The best medicine 💊💖

It is amazing how your mind can so easily “forget” and lie to you about how being surrounded by friends and family and love is really, truly, the best medicine. How connecting and engaging with others creates bonds and friendships, even seemingly in strangers. Last weekend, was my “secret surprise birthday weekend away” in the start of the (month long!!) “celebrations” of my turning 30. I had left the entire thing up to James to organise – because frankly, I couldn’t be bothered. I’ve dreaded birthdays for a fair few years now. Getting older isn’t cool with me. I’m like Peter Pan, except I’m not forever young, I just want/need to be. Getting older gets worse with the less I feel I achieve/the more I don’t have children, because of stupid numbers I stupidly set myself stupid years ago. So, obviously, this weekend – despite having been in the diary for months – unfortunately came upon us at quite literally one of the worst times (😔) possible. I had been so hopeful that we would finally be pregnant that it all of a sudden made the world 100 million times worse when I wasn’t. I just couldn’t bring myself to face anything. I really didn’t want to go.
I cried the entire journey to our surprise location. At one point my husband asked me if I “wanted to do this”. I didn’t. I really didn’t. It took absolutely everything within me to answer with a nod and not the honest no; I want to go home, curl up into a ball in our bed and keep crying, alone. I didn’t know for sure but I had suspicions friends were involved and I didn’t feel like I could face anyone still. After all, I’d spent 2 days at the start of that week ignoring absolutely everyone, the rest of the week still avoiding more local friends and wondering when I’d ever feel like I could face people [friends] properly again. I had asked him a few days before, tears still pouring down my soaked face if any babies were involved in the weekend.. this included anyone pregnant or any children but I couldn’t bring myself to say those words, I couldn’t choke them out – my speech was the bare minimum I could get away with to string a sentence together. I was worried, when we pulled off the M5 onto the M4 towards Wales that my godchildren (who I knew to be on holiday in Pembrokeshire) would be there – whom I love dearly but I didn’t feel like I could face, especially when I couldn’t stop the tears.

When we pulled up the only car I instantly recognised was my brothers, but I knew there were others and the tears came again. I couldn’t walk into the cottage first, I made Rufus and James lead the way – me trailing behind clutching James’ hand like a lost child. When we walked into the kitchen and my friends jumped out yelling “surprise!” I burst into more tears and cowered into James… I am sure this was exactly the reaction my friends, some of who had spent the best part of 6 hours travelling ~ for me ~ had hoped for…!! Not! Sorry guys. I just felt super heightened in terms of anxiety. 

I don’t know if it was because I’d actually bothered taking my mild dosed citalopram for two days in a row rather than the erratic form I had been taking it in the months previously. I remember when I first took it all those months ago, feeling a difference far quicker than I thought possible – but this could also have been aided by the decent weather, marathon, therapy, IUI progress (🙄 irony), holidays, friends etc. I wouldn’t have believed it again having such a rapid affect until I properly read Deborah Orr‘s article last week of her heightened levels of disassociation almost immediately after beginning citalopram.
I have noticed myself on occasion – particularly looking back now – clinging to James like some sort of leach, unable to interact, engage or begin new friendships without him for support. I suspect it’s why a lot of his (old) “friends” don’t like me – anxiety winning yet again in making me socially unable to engage. Somehow, sometimes though I do manage on my own? I can certainly think of a few friends I have made in Somerset on my own.. but I appear to have developed a strong sense of separation anxiety to James.. and Rufus.. and we have the cheek to laugh at Rufus having separation anxiety – quite literally gets that one from his Mumma… as though I’ve passed it on within the air that we breathe and share.
A tangent – after all the tears, eventually followed by a lot of wonderful, supportive hugs from my [initially shocked!] friends I found myself quickly settling down. Tears stopping, an extent of happiness resuming within me. Despite my mind wanting to hide away from the world, what I really needed was exactly what I got – to be surrounded by loved ones, to be distracted and to have fun. 
It’s funny how easily you can “forget” this is what you need. How easy it is to withdraw and isolate yourself – only resulting in making you feel worse. In writing this, it reminds me of another friends 30th earlier in the year.. I hope she doesn’t mind me (and I think this is the second time I’ve done this to her!) referencing her – but she wasn’t in a good place at all. She had overdosed a few days prior to the weekend all her friends were due to descend for celebrations, and I remember thinking then – exactly what she needed was everyone around her to perk her up and show in plain sight how much she was – is – loved and needed. And yet I couldn’t see that for myself just last week. I couldn’t allow myself to have the support and love and care, the fun and distraction of friends and family to get me through how low I truly felt. And that is precisely what mental illness does to you. It shuts you down and locks you within yourself to make you feel dark and alone. And it is so, so impossible to pull yourself out of it.. so for those of you that have friends struggling – surprise them. Don’t stop loving and caring and being supportive and funny – even if it is endless funny texts that go seemingly ignored. Be prepared for melt downs and tears, for pain and for hopelessness; but your love does, eventually, make that difference.
Thank you, friends and family xx (ps. Pink glitter lipstick solves everything 💄💋)

“Clean”

Do you know what, people? It’s not easy. It’s not easy having a mind filled with anxiety and depression – “severe” at that – at the best of times, let alone dealing with a seemingly never ending dose of infertility too. Many have questioned if now is even the right time to be trying for children (suspect Rufus would be inclined to agree with that right now, because I’ve only just twigged at 4.40pm that he hasn’t actually been walked that much today so no wonder he is nagging me for one!!) – but even my most recent (male; I always think that makes a difference if even a bloke can figure this/me out!) therapist could see that starting our family will likely make a huge difference for me – all I’ve ever wanted and needed to be: a mother. Perhaps I am relying too heavily on innocent children to pull me out of this mind hell hole, but I know – I am sure – they will. And I know I will do everything to stop them from ever having a mind hell hole like their mother. 

This week I have seriously struggled to make my mind think of anything other than those few simple words “I want to kill myself”. It’s not the first time and I don’t doubt it won’t be the last. They bounce around up there in that big empty space (😂) and they struggle to come up with anything else – until, apparently, I manage to actually focus on doing something else, like now (and clearly I’m only half focused on the baking because now I’m thinking and writing it all down before it disappears again!). It’s not likely to happen – those few horrid words – not yet anyway. Not now. Not because I’m “brave” or a “fighter” but because I’m scared. I don’t believe for a second you get a second chance at life, as much as I’d like to, and so for now I have to keep trying until it’s too late. Then, then I’ll worry more about those words in my head, but right now, I’ll be ok. Sort of. Eventually. I’ll manage to see and love my friends and family and enjoy my life with them again but still not right now. I’ll manage to stop crying whenever someone’s asks me if I’m ok or when I try to go to sleep or just for no apparent reason. I’m hoping this weekend will pull me out of all that. I feel better than I did on Monday/Tuesday, but the tears are still coming thick and fast. I still feel raw and very aware and self conscious of myself leaving the house without Rufus or James. 

Baking concentration… start with it all out and put it away as you go along… #ocd

But for now I need to attempt to start eating again, so I can start running better and faster and happier again. Now I need to remember and do what works for me. I need to avoid rubbishy, processed, refined foods that make me feel bloated, uncomfortable and physically and mentally sluggish and miserable. Because that really, truly is a thing. I know that I feel happier when I think I feel slimmer and lighter.. when I don’t feel like I have bingo wings, when my stomach is flat and when my thighs are slimmer and toned with that ridiculous gap from fast(er) and happy running – because I know it’s ridiculous and I know with pregnancy that will all go: but that’s different and “allowed”. Until then, I think it’s better for me to at least feel slimmer and to at least be eating something, even if I am deemed to be compulsive around “clean eating”. The stupid thing is – half of it isn’t even “clean” – it’s just “cleaner” and feels healthier, more natural and thus is enough to calm my daft mind. I don’t want to feel like sh!t and physically and mentally it makes me feel better to eat “clean”. So clean it is. It’s the only way to get “me” back – sparkly karen, unicorn girl, glitter spreader, sun lover. I need her back because the alternative sucks. But, I think we all know a girl still needs “treats” so below there’s some more healthier alternatives I’ve found that are also pretty easy to make!

This is so difficult, because, as I said, I didn’t realise how painful it was going to be to have the knowledge of my failure to conceive once more out in the open, however, I also do feel like the messages and checkins and love and “carry on as normal” and engagement from friends is also more than likely, however slowly, and however many steps I then take back when the mind gets out of control again – helping me get back to my “normal”.. thank you 😘

Ps. Toasted pumpkin + sunflower seeds smells AMAZING – why have I not been eating more of that all my life?! 😋

Pps. How do food bloggers photograph food so well?! #fail 😂

Chocolate Peanut Butter Buckeye Brownies – no, I’ve no idea what the buckeye part is.. I’m not loving them straight out of the fridge (would you normally keep brownies in the fridge though?! I’m just keeping them there as I want them to last and it’s reasonably warm still…!) they taste a little like I’ve added liqueur to them?! BUT if you warm them up for 10-20-30 seconds and add strawberries 🍓 and Haagen Dazs Vanilla ice cream 🍦 (my fav, and ya, I know, not “clean” [so I’m not totally OCD], but THE BEST!) then they taste bloody amazingly gooey and fudge-brownie-ey goodness 🤤 also, I always use Cacao, not cocoa.

Chocolate peanut butter brownies of 🤤🤤🤤🤤

Mint Chocolate Power Bars Recipe (go easy on the peppermint oil if you use it – I went far too wild on it! I think they’d taste scrummy without it too!)

Mint chocolate power bars

Touchy subject of politics..

ULTRACREPIDATE – to critisise beyond your scope of knowledge. (Basically what I am about to do/talk about doing… 😂🤣👍🏾)

Not gonna lie… this little word vomit blog came to me whilst procrastinating about the epic blog of all blogs that I’d been mid-way through writing for about a week… [eventually posted the other week :-)]
I keep seeing little things here and there on the internet that do my head in around politics. It’s the main reason I don’t really L👀K at Facebook any more – I’m tired of all the general sh!t let alone the politics of it. Having said that – this post is inspired by something I saw on Facebook – a friend of a friends status and thread because friend had commented (see why I don’t like Facebook?! Don’t even know the person who’s status it is; so why am I seeing what friend has commented on?! I want to see friend, not friends friends I don’t know!!!) – I’ve gone into more detail in aforementioned epic blog but basically I had a good 40 mins or so 8am and 8pm where it is best if I just lay down with my butt raised (and no, I wasn’t “getting lucky”: James leaves for work at 6.30am..) so I had a LOT of boredom time on my hands, because as per, there is jack all on the TV… 😒
I feel like, in most part, few of us are really qualified to comment and know what’s right or wrong or get SO extremely opinionated and (in some cases) downright rude about politics. Myself included. Frankly – I don’t think there is any right or wrong way to vote. Voting itself is almost pointless because I think to be honest politicians and all the political parties are largely consisting of lying scum bags (ok, ok maybe a little OTT 🤣), so no matter what you vote (and, particularly as a woman, I will always vote) its effectively pointless. I don’t pay a vast amount of attention to what party wants what and what their manifestos say; I just don’t really understand, nor need the stress right now! To be honest, I think they all have a mish mash of good ideas and things which should and shouldn’t be done to make our country perfect (ok I’ll settle for “better”) [probably with the exception of UKIP (etc)..!] – why one party can’t figure that all out I’ll never know.. perhaps one day I will head up the unicorn party and be done with it… 🦄
I’m not afraid to say that I vote Conservative, with the exception of my local councillor because frankly, he’s brilliant (lib dem). I always have and probably always will vote like that – unless I ever take the actual plunge and go back to uni: but frankly there is a lot I want to study and be an expert at, but in reality don’t have the brain function, energy or concentration levels at the best of times [its taken me over a year and I’m still only 6 chapters into “The Chimp Paradox”]. My parents vote Tory, so I do. Laziness on my part to explore or understand anything else, if you like. It’s kind of all I’ve known and what feels right for me. I don’t think that will come as a surprise to those who know me! I also suspect many others, particularly my age-ish, do the same: either vote or don’t vote however their parents do. I’m not going to get in argument about it, I’m not going to disown friends who vote differently to me, but I am going to raise some questions.. [or, like, question..later]
I don’t believe the Tories make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Frankly it pisses me off when I hear that said; how on earth do people come to that conclusion?! Higher earners are already hit with a higher % rate of tax!!?! To be honest I don’t see why we don’t all pay the same % tax rates – why should those earning more have to pay more? I’m not saying not everyone works hard, (though I’m also not saying everyone does, coz let’s be honest, some people are just lazy and seem to be born with this unaccounted-for sense of entitlement that the world owes them something. Note to those people: it doesn’t.) but there generally tends to be a reason why some people are earning more… I like to use my Dad as an example here. He was a high earner for most of his working life. All of my childhood, and my brother’s. But he paid for it in other ways – he was often away from his family and worked ridiculously long hours. When we were super little and still eager to wake at the crack of dawn, we used to wave him off to work at 6am; often not seeing him at bedtime. As we got older and mornings became harder, but bedtimes still existed, we might not see him for days even when he was in the country. I have a vague recollection of him being hospitalised unable to move due to a pain in his chest when I was around 13 – I can’t remember why but I suspect stress (I expect he will correct me once he’s read this, if he can remember!! … this is making me (sort of, because that seems wrong too?!) hope it’s not another one of those things my mental brain has just made up but never happened..!). Now, I know this was his choice. He thought it was the right thing to do to financially support our family. I’m not saying it wasn’t – my brother and I had a great childhood and never missed out, we didn’t “want for nothing”, and we know still now that our parents will support us [in any way, not just financially] if need be. We have never felt financially insecure, and although money doesn’t make the world go round; it’s nice not to worry about it, because sadly, it kinda does make the world go round. But – why should he have been taxed a higher rate for this? Why isn’t someone earning £20k and someone earning £100k taxed the same % rate? Why does one pay 20% and the other 40% (or whatever it is these days!) – and, as far as I’m aware, the Tories aren’t planning to reduce that as part of their manifesto – so how are they making the rich richer?! (We’ll ignore probable backhanders and bribes etc from the super rich for now..)
Having said this, I am my own hypocrite because I also think some people earn absurd amounts for literally jack all… namely footballers… Phillip Green (coz I worked for Arcadia for too long and hate him/them 😂 plus; BHS pensiongate 💁🏽) but again… I guess they (footballers) just got lucky with their talent and it isn’t their fault people willingly (although stupidly 🙄) pay them £250k+ a week…
Anyway, the post that caused this over-spill of thoughts, mentioned that the Tories had voted against emergency service workers receiving a pay rise. Now, I’d firstly like to point out that I do NOT, for a single second agree with this. I don’t know what emergency service workers earn – I don’t know what anyone earns really, but I strongly suspect they do deserve a pay rise. However I strongly suspect there is a billion (or, like 65 million…!!) people out there in the UK (leaving the rest of the world out of this for now) who also think they deserve a pay rise (some probably do, some probably don’t). The post and its various comments went off on one about Tories making the “rich richer and the poor poorer” and how “well done anyone that voted them in” blah blah blah – making out like anyone who votes Tory is an idiot. You aren’t. Because – sorry, but who is paying for all this? I don’t know much, but I know this country is in insane debt. I don’t know how it got that bad or which muppet let it – don’t spend what you don’t have, right?! Don’t live beyond your means?! But that’s what Labour always seem to want to do.. a billion things that cost a fortune.. and, well…who’s paying for it?! 

🤔

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Oh yeah – those higher earning, higher taxed Tory voters. But apparently that’s ok…!!!

Infertility heartache

I had some bleeding Sunday night. This prompted me to test early; because of the tests I bought (goodbye Clear Blue, not buying you again!) you don’t even get what feels like the lesser blunt pain of “negative”, instead “not pregnant” slaps you hard in the face. Of course I’m not; what a stupid thought to think that it had finally happened. I guess I must potentially have held out some small hope because I retested Monday morning [as advised] anyway: not pregnant. I have barely stopped crying since, exacerbated by ridiculous attempts at false hope by the clinic suggesting I retest next week because the bleed was so light, and also because they couldn’t really fit me in for another cycle this month. Third test; not pregnant. I can’t see, hear or speak to anyone. I just don’t want to exist. And I think a stupid tiny part of me hopes that maybe they are right. Maybe I have now somehow achieved the impossible and had 3 false negatives. Maybe I am, finally pregnant. Not possible.

Everywhere I look someone is pregnant. How is it seemingly so easy for so many? I know of course that isn’t necessarily true. I know of course I am not the first and sadly won’t be the last to go through this hell – but right now it’s all I can see as everyone else appears to be pregnant or have their “miracle baby” while we battle on… for what? For how many more years? How much more heartache? I can’t take anymore.

The punishment of being so open and honest and talkative is that you can’t hide away. It was nice, it genuinely felt good to talk and not hide away from it. But now friends are desperately messaging or calling and I can’t help but ignore every single one of them. I keep going to my messages to start reading through them and replying but then I just can’t. Every time I open messages or WhatsApp or messenger the tears come again. My heart aches and the tears are still falling. I can’t deal with anything right now. My phone has been on silent since Sunday because I can’t even deal with the pings of incoming calls or messages. I think I understand now the shame and stigma around infertility. The reasons why so few people talk openly about what they are going through – because when the inevitable happens and nothing works you have your heart broken out there in the open. Everyone knows. Everyone feels sorry for you. I don’t want or need that. I don’t want or need any sympathy or any more tears. I don’t want to see or hear from or speak to anyone. Right now I can’t imagine when I will ever want that again. And I feel vile, like such a bitch – to have all these friends worried and caring for us and I just can’t bring myself to even acknowledge them; I am so, so sorry. I just desperately want something to work, but in truth honestly believe nothing ever will: barren karen. I don’t want anymore false hope. I don’t want anymore “it WILL happens”. I want to know why it is seemingly so easy for some people. I want to know why me? Why is it always me? Will it ever be our turn? When? I want answers to impossible questions. I want my husband to hold me and for the headaches that come with incessant tears to stop. I want to know why I am here if not to be a Mother. But most of all, most of all I just don’t want to exist right now. Today marks five years since my [maternal] grandfather passed away – the only grandparent I ever really knew. I can’t bring myself to even message my Mum some love. I can’t bring myself to think anything other than – even though my grandparents fought for our rights to live in a free world – right now I just want to be wherever they are. I must look that way too – because even the lady serving me in the shop looked like she didn’t believe my “don’t worry, I won’t overdose” as I tried to buy 3 packs of paracetamol. [Don’t worry, I won’t; I just don’t need these headaches, and it takes 4 just to shift one; I like to stock up]. 

I am worried for the future because I can’t go on like this. I am worried because I can’t see a time when I will want to face other humans again – even my friends or family. I can’t walk or run or catch a single breath without a sob. I am worried I can’t enjoy “life” anymore. I know James has “secrets” planned for this weekend; the start of my birthday celebrations, but right now I can’t think of anything else I’d rather not do. I dread birthdays as it is but I was excited, just a few days ago.. When I thought, for some absurd reason that I might be pregnant, when I thought that maybe, just maybe all the “side effects” I was feeling – all the nausea, headache, exhaustion, dizziness and hunger – were not side effects but symptoms of pregnancy. I was excited to enjoy the surprise he had lined up for me. I have no idea what he has planned but I suspect friends may be involved and I just don’t want to see anyone. I just hope that this hideous great storm cloud over me has moved on by then. I knew, of course that “have a baby” before I’m 30 was absurdly optimistic. It’d have been nice to have at least just been pregnant. It hurts so much.

I can’t eat, I can’t sleep. As a result I can barely move. Walking is slow. Running has become “interval training” whilst I struggle to complete even mere 3 or 5 miles. But all I want to do is run {away}. In just two days I had already dropped half a stone; an insight I think as to how much fat I had really gained from all the eating like I was “eating for two”, all the hormones and medications. You can’t drop that kind of weight that quickly if you don’t have it to spare in the first place.

I can barely think and barely breathe. I can’t bare to think of facing people. I can’t leave the house without James or Rufus. I hate wasting money but I can’t face the pre-paid yoga class I have tonight, or the drive there with a friend. And so, I guess, this is my explanation to all of you as to my lack of response. For my being utterly shit and useless. Lack of reading and engaging. I just can’t face anyone right now. I can’t face life right now. I’m sorry. I don’t want or need any comments or sympathy. I just wanted and needed to let everyone know in one fell swoop, reaching all platforms. I think this may also be my last fertility blog – because I never for a second realised how painful it was going to be to go through this let alone with everyone knowing. I thought it would help but where I just want to hide away, friends just want to support me, when all I want is to not exist. I don’t know how to balance – I’m all or nothing. I don’t know how to “cheer the fudge up” like I want to.

I am not even sure why this time hurts so badly. We didn’t miscarry. We haven’t lost our so-longed for child. We never even had a positive pregnancy test. We – I – are/am grieving for what never was. For more time lost. The chances of it working were only lifted 4-7% to that of a “normal” conception, but apparently I had pinned my everything on this really, truly being our turn, convinced that the mix of {timed} ovulation, the “good” sperm and those pessaries were just what we had needed all along. I can’t tell you how much it hurts. I’d just like to forget. 

Trying to remember x

Desiderata 

Not my words at all. Only seen because my beautiful friend had a print of these beautiful, wise words on her wall this weekend. Couldn’t photograph it very well so instead I’ve retyped it and added it to my own image.

Hubby asked me if that was how I lived/want to live my life. I said yes. He then said I don’t because I don’t give time to the ignorant. 💁🏽 Guess you can’t win them all! Or perhaps Max was just a little too forgiving… 


Desiderata 🌷

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant • They too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. 

Keep interested in your own career, however humble • It is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is, many persons strive for high ideals and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself • Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings • Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. 

You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 

Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. 

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful word • Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

~ Max Ehrmann

#smileloveandbekind 💕 

The Fertility Giggles (Part 2)

Part 2. The “laughs”. Dear parents/in laws/family/those that just don’t want to know – STOP READING! You can’t say I didn’t warn you…!!

I like to think as I’m “the problem” and I’ve been [available… #retiredlife ] and have attended more appointments, I have a further understanding than Mr. Perfect husband, aka James. I say Mr. Perfect because every time he is required to produce a sperm sample, he is routinely told it is “very good! Perfect in fact!” When we underwent our first IUI procedure, the lovely nurse actually also said “Well done!!” to him – we were in fits of giggles.. So there is nothing really wrong with his little swimmers. I will {overshare, as is routine for me!} that we know from tests that James produces four times the amount of said little swimmers in any sample, against your average Joe Bloggs.

Within that though, the ones that are actually going to bother swimming for it, is perfectly level and in line with every other guy. So yes, in sum, he produces four times as many, but that {four times} bunch are basically reject, Nemo-finned, “special little guys” swimming in circles. I shouldn’t be surprised as James is often directionally… challenged, shall we say… nevertheless, once the rejects are sifted out, the strong guys are super strong. James is, perfect. Don’t tell him I said that.. I like to play him down 😉😜 [love you, darling 🤗]. 

Courtesy of google images

It becomes pretty all consuming, all the trying. If we aren’t on a fertility meds cycle, I wonder and I hope, that my body will randomly ovulate and conceive off its own accord. There’s no saying that one day my body might just work properly and do so, but who knows when or why. There commonly are stories of ladies finally falling pregnant with fertility treatment, and going on to have further children on their own: something about pregnancy just seems to make the body realise again what it’s meant to be doing. It’s not something I could just wait and see if it happened on its own one day; because it might not, and then I would never achieve the only thing I have always known I wanted to be; being a Mother. To me, it seems already apparent that my body isn’t yet ready to ovulate off its own accord again. There have been a few months in the past 18 months were I haven’t been on any treatment, and still not conceived, or in some cases – we know I hadn’t ovulated. Although not yet pregnant, I am very grateful to be alive during a time where fertility treatments are available and successful. At the moment, I can only still hope that they will work for us – there is no guarantee, but for now, that in itself keeps me going.. just. 

So, now for – what I think are – the amusing bits! I can tell you for starters, that I have become a pro at getting my “bits” out for a transvaginal scan. More often than not these days, I’ve stripped my pants off and am up on the bed with my legs spread before the nurse can even lock the door (note ladies; wear a dress or skirt for these scans in order to feel slightly less starkers, that way you can just take your tights/knickers off and have a little coverage). I have yet to go through labour, but in terms of the dignity lost whilst pushing a small human out of your vagina – I reckon I am already right up there with the amount of medical professionals that have been prodding medical instruments up there for the last 18+ months.

In part 1, I mentioned the word “relaxed” in relation to sex whilst trying to conceive. This is, in itself, hilarious; sex becomes desperate… and not in the good way..desperate to make sure you’re at it regularly enough, desperately making sure you hurl your legs in the air and keep your bum raised and let gravity do its work (ladies) THE SECOND ITS OVER. Desperate in that you are probably making yourself so over-anxious (if you are a pro at severe anxiety like me) that your body is too tense to conceive {side note; I don’t know if that’s a thing, but it seems likely!}. 

Sex becomes.. as much of a chore as cleaning the house. Wonderful, right? Exactly what you want in a loving relationship, one wanting to pro-create. One of the few things us humans do for pleasure, and now the pleasure has become a hassle. Not fun, not sexy, not exciting and certainly not romantic. There have been nights when one – or both – of us (but let’s be real here; I don’t exactly have to do the hard work for this bit..!) has just been so tired it’s been beyond unsexy. It’s a wonder he still loves me and has any interest in me whatsoever. Recently, I have found myself beyond exhausted – I completely blame the meds and extra crazy hormones – to the point that I am barely getting through a day without a nap (or 2!), and I am flat out fast asleep by 9.30… There has been a point where I knew our IUI treatment was upcoming, and I had a vague recollection of having to abstain for 2 days, but have intercourse within 5 days prior to the treatment, when I was so exhausted I literally handed James some lube and told him to crack on with it… I may have even fallen asleep whilst he was at it.. Who said romance was dead?!

As you can tell, the medications you need for each treatment become more and more. For IUI, you have to insert progesterone pessaries twice a day, for 15 days. You can do this vaginally, or rectally, and they actually recommend rectal because it’s less “messy”. But let’s just say… no… ain’t nothing going up there if I can possibly avoid it. [Personal opinion, and I’ll tell you now, 6 days in, I’m tempted to try rectally.] So vaginally it is [for now]. To deal with the “messy” they suggest the use of pantyliners. So here I am feeling like I’m 14 again dealing with sanitary towels. No offence meant to anyone who uses them – what works for you and all that: I actually have a couple of friends who use them on those MEH OUCH period days – but for me, the discovery of tampons was like the discovery of sliced bread. So. Much. Easier. 

I also find myself faced with yet another slight dilemma in this new world of pessaries.. are we actually meant to have sex?! Originally I thought we’d have to squeeze a quickie in before my evening pessary was inserted.. but to be perfectly honest, my vagina seems to now be a seeping, leaking “slightly messy” progesterone producing vault 24/7 and I feel slightly gross about suggesting James “go there” in any way, shape or form…

And as for the worries… my god the worries.. I have actually text two of my besties in a group chat before saying “what if my vagina just can’t retain sperm?!” It also doesn’t seem to cross my mind to just google sometimes but instead I reel off messages with random, oversharing info and questions to friends – to the point last weekend, one of them was actually just responding with what google was saying..!! I mean all of you that actually know me, know I already have an insane mental mind.. let alone with extra worries and anxieties and literal cray cray thoughts spinning around up there..! I want nothing more than to be a Mother, but I am worried about conceiving; when will I, why then? I am worried about morning sickness and miscarrying, I am worried about something being wrong with the baby – or babies – I am worried about coping with pregnancy – because I can’t help but feel this wonderful image of “Yummy Mummy beautiful Earth Mother all bump” 🤰🏽I have created for myself in my mind won’t ACTUALLY be a true picture of the ragged mess of a whale I am likely to be..{hormones and meds means I’ve already gained a stone and counting 👍🏾😒😭} I am worried about labour, the drugs and still birth, and I am worried for my children for the rest of their lives; particularly girls – I worry they will be like me and have constant battles. Battles with their mental health. Battles with people and “friends”. Battles with hitting puberty and having periods etc. And yes, this is all before I’ve even conceived!

Beautiful yummy mummy I’m unlikely to look like 😆

I will just finish up with this – If someone had told me as a teenager all this would be going on with all the people and objects up my vjayjay and that I’d be shoving my own fingers up my hooha to get a pessary as deep as possible I’d have laughed in your face! Now, when it comes to having my ovaries/womb scanned I often find myself stripped off and on the bed with my legs spread before the nurse can even lock the door… I’ve not even gone through the (often described) “indignity” of birth yet but I couldn’t be any less bothered about who sees my bits…!! Infertility is certainly “useful” in reducing naked-body-embarrassment, that’s for sure!

Thank you to all our friends and family who have supported us, joined in the giggles and stories so far and generally kept me laughing and happy.. one of my favs (received after our IUI procedure) from my lovely friend is below.. because I still laugh out loud at it and so the world needs to laugh at it too and it needs to be treasured forever 😂😘


Come on spermies!!!

Fertility (Part 1)

I decided to write a fertility “giggles” blog, because at some point in this “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” absolute nightmare journey of conception that we are on, if I don’t find some laughs – I’ll be crying. 24/7. Literally. I thought this was going to be quite an amusing blog, but as I seemed to have spent a vast bulk of it explaining AS MUCH AS I KNOW, because 1) I don’t think I have and 2) a lot of people just don’t understand the world of conception or fertility – even if they have conceived – I decided (with a little help, thanks Nicki!) that it needs to be split into two blogs. So Part 1 here is explaining the ins and outs. Part 2, for the laughs, can be found here; The giggles

FYI.. Probably best for my in laws and parents, and probably general family and anyone that doesn’t want to know or finds my oversharing too much info, to just to not read part 2.. 👍🏾 (or, if you feel like that, any of them?!)

So here is the knowledge I’ve gained so far. I’m certainly no expert, but I’ve now hung around enough doctors, consultants, nurses; ALL the fertility specialists, and I’ve had enough cameras, probes, speculum’s, catheters, ETC. inserted into my vagina to have figured a little bit of this challenging world out. 💉

Beginning to understand fertility starts when you fire up the baby-making tools, so for us, almost 3 years ago. 

And we are still only beginning to understand. 

 For lots of lucky people out there, you seem to “just conceive” on first attempt. This in itself is a miracle – let alone how beyond belief it feels for those of us that struggle like hell to conceive. I don’t think anything I have been through and anything I will go through in the future will be as all-round physically, mentally, emotionally challenging and draining as the world of trying to conceive. London Marathon was literally a casual stroll in comparison.

 So, for you lucky couples that conceive naturally – it hasn’t actually happened “any time within the last 4/5 weeks” {since your last period, ladies} but, in fact, within a 48 hour time frame after you’ve ovulated; usually around day 14 of your cycle. Sperm can survive 7 days in your womb/fallopian tubes, but if not fertilised, your egg will die 48 hours after ovulation. So, for a “live example” you could have had sex on Sunday, ovulate on Wednesday and conceive Thursday without having sex again. It is literally, a miracle. I think I’m right in saying, that by the time you’ve noticed you’ve missed a period, you’re officially around 2-3 weeks pregnant on average (period timings dependant), but because it’s been 4-5 weeks since your last bleed, you’re considered 4-5 weeks pregnant once you get that BFP (Big Fat Positive). Pregnancy is counted from the first day of your last period. The chances of any given couple with no fertility issues conceiving in any given month are just 14%.

 Ovulation in itself is one of those things your body just does on its own without you realising. Each cycle your body develops a follicle (sac) or follicles, on your ovaries, which each contain an egg. Ovulation is when the follicle matures enough and releases the egg… hopefully you know the next bit.. little eggy travels down your Fallopian tubes towards your womb, where, if you want to conceive then you’ll hopefully have some little sperm hanging around waiting to fertilise that egg, or eggs… more than one egg means more than one [non identical] baby/babies… non identical twins/triplets/quads etc, outside of fertility treatment, are passed through families genetically on the maternal side. If there’s a history of non-identical twins in your family, you could have them: it’s genetic that you are producing more than one follicle, and thus egg, at a time. That is my understanding anyway! The chance of non-identical twins in those undergoing fertility treatment increases because you are stimulating your ovaries (more on this later!) to produce follicle(s); however this can change for every woman on every cycle: what happens one month won’t necessarily happen in another month – as we have previously seen for me, where I hyper-stimulated in our first try at IUI and had to cancel the treatment.

Identical twins can happen to anyone: the egg splits to create twins, or triplets, or quads, etc. which are identical. I am fascinated and always have been by identical twins.. I would really love identical twins! 😍 Although I am well aware it wouldn’t be easy… but like an old colleague of mine who had identical twins in her first pregnancy said, she “didn’t know any different” – two babies at once were the norm for her.

 So – quite a lot of information you may already know, or not, before we’ve even started the fun and games of fertility treatment!!

 As we know, I’m the “problem”. Shock horror, right. Never mind Jay-Z’s “99 problems” – I’m just one big problem 🤣! 

So, after the little summary above, you should understand that the next words mean, no matter what we do each month, without the aid of fertility treatment, there is absolutely no chance we can conceive, because…

I don’t ovulate. 

 This is known as “anovulation”. I have been tested and tested time in time out. Sometimes blood tests, sometimes we can just tell from having had scans on the right days and finding no “mature” follicle. I’ve been tested Day 21/22/23. I’ve been tested Day 28 to see if I just ovulate late, and I’ve been tested Day 7 and Day 14 to see if I just ovulate early. Nada. I just don’t. So no matter how frequently James and I “baby-make” – there is literally no way we can actually make a baby. Poor little spermies are swimming all that way to meet.. nothing: certain death.. ☠️

I’d say it is fairly commonly known that your GP will tell you not to worry and to keep having regular, relaxed intercourse for at least a year of “trying” for a baby, before you will be referred on the NHS for treatment. I don’t dispute this. On average it takes a couple a year to conceive naturally. It just appears, when you’re trying for a baby that everyone else conceives overnight, without even trying. And ladies – you need to be prepared if you are on the pill, it can take up to a year for your body to resume normality. Fortunately for me, I came off it at the age of 25 (18 months before we started trying) due to being TOTALLY AND UTTERLY BATSHIT 🦇💩 CRAZY HORMONAL – and let me tell you, it took 9 months then for my periods to return to normal. My utterly useless (soz if this offends anyone, but my current ones are fab!) GP at the time actually thought I was 9 months pregnant at one point (and 8 and a half stone; as if!)

In hindsight; I don’t ovulate, so I never even needed to be on the pill in the first place…great one.

 For me – and I think any female who doesn’t ovulate – the first steps of fertility treatment (after ALL the scans, bloods, checks and tubes, camera’s and general prodding up your vagina) is Ovulation Induction (OI) in the form of taking (Clomifene) Clomid. Clomid is a tablet which you take once a day, for 5 days, from day 3 of your cycle (FYI, day 1 is the first day of your period), although I have read about some ladies taking this on slightly different days and becoming more successful than me; everyone is different, and if I could go back, I would try that as well. You are measured (although I can’t fully remember how!) for the first 3 months of taking Clomid to see if you are responding to the medication and ovulating. Within that first 3 months, I appeared to ovulate once; so not the greatest success rates! Regardless, I continued taking the Clomid whilst waiting for the next step. To me; taking something was at least potentially increasing my chances, rather than zero chances at all without it. On my fifth cycle, I realised that all the side effects I was feeling matched exactly that of the side effects from the Clomid. I can’t remember them all now (there was quite a few!) but the main one was consistent headaches, which is one of the big worry ones. They weren’t horrendous headaches, they were just there. It is recommended if you notice one of those “worry” side effects, you stop treatment… but like I said, one more month of headaches vs definitely not conceiving, meant I continued with the meds..

 So, 6 months down and we still aren’t pregnant – now we move onto Ovulation Induction in the form of injecting {me, with} Gonal-f daily, once again from day 3, until your follicle(s) are big enough (mature). [I am not good with needles. I have been known to faint. This was scary for me.] In Taunton, you are scanned transvaginally to check follicle growth three times a week. FYI – these scans are painless. Frankly I can’t see any difference between a camera-vaginal-probe going up there or a penis/tampon going up there -and we are pretty sure I have a low pain threshold! I am unsure of what the chances of conception using Clomid/Gonal-f for OI are, but I imagine it is not much increased – if at all – from that of an average couple conceiving naturally, as OI is simply encouraging the woman to ovulate like she should be anyway..

A mature, big enough follicle is between 18-20mm, and with this treatment, you aren’t really allowed more than 2 follicles.. As mentioned earlier, 2 follicles means 2 eggs which can mean 2 babies.. but if any of those eggs also split, you could end up with a lot of babies in one cycle. I love the idea of identical twins, but multiple pregnancies are riskier for both Mum and babies. The more babies, the higher the risk.

I always responded fairly quickly to Gonal-f, so generally I only ever had 2 or 3 scans to my ovaries before another injection (Ovitrelle) to trigger ovulation. You have to be quite on top of when your follicle might be ready to trigger ovulation, as really you want to be having regular sex in the week leading up to it to ensure there are lots of sperm ready and raring to go! I’ve learnt to draw on my merchandising skills to forecast (merch friends will find this hilarious; we are such geeks 🤓) when we might be triggering ovulation, because once you have ovulated, you got 48 hours to fertilise that egg. It can take 24 hours for sperm to travel to meet said egg. Sperm can survive for up to 7 days in the womb. So basically, like I say; you want to be having ALL of the sex [umm, with your partner, yeah 🤣] 7 days before you ovulate and the 1-2 after… any time outside of that is actually just for fun/pleasure… but believe me after a year of precisely timing EXACTLY when you NEED to have sex [and for us, a year prior to that just trying to conceive naturally with the standard stated “regular intercourse” when I don’t even release an egg.. 🙄] fun/pleasure basically no longer exists. I’ve read before and I totally agree that actually starting a treatment like IUI/IVF takes the pressure off couples HAVING to have intercourse – sex now is like bonus sperm in the womb, but the pressure is off, slightly, because the lovely people at BCRM “turkey baste” 🦃 me…

So, as we know, I sadly didn’t conceive with the aid of OI. Not for want of trying, and I was certainly sad to leave the fab team behind at Taunton; as we had to move to another clinic (Bristol or Exeter are our nearest) to move into IUI/IVF. So obviously, this moves me nicely into IUI. Intra-Utrine-Insemination is treated similarly to Ovulation Induction with Gonal-f, you again inject Gonal-f daily from day 3 until follicles get to ideal size; you are scanned roughly every other day, but depending on your rate of reaction/growth, when once again you then trigger ovulation (still Ovitrelle), your partner produces a sperm sample in a pot, which is “washed” and removed of the “useless” sperm, and roughly 2 hours later is inserted directly into your womb, via your vagina using a catheter. You get the added bonus of a second injection each morning when 1/2/3 follicles (no more than 3) reach 14mm, this second injection, Cetrotide, stops you ovulating off your own accord: unlikely for me but some women do ovulate on their own, (anovulation: not ovulating, isn’t the only reason fertility treatment is needed, but is our only reason!) and obviously, when you are being inseminated, you want the egg to be there at the right time or it’s all pointless! Again, I found this not too painful – just uncomfortable. When my husband asked me what it felt like, my words were “it feels like my vagina is wide open”. Essentially, it was. The procedure is almost exactly like what you see in the movies when the woman is lying on the bed with her legs in stirrups; the only difference is the bed/chair thing is now more modern – and actually pretty comfy! I reckon if I wasn’t distracting myself with a 3 way conversation between James, the nurse and I, I could have probably fallen asleep!! After insemination, you are left for 10-20 mins to let gravity do its thing, before you are sent on your way, with instructions to insert pessaries twice a day for 15 days, and then the day after they end, to do a pregnancy test… There are no real suggestions or recommendations for what else you can do or not do to encourage a pregnancy. Many women try to take it easy and relax. Those that have been fairly hard-core on the exercise take a break (myself included). I’ve tried to keep myself busy; surrounded by friends and keeping my mind occupied with little time to overthink. I am also EXHAUSTED, so sleeping a lot!

I’m just going to pop in here to explain/use me as the real life example of how any woman can react differently on every cycle using Gonal-f.

Whilst at Taunton, I had to inject 75(whatever the measurement is) daily. For 6 months, the maximum follicles I ever had was a risky 2.5 (the .5 wasn’t quite big enough but likely could have been by the time ovulation occurred after the trigger). Some months I had only 1 follicle, some 2, some 1.5, etc. Every month was different. Some months everything would happen on my left ovary, other months the right, and sometimes one on each. There is no rhyme or reason, but believe me, everyone was surprised when, on my first IUI cycle with BCRM (Bristol Centre of Reproductive Medicine) I “hyper-stimulated” on the exact same dose as I’d been for the last 6 months, and ended up with 5 follicles and having to cancel treatment. You are not allowed to continue with 5 follicles due to the increased risks of multiple pregnancies. It’s fair enough and we understood, no matter how disappointing. Hyper-stimulation is exactly as it sounds from what I’ve said so far; your ovaries have been overstimulated and produced too many follicles. In some cases, it can get much more out of hand than my 5, and can then be dangerous and painful for the female; I felt nothing.

I am not going to go into too much information around IVF (In-Vitro Fertilisation) because 1) hopefully we won’t get to that point, and 2) I think generally people “hear” more and “know” more about IVF. Quite simply, I believe the female continues to inject Gonal-f to produce follicles, but, with IVF you want to produce as many as possible (so yes, essentially hyper-stimulating). These follicles/eggs are then “collected” (unsure how, other than under anaesthetic, which having never been under anaesthetic, I am somewhat scared of!) there are then tests done to see which eggs are healthy – unhealthy ones essentially get chucked – the healthy ones are fertilised, then we see how many actually “fertilise”/become an embryo, and then an embryo (or 2) is popped back into your womb; all the embryo then has to do is implant itself in your womb, and stay there and grow for 9 months, et voila! I believe the success rates of IVF increased to 42%. IUI sits between 18-21%.

Both Clomid and Gonal-f (for use with OI) are only licensed for 6 cycles each, so essentially, you get 6 months, 6 chances, max, to be taking that medication and get it to work. Now – I am glad to have moved on, but I do find this odd that it is only licensed for 6 months, when its suggested it can take up to a year for a couple to conceive naturally… surely if the Clomid/Gonal-f is doing it’s job and making you ovulate, you should be trying for a year?! I am not sure why they are only licensed for 6 months; but I’m not going to argue, because frankly, 2 years of trying to conceive including 1 year using Ovulation Induction and still not being pregnant, feels to me like more than enough time that I can’t get back gone forever.

All this happy sharing has lead me onto a new “dilemma”. I wouldn’t say I was particularly worried about it, though I am unsure what to do, and what I want to do. Within the next 2 weeks we will know if we are pregnant; however, if we are successful, we will be in very early days – the kind of early days when those not undergoing fertility treatment wouldn’t even know they are pregnant. I could still loose the “baby”; and some women [conceiving naturally] probably do without even realising they are pregnant, just assuming it is their period. But if we are – that tiny bit of hope that we might be – I am sure I will want to share it, to tell the world that finally it has happened. I am also fully expecting some of my closest friends to be messaging me asking either way.. and it’s a little nerve wracking I guess, because it’s such early days anything could happen – I could be “pregnant” for a day and the next miscarry… and then the “world” will know. But then, why shouldn’t they? Miscarrying is no-ones fault; whilst it is much easier for me to say now, having (maybe, probably) not had it ever happen; I believe that miscarriages tend to be nature’s way of letting you know this has happened for a reason, suggesting something is not right with the baby – why should any woman/couple have to then battle through that silently? I’ll need support like I’ll have never needed support before. James too. Why shouldn’t we be entitled to that when we really need it rather than fighting it alone? We’ve shared so much and had incredible support from friends and family, that why wouldn’t we share this and, if need be, have that support again? Obviously, the ideal situation would be to be pregnant, and healthy and happy forever more.. but “what ifs?” Always lurk.

So, as ever, we all have everything crossed that between having James’ reject sperm rinsed out of the way of the decent sperm, alongside the pessaries is what we’ve needed all along, and in less than 2 weeks we will know if we are happily pregnant…🤞🏾

P.S. SORRY THIS TURNED OUT TO BE THE SUPER MEGA LONG ONE! 🤦🏽‍♀️

SO true – nabbed from google images ☺️