The black dog that keeps on biting me

Churchill called his bouts of depression, the black dog . I think of it like a heavy oppressive cloud which descends and blocks out all the light. Everything turns dark and meaningless. Whichever metaphor you use to describe it, depression seems to dog my footsteps each month that I try and fail to get pregnant.

This past month, the cloud that descended hasn’t lifted. It was the month that my baby boy was due and as the date came and went, the cloud seemed to settle itself more permanently around me. This was also the month that I made the decision not to continue with fertility treatment. After the last failed attempt, I found that I couldn’t face another month of injections, scans, procedures, waiting, hoping, and then, nothing.

I’ve had it said to me that you will know when you are ready to make the decision to stop treatment. I’ve had two years of TTC and three miscarriages in that time and I thought perhaps this decision might bring with it some acceptance, an end to the turmoil each month. Instead I am left with an aching emptiness and overwhelming grief and sadness. I don’t feel any certainty either that I have made the right decision. But I do know that I can’t keep riding this rollercoaster of emotions each month, so it is time to step off the ride.

My husband doesn’t agree with any of this. He thinks I am making a mistake and that I will regret my decision. We can’t seem to talk about it anymore without it ending in an argument and tears, so we’ve stopped talking about it.  

I feel like such a  failure – a failure for the months I haven’t been able to conceive, a failure for not being able to carry my babies full-term, and now a failure for giving up on my fertility treatment.

Could endless IVF cycles be a thing of the past?

A pioneering new chromosome counting technique could put paid to endless IVF cycles.

Microarray CGH (comparative genomic hybridisation) is used to check for any significant abnormalities present in the chromosomes of the embryo before implantation in IVF treatment.

A small number of cells are removed from the growing embryo five days after fertilisation and the DNA in them is scanned for any clear problems.

The results are available within 24 hours, which allows the maximum information to be obtained from the embryo before it is used.

Armed with this knowledge, doctors can then ensure that only embryos with the correct number of chromosomes are transferred in IVF, thereby improving the chances of a successful pregnancy and reducing the likelihood of miscarriage or Down’s syndrome.

Read more on this story here

This is the hardest part

Earlier today, I said that the hardest part of this journey with trying to conceive is waiting, waiting each month to see if a miracle has happened and you are pregnant. You spend those two weeks trying not to get too hopeful, but nevertheless hope bubbles up – you allow yourself the luxury of  a few moments spent working out the due date and you picture yourself holding your longed for baby in 9 months time. You keep on hoping..right up until the moment your hope dies.

My hope died again this afternoon when the cramping and spotting turned into a full on bleed and I couldn’t pretend it was implantation symptoms anymore. My period has come and the IUI has failed. I want to crawl into a hole and never come out again.

I should be ready for this shouldn’t I? I shouldn’t be sitting here typing through my tears. I shouldn’t be feeling this aching emptiness again as another month of trying and failing to get pregnant comes and goes. Yet here I am doing just that.

I don’t know how it can be any other way. You invest so much of yourself mentally, emotionally (and yes financially) in each attempt at assisted conception. Not only did I have the IUI procedure, but I also had acupuncture to help with the implantation and went for a hypno-fertility session where I visualised implantation taking place and held onto that image right up until this afternoon.  You have to believe, you have to have hope, but when it doesn’t happen, it takes such a toll on you emotionally.

How do we keep going on this path? I am finding it really, really hard right now and you know what, this isn’t even the hardest part of it all. The hardest part is when your miracle happens and you conceive your baby only to lose him again.

New hope for women at risk of miscarriage

Great to read this latest piece of news in today’s Irish Times:

WOMEN AT risk of miscarriage are becoming pregnant following treatment with an inexpensive intravenous infusion, a major fertility conference in Dublin has heard.

A new study carried out by Care Fertility in the UK has shown that use of the special infusion resulted in 50 per cent positive pregnancy tests in a group of women with recurrent embryo implantation failure following IVF.

Dr George Ndukwe, medical director of Care Fertility, told the Fertility 2011 conference in Dublin that 20-25 per cent of women trying to have a baby could have faulty immune systems.

“Every day in my clinic, I see women who have endured numerous IVF cycles, all with the same negative outcome,” said Dr Ndukwe. “I also regularly see couples who have suffered the misery of repeated miscarriage.

“We are devoting our attention to finding answers when nature goes wrong. This infusion is inexpensive, well tolerated and easy to administer.”

The average age of the 50 women in the study was 37 and the mean number of failed cycles was six. A matched cohort of 46 women who had no therapy had a clinical pregnancy rate of just 8.7 per cent compared with 50 per cent.

“Previous studies had treated the condition with Humira, a drug used in the management of rheumatoid arthritis. Humira is expensive [a prescription costs up to £2,000], it has risks and is unsuccessful in about 20 per cent of patients, ” Dr Ndukwe said.

He found that intravenous Intralipid was more effective, and cheaper at £200. Intralipid is a fat emulsion containing egg extract and soya oil, used for patients requiring intravenous feeding

Fertility method raises pregnancy rates

From today’s Irish Times comes a report about a new assisted reproductive technique which analyses embryonic chromosomes is significantly increasing pregnancy rates in couples struggling with infertility, particularly older mothers.

The Fish technique, developed at the Institut Marquès in Barcelona, is now being applied to Preimplantational Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) to analyse all embryo chromosomes in a single cell and to identify which embryos derived from invitro fertilisation are healthy enough for transfer to the uterus of the woman.

Click to read more

I said I wouldn’t complain but…

sad-christmas-angelMy period is a week late and I had convinced myself that I was experiencing some classic pregnancy symptoms for the past week – headache, low back ache, overwhelming tiredness, queasiness…I told myself not to get my hopes up and that after last Christmas Eve’s events, to stop believing in Christmas miracles. And yet, we do, don’t we? Continue to believe..particularly when the snow outside my window lends an air of magic to everything.

I duly purchased the pregnancy test and promised myself I wouldn’t test too early, but now a week has passed and still no sign of my period. I decided to test this morning..but all I got was that sad lonely old empty window telling me that this year there won’t be a Christmas miracle.

I promised myself I wouldn’t complain, but sometimes you just need to let the sadness out, before you paint on your happy Christmas face.

Ouch! It hurts!

As part of the thorough investigations ongoing at the Beacon Clinic, I had a laporoscopy and hysteroscopy yesterday and ouch! I am in such pain after it. I thought it was minor surgery and I suppose it is in many ways, but I didn’t expect it to hurt so much.

For those who are non-squeemish and may be interested, laparoscopy is an operation performed in the abdomen through small incisions with the aid of a camera.  It involves two to four incisions: one through the navel, where the scope is inserted, and one to three on the lower abdomen near the pubic hairline, to insert the tools used to manipulate your organs. It can either be used to inspect and diagnose a condition or to perform surgery. In my case the doctor was investigating a possible case of endometriosis as well as having a good old look at my reproductive organs.

And I had a side order of hysteroscopy with this procedure. The doctor wanted to take a look at the lining of my uterus, which is quite thick and to see if a problem in my uterus may be preventing me from becoming pregnant.

So now I feel as if I’ve been in a car crash – my tummy is aching – it hurts to sneeze or cough – I would say to laugh, but I ain’t laughing! My shoulders also ache from the carbon dioxide that was used to fill the abdominal cavity. And my tummy is distended and bloated too as a result. I can’t straighten up to walk right  – I’m like an old crone bent over shuffling along. Remind me to be grateful when I’m no longer in pain, as we forget too easily how great it is to be able to do all the things we take for granted normally.

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