Tuesday, 29 April 2014

I did it! - #100HappyDays Recap 51-100

I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be able to say I completed this challenge! At the beginning, 100 days seemed like a lot - but it has honestly flown by, and it was fun trying to capture one moment of happiness every single day. Here are days 51-100.
Day 51: this face. Because who wouldn't love this face? Day 52: shit is about to get real. Picked up my sharps today ready for starting tomorrow! Next step: human pincushion! Day 53: would ya look at that?! Who is the best at Soccer 6? Oh, that would be me! Day 54: roast duck for dinner. Even better, a whole duck was only £3.99! Day 55: It's not every city you can walk down the high street with an amazing castle view. You can in my city! Day 56: beautiful bright sunshine always makes me smile. Day 57: a bit of fizz (non-alcoholic) in the double jacuzzi. Don't mind if I do! Day 58: a day out watching some of my favourite animals. Always happy doing that! Day 59: Ending our anniversary celebrations with a big ol' Eton mess. Yum! Day 60: I've spent the day basically binge watching this. Day 61: how I wish Instagram had scratch & sniff! Home cooked basque chicken, lovingly prepared by Boy and me as a team effort - and I can't tell you how divine the aromas are! Day 62: reading on the train home is one of my favourite parts of any day Day 63: sometimes there's only one solution: crawl into bed. Day 64: discovering I'm divergent on the day I finished reading Divergent Day 65: it was a beautiful sunrise this morning. Shame my phone didn't capture it very well. Day 66: another working week done, these lovelies are great company for the journey home. Day 67: It's SO nice to have the ability to use the washing line! Day 68: new discovery, totally delicious. Day 69: watching Pointless always makes me happy! Day 70: finally got around to painting my nails in my favourite polish colour Day 71: I took this picture last time I was in Paris. I'm happy today, because I've just booked Eurostar tickets to go back this summer! Day 72: ordering flowers for my mum for Mother's Day this weekend makes me happy. Day 73: that moment on a Friday evening where I unlock my front door, let myself in, and know I don't have to leave again until Monday Day 74: struggling a bit to find something to be happy about today - spending the day tucked up in bed ill has that effect. But some Saturday night tv lifts my mood! I love Little Ant & Dec! Day 75: an author of a book I loved commenting on my review of the book I loved. Seriously awesome!

Day 76: love my Harry Potter beakers! Not only are they Harry Potter and therefore cool, they remind me of a great trip. Day 77: finding out that I *don't* have to inject with the pink needles, that I have spent the last 4 weeks absolutely terrified of, definitely made my day! Day 78: my husband left this on the fridge this morning. I am married to real gem, and I am so lucky. Day 79: I adore my Icona coffee machine! Day 80: first and only Costa Coffee of the week, after spending most of the week tucked up in bed ill. Day 81: I have become utterly addicted to Quiz Up, and I'm so pleased to have earned this award for getting a perfect score! Day 82: these "dunk stirrers" are AMAZING!! a fabulous discovery today. Day 83: it feels like the station redevelopment has been in the works for ever such a long time. It's exciting to finally see the new look now the boards have come down! Day 84: being married to a big kid makes me happy Day 85: I can't wait to be maid of honour at this wedding! Day 86: getting a lift into town instead of the bus meant I was on the train super early, and I was at my desk before 8 am! Day 87: great news from my appointment this morning means that my sharps bin is very nearly no longer required! Day 88: last injection done! Day 89: who doesn't love Primark with a dash of H&M thrown in for good measure? I'm getting a bit obsessed with comic hero PJs. Day 90: PJs and feet up while recovering. Thankful for a wonderful husband who takes really good care of me. Day 91: It's such a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky! Day 92: having a husband who is, let's face it, awesome, makes me a very happy girl. Day 93: Couldn't get enough orange juice all day. Fresh and healthy! Day 94: a delicious salad is the perfect lunch on a hot, sunny day Day 95: there's something magical about steam trains, and it was a lovely surprise to see one today Day 96: a long walk in the forest with the husband was the perfect way to spend Sunday afternoon. Day 97: going to the movies this morning means I have completed my task to see 50 movies I'd never seen before. We made a day of it and saw Captain America straight after too. I do enjoy a superhero marathon! Day 98: starting an online World Cup sticker book and getting 3 shiny stickers in my first pack made me happy! Day 99: I love raiding Boy's football shirt collection and borrowing his random ones to wear for bed! Tonight: Olympiakos! Day 100: reaching the end of this challenge makes me so happy, and so grateful for the wonderful people I have in my life and the memories I will cherish making with them. In particular, Boy helps me make incredible memories and keeps me smiling even when things look bleak.

**This post originally appeared on my old blog and has been imported to Living for the Victories**

Thursday, 24 April 2014

A Real Tale of IVF: Part 2

Did you catch Part 1, where I recapped the down regulation stage?

The real story of IVF, from first hand experience

After having a monitoring scan, to check that my uterine lining was pretty much none existent and there was no activity on my ovaries, stage 2 began.

(Have I mentioned that all these scans I refer to are internal? Yep, that's right folks, more people have seen intimate parts of me throughout this journey than I care to count!)

After 24 days of one injection of buserelin a day, it was time to add a second drug. From April 1st, I had 12 days of "stimming" - that is, stimulating my ovaries to produce lots of follicles. To do this, I used a drug called Menopur, which contains hormones FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone - which usually triggers ovulation). This one took a little more preparation, as I had to mix one vial of liquid with three of powder. It turned out that the enormous needles I'd spent the last few weeks terrified of, were actually for mixing and not injecting. Phew!

After a couple of days of stimming, my energy levels were on their way back up and I started to feel a little bit like my usual self. Believe me, this was a relief! 10 days after I started stimming, I had to go to clinic for a scan to see how my ovaries were responding. At this time, my right ovary had 5 follicles visible, and my left... Well, it shocked me a little bit. My left ovary was already producing 14 follicles! This did explain why my left side was feeling more tender!

Two days later I was back again for a final monitoring scan before booking in for egg collection. By this time, I very much aware that my ovaries had responded well - try to imagine what it would feel like to be carrying a couple of bunches of smallish grapes in your lower abdomen. At this final scan, I had a count of 22 mature follicles (which ranged from 16mm to 24mm in diameter) and they estimated that there was another 10 or so smaller ones.

Responding this well to stimming isn't all good news, as it may appear to be. I was told I was at risk of OHSS, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which can be very dangerous and even fatal in severe cases. I would be closely monitored and was given instructions of how to reduce the risk and what to look out for.
The last injection: hCG
Saturday 12th April was a big day. I had three injections that day! I had my menopur and buserelin as usual, and then I had to take the hCG "trigger shot" that evening at 9.30pm. The hCG is the hormone that tells the follicles to mature and release the eggs, so the timing of the shot is crucial - it must be 36-38 hours prior to egg collection. Which I will tell you all about next time!

This post originally appeared on my old blog and has been imported to Living for the Victories

Thursday, 17 April 2014

A Real Tale of IVF: Part 1

As I'm sure you know if you've been following my bloggity blog for a while, Boy and I are currently in the midst of our first cycle of IVF. I've come to realise recently that most people actually have no clue at all what IVF involves, and though they may be curious they don't necessarily like to ask. Or even Google, which you would hope those nearest and dearest to someone going through it would... But apparently not. So I'm here to explain what I can and describe what the process has been like for us!

The real experience of IVF, told by someone who has gone through it

I'm not going to to start with how we got to the stage of IVF, because that's all covered here - feel free to pop over and catch up if you're unfamiliar with our story so far. I'm just going to jump straight in at the first stage of treatment.

There are two protocols for IVF: the long protocol and the short protocol. I was on the long protocol, which lasts around 6 weeks. The first stage of this is down regulation, or "down regging", which means that I was basically preventing my pituitary gland from releasing the hormones which normally stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs and ovulate.

To do this, I had to inject a drug called Buserelin every 24 hours in a dose of 0.5ml. This really doesn't sound a lot, but when you've got a thing about needles it feels like it takes an eternity at first to get all that liquid in!

For the first few days, Boy administered the Buserelin, which was injected subcutaneously (which means into fatty tissue under the skin - I did mine in my tummy but some people do them in their thighs) - but it didn't take long for me to sack him relieve him of his duties and do it myself. As much as I hate needles, at least if I did it myself I could control the pain and make the task that little bit less unpleasant.

As you can see from the pictures above, the needles used to inject this are 13mm long. At first, I really struggled to get the whole needle in without wanting to scream but I did eventually figure out a method that worked for me. I found that putting ice on the area I was going to inject into for 30-60 seconds beforehand made the initial prick virtually painless, and pinching the skin between my thumb and forefinger of my opposite hand to the one holding the needle also helped. When it came to getting the liquid in, slow and steady was definitely preferable to me over just getting it done ASAP.

I noticed after a few days that my skin seemed to be getting tougher to penetrate (nice huh?!) so I began alternating which side I injected into. The injections left small bruises in the early days (usually - except for one that was huge!!)

It took about a week for me to notice any side effects. I found myself feeling unbelievably tired, and I mean tired like I've never felt before. Waking up on a morning was nigh on impossible, getting to work drained whatever tiny amounts of energy I had tucked away, and I spent my day yawning my head off at my desk. By the time I got home on an evening I was only good for one thing: crawling into bed. A lot of people suffer with hot flushes, but I had the opposite; I would be shivering and piling on the layers in an attempt to get warm, even though everyone around me was wearing short sleeves and complaining about how hot and stuffy it was.

Towards the end of down regging, I had to go into clinic for a scan to see how the drug was working. Thankfully, it worked like a dream! I had had a bleed during the down regulation, and at the scan I had very little lining in my uterus and no activity at all on my ovaries - exactly what they were looking for! While this was great news, it meant I was ready to add in another injection to my day... Which I will tell you all about next time!

This post originally appeared on my old blog and has been imported to Living for the Victories

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

What To Expect When You're Expecting: A Guest Post By Stephanie

Today, I have the great pleasure of handing over to my amazing blog friend, Stephanie. She is genuinely one of the sweetest people I've had the opportunity to get to know through our blogs. She is a wife, career woman, and mom to two beautiful girls - and has another baby on the way! Make sure to visit her at Life, Unexpectedly and tell her I sent you!


Hi everyone!  While Jenni is resting and relaxing to prepare for one of the most important steps in her life, I wonder if she really, truly knows what she's getting herself into  :-)

Here are a few things Jenni will (hopefully!) be facing soon:

Sleep:  Don't expect to be sleeping again. Ever. Starting in the first trimester, you'll probably be getting up four to six times a night to visit the bathroom. Once that's done, weird sleep patterns, dreams, and insomnia are following, just to be replaced by discomfort and difficulties finding a good sleep position during your third trimesters. Believe me, I felt seriously cheated for the last restful nights before B-day. Once baby gets there, you'll probably adjust your sleep pattern more to the little one's, and with a little luck, once they actually sleep through the night, you'll be blessed with a little one who's cheerfully waking you come 5:30 every day.  
BUT: Is there anything better than being woken up - even at 5:30 in the morning - by having your eye-lids pulled up and see those big eyes appear in your blurry field of vision? I don't think so!

Mental Health: A difficult issue. Once you arrive at an age where you think you know who you are an what you want in life, repeated tidal waves of hormones will wash that away. Starting with hormones that will turn you into a sobbing mess for absolutely no reason (or simply a cry-baby when you don't get exactly the food you want at the very time you want it, see me on New Year Eve 2007). And once baby is there, another wave may threaten you with the likes of baby blues to post-partum depression, or you will simply turn into a sleep-deprived zombie for a while.
BUT: You will experience love you've never imagined before. You will hold a piece of your heart in your arms, and also see you husband with different eyes, fall in love with him as a dad, and these feelings are the best in the world!

Your Style: Forget about it! Yes, there are absolutely stylish and cute maternity clothes out there, but at a certain point in time, you might be very, very tempted to go to work in your hubby's sweat pants and hoodie. And once your baby is there, enjoy hot, sexy nursing bras, and clothes with constant spit-up stains. You'll pack your jewellery away, because babies love dangling necklaces during diaper changes, and those shiny earrings are very interesting, too. And on top of all that, your body may change enough during pregnancy that  you'll need a completely new wardrobe afterward, so bye, bye old me!
BUT: You'll get the best necklace ever: Your child's arms wrapped around your neck. You will meet a new you that is a lot of time ruled by practicality, and enjoy the few occasions of dressing up even more. Whenever I buy a piece of clothing nowadays, the first question I ask myself: Can I chase down a kid in that and still not expose myself / break an ankle / look absolutely ridiculous. This may not sound much "fun", but your priorities will be different anyways.

Sending tons of baby dust to Jenni and her hubby!  Cheers!

Life, Unexpectedly

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Creamy Potato Soup {Guest Post by RebeckAnn}

Hi Flying on a Rainbow readers!  I'm Becky, and I blog over at Rebekann's Random Thoughts!  When Jenni posted that she was looking for some people to take over her blog for a bit, I jumped at the chance!  I enjoy reading her posts, and to be honest, I also just think the whole world needs to try this recipe!!  It's an easy and delicious potato soup.  It does take a bit of a time commitment because there's a lot of stuff to chop up, but I promise you--all of your hard work will be worth it in the end! :)
The original recipe came from Pinterest (where else??) You can see the pin below.
Here's my take.  I only had to make a few adjustments, and I had most of these things on hand.
Creamy Potato Soup
  • 5 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled & diced
  • 3 medium celery stalks
  • 4 large Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 medium red potatoes, diced
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups (1 quart) heavy whipping cream
1. Get a 6-8 quart pot. 
2. Start chopping.  I began with the bacon so I could get it cooking while I chopped the other veggies.
3. While the bacon is cooking, chop up the onions, carrots, and celery.
4. When bacon is crisp, removed to paper towels to drain.
5. Throw your chopped veggies right into the bacon fat, and cook until the onions are translucent. 
6. While the veggies are cooking, peel and dice the Russet potatoes, and dice the red potatoes.
7. When the vegetables have finished cooking, throw the potatoes in the pot and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
8. Add the flour and stir constantly over low heat until the flour has cooked and the mixture has thickened slightly (about 5-7 minutes).
Adding the flour
After cooking
9. Add chicken stock and bacon, and season with salt and pepper.
10. Over medium-high heat bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. 
11. Add the whipping cream and simmer for 5 more minutes.
Seriously, I beg you all to try this soup.  If you like potato soup, and you are looking for a warm, comforting food on a cold day, THIS IS YOUR SOUP!! :)
Please let me know if you try it!  (Of course you can comment below, but you can also e-mail me at rebeck.ann@gmail.com.)  I'd love to know what you think!