Sunday, August 28, 2011

So what next . . .

Last week we had our first Specialist Appointment. So far there have been three main repercussions from that appointment:

1. My arm developed the worst bruise ever from the blood tests. Honestly, it looked like someone had grabbed me quite violently every day for a week. It's finally faded to a yellow now.

2. M received a phone call from his GP to urgently discuss one of the blood tests taken at the specialist. It had turned up very high levels of potassium, which could mean he was at high risk of a heart attack. Thankfully the test was false and he's all healthy. We've had no other call about the blood tests which is a Good Thing because they generally only call when there's an issue.

3. It's been ovulation week (and a bit, to try to accommodate my slightly wonky cycle ATM) which has actually been a lot more fun than it has recently - probably because we know there's something happening.

Other than that, I've read a few more fertility books and talked with a couple of people at work who've also gone through the whole thing. Now, just to get through the rest of the Two Week Wait . . .

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Book Review: The Inadequate Conception by Lori Green LeRoy

It seems that actually visiting the fertility specialist has turned me into a reader of infertility books. Luckily, this one was worth the read. This one also has a great long subtitle to share: From Barry White to Blastocytes: What your mom didn't tell you about getting pregnant.

The Inadequate Conception is not an autobiography, but it does tell us quite a lot about the author's attempts to get pregnant. It's also not a dry medical book, though there's a fair bit of that info in there too. It reads much more like a well organised and well written blog, and it's very clear that the author has spent a significant amount of time in the blogging world (which in my mind is a good thing, and led to an easily read and digested book).

At the time of writing the book, Lori Green LeRoy was a veteran of trying to make a baby, having gone through just about every procedure known. In the book she outlines some of them, plus the side effects, and other people's experiences, all while dosing it up with well timed humour. A lot of her expressions will probably stick with me, such as 'single line syndrome' to describe the feeling you get when you look at another negative pregnancy test. Then there's the bit about seeing the cervix as a Dungeons and Dragons gatekeeper refusing sperm entrance to the castle . . .

Although the tone of the book is relatively light-hearted, it's clear that there's a real story about real people going through real emotions underneath. There's the fear of the internal ultrasound wand, the worries about the costs, the clearly awful side effects of fertility drugs and the 'Case of the Bitters' which discusses a world where pregnancy is revered. But the author also cautions that there is a point when you need to move on.

Particularly interesting was the section on the men's role in it all. Most books/information/websites I've read treat the semen sample with a sheepish grin and quickly move back to talking about injections and examinations. This book took the time to have a male perspective, and to point out that for many men it's not just a case of 'having a good time' while their partner gets poked and prodded.

I'd highly recommend this book. Because it's simply sharing the experiences of others, it never gets preachy or over involved. Instead it's just a nice way of laughing a bit at the problems and pointing out that we're never really alone in this.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Review: Bump and Grind by Genevieve Morton

The subtitle for this book is The A-Z survival guide for when you're trying to get pregnant and sick of being told to relax! which is a real mouthful, but probably what drew me in to buy the book in the first place. I then went on to have a pretty mixed reaction to it . . .

  • It was easy to get through. The A-Z format broke it into easy parts
  • It had some nice truths - the avoidance of the word 'relax' completely resonated with me. Can't tell you how many people have told me to relax/not think about it etc.
  • There was good information on testing and keeping track
Things that annoyed me
  • The book is pretty stereotypical - focusing on being married etc.
  • Continual bashing of 'Smug Fertility Goddesses' (aka those who boast about getting pregnant when they just brush by the partners). I know they're out there, I hate that I let them annoy me, and I really didn't need constant reminder of them
Things that made me weepy (Great)
  • Anything about how much this sucks or the idea of 'giving up' There were times when I needed to close the book and walk away from it.
Basically, a fairly decent book as long as you're able to dip into what you actually need, and able to walk away from it when you need to.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Making the First Visit

Today was our first visit to the fertility specialist, and, in my mind at least, our first steps into getting help in getting pregnant. Since the appointment was relatively early, I had initially planned to only take the morning off work. But with much deliberation (a couple of minutes) I changed this to a full day in case we got held up, or something went wrong. Nothing untowards happened, but as it turned out, I'm glad I took the extra time.

Walking into the doctors rooms together was like having a giant flashing light over our heads 'We're having trouble over here'. Luckily, the whole set up of the waiting room - from the obviously busy reception, to the awesome play area in the shape of a boat - was relaxing. We filled in the forms (with me wracking my brain to remember when I had all my surgery) before settling in to wait for our turn.

The doctor immediately put me at ease (phew) going through my reproductive history (very dull) and general medical history (much more interesting, especially when they ask about parents' health) and then asking similar questions of M. Then it was time for the exams . . .

Which meant internal exams. We started with a basic pap smear, a simple internal exam and then an internal ultrasound. Luckily, since I tend to freak out with new examinations, all these were familiar to me, and were done so simply and calmly that I didn't have any anxiety at all. The best news is that physically all looks well and normal there, and there are follicles developing in both ovaries, with a big one developing in the right ovary (great for this time in my cycle).

We followed this up with a billion and one blood tests (so much blood!) taken by one of the best nurses ever (barely a mark on either M's or my arm) and plans for a couple more tests to come (one for M and a rather uncomfortable one for me). They'll let us know in the next week if anything untoward pops up in the blood tests, but otherwise we're just on the wait until next time.

Possible treatments? Well the nurse only mentioned Clomid and intrauterine insemination, which seems to me that they're pretty comfortable with the less intrusive options first. Of course we won't really have an answer about treatments until our next appointment in four weeks time.

Am I glad we went? Well I do have really mixed feelings about everything at the moment, but I am glad that we chose this particular doctor and he was able to fit us in. As for the other feelings, they'll have to be for another post . . .

Photo from Flickr

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Journey to Now: Part Two

It seems funny, now that I look back at it, how much energy and stress I put into not getting pregnant over the years. Because, despite being off the pill for over a year, despite reducing the amount of caffeine I drank and removing alcohol altogether, despite swallowing horse pill vitamins, we just couldn't manage to get pregnant.

At first it was a disappointment, but one you could deal with - no matter, we'll try again next month, almost no one gets pregnant in the first (second, third, fourth) month. Then you try to ignore it, put the due date for your period to the back of your mind and just pretend everything is okay. Then your period is late by one day and your hopes soar . . . before coming crashing down again.

You develop a really bad relationship with your period. Forget anything you felt in your pre-trying to conceive days when a period was a painful inconvenience. Now it's a burden, a nasty little reminder that you're still not pregnant, that the really good feeling you had this time was absolutely nothing. And you still have the cramps and inconvenience on top of it all.

After a year, you enter the select group. The 10 percent that can't get pregnant in 12 months and are technically infertile. And there is nothing nice or cheerful about that word. M and I made an appointment with my local GP, hoping to get some information, answers, or at the very least a referral. He gave me a form for a blood test for my thyroid (all in appropriate range apparently), some information we already knew, and told us to keep trying for six to nine months more before he would do anything. We left tired, disgruntled, and once I got the blood test results back, determined to go to another GP.

Luckily this one was more understanding, giving me some good information and, brilliantly, a referral to the best infertility specialist close to where we live. It was a real relief to be getting something done, an even better relief when an appointment was made for just four weeks later.

And now, this week, we'll have our appointment and step into the next phase of this story.