The worst thing happened in the worst way possible

It’s been ages since I have posted. So much has been going on which perhaps I need write up retrospectively in another a post as this will already be long. But here is something which I need to get out.

I woke up on Easter Sunday a day late for my period. My husband was still in bed but I thought, maybe I’ll just do a pregnancy test, I had one left over in the cupboard. It took my breath away that little pink line. It wasn’t a pale one either. It was really there and proud.

I remember waking my husband up and saying “I’m sorry but I need to put the lights on so you can see this.” We both agreed to be cautiously happy about this but I could see he didn’t really believe it. We went on with our planned activities that day and tried, in a way, to ignore what we now knew.

A couple of days later we did a more expensive test and it confirmed I was pregnant. We then repeated the test a week later. Still positive, still no period. We were still being careful to not get to excited but everyday that it stayed I wanted to be a bit more positive. We’d waited nearly three years to get pregnant, it would be just too cruel if this doesn’t work out. Surely we deserve this good news..?

I called the GP and then got booked on to the midwife service for appointment at the end of month. In the mean time I was seeing my fertility consultant for a follow up appointment I had after having laproscopy surgery a couple of months before. We were concerned about a pain I had in my side and so she booked me in for an early scan. I was so pleased we would get to see what was really there, check that it wasn’t ectopic etc etc. Maybe my husband would even get on board with the thinking positive thing.

So I had the scan and there was a clear pregnancy sack. Even I could see it with my untrained eye. I was hoping for a faint heartbeat – it might have been possible at this stage with an internal scan. But that wasn’t there this time and so I was booked for another scan in 10 days time. My husband was relieved that we had more proof!

I told my two friends that had been with me on this journey that I was pregnant. They were so happy. What an amazing feeling.

The next scan wasn’t so good. Still no heartbeat and little growth. The sonographer seemed very sombre. But we were sent to the fertility nurse who explained that as many people don’t get scanned at this early stage, it is hard to say whether or not this may go on to develop normally, or perhaps, implantation didn’t happen as early as thought and we are a bit behind where we thought we were. So, we just need to come back again in another week.

We came back. Little development. We were told to expect miscarriage by the sonographer but, again, the nurse wasn’t giving up. We were to come back in just over week.

There was no miscarriage. I held on to that little Easter Egg baby. It was 9 and 1/2 weeks now this was quite far. I thought if it had got this far then it’s only far that it should be our baby. But no. The next scan showed it had gotten smaller. It was no longer a viable pregnancy they all finally agreed.

We spent the whole morning in hospital listening to our options and trying to decide what the best thing to do was. What’s the best way to get rid of a baby that you really want..? It was bloody horrible.

We decided to take back some control and opted for a ‘surgically managed miscarriage’. It was to happen two days later, when I would have been 10 weeks pregnant. This was heartbreaking for both of us. Tears welled in my husband’s eyes which was devastating to see.

It was the WORST day. The NHS is stretched, I know, but our treatment on that day was pretty bad. Why do you have to come in 7 hours before they take you to surgery..? Why is their communication so poor that they tell you to order a meal for when you are back but then when you are back, tell you there is no meal and that you will have to have a tuna sandwich even though you’re a vegetarian. Why do they insist on putting canulas in the back of your hand even though you explain the problems that this has caused previously? They made my cry from pain putting this in. Why did they not tell me take pain killers before I went under (apparently that is the expectation but that is not what i was told) so that I wouldn’t wake up crying from pain. Why did it then take them 45 mins to give me the pain killers I needed. Why did no-one come and speak to me about what happened during the surgery – I still have no idea? Why did it take 4 hours to discharge me? Why did no-one ask us how we felt, offer us signpost to support services?

So, it was that cruel. Nothing in the universe wanted to be kind to us. It was so hard for us to get pregnant and then it was even hard for us to have a miscarriage. It was cruel.

 

Baby by number

I count a lot at the moment.

I’ve not really said it outside of my house  or to anyone except my husband, but we are trying to make our child – and it involves a lot of number work.

When this first began I counted the number of months back from a ‘good pregnancy date’ to fit in with my job. Then I added a couple of months because it would take that long to get enough of an in-depth conversation about it with my husband.

Once that was sorted I began counting the number of days since the start of my period so I could find the most likely time to conceive successfully.

Next I agonisingly counted the days until my next period was due so that I could carry out the pregnancy test.

Then I counted the 10 seconds to pee on the stick and the three minutes to check for that pink line. It wasn’t there. It hasn’t been there for 10 more tests. 10 more months.

 

Those first counts I made mean absolutely nothing now. No pregnancy came to affect my work and my husband and I have had many more conversations about having this child since. These cyclical counts continue, days after period, best three days for conception, number of times to have sex, number of days until I can take the next pregnancy test, number of days until we start the whole thing again…

I wonder how big this count will end up..?

Other things are being counted too:

Are there enough months to agree to go on holiday with our friends at Easter or might I (hopefully) be too pregnant..?

Are there too few days for my husband be able to fulfil his long-awaited ambition to run the London Marathon or will we (hopefully) be holed up in some labour ward somewhere..?

How many glasses of prosecco will I have to avoid at Christmas and weddings that are coming up when I will (hopefully) be pregnant..?

How many pairs of maternity trousers can I afford to buy to get me through my (hopefully) pregnant body?

How many times will I need to ask for time off work for appointments with the hospital/midwife?

 

Sadly I have not yet really had to work out any of these. I am totting up another secret list aswell, but this is an unhealthy one. These are the counts I am making that are making me feel that hint of jealousy. I want to be better than this but I am not. Don’t get me wrong, I am genuinely super happy for all of my friends when they announce their pregnancies, and over the last few years I have played a really happy and active part in the lives of the children of my friends, but this count is always done with a pang of sadness:

Since we have been trying to get pregnant:

The number of friends getting pregnant with their first child: 10

The number of friends getting pregnant with their second or third child: 8

The number of friends’ children’s birthdays I have celebrated: 10

The number of royal pregancies: 1

The number that has changed on birthday card while waiting to get pregnant: 35

The number of times I have been asked to be godmother to someone else’s child: 1

 

Additionally these numbers make me feel extra lonely:

The number of friends that have asked me about my plans for having children: 1

The number of friends who I have proactively told about trying for a child: 2

The number of people who have mentioned to me that they have had trouble conceiving also: 0

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Crying over Christmas

A lot has happened this year in many ways but sometimes, inside, I feel like I have not moved on at all. If anything, I currently feel that I am being dragged backwards somehow and the thing that I have been reaching for for over three years is being slowly bundled up and snatched from me right in front of my very eyes. But all around me everything and everyone else is moving on.

I am struggling more than ever this month. This bloody month of Christmas and sparkles and cheer and new beginnings. I f**king hate the fact that soon another calendar year will have passed and there is still no pregnancy, still no baby. This December is extra hard though because we were going to have a baby this month. It was there. We made it. We saw its early beginnings on a screen. But, cruelly, it was taken away.

Now something else cruel is pulling at my ankles. I had irregular results in my smear test. I therefore had to wait a whole cycle without trying for a baby, because I was to have a biopsy on my cervix (that was lovely). I missed a month because of timings of that and recovering from the biopsy, I then had to miss another month of trying for a baby in case the results came back and I needed some sort of further treatment. Well, 40% of women receive clear results at this stage and can happily go back to their daily lives. I admit, and have pointed out to others that these are not particularly great odds by the way, but am I one of those 40% that can hop back the ‘resume as normal’ train. Am I jack. My results, of course, need further investigation. So guess what, we are missing more valuable time of trying to make another baby. All the while I have the last consultant’s words in my mind that less then 30% of my eggs are actually any good at my age. So roughly only 3 out of every year of cycles are any good and I am currently in the midst of throwing eggs away while waiting for the NHS. I am now about to miss my fourth cycle.

I sailed right through the window of golden opportunity to conceive again within the first three months after a miscarriage – that didn’t happen of course, no solace after the baby I lost. And now, because of the abnormal cervix cells, I am also closing the 12 month window of higher chance of conceiving after my ablation surgery.

The fertility consultant wanted to me to run all my tests again from 2018 – the multiple bloods that have to be done on certain days of the month and involve “queuing” for hours hours in the phlebotomy clinic at the hospital. Yeah, that’s simple to do when being a teacher. And anyway, why? What do they think they will get to find out now? All those tests and hours at the hospital found out nothing before – I have never been met with anything more substantive than a “let’s just give it a go, it might help” *shrugging shoulders*. They make me feel like I am being defeatist by asking why. I have actually had a friend say: “well you should do absolutely everything you can if you really want a baby right.” But, what’s that saying about doing exactly the same thing twice but expecting different results – I feel like that’s what they’re asking me to do.

Some lovely friends of ours got married in September. We have a Christmas tradition at ours every year and it is coming up in two weeks, and I all I can think about is what I will do if they announce that they are pregnant. I am really worried about it. I genuinely feel mad now every time someone I know has a baby. Why them? I have literally spent my whole life working with children, working towards being a mum and they just, snap, and get it. But this makes me seem a right old cow, and I don’t want to be feeling like that about friends but that’s how infertility has changed me.

It also seems that a lot of the people I was reading about on hear to make myself feel less alone, have also now gone on had have babies. I guess that’s a time thing, I have been in this situation for more than three years. There aren’t even any statistics for people like me. I am so wretched that people don’t even count me.

Oh, what am I going to do over Christmas, when the one thing I want is definitely not going to be given?? How will I even give a stuff about anything when my due date goes and I merely have further hospital appointments to attend which delay my chances of getting pregnant more and more..?

The tears come easily now. I cry a lot.

Counselling away our infertility…?

This is a post from back in January. I have decided to post it now, even though it’s late!

 

So I have to say after all this time of trying to have a family it becomes very difficult for my husband and I to actually discuss what’s going on. Mainly I think, because actually nothing is going on. The story is the same every month. Still no baby.

How often can you realistically discuss something that makes you both feel so sad that never changes?

On the flip side I personally find it useful to let my emotions out and try to discuss other options and routes and possibilities of moving forward. I have said before that I feel so stuck with this infertility, that’s extra hard for someone like me who has moved houses, cities, jobs and careers, and friends regularly all my grown up life. If I am stuck I normally change something, chat it over, hear different opinions and advice, move something in my life. My husband is not quite built that way though.

But this is different anyway. It’s not a topic we are used to discussing as a society. It’s sad so people aren’t quite sure what to say, especially if they have a few children themselves or if they’ve gotten pregnant quickly themselves. But anyway, you don’t really want pity from your friends. It’s disappointing for our parents and family as they would like to become uncles and grandparents. But it also has practical implications. It’s not easy to talk to certain people about because I don’t want to loose my job because someone thinks ‘oh, she’s trying to have a baby so she wont be here next year anyway so I wont renew her contract’.

So I guess I feel I need to talk to my husband about everything that’s (not) happening, But this is where we clash. Talking about emotions is not easy for him and so conversations can be stunted and seem to lack a personal connection. But he says it’s all too hard to verbalise. So we started to see a counsellor about this.

Now you are going to think that I am just someone who is really negative and can’t accept things when they don’t go as planned but I just feel that we are really unlucky. This counsellor has been allocated to us through a scheme provided through my husband’s work so we get a limited number of free sessions. but seriously, this woman is not really helping us other than to unite us in or decision on how unhelpful she is.

On our first session she assured us that she had no idea that it was to be a couple’s counselling session despite the fact that my husband had emailed her at length about this. She then spent a large part of our first session taking down our personal details and history which had already been provided to her from the company, so this was a waste of time. On our second session she left us standing outside the door in the freezing cold because her practice is not to let people in before their start time for patient confidentiality reasons. What a load of rubbish. You should start your session at the start time, as in be sat down and ready to talk, not finding your seat taking of your coat etc etc.

But the main problem is we want to tackle our communication issues and she is focusing on the minutiae of the decisions we need to make about buying a house with our current savings so we are in a better position to adopt or spending it all on IVF (there are many further facets to these indecisions – such as what town or city we truly want to live in if we are going to buy and what jobs would we do etc etc but I wont bore you with the tragic details). This is something that she has a strong opinion on and often manipulates our conversation back to this point by saying things like “well in situations like this it often of helps to focus on what are the knows of the unknowns..?”. She’s basically saying that we know if we spend our money on a house then we know we’ll have a house, but if we spend it on IVF we can’t know that we’ll have a baby. There is so so much more to all of this but in every session she somehow pushes the house buying route to us. I don’t think it’s in a counsellor’s remit to be this strongly opinionated is it. My husband thinks she secretly has a house to sell or a stake in an estate agents somewhere!

She has set us a task of having uninterrupted talking time to each other and for now that is helping us communicate a bit better but that is all in our own time and thanks very little to her. If we were a more volatile couple this could possibly be a very wrong approach too but I guess we’re not so that’s ok. I still think that we are not really digging deeply enough into the effects on us both of the infertility so far and into the future and I still don’t feel able to have conversations about the other options available to us at the most meaningful level yet and that is eating me up a little more everyday.

I just wish we felt ready to make a decision about our next step and stick to it so that I i can get out of this tornado of thoughts and go back to the old me that is always (trying) to move forward.

Initial IVF consultation – the results are in

I realise I never actually wrote about the second proper visit to the IVF clinic, so here it is now…

So we went, we saw but I can’t say we conquered. We schlepped back to the IVF clinic the week after the tests to get the results. It was finally our chance to have some decent time to chat with people in the know about the whole IVF situation. It’s never been something I was keen on but finding out more seemed sensible and this was our opportunity to get a decent (not 10 min NHS allocation) time with a consultant to find out the what, where’s and whens of the situation with a focus on us.

Or so I thought.

Thinking back, I should have known. This is a service that charges huge amounts of money, so the people giving us face time have one big thing in mind… to persuade you to buy. This wasn’t about us or our unexplained infertility. It didn’t feel like it was about solutions either. It was about getting us to say yes to IVF so that we would cough up the money.

The consultant was nothing short of arrogant and full of himself. I suppose it must put you on a pedestal, actually making babies for couples who have tried and tried but failed where you succeed, so maybe he feels deserved. But he physically looked down his nose at us (presumably due to lack of a medical degree or any private schooling on both our parts) which is very strange to try to have a conversation with. He felt that important about himself that he wanted his eyes peering over us. He made fun of me of asking questions which he presumed I googled. Well so what if I did? How else am I going to know the right things to ask, IVF procedure is not a topic covered at school and I am not any sort of fertility expert so of course I am going to use the world wide web of knowledge to help me research and prepare. Jackass.

He broke the news that my AMH levels aren’t great. Although not through the floor, they aren’t quite where he’d expect for my age. Straight after that he exclaimed how marvellous my husband’s sperm is. Ok, so I get that that’s good news because I suppose that’s half the battle there. If the sperm can put on a good show then the rest of cast in this bloody show only have to turn up and look the part I guess. But really. He mentioned the super sperm at least three times and there was really no sensitivity in the fact that A) why the hell are we not pregnant then? And B) You’ve kind of implied by proxy that I am therefore the problem without any compassion and provided no guidance on what to do to mitigate this. Maybe he was trying to make us feel better by bigging up the sperm, but it had the total opposite effect on me.

Consultant aside I really came away feeling that IVF is not the honed science I thought it was. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s not a silver bullet but there seems to be a reluctance to put actual figures to anything and the tendency to gloss over certain areas with the all encompassing phrase: “Well we couldn’t say exactly because it’s different for every couple of course.” Of course. I presume everyone’s eczema is different but that doesn’t stop a doctor having a bloody guess at what might happen if treated with x or y medication, and the likelihood of it clearing up. So you can see my frustration with the vagueness of it all. Oh and by the way, we are expected to happily hand over our life savings for this.

There was something just a little off about the whole meeting that I just can’t lay a finger on or describe. All I can say is my husband felt it too. We drove the whole way home in silence, a little shocked and stunned. This really wasn’t what I was expecting. I wanted to leave asking… where do we sign? When can we start?

We asked neither.

All I want for Christmas

Just a quick note as I fall asleep this Christmas eve…

Christmas is hard for many people, for many reasons, I get that. This year I was more badly organised for it, more grumpy, and less festive than usual. I guess because by April, I’d already worked out that I wouldn’t get what I really hoped for for Christmas, so what was the point…?

My husband and I getting ill the week before didn’t help either, not just because it sucks feeling so pants, but also because it was our ovulation week, and with that much coughing, snot and mucus between us there was not a sexy thought in the vicinity of the house, let alone our bedroom – so we missed our window.

Hanging over us is also the fact that some tough decisions need to be made about our ttc journey next year, and preferably ASAP so we don’t have to go through another Christmas childless.

So anyway, to all other ttc-ers, I am so sorry that Santa can’t bring you the one gift that really want. I am sorry if you face another Christmas missing out on the little family Christmas that you have planned and played out over and over in your head. My heart is with you, it really is.

Merry Christmas and ho ho ho and all that. Xxx

Child-free friend time

I really love children. It’s my job for one thing, and I think I make a good effort to support my friends with children by going out with them and I really get stuck in in terms of playing with them and entertaining them. For example, this weekend, I had an autumn leaves fireball fight with a 5 year old child of friend that ended up with me having leaves, sticks and mud literally chucked down my top!

So my point is I really try and I can only hope that my efforts are appreciated. I am not at all saying that I do this to get something in return (I really enjoy it for one thing), it’s not some sort of business transaction that requires something in return, however… before my friends children came along I had grown up friends who I could go out with for drinks, meals, coffees and films and who I could chat to about how crap work was, how difficult it is to get a house, why our other halves are sometimes annoying, what film or book we have recently enjoyed, holiday plans etc etc. Some of those people have been my friends for 15 years or more. But over the last 3 years I seem to have 3 year old friends, 9 month old friends etc instead. I play tea parties, lego, matching games, get put to bed with teddies, read story books, play peekaboo but I don’t get to talk to my grown up friend.

Not only that but because I don’t have kids and most of them now have two, I am always expected to go to them. We don’t live in the same town, but I am always expected to make the journey. Recently a friend (who I’ve only seen twice without her children in 3 years) asked me out to dinner. Great I thought, what a good idea, the babies wont come out to dinner with us. After some time spent trying to find a suitable date she changed the parameters and said that because she was still breastfeeding I needed to go to her house for dinner instead. Although this is understandable, this is not what she asked originally and now I was no longer able to say I couldn’t make the date. So I went to hers for dinner but we can all guess what happened. Within twenty mins her eldest was brought down by my friend’s partner as she wanted to see me. That’s lovely but I deliberately came after bedtime. She stayed up through the whole dinner and just as she (finally) went to bed, the youngest came down for a breastfeed. This was not a meal out with my friend as I had first agreed to.  It’s like my value as a friend (and as someone who might need a friend) has deminished because they have children.

I used to have friends but their children are not my friends. It’s a completely different relationship, I bloody love those kids but they are not my friends. They are certainly not my friends of 15 years. Am I supposed to just forget that I used to have someone to chat with and do fun women things with and just replace that with snatched sentences in between hide and seek or crying? Is this fair? Should my friends think it’s fair on me just because I don’t have kids of my own..?

 

Moving forward in the (in)fertility abyss

Well I wasn’t pregnant. Why would I be? It’s not like I’ve been trying at all!!!

So how do we move forward when we have been stuck in the same place for so long?

Well our last appointment with the NHS consultant felt like drudging through mud. I wasn’t expecting them to say anything particularly that was going to open any conception doors, in actual fact I was bracing myself to be signed off as a helpless case by the NHS. But it wasn’t that bad, however there is nothing that they can obviously put a finger on in terms of why we are still not pregnant after the operation. So he suggested an AMH test. This is a hormone and the level of this in my blood will help to predict my ovarian egg reserve (In my mind knowing this is also not going to help me get pregnant but I am trying to take the view that knowledge is power or something!). Of course, the test is not available on the NHS so I have to go to a private fertility clinic and pay for this blood test.

As it happens I went to an open evening for a local fertility clinic recently. Not really sure why. IVF has never really been on my list of how I want to start a family but I am always a researcher – always trying to understand more (it holds me back often, stirs and stirs indecision). I thought, at least I’ll know more about it.  What I discovered was the only positive experience I have encountered with medical professionals since this whole bloody ordeal started. It was lovely. It felt bright and warm. It felt like the people cared. It felt like they wanted to try and get answers not shrug their shoulders and say “sorry, this is all we can do.” So I liked it. It meant I actually could think about considering IVF I suppose even if a lot of it scares me. But there was much to discuss around this subject and more to research.

But, back to the appointment, the consultant said a few things which were going to send me back there. Firstly he said you’ll have to go to a clinic to pay for an AMH test. Of course he recommended the clinic that I had been to. Then he said that we had around a 48% chance of conceiving with IVF. Now, I know that in other circumstances 48% isn’t anything to get in the party mood about, but for this… that sounded good. In my mind I am thinking that 2 rounds of IVF should therefore pretty much guarantee us a child right.

The next breath wasn’t so helpful, he wants me to have another operation to try and see the outside of my Fallopian tubes and move them around a bit if needed. He also wants to look at my endometriosis. But none of this sounds like a specific fix to me. I suppose I have nothing to loose by going on the waiting list. All I do is wait anyway.

So we have been for the tests (semen analysis for my lovely man – gentleman’s room! – lovely internal scan for me. Not embarrassing for either of us). But I loved the clinic all over again. The nurse was so bloody caring and positive to me. She felt like a friend. Now we have to go back tomorrow for results and further discussion. It’s research and collecting the aforementioned knowledge, but why do I feel like I am taking the first step on a long and difficult ladder without even knowing if I want to end up at the top of it?