On the road again…

What's Willie Nelson doing here?

What has Willie Nelson got to do with a fertility blog??

Well, all week I have had this line from a Willie Nelson song going round and round in my head

I’m on the road again

Yep, I’m back on the fertility road again. I have dusted myself off after last year’s heartbreak and all week I’ve been doing my Gonal F injections and sniffing my Suprecur nasal spray. Tomorrow I go for a scan at the fertility clinic to see if the injections have worked and if I can go ahead with an IUI.

I feel excited, I feel nervous, I feel hopeful, I feel anxious, I feel..lots of things..but one thing I know for sure…

I’m back on the road again.


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.

How can you judge me?

If I’m learning one thing through this journey, I am learning how judgemental and self-righteous people can be about our decisions to undergo fertility treatment.

I have just returned from a trip to the US and while checking e-mails and reading some online newspapers in the airport while waiting for our homebound flight, I came across some of the most upsetting comments online I have heard to date. All the way home across the Atlantic, the words burned in my brain and the level of vitriol tore at my heart.

The article I read concerned American E! News host, Giuliana Rancic and her decision to undergo IVF treatment. The 36-year-old television presenter speaks about the realities of the arduous process, undergoing up to 63 injections a month as part of the fertility treatment, and a miscarriage that she suffered.

Now I wouldn’t be the biggest fan of her or her reality TV show Guiliana and Bill, but as always my sympathies lie with anyone going through this heartache. What shocked and dismayed me were the comments online afterwards – almost to a man/woman the comments all said how she deserved this pain as it was self-inflicted and representative of  a self-centered desire to ‘spread her genes’  and that she needs to face up to the fact that her genes weren’t just meant to replicate. This judgement of course they also apply to anyone undergoing the same process.

While I absolutely respect the right to everyone to hold their own opinion, I am dismayed by the level of self-righteous judgment and the nastiness of some of the comments. I wonder how many of these commentators are childless? And was their desire to have children not self-centered too? Isn’t that the nature of having children –  an innate biological desire to replicate their own genes?

I wonder how many of these commentators have gone month after painful month wishing, hoping and praying for a positive pregnancy test? How many have experienced a miscarriage? How many know what it feels like to long to hold yours and your partner’s child in your arms? To marvel as you gaze on that little bit of you, and that little bit of me in their face, their gestures, their look? To nurture that baby, watch and guide it as it grows? And how many of these people can honestly say hand on heart, that if they were faced with childlessness, they wouldn’t make the same very same decisions in the end?

So please people, some compassion here. We all walk a hard life at times, with or without children – there is pain along the way. Let’s not judge each other, for unless we’ve walked in each other’s shoes, we have no idea what we would have done in similar circumstances.

On being brave

This post is dedicated to all of us brave women who struggle with infertility and pregnancy loss.

Someone said to me recently, “you must be very brave, you’ve dealt with cancer, fertility treatment and miscarriages and yet you are prepared to keep going”. I don’t think I’m brave. In fact I am scared and anxious and unconvinced most of the time when it comes to my fertility struggles.  

But it got me thinking (adopts a Carrie Bradshaw voice) what is bravery? Can you still be brave and scared? I read a quote once from Bear Grylls, the Mount Everest climber and star of Born Survivor, who should know a thing or two about bravery.

“I’ve seen extreme bravery from the least likely of people” he said, “Life is about the moments when it’s all gone wrong. That’s when we define ourselves.”

Those of us struggling with infertility and pregnancy loss know all about those moments when it’s all gone wrong – and yes, it does ultimately define us. Do we go under or do we keep on pushing forward towards our dreams of motherhood?

Today I heard another quote (via freeingforty.blogspot.com) which really resonated with me:

“What is important is not to be defeated, to forge ahead bravely. If we do this, a path will open before us.” ~ Daisaku Ikeda

So let’s not be defeated, let’s forge ahead bravely, trusting that the path will open before us, and most of all let’s continue to support each other along the way.

Yours in hope

Marie xxx

‘When you lose a child you lose your future’

A repost from last year:

Interesting article about miscarriage in the Irish Independent newspaper. Fiona McPhilips, who has experienced miscarriage and is the author of Trying To Conceive: The Irish Couple’s Guide has this to say:

“No couple expects to be in for the long haul when they start trying for a baby. It is supposed to be a time of great hope and anticipation, when you plan excitedly for your new lives together. It is true that having a baby changes your life, but not having one changes it so much more.”

“I had known how common miscarriage was (approximately one in four pregnancies), but I wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of emotions it would bring. I felt angry, cheated, desolate and so, so sad. Everyone said I could try again, but I wanted that baby, the one that would be born on that due date.

When you lose a child, you lose your future. It doesn’t matter how long your baby has been with you, you feel the gap that their death has left behind. From the moment you know about your baby, you plan their future — your future, together. You work out the due date, pick names, imagine who they will look like. When these hopes and dreams are taken away, it often seems like you are expected to forget you ever had them. I couldn’t forget for one second and I knew that, for me, the only cure for miscarriage was another pregnancy.”

Fiona started a blog originally calling it The Two-Week Wait. “The two-week wait is the time between ovulation and when you can test for pregnancy — that’s how long I expected to be writing the blog for. Well, two weeks came and went, and another, and another and, before I knew it, I had unwittingly documented the slow descent into infertility.” 

I identify with the way in which Fiona dealt with her (dis)stress by writing as it is working for me too. Like Fiona, I wrote on internet message boards after the miscarriage and am writing this blog, and again like Fiona ” I met some wonderful women who listened to my rants and kept me sane..the greatest piece of advice I can give to those battling infertility or recurrent miscarriage is to talk to others in the same boat. ”

“I didn’t know anyone who was infertile, so I could only guess at how hard it might be.  I didn’t have a clue. My guess only extended to the long-term pain a couple might feel about not having a child in their lives. Thanks to television, many people assume that there is a once-off diagnosis that a couple has to deal with, and that they are then free to return to their lives and reshape their future without their much-wanted child. If only it was that easy.”

Much heartache followed Fiona’s miscarriage ” an IUI (intrauterine insemination) yielded success but the baby died at three months gestation. Further IUIs were fruitless, so we moved on to IVF (in-vitro fertilisation). Two IVFs and two further miscarriages later, we were running out of options physically, emotionally and financially. We were lucky enough to conceive naturally twice more, but lost both babies. ” Finally, Fiona conceived a daughter and carried her to term and is overjoyed at this happy ending.

Fiona speaks eloquently of “the cumulative effect of month after month, and year after year, of hope and disappointment….after a while, everything hurts — other people’s bumps and babies, anniversaries of failed cycles and lost babies, and every new birthday, Christmas and Mother’s Day you face with empty arms.”, something I understand and feel only too well.

“There is a huge lack of understanding of infertility in the outside world. It is just not viewed as one of the very bad things in life. A common reaction is, “Why can’t you just be happy with what you’ve got? Focus on all the good things in your life”. When you can’t have a baby, nothing else matters. It is not possible to forget about it, channel your energy elsewhere, take up a hobby. The desire for a child goes beyond the desire for the joy that a child brings — it is a primal, uncontainable urge that overpowers all reason. ”

I will leave the final word to Fiona, words of hope for all you brave women reading this who are experiencing the pain of pregnancy loss and infertility:

“My doctor once said to me, “Brave women are generally rewarded”. There are no guarantees, but it can and does happen — even against the greatest of odds.”

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