Infertility: breathe injections, sleep injections and dream injections

DISCLAIMER: there are pictures of injections in this blog.

Last night, I gave myself my last injection of my first round of IVF: my trigger shot, which makes my body produce all the eggs ready for collection in surgery Monday.

Since the first day of this journey I’ve had a total of 40 shots.

It started off as one a day (Buserelin) and then two a day (Buserelin and Menopur).

Luckily, I’m not scared of needles! I was fine in the nurse’s office when they handed me a needle and asked me to stick it in my stomach to see if I could do it. At first I was only thinking about the start of this journey and worrying about the side effects more than the actual injections.

I was quite excited for the first one and actually got my husband to take a picture!injection

For the first couple of weeks, it was ok, I was becoming quite a pro, actually: wipe bottle off with antiseptic, put air into needle, empty needle in bottle, fill to 0.6, empty back to 0.5, pinch stomach skin, insert needle, gently push in drugs, remove needle, grab a tissue to wipe off blood if necessary.

This routine became normal and I even managed to do this in my brother-in-law’s bathroom, restaurant bathrooms, at work, in the car. And luckily my symptoms were minor, just a small heat rash. My anxiety did get a little worse, with a little more sobbing at home with hubby. All in all, I consider myself lucky.

I did get a few bruises along the way though, but again they were not that painful.

I even coped quite well with the new high protein, low carb and sugar-free diet, with no snacking! didn’t even miss alcohol… (I miss chocolate though)

But, after a while, my life became all about the time when I would do the injection. I had an alarm on my phone in case I forgot, but there was absolutely no chance that would have happened.

It’s all I thought about.

When it would be, where I would have to do it, would it draw blood and would it be painful again (the Menopur was much more painful than the Buserelin).

Due to my history of Thrombosis, I also had to take aspirin daily, and I would keep worrying about every twinge I would feel or if my legs felt uncomfortable, as I was so worried about it.

It consumed my life. I was worrying about it in the morning, thinking about it all day, and checking my phone every two minutes about an hour before my scheduled time. I even dreamt about these injections on a regular basis.

It got to the point that I couldn’t even find a distraction from it and I was dreading it so much that I would start crying uncontrollably whenever I started to think about it.

These injections took over my life. I struggled to sleep, if I knew I had an injection coming up which would not be at home. I started resenting my husband for not being there when I was doing them, even though he was at work and commuting from London with no control over arrival times. I would get angry if people were inviting me out to dinner, because how dare they make me feel so worried (even though they had no idea what I was going through).

I hate the fact that IVF has taken over my life in this way, but it does. IVF is all I breathe, all I sleep and all I dream.

 

Infertility: My profile is a lie

Everything I post on Facebook is a lie.

Most of my friends on Facebook don’t know that I’m currently going through IVF or that I’ve been trying to conceive for 3.5 years.

My husband and I try and go out regularly, see shows, comedians and concerts and basically fill our lives with fun activities. I then post these activities on Facebook with lots of words like “excited”, “thrilled” or “feeling blessed”.

In fact I could not feel farther from these words. These activities are just things to fill the hole in my heart with. They are just a way to try and feel something when I always just feel empty and sad.

And actually attending these events can sometimes make me feel a lot worse. For example, we went to the comedian’s Jon Richardson’s show last month and his whole show revolved around the fact that he is a brand new father and his trials to do with that. Now, in the bio, there was no warning that babies would be the main focus of his show. It took me by complete surprise and I cried all the way home.

And yet, I posted my attendance to this gig on Facebook and wrote about how fun it had been.

My husband and I also go on a big holiday every year and this year was to Mexico. Every day on holiday I posted lots of pictures of us doing amazing things, such as scuba diving:

And we did, it was amazing! Sandy beaches, amazing food and I was lucky to have had this opportunity. But everything I do these days and any happiness that I feel is only fleeting or superficial.

I can’t remember the last time I posted something on Facebook that was real and truthful about my feelings.

I don’t know why I do this.

I could be doing it to try and fill the void. If I look happy on Facebook, then maybe one day I’ll be happy in real life.

Or am I doing to get people to talk to me about my adventures rather than ask me why I’m not pregnant yet?

I don’t know. All I know is that life is hard at the moment, and nobody knows. It also highlights what a load of crap social media is and that lots of people are probably like me, fake on Facebook.

I don’t know how we do this, going about our day to day lives with fake smiles on our faces, but we do. It’s amazing, really. #1in8

Infertility: different kinds of grief

I nearly named this post “fifty shades of grief”, but thought that was a little too on the nose!

What I’ve learnt through my infertility journey is that grief does not necessarily mean death. It does not always mean that you have lost a loved one.

I experienced shock, grief and loss a couple of weeks ago. Some of you may read this and probably feel that I’m not using the appropriate word for my feelings. After all, the word “grief” is a strong one. But that is genuinely how I felt and these feelings were painful and difficult and to me, felt like grief.

Two weeks ago, my parents let me know that my brother’s girlfriend is pregnant. Baby is due in October.

Now, I may sound bitter with my next few words, but these are the thoughts that first went through my head: he does not have a stable job, I’m not even sure where he lives and he is not the most responsible person in the world. They have also been together for only 1 year. I’ve been with my husband for 12, trying for 3.5.

What happened first was the shock. I didn’t think he was even trying! I was in shock for about 24 hours. I did not eat, I barely slept, just spent 24 hours watching Netflix and crying constantly. I think it was because it was so out of the blue that my system just could not process the information properly.

Then, a sort of denial, where I “forgot” that I was going to be an aunt and my brother was going to be a father. “No, it can’t be happening, I must have dreamt it” or “It’s probably a false positive” (knowing full well these don’t really happen…)

After a day or so, more crying and this time an overwhelming sense of loss. Basically the loss of the ideas and hopes that I had had in my head about my family: I am the eldest and I wanted my child to be the first grandchild. I’ve lost that hope. The eldest is always the favourite and I wanted my child to be the favourite.

Then I mourned for the relationship I’ve got with my parents. I tell my mum everything. And although she doesn’t always think before she speaks, I was sad because I did not feel I could be honest with her about the situation. After all, she would be ecstatic to finally become a grandmother, how could I take that joy away from her? So now I’m wondering how much time I can spend with my parents without their happiness killing me.

Now, I’m just living in fear. I’m living in fear that my sister will also get pregnant before I do (she is 8 years younger than me), or that my brother-in-law becomes a father before I do, and my child is not the first grandchild on my husband’s side. Then that dream would be truly dead.

I’m living in fear that all my friends are going to have babies before I do and that the pain is going to be too much to bear and I will end up with no friends, alone and in tears.

My IVF treatment is starting soon and statistically only 20% results in a baby, so I’m at a loss and hope it fading fast. I’m afraid of having a miscarriage. I’m afraid that the funded IVF won’t work and that I’ll run out of money for more IVF treatment.

I’m afraid of the adoption conversation as I’m not sure that’s what I want. I’m afraid that if we do decide to adopt my dad won’t accept the baby (he’s very old-fashioned).

Finally, I feel like I am grieving for the life that I had imagined for myself and that I don’t have.

Before my infertility journey, I had no idea just how much we suffer in these circumstances and I’m still surprised at the intensity of my feelings at times. All I can say is that my thoughts are with all those who are on the infertility journey. Hopefully my next post will be brighter, hopefully I’ll feel brighter soon.

Infertility: why you are on a “need to know” basis.

I have made the decision to not tell a lot of people that me and my husband are struggling to conceive.

I have told my mum, grandma, sister, mother-in-law and a couple of friends. I have made the decision not to tell any of my colleagues.

Why?

Well, although I know that my colleagues would be sympathetic, I could not stand the looks of pity, the conversation, people asking about a hospital appointment then asking me how it went, looking at me funny if I let slip that I’m on my period, judging my every move and behaviour.

There has been one colleague that I am considering telling, and that is not because I want to, but because I might have to: she is constantly asking me if I’m thinking of having children and telling me that I should really get going as I’m not getting any younger. So basically I really want to shut that down. It is not fair that I should feel forced into saying something, because she feels that she has the right to comment on what I am doing with my vagina. Luckily I’ve got until she comes back from sabbatical for that (September). Still, it is agonising to think about and I dread the first day back of school after the holidays because of her.

Now, I’m about to have a bit of a rant. But since very few people read this blog (thank you, by the way, you guys who power through my drivel). So, here it is:

There is one colleague that I could not tell. I work with some lovely people and I love my job, even the kids and their sometime tricky parents. I work in a gorgeous and supportive school. I could tell all but this one colleague, who unfortunately is in my department (I’m her line manager). Here are the reasons why:

  1. She is in her late 50s. Now, although this should not be an issue, she often makes comments about me having children. I also believe that she would not understand. She had her child with no difficulties and lives for that child.
  2. She is the most selfish person that I know. Everything is about her. For instance, if I am having a bad day, she will blame me for being negative rather than be understanding and realise that I am only human and allowed a bad day. So, if I told her and was having a bad day, she would make it all about her and how my feelings were affecting her. That would make me feel even worse.
  3. She is passive aggressive. I would not put it past her to use my troubles for her own gain and make comments. I think that as she wants to be the most miserable person in the room at all times, and knowing that I was more miserable would upset her and I think she would try and make it worse.
  4. She thinks we are friends (!), so she would constantly ask me about it and act like a good listener. What if I didn’t want to talk about it? Well, she would then be offended and would be upset with me for being insensitive to her.

Sorry, I’ve had a shitty week (period coupled with a lot of work stress) and she really pissed me off, more than usual, this week. My being stressed and on the verge of tears was making her feel negative. And the fact that I did not want to talk about it upset her. Do you see what I have to work with?!?

So, basically, tell who you want to tell and anyone out there who is not going through what I’m going through, here are some tips:

– If someone is miserable and that is out of character, don’t comment on it. You don’t know what they are going through. So, ask how they are, if they don’t want to talk about it, shut up and leave them alone.

– If someone tells you that they are going through infertility, listen, don’t look at them with pity and don’t prod. If they want to say more, they will.

– For God’s sake, stop asking women about their plans to have or not have children. It is none of your business.

Well, apologies for the rant, I just needed to vent and she does not read this blog. Thanks for reading!

Infertility: Tired of being unhappy.

It is 1 am on a Sunday evening as I am writing this and I can’t sleep. I am exhausted. I have to get up at 6 for work in the morning for 14 hours, all the time with a smile on my face. This is not the first sleepless night, and I know it will not be the last.

And I am tired. So tired.

Tired of Waiting.

Infertility seems to be a lifetime of waiting. Month after month, counting days of the cycle, planning sex and then waiting for the first day of the next one (period). Waiting for the 3 years needed to get free treatment on the NHS. Waiting for appointments, answers and for the day when I will pee on a stick and it will be good news.

This waiting is usually riddled with anxiety. The week before the appointment which would decide if I could qualify was the longest of my life. I even starved myself to make sure that my bmi would not be too high as I knew that could cause problems. My stomach is in constant knots of worry, fear and anxiety. There never is any release.

I am tired of being angry and jealous all the time.

I have irrational anger and resentment towards people with babies. In the street, going to the shops, I hate anyone with a stroller or carrying a small child. I hate the fact that when colleagues bring their newborns into work for a visit I have to smile at them and look happy for them. I hate my colleagues who are constantly making comments about what I am doing with my vagina; are you thinking about kids, you should start having kids you are not getting any younger!… Fuck you, fuck all of you.

Most of all I hate the rage that is inside me as it is not me at all. I have become someone who does not have kind thoughts, who has become inpatient and erratic, who always wants to either punch something or cry. And I hate it.

I am tired of my thoughts.

I see babies and pregnant people everywhere. It is amazing that when you are trying to get pregnant everyone around you starts procreating. You suddenly notice all the pictures of happy babies and pregnant people on Facebook and Twitter. You even start being angry at your favourite series, because one of the characters is pregnant (ruined The Big Bang Theory for me). I had never even given it a thought before my infertility!

I never stop thinking about my infertility. I hate myself for not being able to have children and I hate my broken body. But I also know that I need to be kind to myself and that others have a much worse time of it than me. I also know that I am lucky to have such a wonderful and supportive husband. I am in constant conflict with myself and it is exhausting to have to always think so much about everything.

I am tired of worrying about the future.

I constantly think of my future with infertility. What if it doesn’t work? What if we try for years and I become too old to be a parent? What if adopting is not the right decision for me? What if I am never a parent, will I die alone with no one to come and visit me in the nursing home? When will it finally happen? Will all my friends have become parents by then? Will I no longer have friends because I won’t be able to bear to see them? When can I stop being this person that I really don’t want to be?

I am tired of being unhappy.

I should be happy. I have a lovely flat which I bought, I have a gorgeous and amazing husband, I go on luscious holidays, I have a good job which pays well and I have recently been promoted. I have everything on paper that should make someone happy. And in a way I am, mostly because of my husband. But, I am not happy. I am miserable. I am someone who needs to control everything in her life and this one thing I cannot control is making me sad, anxious, angry, jealous, irrational and constantly on the verge of tears.

I think about all the other couples out there who are experiencing the curse of infertility and I am so impressed by everyone. This journey is an exceptionally hard thing to go through and you are all amazingly brave and wonderful people.

But mostly, I am just so tired.

Infertility: People’s unhelpful comments

People always feel like they can comment on other people’s lives. I suppose it’s human nature: judging others.

But, for some reason, the whole “child having thing” seems a lot worse.

Women, in particular, feel that it is ok and normal to comment on other women’s status in terms of child bearing. Why is that?

On the other side of it, if you are a woman, you get a lot more questions about having children than men. Again, how is that ok?

Let me give you a example: my husband has been working for his company for 5 years. He has been asked twice: “do you have kids?” answer: “no”, then never another question or anything else about it again.

However, I have been working for the same school for 4 years, and I have had multiple questions, usually weekly, about having kids. Why do women constantly get asked about children? How is that ok? We are trying to become a more equal society, and yet…

Here are a few of the comments that have hurt me physically and mentally during the thee years of trying. I am hoping that people will think twice before speaking:

“How old are you? Oh, 31?, you should think about having kids soon, then!”

Mind your own fucking business. Who gives you the right to tell me when is the right time for me to have kids? And why is it ok for people to say this to women?

“I bet this is making you broody” (a colleague telling me this after I bought baby gifts for another colleague going on maternity leave)

At that time, I had already been trying for 1.5 years. So yes, I was broody. I also found it immensely difficult to buy all these gifts on behalf of everyone who contributed to these gift. It broke my heart to go online and go to the toy shops to try and find nice things for this potential baby. But why is it ok for anyone to say this? I was already crying daily by this point, all it did was make me like my colleague even less…

“I’m practising for when you have kids” (a colleague who knitted a blanket for another colleague’s baby)

Way to lay on the pressure…! So, now you are doing this really nice thing with me in mind? Well, I feel sorry for the other person!

“You should have babies soon, the older you get, the harder it is!”

No shit. Well, that’s a pretty obvious comment, and completely unhelpful. Firstly, why does anyone think that this is an appropriate workplace comment (yes, workplace) and secondly, fuck you.

At this stage of trying to conceive, I don’t care how old I am or how hard it is, I just want a child, so you saying this really doesn’t help!

“You’re thinking about your career. Good, it’s better to do that before you have kids!”

Inappropriate. I was told this by my female head teacher (my boss).

Actually, having children should not stop me having high aspirations with regards to my career, and should not stop me from being very ambitious.

Also, maybe I’m focusing on my career because it’s too painful to think about the fact that I can’t have children, so that comment is like a knife to the heart.

Finally, why can’t career and children not work together? I hope to God that I’ll find out someday…

“Try not to think about it, then it’ll happen naturally”

The most unhelpful comment I’ve ever had. Really? That’s why I’ve not been able to get pregnant? I wish I had known this all along!!! (sarcasm) I will just stop being stressed and it will all be ok!! (again, sarcasm)

Yes, I am stressed. But so are people that have gotten pregnant.

“Three years? That’s not that long!”

I got this comment after telling someone for the first time that I had been trying. Way to make me regret telling you!! They seemed to think that 3 years was not that long. They did not have to try at all before they had the children that they wanted.

May I just say that three years is fucking long. Actually, one year is long if you can’t get pregnant. Never dare to comment on the years trying as they are the most stressful, sad and depressing years of my entire life.

“You don’t need fertility treatment, there’s nothing wrong with you!”

My mother-in-law said this to me recently. To be fair, there is nothing wrong with me, that’s true. But, we have been trying for 3 years, and we have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility.

Unexplained infertility is incredibly hard to deal with as there is nothing to blame or to try and improve, it just is.

So yes, there is something wrong with me, I can’t get pregnant. That is incredibly wrong.

Think about what you say to women

My message is this: think before you speak. Don’t mention babies or pregnancy to women as you have no idea what that woman is going through.