IVF

I was recently tagged in a blog post (from someone I don’t know – not sure if it was an accident!) about IVF and how she felt like it was a dark, dirty word. Like she had failed herself and her family and society in being unable to do what we are placed here on earth to do: reproduce.

I have to say, although it is a living hell finding out that it just isn’t going to happen without some help, and I wish upon anything we had been able to conceive naturally and just been able to start our family 3 years ago as per my ideal. I have never, ever, been ashamed of IVF. Quite the opposite – I am proud of it. Fascinated. I could talk about it all day and I LOVE when people have a million questions for me about it! I think it is incredible what the powers that be of science and medicine can achieve. That without their little bit of help we wouldn’t be able to have the family we so desired. That the words “Baron Karen” that always echo around my head, are a thing of the past thanks to science. I forget if it is 1 in 4 or 1 in 8 couples trying to conceive struggle to do so, and do need some help. So those that do need help are far from alone.

A card which my husband received for his birthday that we found funny… and which won’t be true for our children! Another woman knocked me up! ๐Ÿคฃ

And I guess – alongside the fact that I appear to be quite the “oversharer”! That this is why I share about it, talk about it, and write about it openly. Because we aren’t alone. When I first started blogging about IVF I had two old friends inform me they too had struggled and had IVF. They are two pregnancies I remember distinctly being announced and thinking that it wasn’t fair – “when is it our turn?” So sometimes not everything is as plain as the eye can see – others struggle too, and knowing we weren’t alone suddenly made me feel better – and bad; for making the assumption!

There isn’t a day goes by when other pregnancy announcements hit me hard – when it appears that everyone else conceives so easily, which is why it was/is important for me to share that for some – it just isn’t so easy, and that really, if we don’t laugh about it, it just makes it all harder.

Spotted on instagram ๐Ÿ˜‚

Food/Eating Disorders/Pregnancy Cravings – we each know our own bodies better.

I was riled, a few months ago, watching a couple of programmes regarding eating disorders – something I always watch if I know it’s on, because I am simply fascinated, still. The first, was the “Wasting Away: The Truth About Anorexia.” And another with Louis Theroux. I remember, whilst watching, that both James and I were gobsmacked – and I have, from experience, a lot more understanding and knowledge of Anorexia.

What I will say from the offset, is that anyone that can be considered a role model should think very carefully about what they are saying/posting, although I believe if you are going to suffer with an eating disorder (or any other mental health issue), you will probably do so regardless of what you see/hear etc. I think you are pre-disposed within your genetic makeup in the same way some people get Cancer, and others don’t. However, I don’t believe the likes of Kim Kardashian (pains me to even write her name in one of my blogs ๐Ÿ˜ซ!) and the idiotic things she – or other similar individuals – say/do/post are going to cause eating disorders in young men/women, but I do think at times they are selling utter shite. If you are hungry, food or drink (not booze people๐Ÿฅ‚๐Ÿพ!) will suppress your appetite, not a lollipop ๐Ÿญ, ladies and gentlemen. In fact, I am currently eating a Chupa-Chups lollipop and am quite sure that once I’ve finished it, my appetite will no longer be suppressed and I’ll simply move onto another snack..

I seem to have this inbuilt part of me that has this need/want to help and support others, hence why I continue to write this blog.

Mark Austin and his daughter Maddy gave an incredibly open, and honest account of life with anorexia (Wasting Away: The Truth About Anorexia). Everything they both said is the exact kind of situation that happens with mental health illness and destroying families. The exact same happened in mine: anorexia isolates you, it makes you cunning and kuniving and it destroys relationships. Parents – or those that have no chance to understand – are angry, frustrated, exasperated. I hope history doesn’t repeat itself, and when I first started writing this – I was also still hoping anorexia hadn’t entirely destroyed my ability to have an embryo/blastocyst implant and carry a healthy pregnancy/birth/child. Thankfully, I have made it 25 weeks in and everything is healthy so far.

But it still hasn’t been easy. Whilst I am beyond in love with the ever-growing bump attached to the front of me, I am not thrilled with how I currently look overall. I stopped running in order to conceive – and anxiety meant I didn’t try again until we were 13 weeks, by which point, all fitness was lost and I was not in a position to push myself for fear of hurting our much-longed-for, unborn baby. Whilst I don’t doubt from other people’s comments that I perhaps still see myself as larger than I actually am (although believe me, I am heavy now!) my thighs, therefore {to me} are enormous. I have craved, and thus eaten non-stop carbs for the past 25 weeks; foods which I would normally reserve for never due to their ability to make me gain weight just thinking about them. I still live with mental health issues that I fight against daily, that no one can ever fully understand, and thus no one can ever fully have an input – especially if it is unasked for – thank you very much!

Recently, I’ve found people telling me what I should and shouldn’t be eating. People that will never be pregnant are included in this (aka men, or those older who have never wanted children) and I spent a drive home from an anxious hospital appointment a few weeks ago in tears, fuming and thinking about it, and the things I’ve done to my body over the years:

When I was 16, upon waking and realising no-one else was home, I leapt out of bed and ran through to my parents ensuite to weigh myself and see if the scales were acceptable to me yet.

I knocked myself out on a door frame/TV cabinet on the way through because I was so dizzy and fainting. In the 5 days prior to that morning, I had eaten just one apple. Nothing suppressed my appetite, I tried everything to be constantly thinner, and as a result of hunger, passed out.

In 2015, over ten years later, aged 26/27 I spent a month barely eating, and sneaking off to throw up everything I did consume. I taunted and teased myself by joining in with others and accepting free hot chocolate the work canteen was offering at the time – throwing it all up as soon as it was finished. Months later at 27/28 I struggled to push myself – desperately – through a 5 mile run because all I’d allowed myself for three days prior was “juice diet”. “Healthy” green liquid or water only. Less than a mile in I could feel my kidneys in pain, my muscles physically unable to run through a full 5 miles from lack of fuel. And yet mentally, I was livid with myself still. Angry at my body at having to run-walk-run as someone who knew they could usually run for miles on end and love it. You cannot function on nothing. Food, is fuel.

I remember lying to my friends that I’d already had dinner/was eating dinner at home later. Lying to my parents that I’d eaten out with my friends. I remember trying to throw up the smallest bit of cheese I’d sucumbed (BECAUSE SUPPRESSING YOUR APPETITE DOESN’T EXIST!!) to eating off my friends pizza, in the Pizza Hut toilets aged 15. I remember flushing food down the toilet or chucking it in the bin whilst exercising for a minimum of an hour every single day. I remember asking my parents for school dinner money rather than food so that at least I wouldn’t waste the food; because, whilst adamant I didn’t deserve food, I still felt a resounding guilt that I was simply throwing food away when there were – are – thousands of starving people in the world. I remember that I wasn’t kidding anyone. I remember it all too well, for someone who’s memory is largely shot to pieces. How can you forget such hideous self punishment?

Having been diagnosed “Anxiety with depression” aged 26, in 2015, I also honestly believe anorexia/eating disorders are a side effect, a symptom, a coping mechanism for wider issues. When I had my first mental health breakdown in March 2015 I had spent the previous 6+ weeks over exercising, marginally under eating and regularly throwing up everything I did eat. It was something I could control. It was a coping mechanism to deal with my heightened anxiety, my low self confidence and self esteem, it was an outlet, but it kills.

So what I don’t understand now, is how anyone thinks they have the right to tell someone – anyone – let alone someone who has been through what I have – what they should and shouldn’t be eating, when they’ve not asked, but particularly through pregnancy. I believe after all these years I am more than aware of what I should/should not eat in order to achieve weight gain/loss. I also instinctively believe I (we: baby and I!) will crave what we need. This pregnancy, that has NOT been salad. And I do love me a good salad. Maybe, if I’m lucky enough for a future pregnancy(/pregnancies?!) perhaps salad will be craved.

Yes – I am eating a lot of (ok ONLY!) carbs. Just because that isn’t considered an “odd” craving to many doesn’t mean it isn’t a craving, and is just an “excuse” to eat them. I have never eaten carbs like this before – I used to avoid them like the plague. I have never wanted or apparently needed carbs like this before. I can’t remember the last time I allowed myself a jacket potato (rather than sweet potato), or white pasta (rather than spelt). Crisps used to make me feel uncomfortably bloated and thus I would still avoid them even at parties when they were laid out as nibbles. The last time I actually ATE a regular breakfast, rather than drinking a protein shake, or smoothie only, (and after running 3/5/7 miles), I was about 10 years old.

So yes, it’s a lot of carbs. Yes, I’ve gained a lot of weight, no, I am not thrilled about it: in fact if I could take scissors to my thighs to cut off the extra chub, I would. But I don’t think I am massively complaining about it – yes I’m calling myself “fat”, a “beached whale”; that’s how I feel right now, but I say it in jest! I am not going to do anything about it whilst I am carrying our miracle baby. I am not entirely stupid – enough so to think for a second all of this weight will just “fall off” the second the baby pops out. I will have to work at it, hard – but does anyone honestly think this is something I’m not prepared to do? Someone who, when working full time would get up at 5/5.30/6am to run, and spent most days ensuring she exercised twice? Someone who is known to have got up during worst bouts of insomnia and run for 5+ miles at 1am?? I am not prepared to risk something we have wanted, and tried for, for so long. I tried to run to keep off some weight, but it’s not for me – not this time, this pregnancy anyway; it’s too late, too hard and therefore too much of a worry to me to keep trying until the baby has arrived. I have never craved, or eaten, carbs like I am doing now, and so, I believe there must be a reason for this, and for once in my life, I am not going to deny what my body – our baby – is asking for.

I have said time and time again that unless you have physically experienced a mental health issue, you will never fully understand – no matter how much training you have had. I had two incredible (NHS) therapists providing me CBT and CAT over the last few years but for both of them I always felt (particularly the first) that you just don’t really get it until you’ve had it – and I wouldn’t wish anyone to have mental health illness. We all have mental health – some of us are just lucky enough not to have mental health illness.

HOW is it, that 23 years ago – yes, you read that right, TWENTY THREE – the incredible Princess Diana opened up and spoke about her mental health – her eating disorder, and yet here we still are in 2018 with still so much stigma, a distinct lack of understanding, and with idiotic products on the market promising suppressed appetites and “miracle” weight loss to those vulnerable and desperate enough to believe them?

Bigger arms, bigger thighs, bigger bum and bigger boobs. But a beautiful, beautiful, healthy baby bump. Oh, and my “appetite suppressant” lollipop.. which as it happens I’ve just finished… time for crisps!

ALSO:

  • Rufus
  • My husband
  • My health
  • My friends and family

xxx

EDIT – to add the below screen grabs that I’ve had saved on my phone since forever, because they make such valid points! Thanks to AliceLiveing for the words!

Thank you, BCRM x

We will never be able to thank the amazing team at BCRM enough for what they have achieved for us. If it wasnโ€™t for them we wouldnโ€™t be pregnant with what felt like the impossible – our first little miracle IVF baby – and we wouldnโ€™t have four potential siblings frozen for future.

But sure – any fertility clinic can likely get you pregnant and achieve the seemingly impossible, right?

I actually only chose Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine over slightly-closer-to-us Exeter Fertility, because my best friend and godchildren live in Bristol; so I figured after any major stress or upset I could nip in on them and have a hug and make it all better…

Except that was never the case, because the team at BCRM really, genuinely care for you. Yes, there is a therapist available for [mental health] support – letโ€™s face it, battling infertility isnโ€™t easy – but, stubborn old me was done with talking to therapists. However, I never needed to see her anyway, because they take the time to find out about you, care for you, and if you need a hug, theyโ€™ll give you one. And in my simple opinion – a hug fixes everything! The nurses and HCAโ€™s there are some of my favourite people on Earth now.. I hope they never change and the team stays the same forevermore…! Theyโ€™ve got tonnes of patients to see but they wonโ€™t let you out that door if they feel like something is up with you – theyโ€™ll coax it out and youโ€™ll feel better for it…

I am so glad we were squeezed in before the NHS funding was removed from BCRM, as I really didnโ€™t want to move clinics and have a potentially less supportive team!

Extra special thanks to Jane our โ€œnamed nurseโ€, Carrie who impregnated us (๐Ÿ˜‚) Anne, Lydia, Jackie and Sue.

All the flowers, cake and words in the world will never be enough, but thank you BCRM, and I hope that you do all know – really know – how amazing you all are xx

IVF NHS Funding

Hi all,
I know I post a lot (of pictures!) – But this post is important.
As I’m sure we all know, our NHS is under constant funding review. We all have our own opinions on politics and what and who should be funded – no one is right or wrong – but this one is obviously pretty close to my heart.
There is particularly a lot going on at the moment to do with finding and treatment for fertility patients; aka IVF.
We currently attend BCRM (Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine), in, obviously, Bristol!! Bristol or Exeter were the nearest places we could go to continue our treatment for fertility, as unfortunately further options aren’t available in Taunton, simply due to space and staff quantities. Both are roughly 80 mile round trips away… our next nearest would be Plymouth; a 160 mile/3 hour round trip away.. when undergoing treatment I pretty much have to attend every other day for 2+ weeks… it’s not even the cost of fuel or the mileage on my new car – it’s that it’s a boring drive and totally unreal to have to travel that far, in the U.K., in 2017, for NHS funded treatment..
The NHS NICE guidelines recommend that EVERYONE in the U.K. Get 3 tries at IVF. Obviously everyone’s ideal is to fall pregnant on the first go – or even better, without fertility treatment!

In Somerset we get one “go” at IVF. In Berkshire, you get 2. Essex: zero. Currently. Everyone should be entitled to NHS funded treatment – at the end of the day, no one asks to be infertile. 
There are currently reviews under way for BCRM to close/be privatised. Which means we may well be moved somewhere else entirely – just as I’m loving our new team (separation anxiety from the team at Taunton was tough after a year!).

There is also reviews for IVF to only be offered to women aged 30-35. 

Why? 

Why shouldn’t a younger, infertile woman be offered IVF earlier? My ideal would be that we already had 1, or 2 children – I always wanted to be a younger Mum. It’s forever a regret of mine that we didn’t start trying – and thus finding out about my infertile mess of a body (!)- earlier, but I can’t change that. However, I can help to ensure that women who do start this long, frustrating, heartbreaking process earlier, could possibly get their “younger Mum” dream.

Furthermore – why must women be younger than 35? My own Mum was 38 before she had my (younger) brother, and whilst I rip the p*ss out of him (& will regret saying this!) there is nothing wrong with either of them. For those that find love “later”, or simply decide “later” that they want children, then why is 36 to “late” for funding?!

Couples should be offered IVF if needed even if one of them already has children – it’s the same as James and I not adopting because we want “our” child; not someone else’s. 
So, my plea is for you to fill in the form on the link below to support NHS IVF Funding for all.
Thank you xx
https://www.northsomersetccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/nhs-service-proposals/fertility-treatment-eligibility/

Infertility Sucks: The IVF Funding Debate

I started writing this having had Loose Women (I know, I know, I’m not even sure why it was on) on the television yesterday in the background, but quickly started to listen properly. I’ve seen further outrageous articles (some of which I cannot bring myself to read because my stress levels do NOT need raising any further, especially with no running!), comments, suggestions etc. since, which has meant: this is getting posted.

Restrictions on IVF terrifies me. I’m 30, husband 32. We’ve been trying for 3 years – around 2 years ago we discovered I don’t ovulate, so without help, we can’t conceive. It is no ones fault (but of course I blame myself), it is just the (un)luck of life. Earlier this year after 18 months of trying with the aid of Ovulation Induction at our local hospital, we began treatment with Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine. 

IVF is our last chance. Despite me being “only” 30, we get 1 try at IVF on the NHS, funded by Somerset (where we live) CCG (Clinical Comissioning Group);  2 less than the NICE guidelines (as well as “3” attempts at IUI, which whilst we have taken, after one fail and two cancelled treatments, I no longer feel any positivity about]. I’m from Berkshire originally and am aware Berkshire currently funds 2 “goes” at IVF. I also know, from discussions with fertility nurses and teams, that Essex gets zero funding.
It isn’t fair, and it most certainly isn’t a choice. I wish more than anything James and I could conceive our much-longed for child naturally. At no point did I wish to have to undergo various procedures and general prodding and probing and blood tests and injections and, worst of all, the heartache every single month when I am still not yet pregnant. Everyone should get their chance should they want to be a Mum – so many people seemingly manage to conceive so easily (whether they want children or not) and it is heartbreaking for those that can’t: I can’t take any more pregnancy announcements. I am feeling myself begin to isolate whilst I withdraw from friends or family who may (or may not) be about to announce their happy news. Of course I am happy for them – but it is long overdue our turn… when will that be? Will it ever be? My last period saw me hit an absolutely horrendous depression; I lost half a stone in 2 days. I couldn’t eat or sleep, I could barely move and I most certainly was not engaging in any communication, with anyone. I constantly worry that I have somehow already gone through menopause and no one has noticed and therefore it will never happen. I have said to James on more than one occasion that we should sell the big car and 5-6 bed house we bought – ready for children – when we moved to Somerset, move to a one bed getting rid of our mortgage alongside any other expenses because I’m so convinced it’s never going to happen.

We can and will pay once we’ve used up our NHS “chances” – but even in saying that, money and our savings ends somewhere…. and whilst I know the same goes for the NHS and the government – everyone should be funded for the 3 rounds of IVF as per the NICE (recommended) guidelines. We pay our taxes into the government; why should we not get some funding back out?? Or do we get to pick and chose now what our taxes go towards instead, because we seemingly get nothing else back for them!

It is so extra incredibly frustrating when you hear that what is essentially 29p paracetamol is being prescribed by doctors, but not the guideline amount of IVF, because [albeit a minority] can’t even be bothered to fund that themselves. Our postcode lottery on healthcare is disturbing. And, worryingly, of this also falls in line with my politics blog. Its all politics. Few of us are actually qualified or even in some cases*, clearly intelligent enough to comment.
I am constantly told “I’m still so young” but 3 years ago when we started trying, I was 27… when will I still be “so young”? The only thing I have ever and always known I wanted to be is a mother – and I wish I could turn back time to have not been so “worried” or “swayed by societal expectations” to not have children before marriage – my husband and I have been together 10 years now and I always have that hideous thought that I could and should have started trying earlier than when we got married; then we might have known sooner, begun treatment sooner, and may already have our much longed for child/children in our arms… for me, I’d rather be a younger Mum than older and it hurts to think that only I delayed that for daft reasons.

If funding for IVF is now only given to women aged 30-35, then me questioning my “still so young” timeframe just became even shorter. But also – if we had been ready and keen to start a family when I was 25, why should we not have been provided with that funding then as well? We still knew we wanted them, and we still would have faced the same infertility issues we face now.

I have faced a lot in the last few years, I’ve battled mental health difficulties my entire life, I’ve battled being “dumped” by friends/colleagues because of the isolation mental health creates around you, I gave up my career, I face worries about my parents and elder family members, and I ran a marathon. I know I am not alone in any of this, but nothing, none of these things are as hard as battling infertility.

And for those that think IVF should be private only – if you smoke and get lung cancer or have a heart attack as a direct result: should that be paid for by the NHS? Why?! At least infertility isn’t a choice*. For those that think adoption is the answer: should you not be more concerned about the fact that contraception is FREE on the NHS, and yet still there are so many children born each year that are placed into the care system?? Why should my husband and I not have our chance at OUR children, rather than the children of someone else who are lucky enough to conceive, yet can’t be bothered to look after their own? 

*one comment suggesting that “some” cases of infertility are asked for or someone’s fault because they are born from STI’s…. 1) I have never had an STI, (neither has James for the record) but I am pretty certain no one asks for an STI, thus fertility issues..

PCOS

Lots of blogging at the moment all… this is just a short one with a link to more info, but this resonates with me – not just because of the *possible* PCOS, but also, because I routinely notice what I eat, drink and how much I move, massively affecting my mood.

So, as seen, I spotted this in my Facebook feed a couple of weeks ago. Link to the article is http://pcosdiva.com/2016/04/8-steps-to-managing-your-mood-with-food/

 If you read my blog, you’ll already know I have fertility issues – I don’t ovulate and present with signs of “atypical PCOS”; Fertility Doctors and Nurses don’t think I’m excessively hairy, ultra spotty or overweight which are the 3 biggest indicators of PCOS.. obviously, whilst I am not actually overweight, I disagree. I think I’m far too spotty for an almost 30 year old, my hair is thick and dark (cool on my scalp, could do with some longer eyelashes and my eyebrows are fine, not cool everywhere else.. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿพ) and feels like it grows excessively (though I don’t get it on my arms, I have some odd random hairs on my tummy between my belly button and pubic line, which appear to lighten/disappear as I tan {?!} and I don’t need to wait the suggested month before getting waxed; I look like a gorilla ๐Ÿฆ within 2 weeks) and, as we all know, I think I’m too fat/too heavy/never happy with my weight and constantly measuring and fighting it. I do however, have A LOT of tiny follicles on my ovaries at any given moment; they just don’t seem to want to do anything, hence the question mark around whether I have PCOS or not. I don’t seem able to get a definitive answer either way. Frankly, I’m not consciously that caught up in it.. as long as I just hurry up and conceive with the fertility treatment and help we are receiving…! ๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿป

I do, however, present with mood disorders. All of those mentioned above actually. I was finally diagnosed in 2015 with Anxiety with Depression, which, from that diagnosis and on understanding now (thanks therapy!) has made me realise that anxiety and depression were the umbrella for the anorexia I have suffered on and off for nearly 20 years. Anxiety and depression are the cause; anorexia is the effect, if you like. Anorexia is the release, the “control”, the symptom. I am a healthy weight. I do not look anorexic. However, whilst I would and will frequently deny it until I am blue in the face, I know it still resides within me. I do compulsively exercise. I do frequently watch what I eat. I do weigh myself far too often; sometimes this results in a late night run to shift some pounds [yes, a combination of insomnia and needing to be skinnier has seen me run at midnight, 1am, 5am…] And I do “allow” the thoughts of being too fat and needing to stop eating and start moving to consume me more often that not.

Anyway, my point, of this “was-supposed-to-be-brief-now-quite-long” blog, is that, whilst I am not intolerant to food in general; I have no wheat allergy, or lactose intolerance, I don’t have Crohn’s disease and I can comfortably eat mostly whatever I want [mostly because there is definitely some things what will cause hideously uncomfortable IBS symptoms, but other than crisps which I routinely avoid, I am unsure of what, why or how/when!] BUT, and it is a big but (mine ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚!) I am fully aware that if I follow a path of what is considered “clean eating” although in reality is just what we should ALL be eating – what our ancestors ate – I feel a million times better than when I don’t. Now I do and will in the future take vitamins and supplements in tablet forms, but part of me thinks – our ancestors didn’t do this; so why do we? If we eat a healthy, balanced diet then surely that should be enough? I’ve been known in the past to be a fainter, or get “shakey” – and as the above linked article mentions, drops in blood sugar levels are likely responsible for most of this.

 I often bake or “no-bake bake” sweet treats from “natural” ingredients; because I do have a sweet tooth, but eating everything the supermarkets has to offer leaves me feeling fat, miserable and energyless. So there is definitely something to be said about refined sugars, too many [white in particular, for me] carbs and drinking enough water. So for me, minimum 2Litres of water a day, more fruit and veg, less carbs, especially white. I am not vegetarian, so I eat meat; but I also eat quorn mince at times because you can’t taste a difference by the time you’ve turned it into a spag bol/chilli con carne! I have also found that spelt pasta works best for me. It just means I can eat it without feeling energy zapped and bloated. Who knows why, and I don’t go to a restaurant demanding changes or spelt pasta etc (ok I lie, but slightly different; normally I can’t make a decision on one meal so combine bits of 2.. as done for breakfast at Kings Weston House cafe in Bristol last weekend .. I’m a delight ๐Ÿ˜‚! Cheers though guys!) and I just generally seem to have [mostly..!] gone off chips and prefer sweet potato chips ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿฝ but I don’t think I’m a complete nightmare customer.. just a piggy ๐Ÿท! Today for example, I am about to finish up some (beef mince) spag bol but with Sweet Potato/Butternut Squash noodles rather than pasta.. easy way to get more veg in, plus they are quite carby really ๐Ÿ˜! I also, when making the spag bol had juiced as well – as ages ago I read about using the pulp [note to self; try not to juice the limes/apples/ginger/turmeric into spag bol… ๐Ÿ™„] in spag bol-typed-meals rather than just throwing it away like I used to.. so we got some extra fibre in there too! [the juice is because I often cannot seem to quench my thirst at the moment and that has always been good in the past! A lot of people think I’m crazy and that it looks gross, but I like it and it works for me. I start every day with a smoothie for breakfast.] 

Now, I know you guys aren’t stupid, so take everything with a pinch of salt. There are hundreds of articles and information everywhere about what works and doesn’t work. One week coconut oil is the holy saviour of all life and perfect hair and skin and figures, the next its back dumped in the corner being told it will kill you. Do what works for you. We are all individual and unique, no two of us the same no matter how identical you appear – what works for me may not work for you. If 3 meals of McDonalds a day works for you; great for you (& McDonalds ๐ŸŸ I expect!!) But because I over-worry and over-care about everyone, I just want everyone to be and feel their best, and I know this works for me. 

Don’t get me wrong, panic attacks aren’t the only reason I avoid supermarkets. Sometimes I have the willpower to top all willpowers, but others (and this seems to be common recently: I blame all the meds and extra hormones) I just cannot avoid ALL the ice cream, all the Krispy Kreme’s or [Sainsbury’s*] jam doughnuts and I binge (and no, just no – it is very, very rare that I make myself sick after any food [anorexia]. I can’t remember the last time, but I’m fairly sure it hasn’t happened this year. Maybe not even last year.. ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿพ) just like the rest of us – comfort foods. It is a wonder sometimes that I don’t have Type 2 Diabetes. But eating like this, my body and mind becomes zapped. And I hate feeling that way. I hate feeling like I have no energy for anything: depression does that all by itself so I don’t need to aid it in anyway. Instead, for me, “clean eating” just works. And it works even more so now that spiralzing veg is accessible; either DIY or purchase in the supermarkets. So scrummy! Almond flour in my house is vast replacing plain white flour; “worst case” I tend to use wholemeal: you often cannot tell the difference. Sugar treats are replaced with more natural sugars from fruits or honey. Which leads me to the point of this blog – because my lovely, err… sister-in-law-to-be-but-they-aren’t-engaged (๐Ÿ˜…) brought me these amazing home-made snacks recently and oh my gosh, they taste like healthier versions of snickers ๐Ÿ˜ so here, lovely people is the receipe. Not my recipe, not my “fake”-sister-in-laws; she found online and shared with me, and I just feel like the world needs to have these in their lives! So simple and easy to make. Happy Karen. ๐Ÿ‘ฐ๐Ÿฝ (why is there no Princess emoji!!?!)

~ side note, I also used Cacao Powder rather than Cocoa Powder because I had no Cocoa left, and I’m happy to report they don’t taste super bitter so are also that little bit more “clean” ๐Ÿ˜€ http://12tomatoes.com/healthy-sugarfree-cookies-nobake-chocolate-oat-cookies/

TASTES LIKE SNICKERS ๐Ÿคค(gutted the recipe didn’t make more!!)

And because it makes me happy, here’s a couple of my other favourite “sweet treat” easy to make healthier, cleaner, energy providing-rather-than-zapping, recipes – all found online or sent to me by friends ๐Ÿ’•

https://blog.kitchenaid.com/fig-and-almond-energy-bites-recipe/ (These are perfect for a quick, pre-parkrun “breakfast” as I don’t normally find the time, or particularly need or like to eat much before a smaller morning run)

Fig/Date/Almond/Peanut Butter energy balls

https://deliciouslyella.com/2015/08/15/raw-chocolate-orange-brownies/ (According to a friend who had no oranges, but lemons/limes in stock at hers, they work just as well and sound delightful!) here’s my most recent batch:

Deliciously Ella chocolate orange brownies

A couple more things I feel the need to highlight:

1) stored in an airtight container in the fridge, these all last absobloodylutely AGES ๐Ÿ˜

2) switch in and out ingridients as you need/please. I.e. I rarely buy almond butter because I prefer peanut, I keep cacao rather than cocoa because of the raw, more natural content – it all works and tastes yummy ๐Ÿคค

*Sainsburys are the best. Don’t even bother bringing me Tesco own brand jam doughnuts ๐Ÿฉ๐Ÿคฃ but probably, for the sake of my health, just don’t bring me any jam doughnuts ๐Ÿ˜‚
Edit – P.S. I meant to add this, but ladies – if you are recently diagnosed PCOS and feel all doom and gloom, don’t. I have SO many lovely stories of young ladies (friends of friends, old colleagues, etc) diagnosed with PCOS who’ve then stopped all contraception and conceived without trying. Or been told after their first that they have PCOS (not sure if it can “suddenly” develop?!) I’m not saying this will happen for you, but, just to say; it’s happened. 

#PCOS #Fertility #FertilityAwareness #Infertility #InfertilitySucks #InfertilityAwareness #OvulationInduction #IUI #IVF 

April..

It’s April. I know I say this every single month, but I really don’t know where March went. Another blur and whirlwind of appointments. Still not pregnant. Still questioning if I ever will be and what happens if I won’t…

As a quick update – generally, I’m ok. I am off fertility meds for the first time in several months; hoping for a clear view this month as to what my body is up to on it’s own, before hopefully starting IUI/IVF end April/May… I’ve dropped (what I feel) is a necessary few pounds – but I really, really don’t think or feel like I have starved myself or over-exercised. For once. I’ve listened to my body. Ate and run as I wanted (more or less..!), and fortunately, this weird craving I seem to be having for all things healthy seems to be working well. I ran 20.4 miles Sunday just gone, and, as I am not pregnant, will be running the Virgin London Marathon on Sunday 23rd April 2017… Wish me luck…! I am excited and super nervous.. I will be glad and super proud to have finished it, but it is not going to be easy.. I have done what I consider the bare minimum training for it; although, I was already a runner so it isn’t like I was starting from scratch! I just haven’t done that many “long” runs. 2, to be exact. One at 16.6 miles in the most horrendous weather (epic, resistance-training-that-I-didn’t-need brutal wind and spells of rain), and the other on a gloriously perfect day for running, at 20.4 miles… Harder than I was hoping it was going to feel though, however I also ran quicker than I thought I was, so swings and roundabouts!

I’ve done so little distance training, as of course, I had continued to hope that I would actually be pregnant and not really running it… I continued to put off long runs so that I wouldn’t have trained up to a stupid distance and then have to “throw in the towel” and “give it all up” for pregnancy, and also, because that kind of distance running just isn’t really conducive to conceiving… I purposely waited to run the 20-miler once I knew I wasn’t pregnant. A new nurse at the hospital I am now under the care of for fertility treatments, mentioned to me at a blood test last week that I shouldn’t do “too much exercise” as I “want my body to be nice and sluggish for pregnancy”……. Never heard that one before… Obviously, I declined to mention I was running a marathon in 3 weeks..! Clearly, I know marathon training/running isn’t ideal for pregnancy, but it really is a once in a lifetime achievement – I do have the running bug, and I see how people become addicted (like me!) but I will NOT be taking up marathons as my new thing… Halve’s I can do, marathons; NO! Anyway, like I said, I have done minimal training in order to try and keep my body prepped for pregnancy. That is the single biggest and most important goal for me.. But exercise surely is good for you?! Once I have done the marathon I still intend to run, but my distances are likely to be 3 and 5 milers mostly. This is ok, right?! Maybe 5 times a week?! I need to run for my physical AND mental health… I love running..

In other “me” news… I am really not sleeping. I seem to be waking up almost hourly, even despite running 20 miles I didn’t sleep well that night. I have no idea why or what is going on. I don’t feel particularly stressed, upset or anxious about anything, although I have been having some insane dreams/nightmares when I am sleeping. I am confused! I have started taking a very low dose anti-anxiety/depressant med (10mg citalopram, low because; fertility) , which to my amazement did seem to kick in (or placebo) and do something straight away. I don’t feel like it has helped the anxiety side of things (1 example; I called my parents earlier because Dad hadn’t answered my face-time the night before, and I was genuinely worried they weren’t still alive..!) very much, but it does seem to have improved my “mood” and, aside from last Thursday (where I thought I was doing well and then cried 3 times in one day!) I don’t seem to be in tears quite as much… the arrival of my period last month didn’t destroy me quite as much as it usually does; in fact, my husband seemed more disappointed for the first time than me, which was sweet, and yet saddening for me to hear.. I thought I was the one mainly driving the desire for a family ๐Ÿ˜•.. Although I think the reality of “if I’m pregnant I can defer the marathon until 2018!” and then attempting to train, and then run a marathon with a newborn (or multiple newborns!) and potentially {milk} leaking boobs had finally dawned on me and I realised, really, it is best to run the marathon this year and get it done and out the way… At least (fingers crossed) I should then achieve something on my “30 before 30” list (having a baby clearly not going to happen now..!)

Anyway, despite this now-essay, I don’t really have much to say or update. I have been pretty busy, and thus not having the opportunity to think (probably why I’m not feeling as “depressed”!) or writing as much. I do have several blogs started that are only a paragraph long, where words have formed in my head, but then quickly disappeared before I can get much written down.. I’ll attempt them some day.. xxx