Tuesday, 12 February 2013

When IVF comes back to haunt you

My morning routine of toddler dodging was interrupted by a knock at the door.  The postman handed me a special delivery letter and my stress levels increased as I was sure someone had caught up with our practice of the dark art - that is otherwise known as family finances.  But instead it was a letter from the infertility clinic we used successfully to get pregnant…and unfortunately the stress levels weren’t going down any time soon.

It was exactly 2 years after my due date, and we had 4 weeks to confirm if we were going to refreeze the 2 embryos we had on ice for a hefty fee or dispose of them.

We can’t really afford to refreeze them if we’re not going to try for more children…which leaves us having to make a difficult decision in a few weeks – are we ever going to do IVF again?  And I can tell you, it’s a much harder decision 2nd time round.

Do we want any more children is only one of the fundamental questions we need to ask ourselves.  Do I want to go through IVF again, and is it right that we have two frozen embryos in the first place?

It is fortunate that we have twins, because we can stop if we want and know we already have a wonderful family.  Do I have the energy or the money for another one?  Can my relationship or mental health withstand a third child?  The jury is out.

When contemplating this, I had a disturbingly deep thought – one that hadn’t crossed my mind until now.  When a sperm fertilizes an egg and make an embryo, which is essentially a person in its first stages – does that mean it has a soul attached?  And if so, are there two souls stuck in the universe somewhere because of us?  This made me quite sick and I started to side towards disposing.  Is it just me who thinks this stuff? *quick Google search*  No thankfully.

Anonoman felt that if we did it again, we should go for “fresh” embryos as there’s a higher chance of success.  But this brings on another big decision.  Do I want to put myself through the drugs, and the egg collection again?  My IVF experience was very positive first time round.  I did produce 20+ eggs which certainly put my body under a lot of stress but could it bring on early menopause?  Apparently not – read http://www.medindia.net/news/IVF-Treatment-Does-Not-Lead-to-Early-Menopause-in-Women-Study-36251-1.htm   Wouldn’t it be better for my health to use the ones we already have?

There’s also my age to consider.  I’m 35 this year and I always said that I’d stop trying in my mid 30’s.  So if we’re going for it, it needs to be this year.  My head feels like a pressure cooker.

I also met a woman recently who believes that her breast cancer was as a direct result to the hormones used in her fertility treatment.  According to a recent Telegraph article, young women are 50% more likely to develop breast cancer in the 15 years after IVF. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9285015/Young-women-having-IVF-treatment-at-higher-risk-of-breast-cancer.html   Although I’m not considered young, there is a history of hormone related cancer in my family.  Would I be taking an enormous risk?

As first timers, our desire for children was so great that everything else took a back seat when it came to IVF.  But now the few weeks we have to decide on round two, in no way, reflects the complexity of the issue.

One thing I do know is I’m unequipped to play this life or death game, and am inclined to count my two beautiful blessings and leave the rest up to Mother Nature.  Ironically this is only made possible because of Sciences helping hand

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Dumb things I thought before I had kids

1) Coffee mornings with other mums will be so much fun.
The fantasy of sitting round sipping hot skinny lattes and chatting away to my hearts content, was just that – a fantasy.  Real coffee mornings were where a handful of mum friends tried their hardest to conduct an adult conversation but were constantly interrupted by crying, moaning, dribbling – and that’s just the other mums.  It’s more stop start than the M25 at rush hour.  It’s no longer chit-chat, its shit-chat.  I just repeated phrases like “sorry, carry on” or “carry on I’m still listening” whilst routing around in my bag to find something to make the twins happy.   By the time I’d changed, fed, soothed my babies and followed the odd conversation the coffee would be stone cold, and my head steaming.  My babies were anti-social so just screamed through most of my get-togethers.  Hell.
2) I’m going to give breastfeeding a go, but if it doesn’t work, I won’t worry about it.
Ha!  Every time I read this it makes me laugh.  Everyone one of my friends said the same and what often happens is that it just doesn’t work.  Whether that’s down to the baby not being interested, or your body not playing ball due to trauma, stress, c-section – it just didn’t happen for some of me, like many others.  You’d think at that point I’d just shrug my shoulders and happily reach for the Aptamil.  But instead I told myself that I just need to work harder at it.  I expressed 6 times a day, including getting up at night.  I’d give my babies more opportunities to latch on.  Before I knew it I’d be supplementing my dribble feeds with formula because I was worried about their weight – doubling my work load because now I was sterilising bottles on top of expressing and breastfeeding.  My nipples hadn’t seen that amount of abuse since an enthusiastic college boyfriend who played me like his play station consol.   I felt obliged to justify myself to others when they enquired how it was going.  I blame the slogan “Breast is Best”, because if it doesn’t work then you’ve failed –because you’re not providing the best you can.  I eventually gave myself a break, but only after I’d beaten the part in my brain responsible for guilt into a coma.
3) I’d never let my young child around in a restaurant/cafĂ© like that
This thought would have developed simultaneously with the thought that children just needed some stimulation from the parents to behave in public.  There is a nano bit of truth to this (SOME kids probably can do this.  I can’t help it if I suspect sedative abuse).  But only now I have 2 year old twins of my own do I realise that the shear amount of energy it requires to keep a child (or two in my case) happily entertained could only be cooked up in a laboratory, and not from a professional sleep deprived mother like myself.  This is why if you spend any amount of time with other families, creative one-on-one play happens in short bursts followed by long periods of staring into space, cbeebies and running off to perform a household chore – or in PR speak, “recharging”.  So yes, I let my kids move about a bit to let off steam and give me time to just breathe.
4) Children are boring.
I could not have been more wrong.  Mother Nature has me well in her grip and I now find little people fascinating.  The joy found from bogey picking and cradle c(r)ap searching, cannot be underestimated.  Their ability to sense chocolate in my mouth without me even chewing, is remarkable.  A simple cuddle is heaven.
5) They can only have sweets on special occasions.
This resolution was going extremely well until I learnt that a lolly provides 5-10 minutes of silence.
6) I’ll take good care of myself
Pah!  If you’ve been to Northampton and seen a sunken eyed, pale faced Grot Bags look-a-like with clothes that could walk themselves – that’ll be me.  I remember to look in the mirror about once a month and each time my eyebrows are making great strides to meet up.  The thing is I WANT to give my kids all my attention.  I don’t care that people approach me to inform me about a local soup kitchen.  I’m happy for now, so will leave the wilderness that is my legs for another time.
7) I’ll do a part time course on maternity leave
Seriously, what was I thinking?  There was barely enough time to get dressed and remember to eat in the first year.  I must have thought I was having goldfish.

This is part one, because I could go on for quite some time.  What’s the biggest u-turns you made after becoming parents?  I’d love to hear them.