I'm Johanna - otherwise known as Jojo (or Jo) to all my friends. I've written a few blogs in the past but I've never been able to maintain them - they need to fill a need right? You need to feel that you are adding value to cyberspace; if you're not adding value and you're struggling to write then there really is no point in continuing. I've been looking for my next passion to get me blogging and by jove I think I've found it: the quest to make a mini-me! How bloody hard can it be?! That is the question?
Well it can be mighty hard and I don't think anyone can fully understand just how hard it can be until the trying starts and if after six months there's no bun in the oven - that's when fear starts to rear its ugly head. My Hubster and I are way past the six month stage and are now at the IVF stage. This is my truthful blog about what the IVF journey is really like, as no amount of preparation can truly get you ready for this journey. I hope my few words might help set the record straight; we all take it for granted that making a baby will be easy and that we can carry on raving it up until the very last second of our youth but trust me - it doesn't always work out like that, it might take years to get pregnant...
I'm on day 14 of down regulation; for those of you out there who don't know what that means, here's an explanation: in order for IVF to work the woman needs to shut down completely. Then the clinic can control your hormones and the only way they can do that is if there isn't any fertile activity g'wan - ironic hey? (I spent three years making myself work and now you're putting a halt to all that hard work?! WTF?!) The hormones that you initially start injecting with (some use spray but I'm injecting) shut all of your female reproductive hormones down - in short - you're given a chemical menopause - whoop de whoop!
Now I thought I was prepared, I've read everything there is to read, forums, booklets, medical journals, spoken to friends who have been through it (and are still going through it), gotten healthy and made sure I was fully vitamined up but my god - NOTHING PREPARES YOU!!! It's a bit like a two week come down that gradually gets worse - or having PMT on a monumental scale. BUT its not always that bad and it is manageable if you have the right attitude but it is tough, very tough on both the Hubster and me (obviously).
I inject 50 units of buserelin every evening at 7:30pm. My first injection all seemed wrong and I freaked (first proper IVF tears). I had a word with myself and and I "womaned up!" Stop crying woman and just get on with it! Its only an injection! If I'm honest, all of this is to make a baby and if I'm scared of injecting myself gawd knows what I'll be like when it comes to getting the baby out?! Fast forward five days and I'm jabbing myself mid Harry Potter studio tour - can't let this shizzle get in the way of a trip to Hogwarts now can I?! So trust me, if I can "woman up" and get used to daily jabs then anyone can - I actually think my fear of injections has left me - every cloud. To see what I inject daily check the photo at the end of this post.
BUT fast forward eight days of doing the jabs and that's when the fun starts, get to day 14 like I'm on and I wouldn't quite call it fun but its starting to get interesting:
- Mood swings
- Tears, lots of tears - big fat ones that roll uncontrollably down your face.
- Feeling HOT HOT HOT! And I don't mean hot in a sexy way - I mean sweaty roasting hot, when your specs steam up immediately when you get on the tube, and whilst everyone else is wrapped up you're positively ecstatic at the thought of a snowball fight in your cossie! Turning up to work after a stress free 45 minute journey with sopping wet hair and damp armpits is generally not the kinda look I'm after but such is life! This they don't tell you when they inform you of the hot flush side-affect, I thought I'd just feel a bit warm, not like I'd just jumped head first into the lido (in summertime) fully clothed... Nice! Ladies: as Baden-Powell would say: "Be prepared!"
- Forgetfulness - this translates to faffing and taking forever to do a simple task. The other morning it took me 1hr 40mins to get out the door to go to work. In that time I totally forgot where my specs were and had a proper meltdown - full on sobbing until I found them. Mid spectacle hunt I started to have a monumental hot flush so I took my cardi off, then I forgot where I put my cardi and spent a further 10 minutes searching for it - whimpering?! ARGH - SOOOOO FRUSTRATING!
- Headaches - MoFo, MoFo, MoFo.
- Loss of appetite - force feeding is now a daily occurrence.
- Insomnia - this is amplified when you're married to a man who snores, queue mood swings at this point and after three consecutive nights of barely any sleep, tears, exhaustion and clumsiness.
- Exhaustion - and not just when you haven't slept. I had to cancel two lunch dates with a friend and was late for two other lunches over the Christmas break as I just couldn't wake up and get my sorry bottom out of bed. Akin to being a teenager when sleep was the centre of your universe - getting out of bed at times is an impossibility.
- Clumsy - I headbutted the windowsill the other night (I'd dropped my headphones and I'm still looking for them. I bumped my head so hard I forgot about looking for my headphones!) I had hysterical laughter and tears for 15 minutes, to which my bemused Hubster tried to see if there was blood. No blood but I still have a comical bump - this all adds to the general sense of "sexiness" (said in a sarcastic voice).
Basically a woman hits the menopause when she gets to 45 - 55 and it takes roughly 18 months from start to finish and is a gradual process. Well condense that to 2.5 weeks and you can imagine the resulting carnage! HAPPY DAYS!!!
I have a very patient Hubster - we've been together an eternity and he's seen me in every which way I come but this is something else. IVF is a very frustrating thing for my lovely Hubster - he has been amazing and I love him very much - how he hasn't lost his rag with me (yet) is beyond me?! It's all happening to me - of course he plays a vital role in what is about to happen and has had to stop smoking, cut down on the booze and generally stop our party lifestyle (not as hard it sounds, our IVF journey started long before I started treatment, we'd started winding down a good while ago limiting ourselves to a few nights out a year with Bestival or Festibelly thrown in for good measure. But Summer 2012 was going to be big and will be known in years to come as our last hurrah - a time where we were able to celebrate being together as a couple - in moderation of course; we hoped 2013 would be the year we finally got pregnant). Summer 2012 will always be remembered as the year my best friend got married to Tom; their wedding festival marked the beginning of a summer jam-packed with fun and included us going on a Courtney record breaking: five festivals, Greece for 10 days, the Olympics and Paralympics - we went out with style knowing our IVF treatment was imminent. Oh what fun we had! My Hubster has adjusted super quick to his now irrational wife who sobs almost on command, he scoops me up daily, calls me (fallen) Angel, makes me crackup laughing several times a day. In short he makes it all worth it as this is about US and not just me - two want to become three so whatever it takes...
My coping mechanism is this: The IVF Belief CD. Without listening to this CD every night I doubt I'd still be laughing and generally stress free and super positive (with the daily exception). As despite all of the above I am super optimistic. Believing that all of this will be worth it is half the battle, not taking yourself too seriously but making sure you are chilled and are looking after yourself is also very important.
My friends joke that I've become their vitamin pusher; for a good while now I have been investing in my body, looking at what I eat, what vitamins and minerals I take, cutting caffeine out (apart from one coffee in the morning - having a "proper cup of tea" has now become a real treat), stopping the social smoking and cutting my booze intake right down. On NYE at Emma and Tom's party I was rather tipsy after two small glass of champagne! They were swiftly followed by a jug of water and later on I was on the spritzers - all three of them! I was happily whisked home at 3am after having a good old dance and feeling sober, it proves it can be done. So booze, when drunk has been watered down for a good while now, the full fat stuff knocks me sideways! I've spent a small fortune in Holland & Barratt on:
I recommend anyone trying for a baby takes some if not all of the above when they start their journey. Vitamins, exercise (in moderation - I had to stop running which I still haven't quite gotten over), and healthy eating; brazil nuts and pineapple juice are both rich in selenium and broccoli is high in zinc - both good for the swimmers.
Given that I've compared down regulation to having a monumental come down here's another one of my coping mechanisms: The Orb. If you need to chill then you NEED to listen to Little Fluffy Clouds. The Orb's Little Fluffy Clouds takes all my stress and negative energy away, off they float into the universe and they leave me alone.
And finally - other than my wonderful Hubster, healthy living, The Orb and hypnotherapy CDs - my friends help keep me sane. I am blessed with the most awesome group of friends (you know who you are), and for them I am so very grateful. They let me be me and my gosh - they have amazing patience and listening skills (and they're all hilarious - they make me laugh so hard and I love them to the moon and back - they are ***totes amaze***). I may appear to be blaśe about IVF and my journey but they know the gravitas of what is happening here. So at the very least, if you're reading this and are in the same situation as me but have a very different attitude and are keeping your IVF journey very private, its worth considering leaning on your friends. Given how I have reacted to the drugs there is no way on God's earth I could've kept our IVF journey a secret. If I had tried I would've revealed all after being harassed over my strange behaviour: your friends provide support when you need it most and without my friends I would be lost.
I have to go and do my 14th jab so I'm signing off. Not every entry will be this long - I'm just setting the scene! So catch me later as I fill you in on mine and the Hubster's quest to make a mini-me.
50 units of buserelin, 7:30pm dally for 2 - 3 weeks.