Tuesday, 28 July 2009

For the record

It occurs to me that I've never properly documented my struggles with infertility. I was prompted to do it though by a post on Meet me at Peachtree about the author's own battle with the disorder which threatened to stop her having children.

The story starts, I suppose, in my teens. I developed really bad spots that, of course, being a teen were very upsetting, so I was put on Dianette - a form of the contraceptive pill that treats acne specifically - at a very young age. And, because the pill worked like magic and gave me perfect skin, and had the added benefit of a contraceptive, I continued to use it throughout the rest of school and University.

At the age of 21 I started to have a little irregular bleeding, so my GP recommended I come off the pill for a break. And what happened next surprised us all - I had no period at all for 6 months. After numerous negative pregnancy tests I went to see a consultant, who, after a series of blood tests and an ultrasound, diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Basically, he'd found what looked like a "string of pearls" in each ovary, tiny "cysts" which were in fact failed ovulations, plus a set of tell-tale imbalanced hormones, including high testosterone, and imbalanced LH (Lutenising hormone) and FSH (Follicle Stimulating hormone).

PCOS is a very varied disorder that affects many women very differently. Often it's linked to obesity, but as I was a healthy BMI (about a UK size 14 at the time) that was discounted. After a glucose tolerance test it was determined that I was at risk of Diabetes and put on Metformin, a drug they give Type 2 Diabetics to manage their blood sugar. The affect of the drug was dramatic - I lost a lot of weight and felt an awful lot better. And, on the advice of the consultant, I went back on Dianette to manage the other symptoms, and although devastated, tried to forget about it.

Fast-forward five years, and I met my husband. I was aware, of course, that we'd probably have problems conceiving, but we were keen to spend a number of years enjoying our time together before children came along.

Then, last year, I began to have irregular bleeding again. I went back to the doctor, who thought I might have a polyp in my uterus and carried out a hysteroscopy under general anaesthetic.

What she found was a complete shock. She found - NOTHING. There was absolutely no womb lining, nothing even to take away for analysis. The bleeding I'd been having was in fact the blood vessels in the fragile wall of the uterus breaking.

My consultant felt it was probably an extreme reaction to the pill I've been on all these years.

It was then that we decided enough was enough, and I came off the pill and we decided to see what would happen. We waited, and we waited, and nothing - no periods at all, for months.

So, I went back to see the doctor. This time, she decided to give me Clomid to try to "jump start" my system. Eventually, it worked. 45 days later I had my first natural period for over 10 years.

So, that's where this blog picks up. Everything else is documented in here. As you will know if you've followed my tale, I've now had several cycles, although I still haven't had absolute confirmation of ovulation, or, in fact, if my womb is back to anything like the way it should be.

The path ahead isn't exactly clear, but one thing my husband and I do know, is that we're not giving up.

Thursday, 23 July 2009


Yesterday, we celebrated our wedding anniversary. It was a lovely day, despite the fact my husband had asked for a day off and got a training course instead! Luckily it finished after lunch and we were able to spend a gorgeous afternoon and evening together. We took a walk along the seafront at sunset, and then headed to a very decadent restaurant for a spot of indulgence! A perfect day.

This year our anniversary seemed to assume a greater significance. I think that's because it comes at the end of what has been a very tough year for us - discovering the extent of my infertility, then my husband's airline going bust, then us moving here halfway across the world to start all over again.

It's been a very challenging year, and I think when you go through these things they either make you stronger or divide you, but luckily in our case it has been the former. We both feel that we have never been closer to each other. Quite a result after a tumultuous year.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Smug mummies and daddies: a rant

Irrational hatred of the month: "Baby on Board" stickers.

I'm not sure quite what these are supposed to achieve. Am I supposed to drive vastly more carefully around a car that might have a baby in it? Are adults not as precious cargo? And surely by the time I'm close enough to read the bloody sign, I'm already too close to their precious child anyhow?

My theory is it's just a form of boasting. Ooooh, look at me, I managed to get pregnant and it's now the centre of my universe, so I want to tell the whole world!!! Aren't you impressed with my brand new baby-car seat, multiple-mode push chair, oh-so-huggy mummy outfit and re-decorated nursery, with Mamas and Papas flatpack furniture?

My husband said the other day that he was now beginning to feel like I do - that it seems to him that everyone we know, and everyone we see, is pregnant. And, in his words, "they're all so bloody smug about it".

Couldn't have put it better myself.

Friday, 10 July 2009

101 uses for a man

This is shamelessly lifted from the Times via Pprune, but it really made me giggle, so I thought I'd share. It's a list of things men "are still good for" following news that scientists have developed synthetic sperm...

The Times: 101 uses for a man

1 Whistling at you in the street on your 41st birthday (this should be a state-funded initiative).

2 Model railways, the running and maintenance of.

3 Pigeon fancying.

4 Particle physics.

5 Eating up the elderly tub of coleslaw in the back of the fridge after an evening at the pub.

6 Opening all those terrifying brown envelopes that the bank will insist on sending you.

7 Catching spiders.

8 Bringing you tea in bed in the mornings.

9 Forgetting your anniversary, but then wildly overcompensating with a completely over-the-top gesture, preferably involving diamonds.

10 Making your limited capacity for grooving look positively Madonna-esque by dancing around you wildly, arms and legs jerking like a demented puppet.

11 Lending you (often without knowing it) a razor.

12 Parking.

13 Ensuring that the children learn to play happily on their own by applying special male method of childcare, namely sitting on the sofa reading the paper while they set fire to the house.

14 Keeping Coleen Rooney in handbags by continuous funding of endless, dreary football games.

15 Explaining the rules of cricket, slowly and in words of one syllable, every two years.

16 Baring his bottom on stag nights.

17 Helping to keep you fit and supple by generously leaving towels, socks and other items of personal attire dotted around the floor for you to pick up.

18 Supporting the luxury car market with the purchase, on his 50th birthday, of a meno-Porsche.

19 Patronising you at parties.

20 Being the Pope.

21 Cartography, and all its many delights.

22 Trying very hard to distract you in the delivery room by telling you about the time he got really badly constipated and had to go to hospital and, you know, the consultant said that sometimes the pain can be almost as bad as the agony of labour . . .

23 Using the last drop of milk before, very helpfully, putting the empty carton back in the fridge.

24 Looking nice in a dinner suit. Every man has an inner James Bond.

25 Stocking the iPod with obscure (albeit largely unlistenable) punk music from the 1970s, even though he went to a nice grammar school and has never even owned a pair of DMs, let alone used them to stamp on a hippy’s head.

26 Driving up very close behind you on the motorway and flashing his lights repeatedly. So sweet to notice your new highlights . . .

27 Being a rock star. Florence and the Machine is all very well, but no match for, say, the raw guitar strut of Caleb out of Kings of Leon (silly name, silly beard, very sexy boy whichever way you cut it).

28 Loading all the glasses the wrong way up in the dishwasher.

29 Overfeeding the dog.

30 Saying, “Oh, so that explains it” in a cryptic voice the day you get your period.

31 Making the inventor of the electric nose-hair clipper very, very rich.

32 Doing lots of very important pointing and shouting.

33 Hunting — and gathering — on the wild Burgundian plains.

34 Catching man-flu.

35 Feeding your children raw barbecue sausages (“It’ll build up their immune systems!”).

36 Removing dead mice from the house.

37 Losing the keys for the roofbox.

38 Blaming you for losing the keys to the roofbox — then finding them in his coat pocket.

39 Making sure that every last pot and pan in the kitchen gets used to its full potential when cooking special Daddy spagbol for Sunday lunch.

40 Building large, pointy metal tubes, filling them with explosives and firing them into the air.

41 Encouraging Britain’s thriving shed manufacturing industry.

42 Insisting that only he can be trusted to drive on the right-hand side of the road in a foreign country and then going the wrong way round the roundabout at the exit from the airport, careering into an oncoming Fiat Panda, arguing furiously with the police and ensuring that the first night of your Italian holiday is spent in a Sicilian jail.

43 Not calling when he says he will.

44 Doing those really strange man-bonding handshakes.

45 Alphabetising your record collection.

46 Being able to wear the same pair of shoes for 25 years before buying a new pair.

47 Accidentally stroking your bottom while directing you to your chair.

48 Codpieces, the wearing of.

49 Eating full-size Mars bars.

50 Inventing Prog Rock.

51 Drinking warm fermented hops.

52 Listening to Wagner.

53 Being a murderous despot (go on, name a female murderous despot).

54 Letting the lawn grow free and wild. It’s not a lawn, it’s an eco-meadow!

55 Warming the bed.

56 Making those trips to Ikea such a stress-free delight.

57 Reading, and actually understanding, instruction manuals for small electrical devices.

58 If not exactly fixing the car, then at least looking purposeful until the AA turns up.

59 Ordering a lovely big bowl of chips in a restaurant which you then eat most of — without, of course, having actually ordered any yourself.

60 Mixing the perfect gin and tonic.

61 Remembering the rules to Canasta.

62 Standing behind you for emotional support as you creep downstairs to investigate those strange noises . . .

63 Remembering the relevance of minor characters in The Sopranos

64 Constructing your son’s 10,000-piece Lego Death Star.

65 Doing price comparisons for car insurance.

66 Setting the sat-nav.

67 Finishing off that glass of wine you poured an hour ago but never got round to drinking.

68 Having more hair on his legs than you.

69 Working out how to fold up the wretched double buggy.

70 Doing up the zip on your dress.

71 Keeping the local Indian takeaway in business.

72 Eating the children’s leftovers (it makes the eco-wash on the dishwasher much more effective).

73 Sky Plus-ing The Wire.

74 Making sure there’s always enough party ice in the freezer.

75 Sweetly buying you size 12 underwear when in actual fact you’re at least a size 16.

76 Helping the children with their trigonometry homework.

77 Always having at least three glasses of water in the vicinity of the bedside table – even if two of those glasses are at least a week old.

78 Going to the dump.

79 Eating cornichons.

80 Delivering a rip-roaring best man speech.

81 Leaving all the drawers and cupboard doors in the house very slightly open.

82 Being Father Christmas, and beards in general.

83 Opening jars (as loosened by you).

84 Regularly contracting obscure and incurable tropical diseases (as diagnosed on Google), only to recover miraculously just in time for the cricket.

85 Snoring.

86 Carving.

87 Watering the toilet seat. What is it, a plant?

88 Doing the Atkins diet. Fried eggs, sausages, lard: what’s not to like?

89 Wearing comedy swimming trucks.

90 Loving his mummy.

91 Making fire.

92 Putting things very helpfully in the general vicinity of the washing machine – but never switching it on (or hanging the stuff out afterwards).

93 Managing to ruin a perfectly plumped-up sofa within precisely three seconds.

94 Keeping all those lovely old gentlemen-only clubs from going under.

95 Going up into the loft.

96 Making sure there are at least four radios in the house that are tuned to John Humphrys at any given time.

97 Presenting Top Gear.

98 Doing air guitar.

99 Suddenly remembering a very pressing telephone call whenever there’s even the whiff of a dirty nappy.

100 Diving, in exotic destinations.

101 Never (or only very occasionally) wanting to borrow your favourite dress.

And before my husband points this out to me, let me say that number 92 doesn't apply to him, and he never forgets our anniversary... And as far as I know he's never borrowed my favourite dress (or an any dress for that matter!)

And thanks for doing number 8 this morning before you left. I miss you...

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Back to Blighty

Apologies for not blogging for the past couple of weeks. The reason for it is that my husband and I decided to take advantage of a break in his roster and headed back to the UK for a break - my husband stayed for only 5 days, but I stayed for two weeks and used the time to catch up with much missed friends and family.

It was the first time that both of us had been back since we moved out here, so it was something we were looking forward to greatly, and it didn't disappoint. Our visit coincided with some wonderful British summer weather, so it was a perfect time to get out and about and enjoy the very GREEN English countryside! We were also both able to travel in Business Class both there and back, and it was wonderful being pampered. I'm slightly worried that I'm never going to be able to cope with flying Economy ever again!

On the infertility front, my cycle of 100mg Clomid last month was unsuccessful - but there was a bit of good news, because I definitely ovulated! Whoop whoop! That's the first definite ovulation I've had for years. Now I feel like we've got something we can work with. On the other hand I stupidly didn't bring my Clomid with me, so this month will have to be unmedicated. Ho hum.

While in the UK, I caught up with a few friends who've also been struggling with infertility, one of whom has just suffered a miscarriage after getting pregnant on her 3rd attempt at IUI. Sometimes life just isn't fair. I went out to lunch one day and watched these two young mums at a table next to me yell and swear at their toddlers, and one of them was pregnant and smoking, too; sometimes I feel like there's just no justice in the world.

Oh, and I totally embarrassed myself again on the "crying when confronted by too many children" front. It was cumulative, really - I stayed overnight with my friend with two kids, had lunch with a friend who's just had a baby, and was on my way to another friend's house when she texted me saying "just letting you know that my son's two little friends are here with their mum playing in the garden, hope you don't mind". Oh sweet Jesus. I knew it was going to be trouble even before I arrived. Knowing I was walking into the Lion's den, I went in and tried to have a nice chat, but in the end just dissolved into tears. Again. Hey ho, nothing I can do about that one.

On a more positive note, some of you will remember my excitement at getting tickets to see Take That at Wembley Stadium. Here's a little pic to remind you (any excuse).

Well, I saw them on Friday, and they were fantastic! I've been a fan ever since I was a teenager, and seeing them always brings back a real mixture of emotions, both good and bad. I feel transported back to my teenage hormonal state! I can't believe I went to my first concert over 15 years ago. I don't feel any older at all, but inescapably of course, I am! What is of course rather reassuring is that they're getting old along with me - perhaps I'll be going to a Take That tour when we're all in our 50s, like the Rolling Stones? I do hope so.



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