Category Archives: Emotions

Intralipids infusion (2.0 FET #2- Day 10)

This morning I had my intralipids infusion.

It was pretty straightforward. I went in early, did the usual cycle monitoring bloodwork and ultrasound, and then moved over to the IVF suite where they hooked me up to the IV, and then brought in a bag that really did just look like a bag of fat- thick, white liquid. The nurse hooked that bag and a second bag (of what I assume was a saline solution) to the IV line, and then started them both dripping. It took a little over ninety minutes to empty the bag. I managed to get some work done while also listening to the various conversations. The nurses were trying to schedule a particularly busy day on the weekend and had to boss around the doctors quite a lot. The nurse who runs the IVF suite is one tough cookie, and now I can really see why. It takes some gumption to stand up to the doctors, but I could tell that she wasn’t going to give ground- this was HER turf.

Another woman came in looking for one of the nurses in particular. She was pregnant (seven weeks) and wanted to tell this nurse (who wasn’t working that day). After she had left the nurses had a bit of a conversation because most of them didn’t remember her, which is fair, given how many patients they see every day. But they were all in agreement that it made them uncomfortable to have her in there telling them about the pregnancy at seven weeks. “Ten weeks, ten weeks would be different,” said the boss nurse. “Then it is ok. But seven weeks is too early.” The others agreed.

It was pregnancy day at the clinic, it seemed. The woman in the cubicle next to me was also doing an intralipids infusion, and she was eleven weeks pregnant. The nurses were excited about this. “Almost time to graduate!” said one. When I was back over in the main part of the clinic I started chatting with another woman, who turned out to be ten weeks pregnant. It was her first baby, and it had been a long road. So I told her that I had a nearly two and a half year old at home, who came from that clinic, and that now I was trying again. And I told her that I had a good pregnancy and a good birth and that these helped in a lot of ways to heal how I had felt after being at that clinic for so long, because I could tell from her face that she was EXACTLY where I had been three years ago. Then the nurse called my name, and we both answered, and then laughed as we realized we had the same first name. I shook her hand and wished her well. She’d told me that they were done after this- that it was too hard, that they couldn’t go through it again. I wonder if she’ll still be thinking the same thing three years from now.

After the intralipids infusion was over, I went back to the  main part of the clinic to see my doctor. I was all geared up to have a fight with him because I wanted him to check my TSH again. They checked it on Day 2, and it was at 2.5, which isn’t bad, but my endocrinologist likes to keep it under 2.0, and I know the estrace will have been causing some stress. I’ve been doing my usual “take one extra half a pill every second day” while I’ve been on the estrace, which is what I did during the fresh IVF cycle that led to E., but I wanted some confirmation that this was the right dose.

He surprised me by agreeing to the extra test immediately, even before he looked to see what my previous result had been. And then he agreed that 2.5 was very borderline. So he really has finally got the message at some point in the last three years that TSH matters a lot when it comes to getting and staying pregnant. The nurses should call me this afternoon to give me the update. (They actually called while I was writing this: it’s still at 2.5, so I’m holding steady. They want me to stay on the same dose, but I might up it a tiny amount to get it below 2.0 as I know my endocrinologist wouldn’t be happy with 2.5.)

My lining looked great, so he wanted to schedule the FET. I asked if Q. had to be there for the procedure.

“Well,” said my f/s, “he has to be willing to be the baby’s father when it comes out, but he doesn’t have to actually be there for the transfer.”

Q. is going a little insane right now with work stress, and he’s going to lose all of next Friday because he’s going on a field trip with E. and the nursery school. So I scheduled the FET for next Wednesday (the 23rd) when E. will be in nursery school and Q. will be teaching.

It does feel a little odd- this will be the first transfer that Q. has missed, the first time he won’t be there to hold my hand when the f/s starts poking and prodding and things get uncomfortable, the first time he won’t see the embryo up on the monitor or be able to watch the transfer on the ultrasound. But I’m being practical- if we do the transfer Wednesday rather than Thursday we don’t have to worry about finding someone to look after E. (or stress him out by disrupting his routine- Q. had a hard morning with him today because E. knew it was supposed to be a day where he was with me and he didn’t at all like the fact that I had to go see the doctor without him), and Q. doesn’t have a big hole blasted in the middle of his only teaching-free day that week.

Then I saw a nurse and worked through my treatment protocol and picked up more medications and a new sharps container. I got out of there in time to get home for lunch, like I’d told E. I was going to try to do.

PIO shots start up again tomorrow. Luckily the Fragmin shots don’t start until the day of the transfer as I had a really bad reaction to them this time around- one side of my stomach basically turned into one giant deep purple bruise, and it is taking a long time to clear up. It should hopefully be back to normal just in time to start getting jabbed again. Sigh.

I wanted to write this down in case anyone is ever googling (as I was) ‘how long does it take after you stop taking progesterone to get your period’, because it took FOREVER to get my period after the last cycle. We hadn’t done the PIO shot on the day of the beta as we were out of needles and progesterone- I picked up more of both at the clinic, but then we had the phone call and they were superfluous. So my last PIO shot had been the Wednesday morning.

It was TUESDAY night before my period finally started.

Six full days. It never takes that long after taking bcps or provera. It took long enough that a sick, tiny part of my mind started to wonder if maybe, just maybe, my clinic had screwed up the beta results. Which was insane, because, really, a fertility clinic that can’t provide accurate beta results to its clients is a fertility clinic that would soon be out of business. But anyway, that’s what my mind insisted on thinking. It was a relief to finally have it arrive.

I also had apparently forgotten how bad my periods are after FETs. I guess I should have expected this- after all, we’ve just devoted all that time and energy to building a wonderful cushy lining for the embryo. But it really took me off guard, and I ended up coming straight home after going in to the clinic on Day 2 because I just couldn’t function without some serious pain relief and a hot oatbag. I suppose my last FET was in December 2009, so it was only fair I didn’t remember, but I also didn’t seem to blog about it. So I’m making a note of it for myself and for future readers: periods after FETs really suck.

The other note for posterity is when I was talking to the nurse about my medications on Day 2, I told her that the prednisone gave me terrible insomnia.

She looked at me for a minute. “Do you take it in the morning?”

“No,” I said. “I take it at night.”

“There! Take it in the morning!”

I have no idea why this had never occurred to me before. I generally try as much as possible to avoid taking medications in the morning because I don’t want them to interfere with the thyroid meds.

I am definitely having less trouble with waking up at 3 or 4 a.m. and then being unable to get back to sleep. But I was doing this over the summer as well, when I wasn’t on prednisone. So the jury’s still out as to whether or not changing when I’m taking it has reduced the ridiculous sleeping patterns. But I’ll keep monitoring the situation.

My Dad is staying with us for the week as he’s doing some work in the city. We got to chatting last night and he asked about my medical situation, since it’s pretty obvious that something is going on what with my taking a billion pills with every meal and the long conversation I had to have with my increasingly upset toddler about why Mummy had to go in to see the doctor for a few hours the next day and why he couldn’t come with me.

So I told him that we were trying to add to our family, that our first shot at it had failed, that we had one left before we were back to staring down the barrel of a full IVF cycle, that we would probably do one more full cycle but then that would be it.

I got really emotional, which surprised me, but it all just bubbled up to the surface.

It’s hard to be emotional around my father. He is a really tough man- ex-military, really strong personality, etc.- and I don’t really feel comfortable crying in front of him. But I couldn’t stop it last night, and it felt good to let him know where we were at. I never really got into the specifics with him the first time around. He knew that we were trying, and he knew that we were having trouble, and he knew (I’m pretty sure) at the end that it was IVF that worked, but I didn’t get into the details.

He wanted to know if he could help, and then when I said no, wanted to know how expensive it was, because what he clearly meant by ‘help’ was ‘help financially’. So I told him that E. cost $30,000, of which $16,000 came directly out of our pockets (and thank all the gods for Q.’s insurance which covers the medications, or we would never have got to E.- we could never have afforded even one round of IVF if we’d been footing the entire bill), and I told him that we had saved all last year to build a $10,000 2.0 fund, which would get us through both FETs and fund some of an IVF cycle if it came to that, but that if we wanted to continue we’d have to look at cashing in some of our investments. I made it clear that the reason why we haven’t yet redone our floors upstairs, or finished the landscaping in our side garden, both projects he often asks us about, is because that money keeps getting funnelled into trying to expand our family.

“Well,” said Dad. “There are always ways to spend money. It’s better than going to a casino.”

At which point Q. turned up to ask me something and the conversation shifted and I didn’t get the chance to say what I wanted to say to him, which was: “Is it really? Is it really any different to taking that money and gambling it at a casino if we gamble all of it on a child and come up empty handed at the end?”

Anyway. Who knows what Dad will make of that conversation. We couldn’t take money from him even if he wanted to give it to us- because of my stepmother any money that comes from him would inevitably have hidden strings attached, and Q. and I have had a couple of conversations where we’ve agreed that we will stop treatments before we would allow a situation to exist that could lead to comments along the lines of “we paid for our grandchild”.

One of the mums I really like on my birth club just announced that she is pregnant (seven weeks along- the birth club generally is horrified that she didn’t tell us as soon as she had POAS, but she said that she was worried about an ectopic, which is fair), and another mum just had her FET transfer on Wednesday. I would love to be pregnant with them.

Fingers crossed. The countdown is on.

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Filed under 2.0 FET #2, 2.0 FET#1, Emotions, Family, FET, Medical issues, Medications, Second Thoughts, Thyroid, ttc

Resolutions

Next time, I will not entertain even the slightest suggestion that anything I am feeling is potentially indicative of pregnancy. I’ve thought about it, and the nausea was probably on days where I took the estrace on too much of an empty stomach. The head nurse told me it would make me sick if I didn’t take it with food. The dizziness was probably a result of being on two different blood thinners. The cramps? Whatever. That’s two out of three cycles now where cramps proved to be meaningless.

Next time, I think I will change my long-held habit, and will test before the beta. I’m normally too cheap to buy pregnancy tests, and I hate seeing that single line, but if it gives me a day or two to start to come to terms with a likely negative result rather than being hit with it out of the blue on the phone, it will be money well spent. I never want to experience that again.

I think we’re probably going to hold off until December for the next FET. We can manage them during semester, but there’s not really any rush, because we don’t have enough time now to get a FET done AND do a full IVF cycle in December. So that means we’re not going to attempt a fresh IVF cycle until April 2014 at the earliest (yes, I am in self-protection mode and am looking ahead), and it’s more likely that we won’t attempt one (if we decide to attempt one) until July, after we come back from visiting Q.’s family. No point then in rushing right into another FET- might as well wait until the semester is over and we can both relax a bit more. It will make juggling E. on mornings I have to go in easier as well.

There are some good things to waiting. I can really concentrate on getting this full draft of my dissertation finished. I haven’t been working hard enough over the last month- I prioritized staying relaxed and did everything I could to minimize my stress. But now it’s crunch time.

I’m going to start running again. Two months is enough time to get back into a groove. I hate how I look right now, and I can’t silence the little voice inside of me that keeps commenting that the time I got pregnant was the time when I was in the best shape of my life.

December would be a September baby. That would be ok. I know I should be past this, that I should think that any baby, at any time, would be ok, but I don’t. I am too wary of how close I came to PPD with E., too aware of my own annual melancholy in the winter months, too tied in my moods to the interplay between light and dark, sunset and sunrise. I don’t think I would choose to birth a baby in the depths of winter, even if that decision means delaying an IVF cycle by another few months, means that the age gap between E. and any possible sibling grows ever larger.

Or maybe I would. I don’t know right now.

Maybe we won’t even do another IVF cycle. Maybe this next FET will be the end of our road, one way or the other.

I can’t know that yet, even though I wish I could.

What I do know is I am mourning the loss of this cycle.

A June baby.

A three year age gap.

A happy ending.

I took E. to the park in the afternoon after the phone call came. It wasn’t the best idea- we were there after school had let out and it seemed absolutely every mother in the park was chasing around two or more children. Several had three. I worked hard to keep my attention on E. and tried not to let my tears be too obvious.

I put the lasagna I was meant to be defrosting back in the freezer and ordered takeaway instead. I wanted Indian, but our local was closed due to a problem with their water main, so I went with Mediterranean mezze instead. E. and I went to pick it up after we’d been at the park. We arrived home at the same time as Q. He saw the bags. “Is it celebratory takeaway?” he asked. He didn’t know yet. He had wanted to be told in person. “No,” I told him. “It’s the other kind.” I saw his shoulders slump. I left him to pick up E. and the stroller and went inside to cry.

In the evening we decided to watch a film rather than do any work. We streamed Looper. We probably shouldn’t have as a couple of moments in the film hit me quite hard. Then we went upstairs and went to bed. Q. curled himself around me like an embrace. I buried my head in the pillow so my tears wouldn’t wake him up.

At the park in the afternoon, E. was playing with the big yellow dump truck, and he wanted to put some sand in it. The excavator was all the way over on the other side, so I asked him if he’d like me to go and get it. He said yes, so I walked over, picked it up and brought it back to him.

“Thank you, Mummy,” said E. “That was really nice.”

Thank all the gods for E.

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Filed under 2.0 FET#1, E.- the third year, Emotions, PhD, Running, Second Thoughts

Picking up the pieces

I’m trying to refocus. I don’t want to dwell, to wallow. It’s over and done with. I need to move on.

It is hard, though.

I am very sad.

I feel like I’ve gone right back to 2008, when I so naively believed that the first or second IUI would surely work, when I had no idea of the path that lay ahead of me, when I thought getting me to ovulate was the problem and that everything else would be easy.

I thought this time around would be easy. I thought maybe the universe would balance things, even though I know, I know that this is not how things work.

My clinic encouraged this. The doctors praised the quality of my embryos. When I broke down and cried at the first consult because I was staring at my big chart and I was overwhelmed by the thought of doing it all over again, the doctor told me that it had taken a long time to get to that last IVF cycle, the one that produced E. But I didn’t have to do it all over again. We knew what worked now. I had beautiful blastocysts just waiting to become babies.

And that is a new grief.

I’ve posted on here a couple of times about how having E. has fundamentally changed the way I look at our frozen embryos (now embryo).

Before they were just chances.

Now it’s too easy for me to think of them as babies-that-could-be. After all, they were in the same petri dish as E. a little over three years ago. One of them might be here now instead of (or as well as?) him if they had grown differently on that last day. It could have been E.’s embryo that we defrosted two weeks ago. It could have been his embryo that didn’t stick.

Could have, might have. I don’t play those games for long. They’re overwhelming. They refuse to be grasped, contemplated, understood. Instead they slide in and around my consciousness, like a flicker in the corner of my eye that isn’t there when I turn to look.

Who might that embryo have been?

A sister for E? A little girl with dark hair and dark eyes like her mother, who I can see so easily when I close my eyes? Or a little brother, less clear to me, but no less possible.

This is the hardest part. The letting go, now that I know what the having means.

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Filed under 2.0 FET#1, Emotions, Second Thoughts

Blindsided

The clinic just called.

My beta was negative.

Fuck.

I am an IDIOT.

From now on, nothing counts until the beta results come back. There are no ‘symptoms’. Everything is meaningless.

Damn it.

I really believed that it had worked. I thought I would be lucky. I thought maybe it could be easy this time.

What a fool I was.

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Filed under 2.0 FET#1, Emotions, Medications, Second Thoughts, Symptoms, TWW

Progress (finally)

We had a much, much better weekend with E. this week.

Fewer meltdowns.

Less hysteria about where I was (although there were definitely still moments, particularly when he freaked out when I went into the kitchen to get him food that HE HAD REQUESTED, where we just had to shake our heads).

And a new set of recurrent feedback loops.

E. still says (about a billion times per day) “Was a bit sad when Mummy left”, but now if we then say, “And then what happened?”, he says, “Mummy came back!” and the loop finishes on a much happier note. He talked endlessly about how he didn’t like it when Mummy went to the university, but if we asked him why I went to the university on Fridays, he would tell us that I had to teach my class. And he loved telling us that the weekend meant it was an “E. and Mummy and Daddy and E. day!”.

Yesterday he asked what day it was tomorrow and when I told him it was Monday, he thought for a minute and then. “Monday is a school day. Mummy does her duty day! Mummy stay all morning! Mummy go home at lunch time!” To which I then asked, “And what time does Mummy pick you up after lunch”, and he said, “Three-thirty” with a big grin. Then we talked about how he’ll be in the playground when I come to pick him up, and we’ll walk home together and have a snack and watch the streetcars.

This morning when he woke up, he knew it was a school day and we didn’t have forty to sixty minutes of hysterical crying as a result. He did once try to decide not to go, but he was relatively easy to cajole out the door. All the way to school we kept repeating that it was my duty day, that I would go home at lunch, and that I would be back at three-thirty. At school he was settled all morning- he stuck close to me, but he wasn’t worried about me leaving.

When it was lunchtime, I stayed in the cloakroom, and he headed off to wash his hands with his teacher.

“Do you want to give me a kiss goodbye?” I asked him.

E. turned and looked at me. His lower lip wobbled. “No,” he managed, and then he turned and walked through the door WITHOUT CRYING.

I was so proud of him.

Far out. We are getting there.

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Filed under (Pre)School Days, Anxiety Overload, E.- the third year, Emotions

10dp5dt

So I’m just going to come out and say it.

I have no scientific evidence on which to base this opinion.

It’s a gut feeling, nothing more.

I haven’t POASed.

I’m not going to POAS.

And I’ll look like an idiot on Thursday having said this if I’m wrong.

But I’m going to say it anyway.

I really think this cycle might have worked.

Four more days.

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Filed under 2.0 FET#1, Emotions, Second Thoughts

Transfer complete!

Everything went smoothly today. My f/s was only an hour later than the original appointment time (normally he is at least ninety minutes, so this was a nice surprise). The blastocyst survived the thaw and still looked great. We still have one frozen. My f/s had no problem seeing my uterus with the ultrasound to get the blastocyst where he wanted it to go.

They gave me my drug protocol- nothing changes except I need to start Fragmin this afternoon. I think I’ll do one this afternoon and then switch to doing them in the morning, along with the PIO shot. Might as well get all the jabbing done in one hit.

The only complicating factor is I’m not meant to lift anything heavier than 20 lb, which includes E., who, despite being WAAAY down the charts for weight, still weighs a bit over 25 lb.

I can’t put E. in the crib or pick him out of it.

I can’t lift him into the bath, or up onto the change table (that one at least won’t be a problem as it’s easy enough to change him on the floor).

I can’t carry the stroller down the stairs.

I can’t pick E. up for a cuddle. E., my son, who is so filled to the brim with separation anxiety right now that we have night wakings. E., who has said “NO!” to me more times in the last week than he has in his entire life combined. E., who is getting his final molar. E., who still isn’t sure every morning whether he is going to nursery school or not, although he knows that he “is a bit sad when Mummy goes away”.

This could get interesting.

I ended up a bit emotional in the bathroom after the transfer. It is just…different this time around. I KNOW what the result could be. I can’t be as emotionally detached from these blastocysts. They’re not just snowbabies.

This embryo once was in the same petri dish as the embryo that became our E.

When our f/s showed us the blastocyst before the transfer, I had a vision of that screen in August 2010, when we looked at two little blastocysts, one of which became our son.

We walked out at 1:20 p.m., with me officially pregnant.

Now I just have to stay that way.

Beta on the 3rd of October.

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Filed under (Pre)School Days, 2.0 FET#1, E.- the third year, Emotions, Medications, Second Thoughts

Running on empty

Bullet points on what’s happening chez Turia

  • Yesterday I started the PIO shots. I had a lot of anxiety leading up to the first injection, but Q., bless him, hasn’t lost his touch and I barely felt the needle. The castor oil does take much more effort to inject, and I’m already developing some soreness. We’re doing them first thing in the morning on the nurse’s recommendation so I have the day to walk around and move the muscle. This makes sense, but it is problematic getting them done while also getting E. breakfast before he starts shrieking. While we were doing the shot this morning and E. was wailing in his crib at the top of his lungs because he wouldn’t stay downstairs while we did it, and we needed to contain him, because the LAST thing he needs right now is to watch Daddy give Mummy a needle, I looked at Q. and said, “Remind me again why we want to have two of them?”
  • I had a dream last night that I was pregnant, and then in the dream I realized it had to be a dream because I hadn’t even had the transfer yet and had only done one PIO shot. And then I thought I was awake, until I woke up and realized I hadn’t been. A dream within a dream.
  • All the meds are starting to take a toll. I’m exhausted all the time, and it must be from one of the meds (or some combination) as I spent all summer needing barely any sleep. I’m also very short-tempered. This is not a good combination given E.’s current state of mind.
  • Holy separation anxiety, Batman! E. is a MESS. He has spent this entire weekend melting down at the drop of a hat. This morning he just yelled and cried non-stop from the moment I went in to get him out of the crib to when he went down for a nap (this is an exaggeration, but not by much). I had to give myself a time-out as I was about to start yelling myself. I think we are not going to make pancakes for the next few months. It’s too unpleasant dealing with E. having to wait for breakfast. At lunch today we asked him why he was so sad, and he replied, “I no want Mummy to go away when I’m at school.” That’s what is underlying ALL of his behaviour right now. He will be playing with his toys, or otherwise perfectly content, and then he’ll just stop, burst into tears, and cry out, “Mummy no go away!” We are trying to give him lots of extra love and support and comfort, but it is hard to stay patient when he is yelling at us ALL.THE.TIME.
  • I need to stop asking him things and just start doing them. Don’t ask if he wants fruit- cut it up and put it on a plate and put it out. He just says ‘no’ on principle to everything right now and works himself up into a tizzy.
  • He had his best day yet at nursery school on Friday and even took a nap there, despite him melting down when I went out the door to teach my first class of the semester (and he continued melting down for twenty minutes until it was time for him and Q. to walk to school). He liked eating lunch and playing outside, even though he was “a bit sad at school”.
  • I need to get my hands on a copy of Llama Llama Misses Mama. Stat.
  • I think my first class went well. I could have thirty, but only have twenty-two registered at the moment. If it stays like that, it will be amazing- so much less marking.
  • Q. arrived back home safe and sound (and even earlier than expected!) Thursday night. The only advantage to him being utterly and completely exhausted is he doesn’t seem to be experiencing any jet lag. In fact he’s less sleepy than I am. He has coped manfully with arriving into a household filled with a sister-in-law, an irate, anxious and overwrought toddler, and a stressed-out and over-medicated wife.
  • On that note, I wish I could say to people who get caught up in the vision of romance and true love presented to us in movies and what not: “That’s not real love. Real love isn’t chasing after someone in an airport. Real love is being willing to stick a needle in your wife’s ass when she needs you to, and making sure you learn how to do it well so you don’t hurt her.”

This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass.

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Filed under (Pre)School Days, 2.0 FET#1, Anxiety Overload, Butter scraped over too much bread (a.k.a. modern motherhood), E.- the third year, Emotions, Family, Medications, Second Thoughts

Pissed off with PCOS

I’m currently on day 4 of seven days of Pro.vera. Not to bring on a period for any upcoming clinic trips- I’ll be taking birth control pills in August for that one- but solely to end this cycle and to hopefully (oh please) help out my poor face.

Yep. I am breakout city these days.

It’s kind of crept up on me, but I’ve finally had to realize in the last month or so that my face is as bad as it was when I was a teenager. Before I went on birth control pills. Before I had a PCOS diagnosis. This was close to fifteen years ago now. Since then I’ve been on birth control, more or less continuously, for nine years. I occasionally took a break from it, but never for more than a few months. My skin was fine. I never thought about it, except to be a little bit smug when we lived in a sun-burnt country and I had AMAZING skin for my age because I didn’t grow up there, and lots of women would comment on it.

I chucked out the pills for good back in August 2007 after Q. and I got married. Since then I’ve occasionally taken them for a month to line things up for a cycle at the clinic. And every time we were at the clinic, I would be pumping myself full of hormones to counteract the PCOS so we could get pregnant. My skin throughout was fine. I never thought about it, except to occasionally note I was developing some fine lines, partly from aging, and partly from stressing about infertility.

Then I did get pregnant. And then I had E. and was nursing. And all of these things balanced my body out perfectly and my skin looked fantastic.

And then, a year ago now, I weaned E.

And I waited.

And waited.

I had hoped (hoped so very much) that getting pregnant and breastfeeding for a year would help reset my body. I knew people to whom this had happened. So many things had changed since I first went on birth control when I was nineteen. I was thin now, for one thing. My diet was much healthier. I exercised regularly. In short, I was taking much better care of myself. I knew from the various tests various doctors had run that I had no signs of insulin resistance, that I was an atypical PCOS case.

I wanted my body to fix itself. I wanted it to start over.

It didn’t.

In October I started to notice a little bit of acne- just in one spot, near my nose. It was annoying because I couldn’t clear it up, but it wasn’t too unsightly.

In late November I went to see my GP. When I told her I still hadn’t had a period, close to six months after fully weaning E., she sent me off with some Pro.vera to bring on a period.

In January, five weeks after that period, I had another one. On my own. I must have ovulated.

This stupidly raised my hopes again. If it had happened once before, it could maybe happen again! Maybe my body just needed the one artificial bleed brought on through Pro.vera to sort itself out!

So I started waiting again.

And I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

In April I went to see my endocrinologist before I left for the U.K. By that stage my acne was getting worse- it was on my chin, around my mouth. They were never huge breakouts, but there was always something. I kept trying different creams. It was worse on the side I slept on, so I kept changing my pillow case every day to see if that would help. I sternly reminded myself not to poke at my face, or to touch it unconsciously while working (which is a bad habit).

I was already in the U.K. when the endocrinologist called with my blood results. Everything to do with my thyroid was fine. But since I am a puzzle, and he likes puzzles, he always tests a whole slew of other things too.

“Tell her the acne is caused by the PCOS” he told Q., “and get her to take progesterone to end the cycle. That should help.”

I had never mentioned the acne to him. He noticed it himself. He only sees me every six months or so now, so it was bad enough that it made an impression.

I felt like a moron when Q. told me what the endocrinologist had said. It honestly hadn’t occurred to me that my PCOS could be causing the breakouts, given it had been so long since I’d had to think about my skin. I had assumed, since the acne had appeared after I weaned E., that getting pregnant and nursing had fundamentally changed something about my skin- made it more oily, or more sensitive, or something. Again, I knew women to whom this had happened.

My PCOS had been dormant- controlled by birth control, or by medications while at the clinic, or by pregnancy and nursing, for fifteen years.

Now, my endocrinologist reminded me that it was still there, and that it needed to be managed.

I should have taken Pro.vera as soon as Q. told me this. I have a supply- given to me by my GP, who had said I should take them every three months if I didn’t have a period on my own (after getting a blood test to make sure I wasn’t miraculously pregnant- ha ha). But I’d been ignoring this advice, because I was still hoping that my body would do what it did in January, and I didn’t want to confuse it if it was trying to sort itself out.

And then Q. and E. got here, and we got busy, and then we were going to be away, and well, there never seemed to be a good time to schedule in a week of hormonal roller coasters and mess and lots of pain (thank you, endo). Really- can you blame me? If you could avoid having a period, wouldn’t that seem like a good option?

And then I finally realized that my acne was still getting worse and now most of my forehead was breaking out as well. I was starting to get self-conscious about it. I felt it was the first thing people saw when they looked at me. I felt, to be honest, like a teenager again, and felt ridiculous that this was the case when I was thirty-three, closing in fast on thirty-four.

So I broke out the Pro.vera on the weekend. And I’ll cope with the hormones and the mess. And the pain, which has been better since having E., so maybe giving birth really did help on some level, at least with the endo.  And the insomnia, because apparently I am the only person in the world for whom progesterone does NOT produce extreme levels of exhaustion, but rather the opposite. It’s been taking me two or more hours to fall asleep at night since I started the Pro.vera, and I now realize that this must have been what caused the first trimester insomnia problems I had while pregnant with E. I’d orginally thought they were related to anxiety, as they went away (largely) once we had our good nuchal fold scan. But that was when I eased off the progesterone as well. And I never got the first trimester fatigue everyone talks about, even after I weaned off the prednisone (which was a steroid). So I think I just react in the exact opposite way to the norm to progesterone, just as I do not lose weight on met.formin like most people do, and I do not gain weight on pred.nisone like most people do (but lose it, and lose it quickly). Which is all very weird.

Anyway, hopefully this will help sort out my face.

If it doesn’t, we’re back at the clinic in the fall, and I know that will clear things up.

But this whole issue has made me realize that once Q. and I are done trying to add to our family- whether that means we do get to make E. a big brother, or we remain a one-child family- once we are absolutely done with the clinic, I need to think about how I’m going to manage my PCOS.

I don’t want to go back on birth control until I hit menopause (do PCOSers go through menopause the same way? I’ve never even thought about this). I don’t want something so artificial controlling my body, and birth control pills affect my thyroid pills, and we’re only just now finally settled on a dose that really works well for me.

At the same time, the last few months have made it clear that I can’t just ignore my body either and keep on keeping on with a period-free lifestyle.

I guess I’m finally realizing that I need to work harder at managing my PCOS, that it wasn’t fixed by having E., that it’s not something I can ignore for the rest of my life.

I’m starting to wonder whether I should be talking to my GP about Met.formin again, since it is meant to have good results at managing the symptoms of PCOS, even for those who are thin with no insulin resistance. I wouldn’t care if it couldn’t help me ovulate if it could keep my skin clear(ish).

I’m starting to wonder whether I should use some of Q’s crash-hot health insurance to go see a naturopath to talk about alternative forms of treatment/management.

I don’t need to think about it all right now. Right now I’m looking ahead- to the clinic and the FET(s) in the fall. But at some point in the next couple of years this question is going to arise again. And I need to think about before my face makes me feel like I’m back in high school.

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Filed under Emotions, Medical issues, Medications, Mirror, Mirror (Body Image), PCOS

On the other side (mostly)

I’m here now.

Things did get easier once I’d actually left. Having the birthday party the day I left turned out to be a good idea as we were so busy in the morning prepping food, and then having a blast at the party, and then watching E. open his presents after his nap, that before I knew it we’d eaten dinner and it was time for me to get E. ready for bed. I spent a long time telling him again about what would happen- how he would play with Daddy and the cats and his grandparents, how Mummy was going on an airplane, how in a few days he and Daddy would come on an airplane too. When I left the room, the last thing he said to me was, “Mummy, airplane. E., airplane!”

The worst point was just then- when I’d said goodbye, but the journey hadn’t started yet. I don’t think I can put into words what it felt like. I cried a lot.

Q. took me to the airport while the grandparents stayed at home to listen to E. sleeping. The flight was uneventful and very quick (nearly an hour early- we must have picked up a crazy tail wind). I knocked back a bottle of red wine as soon as it was offered to me (that is a flight-sized bottle, not an actual bottle) which had the desired effect of causing me to no longer care all that much about turbulence. I watched three movies without being interrupted (I don’t sleep on planes). I was aware as I did this that this was now an almost unimaginable luxury whereas the last time I moved to the U.K. I would have taken it completely for granted.

I got myself and my ridiculously large bag onto a bus and settled in for the ride to my new city (more of a university town). It was on the bus ride that, for the first time, I really began to think this had been a good idea. It was bright and sunny outside. We drove past verdant pastures and through quaint towns. The daffodils and cherry blossoms were out. I saw cattle and horses and sheep. I began to get excited at the thought of spending a summer away from our big city. I am a country girl at heart. I need green spaces and open fields and I don’t get a lot of that where we live.

The flat we’ve rented is perfect. There is a back garden with a patio and a low long wall along which E. will (I am certain) spend many happy hours driving his cars and trucks. There is a tree in which English robins sit in the morning while the rising sun cascades in through the wide glass doors that we’ll be able to open wide come the summer months. When I step outside my front door I can hear roosters and cattle. On the bus ride back from town the first day the number of rabbits I spotted in the fields (ten) was almost outnumbered by the number of pheasants (seven). In our village there is a duck pond and a pub and a butcher that sells British meat. There are public footpaths and cottages with thatched roofs.

Taking all of this in I had the chance to remember that this really is an adventure, a new opportunity, an escape from our ordinary lives, rather than just one enormous organizational hurdle that eats away my time and separates me from my son (as it had seemed to be for much of the last couple of months).

Yesterday I went into the university town and explored it. I took the day for myself- I didn’t try to get any work done. I had no one to look after other than myself. No responsibilities. I can’t think of the last time this was the case. It certainly would have been pre-E.

The day was brisk, downright cold by the late afternoon, with largely overcast skies- no rain though. I wandered the streets with my map, intrigued by how a place which I had only ever visited once before for an afternoon could both somehow seem so familiar (because it is much like that Other Place, where I spent two years as a graduate student, and because I already know the U.K. shops) and yet be so different and utterly disorienting.

It seemed to be utterly full of strollers and babies and toddlers. I can’t say I ever remembered noticing small children when I last lived in the U.K. Is my new town that much more child-friendly than my old, or is it simply that I have changed and now see things through different eyes? (I did, after all, end up in a toyshop at one point yesterday, and my eagle eyes spotted a fabulous park area filled with play structures while on the bus. Even though I was enjoying my rare freedom E. was never far from my thoughts.)

My new town seems to be astonishingly undiverse. Again, I don’t remember being shocked at the whiteness of the Other Place, but again I had come to it from a relatively small (and undiverse) Canadian city. I probably didn’t notice that everyone pretty much looked like me because that had been the case where I was an undergraduate as well. Five and a half years in a truly cosmopolitan city has changed my perspective.

I’d forgotten how much the English like their sweets. Everywhere you look there are cafes serving bits of cake, or sweet shops, or chocolate biscuits and lollies in corner stores. On my tour of my new faculty today the secretary took me around and showed me all the various places that served food and drink, ranking them all on the basis of whether or not they served good cakes, before looking at me and saying, a touch mournfully, “But you don’t look like you eat all that much cake”.

I’d forgotten how ridiculously small the English like their produce to be. The apples are literally half the size of the ones we grow. Everything’s packaged to the nth degree, and I try very hard not to think too much about the price. I used an online grocery service for the first time and it was brilliant. Did all the shopping from the comfort of my own home back in Canada, booked in a delivery date for the day after I arrived in the U.K., and had all my groceries delivered by a chatty driver named Michael who explained how their delivery vans work (separate fridge and freezer compartments- the frozen food packed in dry ice!), the colour coding system on their bags (to identify whether the contents need to go into the fridge, the freezer, or the cupboard), and how to arrange for a refund (which I had cause to do once I discovered three of the eggs had been cracked). It would never work in Canada- the economies of population and geography simply don’t allow for it. But it’s a superb idea here and I’m loving the convenience.

Today I sorted out a mobile phone and got access to my faculty and the university libraries, so tomorrow I’ll be able to start work in earnest.  Q. has been doing a good job of keeping me updated on E. Apparently he woke up on Sunday asking to see Mummy like he normally does, but Q. was able to distract him by telling him that Grannie was downstairs waiting for him. When asked if he remembered where I was, he told Q. that I was on an airplane and that he would be going on an airplane too, so something of the itinerary has sunk in. We skyped last night and E. seemed mainly confused as to why I wasn’t on an airplane, although he became quite upset when I took the computer on a tour of the flat to show Q. and I wasn’t on the screen any more. He’s doing really well, but I’m a little worried about how he will go as the days continue to pass and there’s still no Mummy. My Mum and stepfather left yesterday morning, so today Q. was on his own. Late tomorrow afternoon my Dad will arrive and he’ll be there until Q. and E. leave for the airport. I think my Dad is more excited to play with E’s new train pieces than E. is!

I’m still enjoying my solitude (waking up when I want to and not because E. is chirping in his crib! Reading in bed before getting up in the morning! Not having to rush through breakfast so I can read Cars and Trucks and Things that Go!), but I can tell already that it will wear on me before too long. Once I’m into a routine at the library the flat will feel empty and lonely when I come home at night, mentally exhausted (and physically tired once I get a bike organized). But for now I’m going to try to enjoy it as much as I can.

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Filed under Adventures across the pond, Butter scraped over too much bread (a.k.a. modern motherhood), E.- the second year, Emotions, PhD, What were we thinking? (aka travelling with small children)