Art from the Heart


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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.

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!

Three Visits

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We have just returned from our first family holiday to Israel. As we walked down the beach with our baby in his pram I couldn’t help thinking back to the last two visits I made to Israel.

The previous one was in October, I was 20 weeks pregnant and while I was incredibly grateful to be pregnant I was also extremely anxious about the outcome of my pregnancy. As I looked out across the sea I thought to myself ‘I hope I have a baby on my next visit’.

The trip prior to that was last March two weeks after the loss of our baby and it was a bleak and miserable time. I was unsure what the future held, when I may be pregnant again and how I would cope with the heartbreaking loss.

What struck me was how different life was on each of the three visits and how quickly and dramatically things can change. You may feel like things are not progressing on your journey to parenthood, or you may have had a loss that seems crippling. This time next year things may be very different.

MIA

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I realise I appear to have gone missing in action but rest assured I will be back soon! Having a newborn and a blog do not seem to be compatible. However when I figure out what the hell I am doing with this tiny person I will be returning. I really enjoy writing my blog and connecting with all of you who, like me, are battling infertility or rebuilding themselves after pregnancy loss. Until then, good luck to you all, D x

Countdown

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Time seems to be moving at a painfully slow pace. I have an app on my phone that displays a daily count down. Today it reminds me that there are 18 days to go – under 3 weeks. As if I need reminding. I am a professional day/week counter now. 18 days may seem like a remarkably small amount of time but I am a phenomenally impatient person. Waiting for the IVF to begin was torture. Waiting for the anomaly scan was pure hell. So you would think this should be a doddle!

I am well aware that we are on the home stretch. The finish line lies ahead. But my apprehension and desperation to get this baby out safely is astonishing. I have a horrid feeling that the baby will be later than my due date and then I will be climbing the walls!

Those with children remind me to enjoy the calm before the storm. To rest and relax. But I don’t want to, I want my baby here safe and sound so that the pregnancy anxiety is over! We are so close now. But a niggling fear that we could still lose the baby prevents me from the excitement and relaxation I should be experiencing. Come on time!!

Yikes

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It’s all a bit mad. The wallpaper is up. The baby stuff has arrived. The antenatal class has been done. Now we wait, hope and pray we are blessed with a baby.

On Sunday we attended an antenatal class at the hospital where we received lots of useful information to help us prepare for the labour and the first few days of the baby’s life. My husband went a little white when shown some of the images of placentas. Most notably, the midwife said that since this is not my first labour it should be quicker. Second and subsequent labours tend to be much quicker because the cervix tends to dilate more quickly than it did the first time. She also believes that it is typical that first babies arrive late, but that since this is my second it is more likely to be on time or early. Hopefully this little one will come soon! Not this weekend though, as my husband is on a stag weekend (eek!). Furthermore the fact that this labour is only one year since the previous one should mean that my body remembers how to prepare for labour. Silver lining I guess.

Unlike most I am actually excited about the labour. When it finally happens I am sure I will be a little anxious but I don’t feel scared. It cannot be worse than last time. Maybe I used up all my anxiety during pregnancy so none is left for labour! I don’t want to sound ungrateful to anyone desperate to be pregnant but given what has happened I am ready for pregnancy to end and motherhood to begin. Until then I won’t feel like we are out of the danger zone.

Mind Reader

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Wow she took the words right out of my mouth! After enduring the heartbreak of three miscarriages Emmerdale’s Adele Silva is finally looking ahead to the birth of her first child, despite her past traumas having made her cautious. Like me she is less than six weeks away from welcoming her first child and like me she has found that suffering previous baby losses, three consecutive miscarriages in her case, has stifled the potential joy that comes with making last minute preparations for the new arrival.

Here are some of her feelings which she shared in an interview with Lorraine Kelly.

‘As soon as I got pregnant again I had this massive plan of action on what action to take, stages to go through and so on, so each stage has kind of been bittersweet because although you’re like “brilliant I’ve got to this point” or “brilliant I’ve got to that point” you’re still not completely out of the danger zone.’

Work Wind Down

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This is my last week of work before my maternity leave commences. I can’t really believe it has come around, but then again I can’t believe that any of this is real. So while I am excited to have some feet up time, as my teaching job is fairly active, it feels very bizarre. During my last pregnancy I got so ahead of myself thinking of maternity leave, the birth, the nursery and life with the baby. This time I am never thinking more than a week ahead as I don’t want to take anything for granted. That is why people who ask me about events that are more than a week or so ahead get met with a slightly panicked expression or a total dismissal. Family and social events in the future are so abstract that I can’t even imagine them. Thinking that far ahead makes me extremely anxious and it brings up all my fears that the happy ending we are desperate for will be cruelly snatched away once again. So for now I can’t commit to  anything beyond the imminent future. It’s just too damn scary.

Work has provided me with sanity and a much needed distraction from the consuming nervousness which may have prevailed. Let’s hope that the final work free weeks are not too slow or anxiety ridden. Who am I kidding? I fully expect a few freak outs!

Scans Glorious Scans

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So I caved again. I decided that the wait for the final scan (scheduled for 37 weeks) was too far off and I needed some reassurance that the baby was well. So yet more money was spent on yet another neurotic moment. However, as I told my husband, surely my peace of mind is priceless. Aptly named the reassurance scan, it did just that. Thankfully all is well and my fear that the placenta had been failing or was detaching from my uterus lining were unfounded. The little one looked well, has hair and is in the head down position ready for action. Now I must just plough on through the remaining 6 weeks. Not long now…When will I actually believe that there might be a baby?