Tuesday 26 September 2017

Infertility and Me: Part Two

If you missed part one of my fertility journey you can find it here.

So after a year or so of tests and waiting for appointments we were finally underway to start our IUI drugs. Of course at this point I still assumed that once we were at this stage it would all just click into place.

The IUI procedure due to my circumstances involved taking a nasal spray at 4 very specific times a day to suppress my hormonal system to allow me to inject other hormone doses set by the Dr’s. These injections would then force my body into performing a timed cycle exactly when they wanted it to. It turns out however this is no mean feat to get right. We had 3 tough attempts at getting this to work which was such a frustrating and tiring time, never mind a complete Goldilocks situation. First the drugs were too low, so my body was responding too slowly, then it started to work but the lab had to close (!) and then I responded too quickly and they missed the window to do the full treatment. It was woeful if I am honest. It is heart breaking when they look up at you ( pretty much while still actually INSIDE YOUwith the blimming camera on  a very large…wand like scope) and say I am sorry I think they might cancel and start again….ARGH.

Feeling super excited after finally getting as far as our first full IUI
In among all those drugs I was up at 6am 4 or so times a week to get to the clinic to then wait while they over ran by about 40 mins even when first thing in the morning ( it is such an oversubscribed place, not the nurses fault). Once in, I then I had the joys of having that big camera wand put inside me to monitor how my follicles in my ovaries were reacting, followed up by taking more blood from me than I knew possible! It was hard not to dread visiting every second day and generally becoming consumed by the whole process. Taking a nasal spray 4 times a day might sound harmless but with having to be up super early to fit in dose 1, while staying awake for the 11 pm dose 4, while getting used to a phone alarm going off 4 times a day to remind you about each of those doses- in all it was a total pain in the arse.

IUI is a tricky procedure that is so hard to pinpoint getting it right and I was lucky they let me continue on to the cycle that finally got the timings and dosage correct to allow us to have our first proper procedure.  Lucky Ally finally got to make sweet love to a sample pot in a room with crap porn in it and then hours later they insert that sample into me. This was more painful than I knew it would be, never mind a delightfully awkward procedure. ( I should add here for any other potential IUI patients it is not always painful as I found out, it depends on various circumstances)  After all the less than romantic fun was over, I was then back on the bus home and getting the 2 week wait underway. Even getting the bus home you can’t help but laugh, you are sitting all contorted trying not to draw attention to yourself but sitting thinking “DON’T LET THE SPERM FALL OUT” which of course, it can’t, but it doesn’t stop you acting like a loon.

You are also packed off with these delightful pessaries which confine you to the house before work and after, to allow them to kick in. These of course then bring  hormonal side effects…. And these side effects mimic…. Pregnancy!!! Yup there could be no crueler thing than spending 2 excruciating weeks to see if you are pregnant, while your body tries to persuade you that you definitely are…..

And in the end you are most definitely not.

Of course you find this out with the arrival of an almighty period that after a few years without- is a real beast. Accepting these failures has been so much harder than I thought- no matter how balanced you try to feel about it, after so many failed attempts it was still easier to get carried away and think we were about to be parents.

another day another set of injections
At this point running along-side all these fertility woes, I had been lost in a world of selling and buying the house which brought so much stress that I then blamed myself for all the failed attempts. Our first proper completed IUI cycle fell just after we had moved to Motherwell to stay in my lovely cousin’s house, while our new house was completely renovated. Once settled out there I was sure I could finally take it easy and focus but that's when the true madness started and the renovations were there to coordinate daily. Getting to the hospital that early from out there was even harder, and of course sleep is something they are determined for you to get a lot of to help your body produce good follicles. In all it felt like a bit of a disaster and I was failing at everything.

I continued on all the drugs for another cycle (our 5th by this point) and by now they were really dragging me down. The nasal spray mimics menopause symptoms including general depression and cumulatively I could definitely start to see that kicking in. With the house pressure and not really being able to speak to anyone bar Mairead and Ally, I just felt overwhelmed and very bleak about it all. I had tried to stay super positive but there were points where I didn't want to do it any more for sure. Not telling people had been our decision early on as we never expected it to come as far as it did, and there is such a big added pressure of people waiting to see if it was working. But that of course then really adds to this overwhelming loneliness that infertility can bring.

me looking pained after so many injections
We soldiered on however and kicked off with yet another attempt. We had the drug dosage down to a finer art by now and my body responded in the same time frame as the last full cycle, still not as fast as they wanted but we got there. The roller coaster continued the same, all the drugs, all the hospital visits, the poking and prodding and then the awkward procedure and boom we were back in that sodding 2 week wait. The house was coming to a climax also and it was a nightmare. I was desperately trying to be calm, hiding myself away at work in my lunch hour lying in a disabled toilet trying to get as much quiet time as possible, while ally spent hours every night at the house trying to field as many of the problems as he could so I wouldn't need to go and deal with it in the flesh. And even in all that madness I was still trying to be positive, but it once again wasn’t to be- it had failed. And this time it was so much harder to cope with. All the hormones had reached a mad point and I spent a week feeling more down than I knew I could feel. I just couldn’t be bothered with anything anymore.

 It was a dark surprise to both of us and Ally was pretty sure we needed to take a break so I could come off of the drugs and be able to feel normal again for a bit. But I was determined to press on as taking a break from the drugs would mean a few months of setback to get my system back under control and just wanted to get this one last go we were entitled too, over with.

Determined to find our Christmas cheer among it all
This was the second week into December and it was a really difficult time. With Christmas to try and get into, and our actual first move in date to get completed, it was a tough few weeks! I felt less than festive, the house was a total mess (albeit a finished one- again shout out to Ally who spent millions of hours there on his own trying to do a full builders clean before I saw the place and freaked out!!). Seeing all the family and pals felt hard when I felt less than keen on anything but then we finally got to move into our house the week before Christmas, and we even managed to have a Saturday night with all our friends over. It was just what we needed- normalcy and something I had so missed doing with everyone. We survived Christmas with no complete meltdown just me feeling exceptionally tired. The hospital set the date to head back in and get started on our last set of drugs- Hogmanay.  It was so weird sitting in the clinic once again seeing as we actually spent the last Hogmanay there too. Not the happiest of New Years on that ward to be found and another night of not being allowed a drink- Man I had missed a wee glass of red!!

We kicked off on drugs again from there, and as per usual I did the usual dance of invasive internal checks, blood tests and prodding. But this time the old body took everyone by surprise and they worked much quicker. Instead of 16ish days of injecting hormones, after only about 8 days they turned around said it was almost time to book time off work to have the procedure done again! Music to my ears.

 Ally duly headed in once again for his awkward session in the romance room...we donned our surgical gowns and Ally was delighted when this time the lab team actually verbally congratulated him on his ‘very good sample’, I have never seen the man so proud…

**To be continued tomorrow. if you have been here yourself or know anyone who has that wants to chat then feel free to pass this on or get in touch on Twitter, instagram or Email.**

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