Reflections upon being pregnant in a war zone – what scares me

The big question: why did I write about something that happened way back in 2007?  Why did I open up some old wounds by writing and thinking about when I was pregnant in Iraq? For the most part, it’s because I drove for four hours on my own, so I had plenty of time to think.  Very dangerous, I know!  Thinking AND driving!  But actually, it is because I have a fear, a fear of being pregnant again.  It sounds rather silly writing it down on an infertility blog. But of course I want to be pregnant more than anything in the world, but this fear is about suffering the ‘side effects’ of severe morning sickness like I did before in 2007.

Hypermesis Education & Research Foundation

Hyperemesis Education & Research Foundation

Last time I was pregnant I suffered severe morning sickness (also known as Hyperemesis gravidarum) and horrific abdominal pains (compared to my normal Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) pains, these were what I considered to be horrific anyway!)  The worst of the symptoms lasted for over three weeks and the nausea continued until the end of my pregnancy of 10 weeks.  There was no way I could have worked during this period.  But to what extent were those symptoms as a result of the environment and conditions I was experiencing at the time – heat, exhaustion, stress, poor food quality and choice?

When Chris and I first met with our Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE), Chris asked her if my previous pregnancy could be a clue as to why we were not pregnant yet.  I didn’t think it would be so I hadn’t mentioned the severe morning sickness in my questionnaire.  The RE did confirm that it was not likely to be associated.  But, now that I think about it, perhaps it wasn’t such a silly question after all.  Because quite frankly, any explanation to our fertility troubles would be nice right now.  I’m quite bored of asking ‘Why me??’

Today I am 12 Days Past IUI number 2 (12DPIUI#2), and so far potential symptoms of pregnancy:

  • Short sharp cramps just around both sides of my ovaries
  • Sharp cramp like pains under the left side and right side of my ribs.
  • Sore boobs, but not tender to touch, just achey.
  • Today I have felt a little nauseous, but Chris has had a funny tummy today, so potentially we ate something funny.

And that is it, not much to go by, but the sharp pains reminded me of my previous pregnancy so I have been more positive about this cycle so far.  Just two more days to go til the big test.

I am afraid to be pregnant but want to be pregnant more than anything.

And that sums up my emotional roller coaster right now 🙂 /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/——

I need my safe place today

14 days past IUI round 1 and I have one negative pregnancy test in front of me….we were good and didn’t test until day 14.  But I’ve known since Saturday it would be negative because I have been having those well known period pains.  But maybe, just maybe I was confusing them.  But no. I was not.

As it is my first time on all these hormones it has been a very confusing month.  My right breast grew significantly larger after I took the Letrozole (and it’s stayed like that); I’ve had horrible ovary pain around ovulation and a swollen abdomen; then after the IUI, sharp pelvic pains that stop me in my tracks, aching lower back, swollen breasts and nausea.  Damn you drugs.

But now I’ve figured all that out this time, surely, the second time round will be easier and less confusing?

Chris was dying as much as I was to take the test, but I knew already and woke up crying this morning because I just knew.  So Chris made me take the test to resolve it once and for all.  I’m not going to put all my thoughts down about how I feel right now, it would not make for good reading.  Maybe later this week when I’m a little more composed.

My safe place is my ‘anchor point’ I developed on a ‘Presentation Skills’ course.  We were taught to have an anchor point that reminds us of our safe place.  Some people on my course thought it was odd and just didn’t get it.  We were made to sit down on the floor and meditate, thinking of a place that makes us feel warm, safe and happy.  Whilst thinking of this happy place we were asked to hold our thumbs to our middle fingers.  We were guided through this meditation to visualise this happy place, smell it, listen to it and feel the warmth of it.  By associating this happy place with this action of holding our thumbs to our middle fingers, we can easily calm ourselves before giving a presentation.  I learnt this ‘skill’ almost 9 years ago and still use it today when I feel anxious.  Today I’m walking around with my thumbs to my fingers, a lot.

IUI round 1: My Big Fat Negative

IUI round 1: My Big Fat Negative

The weird science of ovulation, the things I didn’t know

A few days ago when I was curled up in bed wishing my ovaries would stop hurting, I did a google search on ovulation.  I wasn’t looking for information on how women ovulate (I studied that at GCSE biology ), but more about what else happens to a woman’s body when she ovulates.  My google search terms were based on a question I had earlier on whether there is a correlation between the side of ovary a woman ovulates from and an increase in boob size.  So my search lead me to ‘ovulation symmetry‘.

There are two articles of interest I would like to share with you.  The first is an academic paper, the second is a blog post from a website called 1Flesh (advocates for natural family planning).  Both were interesting and got me thinking how much of a dark science ovulation is to the unsuspecting.

I’ll actually start with the 1Flesh blog post, called “9 reasons ovulation is pretty much like witch craft” by Marc (yup he’s a guy talking about ovulation, that’s pretty cool!).  He talks about 9 things that happen when a woman ovulate (links to supporting studies are provided in his blog post):

  1. Women become more beautiful when ovulating – lips, ears, fingers, breasts and other soft tissue parts of the body become more symmetrical, thus making us more beautiful.
  2. Gaydar initiated – the better women become at discriminating men who are a good match for them.
  3. Higher voice – again a more attractive thing to men…apparently!
  4. Smell better.
  5. Naturally want to look their best – in fact women’s self esteem lowers around ovulation, and to compensate for this tend to dress better, put make up on, even sway hips unconsciously.
  6. Spidey senses –  women have an increased ability to spot and avoid danger (I must chart this one in particular!!)
  7. Increased sex drive – unsurprising.
  8. General well being – women are less stressed and have fewer headaches.
  9. Get smart – why didn’t I know this sooner??! I could have made sure I took all my exams on these days!

So let’s go back to the 1st point – women become more beautiful when ovulating.  This is where the first hit on google provides a link to an academic paper, entitled: “Symmetry and ovulation in women”*.  It was the first line of the introduction paragraph

Many primates show visible signs they are ready to reproduce.

Many primates show visible signs they are ready to reproduce.

that got me interested:

“In primates most females show cues to ovulation.  However, among humans it is generally considered that ovulation is not perceived consciously by others nor is it usually perceived by self.”

This is very true of baboons and bonobos – they could not make it any more obvious to the male that they were ready to reproduce.  Why are humans more subtle?  Actually, I think after a year, I can now tell when I am ovulating, the signs are mostly there.  But I am not sure Chris can really tell, though perhaps he can unconsciously from the more subtle signs like the list above suggests.

The paper presents evidence that asymmetry in ears and fingers is lowest at time of ovulation.  The evidence is compelling (but I’d like to see a larger sample size).  Could measuring and tracking the length of your digits be a more effect way of determining ovulation?  Sounds easier than feeling your cervix, peeing on a stick and taking your temperature everyday!  Clearly as this paper was published in 1996 it hasn’t caught on as I assume the differences are very small and requires an accurate measuring device.  So we will just wait out on that one for now…

D.Scutt & J.T. Manning, Symmetry and Ovulation in Women, Human reproduction, vol 11 no 11, pp 2477-2480, 1996.

Wonky Boobs – a side effect?

If I could post a picture of my wonky boob I would, but I don’t think the internet needs anymore pictures of wonky boobs, I’m guessing it’s a pretty saturated market out there.

Yesterday I woke up and looked in the mirror to discover my right boob had grown overnight, it also felt overly soft compared to normal.  Chris thought I was exaggerating.  So I didn’t think much else of it.  But this morning it was still like that, so rather than poo pooing my crazy claim, Chris examined it a bit closer.  Upon closer inspection, he concurred that my right boob had indeed grown in size, whilst also laughing in amazement when he came to this conclusion.  Luckily I shared his humour on this one.  I am guessing this is a side effect of the Letrozole (well I can’t think of any other explanation for it!).  I am due to ovulate from the right side, so is it coincidence that it was my right boob that grew?

Will my boob return to normal size and match the other one??? I hope so!  Or perhaps next cycle the other one will catch up – may be I won’t need a boob job after all!  (Just kidding, I don’t really want a boob job, and never have, luckily I like my boobs as they are).dani