Tuesday, 25 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: U is for Unicorns

Welcome to Day 21 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

You might have noticed that, along with my thing for rainbows, is that I've got a bit of a thing for unicorns. And that's all because of you.

Unicorns are a bit of a symbol for people undergoing fertility treatments. the saying to 'chase unicorns' means going after the impossible, and let's face it, that's what we were doing when we underwent treatment to bring you into the world. We were told that the likelihood of achieving a successful pregnancy was slim to none. Sounds like we were chasing unicorns to me.

By the same token then, if a person who was told they couldn't possibly get pregnant and then they do (even if it took a lot of time, money and professional help to get there), you might say that they've caught that unicorn they were chasing for so long.

And that's why they became a symbol of something bigger than ourselves during treatment.

Your Dad got me a little stuffed unicorn, with a rainbow mane, who came to all of our appointments as a good luck charm. Each time we went to an appointment and it went well or things turned out better than we were expecting, we knew that Ixi had done his bit.

When I picked out slippers to wear to theatre, the ones I selected were unicorn-themed. We played spot the unicorn when we were out shopping, or watching TV, or surfing the internet. Other people got in on it too; sending unicorn-themed gifts and surprises.

Did it help any? Well, if you're here, perhaps it did. It didn't hurt, and spotting unicorns isn't a bad pastime.

And if it seems especially superstitious, well, forgive us for our quirks. I'm sure you'll have a whole host of your own too; you are my kid after all!

All my love,

Your Mum.

Monday, 24 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: T is for Transfer

Welcome to Day 20 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

The first time you see me will probably be a bit of a traumatic experience for you. Thankfully, years from then, as you are reading this letter, you won't have any recollection of it, so I'm going to take you on a little time travel adventure.

Let's go back in time for a minute.

On the day we meet properly you will be forced from the safe, if somewhat cramped, place you have been calling home for nine months, into somewhere bright and loud and scary. You will cry. So will I. And we'll get to meet each other face to face for the first time.

But it won't be the first time that I'm seeing you.

Thanks to modern technology I'll have been keeping an eye on you (along with yet more medical personnel) over the duration of your stay with me. But would you believe that even on the very first scan I have, the one where we double check you're actually in there, that won't be the first time I'm seeing you?

Oh no, that first glimpse of you will happen roughly four weeks beforehand on the day of your transfer. On that day you'll be able to count almost six days of existence (five of those days taking place in February 2017 and the sixth one taking place in whichever month and year you're thawed out, my clever timey-wimey offspring).

I'm hoping that day will be taking place around a month from the date I'm writing this letter. Your father and I will go to the hospital, full of nerves as we wait to find out whether you have defrosted successfully. I will drink roughly a bottle of water in order to fulfill the requirement of having a 'comfortably full bladder' (there's an oxymoron if I've ever heard one, you should try spending an hour with a comfortably full bladder sometime, preferably when you're old enough to do your own laundry, just in case you find it a bit tricky!) and then we will be summoned through to the room.

Beforehand they will have asked if we want to see you on the screen and of course we will say yes! There will be a brief wait (an excited one for your father; slightly uncomfortable for me) and then you will pop up on the TV screen on the wall.

You probably won't be much to look at for most people, but to me you will be beautiful. You will be vaguely circular and kind of lumpy looking in the middle, perhaps with a bobbly bit around the outside where you are starting to hatch. I could gaze on you all day but there's not time because there's somewhere you're supposed to be (and I'll be desperately in need of a bathroom by this point).

At this point the embryologist will prepare you for the biggest day of your young life. You'll be popped into a catheter and when I'm ready to receive you, you'll be passed through to the doctor performing the transfer.

Your father and I will hold hands as we watch as the catheter is placed in position, then you, and the fluid you've been calling home for the five days leading to this point, will be officially transferred into my womb. We won't be able to see you on the ultrasound, of course, you're much too small for that, but we'll see the flash of the fluid you're in.

And then we'll wait and hope that the next time we're looking at that screen, you'll be very definitely there on it.

So if, all those years later when you're reading this letter, you occasionally catch me looking over at you, studying your features, just know that I've been memorising the way you look ever since you were just a tiny bubble on a screen.

All my love,

Your Mum.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Starting FET #3

Last Tuesday's Easter Weekend wound up being a whole day longer for me because we had an appointment at the hospital at 8:30am. Of course, I didn't get to have a lie in because an 8:30am hospital appointment necessitated a 4:50am wake up call!

We did the usual boat then train part of the journey but we knew we'd be cutting it fine if we'd tried catching the bus. If I'd made the appointment myself I would've asked for one around 9am but this was made for me by a nurse along with a second a couple of weeks later at 4:30pm (which is equally awkward in terms of getting back). I did  make one phone call to try and get the first appointment changed, but then decided I couldn't be bothered playing phone tag so we just forked out the £5 for a taxi up to the hospital. It was all good.

This appointment is the first in our series of appointments for the frozen embryo transfer (which will hopefully take place some time in May). I knew it would involve an injection but I wasn't sure what else would need to be done while we were there.


There were consent forms to sign and paperwork to go over. I came away with a sheet listing the medication I will be on (two drugs longer than the last time), a protocol sheet (detailing what needs to be done when) and a leaflet giving an overview of the frozen embryo transfer process.

I was also weighed, which I wasn't expecting. I briefly regretted all the Easter indulging I'd been doing over the weekend, but my weight was pronounced good. Thankfully!

And then it was time for the injection.

It was a Prostap jab which acts to put my body into a menopausal state, so that the hospital can take over and give me medication to make my body do what they want it to do, rather than what it wants to do. It's a stingy, burny injection which is given intramuscularly. I felt really aware of it for much of that day, in the area where it was injected, up towards my rib cage and down towards my groin. Walking helped to ease it but sitting for too long brought back the weird sensation.

As it puts you into a menopausal state, you can expect to get menopausal symptoms; hot flushes, headaches, mood swings, vaginal dryness (it's so glamourous). One of the ones I clearly remember from the last couple of times I've had it is the spots. I guess since your body is kind of going through puberty backwards, the zit fairy decides to pay a visit.

I've never been a particularly spotty person. I get the odd spot or two around the time my period is due (though I'm never sure if that's linked to the fact I tend to eat loads of crap around that time too), but my spots on Prostap are something else.

And sure enough, on Thursday I started to feel that telltale bump on my chin that heralded an impending spot. I dabbed at it with some TCP (which usually works to quell my spots) but this was not going to be quieted so easily.

By Friday it felt like I was growing a new nose. On my chin. I spent the day at work feeling incredibly self-conscious of the flashing belisha beacon I was sporting on my face. At one point I honestly considered feinting illness to be able to go home early and hide my head in a paper bag.

Friday evening I went to dab it with TCP and it erupted in anger. It was not pleasant. Even now, typing this, I still have an attractive patch on my chin where my skin has decided to rebel against my lack of enthusiasm for my zitty friend.

At least I know the meds are working.

We wrapped up our trip to the hospital with a trek to buy me some much needed new jeans (after one of the boys nibbled a hole in my best pair) and also swung by Paperchase where I became the proud owner of some unicorn stickers and a pencil case. Because if I'm going to get zits like I'm a teenager, I might as well shop like one too!

Now it's just a question of waiting for my body to do its thing. I'll get a bleed after which I'll go back to the hospital to check my lining is nice and thin, ready for them to start artificially plumping it up.

And while I'm not exactly thrilled about my new, spotty face, I'm pretty pleased to be getting things underway again.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: S is for Spare Bedroom

Welcome to Day 19 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.


Dear Bubbles,

When we moved into our first home together, your father and I, we were delighted to find a little cottage with a spare bedroom. This was back in the early days when we had only been trying to bring you into existence for about a year and a half, and we were optimistic that you would soon be joining us to take up residence in the spare room.

Of course, you didn't. And so it became a general dumping ground.

Occasionally we would talk about having a clear out, or we'd go up there with bin bags and be ruthless in sorting out the junk that had accumulated, with a view to making it ready for becoming a nursery.

I'll admit. We had a couple of wobbles. There was a worn out old desk, covered in junk, up there for the longest time because our first go at IVF had been cancelled and we weren't sure we were going to give it another go.

We decided to stick a bed in there so we could actually use it as a bedroom if guests came to stay and secretly hoped that some day it might be your bed. For a while it was 'the boys bedroom'; the rats had a bedroom all to themselves. I stuck a couple of bookcases up there, optimistically filling one up with children's books that I hoped to be able to share with you some day.

But I planned for the day when that room would become a nursery. I thought about where things would go as you grew, how we would fit more than one of you in there should we need to. I looked at that room as a child would, as a teenager, and I panicked about where the hell we were going to put all our crap when that day came!

It would be nice if we've been able to raise you in a house with a spare bedroom, but if not, I hope we've been able to drop the 'spare' bit of its title and that for you it's just your bedroom. Perhaps it's not the biggest. Perhaps you're limited on where your wardrobe can go because of those sloping ceilings. Perhaps it sucks being right opposite the bathroom. Perhaps you bang your head occasionally getting in and out of bed (those sloping ceilings again). But it's the one spot of the house that is truly yours, and we've been planning it that way since we first set foot in the door.

And I hope I finally found somewhere else to keep all those books!

All my love,

Your Mum.

Friday, 21 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letter to my Embryos: R is for Rainbows

Welcome to Day 18 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

You are probably fully aware that I have a bit of a thing for rainbows. I like to point them out when I see one, whether it's on TV, on someone's T-shirt when we're walking down the street, or an actual real life rainbow in its natural habitat. I like seeing rainbows.

But I wonder if I've ever told you why.

You, my precious Bubbles, are my Rainbows.

Rainbows represent the calm after the storm, the hope that follows destruction, and you are my reward for weathering the storm.

A Rainbow Baby is one born after a miscarriage. Your father and I weathered the storm and hopefully, if you are reading this, you were our reward.

I hope that you have grown up knowing that you are my Rainbow because that will mean that you have grown up knowing about the ones who could have come before you. Who, had they been born, probably would have meant we never would have had you. They would have been seven month old infants at the time you were conceived and I'm sure with our hands full of baby twins we wouldn't have ever considered going for another round of IVF.

We needed the storm for you to be here.

And now I spot rainbows to give me hope for the future.

Just a few days before writing this letter to you, just under a week before beginning my first lot of medication for the process which will hopefully allow us to bring you home with us, your father and I were riding in the car, discussing names which might one day be yours, when I spotted a beautiful bold, bright rainbow, arcing across the sky.

And at that moment the car CD player began to play 'Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now'.

Nothing's going to stop us, Bubbles.

All my love,

Your Mum.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: Q is for Quandary

Welcome to Day 17 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

I'm sure you're well aware of this by now, but before you had existed for twenty-four hours we had to make one of the hardest decisions we've ever made. The decision that would affect your whole future and could potentially have made the difference between you being here or not.

Does that sound dramatic? I guess it kind of was, but we didn't make the decision in some big important room with a countdown timer playing. I was lounging in my jammies, in our living room, and recovering from my op.

We got the phone call to let us know we had ten embryos and they wanted to know whether to freeze you then and there or to let you grow for five days. The idea was that if we froze you all then and there, we would know we had ten embryos, but if we let you grow, we'd know what quality you were, who was the strongest and you'd have more chance of surviving the freeze/thaw procedure.

I didn't have too much time to consider this quandary, we needed to give the hospital an immediate response. A brief conversation with your Dad and we decided to let you grow. The Embryologist seemed happy with our choice and we hung up to begin the long five day wait to hear how you got on.

And I immediately panicked because we didn't know if any of you would make it to the blastocyst stage. You were all my potential babies and I couldn't help but wonder if perhaps I'd signed your death warrant, that none of you would make it.

I needn't have worried, of course, you were strong.

But it was a scary fire experience of making importance decisions about you. And even though there might be big decisions I make on your behalf in the future, I'll always know I got that first, most important, one right.

All my love,

Your Mum.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: P is for Phone Call

Welcome to Day 16 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

I owe you an apology. The first time I ever left you in the care of someone else, when they phoned me to let me know how you were getting on, I missed the call.

In my defense, it was the day after you were conceived, I was recovering from surgery, and the last time we'd had a call from an Embryologist to tell us how many embryos we had it wasn't until 10:30am. The fact that your first babysitter (embryositter?) called at 8:30am caught me off guard.

I guess you were kind of ahead of the curve and that's why she was so eager to let me know how you were getting on. But I felt pretty awful. Like I was letting you down in some way because I hadn't been there when I was supposed to be.

Of course, it was okay in the end. I caught her call just a few minutes after I picked up the voicemail. You were on my mind the whole time, even though I didn't know if you existed yet.

I'm fairly certain that this won't be the first important phone call about you that I'll miss. I'm sure there will be messages from school, from your friends' parents, maybe even from you.

But just like that very first time I missed a call about you, I'll always have you on my mind, even if it might not seem like it at the time.

All my love,

Your Mum.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: O is for Optimism

Welcome to Day 15 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

There are lots of things that I hope you inherit from us; my love of reading, your father's love of music, a desire to learn, a desire to creative new things. But I'm singling out one in particular today, optimism.

I'm hopeful that you will grow up with a glass which is always half full, able to look on the bright side, and able to see the best in people. I hopeful that we'll be able to instill that sense of optimism in you. I'm not sure that optimism is something that can be transmitted to you in the womb, like resistance to certain illnesses, but I'm going to give it a go.

It's funny, you'd think that trying for over nine years to bring you into our lives would dull our optimism somewhat, but I think if anything is has only made it stronger. The truth is, I'm not sure we would have made it through all the tests and procedures without a fair helping of optimism. Optimism that this time it would work, that this time we would get to bring you home.

I'm truly optimistic that one day you will read these letters. And it will probably seem strange to you, having been on earth for all those years, very much here and present, that there could have ever been a doubt that you would exist. It's strange to think of the world as a place without you.

But believe me, we lived in it, but we were always hopeful that you would live in it too. One day.

All my love,

Your Mum.

Today we're actually off to Glasgow to start the process to thaw out at least one of our Bubbles and hopefully bring them home next month. Keep your fingers crossed everyone!

Monday, 17 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: N is for Numbers

Welcome to Day 14 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

Although I am writing these letters to you as individuals, at the time of writing them I could only imagine you as a group. That's why I address them to 'Bubbles', I can't really think of you in the singular and I'm optimistic that perhaps one or more of you might get to read these letters some day.

Right now, in April 2017, there are nine of you. This year nine became one of my favourite numbers.

Numbers became very important to me in the February when you were conceived. At each hospital appointment I found my head swimming with figures which told us how well the various aspects of treatment were (or weren't going).

Those numbers were like a score sheet and I couldn't help but compare them to our previous cycle to predict the likelihood of this being the cycle which would finally bring you into our lives. Our last cycle had produced seven embryos, of which four became blastocysts, but none became our 'take home babies'. If the two which had briefly stuck had held on, you never would have been here. We never would have gone into the round which produced you.

When we learned we had ten embryos I never imagined that nine of you would make it to the coveted blastocyst stage. In terms of numbers, that's 90% of you. To put that in perspective, I was hoping that 50% would make it.

I know that in the months to come, in 2017, there are going to be a whole lot more numbers which shape the future for our family. How many of you nine will survive the thaw? How many will we transfer? How many times will we do this?

And perhaps the most important question of all, how many of you will read this?

Just another one of the many things I'm looking forward to finding out.

All my love,

Your Mum.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Happy Easter!

Hope everyone's having a lovely Easter weekend. I know we are here.

Of course, Easter nests in our house come with little ratties in them, rather than Easter Eggs or chicks!


I'm enjoying having a long weekend off work, catching up on letter writing, getting another week's worth of A to Z Challenge posts written, desperately trying to finish The Shelters of Stone so I don't have to transport a 769 page book to Glasgow with me next week, the usual.

Hope that whatever you're up to this weekend, you're enjoying yourselves.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: M is for Manflu

Welcome to Day 13 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

As you can imagine, the process that we went through in order to have you, while worth it, wasn't exactly a piece of cake. I was pumped full of hormones (which made me a bundle of laughs, when I wasn't sobbing about random things) and there were all the injections. On the whole, your Dad got off fairly lightly.

But don't forget, he suffered too.

With Manflu!

Whenever I look back on the time when we conceived you, I will always remember the snotty, cranky mess that your father ended up in that week.

But he coped with it masterfully. I suggested he stay home on our last two appointments before the egg retrieval but he insisted on coming with me. Little did we know at the time that he was actually coming down with a raging ear infection (please, don't inherit your father's predisposition towards ear infections) which took three courses of antibiotics to be rid of!

I do have to admit, I struggled to feel sympathy at the time. I was a human pin cushion, all bloated and uncomfortable, and when I had suggested he drink plenty of orange juice he'd not been too quick to stock up. I did feel pretty guilty afterwards when I realised how bad his ear was.

Of course, he's very big on sharing, is your Dad. The morning of the egg retrieval I felt a little snuffly and by the day after I was just as snotty and cranky as he had been.

I think we've got you to thank for neither of us letting the Manflu get the better of us. We'd waited so long to get started on this round of treatment and we were both so positive that this would be it, nothing like a little cold (or the beginnings of an ear infection) were going to stop us. And so we both kept on keeping on.

Every mother wants to think her child will be the one to change the world or influence people for the better, but I think you started making a difference before you even sprang into existence. Long may it continue!

All my love,

Your Mum.

Friday, 14 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: L is for Language

Welcome to Day 12 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

As I write these letters, I can't help but wonder what other languages you might be able to read, write and speak. Obviously English will be your main language, spoken at home, but I wonder what languages will be used in the schools you attend.

I'm writing this letter in Scotland, where English will be your main language at home, with Scots English being spoken amongst your friends. They're almost the same language, except for when they're not. Do you refer to those grey, mizzly days as 'dreich'? Do you say 'can I get' instead of 'can I have'? Do you pronounce 'head' as 'heid'?

Or have you grown up somewhere else?

On the way to one of the hospital appointments, less than a week before you were conceived, your father and I had a serious conversation about the sort of school you would attend (you know how much I like to plan ahead). We had been talking about our future plans to move to Wales and I wondered out loud whether we would send you to a Welsh-medium school, if that was an option.

And now I wonder, was your school uniform emblazoned with a fire-breathing 'draig'? If you're given money for a treat will you spend it on sugary 'losin' or (my personal favourite) 'siocled'? When you finish this letter, will you snuggle into to me for a 'cwtch'?

Because no matter what language, or languages, you speak, I'm always willing to give you a cuddle.

All my love,

Your Mum.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: K is for Knitting

Welcome to Day 11 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

I feel like I must apologise. You've probably worn some truly heinous outfits over the years. For that, and any photographic evidence which exists of those (and which may be shown to potential partners), I am sorry.

I love to knit. I find it very relaxing. You're probably aware of the fact that I hate to be inactive. I love to be doing something. So if I'm watching TV, I like to feel as though I'm being busy. I can't help but wonder if I'll instill that need for 'busyness' in you as well. Hopefully you'll view it as a positive trait if I have.

But back to the knitting.

My favourite thing to knit is toys. I imagine that you will have a legion of stuffed friends, none of whom you will be able to throw out because 'I made those by hand' and 'don't you want to hang onto them for your own children some day'. Sorry.

I imagine I will sit up late knitting characters for your birthday, for Christmas, as a little present to say well done in school or to welcome you home from a trip. You'd probably rather have the latest games console, but trust me, someday you'll treasure those little toys made by hand.

And then there will be the handknits.

My passion for knitting clothes differs somewhat from my passion for knitting toys. For one thing, they usually take longer to make, so by the time you are able to express a preference for what resides in your wardrobe I'll probably be back to churning out dolls and bears again.

But for the outfits you wore in your infancy, those ones I cast on for before I even knew if you'd stuck around... well... sorry about those.

All my love,

Your Mum.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: J is for Journey

Welcome to Day 10 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

Excuse me if I get all metaphorical and drippy for a moment. But getting to you was a journey. More than one journey in fact, a series of journeys.

It took us over nine years to get to the point where you were conceived and while you were our ultimate destination, we can't forget all the things we went through along the way.

If you had come along back when we first started trying (roughly nine years, four months, twelve days ago) then we wouldn't be the same parents that we are now. If you had come along when we had our first round, or our second round, or one of our previous frozen transfers, we wouldn't be the same parents that we are now.

Maybe we would have been better. Maybe worse. Maybe we wouldn't have appreciated you as much for all the bumps in the road we had along the way. Maybe you feel like we ask too much of you, or we're too overprotective.

I hope you understand that it's the journey we took to get you which made us who we are today. And in turn, our journey has made you who you are.

And we wouldn't have it any other way.

All my love,

Your Mum.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: I is for Independence

Welcome to Day 9 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.


We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.


Dear Bubbles,

I often find myself wondering if you might be a little more independent than other people's offspring. No, seriously, bear with me.

Most people are with their mothers for a full nine months, then they're born and they spend even more time with people. Babies are pretty demanding and need a fair amount of attention after all.

But you did pretty well without me for those first five days of your development. You were conceived without me there; you grew from two cells, to four cells, to eight, developed into a morula and then a blastocyst all without me there to cheer you on (I was cheering you on, I was just 45 miles away at the time). What's more, embryos develop better without any interruption. So you did have a caregiver (in the shape of the wonderful embryologists) looking out for you along the way, they mostly just had to make sure you had a cosy petri dish and a good spot in the incubator.

And you obviously coped admirably, all on your own. Which is what makes me wonder if you might not be a little bit more independent than all the other people who didn't begin their lives under carefully controlled lab conditions.

I don't think there's actually been any studies done on this, so perhaps we'll never know. If nothing else, you were very independent at the critical time when you needed to get on with things without any help from me. So I wonder if that will continue on through your life.

I'm looking forward to finding out!

All my love,

Your Mum.

Monday, 10 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: H is for Hospital

Welcome to Day 8 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

When I think of you as you are now, reading this letter, I probably think of all sorts of things; whether or not you've tidied your room recently, the funny little quirks you have, what you look like when you're concentrating on a good book or film.

When I think of you as you are now, as I'm writing this letter, I picture a hospital. Because that's where you are right now. If we happen to head onto the mainland and drive past the hospital where you are currently housed, I have to wave and say hello to you. I look forward to appointments there because it brings me closer to you, even though you're not actually consciously aware of me being there. You're chilling in the freezer, after all.

Hospitals aren't exactly fun places to visit. The last time I was there (at the time of writing this) was on the day you were conceived, and that involved an operation. I left feeling fragile and emotional and kind of empty. I was leaving you being, even though you barely even existed, and I didn't know when we would be reunited.

But each trip to the hospital feels like it's bringing me a little closer to you. And we've spent so much time there recently, your father and I, that the waiting room with its stiff chairs and old magazines seems almost as familiar as our own living room.

Next time we see you, it will be at that hospital. You won't see us because you won't have developed eyes yet (they'll start to form within about two weeks of the transfer). But we'll see you and it will be amazing!

I like to think that one day we'll take you back there, probably when you're still too tiny to actually appreciate the event. You'll either sleep through it while busy nurses and embryologists take a polite look at you, or you'll cry and scream and we'll cut the visit short to get on with the shopping or whatever else we'd visited the mainland to do. Either way, I'd like to show you where you came from and that hospital is precisely where you started.

All my love,

You Mum.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

What's keeping me busy this week?

I'm taking a little break from my Silent Sunday posts this month, since Sunday is the one day off the A to Z Challenge and I like to use my blog to share what I'm up to in the real world. Excuse the Instagram photos, I've not taken my camera out its case for far too long!

I went through a period at the start of the year when I struggled with my knitting mojo. It happens every so often, usually when I've started and abandoned a couple of projects (or at least set them in time out for a while). I get that sense that I want to be making some, but I just don't know what. And since I can't settle on anything, I just end up not doing anything.

Well, this last week and a bit the knitting bug has well and truly bitten me again. I love how productive I feel when I knit; I can sit and watch TV, or read on my Kindle, and keep my hands busy making interesting things at the same time.

This month's issue of Simply Knitting came with a free unicorn toy kit. This felt like a sign to me, especially as it looks like a knitting version of Ixi (my lucky unicorn), so I cast on for it almost instantly (I've still not actually finished reading the magazine, I pretty much got as far as the unicorn pattern and ceased reading).


Cute little fellow, isn't it?

Well, it's also insanely complicated for what it it. Or rather, one bit of it is insanely complicated. I've had this thing in time out twice since I started it!


I got to a bit in the pattern which I struggled to make sense of. You had to knit three sections, the first on the original yarn, the second on scrap yarn (the blue in the picture above) and then wind some of the original yarn onto a bobbin to knit the final section. Each one is knit separately in order to create the two slits you see above.

I read on to the end a couple of times but just couldn't seem to make sense of it, until I posted on Ravelry about it and something clicked. The general consensus with the bit of the pattern I shared was that they weren't sure why I was doing what I was doing, but that I should just go for it and see where it took me.

So I did.

It was only after I'd knitted this section that I realised that blue bit is now supposed to be cut, the stitches unravelled and then the live stitches on either end picked up and knit.

I said to hell with that, and cast on for the head separately so I can cobble it together in my own way. My unicorn just might wear a collar to cover up its messy neck!

At least this did have one positive effect.

I couldn't wait to get back to working on Ernie, who had sadly been standing footless on the windowsill for around a month, waiting for his feet to be sewn up, stuffed and sewn on. All other plans for yesterday afternoon went out the window and I did this:


That's Ernie standing up on his own two (carefully pinned on) feet. I couldn't leave him like that though, stuck full of pins like some giant voodoo doll, so I very carefully stitched them on as well:


And then I realised that the section I'd just so carefully and neatly sewn up, was going to be covered by another piece of knitting so will never be seen.

But you've seen it, so you know it's there!

Other things I've been up to?

Last week I reorganised my bookshelves in the living room:


This is the bookcase I face from my armchair in the living room and it was getting embarrassing. Every time I looked at it (which was pretty much every day) it stressed me out. On top of the books I had books I'd bought in charity shops, pay slips, diaries, notebooks, receipts, fliers, letters, envelopes... you get the idea. The only reason I didn't take a before photo was because I was too embarrassed at the way everything was crammed in there. There were receipts dating back to 2015!

I took everything off, dusted, sorted and organised it all, then just returned the actual books to the shelf.

I also rearranged them so the ones in the back rows are sorted alphabetically by genre, rather than by genre then author. Each time I do this I put the general fiction on the shelf first, then short stories and poetry, then crime, you get the idea. The general stuff keeps getting pushed to the front and the other books kept on winding up at the end of the shelf where they were never read. Now I might actually get to some of them.

So aside from A to Z-ing, I've been pretty busy.

How about you?

Saturday, 8 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: G is for Grading

Welcome to Day 7 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

By the time you are old enough to read this, you will probably be well aware that I value education and learning. I'm looking forward to watching you make discoveries about the world around us, and making discoveries right alongside you too.

From the second you are born, you'll be being graded on a number of different scales. A newborn's responsiveness is checked, later you'll be graded on your height and weight, how you grow, and then you'll start school and face a whole lot more test scores and checks.

But you faced your very first grading challenge way back when you were just five days old. And I'm not talking five days post-birth here either! When I say five days old, I mean five does post-conception.

On the 18th of February you were taken out of the incubator you'd been happily growing in, the Embryologist peeped into your petri dish and she liked what she saw. You passed the test and you were declared 'top quality blastocysts'.

Her actual words were 'fabulous embryos' which I have written on my hospital paperwork from the cycle, like your first ever school report.

What's confusing when it comes to embryo grading is that different clinics do it in their own ways. Some give numbers, some give letters, some give both. And even two clinics that use the same process can differ; for some 1 is the best and 5 is poor quality, for another it's the other way round.

I'm not sure what your exact grades are. I was so happy to know you'd survived to Day 5 that I didn't think to ask. All I know is that you're better than all the ones that came before. The best we had before was 5BB, so you must be at least 5AB or 5BA.

And that's how our hospital grades you. You're given a number from 1 to 6 depending on your stage of development (a 6 means you're hatching and ready to implant). Then your 'inner cell mass' (the bit in the middle that became you) gets an A to C grade, as does the Trophectoderm (the outer bit that eventually forms the placenta which keeps you fed and oxygenated for the next nine months). A is the best too.

So I'm not too worried about whether or not you get top grades when it comes to school. I know you'll do your best.

Because you already have.

All my love,

Your Mum.

Friday, 7 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: F is for Freezer

Welcome to Day 6 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

For most people, their first bed, the place where they rest, is a comfortable crib. It might be of the hospital variety (kind of like a fish tank with see through sides) or it might be a traditional wooden cot (with bars, like a miniature prison). By the time you're reading this, you might have had several different beds, sleeping in all sorts of interesting places, but at the time I'm writing this you've only had one.

And it's a freezer.

I'm not sure whether going through the cryopreservation process is anything like falling asleep. I like to think it is. Certainly, being thawed out seems to be like waking up an embryo; some are a little sluggish afterwards and others hop straight back to what they were doing before.

And if that is the case then your first bed is definitely a freezer.

Now before you start thinking about reporting me to Social Services, it wasn't my freezer. It's a special sort of freezer for embryos in the hospital lab, where you're allowed to stay for up to ten years at a time. It's all very carefully controlled and it probably has a special name which sounds nothing like 'a freezer' but right now, you're frozen, so the best place for you is in the freezer.

Plus, I do have to admit, it's kind of fun to see people's reactions when you tell them you keep your kids in a freezer!

All my love,

Your Mum
(who will never keep you in the freezer ever again, I promise).

Thursday, 6 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: E is for Energy

Welcome to Day 5 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

I don't know how true it is but apparently it's the egg that provides the energy for you to grow for the first three days of your development. After that the rest of the process is all up to you. This apparently helps to explain why some embryos go well for the first two or three days and then stall in their development, or conversely, you get some which seem to go very slowly but then suddenly start to play catch up a couple of days after conception.

Obviously, the fact that you made it to blastocyst stage shows that you had enough energy. Hopefully my eggs did their bit and then you were able to take over and keep going.

The next big test is when we take you out the freezer. You need to summon on those reawakened energy reserves and pick up where you left off. If you're reading this letter then you know that you did just that and I believe in you enough to actually write this series of letters, so I'm sure that you'll do just fine.

I hope that you never lose that momentum which carried you for those first five days of life. I hope that you'll always be active in some way, either physically or mentally. Searching for new activities, new knowledge, new horizons.

And I sincerely hope that I have enough energy to keep up with you!

So if it ever seems like your old dad and I are moving a little bit too slow, just remember, our spark of energy has been running for a lot longer than yours. We need more time to recharge our batteries!

All my love,

Your Mum.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: D is for Diary

Welcome to Day 4 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

Have I ever shared my diaries with you? If I haven't by the time you're reading this, remind me and I'll dig some out for you to look at. I expect you'll have a laugh.

I've kept a diary in some form since I was about twelve (though sadly the pencil is very faded by now so by the time you're old enough to delve into my twelve year old musings, they may be indecipherable). Some of my diaries were kept online, like in the blog where these letters were originally published. Other's were kept in paper notebooks with slips of paper sandwiched between the pages from hospital appointments or parking tickets.

A diary is kind of a necessity when you've got lots of different meds to take at set times of each day. I even devised a(n admittedly complicated) chart to help me see all my medications, appointments and other important things during our treatment process.

Still tucked into that diary is the sheet from the hospital which serves as a diary, of sorts. It's got a treatment checklist where we were supposed to enter dates and times for the aforementioned appointments, pills and potions. You can see that I dutifully filled in the dates and times in the beginning, when those dates and times were given to us at the hospital appointments themselves. Later on there are scribbles all over the back of the sheet, haphazardly filled in anywhere there's space, because I was making those notes wherever I happened to be when the hospital called; on the train, on the ferry, sitting in an awkward position in the living room hoping that my phone signal wouldn't disappear.

I'll warn you though, the diaries aren't all happy reading. Yes, there's a lot of rambling about Tara and your father and random shopping trips, but our journey to you wasn't all plain sailing. You weren't the result from our first round of IVF, you weren't even from our second. So there's a lot of stuff in there about those previous attempts.

And I'll share those with you when you're ready.

All my love,

Your Mum.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: C is for Conception

Welcome to Day 3 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

I don't mind if you skip this letter. I'm sure most kids don't really care to hear about how they were conceived. Most people don't want to even think about their parents doing the nasty; I have a friend who insisted her parents only 'did it' twice, once for her and once for her brother.

So it may actually come as something of a relief to you to learn that your father and I had absolutely no physical contact in order to conceive you. In fact, we weren't even in the same room as each other when your conception was taking place. Oh no, your conception was handled by a skilled Embryologist in a Glasgow hospital.

Many people don't have any idea when they were conceived. There's usually some idea of the rough date when it probably took place. You're one of the lucky minority where we not only know the date, we know the approximate time as well!

My eggs were collected at around 10am on the 13th of February and shortly afterwards they were introduced to your father's contribution to the whole affair. So I can say with some certainty that by about 11:30am on the 13th of February you'd been conceived.

And even if the whole thought of your own conception squicks you out, my Darling Bubbles, you have to admit, it is kind of cool to know exactly when it happened.

All my love,

Your Mum.

Monday, 3 April 2017

#atozchallenge Letters to my Embryos: B is for Blastocyst

Welcome to Day 2 of the A to Z Challenge, an April blogging challenge where you aim post every day during the month following the letters of the alphabet (with every Sunday bar the last one off).

In the past I've used the challenge to blog about my infertility and the IVF process. I'm following a similar theme this year as we wait to begin the process for a Frozen Embryo Transfer, having completed a Freeze All IVF cycle in February.

We currently have nine embryos sitting on ice, my little bubbles, and this April I am blogging to them about the process of how they came to be.



Dear Bubbles,

At the time of writing these letters to you, you're currently what is classed as blastocysts. That's a very important stage in your development, more important than learning to read, or write, or walk, or talk; before we could even think about you being able to do any of those things, you had to become blastocysts.

Everyone alive today, and everyone who has ever lived, was once a blastocyst. It only lasts for up to about four days at by the time it starts you're just a bundle of somewhere between 30 to 40 cells, each one of which is growing and dividing and preparing to become some important part of your growing body.

Each step of our IVF/ICSI treatment was about getting to the next step of the process, but once you'd been created, we suddenly had to put the responsibility for the next step on you. This was something you had to do on your own.

And thankfully you did. You were strong and for five days you thrived and grew.

And now we just have to hope that you carry on as you have when we're able to put back where you belong.

All my love,

Your Mum

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Film Review: Beauty and the Beast

In a slightly break from tradition, as I'm blogging my way from A to Z this month, I'm substituting my normal Silent Sunday for a decidedly chatty film review post.

After our trip to the cinema last week to see Lion, we made a return visit to see the live action version of Beauty and the Beast. My Mum (hi Mum!) had seen it the week before and assured me that I would love it, but I was a little anxious. The animated version is without a doubt my favourite Disney film so it had a lot to live up to!

Warning! Here be spoilers!

Don't say I didn't warn you!



I need to start this by saying that Belle is my princess.

I can vividly remember watching the animated film on video tape, setting up the four pouffes we had in our living room as my props (such as the edge of the fountain where Belle sings to the sheep as she looks at her book) and pretty much acting out the film as I watched it. Belle's library is the inspiration for my happy place. She was the weird girl who walked around with her nose stuck in a book; I was the weird girl who walked to and from school (and around it) with my nose stuck in a book. I can remember feeling terribly jealous of my friend who had brown hair and brown eyes and therefore looked far more like Belle than I ever would.

And then when I was starting school in a new country, with a new curriculum and (let's face it) almost a whole new language, I discovered Harry Potter and met Hermione Granger. The bookish girl from a slightly different background to her new world who loved to study and that was okay.

This film is kind of a melding of two of Young Click's heroes.

And I was worried about that. Was it going to feel like I was watching Hermione Granger running around being my all time favourite Disney princess?

It wasn't.


I like the fact that right from the very beginning it works to close up some plot holes from the original film. I'd heard that some of the characters were getting a little more backstory (I think most of the main characters come away with a little more backstory than the original) and I was concerned it was just going to be plot for plot's sake. It wasn't.

We get to see what the Prince is like before he's cursed, we learn why everyone in the castle was cursed, we learn just why Belle and her Father moved to the 'poor provincial town', we learn why no one in the village is aware of a big castle full of enchanted furniture just on the other side of the woods from them. These are all really important things!

And do you see the colours in the picture above?

The film is so vibrant that it feels like a nod back to the original film. Belle stands out against all their earth toned clothes, just as before, but it's also really bright, like watching a cartoon. I also have to admit that I spent a fair chunk of the film studying Belle's outfits and wondering how easy it would be to put together a costume like that for Halloween. Her clothes are just beautiful!

And it's really minor, but I love that they changed the bookseller. It's always bugged me that in the animated film everyone comments on how strange it is that Belle likes to read, and yet the bookseller is still in business. In this version she's borrowing books from the parish priest who has a modest collection of books, through which Belle escapes from the mundane life of the village. It was just a really minor thing at the start of the film, but I knew at that moment that this film was just made for me!


Gaston is just the guy you want to hate, even if he does look like Luke Evans. He comes across as scary twisted because he's capable of being almost kind to Belle when the villagers are picking on her, and yet he'll also happily leave someone to be eaten by wolves.

While Le Fou is more than just the bumbling sidekick. I love that he starts off fawning all over Gaston but gradually comes to question what his hero is doing. And his version of Gaston is just brilliant. I spend most of Saturday listening to the soundtrack and that was one I had to keep playing over.

Speaking of the soundtrack, all the old favourites are here, but there's some new ones as well (and some new lyrics in the old songs). Everyone does a brilliant job of the singing. Hermione Granger and Bard the Bowman can sing, guys!


And what about the Beast?

He's more of a character in this. I mean, he's obviously a character in the animated version, but he's not got a whole lot to do other than fall for Belle and gradually become more civilised. But we don't actually know much about why he was the way he was in the animated version, he was spoiled and turned an old lady away, but that's about it.

In this version we learn why he's the way he is. And it turns out that he and Belle have some things in common, and yet it (or rather their father's) caused them to go in different directions. They both have a love of books as well which gives them something to bond over.


It's lovely to see the Beast becoming more human, it's subtle too. He starts off wearing tattered clothes and then gradually starts dressing the way he does above. He and Belle take walks in the ground, she reads to him. You're watching two people become friends and discovering that despite their differences they can get along.


'Something There' is one of my favourite sequences in the original because it shows the coming together of Belle and the Beast. In this version we get the song, but instead of a montage of them hanging out and drinking porridge, we also get to watch all the sweet little moments bonding in the library and Belle learning exactly what happened to her mother.

And what about the castle staff/objects?


I wasn't too sure about them at first. Particularly Mrs Potts, she just looks so different from the Mrs Potts I'm used to. But I soon got used to them and they became the characters for me. And let's face it, they're meant to be people who have been turned into objects. that kind of explains the creepiness of the way they look.

And I love that Belle responds to them accordingly and instead of trying to figure out how they work she smashing Lumiere over the head with a stool and is prepared to attack Cogsworth with a jug!

Even though I knew how the film was going to end, I did have a moment of doubt as the last petal fell and the inhabitants all slowly became the objects they had been turning into. For a horrible moment I thought that Disney were going to completely crush me and ruin my favourite film.

But they didn't.

I wasn't sure that the original could be improved on. It turns out it could.

And I can't wait to see it again.