Monday, 7 September 2009

A huge blow, a summer and a referral

I've been away for a really long time and I'm sorry. I have so much to say that I might have to split my update into a few parts. I'm even unsure which part to tell you first. I guess the headline news is that we have been referred for IVF and will start in October. But I'll come to that.

The reason I haven't written for so long is that something happened at the end of my third clomid cycle that upset me so much I felt unable to write about my experience until now. I decided afterwards that I needed a couple of months off - well, not off, as we infertile women know there's never REALLY a month when you stop trying - but at least off the clomid and away from the blog.

Since it was the start of summer and I had a lot planned - the weddings of two very dear friends, associated hen parties, a trip to a comedy festival and another to a music festival - I figured I'd have the warm months off and see where I was come autumn.

So what was it that happened? Well, I finished my third cycle of clomid knowing from the pain and general symptoms that I'd ovulated. I attended the clinic for my day 21 test and then the next day hubby and I headed up north for our wedding anniversary. We'd planned a lovely, romantic couple of days, the first staying in the castle where we had our wedding reception four years ago.

We were about 15 minutes from said castle when it suddenly struck me I hadn't called the clinic for my results. As if by magic, my mobile started to ring. I was driving so hubby answered. It was the clinic.

When they realised they were speaking to the husband, they gave him the message that was the reason for their call and then hubby attempted to relay this to me in the shambolic way that only a man can achieve.

The following conversation ensued:

Me: Well? What did they say?
Hubby: They said something about your blood being too high.
Me [IMMEDIATELY vexed]: What? What does that even mean? My blood's too high? What am I, a vampire?
Hubby: The hormone. The hormone was too high.
Me: WHAT hormone?
Hubby: The one with "ogen" in it, I forget.
Me: THERE ARE TWO! For the love of God, there's oestrogen and progesterone. Which was high? It should be my progesterone. Do you just basically NEVER listen when I talk about this stuff?
Hubby: Progesterone. That's it.
Me: Did they actually say the words "too high"?
Hubby: Well, they said high.
Me: High is good. High is what we want. TOO high is bad. TOO high means that basically my ovaries are about to rupture and fall out of my arse.
Hubby: They want you to go in on Monday.
Me: Oh my God, they really MUST be going to rupture!

By this point we'd reached the castle - what was supposed to be a slow drive up the scenic entrance track, pausing to reminisce when the castle came into view was actually spent shrieking at each other. Ho hum.

We parked up and I rang the clinic back and talked to one of the nurses. She laughed when I said hubby had reported it as "too high". No, she said, my progesterone was just really high - so high, in fact, that they were pretty confident I'd conceived.

I've replayed this conversation many times in my mind and I don't think I overestimated how much confidence she claimed they had. She was at pains to stress that both my progesterone and my oestrogen were elevated to such an extent that conception was very likely. She asked me to come in on Tuesday (day 28) for a pregnancy test - she said they didn't want to wait - and that "hopefully it would be good news".

Well, we were stunned. We weren't quite stupid enough to be happy, to be celebratory, but we checked in to that hotel with a definite sense of relief that this fucking nightmare might just be over. I barely registered saying hi to the clerk - who was the same guy who'd served drinks at our wedding - and only realised we'd been upgraded to the next best suite than the bridal one when we opened the door of our room.

I called my mum who wisely told me to tone it down - this was not a positive result, not yet - and enjoy the weekend away. She even said the words "put it out of your mind" - as if that was possible! Then I started unpacking and noticed the hotel had gifted us a chilled bottle of champagne.

A conversation ensued about whether I ought to drink any. I wanted to - the dark voice in my soul was piping up with "Of COURSE you're not pregnant" at this stage - and didn't want to at the same time. Either way I knew I'd regret it: if things turned out well I'd worry for the entire pregnancy that those glasses of fizz might have damaged the baby, and if they didn't I'd be bitter about ruining my anniversary for nothing. (I'll bet you've guessed how it turned out...)

In the end I compromised with the worst of both worlds: I had a glass and didn't enjoy it. I then laid off the wine during dinner, just in case, but other than both of us being low-level excited the whole time, we had a lovely weekend. It was sunny and warm, we walked lots and ate good food, we held hands and talked, and things were good. We didn't have sex but it wasn't a pointed not-having-sex, it just honestly didn't occur to either of us after three months of relentless babymaking attempts.

On the drive home, we stopped in to visit my best friend from university, who was at the time six months pregnant with her second. I really wanted to see her and was determined not to let my bitterness spoil the visit. It didn't - there was the inevitable pang when I saw her bump, but that's almost as natural to me as breathing these days - but I did rather foolishly share my potential news with her. She's followed my progress through this with compassion and interest - the original plan had been for us to be first-time pregnant together - and she was excited too.

Then it was a case of counting the seconds until I could visit the clinic for my test on Tuesday morning. I didn't sleep a wink the night before and the whole way there on the train, all I could think was that this might be the last day of infertility misery. I let myself dip a toe into the danger territory of imagining telling my nearest and dearest - imagining coming home and telling hubby - and I'm sorry to say I let myself hope.

The nurse at the clinic wasn't the same one I'd spoken to over the phone but she was equally as
encouraged by my results. My progesterone was well over 175, but my oestrogen was also high and she said that was a sign of conception. She drew my blood and said to call at 4pm for the results. Her parting shot was "fingers crossed"!

Well, you can imagine what the interminable wait between 8.30am and 4pm was like. But time always passes, even when you thinkk it has stopped, and eventually I was ringing the clinic from my failsafe private spot.

It works like this: the receptionist answers the phone, takes your name and puts you through to the nurses' station, where you sometimes (as was the case on this day) have to wait on hold for a minute or two while a nurse pulls your results. I was hopping from foot to foot. This could be it, I kept thinking, this could be the moment when everything changes.

I knew as soon as the nurse got on the phone. I knew by her voice. And to her credit, she didn't pull any punches. It went like this:

Nurse: Hello, I've got your results.
Me [I knew at this moment]: Yes.
Nurse: Sweetheart, it was negative.
Me [crying too hard to speak audibly]: OK, thanks.
Nurse: Are you OK?
Me: No. I was just really hopeful.

I apologised and hung up because I actually couldn't form words any longer. I then had the challenge of being at work and needing to get through the rest of the day before the howling that was coming erupted. I cried and cried for a few minutes, then pulled myself together and did what I do: I coped.

When I was calmer I called the clinic back, apologised for getting hysterical and asked them how on earth could my results have been so good and yet the test still be negative. They said they didn't know and that I should make an appointment to come to clinic and discuss next steps.

It was on the train home that I started losing it. I hadn't phoned hubby with the news as there was no way I could have recovered from that conversation. I walked home from the station basically wailing in the manner of a crazed person and then actually fell in the front door. Hubby emerged from the lounge and just crumpled too, and then we cried together for ages.

So, after that, I was done in. I cried so much that night that my eyes were puffy and inflamed for the next three days. I know other people go through much, much worse with failed IVF, miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies and all manner of other horrible endings, but for me this was the lowest point in my experience so far.

I had the option to continue with clomid over the summer but after considering it carefully I decided not to. Partly that was because I felt my body needed a break, and that all the headaches and ovulation pains were it screaming at me to give it one. Partly it was due to stress I was under in other areas of my life. I was also interested to see if I'd ovulate on my own after three cycles.

And that's what happened - I ovulated, if home predictor test kits are to be believed, twice over the summer. And hubby and I did the deed whenever possible, with a little help from some viagra for him on a few occasions. And no, I'm still not pregnant.

We had out clinic consultation a couple of weeks ago, and I'll talk about that and the plans for our first cycle of IVF next time. I just wanted to post something so all the people who've been kindly asking after me know that I haven't dropped off the face of the earth, although there have been moments when I've felt close.


Illanare said...

I was so glad to see you back but oh so very, very sorry for the pain you have been through.


Alison said...

OMG, I was SO elated to hear from you! I'm sorry for the horrible heartbreak you and your hubby have gone through. I totally agree, taking a break from babymaking is never really 100%. It's never out of your mind and the hoping never goes away.


Lynn said...

I'm really so very sorry to hear what you've had to go through! It is really awful when we hope so much for something only to be let down. I can sympathise. We did 4 rounds of Clomid all with negative results. At the end of the 4th cycle we decided to take a medication break and see what would happen with my cycle. I had been anovulatory prior to taking Clomid but we were hopeful the medication would have given things just a little push in the right direction. However, I am now on CD52 of my first post-Clomid cycle. I guess we'll now have to call the doctor to get things started again. GL with you IVF and know that there are others who feel your pain and wish the best for you!

Anonymous said...

It's probably not much comfort but I think your blog is brilliant. It's well-written, funny and authentic - it really stands out. Have you thought about writing professionally? I hope you do and I hope even more that things work out for you and your husband. I know it's annoying when people do this but... what about acupuncture? It's worked well for me in terms of regulating my cycle and helping me feel more calm (though I have to admit there's no baby yet). It's meant to be particularly good for IVF too. Just a thought, feel free to ignore.

All best wishes

R (first-timer leaving comment on a blog and feeling a bit weird about it!)

Rambler said...

Very cool to see you back in the blogsphere! Terrible to hear about how your anniversary trip went and to have your hopes drawn up so high because of trusted medical confidence.

Good Luck with the IVF journey, I completely understand what a hard decision is to make to move forward with it. So hoping for the best.

P.S...agree with the anonymous poster about your writing. I've always enjoyed its wit and humor!!

Anonymous said...

I am so happy you are back!
I admit I expected some other news than those you shared, and I was heartbroken to read your misfortunes.
Perhaps IVF is the way to go now.
I wish you best of luck and please, don't go away again... We want you to tell us how it all goes.

I realise I sound like a stalker and waaaay to strange for a stranger, but you are one of the best bloggers out there, you have wit and charm and you should really consider writing for a living.

Anonymous said...

Thank god you have updated us! I was beginning to despair that you weren't coming back.

Fingers crossed the IVF works and this time next year...

From someone just starting their struggle into parenthood and infertility treatment, your blog both terrifies me over what is to come and supports me that others are feeling and reacting the same way, and that I am not abnormal.

Natasha said...

I'm glad your back, sorry for the circumstance, but glad your back. I read your blog for the first time just after "operation turkey baster" and I have been waiting for your return. In the meantime I read through just about all of your blogs. It helped me tremendously to know I am not alone out here in this battle. To know that I have the right to feel anger and sadness even if the people around me don't quite understand it. You really did help me get through the past few weeks/months.

Barrenblog said...

I really appreciate all of these comments. I get so much comfort and support from you guys - it helps so much to know we're not alone in this. It means so much to me that people have missed my absence and wondered about me - thanks xxx

Samantha said...

I'm so so so glad you're back writing. I've gained so much comfort from your blog, and you are indeed a brilliant writer. This post brought me to tears. I just finished my 5th round of clomid and I just don't think I can take the headaches any longer. Feeling very hopeless. I know I'm 2 months late but I'm so sorry about this experience. Best of luck to you. Keep up the writing, you are helping so many to cope by doing so.

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