Thursday, 11 February 2016

My lovely lady lumps

I can't believe it's been 9 month since I last blogged. In a way it seems much shorter, but also much longer as very much has happened in a short space of time.

I've been promoted at work - well, sort of. Although I have probably made the glass ceiling that ittle bit wider, it isn't so much a glass ceiling as a glass floor you have to stand on. While everyone makes comments about your pants.

I am perfectly well qualified to do my job. Better than the men twice my age who have traditionally dominated, and who I certainly work harder than. But who probably don't get:

"Your hair is too short. You need to grow it long."
"You need to cut your hair into a crop."
"Our new boss has... a child!" - normally said in the same tones as if I slept in a coffin. Did I mention that my industry has problems attracting 'normal' people?
"You've got way more energy than our competitors. But I really have to pray for your family." Ditto.

The weirdest one was when my second in command called, to say I needed to be careful to cover up. Don't wear anything too low cut, or too short, he said. Wear a suit.

"But the CEO of our organisation goes to work wearing jeans."

For heaven's sake, even my Mum has said I look smart recently...

"Just, I just, I had to say something."

I was a bit baffled until I was in the office with a volunteer (yup, it is mostly volunteer run, so I can't go around sacking people.) She gestured at a PR photo and said "Well I thought that photo was a bit embarrassing, frankly".

The same woman has been really rude to me before, but one of the younger, more sane volunteers said, after I bit my tongue very hard and she left, "It's because you've got boobs".

And in the photo, you can actually see I have boobs. This is true. It was shot from the side, and I have 34Hs. I hadn't really noticed - I'm wearing a respectable dress and, anyway, believed we had got over judging a woman on their tits, unless they're in some sort of lapdancing contest.

I went through a bit of worry with this. Most high street shops have clothes that are cut for women that are a bit more up and down than me - so if I wear 'normal' clothes I look like a marquee. I already get my clothes online from specialists.

It all looks worse if you wear things that have a high neckline, like I have a tyre shoved down my top.

I could bind my chest, but frankly, I have enough trouble with control underpants (there's a whole blog post in the Bridget Jones esque leotard I own, that is meant to hold my stomach in place yet bursts at the gusset at every opportunity. Or the weird corset thing with a hole in for weeing through, but that you really have to take off every time you go to the toilet).

Unless I've really worn something too low cut - and I don't believe I have, and this tallies up with comments that other newly promoted people have had - some people are just jealous. And wonder why moaning hasn't reaped rewards, while looking at my tits - but not clicking that I'm pretty good at getting up off my arse.





Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Glass half full

So, egg collection was today. I've had a few operations in my time, so all pretty much normal.

On the good side, I have 8 eggs which were good enough to fertilise. Hopefully enough will get to blasto stage to get us pregnant this time.

On the bad side, one of my fucking ovaries is inaccessible. At some point between now and the last fresh egg collection - during which I've had an ectopic and a caesarian - it appears to have become fused onto a scar and moved further up than it normally would be.

This means that the surgeon couldn't get at it without going through the side of my womb and a bit too close to an artery.

Of all the things I've read about happening and experienced myself during IVF, this wasn't one of them. So even someone who has spent a lot of time in the trenches can still be surprised.

The Boy has a chunky wooden elephant jigsaw. Every piece is numbered, and slots together. Sometimes the Boy jams one piece into another in a way that doesn't quite fit, so comes up, waves a trunk and a leg jammed together at me and shouts, "Fix it!".

We have lost a couple of pieces of the jigsaw in the big box of Duplo, which is currently topped with bits of marble run, Peppa Pig, bits of plastic Cbeebies crap and just other random things shoved together.

It feels like my reproductive system is like the elephant, except some bits are beyond a grown up patiently and gently pulling the pieces that have gone awry apart and putting them together in the right order. I'm not about to get the missing bits back.

On the outside, things are loosely in place by the skin around my stomach, which has itself become increasingly loose, ill fitting and elephantine with each round of surgery.

I could apparently get a laparoscopy to check out why the prodigal ovary is merrily dancing around further up my abdomen, but if I manage to have another child from the eggs we got in this cycle then I think I'll be quitting when I'm still, moderately, ahead.

Then I'm going to have a tummy tuck. Or stuff all the toys beneath the folds of skin while I glug wine on the sofa.

Anyway, 8 eggs at this stage is not so far - I just need to keep everything crossed they get to day 5 and go in the freezer. Then I have other stuff on...


Saturday, 18 April 2015

It's been a while

I hadn't meant to not blog for this length of time - I just got caught up with a whole load of other things.

Also, I started our next IVF cycle. I'd almost gotten superstitious about not dwelling on this one as much as the first set of cycles, and while I'd meant to write about it, I was worried about ending up being as completely neurotic this time around as I was during the worst times of the last.

We also decided to freeze everything. A couple of things came up at work and I remembered after I'd started how much it took out of me, plus I wanted to go on holiday and have a beer, so we decided it would be best to put things on ice. Also, and to be perfectly honest, I missed out so much stuff the first time round I quite enjoyed being able to make a decision to put things on hold and get on with the rest of my life for a bit, rather than everything else coming second to IVF.

So, we started downregging and then stims. Apart from a couple of bouts of stomach upsets, everything was fine.

Until a couple of days ago with the stims.

The clinic - who, I must say, are the most commercialised I've had so far - had pointed out I had a high AMH and that I'd produced a lot of eggs in my last fresh cycle, and said they'd avoid trying to overstimulate this time.

So I got my meds, began injecting, and soon began to get thumping headaches, dizzy spells and just generally felt like my brain was scrambled eggs. Ten days later, which was yesterday, I pitched up for my first scan.

The nurse said "Oh, it might be a good thing you decided to freeze everything."

It turns out I have more than 28 follicles. Ok, they might not all have eggs, but it's probably not a surprise I'm not feeling too great. If you produce more than 20 eggs clinics here freeze everything to stop you getting OHSS.

Today, I got up, tried to walk to a volunteer event I wanted to go to, which was meant to be a good thing for my job and which I was looking forward to. Then I started feeling sick five minutes after leaving the house and had to get my husband to pick me up. And I've spent the sunniest day of the year stuck inside feeling pukey and exhausted.

I know i'm really lucky having had one child so far, and I'm lucky being able to afford a second round. And I know people out there don't get a great response during the stimming phase - including one of my friends - and that they'd cheerfully swap for a good response and a bit of discomfort.

So, while I'm definitely at the less shitty end of the "things that can go wrong during IVF"  scale, I wish it was all more reliable, easier and more straightforward for everyone.




Tuesday, 30 December 2014

The geometric Waltons

The Boy has a bedtime routine, like most toddlers - a bit of In the Night Garden (a weird and quite trippy programme), bedtime, then his Dad takes him up to bed cos I tend to do more of the mornings.

Anyway, when he ascends the stairs, the routine goes:

Me: "Goodnight triangle!" (it always starts with triangle).
Him: "Goodnight square!" (normally)

And then we work our way through the shapes as he goes up the stairs. The Boy is very big on shapes. We normally have rectangle, circle, nonagon, hexagon, pentagon... although as I write this I realise we have both forgotten about octagons.

This started because we were trying to get him to say "Goodnight Mummy" but he refused and instead started saying goodnight to shapes instead.

It is a bit geeky. But I love sharing this routine with him.


Monday, 8 December 2014

Do you want fries with that?

We are about to finalise treatment at the new clinic. We're getting standard ICSI, but then, thanks to private medicine, we also have an array of extras.

It kind of reminds me of those relatively expensive Mexican fast food places, where cheese and chilli sauce come as standard with a burrito but if you pick the jalapenos and other extra things you find out it all adds up.

I don't want to write the particular technology that the clinic are pushing as there are only so many clinics that do it, but it seems to be heavily patented and its logo appears everywhere, from the screens in the reception area to the consultant's mouse mat. It gives them a better idea of what is happening so in certain circumstances better embryos can be put back, rather than actually helping the embryos.

I'd seen the fucking thing advertised everywhere in the clinic to the point that I believed it must be standard, but no, it costs the best part of a thousand pounds more for - based on a statistically invalid sample size - a six per cent improvement on odds.

Then there are other extras - I never thought I'd be paying someone to... what's the word... traumatise my womb lining. But that is now a thing.

Then there are options around extra drugs, and acupuncture and all the rest.

I had a root around the internet and none of the add ons seem to be backed up by much data. There are a couple of studies with a few hundred participants.

Last time round I would have spent hours researching all this, obsessing over it and then probably paying for it all too.

Part of the reason why I'm more cynical is that at least one of the things that were touted as a wonder solution during our first cycle - aspirin - is now meant to do more harm than good. In five years time the contract for the technology the clinic are pushing now will have run out, or they'll have bought another fancy bit of equipment, and they'll be encouraging patients to do something else.

Granted, some of it might boost your chances a bit, but I've yet to see any of the treatments that are press released to great fanfare getting over the 50% success rate mark, at least in a reliable study with more than a thousand participants and a control group.

I know from bitter experience that no treatment is guaranteed - essentially, you're paying for something that gives you a reasonable chance of getting pregnant and that's all. A burrito is a burrito and I'm wondering if I really need the sour cream on top and extra nachos.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

It's been a while.

So, first treatment at the new clinic today. And perhaps a lesson in how far I have come, both literally and mentally.

I've mentioned before that I hate driving, and that this was some sort of weird mental block that happened after an IVF miscarriage.

Today I managed a long drive on the motorway, and didn't feel that old horrible feeling that I was somehow not competent enough to drive a car. In fact, I quite enjoyed it.

I actually figured out the section of the same motorway I'm particularly worried about is right next to the hospital where I've had all my losses diagnosed and three rounds of emergency surgery, and once I realised that it seemed like less of an irrational fear.

So, to the clinic.

I did the usual form filling, got shown into the scan room, and sat on the couch.

Hello stirrups, hello monitor, hello dildocam and KY jelly. I used to spend more time with you than virtually anyone else apart from my husband.

Anyway, I did the whole "taking your bottom* off and getting ready", but stupidly hadn't realised that one of the bits of paper was for modesty purposes.

People still feel alarmed about internal scans? Who knew? These days, I've got a big skin flap that I can practically throw over my head.

Hello ovaries, hello bladder, hello follicles. You're looking better than the rest of me.

Then I went and sat and sat and waited for my husband. Christ knows what he was doing... well, He does and so do I. But you know what I mean.

My husband also has bizarre baggage. Apparently the, ahem, "sample" room at New Clinic is not as nice as the state clinic - although, ironically, the state clinic had the most horrible areas for female patients than anywhere I've been to. Although New Clinic has car magazine for men to look at before they go into The Sample Room.

I feel less wound up about the whole thing than I used to. I read somewhere that patients who are more stressed do better, presumably because they are more likely to be doing the Fertility Olympics with vitamins, exercise, mung beans and so on - this probably makes a marginal difference.

The clinic asked me about drinking, smoking, weight and did an AMH test. It sounds stupid, but if fish oil, reiki, "relaxing", Wiccan rituals or any of the other shit I worried about the last time - or at least worried that I should be worried about - came into it, presumably they'd appear on the questionnaire. There was a card for a counsellor, should I need one, but not a feng sui consultant.

At the moment, I'm more neurotic about the traffic making me late for the Boy's childcare pickup than anything else.

* Weird English. Bottom half of clothes, not actual bottom or butt (or, in a phrase even more ripe for confusion, a 'fanny'. My husband presented me with a box of chocolates 'because you had to get your fanny out today').



Tuesday, 11 November 2014

I know because he told me

I was sitting in a meeting earlier, and became aware of two colleagues whispering.

I left the meeting and one came out after me.

"Oh, are you pregnant? Donald says you are."

"No, I'm not. Really."

"But Donald was just saying you were pregnant."

"No, I'm just fat."

(Which is enough to make people shut up, you'd think...)

"But Donald said you were pregnant and we were wondering about how you'd cope with another little baby on top of everything else."

"I'm definitely not pregnant."

Possible explanations:

* My stomach is a bit lumpy, partly from needing to lose a bit of weight, but also partly from my previous pregnancy losses and successful pregnancy, which they both know all about. But they forgot because they are stupid.
* I am a freak who looks pregnant without being able to get pregnant.
* There's something about planning an IVF cycle that makes people speculate, they know by some sort of telekinesis that something is up.
* Donald is a weirdo and a bit of a perv. He has form for spreading rumours about me being pregnant, so much so that a few years back I had to have a word with my boss.
* Donald has been conspiring to drug me and take me on repeated visits to an IVF clinic in the dead of night, so I am actually pregnant but have no idea and miraculously few side effects or symptoms. This is why Donald is so certain but I know nothing.

A few years ago I would be thinking 1 and 2, and possibly 3. Now I think a combination of 1 and 4.

5 is the only way in which Donald would be right, and it is just too disturbing.

I don't even like the thought of him checking out my body in any way, shape or form, which he clearly has been (and to make matters worse, I've just realised one of the buttons on the front of my dress was undone. Yuk. Suddenly a niqab seems like a good option).

Anyway, a few years ago I would have been sobbing about this. I think now I know who the people with the problems are, and it is not me.