Fertility update

Yesterday I had another appointment at the clinic. It was a pretty big day for us yesterday and the first day we were going to get any actual answers about what is/could be causing us difficulties. After 3 years of not knowing anything, I was SO excited for this day to arrive.

As we drove there yesterday morning I started to feel a little sick with nerves. There were SO many possibilities about the news we could get. We could be told that our struggle was “unexplained” or we could be told there were serious problems. We could be told there was an easy fix or no fix at all.. that we could try certain drugs first or that we would have to go straight to the BIG treatments. On top of that, I had to have my physical exam and though I had read quite a bit about it and had read it was nothing to worry about whatsoever, I was nervous because I actually found my last smear pretty horrible. 

We arrived at the clinic just before 9am and waited for my husband to be called in to do his bit (SA). This was his third one and so that wasn’t really a big deal but he was a bit freaked out because the other tests he has done he has done at home – this was going to be done at the clinic and, I mean, even as a woman I can understand that must be weird as hell!! He has since told me all about the room and what was said to him before/after and though we laughed our heads off, I have to admit I am surprised that more men don’t have a mental block. Hubby said that there was a TV in there (for some visual stimulation lol) but he said he didn’t dare turn the TV on because he was petrified the sound would come blaring out and everyone in the waiting room would hear it and know it was him and think he was a perv! LOL. Oh this still makes me laugh now.

We were then meant to wait until 10am for my appointment but annoyingly we were still sitting in the waiting room at 10.30 and I was getting anxious. The waiting room was empty apart from us so I started to panic that they had scheduled us wrong and we wouldn’t end up being seen and then I wouldn’t get any answers agghhh (luckily that didn’t happen). Finally the consultant came to get us and took us into a private room and then asked me to follow him into another room for the exam. Hubby was apparently meant to/allowed to come but clearly freaked out and decided to stay where he was LOL. So off I went.

I have to say, the physical exam was nothing. The worst part about it was the initial inserting of the camera device bit being a bit uncomfortable (not as bad as a smear though) and the rest was fine! I got to watch the screen and the consultant started to talk me through what he was looking at. He told me that I had a “beautiful uterus” which made me LOL and me and the nurse joked about how that is a compliment you don’t get to hear every day (though I suspect she probably does if truth be told). He then told me that there were no cysts or fibroids, no POLYPS, no endo etc. That was great to hear. He then said he was going to count my follicles on one side and he counted 4. I had no idea whether that was good or bad – he said he wanted more. Luckily he then started to find more and ended up finding 9 on one side and 8 on the other. Apparently that is fine. 

He said something about my tubes but to be honest I don’t really know what he was looking for because I have read before that they can’t get a good look at your tubes from an internal ultrasound – who knows. Regardless, all looked good and then we were done and I was able to get dressed and go and join him and my husband in the other room.

I was relieved that bit was over and now excited for the longgggg awaited answers!!

The consultant started by saying to me and my husband that my scan was good and that there were no problems at all. YAY. He then said he had my blood results and that my AMH was fine (I can’t remember the exact number now but it was in the “normal” range apparently. He then said my vitamin D levels were high (which apparently was a good thing) and he said “I don’t know how you have managed that because I am darker skinned than you so mine should be higher than yours”.) He said “what do you do?” and I said I didn’t know, but that I did take supplements – he told me to continue taking them. 

All good so far then.

He then said to my husband “right, you’re up” and he clicked onto his name on his computer and brought up his SA results. As said before, he has had a few so we weren’t worried about his results. He started to talk us through the results and all was good. He then told us the percentage of “normal” swimmers my hub has and we were so happy because the normal is 4% and the last few tests my husband had 2%. Yesterday he had 6% and we were made up because he quit smoking 3 weeks ago and has been taking the conception vitamins and so this felt like real evidence of how hard he had tried AND how much smoking effected things. I was also secretly really pleased because I knew he would really feel good about getting his results up from 2% and below average to 6% and above average – partly for fertility/health reasons and partly for male pride/ego!!!

And so we moved on.. back to me.

The consultant said to me “thyroid” and I thought to myself “I bet there’s a problem”… I was right. Weirdly I was quite happy as he indicated something wasn’t right which I know sounds really odd but I had been hoping for such a long time that the doctors would find something fairly simple wrong with me that could easily be fixed. 

I would explain the ins and outs of my thyroid problem but to be honest I can’t because it is sooo confusing. The short version of the story is that my brain is telling my thyroid to work harder than it should be/needs to and that a particular level for pregnant women/women trying to conceive is no higher than 2 and that mine was nearly 6. Whoa! He then said that he was concerned that the reason for this was an auto-immune disease and so he said he wanted me to have an Anti-TPO blood test. This will tell us whether my thyroid problem is caused from an auto-immune disease such as Graves Disease. Basically my immune system could be making antibodies that attack my thyroid. 

My husband asked if this could be the cause of us not being able to conceive but he didn’t really answer that straight (he tended to talk fast and he did talk to us like we were doctors to be honest – sometimes I had to ask him to clarify things he was saying). The general gist of his response was “no” because personally I still ovulate each month, BUT he said that my thyroid the way it is would not be able to support a baby if I were pregnant and so it needs to be sorted. I asked whether I would need medication for the thyroid issue and he said yes but that the first step was to have the blood test and find out what the cause was.

I have since Goggled the life out of this stuff and actually being pregnant before this is controlled would be pretty dangerous! It says that having Graves disease (or another autoimmune thyroid disease) which was not under control could cause miscarriage, pre-term labour, stillbirth, preeclampsia, maternal heart failure, poor foetal growth. Agghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!! Totally freaking out about this atm. So obviously this needs to be sorted ASAP.

He then said that it may be worth me having a HyCoSy (test to check my fallopian tubes are clear and not blocked). I was dreading him saying that to be honest because I have heard and read bad things about how painful it is – waaaahhh (yes I know, get over it if you want a baby..). He said he would be very surprised if I had any blockages given my background, lack of pregnancy, abortion or miscarriage and given how healthy my uterus was BUT it was worth checking and also, you can’t have IUI if your tubes are blocked. I told him that we had already paid for this test as part of our package and so I felt it was worth doing (as much as I hate to admit it).

Saying that, I have read that if your tubes are not blocked or even if they have a very tiny amount of tissue in them, this test kinda acts as a bit of a jet-wash and can really help. There are a lot of articles and forums online where women say they struggled to conceive for many years and then had this tube test and fell pregnant that same cycle or a cycle or two afterwards – imagiiinnneeee that!!

The doctor then went on to say that in summary my hub’s swimmers are great, my uterus is great and that we have age and BMI on our side. He said that I have regular cycles and ovulate naturally which were all really good. He said we basically had 3 options:

1)   Continue to try – but he understood that after 3 years, we may want to not wait much longer;

2)   Attempt IUI; or

3)   Attempt IVF.

He then spoke us through the differences between IUI and IVF. He showed us diagrams and photos and spoke about the pain and costs associated with both. To be honest I already knew a fair bit of what he was telling us (again – thanks Google!) but my hub looked completely lost lol. 

He told us that he didn’t think IUI was really that worthwhile for us because of our particular situation (i.e. that there were no obvious problems, thyroid aside). I asked him what the benefit would be and he said (whilst showing us a diagram) that it would mean we had all the very best swimmers (dead/abnormal ones cleaned away) and that they would be inserted via a catheter right up to my tubes meaning they had a much better chance of getting where they needed to go basically. He said the chances of success were between 15-20% for us. 

We then spoke about IVF and he told us about the drugs and injections and how the eggs would be taken out, fertilised (hopefully) and put back in. I asked him how painful each step of that was and he answered. He told us that the chances of success were higher and for us, about 54%. So quite a big difference in terms of success rates. Annoyingly the price difference is quite big too. A round of “natural” IUI (no hormones or drugs) would cost us £1,100. A round of full on IVF would be £5,000 but there are “extras” which total nearly another £1,000 and whilst you don’t need the extras, I think most people probably take them because if you are going to put yourself through this much and spend that much – I imagine you feel you would be mad not to pay the extra and get all the extra help you can. I know others may not feel like that. I don’t know how I feel yet.

We then left the room and went to speak to a nurse about the costs involved in all our different options and then I had the blood test for the thyroid thing and booked in the HyCoSy (tube test) for next week. I then had to do a urine test because they have to check you for chlamydia before they test your tubes. 

And then we finally left with what felt like a gazillion leaflets and A LOT to think about.

I felt happy. Hubby didn’t seem to feel half as happy as me – I wasn’t sure why. Unfortunately hubby had to go to work after and so we both had the rest of the day separate and unable to discuss anything but it gave us time to digest it all a little and I got to speak to T. 

Finally last night we went for a drive and had a chat about it all and we came up with an action plan (I have to have one otherwise I let it totally preoccupy me for days/weeks). Our action plan is:

1)   Get results back re thyroid/auto-immune system disease and sort out medication for that. I need to find out how long the meds will take to work properly – enough that if I were to fall pregnant, neither myself or the baby would be at risk. This is clearly the most important step for now.

2)   Get tube test done next week and find out if tubes are blocked or open as that will help decide future steps.

3)   Once tubes have been jet-washed (and we know they are open (fingers crossed) AND my thyroid has been sorted out – potentially we could try naturally for another few cycles).

4)   Then (if tubes open) try a round of IUI. Despite the doctor telling us the success rates, we feel it would be worth a shot because we don’t have a spare £6k and it would take us a long while to save that amount PLUS once everything else has been hopefully fixed, it might just give us a little helping hand without having to go through the gruelling hormones and injections and egg harvesting etc. We feel it is worth a go even if the odds aren’t fantastic.

5)   Lastly: save for IVF.

I feel quite good today. I mean, there is clearly a lot of stuff to take in and fully understand here and I am slightly concerned about this autoimmune thing. I am nervous about what that could mean if I were to get pregnant but I am relieved that I know the other things are in our favour (no cysts, good sperm, good egg supply etc). It could certainly be worse.

That’s where we are now… I am just being a scaredy-cat about the tube test next week and I will probably Google more things and then wish I hadn’t – clearly I have a Google addiction.

If anyone has been through any of this and would like to leave me a comment, I would really love to hear your thoughts/stories! Anyone with Graves or thyroid issues that has had trouble conceiving or anyone that is/was on thyroid meds and had a pregnancy? Anything really – I don’t have anyone in my “real” life to talk to so I would love a conversation. 

Twink x

Sometimes you just need a pair of slippers

Today has to be the shittiest day. I mean I say that quite a lot on a Monday, but genuinely today was total and utter shit. Shit on a stick.

To explain I’ll need to go back in time a few days, to Thursday. Thursday my hubby and I FINALLY had our consultation at the fertility clinic. That was a very, very long time coming and after numerous sets of blood tests and semen analysis’ etc, we were finally going to speak to an expert!! After the NHS doing a giant number on us and dropping us, we were paying for the privilege of this expert, but even that did not dampen my mood. I was elated. Honestly I had been counting down the days for weeks and weeks and so when I woke up that morning, I was like a kid at Christmas.

So off we went, we arrived at the fertility clinic and went inside. The reception area was completely empty other than a slightly strange receptionist but we booked ourselves in and sat down to wait. We arrived 5 minutes early. Annoyingly we were still sitting there waiting 20 minutes later and were both getting a bit annoyed because surely someone should have at least acknowledged our wait, but no.

Eventually we were called in by a doctor who’s name I genuinely cannot say or spell lol – he’s Greek but have us a nickname. I’ll refer to him as Costas. Costas thought we were there for a second opinion and I corrected him that no, this was our first opinion and then he said he had no notes at all for us and asked if we had been given a questionnaire? No we had not. Not the best start.

I showed him our test results and to make this less boring for anyone reading it, he said that I needed to have an AMH blood test which checks for your ovarian reserve, an internal ultrasound – which checks for cysts, fibroids, endo etc, and finally a HyCoSy which checks to see if your Fallopian tubes are clear or blocked. I wasn’t surprised by any of that as I’ve spent months (years) on Google and forums etc. Fine.

However then he basically waves us out the room. I was expecting a hell of a lot more detail – I was expecting questions about my cycles and about whether and when I ovulate. I was expecting questions about how often we have sex and our history etc etc…. but he just kept waving his hand and saying “that’s for later”.

My husband looked at me and said “okay?” I was clearly visibly shocked or annoyed or upset and I kinda nodded yeah and we left the room and paid. I looked at my watch because I couldn’t believe how quickly the appointment had gone and it had been 17 minutes from start to finish. I felt ripped off to be honest. I also felt like I was going to burst into tears so we paid and hurried out the building.

We went to a nearby coffee shop and I told my husband how I felt. I said I was shocked at how brief the apt was, how little he seemed to ask, how I barely understood him (not his fault I know), how it felt like a rip-off in terms of money, particularly as he didn’t even spend the entire apt time with us and then out of nowhere I said I felt petrified of the tests I needed to have AND that I wasn’t sure I could face HIM doing them and then I cried and said I felt overly scared and said he reminded me of that man that abused me when I was young.

Hubby was rightly shocked, horrified and concerned and started to reassure me that we would never go there, ever again. I felt overwhelmed, scared, let down and all sorts of other things.

However….

an hour or so later I started to feel a bit better. Then I had my phone apt with T and she did well to ground me. She reminded me that he was an expert, a specialist, a professional. She told me he wouldn’t be “pervy”. She spoke to me about how I needed to try to separate the emotion from the physical tests needed and to look at them as a means to an end and to try to take the feelings to her or family or friends and keep them out of the fertility clinic if I could. She also said that I was absolutely entitled to find another consultant or clinic if I didn’t feel happy with him.

I later googled the consultant and his reviews are amazing. I didn’t read a single bad one. I also found out that he teaches AND he writes medical papers…. maybe I was too quick to judge. I since think that I may have just used him to project all my feelings into. My worries, insecurities, fears, anxiety etc.

I feel a bit bad now. Eek.

Anyway, between then and last night I was completely consumed by trying to google other local clinics, seeing what packages they offered, comparing prices, comparing live birth rates, comparing distance etc etc…. I also read every article I could find on the tests I need to have, on the most common reasons for female infertility… and I then googled all the signs and symptoms of each to see if I could narrow anything down. I was STRESSED by the end of yesterday and we had the children here (at the in laws where I’m living) and I just felt fed up.

Unfortunately my husband (whom I love very much) asked me “what’s wrong??” and I swear to god I could have shot him. How is it that I’m obsessed by this, and he doesn’t even have a clue why it is that I may not be at my best? Same husband also said to me when we woke up yesterday morning (with a huge smile) “god I love it when I wake up and the kids are here”.

Gulp.

I mean, that’s lovely. But ouch. You know? I don’t get that same feeling because they aren’t mineeeeeeeee and I am jealous that he gets that feeling and then I got a headache and then I felt moody and sad and inside my ovaries were crying (again). Plus I get all the fun stuff of being stepmum such as making sure everyone’s brushed their teeth, eaten, that the in-law’s house is tidy, that the kids have washed clothes, lunch, dinner etc etc….. I love my stepkids but this weekend doing all of this was tough. ESPECIALLY whilst not living in my own house and on top of the clinic apt and my mind full of all things fertility.

In the end I found another clinic which was cheaper and just as good and so my husband suggested we emailed the first clinic and asked why they were so much more expensive and if they would give us a discount. Now I don’t like to do things like this, but the consultant did say, and I quote “I do good discounts if you ask”. So Hubby’s thought process was – why not ask?!

As I write this we’ve had no response 🤣😂

However today I phoned the other (cheaper) clinic and asked some questions and I have to say, they sound lovely. The lady I spoke to was so helpful, friendly, professional and I just liked her. She also told me I could book the first appointment (blood test) within a couple of days if I wanted to and that my second appointment (physical exam and consultation) could be 24 hours later once my blood results were back.

She also said that they didn’t make people have the HyCoSy test immediately at apt two because sometimes they get all the info they need from the first physical scan and blood test. I assume she means that if your results show you have, say, no eggs or cysts etc – they plan to treat that. Basically they don’t make you go through the pain of the HyCosy unless necessary BUT it is included in the price – half the price of clinic number one.

I think I’m pretty sold on this clinic now so I’m hoping to plan a date and time with the hub tonight to get that first one booked in and then the second one after that. Can’t pretend I’m not thrilled by potentially not having to have the HyCosy – everything I’ve read sounds horrific.

Anyway……

Fertility stuff aside at 9am this morning the estate agents rang me. I was so excited as I knew exchange was approaching soon so I answered excitedly …. however I was told bad news. Our sellers have lost their purchase. Their buyers have pulled out.

I literally couldn’t believe it. After all this time?

They are now out looking again and are apparently very keen to move ASAP and are worried they could lose their sale (us). All I could think was OMG I cannot believe we could have to live at the in-laws for another 3 months… or more, who knows?!

I also felt sorry for myself and thought “why now? Give me a break!!” and I also felt angry because I just want to get pregnant and I want to be in my own house before we do any treatments and so I NEED this fucking house to hurry up!! Agghhh.

After that random things went to shit. My husband left his laptop at home and had to travel in and out of the city twice. He’s had to work late. I had to do some shit jobs at work, it was Monday. I was tired etc etc….

Its now 7.15pm and I should probably go and get dinner started but I’m still stuck on the sofa typing this out and knowing how the rest of my day has gone, I wouldn’t be hugely surprised if my phone breaks, wipes this entire blog or the house catches fire 🤣 lol okay so I may be being a little dramatic but you know the feeling right?

Yes I’m having a pity party for one. 🥳

On the plus side I walked in tonight to an empty house as the in laws are away – and a pair of brand new slippers on the side which hubby clearly picked up on one of his many trips to work and back today. It’s the little things isn’t it? I cried when I saw them LOL.

Sometimes you just need a pair of slippers it seems.

💓

Infertility heartache

Today I walked into a gift shop and found myself surrounded by teddies and baby toys. I decided it would be nice to buy my sister in law a gift because she’s pregnant and we are staying together in the same house at the moment. I found it hard to pick what to buy her because everything was so darn cute. After much deliberation I picked a Winnie the Pooh classic comforter and a little gift bag and went and paid for it. As I walked out the shop, I suddenly felt this sadness rush over me. I pulled the comforter out of the bag and said to my husband “God I want a baby so much it actually hurts. I wish I was buying this for our baby”. He said “I know” and looked sad and a little awkward. He admitted that as soon as he walked into the shop and had seen all the teddies, he knew I would feel like that.

Anyway, we carried on our day and a couple of hours later we went into a cute tea rooms for a snack. As I sat down I was drawn to a young mother breastfeeding her tiny baby. I looked away in case I embarrassed her and also in case she thought I was weird(!) but my eyes kept being drawn back to them. At one point the baby was laying on the table between its mother and father who were both cooeing over it and making all sorts of baby voices and noises and who both looked utterly in love. Without even processing any conscious thoughts my eyes filled with tears and I felt like I could cry a river. I coughed and dipped my drink and tried to distract myself with the menu. My husband obviously noticed something was up and asked what but I told him I would tell him later because I would cry.

I’m not sure if he knew or not, or whether he figured it out – I don’t even know if it matters whether he knew or not really.

I joked to my husband earlier that my ovaries hurt where I’m so desperate to have a baby but it’s not even really a joke at all. I’ve never felt anything like it before. It’s a horrible combination of a kind of grief mixed with a loss, mixed with jealousy and of shame (for me at least). It can make me feel so angry and so bitter when I see so many people with babies, or who are pregnant and I hate that – who admits that? It makes me so frustrated when well meaning family say things like “it will happen when you least expect it” or something along those lines.

Yesterday we celebrated our first wedding anniversary and we had the most perfect day. We went away to a gorgeous hotel just the two of us and we spoilt ourselves with afternoon tea, glasses of wine, delicious food, a nap(!!), a bath in a roll-top bath and beautiful walks around the grounds. I felt lucky, I felt loved and yes, I admit, it crossed my mind that sometimes having the freedom to do these things is lovely.

But….

But the realisation of it being a year since our wedding makes it all the more painful that another year has passed us by without us having got pregnant. Sometimes it feels like life is passing us by and I panic and worry it’s really never going to happen.

My husband wants a baby with me I know he does BUT he has had 3 children and he already has the love and experiences and memories of them. His life wouldn’t be ruined without another child – mine feels like it would be completely ruined.

I think that can make the struggle even more difficult sometimes, it can make the longing and sadness feel quite lonely. For example my husband is currently napping on the sofa and I’m writing this with tears running down my cheeks.

I want a baby so badly. I want to be a mummy so much. I want to hold a baby and feel it grip my finger. I want to smile and watch it feed or fall to sleep. I want to experience being pregnant and giving birth (yes, even that!). I want the excitement of wondering what the child will be like, who they will become, what they will like and dislike and I want them to be happy.

I’m in love with a baby that doesn’t even exist yet.

That’s all really…. I just needed to write that and get it out of my head. Maybe I’ll feel less lonely putting this out there to be read by others. I’m not looking for any advice or anything, I just needed to put it down on paper (well, a screen).

Sending love to anyone else that may be experiencing similar feelings.

👶 💓