Tuesday 31 March 2009


I frighten myself sometimes at how easily I can forget something.

Not facts, or figures, or deadlines, but bigger things. Important things. Things you can't always write down in a calendar or in a few words.

Just like the previous year and a half, the last few months have been filled with trying to conceive and all that comes with it, but while forgetting what it is all for.

'Trying to conceive' has almost become a parody of itself, an unreal superficial lifestyle of sorts with it's own specific unglamorous trappings, and no substance. Doing things without even thinking, for no other reason than they must be done. Charting temperatures, popping vitamins, wazzing on sticks, pushing for appointments, waiting for tests.

It's amazing to think that I forget why we have knots in our stomachs for the last days of every cycle, and why we feel like thrashing neighbourhood cats when another last day becomes a first. Maybe it's routine, familiarity breeds contempt and all that, or maybe it's the old self-preservation chestnut.

A disruption in the process, like we had last week, makes you stop and allows you to think. All the trappings, peripherals, and figures fade away to unimportance and you are left with nothing. Then you remember.

There is a real reason behind trying to get the hospital to offer us the IUI, a real reason behind chasing those appointments, and behind learning how to give an injection. There is a real reason behind why ET has filled her belly with drugs and now follicles, and a real reason why we spent the lowest 48 hours I've ever known going back and forth trying to make one single decision.

The reason is that we desperately want a family. That is all.

We understand the risks, many of which you have laid out clearly and carefully, we truly do. We know that we could make them completely disappear by just deciding to let this one pass.

We know that we probably would have other opportunities, less risky on paper, but intangible here and now. The chances of 'naturally' conceiving multiples with however many eggs we end up being left with now, are no greater than the chances of conceiving them with the 3 eggs we all wanted with a trigger and IUI.

It's statistics to justify a decision, but that's all the hospital have to go on in their decision, and it's all we have now in ours.

We are responding, not reacting, to a very real but small calculated risk. One that we will take for the most real of reasons, we simply remember how much we want to, and it feels right.

Saturday 28 March 2009

ET is not a labrador retriever

So seven became six. One poor bugger vanished into the darkness overnight.

The poor follicle was not alone, nurse Janneke became a balding bearded male nurse, much to ET's surprise.

All of those six have shown growth. On the left, a 12mm and a 13mm, and on the right, two 14mm, a 16mm, and a 17mm.

Basically, 2 small, 2 possible, and 2 right on track.

So the IUI is canceled. Next week we make an appointment to see what the plan is from here.

If we had the IUI, we would run a 2-5% risk of multiples. 1 or 2% of those multiples would be 3 or more.

We asked about trying ourselves this month, he kept to the official line that they do not recommend that we try to conceive.

He said he would not recommend that we use the trigger shot, and to be honest I wouldn't have considered that anyway.

He told us that people have ignored this advice in the past, and come back with multiples, but "not in large numbers".

Right here, right now, we have a golden opportunity to get what we want. Our chances of turning around the 25 failures this month are much improved. We could get pregnant.

But we run a risk of a multiple pregnancy, impacting mother and babies, raising the risk of the unthinkable.

Do we go with our hearts, and be irresponsible towards lives that don't even exist, or do we sulk for a month or two, hoping that long term sensibility pays off?

This is not a choice we should have to make. This is not fair.

We're lost.

Friday 27 March 2009

Of mice and men

Nurse Janneke meant business.

I clearly wasn't going to get any knock-knock jokes from this member of the Dutch medical profession.

"You get undressed in there madam, and the chair over there is for you sir."

Now, ET is shorter than the average Irish woman, and the Dutch are a very tall race. Everything caters for that, including examination chairs. Having to take a wee hop and jump while naked from the waist down, in order to clamber up into the chair, is quite hard to do gracefully.

I sat back and waited for the main event to start. Like a cross between COPS and some night vision badger watch show, the dildo-cam tunneled it's way though the grainy black-and-whiteness towards a blob that Janneke announced was ET's left ovary.

She measured and pointed out a couple of other blobs, which from here on out we'll call follicle number one, and two. Well done left Goldilock!

Off she went, twisting and turning and burrowing in the direction of the right Goldilock in search of a much desired third follicle.

There it was, our third follicle, fat and round. Party time.

We were somewhat less amused to see a fourth. Not to mention a fifth, and a sixth, and oh why the fuck not, a seventh.

With one measuring 12mm, two at 10mm, two at 11mm, and two at 14mm, it was like Noah's ovarian ark.

Janneke and her clip-board refused to be influenced into saying whether this was normal, or how likely it was there would be further growth in all of them or not.

All would be revealed to us by phone later in the afternoon.

So, none the wiser, I gathered myself. My walking follicle farm for a spouse put her pants back on and we left.

Seven hours later, one for every double crossing follicle, the hospital called. Basically, seven are way too many, and also, being suspiciously close in size the probability is that most of them would mature.

Tomorrow morning we go back for another ultrasound to measure their growth again.

Unless there is a real sign that at least 4 of them are not growing at the same rate as the others, the IUI will be canceled.


Do you think there is anything else they could say that would make it any worse right now?

Oh yes there is.

Not that we have to listen, but due to the number, and subsequent risk of multiples, they recommend we use contraception for the rest of the month.

We started today looking forward to an IUI, a real life shot at getting real life pregnant.

We finish today needing condoms.

The best laid plans.

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Someone's been sleeping in my bed

The Clomid munching days are over for this month. For good hopefully, with a little bit of overdue luck.

The only concrete physical side effect seems to have been some blurred vision half way through the five days.

There was some restlessness and giddiness thrown in for good measure also, but considering what we're just a few days away from, that's no surprise.

Anyway, enough about me. ET is fine too.

I jest. Mostly.

About 36 hours from now, on Friday morning, we'll be having an ultrasound to see how many follicles have developed, and how well they have developed.

In the meantime we have a day and a half to wait, hoping that ET's little ovarian popcorn maker has spat out just the right number and quality.

More than three and the doctors cancel everything.
Less than two (or ONE as it's occasionally referred to) and the drugs will have been a waste of effort.

I think I need to rename ET's ovaries, seeing as we need the number of follicles to not be too little, to not be too large, but to be just right. So Goldilocks it is.

Goldilocks and the three follicles.

From that scan, we should know exactly when we need to give the trigger shot, and then exactly when the insemination will happen. Not to mention, sandwiched in between, we will have my own brave selfless act of self abuse to produce a batch of my finest man milk with which to perform the magic.

Almost certainly, it will all be done and dusted within a week at most.

It feels stupid to say it out loud, but just days from now, we could really be pregnant. Not that we would actually know it, but that is very, very hard to get my mind around.

So, for now, I'm not even going to try.



Tuesday 24 March 2009

Perfect timing

Sometimes you really could just do without certain events.

Events that in another place or time would just be another odd or funny story to tell, but in the moment they occur they set the mind racing and the tummy butterflies fluttering.

Let's pick an random unsuspecting person. Let's say, er, off the top of my head... a woman desperately trying to conceive, and somewhat vulnerable to emotional extremes thanks to fertility drugs.

Let's call her ET, just for a laugh.

ET was making her way in home last night, and while walking towards our house she overtook a woman walking with a cane or a crutch. They exchanged 'good evenings' and ET walked on ahead, up to our front door.

Now, our neighbours are not the warmest bunch of people you will ever meet. In almost two years we have only ever spoken to the people living directly on either side, so ET was surprised to hear herself being beckoned back out to the footpath by this unfamiliar hobbling woman, who had by then reached our front gate.

Once the usual exchange over what language should be spoken was done with, the woman proceeded to ask ET three questions.

-Do you live here?

-Are you married?

and then:

-Do you have any children?

At which point the old woman reached into her purse, took out some money, pressed it into ET's hand, and said 'Well then, I will pray for you tonight'.

With that, she turned and shuffled up the street in the dusk.

Seriously woman, are you auditioning for Macbeth or something?

The probability is that the poor woman just reads the blog, or we need to be a bit more consistent closing the bedroom curtains from time to time, but either way the end result was the same, a somewhat freaked out wife.

It's a good thing ET had another dose of Clomid ready just to settle those nerves, eh?

Sunday 22 March 2009

Drugs & keeping your head

Funny old world.

You wait two years for something, anything, to happen and when it does it all comes thick and fast. (I'm mature, so I refuse to add "like me" to that last sentence.)

Tonight ET popped her second 100mg dose of Clomid.

The second of five days of the drug that will get those ovaries of hers working like a popcorn maker. Before we know it the five day course will be up, and we'll be back at the hospital for the ultrasound, finding out when we'll have the trigger shot, and of course the insemination.

The insemination, bloody hell.

It's head spinning to be moving so fast now after so long of being stuck in the mud.

We went with a suggestion from Jane G that she should take the drug at night, in an attempt to make any immediate side effects less noticeable. To me at least, as I'd be sound asleep.

There was a bizarrely scary moment after she took it on Saturday night. She proceeded to apply her make-up for no reason, which gave me the distinct feeling she was intending to decapitate me and face the police and media with her best face on. Thankfully that never came to pass and we both made it through the night with all the appropriate appendages firmly intact.

I may just put a new lock on the garden shed door, just in case.

So, here we are, two fifths through the drug stage of the cycle, and so far so good. I have found it often happens that I say something here and then it comes back to bite me on the arse though, so is there anything we should expect?

Is there any side effect we don't know about? Will she start conversing in tongues or chewing the sofa-arms? Will she end up crying at the weather forecast or will I come home to find her with the postman in a headlock?

Anything that stops me from being woken at 4am with a t-shirt stuffed into my mouth as she stands over me with a nine iron, is greatly appreciated.

Friday 20 March 2009

Once more into the breach

It's been 10 days since we really 'came out' about our story so far.

The responses have been genuinely surprising and overwhelmingly positive. I'm glad my original cynicism has been proven misplaced.

Today in the Irish Times there is another feature, The great conception question, this time based on the responses they received to the original article last week (which is here).

Of course, being the gobby creature that I am, I have added my two cents worth to the article

We can't stress enough how happy we are to get the backing we have from everyone, extended family, old friends, and complete strangers. I wish that everyone in this situation could benefit in the same way.

Maybe the feature today will get people thinking about being more open about their 'trying to conceive' struggles, or remind people to tell those that do, that they are behind them.

It really does make the world of difference.

Thursday 19 March 2009


I think we have a mole in the camp.

Someone out there is running to the enemy, someone is telling tales out of class, someone is being loose lipped.

The red menace is getting her information from somewhere, unless of course, shes reading this herself.

She heard that we were ready for her to sail into port over the weekend, so she made one last attempt to throw us off balance.

Today, which was day 24 of cycle 25, became day 1 of cycle 26. A startlingly short cycle, and no, there is no doubt about it.

We were not ready for it today, the realisation that the game as we've been playing it is finished now came as a bit of shock. We worked it out, shouting, slamming, crying, hugging.

I picked my dinner back up of the floor and we'll move on.

We are now in an IUI cycle. It's started, it's really happening, our next 9 days are all planned out.

It's exciting, and surprisingly nerve wracking, finally being eye to eye, with IUI.

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Wide eyed and urinating

Just how sneaky can old father time be?

This evening brings the end of cycle day 23. That means, going on history, of which we have a month, or two, or twenty four, that we have three to five days before this cycle ends and the red menace sails into port.

What that haggard old vessel doesn’t realise is that this time, we’re waiting for her.

We’ve lulled the wench into a false sense of security, she’ll sail through the mist towards land expecting to see us ashore pulling hair and gnashing teeth. She’s in for some shock when she sees us with our feet up, in stirrups.

Of course she may never turn up, which is always preferable and possible. Improbable mind, but possible.

Today we took possession of the whole set of medication for the upcoming IUI cycle. Of course the pharmacy has made a liar out of me regarding my statement that we wouldn’t need to pay a single penny.

We had to pay out of pocket for the plastic syringes.

Bizarrely, not the days of clomid, nor the pregnyl, nor the powders, but just the plastic syringe. That’s 40 cents we hadn’t budgeted for.

It’s a curious sensation to not dread the coming days, sitting here listening for the sound of a flushing toilet, waiting for the bad news. ET can piss away to her heart’s content this week without being afraid to look down.

Urinary vertigo is what she’s had for 2 years now.

So, by next Monday, and the end of a delightfully metric 25th cycle, we’ll either be ecstatic to know that we have a bun in the oven, or that we’ve drugs in the fridge.

Monday 16 March 2009

Pros & cons

There's been a lot written here about the length of time we've had to wait for the croc sporting doctors to step in and intervene.

Twenty four failed attempts, currently in the twenty fifth, must seem like marijuana rooted madness to those of you looking on. In the United States particularly.

While I certainly haven't enjoyed the wait, I do understand it, from a health service point of view at least. The Netherlands has thousands of couples in the same situation walking through it's hospital and clinic doors every year.

It's a tiny country, with a relatively huge population. Four times smaller than Ireland, yet four times more inhabitants.

The Irish health service is groaning, creaking and ready to burst at the joints under the weight of mismanagement, and insufficient funding, both capital, and operational.

The Dutch service, while it may well be lacking a personal attention element, seems to be running like a well oiled machine. A slow one perhaps, but one that I am glad we have at our disposal. State of the art facilities, modern techniques, and some of the most highly skilled staff you are likely to find anywhere.

The patience of patients, is rewarded. They operate a system of mandatory health insurance where each individual is responsible for arranging their own health cover. The choices of provider run into dozens, with all standard basic care being covered. This leaves you to pick and choose the extra elements of cover that suit your needs, alternative medicine, dental, psychological etc.

I would estimate that regardless of which cover they take, an individual should be fully insured for all eventualities for about €1200 - €1400 per year.

We have just confirmed, that ET's insurance alone will fully cover the six IUIs that the hospital are willing to try, plus fully, yes fully, cover up to 4 IVF cycles that the hospital would then be willing to offer.

Everything, from here on in, is covered by our insurance. Every penny.

I stand to be corrected, but to the best of my knowledge, no Irish health insurance provider will offer any cover for artificial reproductive treatments.

None. Nothing.

So, in this, a one-off special entry praising the organisation and procedural focus of our hosts, I can tell you I wouldn't prefer to be anywhere else as we face into the coming weeks and months.

Now, if I could only get the fuckers to crack a smile.

Friday 13 March 2009

Just a little prick

There she sat, jeans around her ankles as I steadied myself to stick it in.

"Oh just go ahead" sighed the nurse, "it won't hurt a bit"

I picked my spot, aimed, and with a fast jab, it was done. The nurse was right, it didn't hurt. Although, the dirty looks from the nurse at our embarrassing hesitations smarted quite a bit.

This morning we had our lesson on giving the trigger shot injection, or 'prik les' as it's called here. Never was there a more underhanded insult of a name for such a thing. Prick less indeed.

I thought it would be five minutes in and out and we'd be ready to move on, and in the way that mirrors the story so far, it was not to be.

We sat in the nurse's office for 45 minutes while she went through everything. What vials contained what, which needles were which, how to break open the vials, and a load of safety information.

There is a surprising amount of 'stuff' involved in giving one injection.

Three vials to mix, two needles, (one for the mixing, one for the shot) gadgets to snap open the glass vials and a chemical disposal box that looks like something from the props department of 'Outbreak'.

It was almost overwhelming to see all the paraphernalia laid out on the table, and the seconds just before you have to jab the needle are strangely paralysing, through anxiety of being too forceful, or not enough, and having to push it further.

We had a dry run with a saline solution and that really eased any worry. We're confident that we'll get it right.

That didn't stop ET from being convinced that I would miss her thigh and ram the needle into her cornea though for some reason. I reminded her that I have a 100% record of never blinding any semi-naked woman that I've stabbed in public.

There's always a first time I suppose.

Thursday 12 March 2009

Drum roll

A whopper. That was yesterday.

There was the Irish Times article, which has had a really positive reaction. Via email, text messages, through the paper, and of course here. Thanks to everyone, we're delighted, the supportive messages from family, friends, and complete strangers has been very uplifting.

Infinitely more uplifting though, we were back at the specialist yesterday, so read the following words carefully.

It went well. Very well.

The doctor agrees that enough is enough, and it's time for them to start getting involved.

When the next cycle starts, in about 10 days or so, we are beginning an intrauterine insemination(IUI) cycle.

We finally get our IUI, and medicated for good measure!

I could have kissed that crumb covered Dutch woman, but I had just been biting my nails and thought leaving semi-chewed body matter on medical professionals who hold the key to your very happiness was not the wisest of moves.

So I smiled politely.

They are very strict about the management of possible multiples, so we are aiming at mild hyper-stimulation.

ET will take the unpronounceable Dutch version of clomid for 5 days to stimulate the development of an extra follicle or two.

After 10 days or so, she will have an ultrasound and they decide when we should administer a trigger shot to spark off ovulation within the following 36 hours.

What is a bit scary is that if more than 3 follicles mature, they cancel the cycle.

When ovulation is expected following the trigger shot, Spencer flies solo, they shake the living daylights out of him, and the swimmers left standing get injected into her uterus.

Right on the egg's doorstep.

Then, we wait. I think I'm familiar with that bit.

There is an undercurrent of excitement, but the chances are still small, 10% a shot, so we are not getting carried away. ET said for the first time in a long while, she really feels that this might happen, and I have been convinced for a year or more that IUI is the most logical solution to our problem.

Of course, there is one other good reason why the IUI could still be canceled, it's CD17 now, so maybe.

Just maybe...

Wednesday 11 March 2009

Silly boy

I said I needed a distraction. As they come, this was a good one.

This has happened so fast from first contact to today it really is quite surreal, but it was an opportunity to do something I've wanted to do for the best part of twenty years.

I obviously lack any ability to keep my mouth shut, so if someone asks me to talk, anything could follow. When the Irish Times asked if I would talk, I talked.

Today, I have an article featured in the Irish Times. I can't even type that with a straight face.

Thanks everyone who helped it happen.

Oh and the fifteen chins you see, they are a trick of the light. Daylight.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to now go bribe or beat our doctor into getting us pregnant, while simultaneously praying I don't get disowned, mocked to within an inch of my life, or excommunicated.

Although, the last one I could probably cope with.

(EDIT: Oooh, 'Notes from the blog' are also mentioned.)

Monday 9 March 2009

Entertain me

Hi honey, I'm home.

I'll tell you something, all this 'just relaxing' really takes it out of you.

We just relaxed up and down Oxford street and along the South bank. We just relaxed around Soho and all it's bookshops. We just relaxed through some finger nibbling fish & chips with mushy peas and we just relaxed big time through a truly poor West end show.

In between all the just relaxing we did manage to put our feet up. Well, okay, ET had her feet up.

Incidentally, is it too much to ring down to reception to ask for an extra pillow for buttock elevation?

You could just use one of the ones provided but you run the risk of them getting mixed up when the room is cleaned the next day, and no chap likes wake up with his pillow sticking to his face.

Anyway, should wonders truly exist and she's miraculously gotten knocked up this weekend, we have decided to shun the recent celebrity trend to name children after where they were conceived.

Baby 'Room 387' does have a ring to it though, I must admit.

Have I mentioned we have the small matter of an appointment with the specialist on Wednesday?

Oh I have? Oh well, tough luck.

We're ready for her, every detail double checked, every eventuality accounted for, right down to the bail money should one of us be overcome with the urge to assault her with her dildo-cam.

Wednesday seems like an awfully long way away right now.

I could do with a wee distraction.

Friday 6 March 2009


He's gone again.

I saw them both leave with suitcases yesterday, but I stayed in the laundry basket until I was sure they weren't coming back. Seems safe now.

He switched the computer off, but I know the big button that starts it whizzing.

While it's taking half an hour to start up I'm having a look around the desk. What a mess.

Interesting, flight details, Amsterdam to London, out Thursday and back on Sunday. Cool, I seem to have a couple of days peace without the idiot.

Appointment card, Wednesday 11th March, fertility department at the hospital. Hmm, are they still rambling on about that? They really should just get a dog.

Wait, there's a booklet with it. Intrauterine Insemination. What the hell is that supposed to be? Lemme see, I'll have a read...

Damn, I'm making the pages all sticky. Ah well, he won't notice anyway, those magazines in the back of the wardrobe are practically welded together as it is.

What! Are they going to try this IUI thing? It says here I'd need to be tested again. That means being forced into one of those glorified pill bottles. It's bloody cramped in there, and smells of fish.

Not only that, they would 'wash' and 'spin' me! I know I'm 'whiter than white' but that's taking the laundry analogies a bit too far for my liking.

It's bad enough being shot out at about four thousand miles an hour, smacking face first into a plastic wall, but they want to spin me around in some laboratory?

Just great that is, potential spinal injury and disorientation, bloody lovely.

And these guys are surprised when we end up swimming in circles? Medical school my arse.

Oh for the love of Jesus, look what it says here! If I manage to survive their attempts at inflicting brain damage on me, I get shoved into a syringe and fired into a uterus.

I've managed to avoid getting anywhere near that place for two bloody years through greed, guile, and gravity, and now they want to inject me in there!

What a pair of sneaky bastards.

I need to think about this one. I'm going back to the laundry basket to sulk.

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Relaxing, just

As days come, the next seven are bloody big ones.

One week from today we'll have our pasty white arses back in front of the specialist. I mean we'll be sitting on them in front of her of course, we haven't decided to visit a proctologist looking for alternative routes or anything.

Back in December she promised we could talk about intervention this time. She even told us to think about whether we wanted medication, with an IUI or not .

I might bring a turkey baster to use as inspiration for her, or as a weapon to bludgeon her to within an inch of her life with, should she pull their favoured 'Who are you and what are you doing here' trick.

I'm determined that we are not leaving there without a plan. This is going to be the time it all starts happening, I know it, I'm oozing positivity.

(Is positivity normally yellowish green with a slight odour?)

In those seven days, we'll also have partied through Ov-fest XXV, which promises it's usual dosage of peace and free love, pillows and propage, plastic and peeing. The highlight of the event, all going well, will be the appearance of eggy pop.

All that ovulation induced free love won't actually be free though, as it will be taking place in a posh hotel in central London. By 'posh' I mean it won't be a brothel. Once bitten, and all that.

We are out of here tomorrow evening, and away until Sunday. We must visit Big Ben, get spat on by Amy Winehouse, cause an evacuation of parliament, and eat proper sausages. We have a lot of 'just relaxing' crammed into our schedule.

Wouldn't it be irritatingly ironic if we got knocked up this time, on a weekend away, and when the doctors finally agree to try some procedures?

I'd happily take that ironic irritation with a big shit-eating grin on my face though.

Here's to an interesting next seven.

Monday 2 March 2009

Swing low, sweet, er..chariots?

Welcome to the third lunar year of us trying to get knocked up.

If you are still reading, either you are very patient, bored, yet oddly invested, or you're married to me.

To celebrate the dawning of this third era, I'm going to share three discoveries I've made in the last week.

One: The famed two week wait is not the worst part of this cyclical ridiculousness. The days that follow it are.

At the start of every cycle it's bad enough that you've just been smacked with a failure, but then you have to wait the best part of a week before you can even pretend to do anything about it.

The first 5 days of every cycle your hands are tied, metaphorically with a tiny little string, and you can't even pretend to be useful during these days.

Let's face it, fooling yourself is vital in this game.

You ignore the statistics and keep going monthly. You ignore the fundamentals of human biology by jumping into bed from CD06 onwards when in fact it gives you no better chance than a single shot a week later. You ignore the fading line on the OPK, the rise in temperature on the chart and you keep going long after the eggy ship has sailed.

You could just be quite randy, of course.

You allow yourself to be fooled that you are not really faced with small windows and smaller odds, just so you can stay sane. You fool yourselves into staying busy, to be doing something, to just avoid the waiting, and the waiting.

Two: We have now, statistically at least according to the Dutch medical profession, dipped under the 10% mark. That is, the chance of us ever getting pregnant by ourselves is somewhere in single figures.

This is why they insist on waiting this long before intervening, as only now does an IUI for example give a better chance.

A huge whopping 11% of a chance.

Three: According to Desmond Morris' book 'The naked man', which refers to an Alfred Kinsey study, I am one of just 5% of human males whose right testicle is lower than their left.

90% hang lower on the left, 5% on the right, and 5% are level. Only those level would have any cause for concern as it just makes them slightly more prone to damage.

Does that make me rightly bolloxed?

That has nothing to with anything in particular but I just felt like upping the 'too much information' stakes for one new reader.

Not exactly baby brother material is it, eh.