Glad to see the back of June!

I know I haven’t updated my blog for a while and this is because it’s been one hell of a month – and when I say hell I mean it!  After finding out we were expecting twins we excitedly told the grandparents to be and starting thinking about what our life would be like with our instant family.

And then we were hit by some worrying news, my mother in law (MIL) who has been battling ovarian cancer for three years and was on her third round of chemo was so ill she was admitted to hospital.  She was admitted just before a bank holiday weekend and so we were not able to see a consultant for 5 days.  All the while she was telling me she was going to hang around until at December to see the twins – she wasn’t going to miss that for anything.  Sadly though when we got round to speaking to the consultant we discovered that the cancer had spread and there was nothing more they could really do, apart from make her comfortable.  They weren’t able to give us timeframes, but told us it wouldn’t be long.

While she was in hospital we had another scan – we showed that both twins were doing well, had grown a lot and both had good heartbeats (we were about 8 to 9 weeks along). We went straight from the scan to see my MIL who was so happy to know they were both doing well.  We had a picture which we also let her look after.  She had also requested some champagne – and even though she was technically nil by mouth we accommodated her request.  So we celebrated our news as a family.  Over the space of the next week, she became gradually weaker and died while sleeping on 4th June.  I know a lot of people have MILs who drive them crazy, but I can truly say mine was wonderful and I was so lucky to have her in my life.  I will miss her greatly and felt so sad that she would never get see our twins.

Following her funeral we have started to get back to normal.  I had my first midwife appointment and got things arranged for next scan.  She dated me a little further along than I was expected, so it wasn’t too long before the 12 week scan appointment arrived.  Things had been going so well in my mind, I was constantly hungry, tired and my work trousers and jeans had become so tight, I’d already had to invest in some maternity wear.

So the day of our appointment arrived and it’s fair to say we were both nervous and desperately anxious to know everything was OK.  I saw the first baby straight away, and it looked like it should at 12 weeks – I was re-assured.  But then I saw the second baby, it didn’t look much bigger than it had 4 weeks before and I knew, then I heard the devastating words “I’m not seeing the heartbeat for the second twin” from the sonographer.  Sadly it looks as though it’s heart had stopped about 3 weeks before, probably about the same time as my MIL passed away. Through our tears we tried to concentrate on watching our surviving twin on the scan as the sonographer showed us it’s stomach, spine, brain, legs and arms, everything perfectly normal.

After the scan we were taken to a private room and a doctor came in to see us.  She explained that they wouldn’t do anything about the twin which hadn’t survived, it would either be absorbed by me or it may be delivered when I give birth.  She explained that the surviving twin looked fine and exactly as they would want to see at this stage and this pregnancy should continue as normal.  She had read our notes and understood that we had been through IUI, so when I had a question about continuing to take progesterone she went and got our fertility consultant for us.   Who, as soon as she came into the room gave us both a big hug.  It was good to talk things through with her – although it all feels a bit of a blur now.  I had all my bloods taken, then we were given our bounty pack and told we could book our 20 week scan and leave.

So here I am two days later, thinking this world can’t possibly throw anything more at us and surely we’ve had our run of shit luck! I feel stupid for thinking everything was OK and having to buy maternity clothes already (although I’m still genuinely uncomfortable in my normal clothes!) I feel so desperately sad for the baby we’ve lost, but know that my MIL will be looking after him / her somewhere.  I have lost a pregnancy and have to force myself to remember I am still pregnant, but I am also now so worried about the surviving baby.  I feel guilty that it was something I did which caused this, even though people keep telling me it’s just nature’s way, and I don’t feel I can be happy and excited that we are still having a baby. Today I’ve phoned the midwife and booked an appointment for next week as I just need talk things through with someone as after the scan things were such a blur.

I know that I am still so incredibly lucky to be in the situation I am in and I am so grateful that IUI worked for us, but that doesn’t take away how sad and disappointed I feel at the moment.   And surely July can’t be any worse than June – here’s to next month and our gorgeous little bub growing stronger!! Image

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Double Trouble!!!

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We went for our 6 week scan on Monday and it’s fair to say we were both a little anxious.  What if they didn’t find anything? What if all those pregnancy tests were wrong?  What if there was something wrong and they couldn’t find the heartbeat?  Yep, we were pretty nervous!  I was expecting the scan to be an internal one, but the sonographer said she would do an external ultra sound first just to see if she could see anything.

She found the yolk sac straight away so we were immediately reassured that there was something there. The internal scan would provide much more detail. After a couple of seconds, the sonographer said ‘I thought as much, there are two’.  The sonographer had already spotted two yolk sacs with the ultra sound, but the internal confirmed this.

She found the first baby straight away and was able to show us the heartbeat which looked like just a very small flicker of white on the screen.  We were both so pleased, but all of a sudden both worried about finding the heartbeat on the second.  Our fears were both allayed when she found the heartbeat for the second baby which was again just a small white flicker on the screen.  I have to admit it was difficult to see through the tears.  They both measured 4mm, which dates my pregnancy at approximately 5 and a half weeks. Ecstatic doesn’t begin to describe how we both felt.  Our worst fears were dispelled and we are expecting twins!!  Sorry for the grainy picture – you can make out the two yolk sacs and then baby 1 is at the top of the right sac and baby 2 is hiding a little more at the top of the left.

A quick meeting with the consultant, who informed me that now heartbeats had been felt I could drop one of the cyclogest pessaries a day, this I am not comfortable doing and as it’s doing any harm taking two I’m going to carry on for a while longer, I want to do everything I can to make sure that our two tiny wee bubs become two strong healthy babies.  So she has kindly booked us in for a scan in another couple of weeks to check on progress.

The consultant also started talking what will be different about delivery with twins … this is a little too early for me to think about!  At the moment the idea of giving of birth is terrifying and to two!!

It has not taken long however for the anxiety to creep back in.  I am reassured by the consultant telling us that once a heartbeat has been detected the risk of miscarriage is lowered slightly. The problem is this, I thought I would do a bit of googling, you know ‘what to expect when you’re expecting twins’ that sort of thing, only to stumble across something called disappearing twin syndrome!! And on the NHS website of all places!!  Disappearing twin syndrome is where two babies and heartbeats are found at a six week scan, but by the time the 12 week scan comes around one has disappeared.  Well this is exactly what I didn’t need to read and has given me another reason to worry.  AND it’s another 2 week wait until my next scan!! It’s incredible how all of a sudden it feels likes time has come to a complete standstill!!  The 29th May feels likes a very long way away.

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Expecting the Unexpected!

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So here it is and what a shock it is!!  From my first full cycle of IUI I am pregnant!!!!  I have known this for 4 days now and it still feels so unreal, I just can’t believe it! 

The morning of doing the test was fairly confusing and not as definite as I would have liked things to be – I woke up very early and decided to test straight away.  I used a pretty cheap test and as I was doing it I was physically shaking and felt sick with nerves.  There were so many thoughts going through my mind and such a mixture of emotions all in a matter of a couple of minutes. 

So I took the test into hubby and we sat in bed looking at two lines – the control which was very clear and then the test which was faint in comparison.  Hubby’s view – it was negative, but I was thinking otherwise (when I have done tests before there has been nothing).  Then hubby read the instructions ‘the test line does not have to be the same colour as the control’ – so maybe I am pregnant.  Well it’s a good job I had a spare test and have a weak bladder so I could do another one!  This one was a different brand – and after a couple of minutes it was much clearer that it was positive.  At this point I have to admit I cried quite a bit!! Could I really be pregnant – this is so unexpected, had we really beaten the odds?

I suggested that I would like to do another test and one of the digital ones this time but we needed to go out and buy one so we went out for the day to a local food festival and to get more tests.  It was so weird to walk around the festival (which was full of families) thinking ‘am I really pregnant?’ I just felt like I was in this little bubble, but have to admit almost bursting into tears when I saw a Mum feeding her new baby.

As soon as we got home I tested again and this time it said ‘pregnant’ (I really needed to see those words) and that I am 2 – 3 weeks pregnant!!!!  Which would be exactly right as I had ovulated exactly 2 weeks before. 

I had to phone the hospital yesterday to let them know, and when I told them all I could hear was excited screams from both nurses which was lovely to hear.  They have booked me in for a scan for 2 weeks time – so I now have another two week wait.  They have told me this will be an internal scan, and they’ll be checking to see how many there are (!!!!) and we should be able to see the heartbeat by then.  This will now be another anxious wait as I am desperate for everything to go OK but I also know that’s very early days.  

 

 

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Half Way Through The Two Week Wait

As I had anticipated the monthly debate of ‘am I, aren’t I?’ is getting more than enough air time in my mind.  I am exactly half way though my two week wait and it’s turning out to be quite a head **** (insert expletive of your choice, my preference here is the one beginning with F).  I am so much more conscious of what’s going on in my body and desperately trying not to read anything in to … but this is impossible! The more I try to forget about it, the more I end up thinking about it. 

Yesterday for example, I was in a weird mood, got angry for no real reason and then 5 minutes later thought I was going to burst into tears, again for no real reason.  I have a couple of massive spots which feel like mini volcanos underneath my skin and I felt a few twinges in what I think is my uterus.  For the last couple of days I’ve been feeling a bit nauseous and have had a very healthy appetite.  So, the mini hopeful me which sits on my left shoulder tells me ‘maybe this worked and all these signs are good, maybe the twinges you felt were an embryo implanting itself into the lining of your uterus.’ Then the little realistic and slightly more pessimistic me which sits on my right shoulder says ‘don’t be such an idiot, you get these symptoms every month, they are pre-menstrual and you are only building yourself up for a big disappointment, you know the chances of success are low!’  And then the mini hopeful me (left shoulder) whispers ‘but maybe you are going to be one of those people that IUI works for and the nurse said it does happen for some people on their first go – that could be you’.  But of course, the realistic and pessimistic me has to have a view ‘you’re being an idiot – still! You don’t know anyone who has had successful IUI, you are only going to be disappointed.”

This debate will rage on and on over the next week and it’s all consuming and exhausting.  If the outcome is positive next week then I will obviously be over the moon and all of this will have been so worth it.  if it’s negative, then what I need to take from this from this a greater understanding of how my body and mind responds to it all.

I wish, just sometimes I could switch my mind off. 

 

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IUI and the 2 Week Wait

It’s been 5 days since I had the actual IUI procedure itself so I am well and truly into the 2 week wait.  The procedure itself was fairly straight forward. Hubby had to provide a specimen a couple of hours before hand which is ‘washed’ and apparently improved.  They grade the specimen on when it arrives at the hospital and then they give it another grade when they’ve ‘washed’ it – well neither of us was impressed to see they made it worse!!  It was graded a B when it went in and came out a D!!!! The nurse told us that this isn’t the important bit – the important bit was how may ‘swimmers ‘ there were – and apparently there were 13million – but now what I want to know is how do they count them?!! 

A couple of hours after providing the sample we had to collect it again to take with us to our appointment.  They gave it to us in a thermos to keep it warm – all of this I have to admit I found very amusing and I couldn’t help but chuckle at how weird it all was.

The IUI procedure itself is just like having a smear test, a speculum is used to open the cervix (which I really hate), then a thin tube is inserted into the uterus and the specimen injected into the uterus.  The reason for doing this is so the little swimmers are placed closer the the fallopian tubes.  Then we were asked to wait and I had to stay laying down for about 20 minutes. And that’s it – done!  It was such an anti-climax in a way, such a build up and so much excitement that we had managed to get to this stage and then that’s it – it’s done and actually nothing has changed and I guess I was expecting to feel different and I didn’t. 

The evening after the IUI I also had to start taking the pessaries – well this was something that I had started to get quite anxious about – having never used one before.  You have two options of where these can go and I can now say 5 days and 10 pessaries in (literally) that I have now got used to this.  It does take some getting used to and you need to decide what route is more comfortable for you but like the injections they are a necessary evil and they become easier. 

So here we are 5 days into the two week wait and it’s going to be a long fortnight.  Going into work on Monday was a little weird and I found I wasn’t really there.  I felt that something should feel different, but there is no reason why I should feel different.  I’m trying not to think about it all the time, but it’s all I can think about!! I am trying to keep myself distracted – work is fairly good and having lots of meetings helps.  I’m arranging things for the weekend and evenings out with friends.  I am optimistically realistic about what the outcome will be.  There is only a 20% chance IUI will work across 4 cycles, so I shouldn’t expect to fall pregnant on the first go. But some people do fall pregnant on the first go so you never know.  The problem is also this, I haven’t actually come into contact with anyone who has had a successful IUI treatment – but then there must be some people who’ve had successful IUIs – otherwise why would it be a treatment option?! And finally while I try to remind myself that this is the best chance we’ve had (two follicles, perfectly timed and 13million swimmers) I also don’t really understand how it can work when it hasn’t happened without medical intervention in over 3 years.  

I have realised very quickly, there is nothing quite like the 2 week wait! 

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The Waltons

I had my second scan yesterday to see how well I was responding to the stimulation drugs this time.  The sonographer kept the screen on so I could see what she was seeing and straight away even I could see a massive difference from last time.  The lining of my uterus was much thicker than a week ago and when she moved over to the ovaries all I could see were lots of follicles which looked a good size.  However, my joy at seeing bigger follicles soon turned to disappointment when she started to count and measure them.  After, while I waited to see the nurse specialist I told myself that this would be another cancelled cycle.

I was called through and the nurse who was reading the report from my scan looked and me and said “well we’ve got the Waltons going on down there”, my response to which great now we do have too many! As the nurse started to count and take into account the measurements it started to feel as there might be more hope.  I have two follicles at 16mm – however I also have two or three which are at 14mm and 12mm along with many smaller ones.  The nurse tells me, we cannot carry on with the stimulation drugs over the weekend because then we run the risk of the smaller ones getting bigger and having too many and won’t be able to go ahead.  “So I need to give you the trigger shot now and you need to come in tomorrow afternoon and we’ll do the IUI” she says!!  Well I almost fell off the chair – I was not expecting this!!

All of a sudden I am very excited and apprehensive all at the same time.  I am excited because this gives us more of a chance yet apprehensive and anxious because I know I have to put a lid on my excitement as there could still be much disappointment ahead.

The nurse gives me the trigger shot and that’s it we’re ready to go.  As I write this blog it’s the morning before I go in for the IUI and I guess I’m a little more realistic about our chances of success than I was last night.  As of tonight I will be on the 2 week wait (2ww) I already know this is going to be difficult! Not only do I have the joys of pessaries to contend with but I know that the monthly debate I have with myself of “am I, aren’t I” is only going to be more worse than normal because we’ve got slightly more of a chance than we’ve had before.

 

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Self Injections for Wimps!

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As I have mentioned in previous posts one of the biggest barriers I faced in starting fertility treatment was the self injections.  This is because I am big wimp!! I have been incredibly fortunate throughout my life so far and the worse thing I’ve ever had done is have 4 teeth out.  So the thought of having to give myself injections when I hadn’t even had so much as a blood test freaked me out somewhat!!  But I have surprised myself and I can say at this point in time I have given myself a total of 56 injections!!!

The idea of self injections can be a big barrier for people and so what I want to do in this post is take you through how I get through each one.

  • Firstly I make sure I will have no interruptions – so I set up all my stuff in the bedroom and then go back downstairs and feed the cats.  I need them to be eating so they don’t scratch at the door!  It’s really important to ensure you can just focus on what you need to do and don’t have any distractions.
  • I get a glass of water or juice and a biscuit – the drink is there just in case I feel a bit funny, the biscuit is just a nice treat for myself for getting the job done!
  • Drawing the meds I now find easy and it just takes practice to get used to it.  I always change needle over after drawing the meds as I just find this easier to give the injection.
  • Once the meds are drawn into the syringe, I sit on the bed and tell myself to relax – this might sound stupid but this helps me remember to relax my leg. I take the lid of the syringe and put this between my teeth – weirdly I have discovered that biting on the lid, makes me relax elsewhere and the injection much easier.
  • I then pinch the skin where I am going to do the injection and rest the needle on the skin, when I am ready I gently push down.  You will feel a quick sting as the needle pierces the skin but you should not feel the needle go in further.  If you are struggling to get the needle to pierce the skin then try swapping the needle as it might not be as sharp as it needs to be – I’ve had to do this a couple of times and it makes a huge difference.
  • Although I am used to this now my hands still shake a little so I have to make a conscious effort to hold the syringe still and with bone at the base of my thumb on the other hand start to plunge the syringe.  I find it easier to use this part of my thumb as it makes the syringe feel more steady.
  • Taking the needle out is the best bit … although I can’t always watch this part.

When I started with the injections hubby had to help – I couldn’t watch the needle go into my skin so I had to have him tell me when it was all the way in and then he also had to plunge and administer the medication.  Now I have to do the injections completely on my own – it’s a control thing and I now need to be in control of the whole process.  I can also watch the whole thing – its amazing how much you get used to it.

I can promise you it does become easier and it does start to become second nature. It won’t always be easy and some days will be worse than others, but seriously if I can do it anyone can.

Have you ever had to give yourself injections?  How did / do you find them?

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