Friday, 27 March 2009

Aargh! I'm surrounded...

Why is it that when can't have something, it's suddenly everywhere? It's like when you go on a diet, then all you can think about is warm, gooey, chocolate brownies with ice cream. So it is with me and babies.
Before I acquired my Infertile label, I was indifferent to babies, pretty much. I mean, I recognised that they were cute and everything, but I didn't feel a painful yearning deep in my gut every time I got a gummy smile from a chubby baby sitting next to me on the train, bouncing on it's proud mother's lap. Maybe it's partly due to the fact that my biological clock is ticking, ever louder, inside my head. Sometimes I even think other people can hear it. They can certainly hear me droning on about how sad I am to be going through the trauma of infertility, even if I do try to mask it with humour and flippant remarks.
I'm trying not to let my situation turn me into one of those bitter, twisted women, but it's a daily struggle. Everywhere I look, there are heavily pregnant women rubbing their huge round bumps and gazing into the middle distance dreamily, thinking about booties and what colour to paint the nursery.
When I returned to work recently after our 6 month sabbatical and went to meet my new team I was greeted by a 6 month pregnant girl beaming happily. It's not her fault I can't have children of course, but I still couldn't help but groan inwardly at the thought of being her manager and making small talk about her impending joy. Being a 33 year old married woman, there are also the inevitable questions as to when I'LL be starting a family, and I deflect them in a carefree, maybe in a year or two, way, when inside I'm screaming at them to shutup,shutup,shutup!!
The other day I was about to board the tube when I saw that the only seat left was alongside yet another hugely preggers woman. I swiftly switched carriages and slid, relieved, into a seat, only to glance up at the adverts to face one for Pregnacare vitamins, a smiling, with-child model staring out at me, smirking almost. (God, I AM getting bitter.)
It doesn't help that my job involves selling natural remedies and skincare products, often to mothers-to-be. I smile sweetly and give them the best and most thorough advice I can, silently praying that one day it'll be me asking excitedly about nappy creams and rasberry leaf tea.
The only consolation is that being surrounded by all these fatties, my barren stomach has never looked so flat in comparison. I know they're not really fat, but it consoles me, just for a moment.
I glance around at all these fecund, glowing pregnant women. I am the weakest link. Goodbye.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Hurrah! Appointment date at last...

Two weeks pass and no word from the hospital to say they've received the fax from the doctor and are offering me an appointment. I call the doctors and the harassed receptionist assures me the referral letter was faxed and I must just wait. Hmm.
Three weeks pass. I decide enough is enough and call the Infertility Unit at the hospital to see if they've received the fax. Of course they haven't, but to my amazement I get through to a real live person as I'm rushing to the station on my way to work, and am so breathless that for a moment I think she's about to hang up on me, thinking I'm some kind of heavy breathing weirdo. The lovely-sounding lady at the end of the line waits patiently while I regain my composure and begin rattling off my whole sorry tale of woe.
I picture her putting the phone on the desk, going off to the photocopier, getting a cup of coffee from the vending machine, checking her email then picking up the receiver again 20 minutes later as I continue babbling on the other end , oblivious to the fact she hasn't listened to a word.
After letting me rant for a while, she apologises for the incompetence of the system and offers to call and chase the doctor for me. My relief is palpable. Thank God, I think, I am actually dealing with a compassionate, nice, human being. They are not as common as you'd like to think.
Anyway, the upshot of it all is that I eventually got an appointment, after several phone calls, faxes, messages and pleas. Anyone would think I was trying to organise the G8 summit, not an appointment at my local hospital.
So, now it's the waiting game again. 12th May is D-Day.....

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Buddhist calm...

We learnt a bit about Buddhism our travels, the importance of calm, meditation, reflection. I even bought a book on it.I vowed to return to the UK a more peaceful, patient person. Anyone who knows me will know that there is more chance of me getting a job as a brain surgeon than there is of me becoming all 'zen' and spending hours in the lotus position. 'Chilled' is just not a word you could associate with my character. I'm fast-speaking, hyper and highly strung - in fact a colleague even asked me with wide-eyed innocence if I was on speed at work once, such was my superhero-style energy. My motto has always been, 'if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing quick.' I just can't help it. It's like a form of ADHD - I've got ants in my pants. I'm trying to psych myself up: I know that IVF is a melon-twister (or a head-f*** to put it bluntly).
'Patience is a virtue,' I repeat to myself, having waited for a response to the doc's fax for 2 weeks now. Since IVF is a long and in-depth process, I'd better get used to all this waiting. I'm strung out already and it's nowhere near the start point yet. This is gonna twist my melon alright...

Back to reality - no baby in my belly.

So now we're back. The memories of the trip are fading. along with our tans, as we settle back into the rat race, bustling to get onto the train, every man for himself. Thoughts of temples are replaced with targets, ancient ruins are replaced by rotas. Oh we're back to reality, alright.
It felt almost surreal to be seated in our doctors surgery once more, early on Monday morning, having returned from Thailand only a few hours earlier. The surgery was full of sickly, coughing people, far removed from the sunkissed, laughing children we'd left behind in Bangkok.
The doctor complimented us on our tans.Oh God, I thought, will he say if we can afford to go travelling we can afford to pay for own own fertilty treatment.I was all ready to whip out the credit card bills and demonstrate just how impossible it would be to fund treatment too, when he gave a braod smile and said he would approve funding for 3 attempts at IVF. I could have kissed him. Any grumbles about the NHS were quickly forgotten as he produced his notebook and promised to send a fax to the specialist that had done my recent operation (to remove my fallopian tubes) and who would become my IVF consultant...

I'm an 'Infertile', get me out of here...

Infertile.I didn't want to come to terms with the term. It just sounds so depressing, doesn't it? So, I did what any normal person would do when faced with the painful truth. I ran away. I didn't just run, I pegged it. To Brazil. I just couldn't handle the reality, so I suggested to Liam that we buy a couple of rucksacks and do what any 20 year olds in our position would do. Only we're not 20 year olds. Bugger. Oh well, let's go anyway. So we did. Liam didn't exactly need persuading. In fact, it'd been his idea that we travel years before, but the baby situation had kind of taken over. We'd better not have all those injections, I'd said. What if I'm pregnant, we won't want to be climbing mountains, I'd said. All that sounded ridiculous now that I knew I'd never been able to conceive anyway. So we purchased our shiny round-the-world tickets and disappeared for 6 months on an adventure of a lifetime. You can read all about it on my other blog
Anyway, That's another story. Of course, we didn't escape our infertility situation.We just ran away for a bit to let the physical scars from my ops (and the mental scars from the news) heal.
We had the most amazing time. It really was the trip of a lifetime, we agreed. Although I couldn't help but think how much I'd love to do the trip all over again, this time with our children in tow, to show them just how amazing the world can be...

How did I get here..?

I don't mean 'how did I get here' literally. If I had no idea how I'd come to exist then it'd be no great surprise that I have no offspring of my own. No, I fully understand about the birds and the bees, thankyouverymuch. What I don't quite get, is how come the ability to reproduce has eluded me. What did I do wrong? Was I something evil in a past life..I don't know, a murderer or Arsenal fan perhaps?
The saying 'we always want what we can't have' is oh so true. Let me explain...
Until maybe three years ago, the idea of having children just didn't really appeal. Well, not yet anyway. I always thought I'd have a family, I just wasn't sure (and didn't care) when. Fast forward three years. I'm almost 33, married for 3 1/2 years and have been with my husband Liam for almost 11 years. Partying was always our favourite pastime; children didn't just quite feature in our clubbing lifestyle. Well, they wouldn't, would they? You can't exactly strap the little'un on your back and head out to Pacha, white gloves and whistle in your baby bag.
So, when I finally decided the time was right to hang up my raving shoes (not completely, just rest them a little) and start babymaking, I thought it'd be a doddle. I mean, I'd spent the last 15 years trying my darndest NOT to get preggers, so now I'd changed my mind it was as simple as ditching the birth control pills, right? WRONG. What seems to be the easiest thing in the world for most girls (emphasis on girls here, since I'm surrounded by fertile 15yr olds bearing huge bumps at every turn), has become a mission of epic proportions for me...
I'd had some abnormal cells removed from my cervix some years ago and had been warned I should start a family sooner rather than later. 'Yeah, yeah,' I'd replied, dismissing the idea with a flick of the hand. 'Whatever...'
Now, when I'd tried to conceive for eighteen months to no avail and had been referred to the Subfertility section of my local hospital, it all came flooding back.
Cue an endless round of tests, prodding and probing questions and examinations. Then came a (botched) HSG to see if my tubes were blocked, then a laparoscopy and dye to check in more detail, then the result: complete salpingitis in both tubes. Oh. Bummer. Then came another operation to remove the offending tubes and the fluid that was contained in them. This, I'm told, may increase the chances of my next treatment working more effectively due to the removal of the toxic fluid which can drip down from the tubes and cause a miscarriage. After all this surgery, I need a break...