Sunday, 19 April 2009

The egg has died

My period's coming.

I haven't started bleeding yet but I have all the symptoms. Some of them - sore boobs, headache, crampy gurglings - I could convince myself are early pregnancy signs, but this morning brought the unarguable-with brown spotting, so I knew it was over.

I have cried on and off for the whole day, which is making my thudding head a lot worse but I can't seem to stop. I read back over my last blog post with all its stupid, lunatic hope, and I just feel like such a fool. How could I ever have thought it would have worked?

The one single saving grace of this cycle is that at least I didn't put myself through the heartbreak and financial wastefulness of a pregnancy test.

Tomorrow morning I shall have to get up earlier than usual - after a night broken by cramps; if past months are anything to go by, the brown spotting indicates I'll start bleeding properly this evening - and go back to the clinic to collect another prescription for clomiphene.

Then, starting tomorrow with the first pill, I have another week of feeling queasy, bloated and headachey virtually every day to look forward to, followed by a week of grim, miserable sex, followed by a fortnight of stupid, pointless hope before my next period brings the whole world crashing down around me.

Why hasn't it worked? Why the fuck hasn't it worked? We tried SO hard and despite hubby's moments of stage fright, we did have sex while I was ovulating. We know his sperm's good. We know from my day 21 bloodwork that there was an egg. So WHY DIDN'T IT WORK?

I feel utterly desperate. I hate this so very much. It's spring. It feels like everyone in the fucking universe is pregnant except me. I honestly don't understand why my husband doesn't just leave me for someone who can give him a child.

I don't have much else to say.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The egg has landed!

It's official: I've ovulated, very possibly for the first time since 2006!

My blood test showed elevated levels of progesterone consistent with me having ovulated seven to ten days ago. I'm really pleased that I know my own body better than I thought I did, as those pains at the football last weekend were clearly my egg or eggs being released.

And I'm extremely pleased that the lowest dosage (50mg) of clomiphene has done the trick. The side effects weren't horrific but neither were they fun, and I really didn't fancy moving to a higher dosage. At least even if I'm not pregnant this cycle we can try again on the 50, and this time I'll recognise and perhaps even be able to time ovulation more precisely.

It's so, so, so hard not to let myself believe that it's worked. The nurse who called me this afternoon with my results said if my period hasn't shown up in 10 days, I should go to the clinic for a blood pregnancy test - more reliable on lower concentrations of hCG than urine ones.

Were my cycle to track its usual, non-gimp-month pattern, I'd be due on Saturday or Sunday. I don't believe I have ever wanted my period less, in all the time we've been doing this. I have absolutely no symptoms, of either impending periodhood or pregnancy, but it's still early for either so I'm not sure I can infer much from that.

It's impossible to think constructively about anything other than the fact I might now be pregnant. My mum just said the following words to me over the phone: "Just try to put it out of your mind." Honestly, mother. I forgave her though as she also told me she lit a candle for my potential pregnancy while visiting Sacre Coeur this weekend. After my and hubby's sojourn earlier in the year, Paris is aflame with candles praying for my fecundity!

It is perhaps foolish to be too hopeful, but I can certainly be positive. I can act like I'm pregnant until I know differently. I can symptom-spot and give myself a bit of TLC after all this stress. I can focus with every fibre of my being on what might be happening inside me right now.

And best of all, hubby and I don't have to have sex again this cycle! I am disproportionately pleased about this; as, I would wager, is he.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Tomorrow can't come fast enough

I have wished away this entire, sunny Bank Holiday weekend counting down the hours till I find out if the clomiphene has worked and I've ovulated.

I'm due at the clinic at 8am tomorrow morning. I've been told to expect a blood test and that I'll get the results same day. All being well, it should show a raised level of progesterone consistent with me having ovulated about a week ago.

I'm not sure what happens next. I guess there are two possible outcomes of tomorrow:

1) if the results show I haven't ovulated, they'll up the dosage of clomiphene - hopefully without the anti-psychotic diversion this time - and we'll try again as soon as my next period starts. The worst of this - apart from the disappointment, the regret of all the side effects and nervousness for those a higher dosage will bring, and the sense that I don't know my own body any more - will be waiting for my period to come, as this could take several more weeks.

2) if the results show I have ovulated, again we wait, to see if my period turns up next weekend. If it does, the disappointment will be crashing. If it doesn't, then what? Will the clinic offer me a blood test to check for lower-than-low levels of hCG since this would technically be an assisted conception? Or will they just tell me to wait a week and do a normal pregnancy test? If I am currently this excited about a test to check if I've ovulated, I can't imagine how I'll feel awaiting the results.

I'm trying very hard not to allow myself to think about it, but it can't be denied that right now there is a chance I am very, very newly pregnant. When I do let myself go there, I veer between:

:: the yawning despair of negativity - "of course it hasn't worked", "it was the lowest dose and the first cycle", "we had sex at the wrong time and not enough sex at that";
:: superstitious doubt - "surely I'd know or feel something, or there'd be a sign after all that we've been through";
:: and terrifying, giddy hope - "I felt myself ovulate, and if I'm right, the sperm would have met that egg or eggs"

What's also weird is pondering what would happen next-next, i.e. after finding out the good - fuck, good's not an adequate word - the spectacular, amazing, wonderful, joyous, bestbestbest news.

Would I be immediately turned over to my GP and the practice midwife, like a normal pregnant woman? Or would the fertility clinic keep me on their books given how we conceived and the chance that it could be multiple? Will I - sorry, that should be would I - have to wait 12 weeks for a scan to see how many babies there are, or would we be offered earlier analysis so we know the score and can plan accordingly?

And what would it be like adjusting to being pregnant after all this time? Especially being newly pregnant, with nothing to show for it except my own secret knowledge of what's happening inside me? My family and close friends are obviously aware of this situation, so we'd certainly tell them immediately - I'm thinking at this moment of the bit in Jools Oliver's excellent book where she rings her mum following her and Jamie's success on, I think, clomiphene, gets the answering machine and bellows "I'm pregnant! I'm pregnant" repeatedly into the tape.

But I have been frank and open about my infertility throughout this ordeal, so there are lots of other people who know too. Would I tell them? Back when I thought conceiving was as easy as mounting your husband on the appropriate day of the month, I always used to think I'd wait, as is traditional, till my 12-week scan to break the news to colleagues, distant relatives and wider acquaintances. I'd hate to tempt fate, but at the same time I can't imagine keeping the news in.

I've heard it said that men think about sex once every minute. Well, let me tell you that I'd be thinking about possibly being pregnant a lot more frequently than that if I were allowing myself. But I do know that the more I build up my hopes, the worse it will feel if they're dashed, so I'm trying to rein it in a bit. A lot.

What I'm doing instead is allowing myself a few minutes at the beginning and end of each day - while lying in bed, either immediately before falling asleep or immediately after waking - to think about it, to think positively about it, almost to pretend that it's a done deal and I already know.

Those are without doubt the best moments of my days.

Friday, 10 April 2009

First Clomiphene cycle report

Well, it's been a bit of a rollercoaster.

After getting over the initial hurdle of being prescribed an anti-psychotic rather than an ovulation enhancer - a 'mistake' at which all of my mates, to a woman, have chuckled a little too warmly - I got on with dutifully taking the five pills every evening upon arriving home from work.

The side effects started at the end of day two with a stinker of a headache, but that was a) nothing I couldn't handle and b) not entirely unexpected, as I used to suffer dreadfully from migraine while I was on the Pill. It was one of those headaches that sits just behind one temple, and that evening found me lying on the couch with a cooling gel strip plastered to my forehead looking not unlike a lunatic.

By day three I was feeling queasy, with certain smells - like coffee - making it worse, in a what I felt was an unnecessarily cruel simulation of pregnancy symptoms. I usually drink several coffees a day at work but have completely gone off it this month, switching to peppermint tea. I'm not sure whether it's because I know caffeine would be bad for any baby or babies that might result from this course of medication or whether I genuinely have developed a hormonal aversion to the smell, but for whatever reason I can't stand the thought of it.

Day three - Wednesday - was actually my worst day as I had some low cramping plus general nausea all day, and then the headache returned in the late afternoon. I got a bit worried then in case things got progressively worse, but actually days four and five were OK - still slightly headachey and out of sorts, but nothing dramatic. By the time I took the last pill on the evening of Friday 27 March, I felt quite positive that I'd got through it without too many negative side effects.

By a stroke of luck I took a trip to London that weekend with my friends - a belated birthday present to go to Wembley Stadium and watch England play Slovakia. It was something I'd always wanted to do before I was 30, and I'm glad to have achieved it. Now if I can just have that baby...

Going away for the weekend was great as it took my mind off the residual nausea that was still lurking somewhere deep in the pit of my stomach. When I returned on the Sunday night I felt refreshed, focused and ready to get busy with hubby.

We'd made our first foray into the newly chemical-pumped recesses of my reproductive system before I departed on Saturday morning, and having both booked the Monday off work, we were able to get down to it then too. I'd guessed that ovulation would probably occur last weekend, which coincided with days 14 and 15 of my cycle, but I felt there was no harm in making an early start.

Then last weekend I definitely ovulated. I mean, I felt it. I'll look like a fool if my bloodwork on Tuesday shows that I haven't, but I was sitting at another football match last Saturday when I became aware of a stabbing, twisting sort of pain very low down on one side of my lower abdomen. It went on all day and got progressively worse.

I had to work immediately after the football but completed what I needed to do as soon as I could and then rushed home, threw open the front door and yelled something along the loving, enticing lines of: "I think I'm ovulating. Start taking your clothes off."

Still in pain as I was, our efforts were memorable for all the wrong reasons. I've probably never had sex mid-ovulation before - certainly not mid-Clomiphene-induced-ovulation - and it hurt. It hurt like hell. Not the sex, but the pressure the (ahem) thrusting put on my aching ovary. For context, it hurt almost as much as the HSG. At one point I had to bite my hand to keep from crying out - again, for all the wrong reasons! I knew if I told hubby I was suffering it'd put him off and he'd insist on stopping, so I just went with it and didn't say anything till afterward. But regardless of how sore it was, I felt hopeful that we'd tried at the right sort of time.

Then we hit some problems. Even though I was pretty sure the pain indicated ovulation had happened on Saturday, I'd read that it can hurt for two or three days and the egg can be released at any point during that time, so naturally I wanted to have another go on Sunday when I woke to find the pain still there. And herein lies the problem. I am like a woman possessed when I think I am ovulating. I honestly could not give the remotest fuck about hubby's enjoyment of the act, and I certainly don't get anything out of it myself. It becomes a dogged, almost workmanlike act, and all I care about is getting sperm into the right place, then lying still for as long as I can.

Hubby has trouble with this, which in my kinder moments I can see is fair enough. I should probably be thankful that he hasn't left me for a twentysomething sex kitten who is interested in sex for reasons other than the end product. But then in other moments I think it is fair for me to feel that way after everything I have been through to get us to this stage. It's a tricky one and I've referred to it before as the opposite of sex.

The upshot is there was no money shot that night. He couldn't do it. As you might imagine, this did not make me happy. My reaction did not make him happy and we had a nasty, nasty fight before he retreated into the spare room - from where it is notoriously difficult to make a baby.

On Monday I phoned the clinic and told them about the pain over the weekend - seeking reassurance, I guess - and the nurse said it definitely sounded like ovulation, that it might last another day or two, and that my bloodwork on Tuesday 14th would likely show elevated progesterone levels and therefore a good response to the lowest dosage of clomiphene.

So now it's limbo. I have to wait till Tuesday for my blood test, then wait for results which will tell me whether I'm right and it worked or I am a psychosomatic freak. If it's the latter at least they know they can always prescribe me that anti-psychotic.

And here's the kicker. If my blood results show that it did work, I'll have to go back for another blood test a week or two later to see if I'm pregnant or not. My period is due, insofar as mine are ever due, next Saturday, the 19th. My mum thinks I should "break the cycle" this time round and not succumb to the temptation of a pregnancy test.

It's so weird to think that right now, I probably have a better chance than I've had all these long three years of there being a tiny cluster of cells working its way into my womb. I really hope, if there are, that my little cluster finds it a warm and welcoming environment, somewhere it can hang on tight.