My First Advocacy Day

Every year Resolve – the national infertility association, organises an advocacy day at Capitol Hill.  What does that really mean?  It means that we get the chance to tell our senators and representatives what we really need to help build our families- IN PERSON!!! We get to advocate on behalf of the 1 in 8 couples diagnosed with the disease that is infertility and for our future generations on issues that help Americans to build their families.

I’ve always wanted to go to advocacy day, but have failed miserably because of work travels, this year I was able to get away from work for a few days to make it to Washington DC.  Unfortunately Chris couldn’t make it with me so I went alone and met up with some of my local infertility support group members there.  But I wasn’t really alone, I met some incredibly inspirational people who have been advocating and volunteering for YEARS!!!  And an added bonus I also met up with Heather from Meet the Hopefuls blog!!!!! Heather was the state Captain for California ☺️

So what did I do??

Firstly I attended a welcome reception on Tuesday evening prior to the big day.  Here we got a chance to meet our state captain and others from our state, figure out who had done this before, and who were our mentors.  Virginia was 40 something people strong! We were amongst over 200 people who had traveled from across the country to advocate.  WOW!

It’s quite nerve wracking – I mean, I am British, I only really know a little about how the US legislation system works (mostly from TV dramas ;-p), so there was a lot for me to learn in addition to what the legislation being advocated for was and it’s history.  Having experienced people and mentors available helped take away those nerves.  Us first timers weren’t alone.  We also had some online training a few weeks before to introduce the bills we would be asking representatives to co-sponsor and vote for.

Part of the welcome reception included a few speeches, one of which brought me to tears.  A veteran who had been injured in Afghanistan had been advocating with his wife for years to make infertility covered by the VA. Their infertility was directly caused by the injuries he suffered and his country wouldn’t help him build his family.  What an insult to his service and the life he gave to his country.  But in 2016 congress authorised funding to provide adoption assistance and IVF to those veterans who had a service connected injury or illness that caused infertility.  As a result of the funding this veteran has been able to have a child.  And they brought their 15mth old with them.  It was so moving to hear what a difference advocating can make.

Yeh, I cried, both tears of happiness and sadness.  Sad because the funding for the veterans was going to expire in 2019 so we needed our congress to support a new bill that would make infertility coverage permanent and overturn the ban of IVF in the VA.  My head actually hurts thinking that their country was not supporting their injured veterans.  I just can’t understand why anybody would be against it.  The only reason is money.  That is it.  So far just over 200 veterans have sought care under the funding that expires in 2019.  But as we all know, the process of infertility treatment and adoption can take years.  So some of those 200 veterans might not be able to continue their treatment if nothing is changed.  And then there are those veterns who don’t know they want to build a family yet, and in 5 or 10 years when they come to have children realise they need help, when it’s not there. It just makes no sense Congress!!! Support your veterans in building their families – it’s a no brainer!

I went back to my hotel excited for what the next day would bring.  I set my alarm for 5.30 AM so I could make it into the city to start our training at 7.30AM.  I actually found it hard to sleep thinking about it all.

The next morning, I made my way into the city on the metro as I decided to stay on the outskirts of the city to save a bit of $$$.  DC hotels aren’t cheap.  I had missed out on the block booking that Resolve had organised.  I spent a lot of my journey on the metro researching the Senators and my house representative.  What were their thoughts on family, veterans, adoption, healthcare and finance issues.  Did they sponsor or co-sponsor any of the bills we were advocating for already?  Did they have family, do they have any links with the infertility community already?  None of the senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, or my representative, Donald McEachin, had co-sponsored yet, so I knew we had some work to do.

When I checked in I was given my schedule for my appointments and received all the supporting materials I needed, including a cheat sheet with information and facts that I would unlikely be able to remember off by heart!  My schedule was actually really good.  I had appointments at 11AM, 1230PM and 2.30PM.  I thought that was plenty of time between appointments, but in reality it was go, go, go all day.  After I checked in and got a hearty breakfast, we sat down in our states and was given more information about the day.  We were told a little bit more about the legislative agenda Resolve was advocating for…

S700 and HR1681 – Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act.  basically giving veterans permanent access to infertility treatment and support through adoption for injured veterans.

S937 and HR2476 – The adoption tax credit refundability Act.  The adoption tax credit is good, but doesn’t support low to middle income families, this legislation will make the tax credit refundable which will help these families who are more likely to foster to adopt, helping to take children out of foster care saving money in the long run.  It’s fiscally responsible, helps children out of the foster care system and helps building families.

Resolution 864 – PCOS awareness month.  This will designate September 2018 as PCOS awareness month.  It has already been passed in Senate.

Medical Research Funding for FY 2019 Appropriations.  Requesting funding of $1.531 billion for FY19 for research related to reproductive disorders such as infertility, PCOS and Endometriosis.

Finally….the most exciting and hot of the press news was announced.  A bill was being dropped on Advocacy day that will have a huge impact, the Access to Infertility Treatment and Care Act.

Wait, what???? YES! what an amazing piece of legislation.  We need to fight for this.  We fight this everyday in our own lives dealing with infertility.  This shouldn’t be a fight we have to have, but we do.  I know the benefits of great infertility coverage, I have 6 IVF cycles in a lifetime covered in my plan.  Infertility is stressful enough without dealing with financial crap.  This bill will require that health plans offer treatment for federal employees (including TriCare) diagnosed with infertility as well as cover fertility preservation for who undergo a medically necessary procedure that may cause infertility, such as chemotherapy.  The bill is being sponsored by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) and Senator Cory Booker (NJ), they made videos telling us about the Bill and thanking us for advocating.  It was so moving.  I cried. Again.  (yes, there were lots of tears from me, I planned for it and didn’t wear mascara…more to come….!!!)

After being given all the knowledge we needed, we broke out into our states to figure out who was going to say what, to who and when.  With 40 virginians we were given 2 appointments focusing on different issues with each senator, so that meant there were about 20 people meeting with the Senator’s aides (or staffers).  I quickly discovered that I was the only one in my meeting with my representative Donald McEachin.  This meant I would be doing most of the talking and asking!  I had a mentor assigned with me – Chris, who was a guest on my blog during NIAW with his wife Candace.  Chris was fantastic, he was the state Captain and really was font of all knowledge and experience so I felt less nervous about and was more excited.  In addition to figuring out who was going to say what, we also had letters from other states and areas that were not represented by someone in person, this meant we had to visit the offices of these representatives and ask for an impromptu meeting with someone to talk through the issues.  We figured out who was going to deliver what and where.  At the time I had no idea how much work this was actually going to be!!

Once we had a game plan for the day, we headed off to Capitol Hill, clutching our bright orange folders, sporting our orange infertility awareness Ribbons.  This proved to be very helpful during the day to spot others as we wondered the halls of Capitol Hill.  I hadn’t realised how easy it is to knock on the door of your Senator or representative (If you can find their office that is!!)

Our first appointment was at 1130AM with Senator Tim Kaine (Democrat) and we met with his aides for tax issues.  The only place that could fit all 20 or so of us was in the hallway, so there we were talking about our issues, asking for the Senator to cosponsor the bills.  Someone from our group gave their personal stories of struggles.  I cried. And at the end, I handed over all the letters from other constituents asking for what we had just asked for, as well as some more supporting information for the Senator to consider.  It was pretty easy, yet empowering.  This was our opportunity to create awareness and make change happen.  Right there, right then.  15 minutes.  That is all the time we had.

We had some time to deliver some letters to a few other Senators, so we broke up into smaller groups to achieve our mission.  I went with a lady who had been to advocacy day several times before and another who was a newbie like me!  Before we went into the office we did a quick bit of research on the Senator to see what their position might be in anticipation of getting a meeting with one of their staffers.  The first Senator who’s state will remain nameless, there was very little we thought they would be supportive of.  So what did we have in common?  When it comes down to it, a family.  He has children, so there was something at least! After all we are advocating Pro-family!  Unfortunately no one was able to meet with us.  But we dropped off the letters from his constituents, material about the bills we were advocating for and collected a business card of the relevant aide to contact later on.  We did the same with two other Senators before we ran out of time and needed to get to our next appointment.

My second appointment was at 1230 with Senator Mark Warner (Democrat) and we met with his aide for veteran’s health.  This time we had different people speak, and I cried again when someone gave their personal story of infertility struggles, and a lady who worked as an adoption social worker told her perspective.  The other group managed to meet with the Senator and snag a photo with him!

Time for some lunch!  All our other meetings were the other side of the Hill, so we managed to get a ride on the underground trolley that connects with the Capitol building.  I didn’t get a picture, but I felt like I was in a James Bond movie!  very cool.  We found somewhere to eat eventually and collected ourselves in preparation for my meeting.

My third appointment was with Congressman Donald McEachin at 3PM.  This was a far more intimate meeting with one of his aides, we sat in the Congressman’s office, which was the Pi Office – 314!!!!! We talked about the issues on the table and it seemed like Donald McEachin would be very supportive of what we were asking for.  I am hoping to see his name as co-sponsor!!  Just as we were finished he came into his office, so we introduced ourselves and why were there today, and we were able to get a photo with him!

We had some time to do more letter and material drop offs with other Reps and emptied our bags of letters.  We delivered them all!  Unfortunately there was a health committee meeting going on so many of the relevant people were not in office available for any impromptu meetings.  We managed to find somewhere to get coffee – there was a dunkin donuts in one of the house of representative’s building’s basement.  I made the joke that America literally does run on Dunkin.  True fact.

The final meeting of the day was by far the best.  I joined Chris, Candace and Allison from my local support group on their meeting with their representative, Bobby Scott.  I live on the corner of three congressional districts so I actually work in his district and was excited to be able to talk with him too.  His aide listened with intent and understanding, she asked some awesome questions.  Including what we were doing to support women and families of colour.  A great question because it is so important.  It seems that the congressman too would be supportive of all our issues.  Half way through our meeting he came in to meet us and took a picture with us!!! He had just come from a foster child shadow day and had the most amazing tie on.  So appropriate and so timely for what we were advocating for.  His staff were so warm and friendly it was the perfect end to the day.

To round off the day we all met up for refreshments and a taco bar, swap our experiences and sit our weary feet down.  I think I spent the first 6 hours of the day on my feet!  Luckily I was well prepared and wore flat shoes.  An absolute must to survive the day.  I left the day feeling excited that I had the opportunity to make important people in the legislative work understand how they can help build families in America.  For my American friends, my virtual friends and for my daughter, an American citizen.

I’ll be going again next year for sure.  Next year this new bill will be coming of age, and may be even issues relating to Personhood bills may be on the agenda.  What I do know is that there is still a lot of work to do.  So who’s joining me???!!!

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#FlipTheScript for National Infertility Awareness Week

I thought hard about how I could help with National Infertility Awareness Week, and I thought about how long I have been talking about this important week on my blog.  I started this blog over three years ago (yikes!) and as I have shared our struggles with infertility with the world people began sharing their stories with me, usually in confidence.  Family, strangers, friends, colleagues, friends of friends have reached out to me over the years.  Because talking about infertility is not easy and it’s not the kind of subject that comes up naturally in conversation.  “Oh hey, tomorrow I’ve got a date with a Reproductive Endocrinologist…you know, because I’m infertile”  There are massive mis-conceptions about infertility, treatments and alternative options to build a family, so it’s not really surprising we don’t talk about it.  I don’t really know what compelled me to begin blogging, but I am glad I did.  So… this NIAW I wanted to offer people struggling with infertility a platform to share their story with their friends, family and the world.  Over this special week I will interview some incredible infertility warriors.

I want to share how different every single journey to build a family is.  I want to show that infertility is a complex disease.  IVF isn’t always the answer and when IVF is the answer that treatments are often an art rather than just science. There are many barriers for millions of people who struggle to build a family that include lack of insurance coverage, out of pocket costs, faith and religion, sexual orientation, and state and federal laws.  The impact of infertility is far reaching – it impacts our family, friends, co-workers and employers.  I want to #FlipTheScript, this year’s theme, to breakdown the barriers and bring the reality to our friends and family.

I take the pledge:

  • I pledge to breakdown the stigma of infertility and share my story
  • I pledge to help RESOLVE make a difference for people with infertility
  • I pledge to be a voice and join in our advocacy efforts
  • I pledge to help support others who are struggling with infertility

Stay tuned 22-28 April 2018 to hear some incredible stories!!

Why can’t we make a baby? #NIAW

Why?  Why me?  Why can’t I make a baby like all my other friends and family? I have so many questions about why after almost 2.5 years of trying to conceive and failing miserably, month after month.  What have I done to cause this?  Why won’t my body just get pregnant? What am I doing wrong?

It’s human nature to want to know why things happen.  But these are the type of questions that run through my head round and round, continuously ever since we decided to grow our family.  I have yet to answer any of these questions.  It is exhausting.

Chris and I are 1 in 8 couples of child bearing age in the US that struggle with the disease that is infertility.  We tried the good old fashioned way – sex – for 11 months before we went to seek specialist help from a reproductive endocrinologist doctor after we discovered that Chris’s testosterone levels were “below normal”.  It turned out for us that testosterone levels do not actually matter that much when it comes to fertility.  Chris actually had super sperm, and lots of them!  But it did lead us to start the typical tests for diagnosing infertility.

We thanked our lucky stars that all our test results came back normal – there was nothing seriously wrong with either of us.  In fact, we passed all our tests with flying colours, we were top of the class!  But this put us into the category that 20% of infertile couples are diagnosed with – unexplained infertility.  This meant that the doctors could not tell us why we hadn’t been successful so far in trying to conceive the way they teach you at school.  We were about to embark on a journey that was going to take us beyond what they taught us at school – we were going to try to get pregnant with medical assistance.  We were heading into the world of the unknown.  We knew little to nothing about infertility.

At first it was difficult to explain to our friends and family why we were seeking treatment, because there was nothing ‘technically’ wrong with us.  The infertility was inexplicable!  It was embarrassing, it was awkward to explain.  So this is why I started this blog, to help us get over this difficulty in explaining what we were doing and why, as well as helping to explain our feelings about our disease in general.

Unexplained infertility in someways has been a good thing – there is always hope that this treatment will work.  But ultimately it is difficult to accept that there is just no known reason that this isn’t working for us.  In some cases, going through medically assisted treatment for infertility can reveal the explanation of a couple’s infertility.  But in our case, after 3 IUIs (Artificial Insemination) and 3 cycles of IVF (In-Vitro Fertilisation), 1 suspected ectopic pregnancy,  and over $90k of medical bills we are none the wiser as to why we do not have a baby in our arms yet.

Conception is a wondrous act of nature, but it is also an incredibly complex process  – there have to be many stars in line for a healthy baby to be born.  For something that is the very basis of our human race’s existence, we still know very little about the disease that prevents us from growing our families.  It’s incredible, right?

I am currently in the dreaded two week wait of our third (and final) IVF cycle.  If this cycle fails, apart from being devastated, I do not know how we will ever be able to move forward without knowing why this has happened, why medical treatment didn’t work for us.  Our infertility will never leave us.

For National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), the national non-profit infertility organisation Resolve is promoting this year’s theme #StartAsking.  The theme is about promoting the questions that we want to be answered, whether this is asking for our Employers to provide insurance coverage, asking for legislation that supports family building options or asking our friends and family to support us.  For me, the one question I have and want to raise more awareness about is to:

 #StartAsking for more targeted research on unexplained infertility.

Perhaps if we can understand more about how or why some couples are infertile, then better focused medical interventions can be developed to defeat infertility.

I want answers!!!! But we won’t ever get answers if we don’t talk about infertility and unexplained infertility.  It shouldn’t be a secret.  We can do this by speaking openly about infertility, by getting organisations like Resolve to help raise our community’s voice and build awareness.

If you would like to know more about infertility, please visit Resolve.org.

If you would like to help, you can contribute by fundraising or donating for Resolve.  Or just comment below with your questions and thoughts to join in the discussion!

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National Infertility Awareness Week #StartAsking

It’s almost National Infertility Awareness Week here in the US, 24-30 April 2016.  I don’t know if there is an equivalence in the UK, Canada, Australia, NZ or wherever you are in the world, but seeing as my blog lives in an international community I believe it should be an International Awareness Week (So doth Dani declares!).  So join us!

Here are some ways you can ALL get involved to help spread awareness of this disease, whether you are infertile or an infertile loved one’s supporter.

Learn more about infertility.  Because knowledge is power.

If you are family or a friend of an infertile loved one then change your facebook profile picture to this.  You can download the picture from here.

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If you are 1 in 8 couples you can change your facebook profile picture to one of these:

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or my favourite…..

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Let people know that infertility is a disease by using the phrase, “the disease of infertility” whenever you talk or write about infertility.

If you don’t know what to say to someone who has infertility, then you can read this article: “25 Things to say (and not to say)” from Resolve.  If you are finding that some friends just don’t understand your infertility and are saying unintentionally hurtful things – share this link with friends and family so you can help them to help you.

Infertility is a couple’s disease, there is a mis-perception that infertility is a woman’s disease, this is not true.  So don’t forget all the men who are affected too.

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So what am I doing for National Infertility Awareness Week?  I have been prepping some microblog posts, one-a-day, on the subject of this year’s theme #StartAsking – I will also be posting on my personal facebook page – eeeeeeek!!!!

I am participating in Miss Conception Coach’s Bloggers Unit Conference!!!!  Watch this space for my article!  You can follow her on wordpress and see all the inspiring articles for the conference, her instagram is @missconceptioncoach – she posts lots of beautiful and inspiring words of wisdom 🙂

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My local infertility support group is running an information desk at our local clinic throughout the week, and I will help man it for a few hours to make people aware of who we are and what the support group does 🙂

As part of Resolve’s Advocacy day some members of my local infertility support group are visiting Washington DC to talk to members of congress about important family building issues.  I can’t go because I have to work (Boooooooo) but they will be taking my letters I have written to our Senators and Congressman with them!

And of course I will be doing all the social media stuff too.

 

OK that’s a lot for now!!!! TTFN!!!

 

IVF Diary vol III: 10 -14 Apr 16

Medication(s) administered and dosage(s). Wait and Hope Phase Day 3 (i.e. the bit between Egg Retrieval and Transfer!).  PM Progesterone in Oil 1ml Intra-muscular injection, vivelle dot estrogen patches 0.1mg x2.

Medical procedures undertaken. Egg retrieval – I wrote about it in a separate post here.  Basically the procedure went well, but I was in pain immediately waking up from the anesthetic.  I had Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS) by the time I got to the day of Egg retrieval, so the pain was to be expected (according to the doctor – I was oblivious).

Any results? 17 Eggs retrieved, 12 of these were mature, and 10 of those fertilised.  The clinic’s protocol is that if you get 7 or more fertilised eggs then they aim for a Day 5 transfer.

So when I woke up from the egg retrieval, the doctor tried to explain to me the symptoms of OHSS and that I need to watch out for certain potentially dangerous symptoms – such as shallow breathing and vomiting.   Apparently she explained all of this to Chris in a whole lot more detail whilst I will still recovering, which was a good thing, because my exact recollection of her words were shadowed by the pain I was having in my abdomen!!!

I put together a nice little chart showing how for this cycle my estradiol levels sky rocketed in comparison to my previous cycles and what we got out of them.  Remember, we are trying for quality not quantity!!!

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What are my symptoms?  The day of my egg retrieval surgery (Monday) and the day after (Tuesday) I was practically in bed for most of it, or sedentary on the sofa.   I was suffering with gas (farts and burps galore!), pain in  my abdomen particularly above my belly button and below my lungs.  The pain killers really weren’t helping much with the pain, they just caused constipation, so I gave up on them.  I could barely eat a plate of food.  I ate small portions of soup and bread, I tried to eat salad, but that filled me up after a few bites and made me feel nauseous. I couldn’t even drink much water/gatorade my tummy felt like it was about to puke all the time.  Wednesday I braved work because I had to get up and move around.  Mentally I was fine, but the lower half of my body was not playing ball.  So I left work after lunch to work from my bed instead because all I needed was to lie down propped up.   Lying down completely flat and sitting upright/standing weren’t particularly comfortable, but hunching over a bit was OK. I went to bed last night swearing that if I was not better in the morning I would be calling the clinic for an ultrasound.  Well despite a crappy nights sleep, I did feel a bit better once I got up.  So I weighed myself and measured my waist.  No change – but I was still almost 8 inches wider round the waist and 5lbs over my normal weight.  I wasn’t getting worse – just not any better, I decided not to call for an ultrasound.

This morning we both waited until 0800 before getting on with our lives because this was the time that the clinic would have called if we were to go in for a Day 3 Transfer, just in case some of our embryos weren’t surviving.  But they didn’t call, and we breathed a sigh of relief.  Although we know from our last cycle, that this doesn’t mean we have good quality embryos waiting for us on Day 5.  So without any updates on their progress until the day of our transfer, all we can do is hope they keep growing strong.

How do I feel today? I was feeling really down yesterday about my OHSS symptoms and frustrated with my body.  I am not a good ill person.  I was pretty grumpy at Chris too.  On Tuesday I decided to enlist the help of my friends and gave this status update on facebook:

“Please send us a happy thought for us as I tuck myself up with a hot water bottle, drinking fluids and electrolytes and eating salty food as I try to ward off the symptoms of ovarian Hyper stimulation syndrome so that we can transfer our embryos this week!!! Anything to make us smile would be greatly appreciated! Post your favourite funnies below! (Although not too funny because my tummy hurts!!!)”

In the spirit of National Infertility Awareness Week‘s theme #StartAsking….I decided to ask for help from our friends to help us get through this rough patch!  I am glad I did 🙂  I received many funnies…and gave me a smiley warm feeling inside that my friends were thinking of us.  They say laughter is the best medicine!

Also, if I am honest with myself I am nervous that we have one less embryo than from IVF cycle 2….but I must remind myself QUALITY not QUANTITY is important!!!!

What’s next? Our Embryo transfer is scheduled for 0700 Saturday morning!!! Yikes!!  I can’t wait to be PUPO – Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise 🙂  Oh and I need to do this progesterone in oil injection on my own.  *GULP* my mountain, my nemesis :-s

The Final Countdown!!! 

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*Notes.  I take First Response Reproductive Health multi vitamin gummies (pre-natal), 5mg Melatonin at bed time and CoQ10 200mg gummies daily.  NSTR = Nothing Significant To Report.

IVF Diary Vol 2: 2-8 Feb 2016

Medication(s) administered and dosage(s). Progesterone in Oil 1ml Intra-muscular injection, vivelle dot estrogen patches 0.1mg x2.  I have failed to pierce the skin myself yet, I am so close, but I have managed to do everything else, including doing the actual injecting part…I had a couple of mis-haps, including one evening as I removed the needle, blood gushed from the injection site.  The blood poured down my leg and I just managed to catch it before it landed on the nice white hotel towels.  I have no idea why it happened, I guess it’s going to happen once in a while.  The injection site was sore for a couple of days after that 😦

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I had to put a plaster (aka band-aid) on this one after the blood gushed from this injection site!  Minions to the rescue!

 

Medical procedures undertaken. Nil

What are my symptoms?  I have had a few sharp pains and cramps here and there.  All good signs I guess.  I have also managed to catch a cold and sore throat. WHYYYYYYYYY??!!?!!  Now the wisdom of the internet says this is an early pregnancy symptom. Well, it is the runny nose/cold part which is the symptom that can be explained by the extra estrogen caused by the pregnancy, apparently that creates a stuffy nose.  Well, I have a sore throat and that can’t really be explained by that theory.  Some argue that your immune system drops after implantation.  Well in my case, this cold was inevitable because it was going around at work.  I was the last person to catch it because it was going around mostly when I was out of office for the stimulation/egg retrieval part of the IVF.  There were some remnants of the cold hanging around the office when I returned.  It was bound to happen.  Also, this happened to me the exact same time last year during my second IUI, excitedly thinking it was an early pregnancy symptom, I was wrong.  SO I am not taking this cold as a sign of anything except for being a pain in the butt.

The night sweats.  It’s gross and I hate it.

The cats have been on my lap again (two nights in a row)…I have already written about this (Can your cat tell if you are pregnant before you do) and whether it could be an early pregnancy sign.  I think they can detect a change in something, whether it is pregnancy or just a change in your body temperature, I don’t know.  One thing I do know, they can’t tell if the pregnancy is going to stick around or not 😦

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Sushi sitting on my lap and tolerating Diesel laying next to her, it’s not a common sight

Having said all that, today I do feel a little nauseous and I couldn’t bare to eat my chicken sandwich.  So who knows?  May be I am pregnant!  I don’t know because I haven’t tested yet!!!  Yup, today I am 9DP5DT (9 Days Past 5 Day Transfer) and I haven’t pee-ed on a stick yet. I am impressed with myself! I’d like to thank a very lovely lady who I met at my local Resolve Support Group who is IVF cycling with me…she encouraged me not to do the test it out thing, and to wait it out with her!!  Last time around I tested 12DP3DT (i.e. what would be tomorrow, when my period would ordinarily be due).  But this time I am not testing until the evening before my Beta test (which is scheduled for Friday).

How do I feel today? You may have noticed my absence for the past week.  Well I took my ‘Must keep busy during the 2 week wait’ a little too literally!  Although I have been hampered a little bit as a result of work.  Last week I got home in the evenings with my brain frazzled – I wasn’t doing overly long hours, just lots of hard thinking and writing.  The thought of updating my blog was too much for my poor brain, so I did mindless (mindful) things such as knitting, TV watching and colouring in.  I even taught Chris how to knit 🙂

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My IVF knitting project 2/3 complete!

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Chris learning how to knit!

We also went away on a mini road trip/city break to Charlotte, North Carolina to see the Charlotte Hornets v Washington Wizards (Basketball).  My first NBA game, it was my birthday present from back in December.  I had a fantastic time, I really enjoyed the experience and appreciate the very talented athletes.  I think it might be my favourite American sport so far!  Along the road trip we visited some random places, like a Lemur conservation, the world’s biggest chest of drawers, and a mountain that was only 350ft tall (it was a slightly misleading name of a state park!!!!).  Planning a city break in this 2 week wait was perfect! (Except for the catching a cold part).

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Our first NBA game!

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The World’s Largest Chest of Drawers – It’s in a town called High Point in North Carolina!

Any results?  Not much longer to go now!

What’s next? Beta HcG test will be 4 days from now :-s

Weight. NSTR.

Waist. NSTR.

Boobs. So, so sore and sensitive!

*Notes.  I take First Response Reproductive Health multi vitamin gummies (pre-natal) and CoQ10 200mg gummies daily.  NSTR = Nothing Significant To Report.

‘Tis the season…Pt 1.

‘Tis the season to be jolly.  True.  But my feelings can’t help but be a bit up-and-down like a see-saw.  So I decided to split my post into two.  Depending on how you are feeling this season, you may only want to read one or the other.  Maybe you feel a little bit like me, so read both!

Pt 1: ‘Tis the season to be jolly

Pt 2: ’tis the season to be not so jolly


Pt 1: ‘Tis the season to be jolly

I don’t know why I love the festive season.  Maybe it’s the food, maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the gift giving/receiving, maybe it’s the family coming together or maybe it’s just that time when the year is coming to an end where you can draw a line under the past 12 months and feel excited to start afresh with the New Year.  Or, in my case, perhaps it’s because it is also my Birthday ;-p

This is the first Christmas we will spend in Virginia.  The first Christmas in the US we spent it in Vermont skiing, this is where we decided to make a go of becoming parents.  The second Christmas we returned back to the UK and rented a cottage so both our families could stay with us for the holidays.  This third Christmas is less exciting in comparison, we are staying put.  But this is exciting to me because I can finally buy Chris a gift that is bigger than my suitcase!!!

This past week has been filled with festivities abound.  Not just in the physical sense, but the emotional sense too.  Here is a summary of the amazingness (or jolly, if you like) that I have experienced so far:

1. Home made mince pies.  If you read one of my previous posts you will know that these are not easy to come by in the US.  I made Nigella Lawson’s Domestic Goddess Cranberry studded mincemeat pies (recipe here).

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Home made Cranberry Studded Mincemeat star topped pies

My goodness, that pastry was so flaky and the mincemeat so juicy I couldn’t believe that I actually made them.  I shared them with some of my non-British colleagues at work who were intrigued as to what these ‘mincemeat pies’ were.  They didn’t spit it out in front of my face so that had to be a good thing 🙂

2. Decorating my house with a CHRISTMAS TREE!!!  The first time in the US!  OK so we still didn’t buy a real christmas tree, we wanted to see how our terrorquisitive cat Diesel would deal with one.  So we bought a small fake one.  He eats anything that has a dangly bit or rubber on it.  So far so good…everything remains in one piece and the tree still stands.

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It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas!

I also treated myself to one of those German wooden spinning pinwheels.  I have wanted one for aaaaages.  Every time I go to Germany I go to buy one and realise I don’t have enough room in my bags.  Plus they are quite expensive!

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I don’t know why I love it so much!!!

When the lady at TJMaxx rung it up, she exclaimed -“$40 for that!!!!”, I pointed out that in Gemany these were usually over $100.  Anyway, I love it.

3. My first Resolve support group meeting.  Resolve is the US national infertility association and they provide various forms of support for people with infertility. I picked up a flyer from my clinic about this local Resolve monthly meeting about 8 months ago when we were going through our third IUI procedure.  I left it in my ‘to do’ pile of paper work and each month thought about going and never got round to it.  Finally I got round to it!!!  I am so pleased I did.  I met some lovely ladies who just get it.  It was good to talk, and good to listen to their stories too.  I will definitely be going again.

4. The #TTCMugExchange2015.  I participated in the Mug Exchange that Chelsea from Starbucks, Peace and Pursuit of a Baby organised.  This week I received my mug and a few extra lovely goodies!

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I was spoilt with a box of goodies as well as a mug, cosy socks, an Irish Angel of Hope and a travel journal.

The mug I received was so beautiful.  Quite honestly, I think it is the best one I have seen 🙂

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My exchange partner is a bright and bubbly girl from Northern Ireland, she was originally told she would have to do IVF privately but just found out that the NHS will do IUI, so she is preparing for her first treatment!!!  She doesn’t blog, but is on Instagram.  As a result I’ve taken to trying out Instagram you can follow me @thegreatpuddingclubhunt if you have an account!

5. Just feeling the love around me.  We have received lots of invites for Christmas day so we are not alone; we have received lots of cards sending us well wishes and Christmas pressies that now sit under our tree.  And sometimes, it’s the little things that make a difference.  At a work gathering our big boss spoke about a whole bunch of work things and then he turned to talking about the holidays.  He pointed out that this is the time to look around at our neighbours and check they are doing OK.  The holiday season can be difficult for some people, and if we notice someone looking sad, down or simply stressed, take a minute to stop and ask “Are you doing OK?”  then listen.

love

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