24 December 2012

Christmas Wishes

Last couple weeks I've struggled to post much, as I've felt shattered and exhausted; like someone has stolen my batteries. On top of that I've also been quite worried, but after a handful of tests we have a special Christmas surprise - our first scan!

At five weeks, that tiny dark blob is just half a cm long, but it looks healthy, strong and well placed. We're still holding our breath and crossing our fingers, but this blurry picture is probably the best Christmas present I could have this year.

I hope all your Christmas wishes come true!

Merry Christmas,


23 December 2012

Fingers Crossed

Even though we knew what to expect from IVF the second time around, we were still unprepared for the emotional extremes of the journey.

When we finished all the injections, our scans were looking good. They could see four or five follicles ready for collection. We were quite hopeful, as this was one more follicle than on our first IVF cycle.

Unfortunately on the day of the procedure, they only managed to collect three eggs - one less than last time, and of those only one fertilised. It was devastating, especially as a misunderstanding left us with the impression that the embryo wasn't of very good quality. Suddenly an IVF cycle which had been been so positive turned into a pointless exercise.

Normally they would wait three to five days before implanting the embryos, so they can select the strongest for implantation. But as we had only one egg fertilise, there was no reason to wait. So the next day we returned to the clinic. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that our embryo was actually developing well. Once fertilised the embryologists can measure the growth of the embryo by how many cells there are. By day three they generally hope that an embryo will have eight cells. On our first cycle we had one embryo with four cells and one embryo with just two. So we were delighted to learn this embryo was already six cells on day two!

Once an embryo is implanted all you can do is wait. For the last two weeks I've tried not to think about it, but this is made difficult by the Cyclogest pessaries you take morning and night to keep your progesterone hormone levels high. The daily interruptions are a constant reminder of what you are waiting for.

It also hasn't helped that actually I'm quite hopeful this time around. While I knew immediately that the previous IVF cycle hadn't worked, I've had a nagging suspicion that this time would be successful. As the testing day approached I didn't know how I would cope with a negative result. I dreaded the idea of testing and at the same time I was desperate to finally know the answer.

Yesterday was the day of reckoning:
It's wonderful to see the line so dark and clear! It's such a contrast to the faint lines we had with the ectopic pregnancy. It's still early days though, even if the IVF has finally been successful we still have all the normal risks of early pregnancy.

I suspect it won't feel real till we're past eight and a half weeks (which is when the ectopic pregnancy ruptured), but this time we should get more support. After the ectopic pregnancy the hospital told me to book in with the BEP (Bleeding in Early Pregnancy) Clinic if I got pregnant again. They'll do an early scan and make sure it's not ectopic again. We've also got a 7 week scan with the IVF clinic, at which point they'll hopefully find a heart beat.

For now I'm just keeping my fingers crossed.

This was originally written for the Emma's Diary Blog.

9 December 2012

Step Down Sunday - Scruffs Eco Cat Bed

Our oldest cat, Mac, was hit by a car before he was taken to the Cats Protection shelter where we found him. We were warned his injuries would eventually lead to arthritis, and I worried our cold tile window ledge would aggravate the condition. So when I spotted a small dog bed on clearance a few years ago, I thought it was worth trying. It quickly became his favourite place.
Since Mac had his stroke last year, our other cat Pooka has become more bold - and has decided she quite likes the basket on the window sill too. For the last few months we've witnessed several skirmishes, our cats manouver for position on the window sill which has lead to some comical results. The final straw came when which ever cat had lost the battle insisted on sitting on my lap (making it impossible to type).
I decided it was time to invest in a second cat bed. While I could try making one myself, there's a risk that I'd get the pattern wrong and I'd still be using mass-market fabric and fibre fill. However I found that Scruffs make a range of eco pet beds.
The 100% recycled super-soft fleece and recycled green-fibre filling are made from post-consumer plastic bottles. The caps and labels are removed, the bottles shredded and melted down. The liquidized plastic is then formed into both fleece and filling fibres.
War is Over!

Pooka is absolutely ecstatic. When she discovered the new bed on the window ledge she purred like a motorcycle and happily kneaded for ages.

We bought the small Scruffs 45cm Eco Donut Bed which is perfect for Pooka, though Mac tends to sprawl across it. I suspect we might have been better with the Scruffs box bed design, as the doughnut shape occasionally falls down behind the sofa, but it would sit nicely on the floor. Over all I'm quite pleased with the quality and the fact it's made with post-consumer material. So if your four-legged friend is looking for a new bed it's worth checking out the Scruffs Eco Collection.

Step Down Sunday

Have you made any Steps Down this week? Leave me a message in the comments!

If you'd like the code for the Step Down Sunday badge or to learn more about it, go to the Step Down Sunday page.

7 December 2012

Round Two

We're now about half way through our Cetrotide IVF cycle. This cycle is different from our last, instead of suppressing my natural cycle we're trying to work with it. This time we started daily Fostimon injections the day after my period started. The nurse has tried to convince us that injecting into the thigh is more painful than into the stomach, but I'd rather chose the more painful option than face another stomach injection. The Fostimon seems to hurt more than the Menopur injections did, but pain doesn't last long.

We had our second ultrasound scan after five days of injections, and while the results aren't fantastic they were certainly more positive than the equivalent scan last cycle. Last time we were told there had been little change and the egg collection may need to be cancelled unless the follicles reached 13mm. This time around we already have one 15mm follicle and a couple of potentials. Even though we may harvest a similar number of eggs this cycle, but I'm hoping they might be of higher quality this time around.

After the ultrasound scan we started the Cetrotide injections, which stop you from ovulating until the eggs are ready for collection. The first injection was awful, it itched like mad and swelled up into a large lump. I was a bit worried I was having an allergic reaction, but the second injection only bruised. Since then the Cetrotide has continued to itch, but not nearly as bad.

Unlike the Buserelin and Menopur cycle, the Fostimon and Cetrotide injections can't be given at the same time. The Cetrotide has to be given in the morning and the Fostimon is administered in the evening. I expected this to make things even more stressful, but the first injection is so early in the morning that there's no time to anticipate it.

Though it's only been a week of injections this time around, they've felt more draining than the month we did last time. I constantly feel exhausted and fairly irritable, which I hope is just a side effect of the extra hormones.

We have one more scan planned for tomorrow, when we'll hopefully confirm the date for the egg collection. If everything goes well, we should have all the technical stuff finished by the end of next week - then we just cross our fingers and wait.

This was originally written for the Emma's Diary Blog.

4 December 2012

Crochet Christmas

Besides the Granny Square Blankets, I've been busy crocheting several items for our Women's Institute. We were asked to organise a stall at our local Santa Dash fundraiser for Willowbrook Hospice. While other members were making jams and fairy cakes, I decided to try crocheting a few items.
I used a few balls of colour changing wool to 'knit' three simple scarves - modelled here by George. Multi-colour wool is a brilliant choice for scarves, as it breaks up the colour without swapping and changing your wool.
I found a pattern for a Granny Stripe Blanket, which uses the same basic stitches as my blankets but worked in lines instead of rounds. This is perfect for scarves, where you decide how wide you'd like it and then continue to crochet until it's the right length.
I also made a handful of floral brooches...
and found patterns for cute Flower and Star Christmas ornaments.
They're quite quick and a brilliant way to use up left over bits of wool.
Not bad for a couple of week's work, and if they don't sell I'll just add them to the family's Christmas presents - hopefully they won't mind!

My next challenge is to finish two more granny square blankets before Christmas. What crafty things are on your to-do lists?