Final countdown

So the time has come! The final appointment before we start the IVF treatment.

Unfortunately due to ill health Jonathan couldn’t attend this final appointment with me ( I want to point out that both parties need to be present at all appointments normally)

There are a lot of forms to be signed in this last appointment and also a lot of information is thrown at you but I was told not to worry as every step is confirmed and gone over again each time.

I was given a scheduling appointment which was booked a few days after the beginning of my next cycle and was told that I have the all clear to order the donor sperm!

I was then given an information sheet that breaks down the treatment into a handy timeline.

We were told that we would be doing the short protocol. The short protocol involves injecting a hormone called Gonal F which is a follicle stimulating hormone, then after around five days I would start injecting another hormone called Fyremadel which stops your body from releasing the eggs.

I was then prescribed the contraceptive pill and told to start taking it on day one of my next menstrual cycle which was due to be two days before my scheduling appointment.

Next I was told that I could go ahead and order the donor sperm.

Let’s go window shopping!! (Donor sperm)

So after going through a few of the sites that was recommended by the fertility clinic we finally found our donor sperm!! Here is how it came about……

We decided both look separately and pick three donors each then get together and choose between the six donors we had picked.

When you first start looking it can be a little overwhelming, there are so many choices and options it feels like you will never get the list down to a manageable size!

I started by looking at the California Cryobank as that seemed to have the largest pool of donors, Jonathan looked at the same site too.

Next I reduced the donor list by requesting donors that were U.K compliant (which means that the sperm meets the legal requirements for the U.K). I then filtered out the CMV positive donors.

CMV (cytomegalovirus) is a virus that most of the population carry, it was explained that only a small number of the population are CMV negative. When having IVF your blood is tested regularly for the CMV virus along with other viruses. Unfortunately CMV can cause birth defects (but it doesn’t in most cases) The fertility clinic reccomended that as I am CMV negative I should choose a negative donor just to reduce the risk of passing on the virus from the positive sperm to the embryo.

After I filtered out the CMV positive donors I found that the list was greatly reduced. I had the choice of around seventeen donors. Now the fun part, I looked for donors with brown eyes, dark hair and olive skin (as this is what Jonathan is) and then looked through the list.

After searching through the donors for about an hour I found my three that I liked and went to compare with Jonathan, we found that we had one donor that we had both picked and after reading all the information that was available we decided that this donor was the one that we would use.

The next step was contacting the fertility clinic and letting them know that we had made a decision and to also book in our appointment to see the doctor to find out what we do now.

Saying goodbye

Last week we had to say goodbye to our bulldog Rolo.

As many pet owners will know, a dog very quickly becomes an important part of the family.

We got Rolo in 2010 as a fourteen week old puppy to be a companion and playmate for our Labrador Roxy.

He was a typical bulldog puppy, stubborn, mischievous but absolutely adorable.

One of the funniest thing he done was getting stuck trying to get into the bath and drink the water while I was running it! Here he is stuck but not caring! Don’t worry we quickly got him out, but this was the start of his love of water!

He loved to play with Roxy and they became very close very quickly.They had four happy years together before we had to say goodbye to Roxy, she was ten years old and very unwell and we made the decision to help her cross the rainbow bridge.

Unfortunately Rolo didn’t cope very well with the loss of Roxy, so we decided to get another dog to join our family. We were hoping that having another dog would help bring Rolo out of his grieving.

After a lot of searching and agonizing we were offered Taz by a friend and he quickly brought Rolo out of his grieving! They became super close very quickly.

They have been together ever since and have been best buddies from the start.

His other best friend include Diva

And Sox ( who he treated like a daughter)

There is Zen and Willow who he adored!

Blue, Becky and Polly

There were many more friends he had both dog and human!

Everyone I know will miss this big bully boy as he had such a huge personality and I feel so very lucky to have had him in my life, the only regret I have is that he won’t be here in person to meet his little brother or sister when they arrive. But at least he got to meet my nephews and nieces and he proved that although he is grumpy looking, he really was just a gentle giant.

So for now goodbye big fella, until we meet again remember that we all love you so much and miss you like crazy!

New addition!

So I know it’s nearly the end of February now but in December my Nephew came into the world!

I would like to officially welcome Theodore to the family!

I was lucky enough to be at the birth as my sisters birthing partner (along with her husband and our dad).

After having to be induced as Theodore was really comfy in there, this little bundle of cuteness arrived at 2.39 am on 15th December 2018 weighing in at 8.3lbs!

I consider myself to be very lucky to be able to be there and support my little sister and to be able to witness the joy of Theodore making his way into the world.

He is now nearly 11 weeks old and thriving, he is an amazing little man with a smile ready for you, he doesn’t react to noises and is such a calm well balanced little man!

My sister and I are very close and I was honoured that she wanted me there with her, she is an amazing mum and is ready with any advice and quick to answer any questions I have. Which is very handy to have as I have LOADS of questions.

I’m getting loads of practice in, changing nappies and feeding.

As a family we meet up at my grandads for dinner every Sunday and my sister has made a little tradition for me and Theodore to share, just before we all get ready to go home I change Theodore’s nappy and put him into his pajamas ready for when he gets home and goes to bed, it’s now become a weekly routine for us and I plan on keeping it up, it’s a great way for us to bond and I also get to have extra cuddles with the little man.

So this has kept me busy for a couple of months, helping me take my mind off the stresses of IVF.

My next appointment with the fertility clinic is coming up and it’s the final appointment before we get dates set to start the treatment so stay tuned for the next installment of my journey and in the meantime enjoy taking a peek at my super cute amazing nephew!

It’s all in the genes…..

So the time came for us to see the geneticist, we arrived at our appointment not knowing what to expect really.

After being called in we sat down and the genetecist started giving us the lowdown on what was going on.

As you all are aware (if you have read my previous posts) Jonathan has a rare condition called syringomyelia where cysts form in the spinal cord. He also suffered from Chiari Malformation which is where part of your brain is pushed into the spine, he had brain surgery to correct it when he was 15. One of our fears is that the conditions may be passed on to our children.

So after going through the family history and trying to give as much information as possible the genetecist explained that there has been very little research into the genetics of his conditions and there is no genetic test that is available at the moment that would be able to give us the answers that we want. She then went on to explain that from the little research that has been done there is a small chance that the conditions can be passed on. Unfortunately there just hasn’t been enough research done into the genetics of both conditions.

The genetecist then went on to explain that as there are different types of Chiari malformation (one type shows up prenatal and the other only shows up in the teenage years or later) I can have an MRI scan to show whether or not the baby has the condition or has a condition called tethered spine which our baby might be at risk of. The MRI would need to be done when I am 24 weeks pregnant and if it is shown that the baby has either condition then they would recommend termination.

Both Jonathan and I left the appointment with heavy hearts and we both knew we had to have a discussion as to what we were going to do next.

So we talked at length and both agreed that the risk (no matter how small) of passing on the conditions was too high for the both of us and it was a risk we were both unwilling to take.

So where did that leave us? Well after at lot of tears and talking we came to the decision that we still wanted to go ahead with the IVF but we would use donor sperm, that way there would be no passing on the conditions that have plagued Jonathan.

Next was to wait for an appointment to see the fertility doctors once again and find out our options and to get started with treatment!

Fertility clinic

After all the tests were completed I was referred by my GP to the fertility clinic. We recieved the appointment very quickly.

Here is how it went……

We arrived at the clinic and checked in, we were given some forms to fill out while we waited, one consisted of details like GP address, home address, next of kin details and so on, the other form was health questions including a brief family history. These were filled in and handed back to the receptionist and put into our file.

After waiting around 20 minutes I was called in by a nurse and had my height and weight taken also the details of my menstrual cycle were noted down, I was then asked to take a seat again.

Then another wait of around an hour (it was really busy in the clinic and they were running behind). We were eventually called in to see the doctor. After we got the basic questions out of the way we had an in depth discussion about our fertility problems, then we were given our options, because of our problems we were advised that full IVF would be our only way forward, she then asked us to do some additional blood tests, these were to check for HIV and hepatitis and to check for other problems, while we were waiting we had to fill out and sign consent forms, these forms are standard for IVF, the first form was a ‘Welfare of the child’ form, it asks questions like ‘do you have a history of drug or alchohol abuse?’ And ‘do you have any previous convictions relating to child abuse?’ It looks like this,

The other form was ‘your consent to disclosing identifying information’ this form is basically there so that the clinic can share your information with the relevant bodies, also for research purposes to be able to improve future IVF. It looks like this,

After these forms were filled in and the blood taken for the tests, the doctor called us back in to inform us that at the moment she can not apply for funding for us as my BMI was too high, I needed to have a BMI below 30 and mine was 32, so I was to loose some weight and then be referred back to the clinic. It was a bit of a blow but I was determined! So I did what was asked and went through this whole process again. My BMI is getting lower all the time now, it’s currently at 27 but I’m still reducing it.

On our next visit after going through all the above again we were advised by the doctor that due to Jonathan’s conditions potentially being hereditary we would need to see a geneticist, it would delay our process by a few weeks but if it is found that his condition is hereditary she can apply for additional funding for our treatment. We agreed straight away.

That’s it for now, it’s Christmas this week so happy holidays to you all and enjoy!

Here comes the HSG

Next step on our IVF journey was having a HSG ( Hysterosalpingography ).

Who knew that there would be so many tests! A friend of mine asked me if I had had one of these done before and I said no, she then asked if I knew what was involved and I replied that it’s just an X-ray of my uterus right? Boy was I mistaken.

So here goes…….

I’m prescribed an antibiotic and some painkillers, the antibiotic is to ensure there is no infection and is preventative and the painkillers are to be taken an hour before the procedure as it can be uncomfortable and I can feel pain straight after, similar to period cramps.

We arrive for my appointment for the HSG and I’m led into a room with a bed, screen (for the medical staff to stand behind) and the X-ray machine, I’m led ito a side room and asked to get underessed and put a gown on and of course I oblige. I’m then led to the bed and asked to lie on it, the nurse that was with me was absolutely lovely, cracking jokes and being really reassuring.

I was then asked to put the soles of my feet together and drop my knees towards the table, kind of like having a smear test done, this is where the fun begins.

Next comes the speculum, it’s a plastic object shaped like a duck beak and it is inserted and then opened, again like having a smear test done, not painful at all just a little uncomfortable, this enables the doctor to be able to see the cervix more clearly.

So far so good, so next comes the ‘cleaning’ where my insides are cleaned in preparation for the procedure, after I’m all cleaned the doctor tell me she will be inserting a cannula into my cervix and this can be quite uncomfortable as it’s inserted but I’m not to worry, to be honest it wasn’t uncomfortable at all and it was done very quickly.

The X-ray machine is then positioned in the correct place and the doctor tells me she will be injecting the iodine solution into my uterus and I am to stay still, if it becomes to uncomfortable then to let her know and she will stop, now I’m getting a little nervous, how uncomfortable will this be?

Let me tell you, the solution is slowly inhected through the cannula, it’s a little uncomfortable and I think to myself ‘this isn’t too bad, I can deal with this’ then the pain begins! The feeling is like nothing I have felt before, kind of like having really bad period cramps while being filled to the point of bursting, I honestly felt like my uterus was going to explode! By now I’m crying out in pain, tears are streaming down my face, the doctor then asks me if I want her to stop. Inside I am screaming for it to stop but I tell her to carry on. In my mind I’m thinking that if I don’t have this test done properly I may not be able to progress with the IVF or I would have to go through this all again!

After what feels like hours of torture ( but is probably only about two minutes) the doctor states she is done and the nurse comes round to my head while all the bits are being removed she wipes the tears away from my face and reassures me, telling me I done great and its all done now (this nurse deserves a medal for her kindness).

I’m told I can now sit up and the doctor explains the X-ray to me, apparently my right Fallopian tube is blocked but is nothing to worry about as the left one looks great and sometimes this procedure can ‘unblock’ the tube.

I’m then led back into the side room and given a sanitary towel and told I can use the shower as I am likely to leak the solution out, I decide I would rather get out and get home. I quickly dress and go back into the doctor, she advises me to take it easy for the rest of the day and wishes me luck.

I go outside to the waiting area and find Jonathan, he gets up and hugs me straight away, he knows that I’m not great with pain and asks me to explain what happened, after telling him, he tells me that he heard some really weird noises, not knowing what they were at first and then realised it was me making the noises! Apparently I sounded like a dying cow!

For the next two days I was in quite a bit of pain, nothing to worry about but it wasn’t a great time. No one prepares you for the pain that comes with this test, but then again individuals deal with pain differently, unfortunately I am one of the individuals with no pain threshold, I fall over and want to cry! I hope I never have to go through this procedure again but I’m glad it’s done as it means we are one step closer on our IVF journey.