I am 1 in 8 speech

For my first international toastmasters speech which is known as ‘The icebreaker speech’ I decided to talk about my infertility. I thought I’d go big or go home! Talking about infertility to a bunch of work colleagues and a few strangers is nerve wracking!! This speech is the first of many I must give to gain my ‘competent communicator’ award. The idea is that the icebreaker speech is 4-5 minutes long and aims to ‘break the ice’ by talking a little bit about yourself as an introduction to your fellow toastmasters club members. Talking about infertility seemed like a bold challenge. 

It was hard to focus a speech that is only 5 minutes long to what has been a challenging part of my life. But in the end here is what I said…

“Ladies & Gentlemen, let me ‘break the ice’!! Let me take you back in time to when I was 9 in a leafy suburb playground of London. I was a bit of a Tom boy. I liked cars and transformers, so whenever I played with the boys, the girls would taunt me with the school playground rhyme…

“Dani & Chris, sitting in a tree

K-I-S-S-I-N-G

First comes love,

Then comes marriage,

Then comes the baby in the baby carriage”

Well ladies and gentlemen, that nursery rhyme isn’t quite so simple as it sounds after all. Because I am 1 in 8. I am 1 in 8 who suffers from the disease that is infertility. A baby in the baby carriage is not always what comes next.

Let me introduce you to Chris, my husband of 5 years….


Here he is winning the District 66 toastmasters humorous speech competition. You can see I have some competition!!!

4 and half years ago we moved to the US to work here. And it was at that point all our friends and family asked us….’so…when are you going to have a baby??!!’ Little did they know that we were trying but not succeeding. After many tests, thr doctors couldn’t tell us why we couldn’t have a baby. We were diagnosed as unexplained. So we tried InVitro Fertilisation or IVF.

Our first round of treatment we created these beautiful embryos…


We named them huckleberry and huckleberina because they looked like raspberries. Just 8 cells smaller than 0.1mm. One decided to stick around and I got pregnant!!! We were so happy! Until we discovered that it had implanted in the wrong place, the pregnancy was ectopic and so we sadly had to terminate the pregnancy as it threatened my life. 

We were devastated. We had to wait a while to try again.

Second time we created these 5 day old blastocysts. At first we didn’t name them because it was too painful. But in the end we did nickname them Petrie and Spike.


But it didn’t work. I didn’t get pregnant. It was very stressful and even Chris didn’t want to try again so soon. But we decided to try again. Third time lucky they say?!? This time we created thee 5 day old blastocysts – and as you can see we got a better photo of them  third time around!


And it worked!!! Today we have our beautiful daughter Aviana who is now 6 months old.


We are the lucky ones. Not everyone of the 1 in 8 gets to take a baby home in the baby carriage. It was a hard journey and involved hundreds of injections and there were many tears. People ask me now that I have a baby when will number two come along, or will we have another baby? But I tell them it’s not quite so simple as that. It’s hard. I wanted to share this with you today as my icebreaker because this is a subject deep to my heart and I hope you have learned something interesting about me today.

Ladies and Gentelemen, Thank you.”

I really enjoyed giving this icebreaker speech. It probably wasn’t what people would have expected as a first time topic. I got a great response from the audience. There was actually someone in the audience who was going through IVF themselves and have done two cycles at the same clinic as we used. They were about to decide whether or not to go for a third cycle and whether to stay with the same doctor. I offered details of our local infertility support group. It was obvious it was meant to be that I talked about this topic for my icebreaker. 

Infertility leaves a scar. I am grateful we were the lucky ones, but it doesn’t suddenly disappear from your heart when you have a baby. For me, continuing to talk about it and spread awareness helps the healing.

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THAT moment

The Pudding Club Diary @ 16w3d

Chris and I had THAT moment last night. THAT moment when you realise you have the summit in sight, when the pain, tears and anxiety were ALL worth it.  And we haven’t even met our little one yet.

As I was getting undressed for bed I pointed out my ‘bump’ and it’s definition.  Chris went to put his hands to it.  I let him…which is not a usual occurrence because if you are a follower you will know my personal issues with my stomach and understand that I still struggle with this.  But I also know I have to let Chris feel the little one too.  The day before, I lay in bed before work just staring at my naked tummy for about 20 minutes watching little Rocky squirming around in there.  I still haven’t really felt Rocky move, but I definitely have seen him/her moving in the past week or so.  That evening as Chris reached out to my tummy – he exclaimed…”I can feel Rocky!!”.  We looked at each other, and we were both teary eyed in that moment.  It was a moving moment.  Silently we knew what this meant.  It was real.  It wasn’t on some computer screen…it was physically real, in our hands. Our baby is alive and wriggling.

So amazing 🙂

 

My Mountains Monday Memoirs: Highest Peak in Northern Ireland

The highest peak in Northern Ireland is called Slieve Donard.  I’m not sure it can truly be called a mountain at only 850m high; but it certainly is a commanding peak.  However, this beautiful ‘mountain’ has one of my favourite stories from My Mountains Memoirs…..

Not long after we wed, Chris and I went to visit our friends L & A in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  Knowing how much we love the mountains, L & A took us to the highest peak in Northern Ireland – Slieve Donard.  Honestly, I had never heard of it before that day.  But apparently it was a lovely walk and so off we hiked.  Chris, L, A and their adorable dog – Elvis (I love this dog :-)).

Actually, Chris and I have rarely hiked a mountain with other friends, we usually find ourselves venturing off alone together, so it was a really nice change to hike with them.

The walk up was long, gradual and pretty beside the Glen River – through woodlands of pine, oak and birch.

the way up through the trees

the way up through the trees

As we were climbing, Chris noticed that L was having a hard time with her back and her back-pack: so being a gentleman, he offered to relieve her of her heavy burden.  But L was not going to give up easily, and in fact was overly defensive.  Putting it down to her niceties, Chris thought nothing more of it.

L was determined not to let Chris carry her bag up the mountain!!

L was determined not to let Chris carry her bag up the mountain!!

Once we were out into the moorland, the path became rockier and steeper – and noticeably greyer.  There was no end in sight!  Chris suggested we should turn around.  Particularly with L’s back playing up.  But L & A convinced us to keep going – perhaps the mist would clear!  Perhaps it we would rise above the clouds once we got to the top!!  And so we carried on.  Despite the poor visibility and the ever chilling and biting wind, it still felt good to be going somewhere in the fresh air.

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Starting to get grey and misty – where is the summit??!!

We finally hit what is known as the Mourne Wall which sits within a saddle that leads to the final summit of Slieve Donard.  We could not see the summit.  But there were peeks of wonderful views back down the mountain and across the Irish Sea.  It is not often we get to climb a mountain with sea views!  And so we settled to not climb the peak and took a breather.

Almost near the summit, but it was clouded over :-( so this was the highest we went

Almost near the summit, but it was clouded over 😦 so this was the highest we went

L & A had got us this far, there was no reason to keep going to the clouded summit just to ‘bag it’ – we had got the view we had come for.

But then came the real surprise! L pulled out of her back pack a bottle of Moet & Chandon Champagne!  She had carried it all the way to the top, knowing this was one of our favourite places to be (at the top of a mountain!) as our wedding present.

Like you do - popping open the champers!

Like you do – popping open the champers!

Did I tell you my husband is classy?

Did I tell you my husband is classy?

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A wonderful gift to celebrate together

I cannot tell you how heart warmed I felt right then.  Yes it was freezing cold and the view was less than perfect, and we hadn’t quite reached the true peak!  But we were there with our friends and having a real good laugh – all those things we typically “seek” out of a mountain just simply didn’t matter.  Friendship and love is all that mattered.  Sounds cheesy, but this is what I remember the most.

Mountain Lesson #4: Your dearest friends will keep you going in spite of the fog of it all; they will cheer you on and help you see beyond the wall you face in front of you.

Mountain Lesson #5:  Every so often you need to let your friends come with you on your journey up that mountain…living life with a wall around just the two of you is not always fun.  Sometimes, there is unknown, unseen fun on the other side of that wall!!!

L has been a poorly bunny recently, so I just want to say to her –  We are thinking of you my lovely and hope you feel much better soon.  Big hugs and kisses XXXX

Read my previous Mountain Monday Memoirs blog posts…here….

Introducing: My Mountains – Monday Memoirs – Scotland

Mondays – I think most of us could say that this day of the week can be likened to a mountain.  But I LOVE mountains.  Chris loves mountains too.  We like climbing mountains (although we haven’t done much of that this year), although climbing mountains is hard work – there is great reward once you get up there though (most of the time!).  So I thought I would write a regular post that reminisces on some of our quality mountain days and reflect upon my pudding club hunt; and what better day to write it on than a Monday.  Plus the post title alliterates (…got to love a bit of alliteration!).  Introducing….My mountains – Monday Memoirs.

The Highlands, Scotland 2010

Hogmanay in bonny Scotland (i.e. New Years eve in beautiful Scotland).  We planned an escape from the more traditional New Years Eve parties – i.e. get pissed/sloshed/leathered/smashed/plastered/hammered/wasted/trolleyed/spannered/wankered/battered/badgered/bladdered/fecked/lashed/legless/ming-monged/mullered/ratted/shit-faced/tanked/trashed/wrecked or put more simply – drunk.  Yes, us Brits have many words to describe getting drunk!  We decided to head off into the Scottish Highlands to see the new year in with a bit of peace and quiet.

After a night of Scottish dancing (a ceilidh) fuelled by haggis, neeps and tatties, we woke up bright and early on New Years Day.  Not a hangover to be seen.  We took to the hills with not a person in sight.  It was bliss.  We were spoilt to have the hills to ourselves.  Our hike started off in the boggy marshes.  There was no path to be found and we were pretty much hiking off our compasses at this point.  After about 20 minutes we finally saw a sign, we were heading in the right direction at least!

It was a hard grog up the hillside in the tall marshy grass.  But we had some fun along the way, and we took a timer photo that turned out to be one of my favourite pictures of us both – it is my screen saver and people always comment on it.

One of my favourite all time pics.

One of my favourite all time pics of us both.

We had passed the steepest point, about half way up the mountain and so we took a breather – I had to strip down a layer I was so hot….I  took off my glasses placed them on a rock beside me so I could pull my fleece over my head.  And this was the last time my glasses were ever seen on my head (this very photo!!!).

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The last time my glasses were ever seen on my head

When we reached the top of the mountain, it was beautiful, but windy and very very cold, I told Chris we had to keep going before my face froze off.  We took one quick picture and started to head off down the other side of the mountain. We had planned a circular route around rather than go back down the same way we came up.

Got to keep yourself warm somehow out there in the wilderness!

Got to keep yourself warm somehow out there in the wilderness!

Half way down the other side of the mountain I realised I no longer had my glasses with me.  FAIL!!!!  It was only because of the photo above that we figured that I must have left them on the rock when I stripped down a layer.  As you can see from the photo at the top, it was starting to get quite dark.  Chris offered to run back up the mountain and get them, but that seemed quite dangerous considering the lack of other people around and the impending darkness.

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The moment I realised the glasses were not on my face.

So we stuck to our route, and I was annoyed at myself for a long time – they were quite new glasses as well.  For months afterwards I kept an eye out in the ‘outdoors’ magazines in the ‘lost articles’ section just in case someone had found them.  But alas.  They were gone forever.

So here are the first of my mountain lessons from this trip that help me think about infertility and overcoming the mountains we face.

Mountain Lesson #1.  Don’t let the bogs get you down or put you off your course.  When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.  We almost turned back after 15 minutes of bogging it…so glad we didn’t in the end!

Mountain Lesson #2.  Sometimes things just get lost, it will make you mad and eventually sad.  But losing Chris in a ditch somewhere and probably calling out mountain rescue along the way would have not been worth the loss of my glasses.  I made a decision that was safer in the end.  He was willing to put himself out there for me – love can make you blind to danger!

The Cat’s Meow: Helping us through our infertility journey

I’m not sure what I would do without my two cats – Sushi and Diesel.  These two feline friends have helped us along our journey through infertility.  How?  Well there are three main ways….

1.  Stroking a cat has been scientifically proven to be therapeutic during stressful times.  Although Diesel, our ‘terror-quisitive’ cat runs away if you were to approach him for strokes, but he will happily to come to you for strokes.  Many strokes.  In any shape or form.  Very therapeutic.  For both human and cat alike!

Cats emotional breakdown

2.  Cats like to help you read important books like “The IVF patient’ guide to IVF” or “It starts with the egg”.  They want to make sure they are helping you every step of the way…

IVF a patient's guide It starts with the egg

3.  We can learn a thing or two from cats.  For example, they help us to learn how to just chill out and take it easy.  When things don’t go our way or we get a bit stressed, take a leaf from their book.  Look – it’s easy!!! Just stretch, lay back and relax.

Now this is how you chill out.  Just stretch, lay back and relax!

Now this is how you chill out. Just stretch, lay back and relax!

Anything else I’ve missed?? How do your pets help you on your pudding club journey?

Understanding: #YouAreNotAlone, #NIAW, #WeAreNotAlone

NIAW-CMYK

The baby shower

I sit in the corner, quietly observing the group, hoping no one talks to me and asks me how I am.  I’ve been dreading this day for weeks.  I am not really sure what the etiquette of baby showers is.  I’ve learned about wedding, birthday parties, funerals and baptism etiquettes, but as a Brit living in the US, baby showers are new to me.  One thing I do know for sure is that sobbing away in the corner, trying to make sure no one sees is not part of the celebrations.  Why all the tears?  Because this should be my time for my baby shower.  I don’t mean to sound self-centred, but you see we have been trying to conceive for 17 months now.

Like the singleton table set aside at weddings, baby showers should come with a table reserved for infertiles.  After all, 1 in 8 couples of reproductive age could have a seat at this table.

My tears are short lived, of course, as the excitement of adorable ‘mini-me’ baby gifts and funny games take the course of the day.  Our friend who has that beautiful pregnancy glow to her skin, was happy.  So happy.  For me this was all I needed to prevent me from drowning in my own misery and enjoy the party.

Unfortunately, it seemed that not all of us could cope this well.  One of the guests left within 10 minutes of arriving.  She had driven hundreds of miles for the baby shower.  Why would you drive all that way just to stay for 10 minutes?  And so the speculation and rumours started.  My husband interjected with a suggestion “Perhaps she is trying for a baby and found it all too much?”.  We both looked at each other with that ‘knowing’ look.  Sadly, no one in the room bought this excuse, dismissed it and the speculation continued. The departing lady, who I did not know personally, may have been infertile, or perhaps she had some other good reason for leaving the baby shower as quickly as she had arrived.  Statistically, the chances were high that at least two of us at the shower were suffering from infertility. With both my husband and I in the room, it was easy to wonder who else is silently suffering?  If it was this lady, I wish I could have told her:

You are not alone

I would have held her hand, hugged her and told her it’s OK, I understand, we can face this disease together.

wish2

But for some people experiencing infertility, a hug from a stranger will never make the pain and hurt go away.  I know this.  I feel more comfortable on my infertility journey than I ever have been because I discovered a place where hugging strangers is quite a common place. The blogging world.  I have been surprised to discover comfort and understanding from the ‘virtual’ hugs, support, discussion and love from the biggest group of ‘strangers’ I know.  It’s not just strangers that have joined us on our journey, but a small group of family and friends too.  The ability to communicate, open my heart and share my feelings has been a therapy for me.  But not everyone we care about knows of our struggles because it is not easy to talk about.

Please help us on our journey.

As it is infertility awareness week, we are taking a big leap and inviting you to join us on our journey – or more aptly put – the hunt for the great pudding club.  You have been invited because we trust and love you.  We want you to know that this week we will be starting a new chapter in our journey.  Ironically it is National Infertility Awareness Week.

We have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility, it is a surprisingly common diagnosis for about 25% of those with infertility.  To date we have tried three rounds of artificial insemination, known as IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination).  This week has been particularly difficult for us as our final prescribed round of treatment failed.  With each round of treatment the sad news of our failure does not get any easier to digest, rather, the sadness stacks up and our hearts grow heavier.

The IUI procedure summed up

The IUI procedure nicely summed up

We are now at the cross roads stage where we do not know exactly which route we will take: IVF, gestational carrier, adoption or even child-free.  Whichever route we do decide to take, we want you to be there with us.

How you can help us

Opening our hearts about our infertility journey leaves us with open wounds, and the occasional feeling of self-inflicted nausea (wishing it was nausea from pregnancy, of course!).  If you would like to come with us we have some ideas on how to help us through our journey…

  1. Ask us how we are doing, and if we do not to tell you every intricate detail of our treatment, please don’t be offended. Sometimes we just don’t want to talk about it because we have been thinking about it all morning and just stopped thinking about it.
  2. We love hearing stories about how your little one was conceived, especially the funny stories. But please do not tell us that we should try this position, or that method.  After all, I am pretty sure we have tried everything we could possibly google.  Legs up, from behind, on top, downward dog, on holiday, when drunk, herbal tea, with a full moon etc… The chances are slim that we will be able to conceive naturally.
  3. Although telling us about your friend that conceived after X time, with X procedure might seem affirming, everyone with infertility is different and so your story probably won’t apply to our situation. The obstacles each one of us faces will be different and the path we take will be unique.
  4. Please don’t ask us 14 days after our fertility treatment procedure if it worked. If it worked, we will tell you in our own time if we find out I am pregnant (it won’t be long after we find out, I am sure the excitement will be too much!); if it didn’t work, we need some time for ourselves to contemplate our next steps and to just have a big old cry.
  5. We like emails, phone calls, skypes and messages that remind us that there are other things going on in the world. We don’t want to think about infertility and babies all the time.  It can be emotionally exhausting at times.  Send us photos, tell us funny stories or pass on a couple of memes.  Please don’t feel like you are treading on egg shells around us or worry that we are too busy to speak to you.
  6. We also want to hear about your little ones too and would love to be invited to events and parties too, after all we are going to be parents sometime soon too 🙂
  7. Finally, please don’t suggest ‘You can just adopt’ to us. If you look into adoption you will quickly learn that this process is not easy, cheap or free from emotional baggage.  There are no guarantees. The casual statement of ‘you can just adopt’ makes it seem like not being able to conceive isn’t that big of a deal and ironically is often said by people who already have their own children. Such a casual, throw away statement makes the whole process seem like we can simply go to the store and pick the type of baby we want from the range on the shelves.

The list above is specific to us, not everyone who suffers infertility will feel comfortable with what we are suggesting, each couple will deal with it in a different way, so if you know someone else who is going through this you should ask them how you can help.

Regardless of the individual items on people’s lists, one thing we can all do is be cautious, being a little more sensitive and take a little time to think before asking anyone about having children. If you know a couple that has recently married it is easy to ask ‘so when will we hear the pitter patter of tiny feet, eh?’ but what if the couple is struggling to conceive? Such an innocent question and yet it could be devastating. We’re not saying don’t ask questions, just don’t make assumptions. Until we had gone through this experience I would often be the one asking such questions, I only realise now how hurtful those questions could have been.

What else can I do?

Come join us, support National Infertility Awareness Week by adding a twibbon to your facebook profile.  You can follow my blog or facebook page, read the links below to help understand more about infertility.  Share your awareness so that others who quietly suffer do not feel like they are alone.

Thank you for understanding as we go through some challenging decisions and supporting us, giving us hope like you have already, we feel very much loved in the knowledge that we are not alone on our journey.

Dani & Chris X

#WeAre1in8 #YouAreNotAlone #WeAreNotAlone

Facebook: The sad truth of the matter #NIAW, #YouAreNotAlone

Facebook – you kept me awake this morning contemplating giving you up.

I have 423 friends on facebook.

40 of my friends liked this picture of me drinking beer….almost 10%!  That’s pretty high!

Hofbrauhaus in Munich. Mmmm Beer!

Hofbrauhaus in Munich. Mmmm Beer!

The irony being that in this picture, these were not my beers, and I was drinking non-alcoholic beers that night because I’m trying for a baby!

However, only 17 liked this photo and blurb about National Infertility Awareness Week (incidentally only 2 of the 17 were men, I salute you because this is not just about women)….

Did you know that 1 in 8 couples you know may suffer from infertility? Did you know that 1 in 100 births in the US are made possible from Assisted Reproductive Technologies such as IVF? Infertility IS a disease, it is a hidden disease. This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, so please share the message and remember friends ‪#‎YouAreNotAlone‬, ‪#‎WeAreNotAlone‬, ‪#‎NIAW‬

Did you know that 1 in 8 couples you know may suffer from infertility? Did you know that 1 in 100 births in the US are made possible from Assisted Reproductive Technologies such as IVF? Infertility IS a disease, it is a hidden disease. This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, so please share the message and remember friends ‪#‎YouAreNotAlone‬, ‪#‎WeAreNotAlone‬, ‪#‎NIAW‬

So why do I feel judged or failed by sharing this photo and message?  Why do I feel like the number of ‘likes’ is a measure of my success in sharing the message about Infertility Awareness Week?  Maybe people read it, but felt awkward to like it or share it?  Did I make people feel uncomfortable?  Was it not interesting?  Did they know these facts already?  Was it too boring?  Do people not care? Was it not controversial enough?  All these things I wonder….but they are silly.  If I hadn’t posted the picture of me with the beer last week and got so many likes, would 17 ‘likes’ have satisfied me that I had some success in sharing the message?

I have thought about ways to raise awareness.  Before we started this journey, the hunt for the great pudding club, I had no clue about infertility.  I knew it happened, I didn’t know how many people it affected, and how differently it affected people.  The pain and suffering of these people were hidden from me.  It is a personal journey so it shouldn’t have to be shared with me and the whole world, but I feel like I should have been educated in it.  When I was at school and I learnt about conception, the biology behind it, the sex education classes I was unaware of quite how truly each conception is a miracle.  The events that have to occur all in line for conception to be made possible is amazing.  I only learnt about all of this over the last year.

I want to raise awareness so I drafted a blog post as part of the National Infertility Awareness Week blog challenge under the theme of #YouAreNotAlone.  I drafted it last weekend, but I have not posted it yet because the tone of blog will be highly dependent on the outcome of IUI round 3 this week. I have written two versions of the post, the first version is aimed at inviting close friends and family to help us on our journey which is about to get more difficult or, alternatively the second version, announcing to friends and family that we are pregnant in the early stages, as a result of help and assistance from fertility treatment.  I’m still waiting to post my blog.  Here is how it has gone so far…

Sat: 10 DPIUI – I landed back in the US and made Chris drive me to the pharmacy to buy us some of the expensive early pregnancy tests.  I was feeling like I was pregnant 🙂  I took the test and there was the faintest of lines.  I even took apart the test to look closer because the reflection of the plastic made me wonder if I was imagining it.  But could this be the hormones left over from my Ovidrel shot?  I went to bed smiling either way because there was still a chance.

Sun: 11 DPIUI – I took another early pregnancy test.  Nope, nothing, nadda.  Saturday must have been from the Ovidrel.  Why did I take the test so early?  Well, I have never taken a test before my period was due, I was in experimentation mode and thought what the hell.  A sad Dani.  But it is still early and definitely not over til the fat lady sings (AKA Aunt Flow).

Mon: 12 DPIUI – Chris told me not to take a test.  I didn’t.  Chris came home from work sad, he had been thinking about it all day.  I was sad too. It was a sad evening with many hugs.

Tues: 13 DPIUI – I took a cheapy test.  I saw a very very faint line!  Well at least I really thought I did.  Chris took a look at it and told me there was absolutely nothing there.  I didn’t listen to him and went to be with a little smile.  This morning I woke up and looked at it again, he was right, there is nothing there, I was actually hallucinating.

Today Weds: 14 DPIUI…….No testing today.  I will wait for Aunt Flow to arrive.  She is rumbling.  Unless I am sorely mistaken.

Whatever happens, I will be posting my blog challenge for National Infertility Awareness Week very soon. #YouAreNotAlone, #WeAreNotAlone

The dreaded 2WW and being away from home

Beautiful Bavaria

Beautiful Bavaria

I’m almost halfway through my 2 Week Wait (2WW).  I am currently in another country across the other side of the pond for a work trip.  Despite the beautiful location in deep Bavaria and being kept busy with work all week, I am finding this a very different type of 2WW to any of the others.  Being away from home and the 6 hour time difference has made it hard – on both of us I think – just to talk about things and how each of us is doing.  A break from talking about Trying to Conceive, IUI and other baby making related stuff has been refreshing I will admit.  BUT as I continue to have random pains, and thoughts of what is to be this time next week, I really miss Chris.  Yes, of course, I miss him whenever I go away for work trips, but this time is harder.  This time it is make or break.

With this being our third IUI, this time next week we will either be preparing to be proud parents (and not knowing if it is twins yet!!!) or preparing for a long journey on some other new path that we haven’t talked much about yet.  Woah – scary stuff whatever happens.

As I am currently teaching 36 international students (mostly male, of varying age and backgrounds!) it is very difficult to hide any of the side effects I am having whilst I am ‘up on stage’ in front of everyone. Mostly trying to hide behind the lectern from the sharp pains I am experiencing!!  Ordinarily after my day at work I would talk to Chris about these kinds of things.  So I am talking to you all instead, sorry about that 😉

These pains suck, and I think that they may potentially be getting worse that I am going to have to ask the doctor about it next time.  I really hope I don’t get what happened in my last cycle where I was doubled over in the supermarket, people watching and wondering if I was OK, debating whether I should go to an emergency doctor or not!  I know that if anyone here sees me do that they would make a big fuss instantly, then I would have to explain it.  Fingers crossed that cycle was just a one off.

Count down to make or break T-8 days……scary.

Infertility Awareness: Sharing our Journey

It’s national infertility awareness week soon, 19-25 April 2015.  The theme is “You’re not alone”.  There is a blogging challenge under this theme which I have been thinking about writing.  I asked Chris if he thought it would be a good idea for us to write a joint blog post under this theme and post it onto our personal facebook pages.  After all, it is the making people aware of infertility week – how better to make people aware than to share our journey so far?  But Chris quickly pointed out that this would be too much to share.  We would get more questions like, “Any news?”, we would be asked about our troubles at times when we just don’t feel like talking about it, we would also get the unintentional insensitive thoughts, ideas and suggestions (a great post about this “Pardon me whilst I burst into flame” I re-blogged here).

This all makes me so sad.  Sad because I feel like we should make people more aware of the statistics (how common it is), the hidden suffering, the variety, complexity of infertility problems and the many options/choices of treatment.

Our journey is getting a bit rocky

Our journey is getting a bit rocky

The infertility journey is a rocky wild path, that will throw all types of extreme weather at us, it’s physically exhausting and mentally draining.  We know the peak is high, we may come across false summits.  Some of us may fall down, some of us may find shortcuts (we always hope to find shortcuts!) and sometimes the path simply becomes longer and windier than we ever imagined.  We can ask directions from the experts along the way, they help us to see the path as a gentle winding pleasant route, but they can rarely help when nature creates that avalanche and cuts you off.  If we have our friends with us, they can help us round and scale the new challenges that pop up…they  don’t need to be there all the time, they can relay it up the mountain with us, but surely we are better off not going it alone?

via ferrata2In some ways this journey reminds me of the play we saw last year, K2.  This is a story of two climbers who scale K2 but come across difficulties in their climb, death is near as they fight for survival together.  The two contemplate the meaning of life, family, friends, God and our existential existence.  Ultimately, if there had been at least one other person with them, they all may have survived.  Is our infertility journey like this?  If there were more than the two of us, if we fall, will it be easier to get up and keep going?  Movies often portray climbers that find themselves like the K2 scenario as egotistical and selfish.  But climbers are misunderstood, climbing is more than adrenaline or ego, big climbs are often an exercise of self examination, a chance to get away from the daily grind. I am not saying that in this case infertility sufferers are like climbers.  But what I do wonder, is that we similarly are misunderstood.  We are misunderstood because no one knows we are out here on our journeys.  Should we make more people aware?  How can we do this?

We are out here on this journey because the top is going to be beautiful, it will be worth it in the end, worth the financial burden, the mental exhaustion, the physical pain.  I’ve heard it is amazing up there.  I just don’t want to be alone.  But I’m not sure we are ready to invite everyone to join us on our journey just yet.

Top of the world

Top of the world

French women don’t get fat, even the pregnant ones

There is a saying that you won’t find a fat woman in Paris. In my two day work trip to Paris, it’s something I observed to be absolutely true. Even the pregnant ones are slim; they just have a big round protruding tummy, doing what it should do, providing a cosy home for a baby to grow and develop in – but not an ounce of fat to be seen. I want to know their secrets. I need to know their secrets! This got me thinking about jealousy and pregnant women.

The past week has been one of those weeks where I have met three pregnant women. It’s kind of like buses in London – you never just get one bus at a time, three always arrive together after you have been waiting an hour. I like talking to pregnant women about their experiences and how they feel because I like to hear it from the horse’s mouth what this pregnancy thing is going to be like! I can read all about it, but it’s so much more interesting listening to my pregnant friends and family. Sure, there is a part of me that feels a teeny bit sad that I’m not pregnant right now, but my feelings are far more consumed with excitement and nervousness about what is to come. If it is a close friend or family member who is pregnant, my excitement for them is a gazillion times more because at the end of their pregnancy a beautiful baby is born waiting to be loved and I want to share that love with them, I look forward to falling in love with them.

I read an interesting blog article about being a ‘child-full’ couple rather than a ‘child-less’ couple; parts of the article I related to for how I feel when I find out my close friends and family are pregnant. Whatever happens in the future, I want us to be a ‘child-full’ couple. But there is one difficulty I have when it comes to being around pregnant women. When it is an acquaintance or colleague who is pregnant I feel less inclined to be excited for them, and I find them hard to talk about their pregnancy.  My jealousy far outweighs my interest in their pregnancy and their baby. Wow, how mean does that sound? But it is the truth and this is how I honestly feel right now.

This week I found out a friend of ours was 22 weeks pregnant, we had not seen her since before Christmas, and she had not announced it officially, so it came as a surprise when she visited our house for dinner with a big bump!! When she pulled up in our drive in her new car, I joked that she must have some exciting news to tell us because she has bought a brand new ‘soccer mom car’. Quickly our other friend who was unaware that we did not know our friend was pregnant quickly updated us that she was having twins! And wham bam without any digestion of this awesome new news our friend walked in with a huge bump! Last time we saw her before Christmas she was pregnant, but not noticeably and obviously not sharing the news because it was her first trimester. I had a lot of happiness for her because we had talked before Christmas about her plans to expand their family (I must not have been reading the ‘I’m pregnant’ subtle signals back then!!!). Our friend explained her recent shock of discovering at 20 weeks that she was having twins, there had been no indication at her 10 week scan. What a big surprise!! I had a variety of feelings for her when she talked about her pregnancy so far – nervousness for her, twins are a risky business – excitement that she will have two adorable babies to love – fearful for her sanity and how she will manage if her husband is posted the other side of the country, – general happiness that her family plan as going, well, to plan! So this pregnant lady was news where my excitement far outweighed any jealousy I might have.

Later in that week my husband and I went for dinner round his friend’s house. I have met this couple only once before, they are more my husband’s friends than mine; I hear a lot about them and what they are up to, but personally I don’t really know them. They are currently 28 weeks pregnant with their second child. As we were driving to their house for dinner, Chris mentioned that he hadn’t told his friends about our fertility treatment, and he asked if I would be happy talking about it if it came up. I agreed that it was OK to talk about it if the conversation flowed to it. The evening was lovely, and as usual I took my opportunity to quiz them about their pregnancy experiences so far (I hope I didn’t come across as annoying asking questions!). Their 2 year old daughter spent most of her time in either Chris’s or my lap, wanting to play with us or just cuddle, she was an adorable friendly girl, a little cutie indeed. We had a fun evening, some interesting topics of conversation, lots of laughter and good food. But despite this, throughout the evening I realized that I still did not know this couple well enough to talk about any fertility treatment we were having – I thought it would be awkward, for me mostly, just because they are pregnant. So any topic that headed towards our plans of trying to conceive were vehemently steered away from (well I consciously did anyway, I haven’t spoken to Chris about that yet), it just didn’t feel right. However, as my second meeting with a pregnant lady in one week, with this pregnant lady I felt a little more jealousy brewing inside of me and I am not really sure why.

Travelling for work to Europe has its ups and downs

Travelling for work to Europe has its ups and downs

The third pregnant lady I met this week in Paris was my new colleague. A couple of days ago I wrote about how I had a dilemma about what to tell my new team (who I will be working with over the next 1.5 years) regarding my departure one day earlier than planned. My plans were amended after I found out my Cycle Day 11 ultrasound would be on the day of my return from Paris. After I wrote my blog, I spent the morning travelling from Charles De Gaul airport into Paris city centre plucking up the courage to be more bold and open about why I was going to leave a day early. My new team (a virtual team) were all relatively new acquaintances, so I was nervous, but had pretty much committed myself to being open. I had little to lose. But all of that went out the window when I arrived to discover that one of my new team members was pregnant. As I did not know the lady very well I did not want to create any awkward feelings within the team. Maybe it wouldn’t have been awkward, but I didn’t want to risk that with our new team going through the forming and storming stages of working together. I made my excuses and told the leader that I was very sorry to have to leave early for an unavoidable doctor’s appointment. He didn’t ask any more questions, thankfully, and all went well. With this pregnant lady I felt immense jealousy. When we went for lunch and sushi was suggested there was that moment when everyone cared and realized their error in suggesting sushi to a pregnant lady. I wanted that to be me. When she turned down wine at dinner. I wanted that to be me. When the next meeting was discussed to meet again in 6 months’ time. I wanted that to be me, saying I probably wouldn’t be able to make it because I would be busy with my new born baby. And it wasn’t me. Despite this jealousy, I do hope that someday soon I can share those moments and experiences with my new colleague because she is very nice and we have a lot in common. So I was not jealous of her, I just wanted it to be me, and I saw that this could be me in the not so far future. And that was kind of cool.

So let’s get this TTC show on the road, IUI #2 – tomorrow I get to find out how many follicles I have grown this cycle – and the best part is that Chris will be there this time at the ultrasound, I‘m very excited!

Ps.  If you ever go to Paris – the skinny women, the free flowing good wine, flaky, buttery pastries and creamy, chocolatey tartes, rich creamy sauces – this is no place for a lady on a diet (I’m not actually on a diet, but after the last couple of days I think I’m going to need to go on one!)