Sunday, December 26, 2004

Pass the parsnips, we have a plan

I started crying on Christmas Eve, and couldn't stop for awhile. I cried through "The Princess Diaries" and "Shrek" on BBC1. I cried through "Chocolat" premiering on BBC2. And I wept through numbers 40 all the way up to number 1 on the "100 Greatest Christmas Moments" on Channel 4.

E. was at first bewildered, then alarmed, then consoling during this weepfest. It took him a while to notice, so engrossed was he in the orgy of telly watching, but he finally realised I was not simply just upset at Johnny Depp's faux French-Irish accent.

"What's the matter, sweetie?" he asked, giving me a cuddle.

And I blurbled something along the lines of: "WhyforunexplainednobabynofamilyChristmas

So. What brought all this on? Well, I could go through the minutiae of our last appointment and what Dr Ticktock said, but honestly, it's too dull, even if you like reading about other people's infertility treatment decision-making process. Let's just say, he talked a lot, for half an hour, and most of it was garbled. It was also like "Infertility, Dick & Jane style", whereas I already have a degree from Google Medical School.

What it boils down to is this:

1. Carry on trying and do nothing medically.
2. Try Clomid for a few cycles.
3. Do an unmedicated IUI.
4. Do a Clomid IUI.
5. Do IVF.

That's it. Our clinic won't do injectable IUIs, so we would have to go someplace else if we wanted to do that. We also have to pay for any treatment from now on, unless we want to wait three years for NHS funding.

These were the things we needed to think through. Namely, where, when, and what.

The "where" comes from the realisation that if we have to pay out of pocket, there is no reason to necessarily stay with our current clinic. We may as well pick a place that suits us in terms of appointment times, waiting lists, location, reputation.

That "when" should become such an issue surprised me. Once upon a time I thought that we would head, all body parts blazing, into an IUI cycle. However, I discovered that I was more than a little taken aback by two things. The first, that we were really going to have to do this, to have medical intervention to get pregnant.

I don't really know why this should have come as a revelation- after all, I have slowly been coming to that understanding over the last year. And for months now, I have been completely embedded in the infantry of others' infertility wars, albeit wearing a flak jacket and clutching a press pass. So I thought I knew exactly what to expect and how to feel about it. But finding out that this is no fire drill, but is really happening- to us- was a shock.

The second thing is I realised I resented the hell out of entering into, and paying money for treatment for a medical problem that is UNEXPLAINED. Never mind the lack of a guarantee it's going to work, nobody can seem to tell us why we need to go through it in the first place. So that was hard.

However, and this is where the "when" merges into the "what" and the "where", there are timetables to consider. We're clearly not ready to embark on IVF. But if we stay at our clinic, we would need to get IVF teed up some months in advance. Dr Ticktock suggested that, regardless of what we decided in the long run, it would do no harm to get a consultation set up at the Ass Con Centre, with a view to starting IVF at a pre-determined date. Say January 2006. Everything else in between could be arranged at relatively short notice, whenever it suited us.

And so the tears, as I pondered all of this. Clomid. IUI. IVF. Statistics. Costs. Clinics. Timetables. My period showed up on Christmas morning, just to add to the sense of frustration and doubt.

Finally, E. and I sat down at Christmas dinner, and talked it all over, as you do, between the brussels sprouts and the roasted potatoes. We agreed to stick to our current clinic. At the end of the day, the options for going elsewhere are somewhat limited in terms of staying in Scotland, and at this point neither of us can quite face the logistical nightmare of treatment down South.

Then E. said what I had been thinking, namely, that we should wait just a few more months. If only so we can feel, with some sort of closure, that we have done our best, and that it is now time to try medical assistance. Agreed.

Finally, "what", in terms of treatments.

"I think we should do a Clomid IUI," E. said.

"That's easy for you to say, " I told him, helping myself to more gravy. "Apart from the whole idea of getting on the treatment rollercoaster, I approach Clomid with a certain amount of dread."

"I know," he admitted. "If you don't want to do it, you don't have to."

For a brief and tantalising moment, option 1-"do nothing medically" danced appealingly in the air. Oddly, there is something so compelling about just carrying on as we have been. About throwing my hands up to the whimsy of egg & sperm, or of fate, or whatever you wish to call it. Of relaxing into the idea that we don't have to be parents, if it never happens on its own.

I looked at E. He looked at me. I took a deep breath.

"OK. March 2005. Clomid IUI. Let's do it."

He reached a hand across the table. And we shook on it, in a strangely business-like, yet comfortingly decisive manner. Forming a contract. Sealing the deal.


At 7:28 PM, Blogger The Barrenness said...

Barren M.,

Don't even bother with an unmedicated IUI. It would probably be a waste of a cycle. Good luck in March.

The Barrenness

At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Mare,
I'm so sorry. This is so frustrating. I can't say what would be best, because you know what is best for you, but I would be curious to know how you 'stim'. I only did one cycle, but it gave us a lot of information (i.e., since we knew that FSH was my issue, it told us that I respond well, but that the diagnosis of sucky quality eggs was most likely the real reason why and it wasn't worth our money to pursue IVF because our odds of success were really low).

I'm sorry. Thinking of you from far away with crappy internet connection.


At 8:38 PM, Blogger Soper said...

You are right, nothing is more frustrating than a diagnosis of "Unexplained." And you're right, it isn't even a real diagnosis.

Is there any stuffing left? Oh, and what's for dessert?

At 9:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, some people (not me) don't have any side effects from Clomid. Maybe like your HSG - you'll be lucky again and it won't affect you in nasty way. Congratuations on making a decision.
-Beaver Girl

At 10:36 PM, Blogger persephone said...

Oh, Barren Mare, I see myself in this post so much. We are also unexplained, and it's a constant struggle for me to accept that we're not going to do any more tests to find out what's wrong, we're just going to throw invasive, expensive treatments at it and see if anything sticks. How can this possibly be good medicine?

I spent about a year reading infertility blogs before I started treatment, and getting more and more alarmed. I couldn't help but admire how much these women were willing to put themselves through for a baby, but I was nowhere near ready to do the same. It seemed like masochism to me. When we went for our first consult, I was so relieved to be sent home to keep trying for another 6 months.

Oddly, by the end of the 6 months I was so ready I couldn't stand to waste another minute. We went straight into a Clomid/IUI cycle. I don't know you very well, but I think that if it's the right time, you'll know.

At 11:12 PM, Blogger Anna H. said...

Ah Mare, sorry Christmas Eve was such a weepy one. The holidays are so, so hard...

Sounds like you guys made a decision that will work for both of you. Just wanted to chime in with Beaver Girl that not everyone has a bad reaction to Clomid -- the only side effect I had was, well, LUST. So Clomid time was actually a lot of fun for both of us. Just wanted to pass on one more perspective on the stuff.

Thinking of you two and hoping the rest of the holidays will be a bit more peaceful now that you have a plan.


At 11:46 PM, Blogger Jen P said...

Congrats Mare (& E) on coming to that place, where finally something is's a hard road to travel to decide when you actually take it all onwards. I think it's a cruel, cruel thing doctors do with that 'unexplained' bs, because really, like it's what you want banging around in your head in the middle of the night. At least with a shitty condition or really, really bad sperm you've got something to ponder over and google the shit out of.

We did 2 sets of 4xClomid cycles and the 2nd of each round was the worst for me. My OB refused to do IUI because of my scarring issues so I can't give you any super cool tips of the trade for that one.

For Matt it was really, really hard to admit we needed assistance and to submit to all the testing and then the cost of those 8 drug cycles. For me, at least it was progress. We had been flogging the horse for almost 2 years when we started the Clomid and I felt immense relief once we started the cycles, like I was finally doing all I could, and damnit, it was no longer up to me.

I wish you and E so much luck, so much joy and so much better luck this coming year. Go with a clinic you can navigate to in the wee hours of the morning for shitty scans and blood draws and push back when the shitty girls in the office act all stupid. Hoping and hoping 2005 will treat you right. Best wishes Mare.

At 12:48 PM, Blogger E. said...

Your period came Christmas morning? Ugh, that is just wrong. I'm so sorry you and E. have had to come to this point, especially with such a frustrating "diagnosis." But congratulations on moving forward despite the perils. I'm hoping so hard for you.

At 3:01 PM, Blogger lobster girl said...

Mare, I'm sorry you had to weep in front of the TV. That's happened to me many times. And unexplained is a suck ass diagnosis. It was mine too, and it's incredibly frustrating.

For what it's worth, we did 4 unmedicated IUI's when we first started treatment, and I wish we hadn't bothered. It's a good idea to move right on to the Clomid IUI, me thinks.

At 8:51 PM, Blogger Orodemniades said...

You should check out the Aberdeen Clinic.

As long as your BMI is under 30, that is.

Still, though, March isn't all that far away...

At 10:24 PM, Blogger Sandy said...

ahh Mare, I'm so sorry that Christmas Eve was weepy. I've had a few very cathartic weeps of late in front of the tv. It sounds as if you are blessed with a great partner on this journey and that together, you're making the decisions that are right for you. The only ones who can make the decisions are the two of you ... take good care of each other.

At 12:23 AM, Blogger Julianna said...

Sorry you are having such a sucky time.........

*clink* *clink* - here is to your March 2005

At 8:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's to 2005, baby.


At 9:58 PM, Blogger Toni said...

Congrats on the plan. Here's to hoping that you don't need it. :)

At 2:16 AM, Blogger Heather said...

First off, congrats on coming up with a plan. That in itself must be a weight off your back. Second, just wanted to add my two cents in telling you not to fear the Clomid. I had some killer hot flashes, but they were more comical than alarming. I was in a great mood the entire time I was on it and also (as someone else mentioned) had some positive "sexual side effects."

So you see. Every cloud has a silver lining, and all that.

At 3:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a plan, and it sounds like a reasonable one. We'll all be cheering you on and crossing our fingers. Love, Heidi (lost and finding)


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