I Hear The Blues A’Callin

Some of you may be aware of the consternation generally experienced by a hen who has been given duck eggs to hatch, when her pseudo-chicks plunge happily toward water and leave her clucking on the bank. I have a vaguely similar feeling myself, in that things should not be happening this way. Something has gone subtly, dischordantly wrong. I am, in short, feeling quite repulsively sorry for myself.

I was planning to have a last-ditch month-long brutal weight-loss prior to IVF. Well, that was before they put my sorry carcase on Loestrin. I have eaten, scoffed, munched, snacked, foraged, nibbled, scarfed, gobbled, bolted, devoured and gorged myself to a half-stone weight gain. In a month. The reason I have not exploded through sheer Mr Creosote-like excess is… actually, there IS no reason, and I’m not altogether sure why I haven’t popped like a light-sabred Tauntaun. I still may!

In the rare intervals that my mouth has been empty enough of food to frame speech, I have also been complaining of continuing and unpleasant nausea – which may sound a little peculiar after my description of the everlasting convoy of provender leaving the fridge, but, for the love of God, don’t dare question me on it, because I may just offer to send you home in an ambulance. Pal.

I am, frankly, unbearable. Shrieking harpy simply doesn’t do me justice, and I would even like to be further away from myself. The slightest reverse can alter me, toute de suite, from a cheerful being to a murderously revengeful maniac. This is not helped by the fact that my brain cogs appear to be struggling against an application of what feels like particularly viscous treacle. 

I was reduced to tears of frustration and fury… actually, several times this week, but the most galling and humiliating instance was when I absolutely couldn’t figure out how long to roast a chicken for. 20 mins per 500g, plus 20 mins = I understood. The chicken weighed 1.35kg = I understood. And… I stalled. I stood there for a number of minutes, staring hard at the label, my mind freewheeling helplessly on the slippiness of the maths, trying and failing unhappily to hook even a single mental cog into a multiplication notch. Eventually I gave up on precision, and, by guestimating on my fingers, worked out that 75 minutes would obviate both food poisoning and carbonisation, but I was still frustrated that I couldn’t work it out. I peered again at the label, which, most unreasonably, hadn’t changed to provide any clearer instructions. I even directed a particularly poisonous glare at the chicken, the architect of my misery. I tried 20 x 1.35 /100.  I tried .33 x 135 x 100. I tried 40 x 100/1350. I tried, in fact, any combination of numbers I could think of that might bear some vague connection to the dimensions and cooking time of this cursed fucking chicken, with zero, zero idea of just what the bloody hell I was playing at.

Now, all my nearest and dearest will tell you that I am abnormally poor at mathematics (my very nearest and dearest is getting himself started on a OU physics degree, however, so you must take into account the wild discrepancy in our respective abilities) but even I can, on a good day, with a following wind, figure out that if you divide 1350g by 500g, you get 2.7. Multiply that by 20mins and you get 54 minutes. Add another 20 minutes and you have 74 minutes. It’s a calculation I regularly follow in order to cook meat. My brain, in its current state of addled imbecility, could not even begin to scale these unsurmountable peaks of calculus, so I simply sobbed with diffuse shame and rage into the potato peelings instead. And when John, upon arriving home and hearing of my personal Hodge Conjecture at full-blast, was unwise enough to actually attempt to instruct me on the correct calculation to use… well. I had to go and have a quiet sit down; or as close an approximation to quiet as one can have in any building that also contains our son.

If I was taking this hell-potion drug purely for anti-reproductive purposes, I would, naturally, shove it up someone’s arse request a change of prescription. It’s bloody useless. I was 12 hours late taking the thing a few days back, and I am now paying for it with breakthrough bleeding (Yay! More bleeding! After a whole fortnight off!). I also had what looked suspiciously like very fertile *ahem* mucus a week ago, although I’m assuming that not even the low-dose pill could be quite that inadequate – not when faced with my mighty ovaries of puissance and potency! As it is, I have 5 more pills to take. I reckon I can stagger as far as Friday, if I can just avoid being jugged for some fearful temper-lapse involving both my hormones and a blunt instrument. 

To compound my self-pity issues, I have a tonsil infection which has laid me holistically and grumblingly low for the best part of a week, and has progressed to Sneezing. I am also proding my lymph nodes morbidly, Googling toxoplasmosis, and cursing myself for a pillock, as, with the kind of impulse-control I deplore in my offspring but limply condone in myself, I went into a lambing pen and delivered a labouring ewe of a vaguely troublesome second lamb earlier this week. It was a decision borne of nothing more than seeing a ewe who, having got as far as expelling the head inside an unburst membrane, wasn’t doing much else – and wanting to help. I like lambing. I like the happy lambings, anyway. John was only in the other shed, and was easily summonable. The ewe, come to that, wasn’t particularly distressed. It wasn’t urgent. I just… yeah. Climbed over the fence.

I had forgotten how startlingly and pleasantly warm the … ahh… shall we simply say ‘innards’ (or Google will punish me with endless profferings of the depraved, especially in conjunction with my ‘cursed fucking chicken’ back in paragraph 5) of a sheep are when you have bloody cold fingers on a chilly Spring morning. The lamb had a leg back, which was what was delaying matters, and when I’d corrected the presentation, the ewe would likely have got on with things herself very shortly, but I pulled the lamb for her to save her the effort, and also for the sheer pleasure of seeing the little creature start its life. I deposited him in front of the ewe’s nose as soon as I’d pulled him out, and cleaned some of the fluid away from his head with a wisp of hay. He duly did the decent thing and began to breathe, which is behaviour I always approve of in a newborn. Mrs Ewe seemed chuffed with events, judged by her low-pitched chuckles, and bestowed an enthusiastic licking. I felt in no hurry to move, despite the fact that I was soaked to the knee in blood and amniotic fluid, and by the time John came along to see where I’d disappeared to, I was experimentally squirting a very satisfactory jet of milk out of her udder, and dragging lamb number 1, who had been rather neglected during the appearance of his younger sibling, towards that part of his mother that was serving the drinks. I had even, as John remarked, managed not to leave my unregarded wedding rings (designed flat & smooth for just this sort of eventuality) inside the sheep. Result.

Well, my hands  had a good dose of iodine – accidentally, I might add, it’s dreadful staining stuff – and I was very conscientious with the nailbrush and handgel, and washing my clothes. I don’t deserve toxo after that, and I’m sure my risk is no more enhanced than it already is, but I haven’t deserved the previous 4 miscarriages either, and life’s not like that. 

On the recurrent miscarriage topic, I have an appointment tomorrow afternoon with this Consultant, who has just started a research project based at my clinic and the local university. I have naturally Googled the living hell out of her, and Ooooh, look what she’s done!

A study to investigate the vasculature of the uterine endometrium artery blood flow in women with idiopathic recurrent pregnancy loss.

I shall have Much To Say. I feel for the person booked for the appointment after mine. However, I have a nasty feeling that she is going to set out her medical wares concerning steroid treatment for RPL, which I believe is being trialled on a larger-scale than previously. I’m not over-keen A) on what I’ve learnt about steroids so far and B) in participating in a randomised double-blind trial, because the prospect of injecting placebos on top of jabbing myself with gonadotrophins, cetrotide AND the wide-bore-needle-heparin doesn’t quite enthrall me. But I shall go in with an open-ish mind, nevertheless, because the possibility of this IVF not working at all is looming hellish large in both John and I’s minds, and I think the time for hokey woo-woo remedies, let alone NHS-sponsored Experimentals, may not be far off. Paying out thousands of pounds (I have taken delivery of both my drugs

and my credit card bill

) does tend to put the pressure on, rather.

I rejoiced vicariously for Liz at Womb for Improvement when she recently had a stunning 21 eggs retrieved, of which 12 fertilised, most of which went on to make significantly better quality 3-day embryos than any of my paltry 10 eggs (my 2006 IVF) did. She now has two very likely-looking candidates on board, with which I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing her the very best of luck; none of her ‘spares’ made it through to freezing. And this has brought it hard home to me that if we pin our hopes on a single blastocyst transfer, how very unlikely it is that we will have anything left to freeze. I completely get the argument for the extra couple of days of petri-dish maturation to blastocyst. None of my 4 transferred IVF embryos – 3 of which stuck around, albeit briefly – made it, which implies that either A) I clotted & killed ’em all or B) they were genetic mince.

For those of you who are, happily, clueless about all this esoteric gubbins: a fertilised egg (hopefully!) develops into a 4-10 celled embryo in 2-3 days. It’s difficult for the most eagle-eyed embryologist to predict at this stage which ones are most viable, hence the traditional Each-Way hedged betting – and replacement of a small assiette of the best embryos at the less-than-10-cells stage. After another couple of days, the embryo develops into what is termed a blastocyst, of about 120 cells – or, equally likely, turns up its toes altogether. The rationale behind a single blastocyst transfer is that an embryo which has failed to reach the blastocyst stage would be unlikely to have resulted in a pregnancy anyway, and a blastocyst gives a rather better idea of the competence of an embryo and has a higher chance of implantation than an earlier embryo. However, embryos of a significant percentage of patients will not develop into blastocysts. Which is not necessarily to say they were all genetic mince: a petri dish does have its maternal limitations.

I very much want to avoid transferring genetically scrambled eggs. Tiresome, tiresome, tiresome. Pain, angst, et-miserable-cetera. With a fair dollop of cognitive dissonance, I also very much want to have something to transfer, damnit! I am grimly contemplating the thought of paying All. This. Money. in order to struggle horribly to stim my poor ovaries, have a bare handful of eggs retrieved, and for all of them to lose the will to live on day 4 and die a sad and bitterly expensive death. 

P.S. Harry waved very nicely indeed to the Queen. This is the best photo I managed: jeer at my photography skills at will. Harry was so grief-stricken, though, at having no flag ‘No flad, Mummy. Sad! Me had flad? Me, Harry Hairy, had flad? Teeez?’ to wave, that I was obliged to purchase a Union Jack for him, and wait the 3 blasted hours until she left so that he could wave it at her. He now points her out excitedly on every coin, note and stamp he sees, and wants to go and visit her in her palace in London. If anyone reading can swing this one for him, I will, of course, add you to my Christmas card list AND you can have any of my left-over blastocysts. Apparently they don’t freeze well.

21 Responses

  1. Wow – that last paragraph before the picture and the PS…were you spying on my IVF experience? I don’t recommend it. Blastocysts or bust!!! (I’d hate to think all that eating, moodiness, and lack of mathematical ability was for naught.)

    Harry is so adorable, I’m surprised the Queen did’t hop out of the car to come and squeeze his little cheeks! Let me know if you find someone who can get you in to her house, because I’ll figure out how to get my girl there to tag along (not that she would know who the Queen is, but I think it would be cool)

  2. I want a hat like the guy driving the Royal Vehicle. British people really do like yourselves some hats!

    Hugs to you. I was doing really well with the Eating and the Exercise and then I was viciously attacked by a pan of brownies.

  3. O dear, the hen and the ducklings. I will never forget the little ones hopping into the drinking bowl and she trying to pick them out of the water… constantly… frantically.
    Hope you feel better.
    (maybe that was part of helping mrs ewe: making things right)

  4. Tragically, I have very little clout with the Royals. Why this should be, I have no idea. I continue to be baffled by how they go about their business, seemingly unaware of my existence. Very disappointing!

    Bloody hell-potion. 5 more days. You can do it.

    Maths, me too. All but innumerate.
    OU Physics? I just died at the thought.

  5. ach, drugs that mess with your brain are the worst. i tend towrds extreme craziness and paranoia on certain asthma meds. no fun for anyone.

    not that you asked my opinion, but you are getting it all the same: if you think the lab at your place is good and you get a good number of day 3s, day 5 is where it’s at. in the US, you can look up the stats for every clinic and get some idea of how good the lab is. is there such a thing on your side of the pond?

  6. I remember throwing candles at the wall (big ‘uns, mind you, not the little tea light thingies) and sobbing hysterically because the cat, she did not want to be near me. This while hopped up on hormones.

    Oh, those wacky good ol’ days.

    I feel for you, my dear. I felt for the cat, who knew a crazy lady when she saw one and legged it after rejecting me.

    On the blastocyst front, I think it depends on the clinic. My clinic was very much of the No We Do Not Do Blasts, They Go Back In You At Day 2 Where They Bloody Well Belong. They talked in caps like that, too. They said that was the single best place for embryos, which I can see their point about although the American IF sites with the blasts and their stats used to make me wonder… Mind you, they were a completely fabulous clinic but not the kind that you would consider throwing your arms around and hugging when you saw them. I’m just saying.

  7. My ex-surgeon sensibilities are horrified that you seem to have inserted your hand into a sheep WITHOUT GLOVES. I mean, surely your hands got covered in all sorts of manky stuff???
    I will be very interested to hear what Lady Consultant has to say. Fingers crossed as always.

    • Ahhh… yes. Very much so! Amniotic fluid is not kind to hands if it dries on, either. Hence the intensive nail-brush action.

      We (and this is a very royal we, coz it’s a job that always gets hefted onto poor John to do) put HEAVY-duty gloves on when it has all Gone Bad Many Days Ago in the sheep’s ladybits. That’s a gory, stinking, putrid helljob. Otherwise, you just get covered in shit, blood and amnio, but that’s agriculture for you.

  8. Thank you for your vicarious rejoicing. I just hope that there is more to come. (Although if it does go the whole hog – no offense – but I’ll be looking elsewhere for a midwife).

    Good luck with getting the consultant to give you more than the allotted 15mins tomorrow.

    • I wield a wisp of hay like a true professional! AND I can swing ’em around by their back legs when they won’t breathe, WITHOUT (and this is the sheep-from-goats divider) LETTING GO of the slippy legs mid-swing. What more are you looking for?!

  9. I have only once put my hand up a sheep, and that’s because she was having twins both at once and there was NO room for my step-Dad’s beefy spade-hands. My job was to shove lamb B back a few inches. It was very hot and very slippery and very very very tight and grindy and I have no idea what I was shoving and the sheep, unsurprisingly, didn’t like it and though I was 16 and a big sensible girl I cried the whole time because it was ick and I was hurting the sheep and why the HELL couldn’t we get a vet? Lamb A slid forward once unimpeded (yay) and the second one turned out to be breech and was born dead (fuck). OK, that was cheerful. (The amniotic fluid gave me the most almighty rash. Or, possibly, the fifteen goes-over with soap did). And then I stamped my little princess feet and refused to do any more midwifing ever, EVER, do you hear me, EVER. Bloody sheep-farming. There’s a reason I live in a city.

    I will be thinking thinking thinking very much of you tomorrow. Fingers crossed (the other set. One set is Womb for Improvement’s until further notice. Very interfering with the typing).

    As for the Loestrin making you a tad… unhinged, empathy. I remember a brand of the pill I was put on for contraceptive/PCOS reasons when I was in my early 20s, (Dianette. Drug of SATAN). It made me utterly psycho. Depressed, in constant tears, thick as a brick, hysterical with rage at everything and everyone, couldn’t think my way through the two different keys I needed to use to open the front door. After three months, the GP told me it’d settle in a few more months. After six months, I cried and threw a box of kleenex across the surgery, and promptly got switched to Marvelon, which made me HOMICIDAL (but at least I’d stopped weeping and clawing feebly at my own front door). Artificial hormones are Teh Suck. God, I so hope they’re worth it for you. SO HOPE.

    And I’m rambling. Shutting up now.

    • If it’s any comfort at this remove, the Vet would likely have been pretty remorseless with the shoving back of lamb B, unless it was a pedigree animal, in which case it would have been sectioned pronto.

      Hate it when they’re dead. Perfect, just… dead. Mindfuckery.

  10. Good luck with everything.

    Especially breaking into Royal circles of course.

    Here’s hoping the next five days in particular pass without more chickens.

    And that the Consultant was of some use.

  11. Hey, you’ve nicked the nice lady consultant.

    I had the doppler screening but everything was “normal” ditto NKCs.

  12. How did it go? Was lady consultant worth it? How are the lambs?

  13. I have wandered over from Everydaystranger. I have no experience of any of these things. I am therefore thoroughly impressed that your rings didn’t end up in the ewe and everyone in your household is still alive. Thanks for the smile, and fingers crossed for you.

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