Tag Archive for gay rights

Waiting…

Embryo transfer was pretty uncomfortable.  For one, you have to go in with a full bladder so that they can do an abdominal ultrasound.  So, someone pressing down hard on your stomach.  When you really need to wee.  In the meantime, her colleague is all up in your business with a speculum.

But having said that, it was pretty cool to watch the embryos get deposited in my uterus by a big long syringe on the ultrasound screen.

We had arrived ready to have a battle over the number of embryos to have put back in.  We had no idea how many would be left, but we wanted to give ourselves the best chance possible and if that meant a risk of twins, so be it.  We were worried that the hospital would be concerned about keeping their multiple birth rates down and therefore wouldn’t be keen on putting two blastocysts in.

However, when we got there, the embryologist informed us that only two embryos had reached blastocyst stage  – and in fact were both only at early blast stage – and as we can’t freeze any remaining embryos, they wanted to transfer two.  So it was all puppies and kittens and rainbows and happy agreements as we signed the paper acknowledging that we understand the risk of multiple pregnancy blah blah blah.

So I’ve been resting and drinking lots of water and still feeling bloated and sore.  I’ve been overanalysing every twinge, trying to work out if it’s a different kind of ache than I felt before the embryo transfer.  We’ve now got only 9 days to go until we can take the pregnancy test the hospital sent us home with and the wait is already excruciating.

I have no idea what I’ll do if the test is negative.  Every time I think about it, I can only imagine my reaction to a positive test.  I see me texting photos of the test to friends and family and celebrating with my wife.  I can’t picture the negative test.  Maybe because actually, after all this time and the whole IVF process, it really is too devastating to consider.  Although the hormones didn’t affect me too badly, there were physical side effects and the last week or so since egg collection has been really uncomfortable.  I don’t want to have gone through all for this for nothing.

And yet, something in me thinks the embryos haven’t implanted – which they should have done in the last day or so.  I can’t say why, exactly, and I don’t want to be negative, I want to think positive and hope that I can somehow will these little embryos – or one of them at least – into making itself comfy in my womb.  But every time my abdomen doesn’t feel as swollen as it did, or it doesn’t hurt to breathe, I worry that that means the embryos haven’t implanted.

We won’t know until the 24th and I do need to brace myself for the possibility of “failure”, but whatever the outcome, the next 9 days are going to be agonising.

I am the egg man goo goo g’joob

We allowed one hour and 30 minutes to get to Guy’s yesterday morning, a journey the SatNav claimed would take us half an hour.  In actual fact, we were tantalisingly close by 5 to 10, when a police car spun around and parked itself across the street we needed to take.  This meant a crazy diversion around streets that were totally unfamiliar and I had to call the ACU to let them know we were going to be a bit late.

Fortunately, the 10am check in time was really just to make sure that we would be there in plenty of time for my 11:30 procedure, so it really didn’t matter when we rolled in at 20 past 10.

I felt quite nervous, having never experienced general anaesthetic before, but the staff at Guy’s were all great.  We were called through to the procedure room at around 11:15 and were given a cubicle where I had to change into a gown, hairnet and foam slippers.  I looked fabulous!  Unfortunately our phone batteries had been drained by the SatNav so no photos exist of my incredible apparel.  Our cubicle also had an incredible sweeping view across London, although the rain and mist meant we didn’t have the best visibility.

A nurse came and inserted a cannula into my hand.  (I think that’s what you call it, right?  Or is that some kind of pasta?)  I didn’t watch.

Then, just after 11:30 I was taken into another room, which was where they were actually going to perform the procedure.  I positioned myself on the bed and had my legs strapped into stirrups by another nurse.  They checked my name and date of birth several times to make sure they had the right person.

The anaesthetist explained what she was going to do and gave me a shot of paracetamol into the cannula before she injected the anaesthetic.  She said that the anaesthetic would feel cold and might make my arm ache.  It was weird, it really did cause a dull ache to travel rapidly up my arm from my hand.  It was almost unbearable, but not quite.  I rolled my head back and looked at the patterns on the ceiling.  I had literally only just had the anaesthetic injected but suddenly the lines on the ceiling seemed to double.  “Wow,” I said.  “It’s working already.

And that’s the last thing I remember.

I woke up suddenly, like when you hear a loud bang, or wake up from a scary dream.  “Am I supposed to be awake?” I slurred.

The doctors and nurses reassured me that I was and wheeled me back through to my cubicle, where L was waiting.  They got me a glass of water and after only a few minutes, asked me to try and get dressed.  I felt a bit groggy, but actually was surprisingly awake.

A nurse popped her head in and told me they had got 21 eggs!  We needed to wait for the consultant to let us know what was happening so we spent quite a long time just sitting around.  I had a cup of tea and several glasses of water.  Because they’d managed to get so many eggs that did actually mean I was susceptible to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, so I had to make sure I drank plenty of fluids to try and prevent this.

After a very long wait, a doctor came to see us.  They had thawed out one ampoule of the donor sperm and it didn’t have a high motility rate.  This meant that it might not fertilise the eggs through IVF (when they just put the eggs and sperm together and let nature take its course).  He wanted to know what we wanted to do.  We have 6 ampoules of donor sperm in total, but obviously bought that many with a view to having genetic siblings in the future.  There is an option called ICSI (Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injectionwhere they help the sperm out by injecting it into the egg.  This obviously removes the Darwinian aspect of reproduction where the strongest survive.  We decided to allow them to thaw another ampoule to see if that would provide enough strong sperm to work with IVF, but signed a document to say that if not, we wanted them to use ICSI.

We were finally allowed to go and I could finally EAT (OMG it had been HOURS!!).  We got home and I chilled out on the sofa for the rest of the day, dozing and watching TV.

Today has been similar.  I’ve set up camp on the sofa and dozed a lot.  My stomach’s been tender, but ok.  It kind of comes and goes in waves.

At around 11:10am I heard from Guy’s.  They injected 17 of the eggs (the other 4, weren’t mature enough) and 15 have fertilised.

Of course that’s only step one.  It’s likely that only some of those eggs will thrive and they will select the strongest to go back in.  Embryo transfer is provisionally booked for Friday.  If only a couple of eggs are thriving then it is likely this will go ahead.  However, if several are thriving, they will postpone embryo transfer for a couple of days in order to try and get the embryos to blastocyst stage, when the embryos are stronger and more likely to take.

Having said all that, friends of mine who had IVF had two embryos put in on days 2 and 3 respectively.  This was obviously because the embryos weren’t thriving brilliantly in the lab.  However, the first friend is due with twins in a couple of weeks and the other had a lovely baby boy who is now getting on for two years old.

The next big decision we will have to make is how many embryos to have put in.  Generally the doctors will be agreeable to putting two in if we go in on Friday.  If the embryos reach blastocyst stage they will advise us to only have one put in.

We are erring on the side of having two put in regardless of the stage at the moment.  Apart from the money, which is a BIG factor, having been through the whole IVF process I am now not particularly eager to go through it again anytime soon and will feel pretty gutted if I’ve been through it all for nothing.  We can’t freeze any unused embryos because the donor hasn’t given consent for that, so we feel like the risk of having twins is worth taking over the risk of not getting pregnant – although obviously there’s no guarantee either way.

The hospital will ring us on Friday morning to let us know the progress of the embryos and whether or not they want to do embryo transfer on Friday.  We are really lucky that work are so understanding, because obviously teaching is not exactly the kind of job you can just pop out of when you need to take a phone call or attend an appointment.

So, it’s still a waiting game, and will continue to be so even after embryo transfer when I have to wait two whole weeks before I can take a pregnancy test!

Thanks to everyone for all their positive thoughts and lovely messages.  We really appreciate it.

Needles

We went back to the hospital today for another scan.  It all looked how it was supposed to.  (Apparently.  It was all black and white blobby fuzz to me, but what do I know?)

This meant that I could start adding the injections to my daily medications.  We had taken the injection kit with us to the appointment, so the nurse could show us how to use it.  She primed the injection pen for me and then talked me through the steps I needed to take.  I have to inject into fatty tissue, so stomach or thigh is best.  I had to do the first injection there so that she could guide me and make sure I knew exactly how to do it.

I twisted the dial on the pen round to the correct dosage and then pulled my shirt up, gently pinching a bit of flesh like the nurse had told me to.  I held the pen in my other hand, the needle hovering over my skin.  I could feel my heart pounding and my skin getting tingly with adrenalin.

I’m not a wuss.  I have quite a high pain threshold and I can be pretty tough when I need to be.  I’m not scared of much (except spiders OMFG), but there is something somehow inherently wrong-feeling about sliding a needle into your own flesh.

Eventually the shame of not being able to do it outweighed the fear of the needle and I slowly pressed it into the flesh of my belly.

It totally didn’t hurt.  Like, okay, a tiny scratch.  It was nothing.

Then I pressed the release button on the top and it slowly clicked down, injecting the medication under my skin.

Ow.

OW!

It really stung.  And I had to hold the needle there for 10 seconds to make sure all the liquid had gone in.

Okay, I’m not a baby and it will be easier next time purely because I know what to expect.  But it bloody did sting!

I have to inject once a day and also have to reduce my nasal sprays to one, twice a day, rather than two twice a day, which is what I’ve been doing so far.  We’re going back on Friday 4th November for the next scan and hopefully at that point they will schedule egg collection, which could be as soon as Monday 7th!  OMG!

In other news – and to prove that I’m totally not a wuss when it comes to needles – I got a new tattoo.  I already have a couple that I got done at age 19 and 23.  This latest one is to commemorate our anniversary (obvs) and I thought it would REALLY hurt because of where it was.  But it totally didn’t.  See, I’m hardcore, me.

It’s all happening over here.

Our wedding in pictures

Our photographer, the wonderfully talented Rich from The Other Day Photography, dropped our wedding album off yesterday evening.  It’s amazing.  I took it into work today and everyone was gushing all over it.  Not only do we have a fabulous album of selected prints, but Rich also brought round a memory stick of all the photos he took of the day, so I can finally post specific pictures and link to vendors with images so that the references make sense.

So, our wedding:

2pm Saturday 13th August, Rowhill Grange Hotel and Spa, Wilmington, Kent


We loved the fact that our ceremony could be outside under a gazebo (although I did have many weather-related panics in the days and weeks leading up to the big day) and the grounds are BEAUTIFUL and made for FABULOUS photographs!


Our music during the ceremony was provided by Stringendo string quartet, who also played whilst our guests arrived and then again during the photographs.  We walked down the aisle to Pachelbel’s Canon in D, signed the register to the Flower Duet (AKA the British Airways music) and walked back up the aisle to All You Need Is Love.

Our flowers were by the amazing Floral Explosion and our bridesmaids’ dresses were Mori Lee.  The colour we chose for the bridesmaids is called ‘Metallic Sage’ and we were so relieved when we managed to find ties that matched for the men in the wedding party!  The maternity bridesmaid dress is by Dessy and is ‘Kiwi” colour.  Flowergirl dresses were from Next (9 year old) and Mamas and Papas (18 month old).  Our flowers were mostly greens, with creams and pinks scattered through, which, amazingly, matched the beautiful gardens and grounds at Rowhill so perfectly.


Floral explosion decorated the gazebo and aisle, and provided our centrepieces and other decoration inside the room where we had the wedding breakfast.  The mosaic vases we found in Selfridges and were one of the first things we bought.  They are made by Indian Ocean and we gave them as gifts to the bridesmaids afterwards.


Our dresses were Pronovias and we bought them in Harrods.  I know.  But we went for a bit of a laugh, thinking we’d get a glass of champagne (we were right) and ended up finding our dresses there.

Our hair and makeup were done by Nicola Beddoes, who was recommended to us by my mother-in-law’s hairdresser and did a brilliant job.  The tiaras were custom made by Beretun Designs.  I’d tried on untold amounts of tiaras, but nothing really made me go wow.  They were all just… tiaras.  But then I saw the asymmetrical starburst design by Beretun and knew I’d found my tiara.

Our seating plan, I mentioned in a previous post, was based on the theme of famous lesbians.  The food for the wedding breakfast was provided in-house at Rowhill and was beautiful, although neither of us ate as much as we would have liked as we were worrying about the speeches.

Our cake was absolutely outstanding.  One of the real indulgences of our wedding was the cake.  We saw it at a wedding fair and after that nothing compared, we had to go for it, despite the cost.  It was made by Linda Fripp and the three layers inside were devil’s food chocolate cake with raspberry and white chocolate ganache, strawberries and champagne, and apple, cinnamon and calvados.  It not only looked stupendous, but tasted absolutely divine!

The DJ was provided as part of the package we booked with Rowhill and he did a great job, keeping everyone dancing all night with a real range of music catering to our taste.  Our first dance was to ‘Parachute’ by Cheryl Cole, which had just been released around the time we got engaged and was very apt as everyone knows we both love Cheryl/Girls Aloud (although let’s not mention Ashley, okay?).

All in an an absolutely perfect day…

Unholy Matrimony

Before we started planning our wedding, I didn’t know much about Civil Partnerships.  I knew that legislation had been passed that afforded gay people the same legal rights as straight people following a ceremony, but I hadn’t given it much thought aside from that.

When we got the first bits of paperwork through from Kent County Council, I went on their website and looked up details about our ceremony.  I was surprised to note that it specified that a Civil Partnership could only be between two people of the same sex.  It hadn’t really occurred to me that this might be something only available to gay couples.  After all, straight friends of mine have had Civil Marriage Ceremonies; what was the difference?

It was my nan who actually asked us that question.  And I didn’t know the answer.  So, like all good 21st Century gals, I turned to Google.

It turned out there wasn’t really a difference.  We could still have a ceremony, although it wasn’t essential, and we would have all the same legal rights as we would if we were a straight, married couple.

But we couldn’t technically, officially say we were married.

When the legislation was introduced, in December 2005, there was still uproar from certain religious circles, despite the fact that the government had specifically avoided referring to this legal recognition of a relationship as a “marriage”.

What it boils down to is that the only significant difference between a Civil Marriage Ceremony and a Civil Partnership is religion.  A Civil Marriage Ceremony may contain religious aspects.  A Civil Partnership may not.

Now this was neither here nor there to us.  We had no desire to include any religious aspects and there are plenty of beautiful secular readings out there to pad out your ceremony and reflect the way the two of you feel about your relationship.

But.

It kind of bothered me.  Bothers me.  The only thing making us have to tick the “Civil Partnered” box, rather than the “Married” box on a form, is religion.

The UK government has announced plans to launch a consultation into gay marriage in March 2012 and this will be the first time any British government has actually considered full marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.  About bloody time, quite frankly!

I’m incredibly grateful that my wife and I (I’m probably not officially allowed to call her that, but really, “Civil Partner” is a fucking mouthful!) have been able to have a legally recognised partnership, but I do think it’s ridiculous that we’re not allowed to call it a marriage, lest we upset the poor, bigoted religious types*, who preach love and tolerance, but seem to struggle to put any of this into practice.

It’s about time we had real marriage equality in this country.  As far as I’m concerned, I got married to my wife, but I’d quite like the law to recognise that too.

*It’s only fair to say that my ire is directed solely at the self-righteous, prejudice laden religious types, who I know are not representative of all religious people.

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