Ovulation scan – off we go again!!

This afternoon I had my first ovulation scan since the last miscarriage and I’m pleased to say that it went well!

I’d been taking 5mg of letrozole from day 2-6 of my cycle and I had three eggs between 16-17mm, with a good lining of 12mm! Wahoooo!! So I’ll have my Ovitrelle injection tomorrow evening, get busy, then I’m back on the steroids on Friday!
I’m really relieved that I responded well. I was worried that maybe adding in the hydroxychloroquine might throw things off a bit, but thankfully that doesn’t seem to be the case. Both my husband and I are hopeful again that this time around it might be different, we’ll just have to try and see how it goes.

Fingers crossed!

X

Waiting is the new black

I’ve really got into Orange is the new Black recently, it’s such a great show. But every time I watch it, a line from the opening song really gets me…

‘Think of all the roads

Think of all their crossings

Taking steps is easy

Standing still is hard’

This pretty much sums up one of the hardest parts of this journey – the standing still, the waiting. Whether it’s waiting to ovulate, waiting for your period, waiting for IVF, waiting for beta results, waiting for a laparoscopy, waiting for a scan, waiting to be able to try again, the waiting is hard. I read this time and time again on so many blogs – how difficult the waiting is – and after three years of trying, I really understand this.

A British celebrity fell pregnant with IVF after a miscarriage recently and described her time trying to fall pregnant as though ‘someone had pressed pause on her life’. I really liked this description and I’m sure lots of us can relate to this too – as though life goes on as planned for everyone else, and we’re left behind. 

Here’s to all of us who are waiting, paused, left behind. I’m with you, ladies.

  

Drug overload!! A post about Reproductive Immunology treatments….

drugs

Not a great deal to report here – only that all of these drugs are kicking my arse!!

As a quick recap, here’s what I’m currently taking:

  • hydroxychloroquine – This is the new immuno-suppressant drug which my specialist has recommended, as part of my Reproductive Immunology treatment
  • metformin – This helps to keep my blood sugar regulated, which in turn helps keep my periods regular, as I have polycystic ovaries
  • letrozole – This is used to stimulate my ovaries to produce more eggs, as I don’t always ovulate, as I have polycystic ovaries
  • 75mg aspirin – This is a low dose aspirin to ensure that my blood doesn’t clot as much, which can help with implantation and early pregnancy
  • 2000mg Vitamin D, prenatal vitamins and Omega 3 – These are all recommended by my specialist to make sure that I am getting all the vitamins that me (and a baby) would need

This last weekend was really bloody difficult. I got my period – which was fantastic as we can now start trying again soon – but it’s safe to say that my body has had a bit of a meltdown with everything. I’m documenting this mainly because there aren’t many women having this type of treatment, so I thought it might be helpful to some to read the reality of taking all these drugs!

i’ve been taking the hydroxychloroquine for 5 weeks now and I can honestly say that i’ve felt ill the whole time i’ve been on it. It’s an immuno-suppressant, so it reduces your immune system, making you more likely to pick up infections, and I’ve definitely felt that. I picked up a chest infection about a week after starting it, so I was treated with antibiotics, but it took another couple of weeks before I felt almost back to normal. I’d usually recover really quickly after any infection, but I definitely feel like my immune system isn’t as it should be. I just generally feel exhausted most of the time, with nowhere near as much energy as usual, and my chest gets very sore and tired whenever I don’t get enough sleep. Some days I feel too tired to talk – which is definitely unlike me! I had a similar reaction when I took the Humira injections in the new year, which makes sense, as they are both immuno-suppressants. I guess my chest must be my weak area, as thats where I feel it the most.

In addition to this (hurray!) the metformin really messes with my stomach. When I started on the hydroxychloroquine it made me feel quite sick, which made me lose my appetite. But if I take metformin on an empty stomach, it makes me feel VERY sick, so I was stuck in a vicious circle of nausea for a good week or so, which wasn’t nice. The best way I found to deal with it was to eat as much as I could of whatever I could, to give my stomach a chance to process the metformin. After a week of not eating much, and losing a fair bit of weight, I got stuck into mashed potato, pizza, whichever warm, comforting foods I could keep down, and after a few days my stomach was much better. I know that some women struggle with carbs and metformin, but I’ve never had this problem thankfully! I did build up to 3 x 500mg of metformin, but I really couldn’t handle it, and my doctor said that as I’m only quite small (5’4” and 9stone/57kg), two would be enough.

I’m happy to report that I don’t have many side effects with letrozole. I took clomid last year and it made me into an angry, sad, emotional mess!! Definitely won’t be going near that stuff again! I often have night sweats for the first couple of nights on letrozole, but that seems to be all. Although this month I did have a migraine on the first day that I took it, but to be honest I think that’s probably just a combination of getting my period coupled with my array of drugs that my body is trying to work through!

I can really see how much all of the drugs are affecting me, as I was almost drug free last month after my last miscarriage and bloody hell I felt GREAT!! Just normal, no sickness, headaches, chest soreness, plenty of energy – you know, how a person should feel!! So I can really feel the difference now my immune system has taken a battering yet again.

Next week i’ll have an ovulation scan and hopefully we’ll be ok to try again – which is great! But with that comes another drug, the real Heavyweight Champion of Knocking the Sh*t out of You – prednisolone (steroids). I take these from ovulation for 10 days, then take a pregnancy test. As part of my Reproductive Immunology treatment, these bad boys are designed to lower my immune system even more, combined with the hydroxychloroquine, so that my body hopefully won’t reject a baby if I do fall pregnant. From what I understand, this is a very aggressive and new type of treatment, with not many women having it/having being treated by it before. I must admit that i’m nervous about when I start the steroids, as I’m only just keeping well on the hydroxychloroquine, so who knows how bad i’ll feel once I’m on the steroids too?! They also make it very difficult to sleep, so I might not even be able to sleep to recover. Fun times ahead……

So far i’ve had two miscarriages whilst having steroid treatment, which makes me think that maybe I have some Hulk Hogan-type immune system, which just takes whatever you throw at it and smashes through it, causing my body to still reject any babies. Even though I feel dreadful on the hydroxychloroquine, it might be just what I need – to really break down my immune system so that it doesn’t try and fight back as much and reject any future pregnancies. I don’t have any evidence to support this, its just a feeling which I have. Even typing that out makes me feel nervous though – as I need my immune system for more than just falling pregnant – I need it to keep me safe from everything else which is out there!!!

It does scare me how much i’m putting my body through to try and have our own baby, especially at the moment when i’m really feeling exhausted, migrained and worn down. It seems alien to me to try and break down the one thing which is designed to protect you from harm and infection, but for now this is what I have to try. I’m very glad that we’ve decided to only try this treatment until Christmas, as I honestly can’t imagine doing this for more than a few months, it really is that intense. As much as I would love a baby, I really don’t want to compromise my own health too much with all of this, as what good is having a baby if I’m too ill to enjoy any of it once it’s born?!

So that’s all for me really – just keep plodding on until my ovulation scan next Monday, then go from there. I have to admit that both my husband and I are feeling all hopeful again – its weird how your brain somehow forgets all the bad stuff which has happened and lets itself get all excited again once a new cycle is here. I’ve no idea if this will all work, but what the heck, i’ll give it a try. I’ll let you know how the ovulation scan goes – please cross your fingers for a good lining and a few little eggs ready to go!

X

One year blog-aversary!

OneYearBlog

Today is my one year blog-aversary! Happy Bloggy Birthdaaaaaaaaay!!

In many ways this past year has flown by, but in others I feel in just the same position as I was this time last year. Anyone TTC for a long time will know how this feels. September will mark three years since we were married and three years since we started trying for a baby. Three. Long. Years.

But – I’m not dwelling on the negative today. Yes, we’ve had some shit in the last year, namely losing another two babies and also losing my lovely mother-in-law, but we’ve also had some good times. We’ve bought a new house which we will soon start extending into a beautiful home, found a specialist who can hopefully help us to have a baby, found a surrogate (this is amazing news!) and my husband and I are still here, happy together, healthy (just!) and still trying. I still have my bad days like everyone on this journey does, but I’m trying my best to be thankful for all that I do have – including my incredible husband – the strongest, kindest, most brilliant man whom I’ve ever known.

One of the most amazing things i’ve also found in this last year is all of you ladies. We have hoped, cried, congratulated and despaired together – all over the world wide web. I had no idea when I started writing this blog that so many people would read it and support me along the way, and I’m so grateful for everyone’s kind comments and words. So many of my favourite bloggers have fallen pregnant or given birth in this last year, which has been wonderful to see, including my lovely BFF at New Chances New Hope. I’m so lucky to have met her and to have her support and it’s fantastic that her happy ending is looking more likely each day.

Who knows where we’ll be this time next year – I don’t really think like that any more – but I am very grateful for all that we have and all that we may have in the future. We all know my new mantra from my therapy sessions, so I’m continuing to try and think positive. My period is due this week, then we start on the trying roller coaster again. I’ll let you know how it all goes.

Thank you all again ladies!

X

Counselling session #4 – Positivity

Strength_Cards

I mentioned before that I started seeing a counsellor after our fifth loss. The main reason that I went was to try and help with the strong feelings of anger which I had a lot of the time after the losses. I wrote before about my second session with the little family tree, which absolutely broke my heart. Then the third session was a lot about my family and relationships, so not as eventful. My counsellor is a psychotherapist and has such a warm, but strong way about her. I think she’s fantastic.

Yesterday’s session was another really helpful one. My counsellor asked me ‘What strengths do you have to get you through this next stage?’ (i.e. from now until Christmas, when we are giving the new drug a try for what will be our last effort at having our own baby). I just sat there and couldn’t think of one. As soon as she asked me, I realised how drained, tired and low I really was about this next stage. She asked if I needed some help, and then brought out some ‘strength cards’. These were like playing cards, but with all sorts of different strengths on – courage, happy, open, resourceful, etc – there were about 30 in total. She then asked me to pick out some strengths which I thought I needed. I know that I picked out Positive and Patient, but I can’t remember the others. She then asked me which was the most important one, and I chose Positive. She asked me if I had this strength right now, and I just started to cry.

It hit me so hard how little positivity I have left in me right now, about this last stage of our journey. Even with the other miscarriages, i’ve always, always thought that it might work the next time. But this time that feeling has just ebbed away and i’m petrified to think that it might work again, because if we lose another baby it’ll be our last one before we stop. Maybe it’s just the culmination of so many losses, or maybe the finality of it all if we lose another one, but whatever it is, my positivity just isn’t there anymore.

She then asked me if I thought that I needed to be positive. I said yes, but that i’m petrified of thinking positively, in case it doesn’t work again. She reminded me that just because it hasn’t worked before, doesn’t mean that it won’t work this time. Right now, there is no evidence to suggest that this time it won’t work. I know this, but hearing it out loud from someone else made it more powerful somehow.

She had asked me before ‘When you get angry, how do you show your anger?’. I couldn’t think of this the first time she asked me, so I gave it some thought and realised that if I hear of someone falling pregnant or being pregnant, my natural reaction is to get annoyed and usually say/shout all sorts of mean comments, even though I don’t mean them at all. She asked me why I do this and I said ‘because I’m frustrated!’. Then she asked me ‘if you had a friend who was in your situation, and she reacted this way to hearing that someone was pregnant, what would you think?’. I said that i’d let her say it all, because its totally natural, given what she’s going through.’ Exactly. She said that it is totally natural, but that when I feel that feeling, I need to tell myself that i’m feeling that way because I’m frustrated, which is totally normal given what I’m going through, but that I need to be kind to myself. This made sense and again made me feel better.

We talked about the fact that i’m very open with people, and that I always feel compelled to update friends and family on everything that’s happening if they ask, even though I sometimes find it exhausting. She said that when i’m feeling that way, it might be helpful to thank people for asking, but say that right now i’d rather not talk about it. I think this is a really key one, as people are trying to be supportive, but sometimes trying to explain the ins and outs of recurrent miscarriage, reproductive immunology, hydroxycholoroquine, steroids etc to people who haven’t got a clue can be really wear me out! So i’ll try this one in future if I’m feeling shattered. It doesn’t come naturally to me, but its about conserving my energy so I don’t feel overwhelmed with it all, which I think people will understand. I don’t feel like this about my blog, because it’s read by women who understand what this journey is like, but just when speaking to friends and family.

She said that next week we will look at ‘crooked thinking’ and thinking of things in terms of black and white, both of which I do and which aren’t helping me. I’m looking forward to this one. She also asked me what I do to take care of myself, and I told her that I have reflexology, as well as the gym and that once I leave work I will make time to do more things which I enjoy and which relax me, which she was pleased about.

So my new mantras are now just because it hasn’t worked before, doesn’t mean that it won’t work this time. Right now, there is no evidence to suggest that this time it won’t work. I’m still shitting myself about trying again, but I have to keep telling myself this, and I will. And also, when I feel upset or frustrated – i’m feeling this way because I’m frustrated, which is totally normal given what I’m going through, but that I need to be kind to myself. Both of these are very powerful and I’ve used them several times even since yesterday – whenever those negative, scared feelings come in to my mind.

Hopefully my period will come sometime next week, then its back on the letrozole I go!

Say it with me one more time ladies – just because it hasn’t worked before, doesn’t mean that it won’t work this time. Right now, there is no evidence to suggest that this time it won’t work.

If it say it often enough hopefully it will come true!

X

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!!

A pretty scary and exciting day today – i’ve just handed in my notice at work! My husband and I have had many chats about this recently and decided that today was the day.

Here’s a bit of a back story on my working life since we started trying for a baby….

My husband and I got married in September 2012, then two weeks after we got back from honeymoon I was made redundant. My job had been brilliant and I really enjoyed it, so this was a massive blow. I was then sitting around at home, in November, when no-one is hiring, which was totally depressing. I fell pregnant in December, which was amazing, then we moved to a flat outside of London, close to my husband’s family, then I lost the baby just after Christmas.

I can honestly say that the couple of months after that were the most difficult of my life. I’d gone from having an amazing build up to our wedding – summer, hen party, holidays, London 2012 Olympics, the wedding, honeymoon – all fantastic! Then straight after I got back I was out of a job, living in a new place where I hardly knew anyone, had just had a miscarriage, couldn’t drive so I was alone in the house most of the time, it was January, cold and depressing, and because I was just married, no one would give me a job in case I fell pregnant (how bloody ironic!?). Looking back now, I can see how much I struggled and how low I really was. It was horrific. Basically, I had most of the biggest life stresses you can have thrown at me in a matter of weeks.

Around February time, I started doing some consultancy work for a local company, which was a breath of fresh air and gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning, which I desperately needed. This progressed and I started working there full-time in April 2013. I had my second miscarriage in December 2013, but just kept working straight through. I then had a third miscarriage in July 2014, and again I worked straight through. I started seeing our specialist in December 2014 and in February 2015 I decided to tell my bosses all that had happened. They were really good about everything and allowed me to work from home when I needed, if I felt ill on all the drugs. I then worked through the fourth and fifth miscarriages in May and June.

The reality is that once you know you want a baby, nothing else comes close to this, and this is how I’ve felt at work. I enjoy my job and have always done my best, but miscarriage after miscarriage, drug after drug and hope after hope has really worn me down over the last few years. Looking back now, I probably should have spoken to my bosses earlier, but I struggled on and probably didn’t do myself any favours by trying to be strong. Ah well, you live and learn I suppose. My husband and I had chat recently and he made a very valid point – that these next few months are our last chance to have our own baby, so we should do all that we can to make it work and give us the best chance of things working out. I only work part time, so i’m not on a massive salary, so if I’m not working for a few months then we can manage. Then we’ll just see how it all goes after that.

My natural state is to worry about everything before it actually happens – I’ve always been like this and it doesn’t show any signs of changing. But rightly or wrongly, all of this baby stuff has taught me that worrying doesn’t change anything, and that all of it is totally out of my control. This is annoying, but also liberating, as there’s bugger all that I can do to affect it apart from doing what the doctor recommends and hoping for the best.

I’m working my month’s notice, then my plan after that is to keep our home tidy and loved, enjoy cooking lovely meals for both of us, enjoy time relaxing with our cat, maybe try some yoga and pilates at the gym and just generally try and chill the f**k out!! I’m taking hydroxychloroquine now, but once I start on the steroids again I have no idea how I’m going to feel, so my main focus will just be staying well and healthy so we have the best chance of things working out.

Right now I feel happy, scared, nervous and hopeful all at the same time. These next few months will be so important for us, I just hope that we have some good news somewhere along the way. Fingers crossed!

X