Infertility: breathe injections, sleep injections and dream injections

DISCLAIMER: there are pictures of injections in this blog.

Last night, I gave myself my last injection of my first round of IVF: my trigger shot, which makes my body produce all the eggs ready for collection in surgery Monday.

Since the first day of this journey I’ve had a total of 40 shots.

It started off as one a day (Buserelin) and then two a day (Buserelin and Menopur).

Luckily, I’m not scared of needles! I was fine in the nurse’s office when they handed me a needle and asked me to stick it in my stomach to see if I could do it. At first I was only thinking about the start of this journey and worrying about the side effects more than the actual injections.

I was quite excited for the first one and actually got my husband to take a picture!injection

For the first couple of weeks, it was ok, I was becoming quite a pro, actually: wipe bottle off with antiseptic, put air into needle, empty needle in bottle, fill to 0.6, empty back to 0.5, pinch stomach skin, insert needle, gently push in drugs, remove needle, grab a tissue to wipe off blood if necessary.

This routine became normal and I even managed to do this in my brother-in-law’s bathroom, restaurant bathrooms, at work, in the car. And luckily my symptoms were minor, just a small heat rash. My anxiety did get a little worse, with a little more sobbing at home with hubby. All in all, I consider myself lucky.

I did get a few bruises along the way though, but again they were not that painful.

I even coped quite well with the new high protein, low carb and sugar-free diet, with no snacking! didn’t even miss alcohol… (I miss chocolate though)

But, after a while, my life became all about the time when I would do the injection. I had an alarm on my phone in case I forgot, but there was absolutely no chance that would have happened.

It’s all I thought about.

When it would be, where I would have to do it, would it draw blood and would it be painful again (the Menopur was much more painful than the Buserelin).

Due to my history of Thrombosis, I also had to take aspirin daily, and I would keep worrying about every twinge I would feel or if my legs felt uncomfortable, as I was so worried about it.

It consumed my life. I was worrying about it in the morning, thinking about it all day, and checking my phone every two minutes about an hour before my scheduled time. I even dreamt about these injections on a regular basis.

It got to the point that I couldn’t even find a distraction from it and I was dreading it so much that I would start crying uncontrollably whenever I started to think about it.

These injections took over my life. I struggled to sleep, if I knew I had an injection coming up which would not be at home. I started resenting my husband for not being there when I was doing them, even though he was at work and commuting from London with no control over arrival times. I would get angry if people were inviting me out to dinner, because how dare they make me feel so worried (even though they had no idea what I was going through).

I hate the fact that IVF has taken over my life in this way, but it does. IVF is all I breathe, all I sleep and all I dream.

 

Infertility: My profile is a lie

Everything I post on Facebook is a lie.

Most of my friends on Facebook don’t know that I’m currently going through IVF or that I’ve been trying to conceive for 3.5 years.

My husband and I try and go out regularly, see shows, comedians and concerts and basically fill our lives with fun activities. I then post these activities on Facebook with lots of words like “excited”, “thrilled” or “feeling blessed”.

In fact I could not feel farther from these words. These activities are just things to fill the hole in my heart with. They are just a way to try and feel something when I always just feel empty and sad.

And actually attending these events can sometimes make me feel a lot worse. For example, we went to the comedian’s Jon Richardson’s show last month and his whole show revolved around the fact that he is a brand new father and his trials to do with that. Now, in the bio, there was no warning that babies would be the main focus of his show. It took me by complete surprise and I cried all the way home.

And yet, I posted my attendance to this gig on Facebook and wrote about how fun it had been.

My husband and I also go on a big holiday every year and this year was to Mexico. Every day on holiday I posted lots of pictures of us doing amazing things, such as scuba diving:

And we did, it was amazing! Sandy beaches, amazing food and I was lucky to have had this opportunity. But everything I do these days and any happiness that I feel is only fleeting or superficial.

I can’t remember the last time I posted something on Facebook that was real and truthful about my feelings.

I don’t know why I do this.

I could be doing it to try and fill the void. If I look happy on Facebook, then maybe one day I’ll be happy in real life.

Or am I doing to get people to talk to me about my adventures rather than ask me why I’m not pregnant yet?

I don’t know. All I know is that life is hard at the moment, and nobody knows. It also highlights what a load of crap social media is and that lots of people are probably like me, fake on Facebook.

I don’t know how we do this, going about our day to day lives with fake smiles on our faces, but we do. It’s amazing, really. #1in8

Infertility: A letter to my extended family

Dear all,

I know that I am a little bit of a black sheep in the family. I’m the only one who decided to leave France and follow my mum’s side and live in England with an Englishman.

I know that means that I may seem distant at times, spending our family reunions with him, speaking English, rather than with all of you, speaking French.

I know that I am different from all of you and that I’m not always around, we don’t hang out and that we are not close friends, like some of you are.

I know that I can seem disinterested in your lives and your families, that I don’t like to hear about you and what you are up to.

This is not because I don’t like you. You are my family and I love each and every one of you.

It is because seeing you and your happy families is like a knife in the heart.

You are all from a Catholic family and all of you seem to be able to produce children with the snap of your fingers. Every time I come home, which is once a year, one of you are pregnant again or have just had a baby. I purposefully try not to be in the loop of all these joyful announcements as they are too hard to bear.

I truly am the black sheep of the family as I am the only infertile one.

When I say that I’m “just enjoying being married right now, so we’re not planning a family yet” to your endless questions, that is not the truth. The truth is, telling you all that I cannot have a child would be too painful, mostly because I don’t think any of you would understand what I am going through. You are also never above giving others unsolicited advice and I don’t think I could take any of your advice on how to get pregnant.

When I refuse to look after your children on family trips, which I know is unusual in our family, as we all normally help each other out, it’s not because I’m a horrible selfish person. It’s because my heart breaks at how cute your children are and I am terrified I will never experience motherhood. It’s much too hard for me to spend so much time with other people’s children.

When I get really drunk during our family reunions, it’s not because I’m an alcoholic, it’s because seeing all your beautiful children running around playing together is so painful that I have to find a way to numb the pain.

When I move from my assigned seating to sit with my parents or older members of the family, it is not because I don’t want to spend time with you, it is because sitting near you while you are cuddling your child makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry myself to sleep.

When you shoot me nasty looks because of these actions, my heart breaks.

Hopefully one day I will be brave enough to tell you the truth about how I feel and share this letter with you and hopefully one day you will understand the reasons behind my actions.

Lots of love,

Abbie

Infertility: different kinds of grief

I nearly named this post “fifty shades of grief”, but thought that was a little too on the nose!

What I’ve learnt through my infertility journey is that grief does not necessarily mean death. It does not always mean that you have lost a loved one.

I experienced shock, grief and loss a couple of weeks ago. Some of you may read this and probably feel that I’m not using the appropriate word for my feelings. After all, the word “grief” is a strong one. But that is genuinely how I felt and these feelings were painful and difficult and to me, felt like grief.

Two weeks ago, my parents let me know that my brother’s girlfriend is pregnant. Baby is due in October.

Now, I may sound bitter with my next few words, but these are the thoughts that first went through my head: he does not have a stable job, I’m not even sure where he lives and he is not the most responsible person in the world. They have also been together for only 1 year. I’ve been with my husband for 12, trying for 3.5.

What happened first was the shock. I didn’t think he was even trying! I was in shock for about 24 hours. I did not eat, I barely slept, just spent 24 hours watching Netflix and crying constantly. I think it was because it was so out of the blue that my system just could not process the information properly.

Then, a sort of denial, where I “forgot” that I was going to be an aunt and my brother was going to be a father. “No, it can’t be happening, I must have dreamt it” or “It’s probably a false positive” (knowing full well these don’t really happen…)

After a day or so, more crying and this time an overwhelming sense of loss. Basically the loss of the ideas and hopes that I had had in my head about my family: I am the eldest and I wanted my child to be the first grandchild. I’ve lost that hope. The eldest is always the favourite and I wanted my child to be the favourite.

Then I mourned for the relationship I’ve got with my parents. I tell my mum everything. And although she doesn’t always think before she speaks, I was sad because I did not feel I could be honest with her about the situation. After all, she would be ecstatic to finally become a grandmother, how could I take that joy away from her? So now I’m wondering how much time I can spend with my parents without their happiness killing me.

Now, I’m just living in fear. I’m living in fear that my sister will also get pregnant before I do (she is 8 years younger than me), or that my brother-in-law becomes a father before I do, and my child is not the first grandchild on my husband’s side. Then that dream would be truly dead.

I’m living in fear that all my friends are going to have babies before I do and that the pain is going to be too much to bear and I will end up with no friends, alone and in tears.

My IVF treatment is starting soon and statistically only 20% results in a baby, so I’m at a loss and hope it fading fast. I’m afraid of having a miscarriage. I’m afraid that the funded IVF won’t work and that I’ll run out of money for more IVF treatment.

I’m afraid of the adoption conversation as I’m not sure that’s what I want. I’m afraid that if we do decide to adopt my dad won’t accept the baby (he’s very old-fashioned).

Finally, I feel like I am grieving for the life that I had imagined for myself and that I don’t have.

Before my infertility journey, I had no idea just how much we suffer in these circumstances and I’m still surprised at the intensity of my feelings at times. All I can say is that my thoughts are with all those who are on the infertility journey. Hopefully my next post will be brighter, hopefully I’ll feel brighter soon.