Friday 29 May 2009

Simmer, then bring to the boil

We've done this before. Many, many times.

We have waited.

Two years ago we waited with innocence, excitement. I do miss that.

A year ago we waited sometimes with naive enthusiasm, sometimes a knowing dread.

The last 6 or 8 months have been peaks and troughs in the extreme. The laparoscopy and the supposed increased chances it brings, being teased with the promise of an IUI, having it eventually cancelled, a cycle on a very effective dose of Clomid. Always ending up with waiting, a couple of weeks every time, wondering if this is the time we could cross that fine line, but with the weight of all the previous months holding us back.

I don't know how people do this long term. The treatments, the trying, the extending yourselves, the offering up of slices of your energy reserves and sanity.

The waiting.

We have some daylight now behind us in this two week wait and I can feel it starting. Half conversations that haven't been touched on in nearly 2 years, counting months ahead on our fingers, the daydreaming allowed to linger that little bit longer than it has been for what seems such a long time.

It's simmering. The nervousness, hope, positivity, a little worry.

And damn it, excitement.

Tuesday 26 May 2009

The Sperm Runner III: Was it good for you?

So how did you start your day?

With a tasty low fat yoghurt? Went for a jog perhaps? Or maybe leisurely skimmed through the morning papers?

Me? I milked myself in the name of procreation. Again.

You know you are getting to the sharp end of this process when you are excommunicating yourself into luxuriously wide rimmed, heavy duty, tinted glass pots, and not the measly plastic pill bottles the GP hands out.

Wide rimmed or not, I still had to despair at the volume I produced. Again, I mean quantity, and not decibel level. I’m no good with judging millilitres, so let’s just say the amount would probably stop a wasp in its tracks, but not be enough to drown a small bat.

I’d have wrung my own neck if my hands weren’t busy wringing out my own head.

The race was on. As sensible as putting the pot between my legs seemed to be at the time, when I saw the state of the roads from last night’s storms I had a rethink. One slam on the breaks could mean explaining to police exactly why my windscreen was covered in semen, awkward, even in Holland.

Instead, the fruit of my loins was popped into my jacket pocket and delivered incident free. Unless you count the scornful look I received from the receptionist as I used both hands to hoist the pot onto the counter to emphasise its tremendous weight.

Once I’d assured the nurse, who I’m certain also works as a baggage check-in person at the airport, that I had filled the pot myself, that no-one could have interfered with it since I had interfered with myself, and that the potent potted produce she was pawing, was in fact, mine, I was out of there.

*** *** ***

Four and a half hours later, ET and I were sitting in the small waiting room behind the heavy white door, alone. Footsteps came and went, and the puddle of water from her closed umbrella spread on the floor between us.

An unsurprisingly blonde, incredibly tall, and reassuringly friendly IVF doctor came and took us down to a treatment room.

There, she explained what was about to happen, absolutely none of which registered with me as I was too busy grinning from ear to ear with the news that the sample, after washing, had 21 million Spencers ready and waiting. The usual target after washing is 5 million.

When I returned from cloud 9, ET was again semi-naked in the chair, refusing to wave hello to Spencer like I asked, with stranger number 7 chalking up carnal knowledge.

Out came the catheter and the syringe filled with my self abuse, and in it went.

Or not.

Seemingly ET’s uterine cavity didn’t take too kindly to this jizz filled stranger popping it’s head around her door, so the good doctor called an assistant to bring a different catheter.

In a world of ever decreasing stereotypes, the assistant was a 50 plus year old bald man, with a bandage on his head the size of a post-it note. Despite becoming the 8th stranger to gaze into my wife’s nether regions, he brought with him the new improved catheter.

A moment later it was in, and so were 21 million of my finest. After a 5 minute rest (and I think ET had one too) it was done and dusted.

On reflection it’s a simple procedure, painless and quick, but that doesn’t deter from how proud I am of that midget wife of mine. Five times in stirrups in one week is at best a real pain in the arse, or that approximate area anyway, and I know how nervous she was in the moments just before the IUI. I hope she knows it’s those same moments that make me most glad that it’s her and me.

Now, we just wait. I’m half afraid of what for.

Monday 25 May 2009

Eeny, meeny, miny moe

That's just how these few days have gone, pure chance and guesswork.

In this morning's game of reproductive cluedo, the culprit once again was humourless Janneke in the big brother room, with the withered face and the dildo-cam.

They really need a curtain in there. Seriously.

We'd met a few times before, so there was no small talk to make while ET was doing her graceful semi-naked hop dance. Clothes neatly arranged in a heap on the floor, she climbed up into the stirrups.

For the fourth time in a week.

Janneke guided her probe towards ground zero, and even from my vantage point I could tell that we had a big 'un. 18mm plus, sitting cosily alongside another of 15mm plus.

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but again we had two, where there had been three.

Off she went to the other side. Exactly how she knew where to look when it's supposedly in the wrong place is beyond me, but find it she did. Where there was one 14mm follicle last Friday, sat a shrunken old mass. Barely 10mm and out of the game.

Janneke, perhaps feeling she needed to compete with the tabloid headlines of 'your-ovary-is-in-the-wrong-place' nurse, declared that she thinks we have been seeing a few cysts left over from the over stimulated cycle.

Regardless, we are left with two follicles of good size and growing on one side. Bingo.

That's half the battle. The decision rested on the results of the bloods taken, which have since all come back good.

We go ahead with the insemination tomorrow, without the need for the trigger shot.

After all the hiccups of the last week, I'll believe this is actually going to happen when I see it.

Which will most probably be through white knuckled fingers.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to tell my customer I'm going to the hospital once again, for the fifth time in 8 days.

I'm sure they already think I'm dying.

As I present a sweaty pot filled with the juice of self-abuse to Janneke & Co tomorrow morning, I'll probably wish I was.

Friday 22 May 2009

Of course, what else?

Sometimes, you have to laugh at it all.

We were given a semen sample pot and detail form when we arrived at reception this morning. That was surely a good sign, things were about to happen.

For good measure it was an unfamiliar face that called us into the big brother room. Making her the sixth stranger make a human lollipop out of ET in the last year or so.

I think we'll bring a special prize for the 10th, a framed picture or something.

Cutting to the chase, we have 4 follicles again. With the 3 from two days ago showing little or no growth. All four are between 12mm and 14mm.

Not big enough to trigger, and too many.

Meaning, we await confirmation that we have to go back again over the weekend.

I haven't a bloody clue what's going on in there. There's no pattern, no consistency, and to add a little spice, our dildo-cammer for today announced that one of ETs ovaries is in the wrong place.

The wrong bloody place. Not in her jacket pocket or on the mantelpiece or anything, but it's above the uterus as opposed to the side of it. She assures us that makes no difference whatsoever.

I like to think that it just fancied a stiff word with it's partner on the other side, hopefully telling it to get it's arse in gear.

Well shout louder, bitch.

So, we wait, again. For a call back for a scan, again. To see if we can go ahead or be cancelled, again.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to throw my head back and laugh dementedly.

[EDIT - We go back on Monday, they need to see growth, they want some 18mm follicles. We are a way off that at the moment]

[DOUBLE EDIT - Mammydairies found the idea of one ovary trying to get at the other so amusing, she turned her hand to animation. Quite the achievement considering she is quite literally about to blow any second. We are in talks with the ovaries over a stage musical about their lives, set to the back catalogue of Duran Duran.]

Wednesday 20 May 2009

Now for my next trick

My heart sank when I saw it was Janneke, and not our preferred vag-visage, calling us.

'Laugh-a-minute Janneke' as I've Christened her.

Unfortunately that minute seems to have taken place somewhere in October 1986, so we just have to make do with humourless Janneke.

We had been asked to come back for another scan today. They wanted to check the growth of the 4 follicles, in the hope one would stop growing and the other three would push on. Based on the growth the follicles showed in the last Clomid cycle we were not expecting anything good to come of it.

We were ushered to the 'big brother' ultrasound room, so called as it doesn't have any curtained area for ET to get her kit off.

There I sat, Janneke to my left, interrogating me on the standard of my Dutch conversational skills, while to my right ET ever so gracefully hopped on one semi-naked leg in an attempt to get her jeans off.

After a couple of moments wishing I was temporarily deaf and blind, ET was in situe, her bare feet framing Janneke's stern face.

"I'm going to put the probe in now" she delightfully announced.

Er, Probe?

In it burrowed around the grainy black and whiteness of my nearest and dearest's reproductive organs, it was all I could do to stop myself announcing 'One small step for man...'

Probe indeed.

Straight to the right hand side she went this time, yesterday's ground zero, the cause of our distress. One, 13mm. Two, also 13mm.

No number three. Vanished. Gone. Vamoosed. Janneke claimed it wasn't uncommon, giving us some sober tale of larger follicles using all the hormones and leaving the smaller ones to wither away.

Over on the left hand side, the solitary follicle remained, having grown another 1mm. This leaves us with 3 in total, a 14mm and two at 13mm.

Almost unbelievably, exactly what we needed, but didn't for a second expect we would see.

The 3 need some growth, so most likely we will go back for another scan on Friday morning, when we should know more definitely if, or when, insemination will happen.

You don't get many days when you get good news in this game, and indeed, your perception of what constitutes good news changes dramatically over time.

But today, is one of those days.

Tuesday 19 May 2009

Uno, dos, tres...

I felt it was a good sign when the male nurse, who still looks eerily like the husband of a friend of ours, opened the ultrasound room door and called us in.

A familiar face at least, keeping the number of strangers who have peered up my wife at five since this debacle began.

Pale, bald headed, big lipped, with a neatly trimmed wiry beard, I wondered if he ever felt like he was looking in a mirror when he was down there sometimes.

As he got to work with the dildo-cam, I cracked open a fanta and offered around my peanut MMs.

First to the right hand side. One. Lovely stuff. Perfect.

The dildo-cam burrowed and snuffled it's way to the left.

One, two, and fuckyoudruggobblingsonofabitchfollicle, three.

In total, 4. Cuatro.

One 13mm on the left, and three at 12mm on the right.

The 13 is too small to induce ovulation now, which means giving them some growth time which would probably bring them all into the 'big enough' category.

If that happens, 4 is too many and it all gets cancelled.


ET is upset, tired, frustrated and stressed. I don't know what the fuck I am.

We await a phone call this afternoon to give us our next step. Maybe we go back to scan again tomorrow in the hope one has miraculously stopped growing like I did when I was 8, or vanished into the night like some South American resistance activist.

Or, it gets cancelled.


Monday 18 May 2009

Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow

It's one of life's puzzlers. When you can't decide if time is going fast or dog slow.

It hurts my wee head to figure it out these days, so I won't even bother .

The five day drug binge has come and gone, with no casualties. Yet.

Hopefully the reduced dosage will give us just enough growth to have more than the usual quota to play with. Two or three juicy eggs would be perfect.

Tomorrow morning we have the first scan to see the progress of the follicles.

Again, more than three and they will cancel the whole thing, so we really could do without it being a repeat of 'man-milky white and the seven Chernobyl dwarves' from last time.

If all goes well, we may or may not need another scan the following day, and we should know when we can trigger shoot, and when the insemination would take place.

My guess would be Friday or Saturday.

I'm oddly curious to know if we will be entertained by humourless Janneke again, or the bearded male nurse (who looked remarkably and unnervingly like the husband of a friend of ours), or will ET be showing her pearly, er...pinks to yet another complete stranger.

Either way, we'd show them off in time square if it would guarantee no more than three follicles and the IUI could go ahead.

I'm off to assume a zen pose and repeatedly hum 'one-two-three' for the day.

Wednesday 13 May 2009

Achtung no baby

Today, a woman will attempt to cross international borders with mood altering drugs in her possession.

While German customs guards will be on the look out for tips of heroin filled balloons peeking from the bottoms of elderly ladies, and sniffer dogs will have their noses in the cocaine caked crotches of teenagers, this lady will pass unnoticed.

ET has to travel to Berlin for a day or two, a trip joyfully coinciding with starting her second round of Clomid.

The first time around, we naively thought we had escaped with little or no side effects when she had finished her 5 day course relatively unscathed. Little did we know that the fireworks really start post ovulation.

Let's just say those Berliners are lucky that this is the first day and a lower dose, otherwise if they still had that wall of theirs, she'd be climbing it.

It may have been expedition point for some of the most overwhelming military movements of the 20th century, but Western society knows of no destructive potential greater than a wee woman full of Clomid.

To be on the safe side, those Germans better not start any shit, for the next 36 hours anyway.

Monday 11 May 2009

Concurring with the Boomtown Rats

Due to normally being in a daze until they are almost over, I've never really had an issue with Mondays.

Today, I don't like Mondays. Today is cycle day 1, again.

Yep, again. For the 28th time.

There is something ridiculous about having used up all your fingers and toes for counting failed cycles on. When you've exhausted your testicles, penis, and useless manly nipples, and are patting yourself down in the search for sticky-out bits to count on, you should probably just stop altogether.

At the bus stop at least.

Exhausted is apt actually. Along with weary, weak, tired, spent, and any other of the many pitiful adjectives you can muster.

On the other hand, we'll get through this one - just, thanks to knowing we now have a shot at IUI again.

ET will start sucking on the Satan sweets from Wednesday to Sunday, a quarter of the previous dose. Hopefully her innards won't end up looking like something from Chernobyl again, and we can go ahead with the IUI this time.

In the delusional state of staying positive, all that would happen before the end of next week.

A fortnight from now, we could be pregnant.

Did you laugh manically at that line? No?

I did.

Friday 8 May 2009

Naive miles

We are walking the final steps once again, and as usual, they will be the slowest of them all.

It's a course we know well, we've seen all the landmarks, looked in all the shop windows, and recognise all the faces along the way.

We've had people pass us by, and fade out of view in front of us. Some, more than once.

We've walked it in all seasons, all weather.

It's our 27th circuit, and now on day 24, there are 3 or 4 more days left.

If we had any common sense we wouldn't even think about it, and set our minds on the next one, another attempt at IUI.

That's where the real possibilities lie.

Face it, if you can't get knocked up in 26 attempts, including one with half a dozen eggs lying spread-eagled, your chances on attempt 27 are on the unhealthy side of almost non-existent.

Evidently, common sense isn't something we possess in abundance, and so here we sit, counting down the days to the 'maybes' and the 'what ifs', still thinking about how this could bring it all to an end. And a beginning.

Like every other month that passes, we have something we can say could make the difference. Not drugs, timing, gimp masks, vitamins, nor freshly flushed tubes, but this month we were back home - 'just relaxing'.

Writing that line out makes me feel more than a bit silly, but that's nothing new.

The wry ability to allow my better judgement to be quietened during these days by lottery-odds sized possibilities is both amusing, and comforting.

Thanks to that selectively unassertive logical part of our brains, we can walk the last yards once again, not with dread, but with a little excitement.

One of these days it won't be misguided.

(Incidentally, for anyone who tried and failed to listen to the radio interview thanks to the arse-ache that is realplayer, you can now hear it here instead)

Wednesday 6 May 2009

Fertility Foe

We use the 'Fertility Friend' website.

That's all well and good, we can record the daily temperatures and keep track of all the other relevant details of a cycle. Every month we end up with a wonderfully colourful and complicated graph with dots and lines and trends and numbers and letters and bells and whistles.

All of which combine to tell us how tremendously normal, yet overwhelmingly unpregnant, we are. It really makes you feel extra special to see a sarcastically graphic representation of your own uselessness.

One of the details you can record on there are the days you have sex. (With each other.)

That, right there, may well be the first time I've ever used that term here, and for a good reason. It's one of the many, many terms you can use to describe the act itself.

You could call it shagging, or humping, or riding, or screwing, or copulating, or making love, or horizontal jogging, or indeed any one of a hundred terms ranging from the graphic and crude, to the suggestive and cute.

With all these marvellous phrases at their disposal, what do our Fertility Friend buddies choose to use to denote the act?

BD, or 'Baby Dance'.

I'm aware that not everyone wants to use the cruder terms for the squelchy sessions, but what sort of a demented walking talking head injury victim came up with that particular vomit inducing beauty?

It's not a dance. There are no tuxedos or ball gowns, there is no grand entrance, and there are no marks out of ten. Thankfully.

It's rarely graceful or stylish, you don't normally cover all four corners of the room, and frankly, you'll be lucky if it lasts as long as the average waltz.

You can forget about having two consecutive attempts, or swapping partners, and I'm yet to see anyone on 'Dancing with the stars' shuffle naked across the bed on their knees to reach for a cushion to shove under their partner's backside.

Adding 'baby' to the name doesn't help, it's not like you are going to forget what you're doing. I get the vision of the words 'baby dance' in my head in shades of pink or powder blue and I hear twinkle twinkle little star on repeat in my brain.

Talcum powder, knitted blankets, and nappies all spring to mind. Edible underwear, does not.

Get a grip Fertility Friend people, or I may be tempted to send your offices a baby explosive device in the post, or baby beat your CEO around the face and throat with a golf club.

Monday 4 May 2009

Meanwhile, back on the ranch

Done and dusted, another trek home. An enjoyable one even.

As a special threefold tribute to you ‘just relaxers’ out there, we paid no attention to what cycle day it was and just had ‘at it’, we tested the resolve of a childhood bed, not to mention the paper thin walls, and we even gloriously revelled in a fine hotel.

Curiously enough, and some of you may be shocked to read this, but doing it while not knowing what cycle day it is, is exactly the same as doing it while knowing.

Everything still goes in the same places, the same noises get made, the same squelching occurs, and the few minutes of wondering if that was 'the one' still takes place.

Shocking, I know.

This evening for the first time, I listened to the interview that I had last Friday, and I’m seriously regretting not having used a voice box.

I sound like I was wearing wellingtons, I stuttered for about 11 of the 14 or so minutes it lasted, I said ‘Umm’ 4,617 times, and I compared my poor wife to a cow.

A roaring success.

If that hasn’t turned you off the idea of listening, go here, and under 'shows from the past week' click on Friday’s show to hear it. You need RealPlayer to play it; I’m on from about 1:14 onwards.

Now that we’re back, a quick consultation on Fertility Friend tells me it’s CD20, so we are already floating down the two week wait river on a raft of just relaxedness with just a week or so to go.

It’s all fun and games, but we really would like this to stop now. Really. Can we do that please?