Saturday, 23 May 2009

I got my period on Wednesday morning.

It was due on Monday, and despite my best intentions, I fell into the heartbreak of hope on Tuesday morning when it hadn't appeared, since last month clomiphene made me so 28-day spot-on regular. I lasted all of Tuesday doing the awful thing of praying, actually praying to a deity I'm not sure I believe in, every time I went to the toilet.

The clinic had said to attend for a blood pregnancy test if I hadn't bled by Wednesday. But even while I hoped, all the time I was conscious of having no discernible symptoms, of not "knowing" or feeling anything. Then, walking home from my train on Tuesday evening, I felt a telltale squirt and just thought, No, please no.

I rushed into the house, hurled my laptop and handbag to the ground, charged past a baffled hubby and into the bathroom and there it was. Brown spotting. The indisputable, never-changing precursor to my fucking hellhole period.

I considered trying to pretend nothing had happened, that maybe it was implantation bleeding and nothing to worry about. I didn't even say anything to hubby to explain my dramatic entrance other than that I had been desperate for the toilet. But when I was treated to a more definitive reddish splurge as I was getting ready for bed, I knew the game was up and the cycle was over.

Well, I lost it. I lay on the bathroom floor and sobbed like I have never sobbed in my life. I cried to the point where there is no way of discerning where the tears stop and the phlegm and mucus begin on your face. I cried until my chest ached and my throat burned; until my eyes were piggy and swollen. And then I cried some more.

Eventually staggering into the bedroom, hubby's face just crumpled as he worked out in a glance what was up. I then lay down on the bedroom floor alongside my bed - why, rather than sinking into its comfort I know not - and wept some more, to the point where he considered calling my mum as he didn't know how to calm me.

I'm ashamed to say that's when I got nasty, blaming him for lack of sex since I knew from the clinic that I'd ovulated and had really good hormone levels after day 21. We didn't fight so much as carp, though, and I ultimately fell into an exhausted and miserable slumber.

Next morning the brown stuff had disappeared, but about 10am my period proper descended, all cramps and gore and guns blazing. I was just floored by the cramps this time, perhaps because it was the middle of the day on a workday rather than a weekend when I was dealing with the worst of them, and perhaps because clomiphene equals worse periods. I sat in a meeting at 2pm that day feeling physically sick with pain and almost blacking out when a particularly wrenching one bit.

I called the clinic at 4pm and told them in a shaky, breaking voice what had happened. I had considered a break from the drugs this month since I have a lot of other stuff going on, but they talked me into sticking with it as it's better to do your three clomiphene cycles concurrently and then take next steps from there.

Which is why I currently find myself queasy on day three of the pills, day four of my cycle proper. And I feel like this really is the penalty shootout in my football-match-analogised effort to conceive my baby in my own bed, rather than in stirrups in a clinic.

Hubby and I went out for lunch today in an effort to do something nice amid our despair. We had a nice meal but it took place in a shopping mall which seems to be a magnet for heavily pregnant women and new mums. Hubby started to look bleak when I uttered the sentence "There must be some sort of fertility ley line running through this place, maybe we can get us some of that". A few minutes later, after walking past the third set of identical twins dressed in matching outfits, I couldn't help but articulate that "it's like the fucking Shining in here; what's with all the twins?"

I hate being that woman, but I am, intrinsically, her until this nightmare is over.

After our lunch hubby and I went to the supermarket for our usual weekly shop. He appeared in the canned goods aisle grinning inanely and brandishing, I shit you not, a turkey baster. I had threatened to buy one earlier in the week when I informed him that, come hell or high water, I would be getting sperm into me for four consecutive days around ovulation this time, and that if he couldn't ejaculate it into me himself I would find another way.

He now clearly feels he has a get-out-of-jail-free card for performance anxiety, and while this seems a tad defeatist to me, at least we do have another option this month. The turkey baster is positively slimline compared with some of the equipment I've had to accommodate during the course of this, after all.

There was also something almost funny about the sight of him - a vegetarian, like me - bringing such a bizarre item to our trolley with such aplomb, even though the humour was more of the "has it really come to this?" variety.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

An egg but no soldiers

When I got home from work today, hubby announced that his sister had given birth to her second son this afternoon.

I accepted the news relatively graciously (I bit back "Oh fucking DID she"), and was and remain glad that mother and baby are both healthy and doing well. However, it has obviously been difficult to digest, not least because I went to the clinic this morning for my day 21 tests and have been feeling gloomy ever since.

The nurse rang with the results at 4.30 this afternoon and it turns out I have ovulated again, as I knew I had from the pain two Sundays ago. My progesterone levels are apparently really good. But the clinic has said that if my period comes - and let there be no mistake, it will - they want me to come in to discuss where we go next before embarking on my next course of clomiphene.

It was the nurse who vampirised me this morning who said this. I asked her why I couldn't just have my third go before the next-steps consultation, and she said if clomiphene is going to work it usually does quickly. Just dandy.

So then I come home to the news that fecundity abounds north of the border in hubby's family, and pardon me for not being over the fucking moon. Hubby has been impatient with me all evening and eventually pulled me up on my "mood". I asked him whether he would like me to jump up and down about how happy I am that his sister has two babies and I have none. At this point his phone beeped with the latest of the 870 slideshows and videos she - and she should NOT be using a mobile phone in a hospital - has decided we would like to see.

A fight ensued, mainly about my frustrations with him being unable to perform at the critical point in the month, which if I am honest is driving me to despair. He has approached his doctor about it and has been offered a prescription for a well-known erectile stimulant to help matters along, but he refuses to take it because of - get this, it's good - potential side effects.

Yes, that's right. It's fine for me to pump myself full of hormones and chemicals like a frigging brood mare, to have a headache and feel sick most days as a result, and to have stabby, jabby pains during the forced ovulation of however many fucking eggs this drug is making me produce, but will he take one little blue pill a couple of nights a month so he can get it up? Will he fuck.

Eagle-eyed readers will notice I am somewhat less chipper than I was in my last post. That's because right after those four days of fun, the entire world started to go wrong. My grandmother had a stroke. My beloved eighteen-year-old cat had a fit and was diagnosed with kidney failure; he has since stabilised but the condition will ultimately and shortly cause his demise. And a whole heap of other shit happened that has just left me exhausted and faintly curious to see what happens next.

I guess I should be hopeful after being told today that I've ovulated. But that happened on the Sunday and I just don't think we had enough sex. We did it on the Wednesday night, then on the Saturday afternoon, and that's it. We attempted it several more times but he couldn't deliver. The Saturday shag does stand us in reasonably good stead as I've read it's best the day before the egg pops out, but if it had been up to me - and I say this purely out of the urge to get as much sperm into me as possible, rather than any joy or desire for the act itself - we'd have done it Thursday, Friday and Sunday too.

Add to that the stress I've been under in the past fortnight and you do not have a scenario conducive to conception. I'm certain, absolutely certain, that it hasn't worked. A small part of me dares not hope after the utter wracking devastation my last period caused. But the majority of me already knows this cycle is a doomed deal.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Second clomiphene cycle: mid-cycle report

It's been a really weird couple of weeks.

In several respects things have been rotten, but in the space of the past few nights I've had more fun than I have the whole rest of the year, and that's kind of made up for all the stuff that's gone wrong.

I got my period in the middle of the night of my last post, and cried so much that my eyes resembled those of a pig. It was a nasty one, with bad cramps and really heavy for the first two days. But I picked myself up and dusted myself off the following morning, and went to the clinic to get my new prescription, hoping that I'd manage to get hold of an ovulation enhancer rather than an anti-psychotic.

They gave me the correct drugs this time, and I spent the next five mornings taking the little tablets as directed. I actually felt a lot less bad this cycle than the first cycle. I was going to use the word "better" there and realised it wouldn't be quite accurate, as I did feel weird, but I escaped the daily headaches and didn't feel sick at all this time round. I wonder whether taking it in the morning made a difference?

Although I've got on with my next course, though, I've been really downhearted about the failure of the first cycle. During the early part of last week I was more dispirited than I've ever been. I was really stressed out and got to the point where I just couldn't imagine this ever working; couldn't picture the scenario where all this is over and we have a child, or even a bump. I was getting through the days and basically coming home every night from work and bawling.

Then a concentrated dose of fun happened and it has done me so much good. On Thursday night I went to watch one of my favourite stand-up comedians, Ross Noble, and had a blast as he put on a great show. He's the kind of performer where the show is completely different every night because so much of it is based on his random chats with audience members. So on Friday, I kept thinking how much fun it would be to go again that night, and how I deserved it after a shitty week and a failed cycle. I ended up calling the box office at 4pm and getting two returns in the first couple of rows, which was so lucky.

Having roped my best mate into coming with me, and into pizza before the theatre, we proceeded to have one of those brilliant, spontaneous evenings where it's all the better for the fact that when you woke up that morning you didn't know you'd be having so much fun just a few short hours later. The show was 75% different from the night before, and best of all, he did 20 minutes or so on fertility tests, which he hadn't even mentioned the previous night.

I watch a lot of stand-up comedy - it's my favourite thing to do - and I'd always wondered what it would be like to watch a routine about fertility issues. I figured it'd either be extremely entertaining because it would strike so many chords, or that it wouldn't be funny and would actually be quite difficult to watch because it's too close to home.

I'm happy to report that the former theory was on the money. I don't think I have ever laughed harder at a comedy routine. The focus of his material was going for a sperm test, based on his own experience, and the way he described it was genuinely hilarious, so much so that I was struggling to breathe. The whole audience seemed to love it but I felt I'd earned the right to enjoy it that little bit more - there remains something heartwarming about the image of myself howling with laughter at a subject that has caused me so many tears over the past three years.

As if that wasn't enough fun for one week, hubby and I then proceeded to have a splendidly silly barbecue evening round at said best mate's house on Saturday. Lovely food, far too much wine, sunshine, karaoke games and pure daftness ensued, and it was all just what the doctor ordered.

The only blip this weekend has been that I have ovulated. Which obviously is a good thing, but boy has it been painful. Last month I had a day where I was wracked with these stabbing, almost trapped-wind-like pains really low down in my tummy, and wondered if it was ovulation. When I asked the clinic about it they said it was and that clomiphene can cause pain during egg release because of the fact that the ovaries have been over-stimulated.

Yesterday saw me spending time crouched on the floor with my arse in the air as it was the only position in which I could get any relief. But the pain is fading now and we managed to have sex - only just, mind you, as hubby is struggling with performance anxiety AGAIN - at the right time.

Now it's a case of the dreaded two-week wait. I will not allow myself to get as hopeful as I did last time. The disappointment is too hard to bear if you have let yourself hope. And anyway, I actually don't think it will have worked this time, whereas last month I was absurdly confident it might. I've had a lot of stress and upset in the past fortnight, and I just can't see how that would be conducive to success.

Mind you, there's a lot to be said for happy hormones. If they play any part in aiding conception I may have some thank-you letters to write to my lovely friends - and to Ross Noble!