,” 

“In an ideal world when you’re ready to start a family you hope you will conceive in the first few months of trying,” says Harry. “We were like, no, no we won’t need IVF, it won’t be us. IVF was like something you didn’t talk about. We thought it would be fine.”

“Every baby is a miracle but we do feel so very lucky,” says Izzy, 31, who was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries in her twenties.

“I never wanted to stop believing that we would have a family,” says Izzy. “But you do feel like someone has pressed pause on your life and you can’t go anywhere.”

The couple lost count of the number of times people asked them if they wanted to have a family. “This was always so impossible to answer and felt like my heart was breaking every time,” says Izzy

If you are struggling to conceive this must echo how you feel, and if you are going through IVF at the moment I hope you are as successful as they have been.

Humans Of New York

If you don’t follow Humans of New York on social media then you should. The blog which has over ten million followers provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers on the streets of New York City. The photos and captions are personal, emotive and very moving. Currently the photographer has gone ‘on tour’ and has left the US to capture images from the streets of Iran. This one caught my attention.

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“It took us ten years, countless doctor appointments, and three miscarriages to have her. So we never feel bothered by her cries.”

(Namakabroud, Iran)

Isn’t it amazing to think that all over the world people are going through fertility struggles and are being blessed with the miracle of a baby. If I was to pass this couple in the street I would have no idea how much we have in common.

Does having an IVF baby change your parenting?

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For most of my adult life I was a laid back, stress-free kind of person. Honest! So it is quite bizarre to me that as a mother I am more of a worrier than I ever could have imagined.

My pregnancy neurosis (following our previous pregnancy loss) evolved into a less stressful but equally real anxiety surrounding the well-being of our little boy. Now admittedly that is largely down to the fact that my son is a terrible feeder who would happily exist solely on air! Perhaps if he had a greater appetite I would stress less. However it doesn’t take a genius to realise that given our history and the fact that my son is the product of IVF, I view him as even more miraculous and special than perhaps I otherwise would. I wonder how many other women feel that their parenting is influenced by their route to motherhood. Do the challenges faced in conception impact on the way we view our IVF babies?

Most couples with an infertility problem wait for a long time and undergo lengthy procedures before they finally get their much-desired baby. In recent years, several studies have been published comparing the parent–child relationship and the child’s psychosocial development in families with children conceived by IVF and families with naturally conceived children. The results are not conclusive, and most of the measures in the studies revealed no significant differences in the quality of the parent–child relationship between IVF families and families with naturally conceived children. However in my experience I certainly feel both that little bit more blessed and scared that I have my gorgeous baby.

Unless the IVF has nothing to do with it. My dad is totally neurotic and over-protective so I could just take after him!

Mothers Over 40

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The debate surrounding the fertility of older mothers has raged on in recent weeks. Enough now, we get it! Yes, delaying motherhood can be catastrophic as fertility plummets after 39. However as Robert Winston, the IVF pioneer and broadcaster, pointed out at The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology’s annual conference in Lisbon, there are also benefits of delaying having a baby. Lord Winston said older mothers, who have had time to gain skills and education, as well as build strong relationships, can provide children with a more stable upbringing. So concerned are we to point out the negatives that we fail to notice that there are also positives to being a more mature mother. Women of 40 and upwards have a plethora of reasons for delaying motherhood. Whether it is due to demanding careers, further education, financial circumstances or relationship stability, some women have been in the position to have children earlier. Berating them is not constructive. The press has ensured women are aware of the facts so instead of fear-mongering maybe it is now time to support and learn from women who have left motherhood till later in life.

No Laughing Matter

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Last week I happened to catch an interview on This Morning with TV presenter Julia Bradbury. She talked about her grueling IVF experience which happily resulted in the birth of her twins. She discussed the disappointment and failures she experienced during the five cycles she undertook and the added obstacle of her age (44).

Most fascinating was her reference to an Israeli study about the importance of remaining positive during embryo transfer. The research found that women who were made to laugh during IVF by bringing clowns into the surgery were statistically more likely to conceive than those who weren’t entertained.

This is not the first I have heard of this. My husband excitedly regaled this to me following our embryo transfer, during which, for reasons unknown to me, I got the giggles. Proper tear inducing giggles. I was laughing so much my husband had to turn away from me in an effort to stop the laughter. Perhaps it was nerves, or embarrassment at having my legs wide open, but that laughter clearly didn’t hurt as the outcome was a positive pregnancy. So have some jokes at the ready!