Friday 29 August 2008

A man's work is never done

Well the good ship 'red menace' has begun to set sail and leave port once again and we hope the tramp turns all 'Titanic' on us and never makes it back.

We turn our attention to the new plan of attack for this cycle.

I say new, but it's not really new is it?

It's quite straight forward actually, and has been for the last 18 times.

The plan is basically, for the love of Jesus, Mary, Joesph, and the wee fella who rented them the shed way back then, just knock her up!

Of course we are utilising all the various tools at our disposal.

It goes without saying that my majestic appendage (stop sniggering) will be called into action, as will the tunnel of love (a.k.a. the tunnel of 'are you finished yet?'). A mosh pit of muff and man bits, if you please.

'Obvious', I hear you say, but you never know, some folk might need a refresher on the basics.

Anyway, aside from that we have our trusty OPKs. Trusty in a 'don't believe a fucking word they say' kind of way.

Following on from the unusual ovulation pattern from last month, we have taken to charting temperature at the same time. This wont tell us when things are ABOUT to happen, but we should know exactly when it HAS happened, useful information for later.

We tried to buy a basal body temperature(BBT) thermometer here, but all the pharmacists (or at least the ones who knew what we were talking about) insisted that they 'don't use them anymore, we use the prediction kits' so therefore they don't sell them.

The liardy maggots. Trying to tell us that in a country of 16 million people, no one wants to take their bloody temperature! Kiss my arse.

So, we got one online from the UK.

On top of that ET is becoming a dab hand at judging the go-goo and is trying to find an acupuncturist.

In summation, our to-do lists for this month look something like this:

-Ram an electronic device into the bodily orifice of her choice every day before getting out of bed.

-Urinate on pieces of plastic a couple of times a day for about 10 days.

-Shove her fingers into herself to figure out how slimey slime should be.

-Find someone to stab her regularly in the name of relaxation.

-Shag her.

She's one lucky, lucky woman eh?

Wednesday 27 August 2008

Losing words & winning battles

I was recently asked to write a guest post for someone, someone whose blog is full of fun, swearing, sweet potatoes and genital shaped hair-bands.

I couldn't do it.

I wanted to, but I couldn't get the part of my brain that controls my fingers to combine in unison and even begin to lay down anything worth writing.

How can I not do that, and yet this is the eighteenth cycle I'm writing about?

That's a lot of cycles. Cycle is the perfect word for it, as it simply goes and comes around and around and around and around.

On repeat.

Since I've written everything about that has occurred, my words are also very much on repeat.

Let's be honest, it's not exactly a fascinating story, cycle starts, we wait for the right time, you get a few humping gags, we wait, we bomb out.

Then we start over again.

I simply couldn't keep this up if it were about any other topic, I'd have lost interest, lost enthusiasm, lost the desire.

I haven't. It means too much. That's why it continues.

Every entry is multiple times harder to carve out than those back in the first months. 18 times harder, but I'm still doing it, with greater difficulty, consuming more energy, drawing on resources I didn't know I possessed.

Exactly mirroring what we are doing.

Every word here is so intertwined , so tangled up with what we are try to achieve in reality.

I'm so very proud of this blog now, the effort it's taken, the posts that lie in archive, the silliness, the seriousness, and the entries still to be written.

I'm a million more times prouder of us and what we have achieved, albeit not yet the end result we so badly want, but the effort we have put in, the laughter at flaccid members begging to be let rest, the strain we've come through, and the events we are yet to experience.

Just as we will keep going until we get a different result, I'll keep going until I have a different story to tell.

So, here we go, cycle 18, armed with a monitored cycle behind us, extra charting, and a chat with the specialist to come.

Tired, weary, and older, but not beaten, onwards we go, finding new energy and optimism where we thought there was none.

The words, as hard as they may also be to come by, will follow.

Monday 25 August 2008

Dos & don'ts

I don't know lots of things.

I don't know a lot more than I do know, that's for sure.

I don't know why we've been doing this for 17, no, scratch that, 18 cycles now and are no closer to a starting point.

I do know I'm fucking sick of it.

I don't know why when we think we have patterns figured out that a cycle ends two days early giving us one of the shortest yet.

I do know that there is no real pattern anymore anyway, just what we want to see when we want to see it.

I don't know what the specialist will suggest as follow up treatment on September 1st.

I do know I'm terrified that she will tell us that she 'can see nothing wrong, go home, and keep trying, your chances are better that way'.

I don't know if gut feelings are entirely trustworthy.

I do know that this one wasn't.

I don't know how scrawny kids can have a quick one off squirt in the back of a car or in the bushes and get someone knocked up, and I have fucked and fucked and fucked, and can't.

I do know that is humiliating. Very humiliating.

Friday 22 August 2008

Back in the bunker

I'm morse coding this one out once more.

I'm back in the bunker.

The in-laws are present, and I have one last weekend with them before they leave on Tuesday morning.

We are at the business end of the two week wait.

If the last few months are anything to go by, we would have spotting on Sunday.

Just as a nice heads up from old fucker father fate, don't you know.

Then just as ET's mother and father leave us on Tuesday morning, we expect her Auntie Flo to take their place within the hour.

Yes, we are that prepared.

Then again, that gut feeling...

Wednesday 20 August 2008

The black humerus

Spectacular news!

A study has shown a direct relationship between mangled reproductive organs and the presence of a bone known as the black humerus.

The study being me deciding it is fact, and the black humerus being a very twisted funny bone.

Infertility ain't so funny, and TTC ain't very LOL, then why in the name of all that is sacred are so many infertiles and TTCers insanely hilarious?

I've always been one to laugh at the inappropriate, or crack a joke at my own expense, but over the past year and more of trawling the internet for voices on trying to conceive and infertility, I've found myself greatly surprised at the sense of humour that comes through so much of the bad experiences.

There doesn't tend to me be too much 'ha ha my testes are malfunctioning' or 'nah nah nah nah nah your uterus is buckled' but there's a dark, sinister, black humour that seems to go hand in hand in coping with the ridiculousness that is ttc & infertility.

You don't believe me?

Well, what about the example of someone who's been trying to conceive for years, and has menstrual cycles somewhere in the region of 800 days or something similarly batty, yet chooses to call her blog Womb For Improvement !
Somewhere in there she wrote about preparing for an intrusive examination:

8.15am: Have shower wash bits with care, don't want health care professionals thinking I am a mink.
8.16am: Can I be bothered to shave my legs?

8.17am: Yes, don't want the doctor thinking 'No wonder she can't get pregnant who would want to have sex with someone with stubbly legs'.
9.01am: Have to take antibiotics 2 hours before appointment on an empty stomach. Hungry now.

9.30am: Double check instructions for the painkillers. "gently insert one suppository into the rectum two hours before the procedure". Gently!

9.31am: Climb down from the step ladder and put broom handle away.
9.32am: Bit of a rush now have to put two up that orifice and swallow the other.

9.35am: All done and think I got the right slots for everything.

You might say, okay that is nervousness, manifesting as humour, but what about another woman who has faced 3 miscarriages and has siblings dropping sprogs on a weekly basis, and yet picks herself up, and self deprecates all over herself when discussing how she still buys nappies at her company's employee shop:

In my more optimistic days, I even bought some for my own unborn babies (note to oneself, check if they have an expiry date, they're not going to be adorning any little baby's arse in this house soon). These days I'm stocking up for one of my in-laws who is expecting this Autumn. But the looks you get in the shop if you are seen carrying a bale of nappies up to the counter. "Have you news?" Nudge nudge, wink wink. No I haven't, but I'm having fertility treatment and I'll keep you updated when I'm next due to pee on a stick. Now fuck off and leave me alone!!!!

Maybe that's just an Irish thing?

So what about being mocked by your mother about your weight, and the effect it may have on your conception attempts, and yet managing to concoct hilarity from the scraps left of your self esteem:

"Well you see your honor, as I was wiping the KY jelly off of my freshly violated crotch, Dr.Z said to me 'by the way cant get pregnant because you're a heffer. Your mother was right!' I don't remember what exactly happened after that, but when I came to I had a clump of hair in my fist and a piece of her shirt stuck between my teeth"

I could, and should, go on and on, but I've got twin frogs to feed and a two week wait to finish.

These are the people that keep me sane, make me realise I'm not as mad as a bag of cats when I talk to my man milk or christen ET's eggs.

It's self preservation.

Having a place where you can turn your misery into a chuckle and get some support and encouragement back in return is a real lifesaver.

I can't speak for everyone else that's on the journey, but it certainly is for me.

Sunday 17 August 2008

Crossing off the days

Here we are, back again with visitors every day between now and the end of the month.

(Which means we've had visitors arrive on the day the last cycle failed, and we will have visitors leaving on the day this cycle is 'due' to end. How very symmetrical! )

As we are in the position to judge, I would say it's easier to have visitors during the end of the two week wait than in the aftermath of a failed month.

So here we are again, in the two week wait. The 17th two week wait.

It actually should be a genuine two week wait as opposed to the usual 10-12 days or so, due to the seemingly earlier than normal ovulation.

All bases have been covered, Spencer was sent out at every opportunity, and we are almost literally shagged out.

Now, this is the crux of this post, I'm half afraid to type this, but here goes.

I don't know why, but I just have a real gut feeling this is the one.

Maybe it's the slight shift in ovulation, maybe it was the pretty good fun we've had in the process, maybe it was the shitty start to the month, maybe it was the fact we've just ordered another truck load of OPKs off the internet and a new basal body temperature thermometer for a fresh attack on next month, or maybe our luck is just in.

I can't shake the gut feeling this is the one.

Some people will say I will regret saying that, but even if it turns out not to be the case, then at least for today, our wedding anniversary, the feeling deep in the pit of my stomach is not anxiety but something closer to optimism.

And I don't regret that change for a second.

Wednesday 13 August 2008

The seventh sense

Before I paid any attention to the word 'infertility', and definitely before starting trying to conceive, I was the same as any other of the 83 percent of people who don't have any problems in this regard, oblivious.

I was as likely to ask my peers stupid, hurtful questions as anyone else. 'You should start popping them out now before it's too late' or 'I suppose we'll be hearing the pitter patter any day now?'

Now, things have changed.
We've struggled to conceive. Struggled is a much kinder way of saying failed, isn't it?

We've been through the exciting early months, full of sex induced giggles and exchanged knowing looks, 'that'll be us soon'.

We've had the doubts build over the months, uneasy moments when you allow your mind to wonder what lies ahead, the darker and previously un-thought of places of 'what if?'

We now find ourselves firmly planted in limbo, we can't go back, and can't go forward. We continue to hope, and try our best, hand over our trust to others, and brace ourselves for the next disappointment.

We face daily reminders of how big the vacant space in our lives is becoming.

We get left behind, people I read about are getting pregnant, friends, colleagues and family are passing us out.
The good news buzz sweeps around us, we add our congratulations, but the whirlwind moves on, carrying the happy with it, leaving us behind.

One more day, one more cycle, one more month, one more important date, one more test, one more delay, one more disappointment at a time.

What a transformation it’s been, from almost careless to almost hopeless.

This whole experience has soaked into me, drenched me to the bone, I'm different now, I don’t want to think about the sinister changes, so positively, I am more compassionate, more thoughtful, and more aware.

At times I joke to myself that I've become like that kid from 'the sixth sense', without the shocking haircut and the inability to speak aloud, but with a different extra sense.

"I see infertile people...."

I sit and watch people pass by.

It's easy to identify the parents, with the little midget people hanging off of them, a weary sleepless contentment in their eyes.

The parents in waiting are easy to spot, pregnant bellies of all stages on the mother, the proud spring in the step of the father, the smiles swapped when they pass other members of their excruciatingly exclusive club.

It's no problem to identify the young couples who haven't yet handed over their souls to the family desiring devils. They lounge around in Summer sunshine, flip-flop footed, almost careless.

There is another group, couples who walk around, heads lower than the others, at an unusual pace. They are not hurried like the parents, they are not strolling like the carefree.

They walk fast enough so they don't have the time to face up to what they are missing around them, but not too fast, there is no one waiting for them.

Mental weariness takes a different toll than physical, their eyes show the outward signs of the internal battles they've been fighting, for months, and likely, years.

Some of these couples walk with a notable distance between them. Others, the lucky ones, still squeeze each others hands now and then, they are not beaten yet.

Am I mad? Has all this driven me to hallucinations? Has all the blood finally relocated from my brain to my crotch?

I wonder can I really see them, and if so, I wonder if they can see me?

Monday 11 August 2008

Up periscope II

Last week on Up Periscope....

On Friday ET got herself a sexy new set of stirrups and I got to watch some serious girl on girl action.

Someone in a nurse's uniform rammed a phallic shaped camera up my wife and I sat back with some popcorn, a wince, and a new found appreciation for my particular flavour of genitalia.

Ellie was doing well at 16mm and the nursey woman seemed to think she was about to head off down the water slide within 2 or 3 days, CD12-13.

This would have been a surprise to us, as we've NEVER had a positive before CD15.

**Insert theme music here**
(I envisage a MacGyver/Magnum PI type tune)

So following Friday's revelation we 'may' have been missing prime humping time we just got straight to it. Spencer is gonna be one dehydrated little bugger come the end of this week.

Sunday we went back for the follow up ultrasound and I again took my seat in the front row with a diet coke and a portion of nachos & cheese.

The doctor did her Moses act on ET legs, announced 'I'm going to touch you now' (which in fairness, is more warning than I get from that guy on the bus), and once again sent R2D2 up my wife's passion promenade.

There she was, in widescreen, Ellie the lazy bitch, measuring 18.5mm. It’s currently a slow growth, a little over 1mm a day, but looking good.

ET swiftly picked up her shoes, socks, dignity and jeans off the floor and we left.

So now, we were none the wiser, when was she gonna pop?

We hoped the doctor would offer us another ultrasound in a day or two again, so we could really nail down the timing, but unfortunately she didn't. We must wait for ovulation according to our OPKs, and arrange the blood tests for 7 days later.

Meanwhile, back at the love shack, ET goes for a wazz, only to find a faint LH surge on the OPK.

This is good of course, but leaves us even more confuzzled than before.

This probably means we will get a maximum LH surge sometime today CD13, which is a good 2 days before we normally do.

Basically, Friday we thought ovulation was imminent, and we had been getting false readings all along, but Sunday we find ovulation is imminent as is a positive OPK test.

So have we been getting the time right all along, and this cycle is just a bit earlier? Or, has ovulation always been this early and we have had wrong readings all along, with a 'lucky' good reading this month?

I don't know, ET doesn't know, her stirrup weary lady love pool doesn't know, and my knackered gonads aren't much the wiser either.

Answers on a postcard please....

Friday 8 August 2008

Up periscope

I've never liked the idea of submarines.

Having limited oxygen, sitting in a confined space and being underwater when I can't even swim, does not a good combination of circumstances make.

What I do like about submarines are periscopes.

Today I got to play with one, of sorts. Unfortunately I didn't get to steer it myself, and it wasn't the deep blue ocean I got to peer into, but rather ET's pink bits.

Ironically enough, the 'pink' bits turned out to be 'varying shades of grey' bits. It wasn't too unlike watching a nature program on the old black & white telly we have in the shed.

Up the tunnel of love it went, before popping out into the oasis of her abdominal motel, with stunning views of her empty bladder and uterine opening.

Prime reproductive real estate, and there are vacancies.

There are passing customers, in the form of big juicy follicles, they just don't seem to want to stay the night for some reason.

Now the interesting bit!

The size of the big juicy follicle staring back at us from the left ovary, measured 16mm. This lead the specialist to predict ovulation on CD12 or 13. We have NEVER had a positive from an OPK before CD15.

To keep a good eye on this, we get to go back for another scan on Sunday, CD12, to check it's progress.

The specialist seems to think that ovulation will be imminent then.

If this is the case, we may very well have been getting incorrect LH surge readings & positive results from the various ovulation prediction kits we've been using. (Anyone else ever heard of this, a positive OPK result 3-5 days after actual ovulation?)

Annoying to think we may have wasted so much time on this, but if it's true, then a slight change in Spencer's deployment schedule could have us hitting the bullseye. That would be a huge boost for our optimism.

So mini me will be getting a couple of earlier than predicted outings (and innings, and outings, and innings, and outings...) this weekend, just in case.

I'm very optimistic now again, not only because we 'might' (touching my wood) have found a problem we can do something about, but more so because the clinic will give us a scan on a Sunday!

Getting treatment on a Sunday here in Holland, means there has been a shift in the cosmos, the gates of hell have been blown to the four corners of existence and the horsemen of the apocalypse have turned on their demonic ways and taken up gardening instead. Surely all signs that the spawn of Spencer is about to be unleashed on the world.

It's all 'maybe', 'perhaps', and 'possibly' until Sunday, so, in the meantime, if you'll excuse me, I have a left fallopian tube to aim for...

Thursday 7 August 2008

Ding Ding

Two ovaries in swimsuits are circling the boxing ring, holding up two boards with the number 17 on them.

Round 17. Cycle 17.

What can we say about this one that hasn't been said before?
Er...not a whole lot.

This cycle is going to be 'monitored'. Which as far as I can understand is the second clinic's fancy way of saying they'll run some tests that have already been run by the first clinic.

Tomorrow, Friday, on cycle day 10, ET will have an ultrasound.
I presume this will be to check follicle development in anticipation of ovulation.

Whether she likes it or not, I'm going to be there, camera in hand.

This has already been done by the first clinic and everything was in ship shape.

11 days later on CD21, ET will have bloods checked, especially for progesterone levels, to check that the result of ovulation are high levels of the hormone.
This has also been checked by the first clinic, and is also in ship shape.

Somewhere in between having her innards gawked at, and having the blood sucked out of her, she'll have the ever joyous experience of my manhood attempting to perform it's own form of internal examination on her.

So while I grunt and pant and drool my way to ecstasy, she gets to horizontally mentally plan her next purchase from Amazon.

In a nutshell, this cycle is like a sandwich for ET, the poor old bird, stale tests early on and near the end, but with lashings of stuffing in the middle.

What more could a girl want from a month?

Now, I want a clean fight, no holding, no grabbing, nothing below the belt. At the bell, come out fighting.

Round 17. Ding Ding.

Wednesday 6 August 2008

The end is nigh

Dear Mr. World Health Organisation man person,

I've got some news for you. The planet is going to spin off of its own axis and plummet through space forever until it collides with something bigger and uglier than us and kills us all.

Why so?! I hear you cry in horror...


Babies everywhere. Multiplying at rates invisible to the human eye.

I've been trotting around various cities in this part of the world over the past week with my visitors, Antwerp, Rotterdam, and the Hague and you couldn't swing a cat for fear of hitting a newborn smack in the chops.

Either 86% of the world's population is currently pregnant or there is a serious run on shoplifting bowling balls among the female species.

We even went to Amsterdam last weekend, for gay pride, you would think a poor infertile would find some peace there, but nooooooo. Bloody babies n'bellies as far as the eye could see.

In fact, at this rate of multiplication, I calculate that the world's resources should expire sometime later this week.

Now, let me take a minute to gash my wrists and grab the salt shaker. I've insanely and inanely rambled on before about how I believe we are being mocked by nature. Well, these little froggy horny green bastards were not satisfied in deafening us with their incessant copulation and production of masses of frog spawn, but now it seems that they are playing happy families too.

We are overrun by hundreds of baby frogs.

My warning to the mammy and daddy frogs? keep them out of my sight, or those feeble frogs could fall fowl to my crumbling grasp of reality.

I'm just days away from strapping a couple into a stroller with a couple of bonnets on their heads and taking them to the playground.

"Hi everyone, meet Kermit and Kermitta"

Sunday 3 August 2008

From the bunker

I'm hidden away, in the depths of secrecy, away from our visitors.

I'm posting this via morse code, so forgive me if it comes out wrong.

As it happens, the codes for 'Oh! what a lovely day we are having' and 'I want to smash my own face into this conveniently placed wall' are quite similar.

Similarly thin is the situation's reality which seems to also be one or the other, depending on which side of my cranial cavity you have access to.

We are over half way through the visit.

No embarrassing discoveries and no awkward questions - yet.

It seems though, that it is definitely baby harvest season. Everywhere I turn, there is another one riding shoulders, or waddling it's nappy padded arse alongside, or just generally oozing cuteness from itself and fucking gut turning jealousy from me.

Writing this is like successfully finding that vein, pushing the plunger, and having a rush of relief serum pump through my bloodstream.

Until Wednesday, when I think I will be able to stop holding my breath again, it brings a slight reprieve.

Shhh...I hear footsteps...

I managed to check back on the comments left to the last entry a few times over the last few days and the response was spectacular and flattering. Thank you all for your kind words.