“Fingers crossed but not legs” –
A quote often expressed by my wonderful Auntie Bev throughout my treatment.
If you haven’t previously been following my journey ,you can catch up here.
Thankyou! (i couldn’t possible fit it into this blog so click here to see my gratitude!)
Legs akimbo,knickers discarded to the left of you, your other half to your right, a team of strangers stood at the foot of your body and a long plastic contraption thats going to be inserted into the place that no stranger should ever go.
Nope its not an extract from 50 shades of grey,its in fact a routine appointment at the assisted gynaecology unit, it was then that all my dignity was left at the door.
The cold metal pressing onto the back of knees from the stirrups remind me that I’m here for a reason; to monitor my ovaries and see why I’m not ovulating,despite being told i am a PCOS sufferer i am still none the wiser how it effect my reproductive system.
With the snap of a rubber glove,a squirt of the (ever so cold) lube and a gasp of shock, i am told to look on the screen at the side of me.
All i see is a mass of greys, whites & black swirls, a cotton wool like painting, i feel strangely disconnected with this part of my body that I’ve never seen before despite it being me. I expect to be angry at my ovaries, to let them know how the have previously failed me, but nothing.
I’m told that the little pockets are filled with fluid,little sacs that under developed eggs grow, however they don’t release eggs with PCOS, with 1 in 5 women suffering the same problem, only a handful experience the same symptoms, some with no symptoms at all, however as I’ve aged I’ve realised how it effects my body, how to control it and what triggers more symptoms (more on this later).
Mr.Harris the lead consultant scribbles some notes down and answers all my questions with ease;
“Whats the next step to conceive?” – A trial of various medications,Clomiphene(Clomid) tablets firstly.
“What does Clomid do?” – Clomid is commonly used stimulate ovulation. It works by blocking estrogen receptors at the hypothalamus, which is an important “hormonal control centre” for the body”
“How long do i take this for?” – 3 months,due to the risk of long term use & the increase of immunity after long term use.
“RISKS?!” – Some of the most common side effects are weight gain (Good old mother nature letting us know she’s still alive and kickin’!) bloating, stomach problems, breast tenderness, migraines or other headaches, hot flashes, and other similar symptoms.
“Lovely!.. pass me the pills and see you in 3 months time!”
Off i pop, with a large paper bag of pills, and an even larger grin to match, this is the start of our journey to becoming parents, gosh how easy was that?..
7am the following morning i am stood barefoot in the kitchen, with a glass of water ready to wash down the sugar coated miracle, the excitement is hard to contain, I’m on a high already and just know this is going to be the one. With every tablet i take, I’m replacing it with thoughts of pink cribs & blue booties, modern prams and teething rings.
3 long and mentally draining months later and sadly it was soon replaced by “why didn’t it work” and “what the hells wrong with me!?” Mr.F is cradling me and and i feel so vulnerable, id spend hours researching the effects, I cannot count the hours of spent reading other women’s success stories, so to have a failure knocked my confidence hard, I was devastated, i could feel Mr.F’s heart beat a little more than usual, i know he’s disappointed despite not openly discussing his emotions, we sit in silence and the only time we discuss our experience is when we pick up the phone to re-book in with the clinic.
We later found out that despite a high number of Clomid patients becoming successful (75%), that we are in fact one of the many 25% that failed- it still didn’t heal my heart, I didn’t care about failure anymore I just wanted to move on, it almost became a need than want.
No sooner had we left Mr. Harris’ office than we are back again, sat in the same chairs, the same blue printed privacy curtain, the same question on repeat, “What next?”
My answers are met with a response I’ve never head of ‘Intrauterine insemination‘ (IUI)
Its funny how the mind works at the most oddly pressured times,i daren’t repeat some of my thoughts or questions but if you have ever been on this journey I’m sure you can relate, no question is ‘stupid‘, no thought hasn’t been thought by a woman before you, we won’t be the first and we won’t be the last.
Just to make you feel you aren’t alone, i can share this experience of another lady (i can honestly say it wasn’t me!) that was told to me by my Nurse Helen on my first day of my internal scan, upon looking on the screen she saw a black mass, no ovaries, no cysts, no womb, no nothing. Helen’s face must of been a picture because it soon became apparent that she has entered the probe a little lower than expected, i don’t know whats more confusing, that the patient didn’t express her concern at being checked there or that she willingly allowed the examination to continue!
Im not sure of the validity of the story or if it was an old wives tale but it certainley helped me relax, it also gave me reassurance that there was only one place that probe was going!
We are given a folder of information on IUI and i vow for it to become my Bible, i read it every evening, i study every morning, feet up in the bath? The information is right by my side, i want to be in control of this, i want to know everything thats about to happen. I want to know my chances,my success rates, and everything in between.
Im confident and ready for this, I’m mentally prepared and ready to be inseminated.
Ive taken a weeks dose of Norethisterone to induce a cycle- often used for ladies to delay their cycle before a holiday,wedding etc,this will in effect control when my cycle is due to the date;
Ive given myself daily injections of gonadotropins to stimulate a higher quality of mature eggs.
This was mentally and emotionally challenging, I’ve never self injected, its all another reminder that this isn’t a natural way to conceive and i feel alone, i soon found i couldn’t do this myself, so with plenty of trust and plenty of practice on an orange i enlist Mr.F with the task of injecting directly into my leg, this often ended in tears and a unsightly pattern of bruises along my thighs, who says romance was dead? During my medication i am closely monitored via internal scans to ensure i don’t overstimulate too many eggs, the eggs need to be perfect quality and quantity, and when the timing is right, Helen tells me to use my final HCG injection to trigger the release of my eggs.
36 hours later (to the very hour) the timing needs to be precise to catch the right time of the sperm meeting my newly released eggs i am back in the clinic, Mr.F has previously done his job, producing a fresh sperm sample (oh how the other half live!) on the morning of the procedure, and its all go from there, (i attend with a full bladder to help with a clearer picture on the ultrasound when placing the catheter into my cervix) and a good book in my handbag, and some fruity sweets, i am naked from the waist down and ready to be impregnated, i chose to bring Mr.F with me for distraction and of course i would also like to say that he was there at the time of conception!
I’m a little apprehensive, I’ve done some research into the pain and agree with the majority of women that had had the same procedure, its as painful as a rountie smear test,slightly uncomfortable but bearable, I try to focus on my breathing as the catheter is inserted into my cervix and the freshly washed and the healthiest hand picked sperm is injected through the catheter, 2 minutes later i am done. I feel nothing, slight cramping, and just a strange sensation that i could now in fact be pregnant.
Now for the dreaded advised two week wait, 336 hours,14 days, 20160 minutes, and a whole lot of anxiety, dread and excitement.
Times a ticking’ and my fate is sealed.