Big Fat…

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Negative. Sadly it wasn’t to be this time. We went back to the clinic after our two week wait and were given the bad news in the little room which has previously been the setting to our happy pregnancy news. I am really disappointed it hasn’t worked as after the whole ordeal of the pills, injections, scans, appointments, egg collection, embryo transfer and painful wait we are left with nothing. No frozen embryos and worst of all no pregnancy. It is very deflating. It feels like a waste of time, money and emotions. The real frustration is that it all came to an end before it ever really begun.

That being said if there ever was a time for it not to work then this was it. Before our son arrived we were so desperate for a baby that we would have been crushed by a negative result. This time we are disappointed but by no means heartbroken. We have a beautiful son to enjoy and we will try again in a few months. We knew it was going to be a long bumpy road ahead and we are pleased we have begun the process now rather look back with regret that we left it too long to start the journey.

It’ll take more than that to knock us down. Project Baby Number 2 continues…

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Brain Overload

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So much has been going on. Gahhhhh. Our embryo was transferred on Saturday. It was an uncomfortable but bearable procedure. But now my mind is swirling with possibilities, daydreams, hopes, fears… the works!

The good news was that the embryo was really good quality and received a high grading. It was already starting to hatch and the embryologist was very pleased with it. However that doesn’t mean it will work so isn’t particularly reassuring. The bad news is that none of the other embryos were worth freezing which means this is our only shot from this cycle. I’m really disappointed about this as I had hoped we would have a few to freeze so that we had a few chances. Now the pressure is really on. It had all been so promising when we collected 18 eggs but turns out this cycle wasn’t wasn’t very successful.

I keep having to stop myself from thinking about the outcome. Could I be pregnant? After the previous two embryo transfers I remember being certain that I wasn’t pregnant. I felt totally normal. I don’t know what will happen and I will have to wait another week until we return to the clinic to find out the outcome. All I know is that if this doesn’t work I will be gutted. I would absolutely love to have another little one. But at least I am fortunate to have a beautiful baby already. His lovely face will cheer me up and make me feel incredibly blessed if things don’t go how I hope.

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.

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.

23 Is A Magic Number

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Uh oh! I want a big family but it appears it could be too late for me. According to experts, women who want to have a big family should start trying for a baby by the age of 23. At 23 I was in no position to have a baby. I hadn’t established a career and was living at home without financial independence. Plus my now husband, then boyfriend would have run a mile!

The advice comes from scientists who crunched together fertility data on more than 58,000 women to create an at-a-glance calculator. It tells a woman the best age to start a family. It has even been suggested that the table be shown to sixth formers and university students to underline the risks of delaying motherhood. The advice comes as growing numbers of British women delay motherhood until they establish their career, become financially stable or find ‘Mr Right’. Around half of all babies are now born to women aged 30 and older, and the number of children born to women aged 40-plus has trebled in the last 20 years

To use the fertility calculator, a woman decides how many children she wants and whether she is going to try to conceive naturally or with IVF. A woman who wants two children should start by 27, to have the best chance of success, while 32 is advised for those who would be happy with just one baby.

Importantly, IVF offers little guarantee. It shows that IVF generally only gives a woman an extra year or two.

However the study, which promotes early motherhood, acknowledges that women who have children in their 20s are more likely to achieve their desired family size but can also expect lower lifetime earnings than women who start later. Therefore it suggests that society must ensure women aren’t disadvantaged at work and sort the lack of childcare facilities so young people to establish their careers and families at the same time.

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.

Happy Gay Pride

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This weekend the streets of London were filled with fun and excitement as Gay Pride was held in the capital. I realised that I am yet to post a single post that acknowledges that gay couples also struggle to create their families. They undergo IVF to conceive and have for decades. So how does it work?

  • Lesbian couples often “share” the cycle. One partner undergoes stimulation of the ovaries and egg retrieval and the other carries the pregnancy. It is also possible for lesbian couples to undergo simultaneous embryo transfers and carry concurrently with the same due date. Subsequent pregnancies using frozen embryos can be carried by either woman.
  • Gay men need the help of either one or two women to complete an IVF cycle. The same woman may be the egg donor and the surrogate carrier, or different women may fulfill each role.
  • There are currently no procedures that permit a same-sex couple to conceive in a way that combines their own genes. The closest approximation is when a lesbian couple uses a brother’s sperm for insemination of his sister’s partner’s/wife’s eggs or when two men use a sister’s eggs, fertilized by her brother’s partner’s / husband’s sperm in a surrogacy cycle. This is also done by heterosexual couples in IVF who need donor eggs or sperm.

Ugh IVF is both a stressful ordeal and an absolute miracle. If you are going through IVF at the moment, whether you are straight or gay, good luck!

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!