Monday, April 17, 2017

One lovely blog award

I recently got nominated twice for a lovely blog award which made me happy. So thanks so much to delayedbutnotdeniedblog and ivfbabychick! I feel like I've made some good friends in the blogging world and connected with some great people which has been really nice. Deylaedbutnotdenied and her husband have been trying everything and praying to be able to start a family soon. Pop over and show her some support. Ivfbabychick is currently pregnant with her IVF baby after a hard journey to get there and I'm delighted for her!

The rules of the One Lovely blog award are;

  1. Thank the person that nominated you and leave a link to their blog
  2. Post about the award
  3. Share seven facts about yourself
  4. Nominate other people (15 at most)
  5. Tell your nominees the good news!

So let's see, seven things about me...

1) I'm not particularly adventurous. I enjoy things like reading and going to the cinema as opposed to extreme sports. However, I surprised everyone during my year of travel by pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and even doing a skydive in New Zealand! It was a cool experience for sure. That said, I'm not in a big rush to do another one now I've ticked it off my bucket list!

2) I remember most of my dreams. Occasionally I even have somewhat lucid ones where I have some control over what happens. When that occurs I'll usually try to do something cool like flying. I have a recurring bad dream about a tsunami coming towards me which I often have when I'm feeling overwhelmed by things.

3) I saw Mel Gibson when he was over in Ireland filming Braveheart! He got out of a sports car with a female companion and walked towards the national art gallery. His hair was long. I also saw Kevin Spacey when he was in Ireland filming Ordinary Decent Criminal. It was during my Summer holidays from college and I also got to be an extra walking in the background during one scene. Though I've watched the film and didn't actually see myself so maybe it was cut. Ah well!

4) I can't get enough Karaoke. I can't sing but I love it all the same! When I was about 12 I even had a karaoke party! I had a kid microphone and several video tapes with 80s songs you could sing along to such as Material girl. I also love to dance.

5) In fact I had quite a few "themed" parties over the years. For my 18th birthday I had a murder mystery dinner party. Everyone had to come as a character and had a rough script to follow and then at the end we attempted to guess who the 'murderer' was.

6) Classical studies was my favourite subject in school. We learnt about Greek and Roman mythology and read The Odyssey. What wasn't to like? I had a great teacher which also helped.

7) English is my first language. Irish would probably be my second given I started learning it from a young age in school (like most Irish children do). Ever since moving to Germany, along with the fact I hardly have opportunities to us it any more, I've lost a lot of the language which is a pity. German seems to have replaced it in my brain! I also learned French in school and know a little bit.

So there you have it. I'm not sure how interesting that was, but those were the only things I could think of on the spot!
I would like to nominate the following blogs;

Thursday, April 6, 2017

March recap

Thought I'd share what I've been up to the past few weeks.

What's New With You

At the beginning of the month I took a trip to Dublin. The GerMann wasn't able to make it. It must have been the first time I'd gone back 'home' without him in about three or four years! I mainly caught up with friends and spent time with family. I got to meet up with some old work colleagues I hadn't seen in almost two years as we hadn't been able to get together on my previous visits back, so I'm glad that worked out. We met for lunch near my old company and it was a real trip down memory lane. Crazy thinking I've lived in Germany almost seven years already!

Hubby and I celebrated St. Patrick's day (March 17th) which is always fun. We invited lots of friends, whoever was around basically, to join us at the local Irish pub for drinks and live music. There were about ten of us in the end. It was the perfect evening! We partied a little too hard though and we both felt pretty hungover the following day! Worth it though.

In terms of our journey to try to become parents, we had our appointment at the new clinic at the start of the month. I got a uterine biopsy two weeks later, as suggested by my new doctor and am still waiting for the results before we proceed with a fourth and probably final IVF this Summer at some stage. I'm not sure of the timing yet. Lately I've been feeling like there just aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done. I'm sure everyone has weeks like that though! It's been a busy month between big projects and deadlines at work, trying to get the paperwork sorted for our new clinic, getting organized for the upcoming holiday and keeping up with household stuff. On top of that we had some unforeseen expenses regarding rusty pipes that needed to be replaced and had plumbers come fix things.

Spring has finally sprung and we've been able to sit out and enjoy the sunny weather. The GerMann and I did some gardening! Some flowers he planted several months ago have started to bloom and I planted some herbs and vegetables; basil, spinach, rosemary and pumpkin. I'm excited to see if any of them grow. Gardening reminded me of my previous IVF transfers where the doctor 'plants' the embryo and then it may or may not stick and grow. But then I guess everything reminds me of fertility lately haha!

Last week I went to see the new Beauty and the Beast film with a friend here and we both loved it. It's just feel good and fun! I can imagine that some people might find it too silly and Disneyish but as someone who loved the original film as a kid, I thought it was well done. There were new songs plus Beauty's character was played with more heroically by Emma Watson. The relationship between her and the Beast was more developed and hence believable. We also saw Passengers this month, which couldn't have been more different but also very good, a sort of romance sci-fi set in space.

What did you get up to in March?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Other people's children

On one of my recent posts I mentioned how hard it can be when most of your friends are parents while you so desperately want to be. I longed for more adult type childfree events where I could catch up with my pals without distractions like their toddler running around and to be able to have conversations that didn't revolve around kids when I'm trying my best to take my mind of the topic and focus on what else life has to offer. However that's not to say that I don't enjoy spending time with my friends' kids. I actually really like holding babies! I do get a pang in my heart and hope I will get to experience cuddling my own baby one day, but I still enjoy seeing them as grow and become more responsive. A baby's smile is adorable! Just like with adults, there are also certain children that I have a stronger connection with. It's fun when they get to the age where they can talk and you can play games with them. And my heart fills with warmth, as cheesy as that sounds when a kid tells me they love me or gives me a hug.

Good friends of ours are moving to Canada soon and their daughter told them she's going to miss my husband and I. She made a picture for me and asked my husband and I to write in her friend book. In it she drew herself and I drew myself ( a basic stick figure ) beside her and then she drew a line between our hands to show they were holding. So sweet! She also kept pulling my husband over to help her with a jigsaw puzzle. Actually he was super popular with kids that day, my other friend's son was trying to get his attention too! It was so lovely to see. I've noticed that my husband isn't so good with young babies, but he's great with toddlers and young children, once they can interact more. Whenever I see him playing with them or reading them a story, it also makes me wish so much that he'll get to experience being a Dad. To be honest, the past while I've noticed he seems to have come to terms with the idea that it might not happen for us and he's ok with that. I'm the one who's having more of a hard time with the idea! Lately I've been feeling hopeful and optimistic about our fourth IVF round though.

Another friend's son is a big fan of mine for some reason and he tells me he loves me. He's three. Super sweet! I taught him how to play Hide and Seek and Simon Says. The thing is kids do seem to like me in general. I used to do a lot of babysitting when I was younger, plus being the oldest child in my family so I'm also used to spending time with children. Sometimes I'm able to stop a baby from crying and I feel really proud of myself, haha, but other times I don't know what to do and hand them back to their parents! I've noticed that how I feel about babies and kids is also somewhat dependent on how I'm thinking about our journey to hopefully become parents at the time. When I feel like it's just hopeless then seeing kids can just remind me of what we are missing. However, when I am feeling hopeful and optimistic about our own chances then spending time with children is enjoyable. There's something fun about watching the world through the eye's of a child. They have such an appreciation for the little things.

I've come to terms with the idea now that we'll be very lucky to just have one child and I'm mostly fine with that. One girl or boy would fit into our lives beautifully!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

New doctor, new hope?

If you've been following our 'maybe baby' journey you might recall that I'd nicknamed our old doctor "Dr. Direct" due to his straight talking attitude. "Dr. Gentle" is the second doctor at the clinic who we only occasionally saw but seemed to have more empathy and was softly spoken. The first nickname that came to me about our doctor at the new fertility center was "Dr. Peppy"! She just seemed full of energy. Hubby commented afterwards she's probably a type A personality. She was nice and made a good impression. I think it will be easier if I use bullet points to sum up some of the main things from our appointment;

  • She said we have done and tried everything already by now apart from me getting a uterine biopsy done. This is where they take a sample of your tissue and then you can have it tested for natural killer cells and/or plasma cells. If I have NK cells in my womb then the only way to treat it is to get the Intralipids infusions which I'm getting anyway for high NK cells in my blood so the doctor said there is no need to check for that. However if I were to have plasma cells, which seems to be some kind of infection then I'd need to take antibiotics for four weeks to get rid of it! She said it is unlikely that I have it but it would make sense to rule it out. The decision is up to us though. According to an information sheet she gave us, among couples with several failed IVFs/miscarriages behind them, between 10-20% of women in that group are found to have this issue. The whole thing would cost around 300€ out of pocket.

  • She wouldn't suggest natural or mini IVF in our case. The follicles can be empty or contain immature eggs and it is often a wasted cycle. Since my health insurance will partially (50%) cover one more IVF it makes sense to do another full round. She discussed two possible stimulation protocols I could try. Her preferred one for me would be the long protocol. Around day 20 of my cycle I'd go there for a scan to make sure there are no cysts, then I'd use a special nose spray morning and night for about two weeks to down-regulate. Then your period comes and she said at this stage your hormones are at null and you then start to build them up from scratch with the injections. I'd have to go for two ultrasounds during the injection phase and then the egg retrieval would be around two weeks later. She recommends that protocol since I haven't tried it before and it *might* lead to them getting more eggs from me at the collection (no guarantees of course). She's seen it help some poor responders in the past.

  • She recommended I should do the whole immune therapy stuff again. When I'd go in on day 20 for the ultrasound I would get the first Intralipid infusion done there, then the second one at egg retrieval stage and then third would be if I get a positive pregnancy test then every two weeks in first trimester. I'd also take the low dose steroids again after transfer plus the extra Granocyte injections. She acknowledged that those are a pain as they are expensive and not covered by health insurance (none of the immune therapy is). Last time we had to order the Granocyte meds from France since they are about 200€ cheaper there. Think it cost about 400€ for just five of those injections nonetheless! However if the Granocyte reduces my miscarriage risk of course I've no problem with it.

  • She discussed some "extras" we could consider. For instance there is something called Assisted Hatching. This is where they use a laser to cut a tiny opening in the shell of the embryo to help it to get out better. We never went for it before as we just thought it sounded too artificial and that the embryo should be able to get out by itself! Hubby still thinks it's a waste of money but I'm conflicted about it now. I have read that when several IVFs have failed that it *could* help. It's so hard to know with these things. At some point when going through IVF you do end up thinking what's another 200-300€ in the long run since we've already spent so much on this and I want to give it our best shot. On the other hand I don't want us to waste our money on these unproven things. For our first round we paid extra for a thing called Embryo Glue. That isn't even offered at this clinic making me think it can't be so good after all!

  • She talked about whether we'd want to let the embryos grow to day 5 this time. It would be a good idea if we were to have at least four but otherwise it could be a bit risky if we only have a few embryos. There is a theory that some embryos that don't survive in the lab might have lasted longer had they been transferred into the womb sooner.

  • I'll mention here that PGS testing (genetic pre testing of embryos) isn't allowed in Germany unfortunately. ERA receptive testing which ecofeminist talks a lot about the importance of isn't available here either! You'd have to go to Spain for it we were told.

  • The doctor wanted to take a blood sample in order to test my AMH and thyroid levels. When she phones me in two weeks with the results, then I can tell her if I have decided to do the uterine biopsy and if so make an appointment for it. She also wanted me to get a booster vaccine for polio & typhoid etc which I was also able to get there and then which was handy though it did give me a sore upper arm for days after!

  • She said that yes some women do need to get their fallopian tube removed when it is blocked as sometimes the liquid inside it can drip down and cause a hostile environment. That was something I was worrying about recently. She gave me an ultrasound there and then to have a look but luckily my right tube, the blocked one, though slightly bumpy/bigger than it should be is not bad enough to require surgery to remove it

  • We asked about our chances of trying naturally. Her answer was a little vague, along the lines of never say never but chances are very low. When there has been surgery or infection around the fallopian tubes then the tiny little hairs inside them can become stiffer making it very difficult for sperm/eggs to travel through them.

  • I commented about how our embryos were great quality last time, plus I had done all the immune stuff and it still didn't work! She replied that even if everything is perfect, IVF still only has a 30-40% chance of working each time.

  • In terms of supplements which I asked about, she said I could try taking 25mg of DHEA until IVF starts or I could take melatonin since both do more or less the same thing in terms of improving egg quality.

  • We have a fair bit of paperwork to get sorted first if we want to change clinics. My health insurance approval is tied to the other place so we would have to reapply for approval. There is a requirement for couples doing IVF to get tested for HIV and hepatitis which we've already done so we'll need to ask our clinic for a printout of results. Also a different doctor not associated with a fertility clinic has to talk to any couple in Germany considering IVF about their options and tell them about the risks associated with IVF. We already had that talk ages ago but need to find the signed form otherwise we'll need to do it again.

  • My gynecologist in the town where I live had offered that he could do some ultrasounds for me so that I wouldn't need to travel back and forth to the new clinic. However Dr. Peppy said that's not possible as they'd want to scan me themselves. Since I'm still not comfortable driving in Germany (haven't had enough experience here yet), I'll have to get public transport to reach the new clinic. It takes about 75 mins each way. It's not ideal obviously but I could catch up on my reading and try to get appointments that are either very early or late to work around my job or even take some half days off. It should be manageable.

Overall the appointment went well. That said, I left feeling very overwhelmed about it all and needed a day to get my thoughts straight. Hubby was a bit cynical saying of course they say we should do another round with them as they want the money and didn't feel convinced that anyone in the industry gives you unbiased advice. We had some differences of opinion on how to proceed but we are on the same page now. We've both agreed that we'll go for a fourth (and final IVF) at this new clinic.

I spent a few hours reading up about DHEA supplements and ended up totally confused about whether they would help me or not! On the one hand some studies have shown very positive effects for poor responders who take them. However I've also read studies disputing that. Some women on message boards talk about how they had much better IVF results after taking DHEA but then I read others saying it messed up their IVF and it was a wasted cycle! On top of that it can affect your thyroid and immune system apparently which concerns me since I already have immune and thyroid issues. I'm still on the fence. Melatonin has shown some promising results.

Something I did decide to order is Serrapetase. It's an enzyme found in silkworms and it's meant to dissolve old tissue in your body so it has even helped some women unblock their fallopian tubes and get rid of adhesions apparently! The doctor hadn't heard of it and it hasn't been clinically proven but I read through hundreds of reviews from people who bought the tablets and the majority were very positive. A few did mention it caused stomach upset so hopefully I won't be one of the unlucky ones with bad side effects. I've figured it's worth a try.

I an feeling quite overwhelmed at the thought of going through IVF again. I'm painfully well aware that just because we are trying a new protocol there is no guarantee that my body will respond better to it and grow more eggs so that's a concern! During the second round of IVF the doctor tried me on new meds and I only ended up getting one egg at the retrieval, my worst round. It was incredibly disappointing really. I've read online that poor responders generally have worse success rates than average. Even if I do get pregnant I'm anxious about having a another miscarriage. Hubby also commented that we could go through so much only to find out that something is wrong with the baby. It probably sounds like these are all very negative thoughts but I think we are just being realistic at this stage. We could be one of those couples that IVF just doesn't work for.

All that said, I am still hopeful. Sometimes I allow myself to fantasize about what it would be like to go to the doctor for a pregnancy ultrasound with my husband and see our baby moving around on screen, or how wonderful it would be to have our baby or babies growing inside me for nine months. I also imagine how amazing it would be having our child actually here with us! I'd love to bring him/her to trips to Ireland with me and there are so many people among our family and friends who would also have so much love for our potential offspring. I still hope and pray that this is something we will get to experience. However if it doesn't work out this Summer with our fourth IVF attempt, at least we'll know we gave it our best shot and be able to move forward without regrets.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

February highs and lows

If I had to choose my least favourite month of the year I'd pick February without a doubt. It's normally around this time that I just get fed up with winter! Not much happens in February either and it tends to be cold, grey and dark. The good thing is that it's a short month. When March comes around there's St. Patrick's day to look forward to and the start of Spring. However, this February two of my good friends from Dublin came over and we all had the best time! Now that we have the house there is plenty of room for visitors especially since our green room is still empty. We enjoyed showing the girls around where we live, cooking for them and we also took a trip to Baden Baden for the day and went to the thermal pools there. On Saturday night we went to a mexican restaurant for good food, cocktails and then we went out dancing afterwards. More fun than I've had in awhile!

In fact I had a really good few weeks despite everything. The GerMann even commented recently that "there are advantages to not having children". Usually I would hate him saying something like that but this time I agreed. If having children isn't in the cards for us, I could see how we could still have a very nice life. I can't say I don't enjoy being able to be spontaneous, go out in the evenings when we want and plan a big holidays like our trip to Australia in April. Hubby and I have also been getting on very well lately. We're both grateful to have found each other as corny as that sounds! He makes me laugh and we just click really well. He wrote me a nice message in my Valentine's card this year along the lines of whatever happens he loves me so much and will always be there for me.... I'd also written something similar in my card to him, that I know I'll have a lovely future with him by my side no matter what. It's a different message to our previous year's cards where we wrote along the lines of, "I can't wait to start a family with you" back when we still had more faith that IVF would work.

The past while, I'd also been so focused on my goal of having a baby that I think I had forgotten that it wouldn't be all rainbows and unicorns! I've been reminded from conversations I had with my friends who have kids lately how hard and stressful it can be. I think in my head I'd built the idea of having our child to this amazing magical thing. Hearing stories from my friends about babies screaming all night long, sick kids, toddler tantrums and so on, reminded me that my life at the moment is nice, in it's own way. I'm not saying I still wouldn't want to have children, just that I took the rose tinted spectacles off and could see how IF it isn't in the cards for us, we'd still be happy (down the line, as obviously if it doesn't work out, I'll still be very disappointed at first.) Maybe you could say I've been starting to come to terms with things.

Mali from nokiddinginnz wrote about how hope can change over time for those struggling with infertility, and I guess you could say that's been happening to me. I'm still hoping that it might one day happen for us but I'm also becoming more realistic and facing the alternative. My path to mommyhood and differentshoresblog wrote about enjoying life without children, "because I don't have children" and how that can bring up complicated feelings. We don't want people to think we didn't/don't really want children hard enough because we are able to enjoy the time without them or that or that our lives are somehow "perfect" either because it hasn't been easy ending up on this path but at the same time it's nice to enjoy ourselves when we can. Life is really so short after all- It's good to try to make the most of things and be as happy as you can with the life you have. So yeah I'm going to enjoy that glass or two of wine and sleep in on the weekends then have a lazy breakfast making pancakes with hubby, and try to plan trips and holidays and be spontaneous when I can.

However, despite the really good few weeks where I felt happy and more like myself again (I feel like going through infertility has definitely made me more world weary in general. Less carefree and positive than I'd like to be...), I started feeling really down last weekend. I guess there had been a few "triggers". There's a girl from my old neighbourhood back home, a year younger than me who recently had her second baby, and she keeps sharing the adorable pics on facebook, practically giving a week by week account. We visited friends of ours who did their first IVF round the same time as our second round and now have lovely twin girls. And there's a work colleague who's walking around with her lovely pregnant bump at the moment. Happy for them all, sad for us.

There can also be a disconnect between me and my friends here. All my close friends have kids now and there are times when I just feel left out. And since I don't have children I'd like to make the most of the "advantages" and go out for dinner, drinks and dancing for instance. However the girls can only meet day time during certain windows around baby nap times, and then only at kid friendly cafes. Plus children often get sick so they need to cancel or postpone a lot. I do enjoy spending time with my friends' kids, I'd just like to have more adult only events too. Look the thing is, I totally get it, of course if you have kids your schedule is different and you may have to cancel or postpone, I'm just saying it can be hard for the childfree friend now and then.

Recently we arranged to meet up for lunch and I ended up having to wait half an hour on my own as the others were late. Once everyone eventually arrived we had a really nice afternoon. One of the girls commented to me later though that she was glad it was me who had to wait the half hour and not her or one of the others as they wouldn't have been able to wait that long with the kids. I know she didn't mean anything bad by it but my immediate thought was "Right, because as a person without children my time is therefore less valuable". If any of my friends with kids read this, I want to stress that I love you all, I'm just trying to give an example how it can be hard when you're at different life stages to your friends.

When I was feeling down those few days I did have a nice Skype with my sister which helped (she said I could be experiencing "friend withdrawal" after the fun visit!) and hubby noticed something was off and suggested I tell him everything that was bothering me (it wasn't only related to our problems building a family though that was probably the main thing upsetting me at that moment..). I ended up having a good cry. Getting it all out and having his support helped and I felt a whole lot better afterwards, and lighter even!

I actually have a lot more friends back in Dublin without kids so in some ways if I were still living there, not having kids wouldn't bother me as much. I've booked a trip back to Dublin by myself for a few days the end of this month. I had some extra leave I'd carried over from last year which I have to use up by end of March so I figured why not go back for a long weekend. I can try to meet up with some of the friends I didn't get a chance to meet up with over Christmas and just spend time with family. We're going to go out for afternoon tea as well at some point which is one of my favourite things to do. I've even considering having a section on my blog where i review all the best places to go for afternoon tea in Dublin, haha! Full of photos of cakes and scones of course.

I was chatting to one of my best friends here who had a baby after her third round of IVF and she totally gets some of the things I've been feeling lately. It's the not knowing the outcome which is really hard! If I already knew that we won't be able to have our own biological children, then I would be able to start coming to terms with that and accepting it. However since I don't know yet, I'm still living in this limbo land with the hope that it might work, therefore I keep imaging a different future for us. I was also telling her about x,y,z I read about recently wondering whether this or that might be the problem why it hasn't work for us. (For instance, should I get my blocked tube clipped/removed/dye put through it again, or should I get a sample from my uterus in case there's an inflammation and I need antibiotics...etc etc) and she said she remembers being the same way.

It's frustrating not knowing IF it will happen and the exact reason of why it hasn't happened so far (no doctor can really tell you why, there are just so many unknowns in the land of fertility! It's a wonder people manage to have children at all considering the amount of things that need to go right in order for it to happen!). The IVF cycle that worked for that friend was the one she did with the new clinic we are getting a consultation at in March. We just sent off all our paperwork including a very detailed eight page questionnaire last week. Our plan is still to wait and see what they advise us and then we'll be able to come up with an action plan.

In the meantime though, I can say I've mainly been making the most of our childfree life, and that can only be a good thing!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sing Street #MicroblogMonday

One of the movies that stood out for us last year was "Sing Street", a low-budget Irish movie. Often I find that there are so many huge blockbusters full of special effects and fight scenes these days that I miss the simpler films with more of a story to them! Sing Street is set in Dublin in the 1980s and as someone who grew up around then, I enjoyed feeling nostalgic watching it. A bit like how "Stranger Days" the Netflix series was also set in the 80s. Both reminded me of the time before smartphones and constant access to internet, when you would go out all day with your friends on adventures.

Sing Street revolves around a 16 year old boy who moves to a new school. Life is hard. There's a bully, a principal who has it in for him, and to top it off his parents might be getting a divorce. He soon falls for a 17 year old girl who wants to move to London and become a model. In order to impress her he decides to form a music band and make videos together. That's all I'll say without spoiling anything. The music was really good. I've even been listening to the soundtrack since ("drive it like you stole it" is the name of the catchy theme song). Dublin also looked lovely in it. Overall it was just a fun film that left you in a good mood after watching.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Our five snowflakes that weren't

Over the course of the last year and a half we've had three IVF cycles and I've had a total of five embryos transferred into me. Five little snowflakes which had the potential to grow into babies but sadly didn't. I can't help wondering what kind of people they might have one day become. How many of them were boys, how many girls? Would they have had my eyes? My husband's smile? Or even our bad eye sight (haha)? Even though they were only growing and alive for such a small amount of time, I loved them wholeheartedly.

Last week we had the follow up appointment at our clinic ( also nicknamed the "WTF meeting!"). It turns out the two embryos that were transferred during our last failed IVF were rated 1 (which is the best possible mark here!) and 2 (which is also very good). Since hearing that, I have felt mixed feelings. Sad to think of our perfect embryos that weren't to be and wondering what went wrong, why even one of the two didn't take. The doctor put it down to bad luck. Everything looked great he said. It should have worked...

I've felt happy though that my partner and I are still able to create such good quality embryos despite the fact that I'm classed a poor responder to IVF hormones and don't have that many eggs grow each time. The doctor said that our egg and sperm quality are great which means we *should* be able to have a biological child. However, there are no guarantees with IVF, I've learnt that lesson time and time again. Sometimes you can have everything go right, transfer a perfect embryo and for whatever reason it just doesn't implant.

The good news is that the doctor says he's not worried about me running out of time and my fertility decreasing if I want to take several months break. That's a relief and I feel justified now in our decision to book our flights to Oz. I asked if it would be ok to wait until this summer and he said absolutely. I actually hate the thought of going through it all again; the Intralipid infusions, the injections, the feeling crappy, the egg retrieval procedure, the emotional upheaval. So I will need several months just to be able to gather my strength before I can try again anyway.

On Wednesday I went to my gyno. I told him about our plan to try the other clinic. He doesn't think they are any better than our local one, in fact he says their results are generally slightly worse. That was disappointing to hear! But he understands our wish for a second opinion after three failed IVFs at one place. He kindly offered that if we decide to go ahead with treatment at the other clinic, he could do some of the ultrasounds for me here and send them the results so that I wouldn't need to travel 60 kilometers there and back each time. That was a nice offer! I'll ask at the new clinic whether that would be feasible. He said he'll try to support me whatever way he can. For instance if I want to get the intralipids done again. He's a good doctor, I like him a lot.

He's not too impressed with natural IVF though when I asked him his thoughts on that because it still includes the egg retrieval procedure but has only low chances of success with one egg. He said it only makes sense for older women or poor responders. I explained that I AM a poor responder since he might not have realised. I only had 2 eggs during IVF#1, 1 during IVF#2 and four during IVF#3. He agreed it might make sense in my case then. Our fertility doctor isn't a big fan of natural IVF either. They don't even offer it here. But he encouraged us to go for a consultation at the other clinic to decide if it could be right for us. He said many women do a low dose / mini IVF with the drug Clomid which is much cheaper than the other meds once they run out of IVF rounds covered by their insurance. I couldn't help feeling a little sorry for them (and us). It's no fun reaching this stage!

That said, overall the appointments went well. It's great to have the support from my gyno in terms of getting intralipids or ultrasounds done so I wouldn't need to travel to the other clinic every time if we decide to get treatment with them (I'll just need to find out how much extra that might cost). And I'm happy to hear that we are still able to create great embryos together and that having a few months off shouldn't affect things negatively (that was one of my worries particularly after turning 35 last month). I've decided I do want to go for a fourth IVF, whether it will be normal / natural or mini, probably sometime this Summer because I feel (hopefully not naively) like there is still a little hope that it might work for us.. And my husband has also agreed to us trying one more time. At that stage we will both feel like we have given it our best shot and can then move on with our lives one way or the other!

After our appointment at the clinic I went shopping and bought myself some new Summery clothes for our trip to Perth in a few months time. A bit of retail therapy can be good sometimes! I am so over this freezing cold never ending winter here. It even reached minus 10 degrees this week. I hope the weather is a bit nicer wherever you are!

Monday, January 9, 2017

What next?

Well I still can't really believe that we have three failed IVFs behind us now. How did I end up here? I just really thought that it would be third time lucky for us and I had already planned it all out in my head - how far along in the pregnancy I would be by which month and even when I would be due. It all seems a bit stupid now of course. If it had worked I would have had my first scan last Thursday. Wouldn't that have been something? The odd thing is that our first IVF was actually the most successful in that I was properly pregnant and for the longest, even though it only lasted five weeks. These past several months between the immune testing and treatments not to mention the IVF itself was just so all consuming. Now that it's over I've been feeling at a loss. Sort of aimless and unsure of myself. The support from all of you has helped me a lot. It really means a lot to me, so thank you so much!

While I was googling IVF failure, I came across this article which I found very helpful. There are few resources available for when infertility treatments don't work so it can be a hard and lonely time. It's been difficult as you can imagine but I think I am handling it well all things considering. I was grateful that I had a few days off before I had to go back to the office. I'm still feeling quite fragile. It seems like every time I log onto facebook there's a new pregnancy or baby announcement! How I wish that were us. Yesterday hubby told me that friends of ours had their twins on Christmas day. I am embarrassed to admit this but I burst into tears when I heard. They also went through infertility and had a long journey. Actually when I did my second round of IVF, they did their first and for them it was successful. I am delighted for them, just disappointed for us.

I would have been due this month if the second round had worked. I probably wouldn't have been able to travel to Ireland in that case if I was so far along, and I would have missed out on a lovely Christmas with my family though. I liked the suggestion in that article to take up a new hobby or write a list of things you'd like to do. So I've decided to jot down lots of simple things like restaurants we've been meaning to try out, places I'd like to visit and so on. I've also thought about possible hobbies like doing a dance class, writing a book or taking up painting so maybe I will try something new. It would be good to focus on something else for awhile.

We've gotten an appointment at the other clinic I mentioned for early March. It's actually nearly an hour and a half away but I have heard great stories from people who have gone there. I'm really happy we have this appointment and keen to hear what they tell us. We'll have a long list of questions for them! I've read about some women having success with certain supplements such as DHEA and royal jelly but I'd prefer to get a doctor's advice before taking them. They offer natural IVF at the other clinic and I'm planning to discuss whether that might be something we should try. I'm also wondering whether it would be a good idea to get the scratch done (again) to increase our chances and whether it would make sense to check my tubes to see if one is still unblocked. In the meantime we have to fill out a three page questionnaire and send them all our medical records etc. I'll have to go back to my gyno to get a referral.

Hubby and I watched a few Netflix documentaries recently that revolved around food and health that made an impact on us. The documentaries were basically about how there is way too much processed and fast food these days. And also that people should cut back on animal products and dairy. So we decided to make an effort to eat healthier this month. We have been trying out some new recipes and cooking together more which has been fun! Just trying to incorporate lots more vegetables in our diet, more home made stuff, less sugar. I've also decided to try cutting out gluten. I've been having some digestion issues on and off for awhile now and I've noticed on days I avoid gluten it tends to be better so I'm going to give it a go. I also came across some research indicating that a gluten intolerance could lead to overactive natural killer cells in some women so I've been wondering if that might be what's happening to me. If I can improve my digestion, be healthier and improve the NK cells over the next few months that would be great!

I'm also hoping to get my thyroid values back under control. The day after our transfer I got my blood tested and found out my TSH value had gone up not down (it went from 2.30 to 2.46)! This is despite taking meds to reduce it the previous six weeks. I freaked out, worrying that it would affect the embryos implanting (and maybe it did...) I went to my doctor and she prescribed me stronger thyroid meds as the ideal value for pregnancy is around 1 and definitely under 2. Not sure why mine went up not down though I've read that IVF hormones can affect it. A higher TSH value means underactive thyroid. So my plan is to keep taking the meds and hopefully get my thyroid under control over the next few months.

Several people have asked us recently about adoption. It saddens me a bit as it sounds like they don't think we'll be able to have kids ourselves whereas we haven't moved on from that hope yet. Years ago when we started having problems hubby and I had a chat about what things we would consider and he said he doesn't want to go down the adoption route. I remember feeling sad at the time thinking that if IVF doesn't work then we would end up totally childless but when I thought about it more a few days later I realised that I also don't feel particularly drawn to adoption myself. It's a great thing for loads of people, don't get me wrong, I just don't feel like it's right for us. I can't imagine having the energy to start down that long road either if our other treatment attempts fail. Also for me the biological connection is very important. My Mum died when I was younger and I love the idea of a part of her living on.

People have told me about friends who adopted and then got pregnant naturally implying it might work in our case but that's not a good reason to pursue adoption! We also don't feel comfortable with the idea of donor eggs or sperm. Both are illegal in Germany actually (However it is actually legal to "adopt" already created embryos from another couple here). Update: only donor eggs are illegal here. Basically if it doesn't work with our own DNA we would stop. Hubby didn't even want to try IVF initially but luckily came around to the idea. And at the beginning we had agreed on 3 (or max 4) rounds. I have been starting to wonder about what I would consider depending on what we are told at our next doctor's appointment. Going through infertility means you end up having to think about all sorts of things. One friend even suggested we go to India to find a surrogate! I can't imagine ever doing that and thankfully I haven't been told that I can't carry my own child so we don't need to consider options like that. Our doctor has never said there are any issues with our own eggs or sperm either. Both are good quality. I think the main problem is that I don't respond well to the IVF hormones and we don't end up with many embryos. Maybe our thoughts on donor eggs or adoption might change in the future but for now we are still hopeful that we might be able to have a biological child. I hope that doesn't come across the wrong way. Each couple has to decide what is right for them.

Our plan is to see what they say at the other clinic and then decide our next steps. I am open to doing a fourth round at some point. Hubby isn't so keen on the idea, like I mentioned before, he's already ready to stop and try to move on. However he's open to finding out what the new doctors have to say. He just hates seeing how hard IVF is on me. I have heard of women who take five or six rounds to be successful but I don't know how much more I can take. I tell myself it will be worth it in the end when we have our baby but I do worry about the long term effects. The emotional rollercoaster isn't good for my mental health either. Each failure just feels worse than the last! The hardest thing at the moment is deciding where to draw the line. If IVF is never going to work for me then I would obviously rather stop now than keep putting myself through it (and spending more money)! Our health insurance will pay towards a fourth round and it's great to have that option.

So that's where we are at now. I hope my post didn't sound too sad. It has been an incredibly disappointing time. I'm doing ok though. Feeling a little better each day and I am hopeful that maybe something will still work this year. I would love to be pregnant by the summer. Oh man, we would love that baby (or babies) so much! I would be the happiest woman in the world if it worked out. But I also want the doctors to tell it to us straight. If our chances are slim, I will try to accept that. In which case I will also start moving on. Hubby and I have also discussed what that might mean for us. We could consider getting a pet. Or we could plan some amazing holidays. Hubby has never been to Thailand. We would both love to go to the States together. It would also be such a relief to be done with all the doctor's appointments and injections. I hope by this summer we will have our answer either way. Please God we'll be able to have a healthy baby one day.

We are hoping to fly to Australia for my brother's wedding in April. It would be something to look forward to! Initially I had been thinking about staying here so that any potential treatments wouldn't have to be postponed but then I realised that I would regret missing out on seeing my brother get married and a month or two delay shouldn't make a big difference. My life has revolved around infertility treatments so much the past while and I'd like to focus on other things and try to enjoy life again!