• The Book

    The Book

    TTC Book cover Trying to Conceive by Fiona McPhillips, featuring a foreword by Dr John Waterstone and published by Liberties Press, is available countrywide now. It is an easy-to-read guide for all those trying to conceive, providing both medical information and a personal perspective on the entire range of fertility issues. It is also available from Liberties Press and Amazon.

  • The Author

    The Author

    photo of Fiona Fiona McPhillips is a freelance journalist and academic researcher. Having given birth to her son in 2003, she then faced three rounds of Clomid, three IUIs, two IVFs and suffered six miscarriages before giving birth to her daughter in 2008. She went on to have another son in 2009.

    fiona at makingbabies dot ie

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  • Book proceeds to go to Pomegranate

    December 7th, 2010

    I am going to donate the proceeds of my book, Trying To Conceive: The Irish Couple’s Guide, to Pomegranate – yet another good reason to buy it! It is available from Liberties Press, Amazon and most Irish book shops.

    Pomegranate and me in IT

    October 12th, 2010

    Irish Times, Saturday 9th October.

    Also in the article, Mary Harney says she is “conscious of the financial burden that IVF treatment can place on the couples concerned, and she has asked her officials to consider policy options in this regard”.

    Pomegranate

    October 7th, 2010

    I mentioned that I was working on a new project.  Well, I am delighted to introduce…..Pomegranate.

    It’s an infertility charity that will raise money to pay for fertility treatment for those who cannot otherwise afford it.  We (myself and my friend, Joanna, who has also been through it and come out the other side) will be working with the Sims clinic in Dublin and, for every IVF cycle we pay for, Sims will provide all other services (consultations, scans, bloods etc) for free.  I am delighted to be able to tell you that our very first recipient is about to start treatment thanks to a very kind donation from a wonderful couple.

    As well as raising money, we will also try to raise awareness. So, as usual, I will be mouthing off about infertility to anyone who will listen. We will also campaign for fertility treatment to be funded by the public health service and by private insurers.

    So come on over and have a look.  We are also on Facebook and Twitter.

    Please help us spread the word.  And if you want to get involved or help out in any way, just shout!

    A top night out for a great cause

    August 19th, 2010

    I am delighted that my friend Caroline and her husband Paddy are soon to adopt a child from the Saratov orphanages in Russia.  They are organising a fundraiser in aid of the orphanages – if you are in or around Dublin on the 18th of September then I recommend it will be a great night out.  And I will be there!  There is more info on Facebook .

    Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3…

    August 19th, 2010

    It has been a while. I didn’t plan to finish on the last post but every time I came back, it seemed like such a perfect pause, I didn’t want to disturb it. I am also aware that most people who find me are looking for answers to their own fertility problems and I wasn’t sure how to be the woman with three kids talking about how hard it is not to be able to have children.

    I have been talking about it though. In January, I was on Ireland AM on TV3 talking about older women and IVF.

    In April, I participated in an Irish Times articles on miscarriage.

    In June, I was interviewed for an Irish Independent article on AMH testing.

    I have also done a couple of radio interviews and maybe a few other things I have forgotten about.

    So I am still here and still thinking about infertility, if not in the middle of it myself.

    In fact, I have a work in progress, something big and exciting, that I will tell you about very soon.

    In the meantime, hello and welcome back!!!

    Here’s Harry

    December 30th, 2009

    Harry Braine

    Harry Braine

    Baby coming

    December 20th, 2009

    Baby’s coming tomorrow (Monday). I’m in at 7.30am for an induction. Will post updates at http://twitter.com/fionamcp.

    Prime Time

    December 15th, 2009

    I was on Prime Time on RTE1 tonight. I was talking about the ruling in the frozen embryo case that was before the Supreme Court today.

    Mary Roche appealed to the Supreme Court after losing her High Court bid to use her three frozen embryos after she split up with her husband. The Supreme Court ruled that her husband was entitled to withdraw consent as there was no explicit contract between the spouses. It also ruled that an embryo is not afforded any legal protection under the Constitution until it becomes implanted in the uterus.

    You can watch here.

    Almost there

    December 14th, 2009

    I have been meaning to write this post for a long time.  My previous two pregnancies have been well documented, Anna’s on here and James’ on  a pregnancy diary I wrote for www.rollercoaster.ie (my diary doesn’t seem to be online any more). So I want to mark this little one’s transition into the world too.

    He (it’s a boy!) has been the most active little fella from the start. I was able to feel something (a niggle) from implantation – an ultrasound at 6 weeks confirmed him to be in the same place as the niggle. From 10 weeks, I have felt some sort of movement, a flutter or a wiggle, and a few weeks after that, he started dancing and hasn’t stopped yet. He has kept me awake at night so many times, stretching and wriggling, unaware of the intimacy of the moment. I love those shared moments, the only downside being when it stops. Baby has to sleep sometime and, rare occurrence thought it is, his occasional refusal to respond to a few nudges and pokes is a reminder of that alternative universe.

    He has saved me. From that alternative universe, from the envy, the isolation, the prejudices (mine, not theirs). Anna rescued me when I was drowning, she ensured that I was a survivor. But this pregnancy has been a whole other healing process for me. I never, ever thought I would be this lucky. It’s what I hoped for and it’s what I was prepared to fight for but I always knew that it was unlikely to happen at all or certainly unlikely to be as successful as it has been so far. I know this is a shit, horrible thing to read for those that are still struggling to have one baby, to be told that your second (successful) pregnancy after infertility is an even greater cure than the first. I am sorry if I’ve upset or annoyed you and if so, please feel free to unsubscribe.

    He has a name. It’s a family name, chosen by John. There were some intense negotiations along the way but in the end I relinquished control on the basis that I was the one who wanted another baby enough to steer the ship back in the direction of Infertility Island, so if John was prepared to do that for me, he could have the honour of choosing his son’s name.

    He will be here soon. He is due on the 23rd but if I am favourable, I can be induced any time from Friday. As I was induced at 13 days and 10 days over previously, there is a very good chance my body won’t be interested in getting things started this time either. So an induction may be inevitable regardless of how long I wait. So the big question is – which is better, before or after Christmas? I think a birthday in the run-up to Christmas is infinitely preferable to one in the wind-down afterwards so I am preparing myself for Friday. What do you think?

    Breastfeeding and the return of fertility

    October 12th, 2009

    As soon as Anna was born safe and sound, I knew I wanted to try again.  I wasn’t sure what I meant by that as I couldn’t imagine putting the four of us through infertility again, yet I understood that the inevitability may well have been out of my hands.  And time was not on my side – I was 38 with very high FSH.  I knew I would breastfeed exclusively for at least six months as I didn’t want to sacrifice one real baby for another that might never be.  And yet, as the weeks went by, I couldn’t stop thinking about the return of my (in)fertility – when I would start seeing signs, what I could do to speed it up and how I would feel about it when it happened.  I regularly googled various combinations of “breastfeeding”, “fertility”, “ovulation” and “pregnancy” but I couldn’t find any definitive information and very little anecdotal evidence from anyone who knew much about fertility signs and charting cycles.  I can’t imagine there are many people who chart their fertility signs in the early weeks postpartum while breastfeeding exclusively but I am one of them so here is my story for anyone else who may be in the same unusual situation.

    When Anna was eight weeks old, I noticed some EWCM.  I got an instant rush of excitement and, while recognising all the danger signs, threw myself back into the business of babymaking.  I was very surprised to see a rise in my LH levels, although my OPKs never became positive.  Still, there was a surge, accompanied by further EWCM, so I persevered accordingly.  Nine or ten days later, I did a HPT – negative.  I was disappointed, of course, but positive about the fertility signs.  No period followed.  A couple of weeks later, the same thing happened.  I temped after the surge – no rise for several days.  In fact, my temps were quite a bit lower than usual, ranging from 35.4 to 35.9 – pre-O temps were previously 35.8 to 36.3 and post-O temps were 36.3 to 36.9.  A couple of weeks later, more EWCM, almost positive OPKs, and this time also ovulation pain – but again followed by no temp rise.  I should mention that Anna was a good sleeper from a few weeks old and at this stage was usually sleeping through the night.

    This pattern continued every couple of weeks for the next three months of so with my fertility signs becoming more pronounced each time.  My body was clearly gearing up to ovulate, even to the extent where I was having strong pains in my ovary, but no egg was being released – or at least, no progesterone was being produced by  a corpus luteum.  My OPKs were so very nearly positive that I marked them as positive on Fertility Friend, just in case I had missed the LH peak.  I temped on and off throughout October, November and December 2008 and, while there were peaks and troughs, there was no discernable pattern and my temps remained lower than usual.  I was concerned that the “almost but not quite ovulating” might be a sign of perimenopause but I was still breastfeeding exclusively so had to put those thoughts aside for the time being.

    In December 2008, when Anna was 6 months old, I introduced solids and 2 bottles of formula during the day – I still breastfed morning and evening and during the night if she woke.  Then, in early January (7 months postpartum), I had several days of EWCM and very positive OPKs two days in a row.  A sustained temp rise followed (hurrah!) for 7 days, followed by a drop and a bleed on 8dpo.  The next cycle, I had 12 days of EWCM, O on day 21 and another 7 day luteal phase.  I know the first cycle or two postpartum can have very short luteal phases but this was a return to “normality” for me so I felt I should do something about it or I would have no chance of sustaining a pregnancy.  I had already called the clinic and had a prescription for Clomid ready to go but had been advised to stop breasfeeding completely first.  I wasn’t ready for this decided to use some leftover HCG that I had in the fridge during my next cycle.

    On the morning of CD18 of my 3rd postpartum cycle, I had a very positive OPK.  I injected 5000iu HCG into my tummy straight away and felt the familiar buzz of empowerment, that I was doing something to help things along.  I had no reason to feel so positive but I did.  My husband did too.  I suppose it was that we were in the first flush of TTC, like normal people.  11 days later I got a +HPT.  I am now 30 weeks.

    In my postpartum googling, I never found a documented case of the step-by-step return to fertility whilst breastfeeding.  My story does show it as a gradual process, with ovulation only occurring once full-time breastfeeding had ceased.  However, one person does not a study make so I would be interested to hear from anyone else who had a similar (or a disimilar!) experience.