Tag: TTC

Life at the 6 month point

I will start off by apologising for not being better at keeping up with everyone’s blogs.  I’ve been trying to keep track of where everyone is at and what’s going on, but I’m finding it harder to read every single post.  Pre-baby I would often read the blogs on my long commute home, but (thankfully) I’m not having to do that at the moment.

So as an update, things are going really well for me and Baby Flat, who just celebrated his 6 month birthday.  He is a cheeky little boy and we all absolutely adore him.  Unlike his grumpy mother, he’s a smily happy little boy who seems almost permanently chilled out.

I absolutely love motherhood and never stop feeling grateful that I’m getting to experience this. Even at its hardest (and yes, however grateful I am, I don’t have a grin on my face during the 2am feeds!), it’s still a million times easier than dealing with fertility problems and the fear that we would never become parents.  I often find it quite hard to relate to all the other NCT mums who never stop complaining about every minor problem.  I feel like I don’t really fit in, as I don’t particularly find motherhood hard (or more specifically, I don’t sweat the tiny inconveniences of parenthood) and so I have no desire to complain about any of it and equally I don’t want to be flaunting everything on social media under the #maternityleave and #mummylife hashtags, as if I always had some automatic right to those things.

I also find it hard that the NCT girls are all talking about their second children and what age gap they want.  It makes me want to scream.  With the exception of one girl (who is generally a lovely person and who had a miscarriage with her first pregnancy so gets that things aren’t always straightforward), they are all so confident that it will happen when they want it to.  They’re planning to time things to coincide with school holidays and pay rises and one has even said the only reason she’s not trying anytime soon is because she wants to drink next Christmas and so they’ve “decided to conceive” in January instead.

As it happens, BT and I have started trying for a second baby.  We thought long and hard about whether to leave it until Baby Flat was 12 months old, to allow me longer to recover from the horrific c section.  Our hearts were saying to try fairly quickly after Baby Flat was born while our heads were saying to wait a year.  In the end, after researching the potential risks of having a second baby quickly after Baby Flat, we decided to crack on because:

  1. the danger to mother and child doesn’t dramatically decrease after 12 months.  Although the risk is less when conception happens 12 months after the c section than 6 months after, there isn’t a huge difference (especially if you don’t attempt a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean));
  2. we struggled first time around and it took several years before we successfully conceived.  Since then, we are (almost) two years older, I had a c section which considerably damaged my uterus, I have mostly been breastfeeding Baby Flat…in all honesty, what are the chances we’ll now suddenly have a quick conception?! (yes, I know I know…so many stories about the couple who thought they couldn’t have kids then went on to have 10…blah blah blah);
  3. even if we do successfully conceive, that doesn’t necessarily mean we will have a successful pregnancy and birth.  We were incredibly lucky with Baby Flat (apart from the horror of the delivery and what could have been), but so many people aren’t that lucky and I don’t think it’s right to assume that getting a BFP would be the only hurdle!; and
  4. if we are unable to have a second child, we would always wonder whether we could have conceived in the 6-12 months after Baby Flat was born.  At least this way we can’t have any regrets about “leaving things too late”.

It’s a funny old position TTC#2.  In a way there’s none of the magic and excitement of the first few months of TTC#1, because neither of us really believe it will happen quickly.  We also know exactly where I am in my cycle, when to time DTD, how often we should DTD, that I have poor eggs, that BT has poor sperm and that I have a short luteal phase…basically all the things we learned over several years of TTC#1!!

In a way if feels like we’re picking up where we left off just over a year ago.

But then it’s also so very different.  There’s no symptom spotting or rearranging schedules to make sure we can DTD around ovulation or disappointment when my period comes.  There just isn’t any of the anxiety and fear and heartbreak.  I imagine that in two or three years, if things haven’t happened, we will feel quite down.  But I can’t imagine it will ever come close to what we felt before.  Yes, we will always be a little bit sad if we can’t give Baby Flat a sibling.  But that’s all it will be: a little bit sad.  I just don’t see how it can compare to the fear we had before, or what so many of our friends who are struggling with primary infertility are going through.

First time around I got a lot of support from some friends I met on Mumsnet, who I am still friends with today.  This time there just isn’t really anywhere to go to chat.  As I found when TTC#1, most people want a baby and then it seems to just happen straight away.  Any threads about having a baby stop before they have even started, because everyone falls pregnant straight away.  Then there are also plenty of threads about secondary infertility, but these also aren’t appropriate.  Firstly, we’re not even at that stage yet.  Secondly, I just can’t stomach the chat about how “this is so hard for [us] because [we] conceived DC1/DC2 straight away, so this waiting is total hell”.  I mean, really? I am so sorry that you conceived your previous children so easily. (To have a total vent, I even saw one person who already has EIGHT children between her and her new partner and was complaining that they couldn’t have a baby together!).

So as well as looking after Baby Flat and TTC#2, I have also been job hunting and slowly getting back into exercise.  I’m completely undecided about what to do job-wise: if I leave now I have to pay back all my enhanced maternity pay, which isn’t a life-changing amount but would be a struggle to find.  Also I really don’t want to give them anything after the way they treated me (and will continue to treat me if I return).  That said, I can’t put a price on my health and to never have to see those idiots again and another job may also allow me to spend more time with Baby Flat.

As for exercise, I now feel mostly ok after the c section, although the bottom half of my tummy is still completely numb and I sometimes feel like I’m ‘ripping’ when I move.  I am trying to do a little bit of gentle exercise when I can.  It is a huge challenge and I am certainly not ‘bouncing back’ from pregnancy! The weight is still lingering (I’ve lost 2 and a half stone and have at least another 2 to go) and all my joints ache and my muscles don’t work.  It’s tough, but I am trying! Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that…

To try to motivate me and spur me on I have signed up to run the Great North Run this September.  This is the biggest half marathon in the world and is usually a load of fun.  I’m incredibly nervous this year though, so it really will be a huge challenge. I’ve decided to run for Tommy’s, which is a UK charity which (amongst other things) funds research into the causes and prevention of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth.  So many of my friends, both in real life and on blogs, have suffered miscarriage and stillbirth.  Close members of my family have also had repeated miscarriages and BT’s cousin had a stillbirth only a few months before Baby Flat arrived.  It’s just unbearable and I don’t understand why something that is so common, yet which causes so much heartache and distress, isn’t talked about and researched more.

So this is where I am at! Feeling very happy and content and lucky.  I probably won’t update an awful lot from now on, as there isn’t much to say that hasn’t been plastered over every single ‘mummy blog’ out there, but I will keep trying to read your blogs and comment when I can (apologies if this ends up being three months after you post!!).

x x x

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An interesting development…

Ermmm.  I don’t know how to say this…and I don’t quite dare actually say it aloud…but I may be pregnant.

I can’t believe I am even writing this.  I had given up all hope of ever being able to say this.

Last Sunday (Valentine’s Day) my BIL and SIL brought their newborn over.  It was the first time I had met my niece and while I was really excited, I was also really nervous that I would get upset or be awkward or do something to ruin the moment.  I knew they would understand, as they had years of infertility and miscarriages so they get it, but I’ve been trying hard to “get a grip”.  I had a nice long chat with my SIL, who asked how I was feeling and whether I felt better for pursuing IVF abroad.  I said that, to be honest, I was just sick to death of it all and could no longer visualise our “happy ending”.

Anyway, we had a nice afternoon and I managed to avoid having a meltdown! Yay – go me!

They left early evening and BT and I settled down to enjoy Valentine’s Day together.  For us that meant sitting on the sofa, in our PJs watching a film (to my tired mind, that is bliss!).  We haven’t been out in a long time, as we’re saving for IVF and our next holiday, so we try and do fun free things!

Also, I had been feeling a bit off for the past few days (you know where this is going…).  It was nothing major, but I had had a bit of an upset stomach for a few days and wasn’t feeling particularly sprightly.

I didn’t really pay much attention to the stomach issues.  It had been quite a stressful week as I had returned to work following our holiday and had been totally bombed with work.  On top of that, my dog (technically the family dog – he lives with my parents) had been really poorly.  The day before I returned to work (coincidentally my birthday) we had a call from the kennels where he was staying for four days while my parents were away.  They said that he had been sick and that there was blood in his sick.  Naturally we rushed straight over to pick him up and take him to the vets.  To cut a long, horrible story short, he is extremely poorly (he has a large tumour in his tummy) and the vet said that it ultimately isn’t good news.  She gave him some steroids and other medication which temporarily alleviated his sickness, but ultimately he is really not very well.  He seemed so sad and it seemed cruel to send him back to the kennels even though he usually to LOVES going there because he gets lots of walks and attention! Poor old waggy tail!

Naturally I played the birthday card and gave BT my best puppy-dog-eyes and convinced him that he should come and stay with us for the following few days (a decision I don’t regret for a second, even though he did have four bouts of explosive diarrhoea on one day alone…all over the kitchen floor in our brand new house!!!).

So, as I mentioned, I had had a stomach upset for a few days.  This is nothing unusual for me.  I have had bad stomach issues for years and have had two operations (one of the many down-sides of having an eating disorder for many years. Well played FlatWhite).  I didn’t really think anything of it, but for the few fleeting moments I thought it could be a sign, I instantly ruled it out as:

  1. my cr*p bowels;
  2. having caught something on holiday;
  3. the stress of work;
  4. the stress of seeing poor waggy tail so depressed and suffering;
  5. having caught something while cleaning up copious amounts of dog sh*t (I know, I know); and
  6. a sign of the imminent arrival of The Bitch.

I had a brief moment, while watching the film (funnily enough “Miss You Already”, which touches upon infertility.  Obsessed? Me?) where I thought “I’m CD28 and I haven’t had any spot or smear…that’s a day late for me”.  I instantly shut the crazy up though, as I have had plenty of 28/29 day cycles and have even had times when my period came a week or so late (total heartbreak).

As I knew I would start to obsess from this point, I made a mental note to pack a pregnancy test in my overnight bag (I was staying near work the following night as it was going to be a late one) and do a test on the Tuesday morning if my period still hadn’t come.  When the film finished, I popped upstairs to pack my bag and get my stuff ready for the next day and night.  I grabbed the test and then I don’t know what came over me, I just thought “May as well rule it out so I can get some sleep and don’t start obsessing”.  So just like that, I went and did the test…wandered off to go and pack my bag…la la la “oh sh*t…better go and bin that test rather than leave it on the side to depress BT…oh, it has two lines…is that what happens when it’s faulty? I’ve not seen that before. Wait…doesn’t that mean??? No it CAN’T…don’t be daft…you will have done it wrong or something is up with the test…go check the ‘use-by date’…hmmm…still in date…should I tell BT or just bin it and try again in the morning/Tuesday morning?!”.

I stood for about 5 minutes staring at it, completely shaking.  I took it downstairs to show BT (“Erm…happy Valentine’s Day…I know we said we wouldn’t get each other anything, but I thought you might like this?”) and he also could not believe it.  We decided to go up and do a few more tests to make sure.  After an anxious few minutes they both came back as positive!  OH MY GOD.

IMG_2504

So here I am.  Officially 4+6 and absolutely terrified.  I am so scared that it will turn out to be a blighted ovum, or an ectopic or I’ll miscarry in some other way.  I just don’t dare let myself hope that this can work out.  We both want this more than anything and have tried so long to make it happen.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LET THIS WORK OUT.

Holiday Time! (well, nearly…)

I am SO EXCITED! Only a few more days and then we’ll be jetting off on holiday to the Caribbean.

This holiday really couldn’t come at a better time.  2015 was a year of total hell and there were times I really couldn’t face even getting out of bed, or putting make up on or going to work (for the record I always managed to do two out of three of those things.  Who needs make-up anyway when you haven’t slept for days and have an acne breakout?!).  Infertility is an absolute b*tch.

But in 2016 I am trying to be a bit more positive.  Ok, maybe not “more positive”.  In some ways it would be helpful to lose all hope and positivity and to give up on the idea of having a family! More accurately, I’m trying to have other things in my life besides infertility and am trying to have little things to look forward to and to keep me going.  It’s definitely not easy, and unfortunately a lot of the things which make me happy are very expensive (i.e. holidays, holidays and more holidays!).

So here we are.  A few days away from going to this place:

I honestly can’t wait.  It will be so nice to switch off from the world and just bury myself in a load of books for 10 days.  Ok, so a lot of those books may be about fertility, but it’s still nicer reader them by the pool than googling “chances of getting pregnant if no BFP in two years” at 4am!

Although he is also very excited about this holiday, BT disagrees with spending money on nice holidays and any luxuries right now.  To clarify these “luxuries” don’t just include holidays and other fun-but-essentially-expensive-and-pointless things I like to do from time to time (e.g. getting my nails done, having my hair cut and dyed etc) but also things like, you know, having a working car or occasionally buying a new work dress as my current (very limited) collection’s falling to pieces, or buying a new pair of jeans because my current ones (which are older than our relationship) have holes in them!!! BT thinks we should be saving everything for IVF cycles.  (We also have a very expensive mortgage, but I’ll ignore that one for the moment…)

On the whole, I completely agree with BT.  I want a baby (or child) more than almost anything on the planet and agree we should be making sacrifices so that we can afford private treatment sooner rather than later.  But we have already cut out quite a lot.  We rarely go out to restaurants/the cinema/concerts/shows, neither of us have had a drink in 2016, I take packed-lunches to work rather than buying nice lunches etc.  There comes a point where we need to have a little fun or let our hair down or we will go mad!

Also my self-confidence is at an all time low and I need to be more pro-active in doing what I can to improve that.  I know throwing money at the problem wouldn’t really help (unless you’re talking plastic surgery, ha ha!), but it would be nice to buy a few treats to cheer myself up!

Firstly, I need to lose weight.  I am not medically overweight, but my BMI is in the top few lbs of the ‘healthy’ range (and for one day, I was actually in the ‘overweight’ section).  I know BMI is a pretty poor indicator of weight and health, but I still don’t really feel comfortable being at the top of the scale!

Secondly, I need to sort my skin out.  For the past 5 years or so it has suddenly gotten really bad.  I saw a doctor a few years ago who said it was hormonal and put me on some tablets which temporarily sorted it out, but then you HAVE to be off those tablets if you’re TTC as they’re potentially damaging to babies.  I know there are certain things I could be doing better (much less sugar, getting outdoors more), and certain things I should be doing but that are out of my control (more sleep and less stress!), but even when I’m having “good” times in this regard my skin is still pretty bloody awful.  I also ALWAYS look exhausted.  I don’t know whether treatments such as laser treatment would do any good, or whether they’re a load of expensive bullsh*t, but ultimately we don’t have the money to afford it any time soon, so there’s no reason I should really thoroughly look into it.

Thirdly, I look like a total tramp.  My clothes are all old and baggy (deliberately baggy: clingy clothes on my thighs, arse and belly = URGHHHH) and I cannot remember the last time someone complimented me on my appearance (I don’t mean in a “OMG you’re gorgeous” way, but it would be nice if someone other than BT told me once in a while that they liked my dress/hair/make-up or that I looked vaguely ok!).

So yes, I need to sort it out.  I’m sick of feeling self-conscious when I go out in public or not meeting up with old friends because I’m scared they’ll judge me for the weight I’ve put on.  (As an aside, I hate that about society.  I hate it when I hear people say things like “Have you seen how much weight x has put on?” or something similar.  You never know what someone else is currently going through.  Also, what is it to you? If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all!).

So I’m feeling a little bit low pre-holiday and don’t really feel like hanging around in a bikini or even a swimming costume.  I know it is 100% my own fault, but when I started gaining weight I though “F*ck it, I’ll be pregnant soon so I’ll just lose all the weight when the baby’s born”.  Then when that clearly wasn’t going to happen I thought “F*ck it, I’ll gain a load of weight when we do IVF so what’s the point in losing it now”.  But the fact of the matter is these are just excuses.  Society loves the whole “I’m proud of my body and my ‘mum-tum’ because it gave birth to [insert number] of children”, but what excuses do people understand for those of us who are struggling with infertility? People don’t understand the whole “My period has come once again so my plans for the next week involve staying in my pyjamas and eating family sized bars of chocolate for a week”.

So anyway, in an effort to feel a bit better this week, my plan for today is to:

  • do some work so I’m not working until 2am every night in the run up to going away;
  • drinks lots of water and eat lots of veg;
  • eat some “good” protein (yuck);
  • go for a run;
  • wash my hair and do a face mask;
  • floss my teeth; and
  • paint my nails with some old cheap nail polish!

All in all that shouldn’t cost more than £5 or so.  Bargain!

A date with the dildo-cam

So far 2016 has been going well.  Certainly better than 2015 started!

A few weekends ago we enjoyed a quick break at a country house hotel with a lovely spa.  It was so nice just to get away from it all and be in a relaxing environment and just unwind.  We both enjoyed spending a lazy day by the pool and I enjoyed the chance to lie down somewhere warm and read.  Admittedly, it was a book about IVF and infertility, but it was still a fun, relaxing experience!

We had actually been to this hotel before and had fallen in love with it.  Firstly, it is in an amazing location, being in the middle of the countryside and also right by the sea.  Secondly, the hotel itself and its grounds are BEAUTIFUL.  Thirdly, and most importantly, it has a dog spa.  No, I am not kidding.  An actual dog spa!

Sadly we couldn’t take our dog (Dog) this time as he is very old and very poorly, but the first time we went we took him and let him go to the dog spa (we’re not weirdos; he begged us!).  Ok, so I’d never lose the plot quite so far as to let him actually have a ‘doggy manicure’ or have him ‘perfumed’, but for a few years he has really struggled with poor skin and sometimes his hair can get a little ‘manky’.  I absolutely hate the thought of him being uncomfortable, so we paid for him to have a proper wash by someone who was trained and knew what they were doing, not just me trying to wash him in the bath!  Anyway, he absolutely loved the attention and came back the happiest dog I had ever seen!! I really hope that we can take Dog back there some time, as it was lovely to see him so excited.

We had a brilliant time this time at the hotel, although we did have one domestic about IVF and adoption (I’ll save that one for another time…).

The highlight of the trip was definitely the massages we had just before we left.  It was the best massage I’ve ever had and was so good for helping me calm down and switch off! While the ocean-themed music was playing I even started having thoughts about whether I could re-train as a masseuse (although those thoughts faded as soon as we drove away from the hotel!).  Unfortunately it seems that infertility has also tainted my massage experience.  Now, every time the girl says “Take off your clothes Flatwhite, lie down on this bed and pop this towel over you” I feel as though I’m about to have another gynaecological examination… ho hum.

Anyway, it was a great way to end 2015 and start 2016.  Here are a few photos I stole from the interweb:

Back in the real world, I have been working hard.  I’m just plodding on for now as I can’t decide what, if anything, I should do to change my career.  It’s so hard to plan a potential career change if it looks like we’re about to have to spend thousands and thousands of pounds on IVF cycles.  I’m probably better of staying where I am and saving as much money as I can (BORING).

In IVF news, we’ve had the brakes put on somewhat.  To cut a very long story short, in the UK you pay fairly high rates of tax and some of that tax goes towards paying for the National Health Service (NHS).  The NHS then provides a ‘free’ health service for people in the UK.  Theoretically, if there is something medically wrong with you, you should then be treated for free (except through the taxes you pay (although even people who don’t have jobs or pay taxes are treated) and the price of prescriptions etc).  Unfortunately as resources are scarce, there is not enough money to go round and pay for everything.  A lot of decision making is therefore delegated to individual clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) who decide what they will fund and what they won’t fund for the local area.  It has been controversial over the years, as a ‘postcode lottery’ occurs and people have been denied drugs which may help them with cancer or other serious illnesses, yet people who live a few miles down the road are allowed such drugs.  For IVF, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that each CCG should provide at least three NHS-funded cycles of IVF to patients who meet the relevant criteria (loosely based on age and weight cut offs, the length of time you have been TTC and the requirement that neither of you already have children).  Unfortunately very few CCGs offer three IVF cycles and some don’t even offer a single cycle!

It’s complicated for us because:

  • entitlement to funding is based upon where the female is registered with her GP;
  • I am registered in a place where I would only get 1 NHS-funded IVF cycle but I should be allowed to start that cycle in the next few months.  I am only registered there because it is near to where I work half the week.  We do not live anywhere near this GP or CCG and I would want to have IVF in a different CCG nearer to where we live;
  • BT is registered in an area where we would get 3 NHS-funded cycles.  We used to live in this area until a month ago and BT has worked there for many years and I work there the other half of the week.  Unfortunately the GP receptionists are being total dickheads and are refusing to let me register here even though they originally said I could, TWO doctors told us we could, we paid taxes there for many years, I work there several times a week and BT works between 55 – 100 hours every week saving lives IN THE LOCAL NHS HOSPITAL;
  • we have just moved to an area where I could definitely register as a patient and we would get 2 NHS-funded IVF cycles.  Unfortunately, as we are new to this area (although I did previously live here for 25 years of my life!) we would need to be registered for at least a year before they would allow us to have any NHS-funded IVF cycles.

I am so exhausted by it all.  It was such a nightmare FINALLY being allowed to have the basic tests, then the referral to the Fertility Clinic (which was lost several times!), then getting the consultation, then being told that we’ll probably need IVF in order to conceive.  Once we had that consultation and had the date for the first blood tests (AMH, HIV and other screening tests) in the diary, it looked as though we would be starting IVF before Easter.  This was amazing news!

Instead, because of the problems with registering with a GP, we’ve been told by the clinic that the IVF will have to be put on hold until the issues are resolved.  They were good in that they agreed to do the initial screening tests and internal scan (more on that below) rather than sending us away, but unfortunately they can’t take things any further yet.  They were obviously annoyed by the GP surgery as well, but unfortunately in life it seems like control over the most important things is given to the people who have the least intelligence.  With medical secretaries you can actually often tell that they are enjoying telling you that you can’t do something and getting some power over you.  It’s disgusting.

Anyway, BT and I went in for our blood tests yesterday.  I also had a hot date with the dildo-cam.  I think the worst part is that they put a condom on it! I mean…I get it…obviously…but WHAT THE FUCK?! She didn’t even have the decency to lube up 😉 Ouch!

It turns out that I’ve got a cyst on one of my ovaries.  I don’t know much about this yet, and she said not to worry, but I have to go back into a few weeks for another scan to see what’s happening.  At least things are still happening.

Anyway, that’s where we’re at.  Back to exactly the same place we were before.  I really hope things start progressing soon.