Category Archives: I visit the Doctors

Over

And it was gone. The sweet, kindly new-to-us sonographer, who had bothered to read my notes before she came and fetched us, and who said she was so sorry for our loss, looked and looked, from many many angles, some very nearly anatomically impossible, but, there lay Cute Ute, empty, with a thin lining, shut tight, deserted.

Our perfect embryo had folded its tent and stolen away.

I thought back to the enormous clot I had passed in the Riverside Clinic toilets last Thursday, that I hastily poked through and saw nothing gestational in. I thought back to the several smaller clots I passed later that day when we had got home again. I thought how surprised I’d been that none of them had been accompanied by more than a mild cramp and a slight stabbing sensation in my cervix, and how therefore I’d assumed I couldn’t possibly have passed the embryo. I have, in the past, suffered a great deal more for a far smaller… object. I thought about how I simply hadn’t felt pregnant since Thursday. I thought about how badly I wanted a coffee, and later tonight, a large alcoholic drink. I gripped H’s hand very tight.

The sonographer found a nurse to talk to us about next steps. We all agreed it was a complete miscarriage, and while I may well carry on spotting and having light bleeds for another few weeks, there should be no more severe pain or heavy bleeding. I felt, guiltily, huge relief that the ‘worst’ was over, had intact slunk past us without our really noticing. I can stop all medication. We can schedule our What The Fuck appointment with Dr George. I came away with a prescription for smaller and smaller doses of Prednisolone, so I can spend the next fortnight or so weaning myself off it.

Gentle Readers, thank you. Thank you all for being there, for reading, for commenting, for popping out of the woodwork to comment for this special and horrible occasion. You mean a lot to me.

Beloved 6AA, beloved proto-child, what the hell did we do wrong?


The bad thing that happened

Me, lying on the table with my knees up and the dildocam stuck up my precious. H sitting by my head, his hand on my shoulder. We are both looking at the screen of the ultrasound machine, and ÜberScanningLady is adjusting the focus. There! There! See it? A gestational sac! It looks exactly like a gestational sac! ÜberScanningLady wiggles the dildocam about and scrolls slowly past the sac. And back again. And refocuses, and bashes me about the cervix again. There’s an appalling silence. I clutch H’s fingers. Why can’t we see a foetal pole and a heartbeat? There’s just a sort of… blob.

‘I can’t get a good view,’ says ÜberScanningLady eventually. ‘The texture of your uterus makes it difficult. I can see a yolk sac, here, but I can’t see a foetal pole. There might be one, here, but the view is really not clear.’

She waggles the dildocam about inside me, and scrolls the focus back and forth along the gestational sac a few more times. ‘This is where you were bleeding from,’ she adds, pointing out a small black lacuna in my uterus, just below the gestational sac. ‘It looks like a bit of the lining disintegrated. It’s not necessarily a problem, I’ve seen it in lots of successful pregnancies. I’m just worried that I can’t see a foetal pole… I’ll print some pictures out and get a doctor to come and talk with you, OK?’

At this point I gasp ‘I’m wet! I feel wet!’ She lifts the paper sheet up and peeks at my crotch ‘Oh my dear, you’re bleeding!’

Idiotically, the first thing that pops into my head is ‘Thank Christ for that, I thought I’d pissed myself.’ I barely manage to not say it aloud, and hours later remember it’s a quote from TV comedy Rab C. Nesbitt, when Mary Nesbitt bursts her stitches after surgery.

ÜberScanningLady helps me mop up. Cussed paranoia made me put several pads in my bag that morning, and H fishes out the fattest of them for me. ÜberScanningLady takes us to a tiny consultation room, one I’ve had several blood tests in, and rushes off to find a doctor for us. Dr George is not available, but after only a few minutes a woman I’d not met before knocks on the door and comes in to talk to us, with that rather tight, serious, professionally sympathetic smile that bodes no good to man or beast.

I find I’ve almost completely lost my voice, and can only talk in a tiny little murmur. H has to repeat practically everything I say for me. I don’t say much.

The upshot is, it really does not look good. We hadn’t thought it did. But because Cute Ute is such a bloated monstrosity, and therefore hard to scan through, there’s a chance, a very small chance, the doctor does not want us to get our hopes up, that ‘things might have developed’ by next week. I feel very sceptical. And very, very tired. And I hate my uterus more than I thought it possible to hate one’s own organs. We are booked in for another scan on Wednesday, to make sure. Meanwhile, we go home, and, get this carry on taking the Prednisolone, the Metformin, the Clexane, and the progesterone. Just in case. Though she repeats, solemnly, that we shouldn’t get our hopes up. We decide not to do the Intralipid infusion booked for this afternoon. There’ll be time enough to do it next week, if ‘things have developed’, and the doctor tells us, tactfully, it’s best not to waste money just now. She reminds us not to get our hopes up for the fifth or sixth time.

All this time, I’ve been carrying a cold cup of peppermint tea about with me, because we were early and I thought I’d have time to finish it before the scan.

As we’re on our way out, I go to the loo. This next bit is disgusting. As I sit there, I feel something slithering out of me, and, in a sudden panic, I catch it in my bare hand. The idea of my embryo falling into the toilet seems unbearable. I am holding a blood clot about the size of my palm. I stare at it in horror, thinking ‘but, it didn’t hurt!’. After what feels like an age, I wrap it in paper towels, wash my hands, and stick my head round the door to let H know what has happened and perhaps if the doctor is still about… He rushes off and finds her. I speak to her briefly through the half-open toilet door, and she thinks this changes nothing, in fact could mean nothing, and we should stick to the original plan. She seems embarrassed and flustered, which irritates me beyond measure. It’s not as if I’ve tried to show her the blood clot.

I examine it myself, and can’t find anything that looks like a gestational sac. That and the lack of pain leads me to conclude, eventually, that it is just blood, but I am very concerned at how much it clotted in the half hour between my suddenly gushing blood during the ultrasound and my visit to the loo. I put it in the sanitary bin and wash my hands again, very thoroughly.

We go home.

*Gloom that no quantity of ornamental fans can bat away*

Since then, the bleeding slowed over the course of Thursday, became a thin dark steady drip on Friday, and is as I write, heavy brown spotting. I have had very little cramping, most of which seems to be related to a full bladder or bowel rather than genuine uterine or cervical distress. On the other hand, I don’t feel particularly pregnant anymore.

I do, however, feel like a total delusional idiot, shoving progesterone pessaries up my arse while blood trickles out of my vagina. And I resent the Clexane jabs with the power of a thousand burning suns. But the doctor said to, so on we go.

I emailed my boss, and I am off work for at least a couple of weeks, while this idiotic drama resolves itself.

I called my mother, who said mostly the right things, though I wish she’d shut up about homeopathy and acupuncture and herbs and special diets and craniosacral realignments and gestational surrogates. She insisted on being hopeful in an ‘at least you got pregnant!’ way until I reminded her I’m really quite good at getting pregnant. Heigh ho. She also said she was sorry and acknowledged this was very hard on me. She concluded by remembering H would be horribly sad too, and sending him all her love, which restored my faith in mothers somewhat. H still hasn’t told his own parents, and is dreading it, poor sod.

I don’t feel hopeful, and don’t know how to deal with people being hopeful at me. It’s as much as I can do to keep taking the sodding medications. Gentle Readers, it did not look good. I’ve googled enough 6-7 week embryo ultrasound images to know that that did not look good. Fuck Cute Ute anyway, for making everything as drawn-out, complicated, messy and difficult as possible.


Scared? How about reasons to be scared? (Limbo. Limbo is happening)

Do you know what seeing blood in your underwear is like when you’re pregnant? It’s like being hit between the eyes with half a brick.

I was at work. I’d just finished a desk-shift, and beyond feeling a bit heart-burny and sick, also very tired (i.e. exactly as usual), nothing was bothering me. I went to the loo, as you do. I looked down at the crotch of my bright pink knickers. What was that mark? What was that mark? I wiped myself, and the paper came away smeared bright red. I stood up and looked in the bowl, and the water was stained with red swirls.

I sat down again, and briefly considered blacking out. But this was a cubicle in a public toilet regularly patronised by the sort of student who pees on the seat, and, well, no. No.

I sat there for minutes, trying desperately to work out what to do, while my heart rate very unhelpfully accelerated from ‘sitting on the loo’ to ‘run from tigers run run run run TIGERS‘. Eventually I managed to wrench my fevered brain into some sort of order and decided to go back to my desk, email my boss to let her know what was going on, and walk slowly and calmly up the road to the very-near-by enormous hospital, where I knew they had an EPU, on account of having checked all these things weeks ago in Paranoid All-Contingency Planning Mode. Paranoia doesn’t mean They aren’t out to get you, haha.

And that is what I did. With a wad of toilet-paper in my knickers. For the dignity.

To my almighty fucking rage, my mobile phone had absolutely no signal in the area (how does a network that boasts of being the biggest in Britain not have coverage at the centre of the major city? And it’s been like this for weeks. I am so annoyed, and now it’s personal). And H, poor lamb, had gone off at dawn for a day of meetings at the regional office a good couple of hours away. Ach, I thought, even if I do get hold of him, he won’t be able to hold my hand. I’ll go to the hospital, and keep trying H, and if it’s serious I’m sure I can get them to call him.

The EPU (Early Pregnancy Unit, that is) at Enormous Hospital doesn’t take self-referrals, so I knew I had to go to A&E (ER to you) first and get them to refer me (see? See? I’d checked everything). A&E were in the middle of having half the walls knocked down, of course, and being very busy, but the receptionists were calm and kind. I had a 30 minute wait for triage, surrounded by little old ladies who had fallen over, two other bleeding-in-early-pregnancy cases (we resolutely avoided each-others’ eyes), the standard local eccentric covered in blood and bruises, a toddler with concussion, people in slings, people having picnics, people having bitter spousal arguments in whispers, and one chap who fell theatrically to the ground while shrieking ‘I’m dying!’ down the phone to his mother (turned out to actually be called ‘I skipped breakfast and felt faint’).

I tried slow, deep breathing, but it did not work. The triage nurse was all ready to send me over to the EPU for a scan, but of course he had to check my blood-pressure and pulse. And my blood-pressure and pulse were still both at ‘run from the motherfucking tigers!’ levels. That’s just how I react to a threatened miscarriage. When I was losing Pikaia the triage nurse actually hauled me off for an ECG, my heart was hammering so. I told the nurse I usually had perfectly normal blood pressure and heart-rate, and this was just how I panic, but he shook his head and said the EPU wouldn’t take patients who weren’t ‘stable’ in the cardiovascular sense. And a resting pulse of 122 was not ‘stable’. So he was going to take me through to A&E and get a doctor to have a look at me.

Did I mention they were in the middle of renovations? There were no available cubicles at all. I and some few fellow patients were all popped on a row of chairs in a corridor right next to three men smashing a new doorway into the next corridor. This was not relaxing.

I don’t object to the long waits. It was a busy urban A&E, and there were people having heart attacks and car accidents and head injuries and seizures to deal with. The staff I did see were kind, and did take a mo to let me know they hadn’t forgotten me every now and then. The noise was appalling. The having to talk to nurses about urine samples (mine was full of blood, because I was actually still bleeding vaginally) and, err, vaginal bleeding, in a noisy corridor, next to a grumpy man in a hoodie with filthy feet and fingernails was not ideal, but hey, the cubicles were full of power-drills and boxes of saline, and/or people with limbs hanging off, so we all just lumped it and pretended not to be listening to each other. They checked my blood pressure and pulse a couple more times, in which I calmed down to almost normal pressure but my silly heart kept thundering away at over 100 bpm no matter how carefully and slowly I breathed. The nurse who checked my urine agreed that I was a) pregnant and b) bleeding, patted my hand, and told me a doctor would talk to me soon. Soon meant after an hour and a half, which actually is not too bad for a busy A&E, but said wait entirely failed to bore my heart into submission.

The doctor, who had a charming Germanic accent and a cheerful manner, eventually examined me in a store-cupboard in which a bed and a screen had been hastily jammed. He took a history, blenched slightly at all the miscarriages, was mildly confused by the variety of drugs I am on, but acknowledged he knew nothing about IVF, was alarmed by the history of endometriosis and adenomyosis (‘that is not so fun, nicht wahr?’), and even more alarmed when he felt my belly and found that idiotic monstrous bloater Cute Ute was the size of a fifteen to twenty week pregnancy already oh for the love of Christ. ‘Adenomyosis,’ I said.

‘You,’ he answered, ‘have been attacked by all the devils at once.’ And he patted my hand quite thoroughly.

And by the time all this had happened, it was too late to refer me to the EPU, which closed mid-afternoon, regardless of the stability of my sodding heart. And that, Gentle Readers, really did piss me off. I am still pissed off. I didn’t act pissed off, because the doctor was clearly doing his best and thought the EPU were being dicks, both about their opening hours and their arse-covering policies, and because after all I was not lying on the floor weeping in a pool of blood, so I clearly was not an emergency. The doctor wrote me a referral for a scan tomorrow morning, either at Enormous Hospital, or at my Local Hospital of PTSD, and told me to go home and put my feet up, unless the bleeding got worse or I developed bad cramps, or felt faint or dizzy or got a fever.

He then asked if I – he paused, looking at my nerdy teeshirt and loose jeans and bright red sneakers – if I had a partner. I said yes, and he said, carefully, ‘And your partner wants the baby too?’.

‘Very much. We’ve been trying since we got married.’

‘Good, good. Get her err them, your partner, to look after you. You need lots of rest.’

Bless the man. Bless him to bits. I smiled and said I would. I quite like being politely taken for a lesbian, you know (that’s why I dress like I dress, I guess) (but if H were a girl, like hell I’d be doing the Being Pregnant part of the relationship, as I am clearly utterly shit at it. Oh, for a spare and healthy uterus in this marriage!).

And then I and my unstable cardiovascular system and leaky toilet-paper-wadded reproductive equipment waddled off to find a pay-phone and ask H to come home and look after me.

By the time I got home, the bleeding had stopped, and I am now doing brown spotting. I have not had any bad cramps (slight constant cramps being my modus operandi since I discovered I was pregnant) or any other alarming symptoms. But I spent the evening with my feet up anyway, and we got pizza.

Poor H. When he got home he was paper-white, cold to the touch all over, and absolutely clammy with sweat. I don’t suppose his cardiovascular system was entirely stable either.

I am going to call Riverside in a minute and ask their advice. Given that Scary Symptoms have stopped, I’d rather avoid PTSD Hospital and just go for my planned scan tomorrow, if everyone agrees it is safe and reasonable to do so. But I am not going to work today. Bother work.


Outed (nothing bad has happened yet)

On Monday, as planned, H and I went to see the GP, in order to get all my miraculous baby-sparing medications transferred to NHS prescriptions, which would be ever so much cheaper and easier to refill.

Naturally, I became terribly anxious (read: freaked out, snapped at H for no particular reason, had anxiety dreams) about this. I had visions of doctors refusing to do this without a proper letter from Dr George (we’d only managed to crowbar a rather vague email out of him), or refusing to do this on principle because it was a private IVF cycle (you know, like cosmetic dentistry), or refusing to do it because they didn’t understand why we’d want these drugs in the first place (in NHS IVF, they often have you stop progesterone on getting a positive pregnancy test (I know! What the serious fuck? And then they wonder why NHS success rates suck compared to private! How about because they treat it as vanity bollocks and don’t keep up with the research at-fucking-all?)).

Yeah, no. We saw a rather eager young chap who not only cheerfully and instantly sprang to his computer and printed out handfuls and handfuls of prescriptions for me, but also booked me into the NHS antenatal service, tested my urine for sugar and protein as if I were a normal pregnant woman (all fine, BTW), and wrote me out a Maternity Exemption certificate. This piece of NHS starlike wonder and genius guarantees that all pregnant women do not have to pay a penny for any even vaguely pregnancy-related medications for up to a year after the birth of their child. To make up for the being-shit-about-infertility part. This certificate is now stuck to my fridge, so I can stare at it in bewilderment and awe with all the more ease.

And then I went to work, and very discreetly, by email, let my boss (who knew I was doing IVF) and the office manager (who has to sort out which category sick-leave and doctors’ appointments fall under, because pregnancy stuff is tracked separately so as not to affect sick leave entitlement), that I was, in fact, uh, well, oh for God’s sake, pregnant (eeeeeeep I typed it I typed it eeeeeeeeeeep). And could we keep it quiet just for now, please and thank you.

Since when, my boss has given the world’s worst performance ever as discreet secret-keeper. She turned, on the instant, into the Mr Bean of discretion. I’m surprised she doesn’t *wink wink nudge nudge* me every time she speaks to me. For example, this morning I got caught in the rain on my way to work, and feeling chilled and disgruntled, I grabbed a decaf coffee. I have studied the available guidelines from several sources, and it seems that the magic number to stay under is 200mg of caffeine a day, and one frikken’ decaf has between 10 and 50. Also, I usually drink several coffees a day, and colleagues do actually notice and comment when I cut down (May: wild hair, glasses, nerdy teeshirt, coffee cup). So, decoy coffee, if you will. I had not yet sat my damp self down at my desk when Boss popped up and gasped: ‘Oh, May, is that coffee? Should you be drinking that?’ ‘It’s decaf,’ I said. I should’ve said ‘Of course not. It’s methadone,’ but I was tired and undercaffeinated. ‘I should phone your husband and let him know!’ she trilled. I smiled, weakly, incandescing under my various colleagues’ curious glances.

(Phone my husband oh my horsey God).

Later, she freaked out when I went to go pull something out from under my desk, and got a male colleague to come and do it for me. Which he did one-handed, and then gave us both a very curious stare, while I went absolutely puce with mortification.

I may have accidentally murdered her before the end of the 1st trimester. Or, because I simply must not strain myself, got any number of willing colleagues to do it for me.

It dawns on me that I do not have a repeat prescription for the Metformin. So I shall have to go and annoy the GPs again tomorrow. Bother.


Star

You can always tell when a May is excessively nervous. She does housework. Normally I regard housework with the finical loathing of a millionairess asked to pick through the recycling for food scraps on a very hot day. My first dissertation however and for example saw me scrubbing all the grouting between the bathroom tiles with bicarbonate of soda and an old toothbrush. This morning, I washed dishes (I confess, we had reached a Dish Crisis) and tried to ignore the insistent stinging focus of every neurone I possess on the phone. The embryologists weren’t due to call until midday and I was scowling at it through the back of my head by 10:45.

And H had a nap, because he had spent the entire night lying awake rigid as a board in an unholy puddle of angst, heat and cotton mouth.

And they rang! Just after midday! As promised! (I am still finding it novel to be rung by a lab when it says it’s going to ring).

‘Is that May? It’s the embryologist. I have good news!’ And I promptly went a little giddy.

The good news? The two ‘good’ embryos were just that – good, hatched, developing, and chromosomally normal. The third, the slightly lazier one, was abnormal. The Wee Fourth’s wee hiccough did not in fact yield a result, but it looked rather crummy this morning, so it has been benched.

We were told to come in for transfer as soon as possible, and to think about whether we wanted to transfer one or two while we travelled, and I tell you, it’s hard to think about these things and find your shoes wallet hat knickers (what? I was in the shower just before they called) and bus pass. And we were a tad bemused. Doctor George had made a strong case in favour of transferring one. Two embryos wouldn’t necessarily increase the chance of a pregnancy, but twins are riskier, both to the mother and themselves, and my uterus (sorry, Cute) is a stiff distorted heap of rust to start with. H is somewhat skeeved by the idea of putting me at any extra risk (remember how he freaked out about OHSS before IVF was even really on the cards?). He also, I think, likes the idea of having One In Reserve, and FETs can do better than fresh IVF, because an embryo that survives thawing is one tough cookie, and the uterine environment is nicer for not having been jack-hammered with fertility drugs. We were all ‘good reasons for one at a time!’ So we sat on a bus and boiled and Talked Cryptic. And decided that unless they had a new bit of information that Changed Everything, we’d go with one.

And then we reached Riverside (‘Good luck!’ said the Receptionist), wandered off to the waiting room (‘Hi!’ said Dr George, rushing past in scrubs and carrying a sandwich) and sat there, tweeting nervously (it’s the beans) and wishing I could go pee.

As I have already remarked on this ‘ere blog, Riverside has a seemingly unlimited supply of charming medical staff. We were called through by yet another one, in pink scrubs this time, and led to a room containing two chairs, a gynaecological couch with stirrups, an ultrasound machine, the door to an en suite toilet, and in the wall next to the couch, a serving-hatch. ‘Do you have a full bladder? Yes? Good! That *pointing at the toilet door* is for later.’ She then went off to fetch a doctor (we knew it wouldn’t be Dr George as he was clearly doing retrievals (and sandwiches)).

Transfer Doctor was a sweet, pretty lady. (I don’t know about you, but I personally feel more self conscious about a pretty lady looking up, err, me than I do about a chap, on the principle of, if you ain’t got one, you don’t get to judge). She opened the hatch and lo and behold, it led to the Lair of the Embryologists, and an absolute poppet in a pink hair net poked her head through to check I was me, and H was H, and to say good luck, and then went off to fetch our embryos. And then another embryologist appeared at the hatch – it was the one we originally had our consultation with all the way back in June – just and cheerfully to say good luck. I like Riverside.

We established that there was no more information to suggest transferring both rather than one was a better idea. So we decided to transfer the starriest, prettiest embryo, and freeze the handsome second one, graded respectively as 6AA and, I think, 6AB (or was it 6BA?).

(6AA? We produced a 6AA? How?)

(WordPress app. is not letting me do links this evening, or I’d link you to an explanation of Day 5 blastocyst grading)

And then I got to take my skirt, knickers and sandals off and put my Lucky Fluffy Socks (gift of Shannon (hi Shannon!)) and clamber onto the couch, H sitting close to my head where he could see the ultrasound screen and the tv screen on the wall above it. Pretty Doctor winched me open, using the longer speculum (Cute Ute, being ‘bulky’, no longer fits behind my pelvic bone and instead rests her weary fundus on top of it, and my bladder, so, uh, is further ‘up’ than she used to be. It’s a thing. Fucking adenomyosis). She then proceeded to scrub my cervix clean ‘of mucous’ (it’s meant to have mucous. It’s a protective coating) with what felt like mop, broom, window scraper and street-cleaner truck with whirling brushes. And then we threaded a test catheter in, which I barely felt (my cervix has always been cooperative). And then we waited. And waited. Me with a breeze where one does not normally feel one. Eventually the Nurse called through the hatch: ‘Hey! We have a lady here with a full bladder!’

‘And a speculum up her vagina!’ chimed in the Pretty Doctor.

‘No sense of priorities, these embryologists,’ added the Nurse, ‘Next week I’ll make them lie there with a speculum up them and a full bladder… Of course, I don’t know where I’d put the speculum in Fred… ‘

Giggling hysterically with your vagina full of ironmongery and a full bladder is also quite a thing, by the way.

Poppet popped her head back through apologetically to ask if we wanted to see the embryo. Yes please! Who on earth wouldn’t? And after a few moments it appeared on the TV screen. starOh my God. It’s… It’s an actual embryo. With a trophoblast, an inner cell mass, and a neat little cavity. It was textbook. I actually teared up.

Another pause while they coaxed it into a catheter, and ceremonially handed this over to the Nurse, who ceremonially handed it to the Pretty Doctor, before taking on the ultrasound machine and prodding me about to get a view of Cute Ute’s inner workings. Cute Ute not being exactly where she should be, this took a minute of determined if apologetic pressing on my bladder from all angles. And then we watched the catheter appear in my uterus, and be withdrawn, leaving a little, white, magical dot behind.

And another pause, me still full of contraptions and bonus covered in gel, while the catheter was handed back through the hatch and checked to make sure it was empty. It was! And I was finally emptied of metal and allowed, oh bliss! to go pee. (And put my clothes back on).

We were handed a photo of our 6AA embryo as a souvenir, so we took it with us to lunch at an American-style diner. Burgers and fries and milkshakes. Every fresh little embryo whose had a hard 24 hours being tested needs a milkshake.

As for the other one, we asked them to freeze it, and what then? Well. It depends on what happens next. So we all four are waiting, and H is googling special offers on peesticks.

Strange world. Normally thrusting your progeny into a chest freezer for an indefinite period of time would be considered abusive.

P.S. As I type this, H is trying to tell his father we are doing IVF this summer without letting it slip that, err, we’ve done it. Teeheehee! Secret Squirrel! I did the exact same thing with my mother on Tuesday!


What are we doing? What have we done?

I am, of course, freaking the hell out right now. That high-pitched whine you can hear? With the random pings, ftz-noises, bangs, and puffs of smoke? My neurons bursting into flames.

Once again, Satsuma the Great was in deep cover, and not visible by dildocam. We looked in from the top, as it were, and there she was, rather large and much burdened with great big black blobs. This being an external ultrasound, ÜberScanningLady couldn’t get an accurate count, but she gave up counting at 18 large follicles, one 20mm, three 19mm, ‘several’ over 18, and the rest over 15mm. There may be more.

‘What a star!’ said ÜberScanningLady, ‘Who needs left ovaries, eh?’

Not this happy camper.

Riverside Clinic found yet another adorable nurse from their seemingly inexhaustible supply, and she, with a flourish, presented me with my Retrieval Schedule.

‘So, tonight you take the trigger shot,’ she began – holy shit, this is really real – ‘And your final Gonal F and Cetrotide shots. You’ll need to take the Gonal F at 7pm, the Cetrotide at the usual time (10pm), and the trigger at 11:30, OK?’

(Holy shit this is actually happening)

‘No shots tomorrow!’ she continued, ‘And don’t eat after midnight tomorrow.’

(Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep)

‘Has your husband ejaculated recently? Yes? Good. Remind him not to do so again before Friday.’

(Oh crap they really believe I have eggs and there’s a point to all this)

‘You need to be here at 7:30am on Friday, OK?’

‘Wait,’ I said feebly, ‘do you mean this Friday? The day after tomorrow?’

She laughed, kindly.

We went through my file again to make sure we all knew what was what, and that I knew about the Cyclogest and Clexane and the Intralipid on the day of retrieval. She noted the list of miscarriages and expressed dismayed sympathy, which was nice, but also made me feel weird, because it seems this is unusually pants even for Riverside, where a swift perusal of the waiting room proves I am by no means the fattest or the oldest woman they are treating. (I am wandering off-topic here, but if the NHS limits IVF to younger, thinner women, the ‘better’ candidates, the ones who don’t miscarry with the regularity of the changing seasons, how come NHS success rates are so noticeably worse than those of private clinics, who will take on the fat, the shrivelled, and the medically complicated?).

And then she harshed the mellow by missing my vein on the first stab with the needle and having to wriggle the point about in my flesh, hunting for it AAAAAIEEEE OH MY GOD THAT FEELS REVOLTING.

I settled my bill, I collected the rest of my drugs from the pharmacy, and I trundled off to work for a hard day’s patient Sorting Stuff Out. I am taking next week off, so I can lie about on my chaise longue, weeping into my prunes while watching Doctor Who reruns, in peace. Therefore Stuff Needs Sorting Out.

So! I have emptied the last of the Gonal F into my muffins (exact right amount! Ha! Take that, pharmacy fees!), and very shortly I will go play with the last Cetrotide (alas, we have a spare Cetrotide shot). Incidentally, I got H to mix the Cetrotide for me the other night, and after a few minutes he admitted, ruefully, that it was ‘trickier than it looked’. Quite. *smug mode*.

Oh, my dear good Gentle Readers, I am nervous.


And with one mighty bound

And back to Riverside this morning for my 5th? I think? wanding.

Satsuma, who is becoming increasingly tender, and who I am sure I felt, like a disgruntled orange on holiday, somewhere near-parallel with my navel, was simply not visible on the dildocam. We caught a distant glimpse of a mass of black circles before she skedaddled, so ÜberScanningLady had me shove down hard from the outside. It was not nice. Satsuma squeaked in protest and struggled out of focus again. So I ended up being scanned from the outside. Gel all over me and my teeshirt, hurrah.

But, but, we saw Satsuma. And she is up just below the level of my navel – a Navel Orange! – And she had 18 follicles over 10mm. A few at 18mm, a few at 15mm, and some at 14mm – I can’t remember the exact details, I was too busy being startled at the sudden turn of events.

‘Oh, well done!’ said ÜberScanningLady, patting my knee.

Last Friday my oestrogen levels were 800 and something. I don’t know what they were today, as Riverside only tell you these things if they call later to adjust your medication. I can only assume they’re behaving. As for Cute Ute, she as a triple-stripe lining and everything, bless her.

I then saw an entirely new-to-me nurse, sweet as a gumdrop, who decided that rather than use the butterfly needle to get today’s sample for testing, as all the other nurses had been doing, she would use a thing like a drinking straw. When she pulled it out, blood ran down my arm. ‘Oh!’ she gasped, ‘Are you on aspirin?’

‘No,’ I said through gritted teeth, holding further balls of cotton wool over the puncture. Could it be, I wimpishly added silently, that you just tore a hole in a much-abused vein with a bloody oil-drill pipe? I ended up holding my elbow over my head for a minute while we booked Wednesday’s scan. I have a bruise, of course. Perhaps we’ll abuse the right arm next time.

Sweet Nurse of Accidental Savagery then cheerfully announced that I looked to be on course for a Friday or Saturday retrieval. This Friday? Why, yes, if everything still looked good on Wednesday.

AAAAAIIIEEEEEEE this is actually happening oh my God.

Does this or does it not make up for the incident last night where I managed to bend the Gonal F pen needle double while trying to get the cap back on it, and then, not having noticed, seize hold to unscrew it, thereby sinking the sodding needle into the joint of my thumb up to the benighted bone? Yes, it is still painful 24 hours later. I think I might get H to prepare the weapons this time.

(Also, how come I can calmly watch as I sink a needle into myself, but have to turn my face away when someone else does it?)


Double fault

1 – My Dad called last night to tell us he’d had a heart-attack. At which point I nearly had a heart-attack. On the plus side, he was well enough to talk on the phone. On the minus side, a sodding heart-attack. ‘Oh, I’m fine,’ he kept saying, ‘I just need a stent.’ OK, you daft old bugger, a) you are not fine, and b) you also need to stop smoking and drinking and start eating, you know, green things other than Chartreuse. Because this is your second heart-attack and you can’t just have one of these a year to screw with your children’s plans, as if it were a middle-aged habit, like buying fast cars and getting entangled with fast women. Anyway. H and I have surgically attached our telephonic devices to our persons. Also, this is not a good time for me to rush off to the other end of the country. I’m in the middle of an IVF cycle, damn it.

2 – Speaking of which, Satsuma is in deep disgrace, because at today’s scan, she still had absolutely no follicles over 10mm. About 15 or so had grown enough to be ‘worth counting’, according to ÜberScanningLady, so there are 15 potential contenders (the rest of the 29 were still minute), but not one was over 10mm. Gonal-F increased to 300 units a night. Dearest Satsuma, this kind of insubordinate slackness is not only emotionally wearing, but it’s also fucking expensive. Get on with it. You have been warned.

Edited to add – Just had a call from the Riverside Clinic. Increase Gonal-F to 375 units an evening. SATSUMAAAAAAAAAAAARGH.


Covered in bees!

Item – I am still FAR TOO CROSS to compose a dignified, graceful, tactful email to HR Minion of Shame about the inadvisability of comparing IVF to ‘a cosmetic procedure’. We’ll see how calm and Emily Post I am feeling tomorrow.

Item – I am extremely grateful for the outbreak of outrage in the comments on my previous post. Thank you! Exactly!

Item – Back to Riverside this morning for another scan, stab and consult. For some reason they were somewhat constipated and I was there from 10:00 to 11:45, which seems a tad excessive, despite all the free tea, coffee, hot chocolate and water you can drink and hot-and-cold running orchids in every room.

Item – So ÜberScanningLady and I peered at my uterus, admired the plumpening lining, and then peered at Satsuma, who had taken something to heart (75 extra units of Gonal-F a night, I should think) and had 29 visible follicles. They were all, however, quite tiny, one being 10mm, four more being about 8 or 9mm, and the rest under 5mmm. Which all gave rise to a series of circular conversations, first with ÜberScanningLady and then with the nurse, along the lines of ‘well, 29 follicles is quite a few, but they’re all quite small, especially considering your oestrogen level, which is nice and high, and your AMH, but then there are 29 of them, which is good, but they are small, really, but on the other hand, 29… Let me go and ask Dr George…’

Item – Upshot, eventually, stay on 225 units of Gonal-F a night, and start Cetrotide (Cetrorelix) tonight! W00t! Or something!

Item – And then I went to work, and did a late shift, and have come home in a state of mind best described as ‘bloody’, as all the colleagues I had to deal with decided today was a good day to be needy, whiny, vague, and tiresome. Yes! Of course I’m interested in your kitchen sink leak! And the argument you had with your boss! Tell me more! Please! Or at least have the grace to turn up for your shift on time! Arse! Feck! Girls! Booze!

Item – H and I lined up the New Improved Chemistry Experiment kit on the kitchen table, and I did the Gonal-F shot first, as that’s easy. And then I read and re-read the Cetrotide instructions, and felt stirrings of panic and gloom. Uncap the vial of powder. Wipe the top of the vial with the provided alcohol swab. Take the cap off the syringe filled with sterile water. Screw on the big needle. Uncap the big needle (cripes, it’s huge) and stick it through the rubber top of the vial. Squeeze the water into the vial (surprisingly fiddly, and made me feel I was made of slippery thumbs). Gently ‘swirl’ the water about in the vial, this with the syringe still sticking out the top, how did I not drop the sodding lot? Panic a little at the undissolved lumps, realise they have dissolved. Try to suck all the medication out of the vial, fuck it up, and end up with an air-bubble the size of an olive (and now I want a martini). Recap and unscrew the big needle and replace it with the little needle. This step is very important. Point the needle skywards, flick the syringe to encourage the monster air-bubble to the top, and squeeze the plunger, slowly and carefully, until a tiny bead of liquid appears at the needle’s tip, indicating all the air is gone, or, if you prefer and are still having eighteen slippery thumbs, until a jet of the horribly expensive medication sprays out and you feel like a total pillock. Now select a portion of tummy to victimise, and wipe it with the other alcohol swab. Insert the needle, which isn’t actually all that bad, and slowly (I’ve been warned) depress the plunger (I told it all about Matt Smith leaving Doctor Who. Boom tish).

Item – When I pulled the needle out, there was a drop of blood, and that was it. Huh, I thought, no biggie. And then three minutes later someone unceremoniously jammed a handful of nettles down my jeans. This stuff stings like a bitch. I have an actual hive. Eventually I whined so much H brought me an ice-pack, which helped, but Holy Mary Mother of God, every night? For over a week?

Item – Tomorrow morning I start the Prednisolone. And may God have mercy on our souls.


It’s your own time you’re wasting

Hello, it’s me again. I have no idea what happened last night. I had the draft of a post, I was tapping away at it, and I suddenly went all ‘oh, sod it’ and hit ‘publish’ in the middle of a train of thought, and stomped off to bed. As H so sweetly remarked, it’s probably caffeine withdrawal. So if you were wondering why I seemed even more random than usual in an abrupt sort of way, wonder no more.

So caffeine! Yes! I am trying to cut down slowly, as I’ve always been a bit of a caffeine fiend, aiming for one (1. Unum. One) cup of tea OR (not and. Or) coffee a day (and by cup I mean ‘cup’, not ‘bucket’). I am nearly there. I thought by cutting down slowly I’d avoid the MASSIVE CRASHING HEADACHES. And I have. I merely have a constant irritating headache. Which could be the Gonal-F. Or life.

And on to today’s adventures. H and I went to Riverside for the scan/bloodwork/chat with nurse thing that is to be happening ever-so-often for the next couple of weeks. Well, I was there for the scan and the needles and the chat, and H was there to enquire as to where in heck our bill has got to so we can actually pay it. He eventually hunted down someone in Accounts who assured us it was in the post. So that was all amazingly pointless and so much for trying to be Good And Responsible Citizens.

Meanwhile, ÜberScanningLady and I had a look at The Innards. Well, Cute Ute had grown some lining, so she was definitely In The Presence of Oestrogen, but where it was coming from was a complete bloody mystery as Satsuma was still utterly follicle-free (‘What? You were so pleased on Friday when I looked like this! What? WHAT?’). I then went off to get my blood taken (ow) but given the Absence of Follicle, the nurse who spoke to us said Dr George would probably want me to increase the Gonal-F to 225 units a night, and hold off starting the Cetrotide just yet. And we all gave Satsuma a long, sad, pointed look (‘WHAT?’). She then went off to talk to the doctors and yes, I am definitely increasing to 225 units of Gonal-F and they’ll call us if and only if I need to start Cetrotide, which I probably don’t. And I haven’t had a call.

I then went and spent about half an hour waiting in the pharmacy to get a bit more Gonal-F (thanks, Sats) and emergency just-in-case Cetrotide, and Prednisolone (which I am starting on Thursday), and this made me colossally late for work, and my boss was not pleased, and I think I displaced her displeasure onto the wilfulness of pharmacies, but, yes, that wasn’t in the least bit stressful, no sirree Bob.

Boss also made me stay on late to cover the missing hour, which was irritating as H and I actually had a date. Imagine my chagrin when I realised she too was staying on late to make sure we’d have a private time to talk through things to raise with HR (oh, for we are having a meeting with HR on How To Deal With Ladies Doing IVF, and I think I am rapidly becoming the test-case by which my Place of Work is creating policies on the hoof). Boss is squarely and enthusiastically on my side, and wants to make sure I get as much leave, sick-leave, and flexible working as humanly possible. It’s a little overwhelming. Doesn’t she realise that if this works, I’ll be abandoning her for a year?

By the way, 225 units of Gonal-F stings more than 150 units.

Oh, and clexane, because Sheila was asking – I start taking it at retrieval.

The track-pad on my lap-top is playing silly buggers. This is making posting a bit of an embuggerance. Time for a visit to Lap-Top Hospital, alas.