Category Archives: Hysteroscopy

The ultimate in online shopping (written 21st October 2014)

Ok, so I haven’t been entirely honest on this blog. We’ve actually been more in contact with one of the American fertility centres than I’ve let on. After telling what seemed like the world about our last DEIVF cycle we decided we wanted to be a little bit more discreet, at least initially, with this one. Admittedly I’ve blabbed more than I had intended as it’s just so hard to keep quiet when you’re so excited about something, and my thin disguise has probably been extraordinarily see-through, but at least I’ve tried.

So, feeling frustrated at our lack of progress, the day after we get our failed cycle result we start investigating American fertility clinics. I’ve heard good things about San Diego Fertility Center (including a friend who is pregnant with their help) so we start there, but also check out Shady Grove in Washington DC too. Less than 24 hours later we’ve registered with San Diego’s donor database (as well as with Egg Donor America), which you can do without actually contacting them for treatment. It’s a bizarre thing. I feel like a complete stalker scrolling through the donor databases, it’s like online shopping but for people rather than things. It’s just a surreal, almost sci-fi experience, and we eventually find ourselves getting so hung up or comparing the smallest and craziest things that we have to take a step back and remind ourselves that these are real people we’re debating, not what colour underwear or socks to buy.

After a small discussion (basically me pushing my case) we decide on a donor. Just like that. It seems nuts that it can be done so easily that but this girl just feels right. She looks a little like me, she’s smart, down-to-earth, caring, and the things she writes in her profile sound like things I would write myself. I’m sold.

Two days after our failed donor cycle we email our doctor here in NZ to try and speed up the scheduling of our WTF appointment and seek his advice on next steps, including his thoughts on treatment in the States – our clinic works closely with San Diego Fertility Center so we’re hoping he has some valuable insight. It takes 4 days to get a response, which is pretty impressive given he’s on leave, and we have an appointment locked in for his first week back (three weeks from our failed result).

Hedging our bets we express our interest with San Diego a couple of days after we email our NZ doctor, via their online queries form. They’re super quick, less than 12 hours later we have a reply from them, with more information than we could ever have dreamed possible and our preliminary paperwork (new patient form and medical history) all ready to complete and return. The donor coordinator there is absolutely lovely (not to mention she’s been through DEIVF successfully herself so understands what this is like) and we fire questions and answers back and forth easily. We mention that my husband potentially has a work trip to the States planned in December and that if at all possible we’d like to be able to work with that to save on airfares. She’s unfazed, says that that timeline is totally achievable, and matches us with our donor! Matched, meaning she’s ours and no one else can nab her (but we can also pull out if we decide we don’t want her as our donor or decide not to proceed with treatment). Wow, mind-blowing. And it continues…less than a week later (although it could’ve been even sooner if we’d got our act together) we’ve got a phone appointment with the coordinator and the ball is well and truly rolling.

Over the phone we chat about what’s involved and what our options are, an easier conversation than most as we’ve just completed a donor cycle so know what to expect, and she’s booked us in for a phone appointment not only with one of their nurses but also one of their doctors too, AND the calls are only a week away! The speed at which they move is astounding! I thought I would be freaked out about how fast things are progressing but I’m excited. We don’t feel pressured by them at all and it just feels right.

Then comes the bad news, our donor has just started a new job and doesn’t want to take leave so early in her employment. Although we ask about potential timelines of when she would be able to complete a cycle, she’s unable to give any indication, so it looks like we’re back to the drawing board donor-wise. We have a few donors on our favourites list and there are more donors popping back into the pool everyday so hopefully it won’t be too difficult finding a replacement. We push on.

The call with the nurse and the following day the doctor, go smoothly and quickly. As with the donor coordinator, our recent donor cycle makes things so much easier. The nurse fires us through more information as well as an indication of the drugs I’ll be on, and a list of the pre-work required before we can start a cycle. This includes blood tests for both of us for everything under the sun (Blood Type/Rh, TSH, Varicella, Rubella, Prolactin, HTLV I and II, HIV, Hep C, RPR, Hep B Surface Antigen, Cystic Fibrosis Carrier Status), another semen analysis for my hubby, a request for an updated hysteroscopy for me, and another psychological consult for us both to make sure we’re all over the implications of not only a donor cycle but also one that could potentially be anonymous – something that’s not really approved of here in NZ.

Did I say the ball was rolling? Well now it’s a growing snowball! We sign consents to get our notes sent from our clinic over to San Diego, and it’s all on, we’re really doing this! Time to call the bank for that loan (which they thankfully grant us)! Nothing like the feeling of adding $50k to your mortgage for a chance at what most people can get for free. That’s the one bitter pill to swallow through all of this excitement. I hate owing money and to have to increase our mortgage so significantly really irks me. Still, it will hopefully all be worth it in the end.

So what next? Well, due to the tight timelines of when a hysteroscopy can be performed and where I currently sit in my cycle, I change our scheduled WTF appointment to a theatre booking for my hysteroscopy instead. There’s no going back now, especially as we pay our fee to the NZ clinic for their part in this process. Sheesh, less than two weeks since we approach San Diego and the decision is not only made but in full swing. It’s amazing, exciting, and overwhelming all at the same time.

We go back to the donor drawing board and with a bit of consultation decide on another donor but again there’s a hitch. While her profile indicates she’s available from November, due to the late arrival of her period from her last (and first) donation, she won’t be able to donate until early in the New Year. We’re just not having much luck with this! We go back to the database but after a bit of discussion decide that we just don’t want to compromise that much on a donor. The universe is trying to tell us something and we should listen. December is just not right for this process. We opt to wait for the New Year and stick with our second donor choice. We’re matched. She’s ours and we’re hers, for this cycle at least. According to our donor coordinator this donor is absolutely adorable and one of her favourites in the system, she’s “gorgeous, bubbly, enthusiastic, and just so grateful to be given the opportunity to change lives” which makes me feel really good about this choice. Let’s just hope nothing else goes wrong!

So onto the serious stuff. My hysteroscopy. As previously mentioned there is a tight timeframe on this as it needs to be completed between days 7 & 12 of your cycle. The date of our WTF appointment (that I switch to my hysteroscopy appointment) is day 12 for me so there’s no time to lose. Unfortunately it’s also the first day of our annual work conference which I’ve been helping organise for the larger part of this year. Timing couldn’t be worse but thankfully the conference team is made up of some pretty amazing women who completely ‘get it’ and don’t hesitate in telling me to continue with the appointment. So after an insanely early 5:30am breakfast (no eating for 6 hours pre-op just in case) and some last minute conference stuff in the morning, I head off to my operation. For the first time in our whole fertility process I’m off to a big appointment alone. My husband has a major part to play (presenting to 300 people) at the conference so, despite desperately wanting to be there for me, can’t make it along. I’m just hoping like hell I can make it back to the conference in time for his presentation! They say the hysteroscopy should take 30 minutes so I should be ok, but if it gets too painful and they have to sedate me, I’ll be stuck there longer and might miss him present.

Well painful? It was the most excruciating thing ever and I felt like I was about to vomit through a fair chunk of it. On instruction I’d taken three paracetamol tablets an hour before and they’d hoped this would be enough to control the pain. It’s not. My legs go up in the stirrups, ever so dignified, plastic is guided under my back to “catch the fluid”, mmmm delicious. First they insert a speculum much like a regular smear, followed by an internal rinse of the area and the insertion of a little camera. It’s a little uncomfortable, with some mild period-like cramping, but overall not too painful. That is until they get to my cervix. My cervix won’t sit still and keeps running away so they’re forced to clamp it to hold it in place. There’s a little pinch and a shoot of pain but at least it now stays put. And then the excruciating agony begins. I get the cold sweats and honestly feel like I’m about to throw up. I can’t believe people are able to do this without pain relief, and my pain threshold is (or at least used to be) pretty high. I want to cry and actually come close to blacking out – or at least being so much in pain that I don’t really remember what was happening in the room, and the voice of the nurse telling me to take deep breaths seem fuzzy and miles away. Halfway through they dose me up with painkillers, just a small dose so it doesn’t take the pain away but it does help. Apparently I have a tight cervix, great. What else can my body do to make this a nightmare for me.

And then it’s done. I feel weak but relieved it’s over, and so so grateful for the amazing nurse (both of them were really lovely and supportive but there’s one in particular, who’s our favourite at the clinic) who was simply fantastic, held my hand and talked me through the ordeal. I couldn’t have done it without her. They keep me there for observation for another 30 minutes or so, feeding me toast and tea, before I’m allowed to leave. I’m not permitted to drive after the drugs they’ve given me but my amazing friend C (one of the fabulous conference girls) has offered to pick me up and race me back to conference. She drives like the wind and we make it back just in time for my hubby’s (magnificent) presentation. I’m stoked we made it and insanely grateful to have such wonderful friends. I kick into two days of conference and socialising, desperately trying to hide my cramps and other side-effects of the treatment. The physical stuff I can handle and hide ok but it’s the emotional stuff that takes its toll. It’s hard to be happy and social (especially around so many cheery fertiles – “I’ve also got a successful breeding program at home”, yes, that came up in more than one speech to the attendees) when you just want to curl up and cry at the unfairness of the world. I miss one of the functions (more to extreme tiredness than anything else) but manage to make it through pretending it’s all ok.

And here we are another week on, blood tests were ticked of the list this morning, counselling appointment is booked for two weeks time, and evaluation cycle will start with my next period. Hold onto your hats kids it’s full steam ahead, I can only hope that we’ll get the result we dream of at the end of the ride.

 

 

 

 

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Alternatively alternative, the foray into natural medicine part 1

I’m taking a lot longer to recover from my laparoscopy/hysteroscopy than I thought I would.  The last time I went under general anaesthetic (admittedly over a decade ago) I bounced back within a couple of days.  This time I’m finding it a lot tougher.  I still get tired easily and one of my four incision holes is still quite sore, not helped by the fact that it is positioned on my tummy podge so bounces when I walk.  I can only imagine how painful a C-section is!

The next question I am facing is whether to jump back into alternative treatment or not.  In January of this year a friend suggested I visit her naturopath to see if that would increase our chances of finding Bumble.  I’d always been a bit of a sceptic when it came to things like that.  Not so much so that I wouldn’t give things a go, and I definitely saw a benefit in some alternative medicine.  I’d been bought up with a small amount of natural remedies, but was I ready to jump head first into something that wasn’t entirely me?  The short answer is yes.  I think when you’ve been trying a while with no result you get to a point where you’d give absolutely anything a go.  If someone had told me painting myself blue and running backwards around a flower garden by moonlight would improve my chances I probably would have considered it….well, no, not really, but you get my point.

So, an appointment was made and I went along, with the fantastic support of my fabulous friend, not quite knowing what to expect but prepared to give it a shot.  An intensive questionnaire and a chat to the lovely naturopath and I’m kitted out with a concoction to take morning and night, plus a selection of capsules to pop (fish oil etc). I’d already been taking Elevit which I have to say wasn’t so suited to me and made me feel quite revolting.  According to the naturopath Elevit can be a bit strong in certain vitamins for some women so the concoction she created to replace Elevit was essentially the same thing but tailored to suit my needs.  She thought my thyroid may be under-functioning slightly (though not enough to be cause for concern, proven via blood test) so gave me something for that, as well as a capsule used to help with the various cramps I felt throughout the month.  Take those and I’ll see you in month.

I’d love to say that this was a quick fix but like most things to do with trying to conceive it’s a gradual step-by-step process.  I made monthly appointments and each time my herbs were altered a little to try and improve my lot.  The cramps, my low temperatures, and my late ovulation seemed to be the main obstacles and we managed to correct one or the other for a short time but not for good.  Chances are it was just my body doing some of that naturally anyway.  I did feel better, I had more energy, my skin was looking better, and my temperature was now consistently over 36 degrees.  So something was working.  Trouble was, we didn’t really know what.  Eventually a stale-mate was called and my naturopath said there was nothing more she could do, it was time to take the next step….surgery to see what was up.  That was the good thing about the naturopath I went to, she worked in collaboration with conventional medicine, using one to compliment the other.

Since my last visit to the naturopath a couple of months ago I’ve been taking the same combination of herbs and capsules.  I had to stop for a week before my surgery, and I didn’t start taking them again until a week after.  The question is, do I keep going?  I’d love to say yes I’d do anything that gave us more of a chance, but unfortunately it’s an extra expense, on top of the other alternative thing I’m doing (more on that later), and I’m not sure it’s something we can afford to continue.  We’ve been able to up until now but the multiple alternative routes we’re trying are taking up most of our extra cash and there is a lot of work on the house left to do.  My husband thinks I should give up one – the naturopath – and keep doing the other.  I just don’t know….I kinda feel I should give them both a chance now that my endometriosis has been attacked and am worried that to give one up might hamper our chances.  I’m sure that’s more of a superstitious thought than a certainty but I can’t help but think it.  Perhaps I just keep it going until after my post-op appointment with the fertility specialist when we see what the deal is and what our next steps are.

So after 11 months of naturopathy do I recommend it?  Would I do it all over again?  I have to say, the concoction of herbs does take a bit of getting used to.  The first time I took it it made me gag, though I did get used to it eventually.  My second variation on the mixture wasn’t nearly so bad and was actually bearable.  And the latest tastes a little like tequila and warms your throat.  That’s not so bad if you’re a fan of tequila, or for the evening dose of the liquid, but ‘tequila’ for breakfast just isn’t my cup of tea.  On the other hand, I do feel better than I did 11 months ago when I started so there is definitely an upside to taking it all.  On the whole, I think if you’re open to it then naturopathy is a viable route to take if you’re trying to get your body in a good state to stay healthy and conceive (not even a single cold all year!) but if there’s something more serious going on, such as major endo, then it’s not necessarily going to help you.  My take on it is much like my take on most things, moderation is the key.  A combination of the natural and the conventional could just be the perfect mix.


Out the other side

Sorry guys, I haven’t felt much like writing for the last couple of days, bit sore and sluggish – my brain’s not quite functioning at full speed so apologies in advance if this ends up being a shambles of a post.  Op went well on Monday and they cut a fair bit of endometriosis out of me as well as giving my tubes a good flushing out , so on top of having less painful periods from now on, we should have a higher chance of conceiving, fingers crossed!

I need to be careful about getting my hopes up though….my first thought on Monday once I discovered what they’d found was, “awesome, it’s going to happen straight away now”.  Luckily I quickly came to my senses and realised that that most probably won’t be the case and I need to be a bit more realistic about this.  There’s no way I’m going to let myself go back to major disappointment and tears each month when discovering we’re not pregnant – I’ve come way too far for that and have built my defences up to a comfortable point where I can deal with the frustration at not succeeding.  Hopefully I’ll get a nice surprise one day soon but I’m not going to get hung up on it.  As a very wise friend mentioned earlier today, this op has put me back at “normal”.  I now have the same chance as any normal person trying to conceive, which means it may happen pretty soon, but equally as likely could take months.

It’s funny what you come to think of as normal.  I’ve had painful periods for most of my life (although admittedly they had been getting worse since coming off the pill 2 years ago).  To me that was normal and it never occurred to me that other people didn’t experience that.  I remember being a little surprised at one of my initial fertility consultations having been asked if I took painkillers for my painful periods.  I admitted I did but tried not to as I found if I took them too much they weren’t so effective.  The next question the doctor asked was “would a normal person take painkillers if faced with the pain you have?”  I was a bit taken aback at that as I’d always considered myself relatively ‘normal’.  I know have a reasonable pain threshold but it had honestly never occurred to me that what I was experiencing was anything outside the norm.  In a strange way I feel validated now, like it was ok that I was in pain each month because it’s now a fact I did have/do have endometriosis – which just seems so odd as a week ago I was dismissing the fact that endo was a possibility.  I was actually a little scared that they’d do the op, find nothing and everything would turn out to have been in my head.  So crazy how the human mind works sometimes.

Other than my realisation of ‘normal’ (or more to the point ‘abnormal’), another thing highlighted to me this week is just how lucky I am.  My husband and I have a reasonably comfortable life, we both have pretty good jobs, and a place of our own to call home.  We may not have a Bumble (yet), but we are truly blessed with fantastic friends and family.  The amount of support received both before and after my op has really astounded me.  It just amazes me that so many people care.  I know that probably sounds silly but I honestly don’t think we stop often enough to appreciate all the wonderful people we have around us.  You guys are absolutely fantastic and I know we wouldn’t be where we are today without you.  You know who you are, and we love you all to bits!  Your support and kindness really IS appreciated and treasured.

So, onwards and upwards.  I have an amazing ‘support team’ and four little holes in my belly – soon to become ‘battle-scars’.  I have less endometriosis, and a higher chance of conceiving my little Bumble.  Not long ago I was afraid of scarring my stomach, now I will look on my scars as just another step along the path to the beehive, road markers of how far we’ve come both physically and mentally in the last 20 months.  Positive, but not too positive, I look forward to just being ‘normal’.


D- day

Well, D-Day has finally arrived.  I’ve had my last meal (and more devastatingly, my last glass of water!) and am counting down the hours until I head to the hospital.  Laparoscopy and hysteroscopy are on the menu today, so basically a good old look around in there to see what’s going on.  At this stage I’m feeling ok about going in, a little nervous, although I can’t really decide if that’s a true nervousness or more a nervous excitement.  I think probably the latter.  Aunt Flo ever so kindly decided to show up yesterday (thanks) so perhaps it’s more a fear of them deciding they can’t do the hysteroscopy and postponing the op.  There’s mixed feedback online about whether they can do it at this stage of the cycle – the internet is not my friend today it would seem.

It’s amazing what’s out there on the web.  And to think 15-20 years ago it was still in its infancy.   I’ve definitely learned a lot from my research there, the trouble is you’ve got to learn to sift through the crap and take a large part of it with a grain of salt.  It must prove a nightmare for doctors sometimes what with self diagnosis and over-anxious patients.  For me one of the most helpful things has been the reading of stories from others in similar (or worse) boats to me.  It can make you realise you’re not alone in this, that people go through it every day, and a large part of them come out the other side with a happy ending, not to mention stronger people for it.  Admittedly there was a time, quite early on in the piece, where I couldn’t read their stories.  I would cry even reading the first sentence.  Thankfully I don’t cry quite so easily any more (though trust me, it still happens, and usually when I least expect it) and have been able to resume my perusal of other people’s lives.

It’s interesting what you find while searching for other things.  Unexpected gems in a sea of sludge.  Quite often they are complete surprises and contrary to the thing you were looking for.  Take for example my find of the other day.  I was testing Google to see if this blog would appear when typed into the search bar (turns out it was too early and ‘Waiting For Bumble’ hadn’t been indexed yet).  What did turn up was another woman’s page aptly titled ‘Bringing up Bumble’.  Like me and so many others this courageous lady had been through fertility issues, culminating in a series of IVF treatment which eventually led to the birth of her very own little Bumble.  At first I was mildly disgruntled, someone out there had already taken “Bumble”, our ‘name’, until my husband gently reminded me that nothing is original in this world, especially on the internet.  My next reaction was one of happiness, someone already had a “Bumble”!  It gave me hope that perhaps my Bumble would show their wee head one day.

It seems a nice symmetry don’t you think, my ‘Waiting For Bumble’ detailing the journey through infertility, and Meghann’s ‘Bringing up Bumble’, a success story.  In saying that though she is retreading the path for number two, so perhaps the symmetry is contained all in the one blog.  Either way it’s worth checking out.  Some nice writing and beautiful pictures of a happy, healthy wee boy.  Thanks Meghann for giving me hope.

Anywhichway, this has killed off another hour of my day. One down, six to go.  So wish me luck and I’ll see you on the other side, hopefully with some kind of answers.


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