Thursday, December 30, 2010

Complete state

For some reason tonight, with next menstrual cycle due in 2 days, I started Googling the clinics stats. I couldn't find their success rates so tried some Spanish searches and translated (via web) loads of review from local women saying they didn't like my consultants manner and one saying disappointed with treatment but she was 40?! Why am only asking for these success rates now, on new years eve? I actually feel sick with tunnel vision, that we have made a massive error just because it suits our health cover and price is right. But what about the waiting room of bumps? Maybe it was their 5th try? God I don't know. The Consultant has loads of CVs online and has lead conferences and 100s of publications on IVF, shit, now I have to ring Dr P tomorrow and I won't sleep..............I keep playing out our phone call where Dr P gives me rubbish stats and we have to start from scratch at a clinic with a different drug protocol so the grands worth of drugs in the fridge will have to go in the, I'm sure it will be OK.

Last night I dreant I was in an operating theatre and a gowned-up Dr passed me a bloody, sticky baby and I didn't feel anything, I had no memory or sensation of labour and I just kept saying 'It's not mine, it's not a real baby'.

Blimey, N really needs to get home soon and boot me off the internet before I spontaneously combust.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Box of delights

As usual, collecting the medications today took an extra hour. I should be used to adding an hour to every task I do here but it still surprises me.

It is 35 degrees today, 2 degrees down from yesterday. The pharmacist eventually arrived with the injections in a large cooler box that seemed big enough to supply a theatre or hospital ward and I'm still shocked now at the quantity. I had to remove one of the shelves in the fridge, (see photo). I double checked with the pharmacist about storage and she seems to contradict everything the Dr said but maybe it's just my bad Spanish? The boxes say 2-7 degrees, out of sunlight, don't freeze and in this heat I decide that in amongst the dairy products and veg is the best place for them.

I was sweating in the heat and with my nerves on the bumpy bus ride home, carrying this box of terrifying medicines after coughing up just over 6000 pesos (£1000)...phew! Now I just hope I get to use them in January. Until then, I await further instruction.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dr P and the plan so far...

I rang Dr P and he reassured me that it was not worth the agony of 'down regulation' and so we will let my ovaries be this month and wait for my next period to start. Due on Sunday the 2nd of January. The fact that this still may not go ahead, no matter how small the chance, bothers me greatly.

We have also been invited away for new year to a popular beach resort, as guests of friends who have a house in a nearby country but it's just too risky to leave the country so close to the 2nd. So we said 'No'. I've been thinking about a beach holiday since 2009 when we were struggling to afford a holiday together and then we moved here. The first week here felt like a city break but after that it was a struggle, with me not working and everything here is slow and difficult. I've been longing for a beach, it doesn't have to be really hot, I just want to sit and read a book and listen to the waves. Last January we had a holiday in the mountains. This year our holiday is cancelled and we are still sulking a bit but it seems a necessary sacrifice.

The image of other people taking a holiday with their 'free' babies and children flashed through my mind but very quickly I've come round to the reality of this plan and now all I'm hoping for is that New Years Day will bring all those familiar signs of a new menstrual cycle beginning so I can make that call to Dr P and face the next hurdle...stimulation drugs for a lovely collection of eggs.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Today I went to have my endocervical polyp (2mmx2mm) removed but in fact it had disappeared out of view so apparently shouldn't cause any problems.
Then, it was the mock transfer, the dress rehearsal. I wore a gown and the Dr tried various catheters for size against my bendy uterus and it bloody hurt. It quashed all my visions of relaxing during embryo transfer. It's the second time in a month something has been forced through my cervix but if it means I get to experience the weird, wonderful and excruciating experience of squeezing a baby out then so be it.

What's so stressful today is the timing of everything. I was all set for January but holding a little back in case the polyp was an issue. After the procedure I sat down with Dr P and he asked what I wanted to do next, it seemed so obvious...ICSI...quick sharp! But I remember N and I were meant to be thinking things over. I asked to start on my next cycle and he started to write a huge prescription of drugs I have never heard of in all my Nursing days. I had to ask the receptionist for directions to a specialist clinic with an odd name and hand over the cash and then take them to the fridge at home. The next step in the puzzle. But when to start?

The next day of my menstrual cycle it seems. Approx 3rd January. When it comes, I call Dr P and then go in for an USS with the drugs and they give me the next part of the puzzle. BUT if there are left over follicles from my last cycle (this current one) then the treatment will be abandoned?!! Dr H, the big cheese, is off on his hols in February and N is travelling in March and April so this was not good news. I now know after much googling that this is a short cycle IVF. The is no down regulation as with long IVF where the breaks are put on on day 21 of the cycle to ensure an empty base line on Day 1 of new cycle, this is the ultimate in control but symptoms are menopausal like and hideous. Well, tomorrow I will call him to see how this decision was made between the long and the short.

I have postponed my TEFL course, from 3/1/11 to 31/1/11 to allow for this cycle so if it doesn't happen it will be really, really tough. Oh for a glimpse into a magic crystal ball into this terrifying and uncertain future. I have spent the last 6 months, on and off, feeling physically sick at the thought of it all and drifting in this limbo between hope and hopelessness.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

D day...dia del D

Today was decision day and I hardly slept a wink last night. I collected the last of our results from the other clinic and went to the posh fertility place, suitably dressed this time to face the lovely but far to glamorous receptionists. First piece of good news. I am a crap at interpreting Xrays and in fact the fluid filled sack I saw veering off to the right was in fact my uterus which sits at a very bizarre angle but this has no affect on my fertility. Tubes are both normal and patent. Marvellous.
We do still need the most expensive form of fertility treatment there is but again good news, it costs 30% less than I calculated originally so my maths is worse than my diagnostic skills.

In this predominantly catholic country, fertility treatment is widely available and seems to hold more importance than Britain. It seems, to be childless is no way to live and I often hide my age here to avoid the blunt comments and questions locals freely hand out. I feel more pressure here at my age to be a mother already but looking around the waiting room I finally saw many other women aged 30-40, sitting, staring at their shoes and whispering to their smartly dressed husbands. So this is where they are all hiding. It gave me a little more perspective. There were a few pregnant bumps too which outside the clinic ignite a deep pain somewhere inside me but in this waiting room I looked on with awe and wonder. Feelings that I thought I had lost along the way these past, long, dark months.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I've been reading about adoption again. I've looked at it on and off over the past year as I always tend to jump ahead. I am a natural born worrier and I have found that it's comforting to explore the worst case scenario, so I can feel more in control and prepared. Each time I enter a building, boat, train, bus or any public space I wonder what would happen in the event of fire or flood or any disaster. It's a waste of time really.

Not that I am saying adoption is the worst case scenario, rather that being denied by some horrid social worker would be awful. Perhaps turned away for being to old? The whole process sounds dreadful. Of course there are few babies up for adoption too so not I only would I miss out on my own baby but it would be an experience I would die never really knowing, which is really scary and not something I am willing to give up hope on just yet.

I suppose all this makes one question the reason for wanting a family, wanting to become a parent. What are the driving forces? I feel a lot of pressure to create something with my genes and N's genes and I wonder how much of it it the desire to be able to experience pregnancy, labour, birth etc...well it all needs more thought.

When I have felt maternal (I'm still not sure what that means to me) or thought about becoming a parent I always imagine a walking, talking child. Until that point everything feels very uncertain. I can imagine how the baby might look but I can't imagine the bond that I hear about all the time and maybe it's just one of those things you have to experience first hand. I had all sorts of romantic and also negative ideas about what marriage would be like and I filled the gaps with an imaginary person. When it does happen it's never the same (much better of course). I suppose it's the relationship with a walking, talking child I look forward to most. What do they think and feel about the world? What is it like to be him/her? What makes him/her unique?

I have just been sobbing over adoption blogs, listening to the struggles and rewards. An 8 year old buying her adoptive Mother a shiny, gold Mum bracelet from Argos and the Mum crying because it's so touching but also so tacky and not her taste at all. Giving a 6 year old his first proper birthday party and the simple things these children need and want after such a rocky start in life. It would be an honour really to adopt but I can understand why so called experts say couples must mourn the loss of the child they could never have first. It's a very different experience.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Today I picked up the Xrays of the truly uncomfortable scan I had last week. They were meant to go in a pile by the front door until December the 13th when we return to the posh clinic but instead I opened them and diagnosed myself with a hydrosalpinx. It seems I was right in thinking the asymmetrical view I saw on the screen during the procedure was not good. However, the peculiar, white shape veering off to the left was not in fact the patent tube I had hoped but a dilated fluid filled sack, swinging between my uterus and my right ovary.

I was puzzled initially as to why I needed the scan pre IVF when it seemed I would not be using the tubes I was born with. They could be tied in knots and it wouldn't matter. But it seems that hydrosalpinges like to empty their contents into the uterus post embyro implantation flushing out the contents or at times the fluid just lingers and gently lets out drops of toxic liquid to ensure IVF is unsuccessful.

The solution. To cut or clamp the tube.

Well whatever the Dr decides next month will be my next step. I'm not at all happy about permanently occluding the watery view of my right ovary and shutting it away in the darkness. I feel a little short of breath just picturing it. All this just adds to an already complex situation and I did cry into my tea this morning and N just agreed with how crap all this is which cheered me up. There's nothing like someone throwing a positive slant on something to help me find the darkest attitude ever. I like to work it out for myself. So....on a positive note, I am grateful that these fertility experts know this related risk as it has only come to light quite recently. So I suppose it's not completely hopeless.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Enemols and 'isterosalpingogramas

I've always wanted to have private health insurance but view it as a luxury. During my nursing days I realised the limitations of fancy health plans. All the doilies and drapes, the private rooms with TV and wifi are no use when the s**t hits the fan. Then it's off to an acute bed, same surgeon, same treatment as the NHS patient lying next to you. I worked briefly in a private wing of my local DGH and learned that private patients have their chocolate mousse piped with a decorative strawberry on top, rather than dolloped onto a chipped plastic plate to resemble the contents of a bedpan.

Well, in this city, private health plans are essential but sadly don't compare well to the ones in the UK. So ours has no fertility cover but does include cosmetic surgery after 12 months, a basic requirement here it seems from the matching masks of the over 50's women in the fancy neighbourhoods. Our Doctor very kindly ordered my hysterosalpingogram on our health plan rather than the fancy fertility clinic which has really helped in saving a few pesos. So far so good, admin crap of course but I'm used to that in the NHS. However, today I found myself lying on a slightly rusty steel bed with a very rude male radiographer shoving pipes and metal clamps into me like a Christmas turkey having it's stubborn giblets removed by a novice butcher. And all the while trying to control my bowels after 2 enemas with the added sense of drama cast upon my no longer private parts by the nurse with a large torch that looks like she popped it in her handbag from the boot of her car. Just in case she ended up working in examen cubiculo 2. Never again, I hope.

The Nurse was very kind but too intimidated by the fat butcher to continue with her words of encouragement and reassurance during the procedure. He seemed determined to make one of us cry. So anyway, results from this procedure and various others due in December. I am grateful for the fact I was able to book this scan just days ago, I know there are women currently waiting 3-6 months for this in the UK. Also, at the end of all this I can have my stress lines ironed out and hitched up round my ears...for free!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Each to their own

I do try not to be judgemental and I'm definitely more grey than black and white these days. Especially now that the prospect of IVF is challenging so many things I have said 'Never!' to. BUT today I met a very strange lady indeed that made me want to run for the hills and shout "What the f**k".

I was delighted to find an English speaking lady living in the same South American city as me on an ex pat forum. She mentioned she was planning IVF here and I sent her a message to see if she would mind answering a few of my many questions. It's a lonely business after all. She replied straight away, suggested a coffee and excitedly told me she was 12 weeks pregnant. I was delighted and couldn't wait to meet.

When I arrived at our agreed meeting spot, I walked several times around the cafe, peeping at women's stomachs who were sitting alone and finally found 'Lunita'. She greeted me with a huge smile and launched straight into her reproductive history of uterine deformities and 4 previous failed IVF attempts dating back to the 1980's. Unfortunately, she wanted the same level of information from me which I was not willing to give her. I came across to her as cold and English, she almost said as much but my intuition was telling me to ask for the bill.

I was really happy for this woman, past her mid 40s, experiencing her first, long awaited pregnancy after more hurdles than I could ever imagine. However, somewhere between the 'it's up to mother nature if we are meant to have a baby she will bless us' and the extreme measures she has sought in cutting edge reproductive medicine, I squirmed in my chair and found little comfort in her success.

I politely declined her offer to accompany me to a future appointment and to meet next week (I'm busy) to listen to more of her repressed memories that emerged during a pre IVF counselling session. Her tattered boundaries set my alarm bells ringing which is encouraging as my boundaries are somewhat fragile and there would have been a time, many years ago, when such a person would have infiltrated my life quickly and easily. With the best of intentions of course but ultimately using controlling behaviour until I feel an obligation. And as for the 'rescuer' buttons it pushed in me, hearing her difficult past, I managed to resist for enough time to safely get myself on the bus home.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lucky us

Well, after all this time, this blog has turned into precisely what I hoped it wouldn't and the main focus really is all about fertility or rather infertility.

The last 6 months has seen many, many tests and both N and I have deposited various types of bodily fluid over this South American city. On the upside I have expanded my weak Spanish script from restaurant Spanish to clinic Spanish. Countless google searches, scans and trying to conceive website habit.

For a couple of months I took some medication to lower a slightly raised prolactin level which turned out to be a red herring but I clung to it tightly, as popping those pills allowed me to feel I was taking back just a little control in our quest to start a family. Plus, the potential that a benign growth on my pituitary gland (prolactinoma) was to blame somehow restored a little dignity and femininity to my feelings about my body (as if I haven't already worked hard enough to mend the shattered connection between my mind and body).

Now I just need to get my tubes dyed and dusted whilst checking out a cheeky little polyp that has moved in, you can hardly blame it for setting up camp in such a vacant space. N and I have to have all our tests redone and then we make the decision on IUI (which looks unlikely) or straight to ICSI. Roll on mid-december. Muchos pesos but trying not to think too much about it.

So much uncertainty but somehow I feel slightly more in control dealing with infertility than dealing with the unknown and I know we wouldn't be where we are were it not for some white (grey) lies and and a lot of pushing the Doctors here in this strange foreign land!

Monday, May 10, 2010

I'm back

I almost gave up on this blog but I'm back. After my last attempt at a non-fertility related post, it's the number one thing on my mind AGAIN. I had a less stressful month this month, measuring my basal temperature to confirm ovulation which was a fantastic feeling. BUT I do have, it seems, a luteal phase defect (9 days this cycle)...f**k. I have been on the internet all day, 2 days before my Spanish exams, avoiding revision. But I did practice a bit of Spanglish purchasing some over the counter vit B supplements (to lengthen the luteal phase blah blah) but had to admit defeat at trying to book a Doctors appointment over the phone. I have had to ask one of the few people I know on this side of the world to do it for me. Of course I haven't told her why, she's a 'meet for coffee once a month' kind of friend, I don't have any 'bitching and wine' friends yet, but I'm working on it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I skipped Spanish today and went for a walk around the town. The idea of facing my classmates and all their 'keeness' was too much. It felt good, like calling in sick for work, slightly guilty but I enjoyed every second. Window shopping for leather boots. Usually I would nip to Primark and buy a pair of crap vinyl jobs and not think much about it. Now I'm unemployed, clothing and footwear needs to be more durable and it's quite refreshing not to consider whether stuff is 'in' and without trashy magazines to whet my appetite, my wardrobe is a quarter of the size it used to be. I like it this way.
I painted for a few hours until my eyes hurt and I realised I hadn't eaten for 7 hours. A good day.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Acupunture without subtitles

So as I now live in South America and have yet to put more then two Spanish words together, I'm limited in my choices of hairdresser, doctor and acupuncturist. After a search on the expats website and some whiny responses from a few discontented yanks I found a very enthusiastic lady a few miles from my flat called Dr B, who like me, speaks fluent Spanglish.
Dr B is very busy and reckons acupuncture is contraindicated post ovulation so I'm limited to one treatment a month. This is my second. I'm not sure Dr B fully understands me but I get my point across, for her to lance her needles in the right spot. She does like to remind me that her daughter is 10 whole years younger than me and already trying for baby number two though I'm sure it's not meant with any malice. After waving a funny metal rod above my head, Dr B thinks I am "in better 'armony" and feel something so fingers crossed, it's all worth it. I pay her the equivalent to £12 and leave. On the way out of her smart 6th floor apartment she talks about my future baby, rather like the imaginary baby of my dreams. Dr B says the baby won't come if I'm crazy, moving across the world, living in crap flat etc...well I said "I'm moving...somewhere lovely!", Dr B was not impressed that we only have one bedroom in the new place.
Anyway, I feel happier this month, even though I'm none the wiser about my chances of conceiving. Things are more in perspective. On the way home I wonder about the imaginary future baby and if it did exist and had a choice would IT think I'm ready...we're ready?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dreams of infertility...last minute panic

I have a reoccurring dream where I have a baby but I've left it somewhere, in my handbag, the supermarket or the pub and I spend the rest of the dream trying to find it as it gradually gets smaller and smaller. I had always attributed these nightmares to a feeling of overwhelming responsibility (my job perhaps) after a bit of DIY dream analysis. These past few months the baby is bigger, often a baby boy with colourful clothes and hair and it has it's own smell too.
I recently read about a lady who had a terrible car accident. While emergency services set about cutting her free from the tangled mess she heard and saw a child, calling to her, telling her it wasn't time to die yet as there was a new life around the corner. Months later she discovered she was pregnant.
I'm not sure why this dream is becoming more vivid but these days I wake with a pang of guilt and a wave of nausea. It's the same feeling as knowing I have left an important assignment to the last minute and it's too late for an extension. A feeling of loss of control, on trial as though someone somewhere is about to determine my fate and that person/thing/whatever is shaking it's head and looking very disappointed indeed.
I suppose I'm waiting for nature to take it's course and I'm acutely aware that waiting until my mid 30's to try and conceive is not as nature intended.

Trying to conceive month ban.

So this month is no different from any other and I'm trying not to get stressed about the whole 'baby thing'. Wondering on a daily basis whether or not I am ovulating. The plan this month is to stay away from websites. You know the ones....where women BD/DTD with DH/OH and wait for AF or BFP. It's sites like these that prompted me to post my thoughts on this blog. It's not just the bizare language like 'Aunt Flo' that makes me think I don't fit in. I posted a few months back about annovulation and had some really thoughtful replies from a few 20 something's saying 'it happens some months', which left me feeling old and wondering how many fertile months I had left. I promptly joined the 'over 35' group. Here I received equally kind and supportive responses from women my age, about a recent suspected miscarriage, only to discover they were trying to conceive baby number 2, 3 or 4 and I felt a sharp reminder that I was not a Mum at all. I can empathise with how painful it can be for anyone trying to conceive without success, it's just for some reason I don't feel 'I'm in the same boat' as everyone else.