Sometimes I think I just make too much of things. I want to be totally okay, I really do. But I’ve been feeling not myself since the miscarriage. I don’t feel overwhelmingly sad. It’s more a numbness. I think the best way to describe it is that nothing has changed (I’m still not pregnant; I’m still infertile) and yet everything has changed (I was pregnant, finally, but we lost the baby).
For something that’s so mundane that apparently a quarter of women go through it*, I still feel like there is very little respect for our loss (and the almost worse loss preceding it, the years of infertility and lack of hope – at least for a few short weeks we had hope, until it was snatched away). I feel like I’m expected to suck it up and just go back to being old Infertile Me.
(*Being a statistician I can’t believe this is actually correct. It’s a quarter of pregnancies, and I reckon probably more women have multiple miscarriages and some give up before they ever have a baby, and some never get pregnant. I reckon the misery is concentrated rather than spread out evenly. Life isn’t fair.)
This weekend I put on my big girl pants (how I loathe that expression!) and went to the family gathering. I was vaguely dreading it as it was going to be right in my face – my infertility standing out like a sore thumb in the face of a toddler and a gigantic pregnant belly. Also it would be the first time I saw my family since the miscarriage. My family is – what can I say? – they’re my family. They’re British. We are close, but also we don’t do overblown emotion generally so I was sort of dreading any kind of over the top sympathy. (I know this sounds ungrateful in the face of my previous complaints, but what I mean is I don’t deal well with sympathy… It makes me feel worse somehow when it is in person especially! Must be British reserve!)
In the event we had a very pleasant time. The little one was cute (and started off sick, which I think at least made me remember that there are less enjoyable aspects to childrearing) and the pregnant belly was gigantic but not really referred to. Possibly out of deference to me; I don’t know. We would usually talk about it I think – we usually like guessing names and so on – but we didn’t really focus on it, which I was grateful for.
When I arrived, everyone hugged me a little too long. And when I left, the same. That was my family’s way of saying “We are sorry for your loss and we are hurting for you” without having to say it. Really it was as easy as they could have made it. We even played lots of games with the little one once the sickness had passed (probably the E numbers in the cake I brought, haha). I only spent a small proportion of the time silently thinking in the back of my mind “I should be just into my second trimester now” and “Maybe I’d have a little belly by now and I wouldn’t be drinking”. (Sod it; I have the bloody little belly anyway.)
I would be 12 weeks and 2 days pregnant now. My baby would be about 3 inches. We would be just into the second trimester. We would be starting to think about telling people. Maybe not everyone but at least the family. In fact, we would probably be telling them today. Sharing the happy news at a family gathering. For once I would be an almost-parent instead of still-childless Me. We could have all of those conversations about silly baby names and leaving work with me.
To coin a phrase: “Always the aunt and never the mother.”
Maybe I’ve had my time. I got to be the bride (never the bridesmaid). I got the great relationship, the second chance at happiness. I got the Dog. I pretty much have most of it. Nobody can have it all – isn’t that what they say?
My inner monologue just trundles along in the background despite all my outer happiness. By the end of the day I was exhausted – maybe this was emotion or maybe it was late night cake making! (I was pretty proud of the cake – plus I had another late commission so did two cakes in a day. It’s a great way to take my mind off thinking too much.) I can’t help looking around my brother’s big house with the pale carpets (Dog would just wee on them and trundle muddy paws in!) and all the trappings of success – gorgeous child, one on the way, doting wife, large garden, everything neat and tidy instead of haphazardly piled up everywhere in our rather messy flat in a dodgy area – and I think, how the other half live.
I love my T and I’m happy in our relationship and it’s nothing to do with him that I feel this sense of – what happened? How come I don’t have the easy life? Why don’t I have the house and the child? It’s nobody’s fault, my infertility… I don’t believe that it’s some sort of divine retribution for sins in a previous life or this one. I didn’t “leave it too late”. I was in a long term committed relationship and it didn’t happen. I had the problems with endometriosis and the rest back in my 20s. It’s pretty likely that nothing would have changed the course of my infertility other than entering fertility treatment earlier. Maybe I could have done it in my late 20s. We weren’t really in the right place emotionally. (That’s a whole other post.)
I guess… It often feels like people are judging me/infertile people for not trying to have children earlier. When really we have tried a bunch harder than most of the people who have children now. Plenty of sex? Jeez, you should have been there in my 20s! And when T and I met! (And the year or so of being separated… I’m no angel.) If you got a child for every few times you had sex, I’d have about twenty by now!
I think this is what people who have children don’t quite get. Just because you had some random anniversary cuddles and got pregnant, or “tried” for like a couple of months and “it just happened”, doesn’t mean it will ever happen for me. I’ve done all the at-it-like-rabbits. I’ve done the TTC at fertile times. The ovulation tests. The surgeries (I think it’s three or four; I lose track). The many invasive scans (how I detest having the lightsaber waving around my undercarriage). The many more invasive questions. If it could have “just happened” it would have done so by now.
And now. I’m back at the job where I feel stressed a lot of the time, in order to keep my maternity rights and a paycheck that keeps us able to afford to live in our one bedroom studio flat in a dodgy part of town. (There’s the added stress of trying to move out and get our own place in a nicer part of town, but that is probably at least a year away as I’m trying to settle financially with my ex. I’m supporting him, rather than the other way round that people often assume, but that’s another story…) As discussed on another post, I would love to give up work and either downsize my job (and devote myself to fertility) or become a homemaker (full time babymaking!), but that really isn’t an option. I think people don’t really realise how expensive London is. I guess we could move but it’s where the jobs are – it’s sort of a vicious circle.
Yesterday: another two baby announcements on Facebook. I can’t begrudge people having babies – after all, I’m trying to have one – but sometimes it feels like a kick in the teeth. One was my friend’s absolutely adorable newborn. Usually I think they look like little trolls but this one looked cute. Another was a pregnancy announcement and when I saw the dates – she got pregnant around the same time I did. We would have been announcing around the same time. I actually feel happy for her – she had a lot of tragedy in her life and I’m glad she has found happiness. Another part of me thinks – but she’s old! Older than me! And (it sounds like from the comments) it just happened naturally!
It’s one thing after another. I’m in the doctors surgery waiting – I’ve been plagued with daily headaches pretty much since we got back from our mini break, and it’s becoming unbearable. I keep taking painkillers but they’re not doing anything. My head just throbs. And there’s a woman with a pram and she has to give her age and she’s older than me too. Same birth year but older. It feels like the whole world is conspiring to whisper at me all day You’re childless! Barren b****! Of course there’s a certain irony in the fact that my own birth mother was probably sitting in a doctor’s surgery 30-something years ago thinking I hope I’m not pregnant.
And I totally don’t begrudge this either but have the similar envious feelings – we even know a lesbian couple who had a baby! I mean, surely they’re up against it worse than we are? But no, they had a very straightforward sperm donation and IVF and now have a chubby little baby, who’s biologically related to one mum and was carried by the other. I just think, I live in a world where you can even have a baby if you’re missing one of the parts! And I can’t even get pregnant the normal way! (I might add that I am glad gay couples can have children – I have very close friends and family members who are gay and I’m glad they have the option of having a bio family if that’s their dream.)
We only did one cycle and it worked – up to a point. So that’s not a terrible track record so far. Okay, so I’ve 100% never had a baby, but I have a 100% success rate getting pregnant with IVF. Maybe it will work on the second go. Or the third. Or maybe it won’t.
What you don’t realise before IVF is how long it takes to go through the process. The waiting for cycles to happen (at least 6 months for us). The length of an entire cycle from down regulation to stimulation to all the scans and transfer. The binary success rate after all that waiting – it works or it doesn’t. The lack of any reassurance when you do get pregnant that it might stick and you won’t lose it. I think “normal” pregnant mothers also have that kind of worry, but not for such a long lead time and probably not with so much history of stuff not working. Anyone who suffers a loss suffers greatly. But for infertile people we can’t “just try again”. We have to rejoin that long, desolate conveyor belt of waiting and hoping and trying again. And if you’re not in the UK, you have to battle with insurance and raise funds to do it as well. That is a big dose of pain for even the strongest couple to take.
I said in my previous post that I feel like this is constantly running through the back of my mind. It makes me sound a bit of a lunatic really, but I’m so used to it that it’s just there at the back of my mind whilst I get on with everyday life. I feel like I’m high functioning… I’m perfectly “normal” in the way that I have a fairly mundane life and don’t embarrass myself (too much) at social events. I think what’s happening is that I’m beginning to think that maybe there is no hope. I always felt that there was, a tiny bit. I’m the kind of person who can say out loud “I’m not hoping at all and I don’t have expectations of success” and yet really at the back of my mind is this hot bright burning hope. I felt that way about my previous relationship where nobody ever expected us to stand the test of time and we ended up together for a decade and married. I think I’m always like a child at Christmas saying that I’m just grateful Santa even turns up, but really I hope he’ll bring me a fantastic toy, and he usually did. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just going a bit crazy.
In myself I feel exhausted. I don’t know if the headaches are a symptom of that. I feel sooo tired all the time because my sleep is pretty bad. I get up a lot to go to the bathroom (probably because I’m drinking water to try and stave off the headaches!) and I generally wake up a few times during the night. And when I wake up, my head just hurts. Not from drinking alcohol! I do occasionally drink it but given the past few months, more often I don’t. I just wake up with this kind of pain in my head and it seems to stay there at a lower level for most of the day. Sometimes when I move my head or my eyes it gets worse.
I’m such a hypochondriac!
Anyway, I’m keeping myself busy. We’ve recently implemented a new regime of walking Dog together in the mornings. Ever since I got rid of our dog walker (see previous post He’s cheating on me!) we have tried to walk Dog for a longer time and also use it as bonding time. It means we have a nice chat at the beginning of the day. I guess when I get assigned to a new project then we will probably not be able to do it as I’ll have to go back to the crazy hours (4-5am wake ups! and nights away from home) so we’re making the most of it.
We had a horrible moment this morning in the park when a giant dog attacked Dog. T picked him up and tried to protect him but this dog was totally going for him. We were just lucky that Dog was on the lead as if he had run off and the big dog had caught him, it doesn’t bear thinking about. Dog is very small (cat sized!) but he is fast, but anyway we managed to bat away the big dog. The man was apologetic but I was just kind of amazed that he would walk his dog off the lead if it was violent. Our Dog would never attack anyone. I know people say that but he’s very small and not vicious at all – even if he tried, you’d easily be able to push him away. Stuff like this just saddens me as it adds to the public’s fear of dogs – which is a problem in our area.
I think after everything lately that my entire happiness has kind of been concentrated into little Dog. I don’t think he’s instead of a baby – that would be to do him a disservice. I think he’s where all my comfort lies and my feeling of being needed and wanted. (I get that from T as well, and T and Dog are linked, my two best boys, but Dog is able to provide the constant reassurance and licks!) I really don’t know what I would do without either of them, but my fears are generally concentrated around Dog, because he’s less able to look after himself than T is. I think maybe this kind of obsessive love and worrying is a way to deal with (or not deal with) what happened. I used to be a lot more obsessive and anxious in my past life with my past relationships and that had sort of died down with T, because he makes me feel so reassured and loved. So I’m just trying not to get overly obsessive and worried that something might happen to them.
And all this – my blog – the random bletherings… It’s just my way of making sense of it. It’s giving my thoughts a voice. (I’m not relentlessly introspective in real life, I promise. I’m fairly lighthearted and occasionally even nice!) I hope that one day I’ll be able to look back on it and see how everything was alright and everything got better. I do believe in good things in our future – I can see a future where T and Dog and I are happy, with or without babies. I think we could have a nice life because we have one now. Life is an adventure and I’ve had a pretty good one so far.