I’ve been a mother for almost seven weeks and I don’t know where the time has gone. I think I’m still in the phase where I can’t quite believe that it’s happened, but it has. Our lives have changed irrevocably and I’m still in a state of disbelief that finally it has happened for us.
Here’s the thing: Every drop of this life is precious. I never thought this day would come so I didn’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about it other than in the abstract. But here I am, living it. I’m snatching time to write this blog when it’s past 1am and B is snoozing in his side sleeper cot next to me. And on the other side, T and Dog are snoring away. I couldn’t be happier.
I only get four months off before I go back to work and I can already see it slipping away and I kind of want to stay in this bubble forever. A secret: Everything is so much easier than I’d been led to believe. I’m not sleep deprived. I don’t feel exhausted. Breastfeeding is relatively easy. Weight seems to be coming off.
The way people talk about new motherhood and being a parent is that it’s a massive drag. I had super low expectations. I kind of thought it was a means to an end before the real fun started (when the kid could walk and talk) but I’ve been blown away by how much I enjoy it.
I absolutely didn’t think I’d be a natural mother. And yet if I didn’t have a decent job that pays the bills, I’d be tempted to jack it all in and spend every waking moment being B’s mum. I wonder if I have a massive dose of hormones or something making me go all doolally. What happened to the stone cold hearted me? I’m not sure. I’m kind of mushy nowadays.
I love him being here. My only biological relative. He looks like me. My genes. I’ve never had that before. Being adopted, never knowing a relative who looks like me – it’s a huge thing. Life changing.
I think it’s been easier for me to adjust partly because breastfeeding has been pretty smooth. Of course there are some teething problems (not literally!) but on the whole it came naturally to us and B has put on loads of weight! He was 5.44kg a few days ago, up from his birth weight almost seven weeks ago of 3.61kg.
My friends from NCT have all had problems breastfeeding so I’ve been really lucky. Although they all had easy births so they joke I was due something easy! All but one of the babies has been born although we think the last one has just been born but not announced. B was the second biggest at birth. The only caesarean! It means he has a nice unsquashed head! Also the only boy so lots of girlfriends to choose from! (I’ve told him it’s perfectly fine to have a boyfriend!)
I don’t feel smug. Maybe it is because we wanted him so much. I don’t take any of it for granted. To be frank, I really doubted I’d even be able to breastfeed so it surprised me it came so naturally. And gradually other “hippy dippy” stuff has snuck in. I’m totally not the mother I expected! I can’t let him cry and I carry him around a lot. My Earth mother friend (you know who you are, haha) finds this hilarious, I think. I keep messaging her one more concession to earth-motherdom so I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I become a full blown hippy!
We kind of have a focus group because of NCT, our antenatal class, where all babies have been born within a few weeks of each other. It’s been really interesting especially as one of them who I’ve mentioned before is really negative. I sort of feel like it is my job to perk them up a bit! (Not her though. She’s beyond redemption. She whines about everything.)
It’s interesting because I feel like our experiences are similar but how we experience it is different. Like if you look at it, I actually had the most traumatic birth. I also got an infected c section scar and B ended up in hospital with bronchiolitis. So really we’ve probably had more than the others to deal with but we do seem to be the most happy.
I think I just expected it would be really hard and it’s much less hard than I expected, so I feel kind of giddy rather than depressed. Like the sleep isn’t that bad if you don’t have to get up and go to work! And I’m used to interrupted sleep because Dog sleeps in the bed and regularly shuffles about! And although I do get tired feeding during the night, I think of it as a phase that will pass.
I just don’t resent it at all. I feel hugely lucky to be able to be doing this. I just never thought I would get the opportunity and I love it. And the hard part won’t last forever. The others have talked about how they’ve been crying and stuff and I haven’t done that at all, not through stress or exhaustion. Only slightly teary eyes through a bit of happy emotion!
The other funny thing: Other people’s babies leave me kind of cold. I have met some great friends through NCT. Out of the seven couples in our group, I’m good friends with two of them and we recently added a third to our “splinter group” (after a gruelling audition process, haha). I get on great with them but I definitely have that thing where I love my baby but I am not gaga for other people’s. I like them but I don’t go mad for them like others do. I guess the baby madness only extends to my own! But it’s great to have some friends in the same position. We meet up once or twice a week. B actually has a better social life than I do!
And I’ve done things I didn’t think I’d do. One of my friends persuaded me to try Baby Sensory classes. It’s so odd and I laugh to myself thinking of what my team would say if they could see me singing “Say Hello To The Sun” (with actions). I didn’t think I’d be mad on breastfeeding but I am. I feel like I want to do it for a year if I can. I’m going to have to pump when I go back at four months. I want to do that for him. And I wear him in a sling a lot of the time. I really didn’t see myself doing that but it just makes sense. I’ve even ordered a wrap to try! I’ve gone full on Earth mother! I’ll probably be puréeing his food later!
So yeah. I’m in a baby haze. I’m not bored. I don’t resent him. I don’t dislike this phase at all. I’m loving it.
We reached the six weeks milestone which T was avidly waiting for! We had to mark it in the way of resuming (extra)marital relations! It was kind of comical and kind of reassuring it all still works. On the plus side, an emergency c section means my pelvic floor seems fine! Don’t think my stomach will ever be the same though! The weight has dropped off but I still have a saggy stretch marked pouch. I suppose the caesarean does that. I thought I would really upset about it but I’m not letting it bother me now. That saggy stripey pouch gave me my baby!
They keep asking in hospital and appointments about contraception. We discussed it and I said I wasn’t worried as it never happened for 16 years. T said, “I didn’t realise we were having another baby!” Truthfully I would see it as a miracle but I really don’t yearn for another child. I am over the moon at this one. And there is no way I would put myself through the mental and physical pain again, if we were actively to try. I think we are just going with “What happens, happens” approach! So B will be an only child then!
So B is here and I think of him as perfect. I wonder what he will be like as he gets older. He’s outgrown two, almost three sizes of clothes. I realised that the sizes on clothes don’t correspond to ages at all! He’s in 0-3 months now at 1.5 and I can’t see him getting much more wear out of them!
The grandparents are super proud. Both sets are loving it. My folks come round once a week roughly and they just want to hold him and grin. It’s been great though. A very bonding experience for us. I’ve found myself talking to them about adoption a lot. That’s probably a whole other post. I can’t believe B is now older than I was when I went to live with my parents. He’s still so tiny and he still needs me so much and he will only settle being with me. I think of the few days old me and wonder how that must have felt to me. My parents are actually really great about talking about this stuff. I think they realise in a way that having B has given me a lot of peace.
My sister is still pregnant! I’m so glad. I was dreading how it would pan out if it went wrong but they are approaching the halfway mark. And she’s having a girl! Which means I get to buy girl stuff for her kid so I don’t miss out on girly things. Truth be told I love having a boy. Although I’m sure in future I’ll be able to take my niece to do the girly things! Spa days and afternoon teas hopefully. Although no reason why B wouldn’t like those things!
My brother has been having a really difficult time. The other siblings and my parents and I have tried to help but he is at the point where he refuses any help. My folks are so upset. I think partly it is pride as he wants to provide for his family himself. Also I’ve said on here before, I always called him The Golden Child as he had a charmed life. He’s in his thirties and this is the only bad thing that has ever happened to him. But it’s really bad.
I feel bad for ever feeling jealous of him because I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. (His child has a serious health problem.) We are all trying to help but I don’t know what we can do when he keeps refusing. (Including financial help.) We are just all hoping that they can get help and that things aren’t as bad as we are fearing as right now everything is unknown. It is really sobering as I know that this time last year I was feeling terrible that our previous baby’s due date fell around his baby’s christening. So much has changed in a year.
My other friend is still going through chemo but the good news is that the tumour has shrunk! I’m really hoping this is it for her. She’s had a tough time dealing with chemo as she’s been really ill. I’m very aware that we’ve had this huge exciting wonderful thing happen in our lives but others are dealing with some horrible stuff. We are just trying to be there for her.
So that’s a bit of an update typed on iPhone in the middle of the night. People ask what I do all day and I reply, we are so busy but I’m not sure what we are actually doing. Being a family. We were three and now four. Dog is being a big brother. We have new roles. I’m learning how to be a Mama.
In the blink of an eye more weeks will have passed. I already can’t remember what it felt like to be pregnant… I know I had years and years of pain before then but it feels like that is healing. Just as the scar from my caesarean is healing, so is the pain of infertility, the pain of thinking I could never have this, and the pain of losing our first baby. I can still remember it but it’s not such a deep stabbing pain any more. And the other pains I’ve experienced in my life… the sadnesses… They all pale in comparison to the love and happiness I’m feeling now.
Or: The long and the short of it
So B is finally here! Born last Sunday eve 19:36. Weight 3.61kg, just under 8lb. Apgar scores 9, 10, 10. He’s perfect.
Birth definitely did not go according to plan but he’s here safe and sound and we are all well! (Although dad is recovering from the most traumatic day of his life. 😉)
Ended up having an emergency caesarean… Surprisingly not as bad as the 64hrs labour that preceded it and was up and walking the next day.
It was about 2 days of contractions, the big ol’ waters breaking at 02:30 and then about 14hrs hard labour in hospital… Contractions never got frequent enough and dilation only got to 5cm after all that time, and baby’s heart rate kept dropping with every contraction so they advised us to have a caesarean even though we tried everything to avoid it.
So pretty much nothing went according to plan! Had contractions of varying severity and frequency for 2 days, but never enough to actually go into hospital. (They wanted us to have 3-4 in 10 min, regularly for an hour – never happened.)
Waters broke mid contraction in bed at 02:30 Sunday morning. There was a lot! 3 bath towels worth! Quite alarming! We were told to go to hospital as soon as they broke by the high risk doctor so headed over after cleaning up and arrived around 03:30. We were both really excited at this point.
I wasn’t allowed in the birth pool at all, or the delivery room for ages, so had to go through first stages of labour in triage. It was really upsetting as they basically left us alone whilst they waited for me to progress enough to warrant a delivery room but I wasn’t allowed to do anything in the birth plan.
T was really supportive and kept helping me try to breathe as the contractions got stronger and more painful. It was hard for him as he felt helpless as he couldn’t do anything to take the pain away. I remember he was breathing with me although my deep breaths turned into moans and groans!
Had continuous monitoring which meant I had to stay in one position, which was sitting/reclining, which didn’t help the pain at all. Baby’s trace was irregular from the start and never regulated so I wasn’t allowed to move. Triage was bright lights, hospital trolley type setup so not at all conducive to progressing.
I had checked myself at home and was at least 2cm dilated prior to waters breaking. When the consultant came in, he gave me a horrible rough speculum exam (I was crying out in pain and he was just shoving it in) and declared I was only 1-2cm and 50% effaced. I’m sure the environment didn’t help and probably delayed the contractions because I was so uncomfortable.
At some point (it got to be a blur with all the pain) I was moved to a side ward (about four beds divided by curtains). Again it was really strange. At least it was dark and at first we were the only ones there, but then there were other people I could hear behind the curtains and I felt really strange moaning (then screaming) in pain when I knew other women were there.
Initially they were quiet and I even heard their partners laughing which made me feel that I was doing something wrong. I tried to be quiet as I had really wanted a zenlike birth but I couldn’t help myself. There’s something primal about feeling you’re being ripped in half! Towards the end the other women started making noise too so at least I didn’t feel like such a freak. I really feel that you want privacy when you’re in labour, though.
I resisted pain relief for hours, then eventually had gas and air. It was quite funny as it makes you feel stoned and is actually quite enjoyable! I made T take some photos with me doing the peace sign! However it didn’t help at the peak of contractions and I was in so much pain! I’ve never felt anything like it. It pretty much renders you incapable of rational thought. I kept trying to visualise my baby arriving safely and tried to do the hypnobirthing techniques but the environment wasn’t conducive and the pain was too intense for it to make much difference.
The whole environment was awful and really medicalised. The whole time they mainly left me to it whilst periodically checking the trace. It kind of felt like we had no support – just monitoring. I had gone into it thinking I would be all zen but I was screaming with pain. I couldn’t help it!
My midwife arrived at around 13:00 and I was finally taken to a delivery room. It was a much better environment and I’d been promised the birth pool which I was really hoping would help with positioning more upright. But then they decided I couldn’t use it because by then I was in too much pain and they thought I needed a cannula because I was dehydrated, plus they felt they might have to intervene due to baby’s trace. And they thought I needed an epidural.
So then we moved to yet another delivery room without a pool. My midwife did help but by then I think I was too far gone and in too much pain. Also it was so far from what I’d prepared for that it was difficult to deal with. It really dwarfs any other pain I’ve ever felt in my life!
Eventually after hours of painful labour (I was delirious!) I had an epidural. After that I could finally rest, but the contractions never picked up pace to open the cervix efficiently and I didn’t get further than 5cm dilated.
To be honest, the epidural was the least of my worries in terms of pain. They have to inject it into your spine and people say it hurts but I can honestly say I never noticed the pain during the pain of labour! Given the awful labour I went through, if I had my time again I would have the epidural sooner! So much for mindful hypnobirthing!
They were going to offer me the option to induce, but baby’s trace was getting worse – his heart rate kept dropping with every contraction. They said they thought his cord was getting squeezed and they strongly advised I take the caesarean as they were worried about his heart rate.
By that time I had been in labour a really long time and I didn’t feel up to fighting doctors’ recommendations. And actually the idea of this finally being over did appeal! I also knew that my contractions didn’t seem to be progressing my cervical dilation. It’s weird with an epidural as you can feel the contractions but the pain isn’t there. I was pretty out of it but I think the contractions actually slowed down after the epidural so there was no hope of getting him out the natural way.
So we agreed that I should have an emergency caesarean. This was really the most distressing part – I knew that it was the right choice for my baby but I was overcome with disappointment that I hadn’t been able to birth him naturally and also that I’d gone through so much pain for nothing!
The experience of the emergency caesarean was pretty horrible as I was separated from T as I went for pre-op whilst he had to wait to be called in. First I had to sign consent forms which is funny as I question how much consent you can really give when drugged up and in immense pain!
Then I was wheeled to the operating theatre where about a million people were bustling about. This was not the calm relaxed entry I’d hoped for as a first experience of the outside world for my baby! Also laying flat on my back was really painful and uncomfortable so I was really distressed.
My midwife was there and calmed me down a bit but the dosed up epidural was really quite horrible. It gave me the shakes which is apparently a normal side effect but meant I couldn’t stop shivering. They put me on the operating table and shone bright lights on me whilst dosing me up with anaesthetic and testing with cold spray up and down my body to see if it had worked. They also erected a big screen across my middle so I couldn’t see the blood and gore!
Eventually we were ready and T was shown in, wearing his scrubs. Fetching! He was really supportive (as he was throughout labour) and kept reassuring me. I’d told him to try and take lots of photos so even if I couldn’t remember it all there would be some record of it. I can only describe the intense labour part as being in a fog of pain.
They started cutting and it was really weird as you can feel everything but the pain. And they really cut a lot more than you imagine! Then they started digging around inside and that feels so surreal! It’s like someone’s rummaging around in your abdomen and then they’re bracing against your chest and pulling something out. As they did stuff, they described what they were doing so I knew they were pulling him out, but I couldn’t see anything because of the screen.
And then: a cry!
I’ve heard that cry so many times since, this week, and yet it was the most amazing beautiful thing. Our son’s cry! T and I looked at each other and I started crying.
They had to cut the cord and they took away the placenta for testing. Apparently it looked abnormal in some way with fatty deposits. The surgeon said they’d never seen one like it before… I had consented to donate cord blood and stem cells so I was disappointed we couldn’t do that, but relieved that whatever was weird about it hadn’t affected B being brought into the world.
And then there he was. Someone handed him to us and he was there on my chest and he was beautiful and breathing and it was over and yet it had just begun.
* * *
B couldn’t feed right away even though he clearly wanted to, because he had some liquid in his stomach that needed pumping. So we had skin to skin for a while as I was in recovery. And then they took him off to get his stomach pumped. Poor T had to wait whilst we were in recovery and then go and see his baby son have a tube down his nose. But then as soon as he was back, B was desperate to feed and he took to it like a duck to water. And he’s been feeding ever since!
So week 1 was a week of firsts. A short stay in the hospital – he was born Sunday eve and so we stayed Sunday and Monday nights. We were in wonder at everything. The grandparents rushed to meet him on Monday. Tuesday we got to come home and he met his big brother, Dog. And now, a week later, it seems like he’s always been here. Even though it’s only been a week.
The whole birth experience was pretty distressing at the time but I feel kind of fine about it because B is healthy and I’m recovering well from the caesarean. It’s kind of funny in a way that I’d initially asked for an elective caesarean and been talked out of it!
I can honestly say I don’t feel in the least bit bad or stressed about it any more. I’m so utterly giddy that my baby is here and I relish every moment of being a mother. I guess it helps he’s a champion breastfeeder so I feel at least there’s one thing I’m giving him and he’s doing well. But the other discomforts – like the healing scar and the being woken up at night – don’t bother me. I guess I had an expectation it would be hard, and I find it’s easier than I thought.
It’s really easy to wake up during the night when it’s your own baby who needs you and wants the comfort of being with you. I don’t resent it in the least. I relish the fact that he wants me and only me a lot of the time, and I love the fact that he is so cute when snuggled up to his father and that T is so in love with him. (T has done all the nappy changes! I do IN and he does OUT!) I love that we are a bigger little family now with Dog and B. It just feels like I have everything I ever wanted.
It’s so surreal to realise he’s the only one in the whole world I’ve ever met (that I can remember) who is biologically related to me. And also weird to think he’s not yet the age at which I went home with my adoptive parents. So my first mother must have had me and cared for me when I was this tiny and helpless. It’s a thought. There is something sad about it but there’s also a lot of happiness. My parents are absolutely over the moon obsessed with him. Even though he’s “only” grandchild #3, they are super excited and keep wanting to FaceTime with him even when he’s asleep!
And this week has been amazing for all the experiences we’ve had. We’ve been out every single day. I’ve even breastfed in public! I never thought I’d be that person, but when the kid’s gotta eat, he’s gotta eat! I really thought my healing would be worse but I seem lucky. It definitely hurts but it’s a good pain that got me my baby here safely and it is decreasing every day. It mainly hurts getting up and down but T has rigged up a rope by the bed so I can pull myself upright! And he is being super helpful with everything. He is an amazing dad already as well as an amazing partner. Dog is also a caring big brother who’s especially interested in the contents of nappies! I just feel so happy when I’m surrounded by my three boys: T, Dog and B.
So… We are sort of in a love bubble right now. And it feels like everything good.
Feeling somewhat bruised today after a culmination of a number of things and I realise that this process bruises us all. And I’m sad that the outcome of that is a lot of sadness and anger. Mainly anger.
I think the main point is this: Pregnancy after loss shoots you into a whole new domain of feelings, and suddenly you have a foot in each world – one still in the world of infertility, with those still struggling angry at you for being “okay”; and one in the world of pregnancy, where you feel like an imposter and you never quite get rid of the fear of history repeating itself and of reverting to being your childless self.
I feel stuck between those worlds now. For example I’ve tried to carry on blogging and not being one of those people who stops being supportive just because I’m “okay”.
(Thing is, I’m not okay. I’ll never be a normal pregnant woman because I’ll never take it for granted, and no matter how far everything goes, I’m still worried about loss. I have a new set of worries now and of course they have calmed a bit because it’s possible to acknowledge a pregnancy after a certain stage. But they are still very real. I’m not a complacent optimistic pregnant woman and I haven’t announced it on social media or told people I don’t see, because part of me still worries that it won’t happen and something will go wrong.)
But I’ve become really aware of how continuing to comment on people’s blogs might not be helping and supportive as I intended it to be. That for some people who are struggling to get pregnant, or are newly pregnant after infertility or loss, the fact of someone else being pregnant – even after their own infertility and loss – is not encouraging, and just makes them feel bad.
I have tried to be empathetic and supportive but maybe I just need to realise that there’s a certain stage of hell that infertile/newly pregnant after loss people are suffering in and that trying to be there for them whilst I am heavily pregnant is hugely triggering. And not just in blogland but real life, too.
It’s a weird feeling to be classed as someone who’s crossed over to being the subject of people’s anger for being pregnant. Because I was always the non-pregnant one, the infertile, the non-parent. It’s an identity I don’t feel fits, and yet here I am with a bump, causing pain to people in the same situation I was in for so many years.
It’s ironic because I still feel at 34 weeks like I can’t comfortably accept congratulations on my pregnancy or feel completely comfortable answering questions. I have stock answers but I don’t want to tempt fate by expecting everything is going to be okay, even if it seems that way to everyone else and there are people thinking, “It’s okay for you”, just as I did about others in previous times.
The big news is that I’ve known for a while now that my sister is pregnant. She had a very similar situation to mine last year where they did IVF and it resulted in a first ever pregnancy followed by miscarriage. I told her about the immune therapy we had and she ended up going to see the same doctor, and getting a slightly different diagnosis.
They decided to move forward with immune treatment alongside the “natural” cycles and then they decided to transfer their remaining frosty from their first cycle. (The difference for us was that cycle 2 was a fresh cycle as I didn’t create enough eggs / we didn’t have enough embryos of any quality to freeze any – on either cycle.) And now a few months later she has tested after the two week wait and she’s pregnant.
Of course I’m thrilled for them. And I can also understand how she must be feeling because I felt something like that too. The sheer all encompassing fear of getting positive pregnancy tests but before any scans. And even after scans in our case – as we had a first scan and heartbeat last time. I know I went a bit mad during that time, and truth be told, my mind only started to calm down slightly around the 20 week mark, which is a long way away for her.
And right now her sister – the one she could always depend on as being equally infertile – is heavily pregnant. I’ve been really conscious of how awful this must be for her even though I know she’s happy for me in her own way. I know how I felt when my brother’s wife had his baby whilst we were on our post-baby-loss-moon. It’s hard to deal with.
My sister has reacted a lot like I did. She is angry at everyone. She’s angry at her partner for being happy, for “not doing enough” and for not being able to read her mind. She’s angry at women at work who are pregnant or who have children – or even who are happy and chatty and not in a state of upset like she is. She told me she even moved desks to get away from them because they were “too happy”. She’s angry at my parents for asking how she is and offering support. I’m sure she’s angry at me for being pregnant.
She called me the other day because she was feeling so bad about everything and I did my best to reassure her that what she was feeling was normal. She has always been a lot more highly strung than I have, and if I think how crazy I felt, I would expect her to feel a lot worse. I have already written at how I feel about pregnancy after loss (How not to react when someone congratulates you on being pregnant). It has taken me a long time even to talk as if I’m not constantly waiting for loss – even if the thoughts still creep in.
I tried to reassure her that everything she was feeling was valid. I shared my experience of feeling angry and resentful that I couldn’t enjoy this pregnancy for months, and why I still worry. And we talked for a long time, and she was upset and angry and I don’t know how much I helped. I feel like during that time of waiting, you almost can’t say the right thing. The person who is pregnant after loss is going to be afraid, and angry, and I don’t think there’s much anyone can say to allay it.
So I don’t know how to navigate this. It’s like I’ve been given a role I didn’t ask for and suddenly I’m the oppressor rather than the oppressed. I don’t belong any more in the infertility world, with my big bump triggering people. And I’m not a parent either.
I don’t want to be one of the people causing pain to others. But equally, I feel like it’s not the pain Olympics but I still kind of think… Surely we have gained the right after everything we have been through to begin to hope we might have a successful pregnancy, eventually.
When I wasn’t pregnant and I had unexplained infertility and other things, I looked for hope. And when I miscarried our baby after our first cycle of IVF, I felt desolate – but the worst feeling was hopelessness. So I always searched for it. When people who’d known similar struggles got pregnant, I was happy for them because it gave me hope that there might still be something for me. (One of the first people I ever followed now has a real life baby who is about one year old, and I’m so happy for her!) When we went through cycle 2, I kept one blogfriend in mind who had a successful second cycle. I tried to believe in hope.
But I don’t want to be that source of pain if I can help it. Particularly if I can help it – I can’t help seeing my sister, but I can help commenting on people’s blogs and inadvertently causing them pain. I really do not want to do that. I’ve had over a decade of that and I don’t want to be that person to someone.
So I’m going to take a break from commenting on infertility blogs, unless I’m really sure that they want to engage (e.g. If they comment on mine and we “know” each other). I have always had a policy of trying to engage with blogs I follow (often as a result of them following me) but in some cases I can’t be sure, and I don’t want to hurt people by commenting if I am doing more harm than good.
I’m in a risky kind of place right now because I want to talk about my own experiences and fears and I’ve moved on a few months from that place of going through IVF and immune stuff so it’s maybe not appropriate to comment on people’s blogs who are still going through that.
I have had a whole day full of people being angry today and it’s making me feel fairly wretched. I wonder if there is some effect of the moon or something. There is too much pain and anger in the world today, and I’m not dealing with it well. I’ve also been wondering lately if there is such a thing as pre-natal depression or pre-baby blues or whatever. Because I feel like I’m taking stuff to heart and feeling teary when the old me would just have brushed it off. (Old me is one kick ass b*tch. Current me is blancmange.)
More than anything this week I think I need a break.
This is not what I expected to happen at my baby shower.
My mother-in-law is in hospital hooked up to ECG machines. She seems well and is in good spirits, mainly concerned with how she “ruined” my baby shower. Of course we are all in way more shock than she is.
The day started great. Dog and I had a nice lie in, listening to the rain on our roof. (Our bedroom is in the loft with windows over the bed.) It was strangely soothing.
Got up, managed to take Dog out in between the torrential rain showers, and then came back and had a nice bath before heading to our local pub for the baby shower / Christmas dinner.
It was so nice! Lots of my friends were there. Everything was set up absolutely gorgeously and I was so happy. We had our starters and then our mains (I had turkey dinner and it was amazing) and Dog was having the time of his life as my friends were falling for his sad “I’ve not been fed, honest” face. (Never fall for it. I always do.)
Suddenly I heard T’s sister shouting, “Mum! Mum!”
My mother-in-law was sitting in her chair with her eyes and mouth open, completely unresponsive. It was so shocking. We didn’t know what to do. People were yelling, “Call 999!”
What happened next was kind of a rush and kind of slow motion, the way only accidents and traumatic things can be.
T’s sister started shaking and trying to dial her phone. I put my arm around her and led her to a chair. She was shaking violently.
L, my amazing midwife who I had invited to my baby shower, leapt up and came round the table to my mother-in-law and tried to check her responses. She wasn’t responding at all so with a bit of help, she got her on the floor and started doing CPR.
I really thought I was watching my mother-in-law die.
We took T’s sister round the corner and sat her down to try and calm her. Gave her a glass of water and I just held her whilst she shook. I didn’t know what else to do. I wasn’t even feeling anything I think, other than shock. Everyone was shocked. I mean, one minute we were eating our Christmas dinner and the next, there’s an old lady on the floor with someone over her performing CPR.
Luckily, and it was probably only minutes, a friend came round and said, “She’s breathing!”
We calmed T’s sister and went round to see her. My mother-in-law was lying on the floor in the recovery position and L was tending to her. She was remarkably chipper considering we all thought she had died! Typical T’s mum, she was sort of wondering what all the fuss was about. (She didn’t have to see her staring face.)
The first responder arrived. She didn’t seem to know what to do, but L even helped her to sort out the blood pressure cuff (seriously?!) and by that time T’s mum had been sitting up in a chair for a while. I mean it was so shocking because she was on the floor unresponsive one minute and the next she was acting like nothing had happened.
Two other paramedics arrived and thankfully seemed a bit smarter about what was going on. They took down the story from a sort of hysterical T’s sis and a calm and collected L. L had already been on the phone to the ambulance crew beforehand and explained everything. T’s sis is actually a trained nurse, and she said she couldn’t find a pulse, whereas L said she had found a “thready pulse” – but either way it was a really shocking thing that happened.
They took T’s mum to the ambulance after a while and did an ECG, and then they took her to hospital. We all felt a bit helpless as to what to do. T’s mum insisted we must finish our dinner, and as they were taking her to hospital with T’s sister, we felt at least she was in safe hands. So the rest of us had our dessert, and we chatted for a while, but it was really strange knowing my mother-in-law was in A&E.
At that point despite everyone telling me not to, I called T and told him what had happened. They didn’t want me to tell him as he’s away this weekend and can’t do anything, but I felt like if it had been my mother and the situation was reversed, I would want to know. He was pretty calm about it and we kept him updated throughout the evening.
I felt bad for my best friend who had done such an amazing job of organising it. And before that happened, we were having a really lovely time, and they still gave out goody bags which she had put together which was so amazing and everyone wrote messages. I am sure I’ll have time to appreciate them after. And people helped me carry a mountain of unopened gifts back to our flat. But I think we will open them tomorrow when T is back and I’ll do more of a baby shower write up then. As right now we’re all still in shock.
Once all the guests had left, I went to drop Dog at home and got changed out of my party dress and headed to the hospital. My mother-in-law was still in A&E but had been moved out of resus and was hooked up to a machine monitoring her heartbeat. We waited a few hours until the doctor could see her. She was in really good spirits considering (typical old people, “Don’t make a fuss!”) and her main worry was that she and T’s sis hadn’t paid their bills for lunch – which I assured her was not an issue!
T’s dad arrived and of course it was a terrible shock for him. We sat with her for a few hours and kept her company. I think hospitals can be really boring and that’s a bit depressing too. Both T’s parents and sister live over an hour away, and the incident happened at around 4pm, so by the time T’s mum got moved to the cardiac ward it was late. I took an executive decision with T that we should book them into the local hotel and so we did that.
I popped out to the supermarket to get supplies and came back with bags for each of them with PJs, underwear, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, shower gel etc. It was quite confusing trying to decide what both of them would wear but it was a rough guess and the hotel’s on the high street with lots of shops, so they only need to wear the stuff tonight and tomorrow and then they can choose their own!
We eventually picked up T’s dad’s car and drove back to ours with T’s sis, and dropped the car in our parking space. Then I walked them into town to the hotel. I finally got back and am sitting with Dog. It’s 2 mins past midnight for NaBloPoMo but I figure it’s still before midnight in the US, and under the circumstances…
There are no words. So I’ll leave you with these for today.
“First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak for me.”
~ Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)
[Early supporter of the Nazis, later imprisoned for opposing Hitler’s regime.]
So after my last post on pregnancy after loss feelings, it was almost synchronicity that something would have to trigger off all those feelings again. I just didn’t think it would be the very next day…
Yesterday, in quick succession, I got messages from two friends congratulating me on my pregnancy. Neither of them were people I had told. What had happened was that Person A had been invited to my baby shower. (She can’t make it.) She then told Person B, as they work together. And then Person B told Person C.
On my baby shower invitations it really clearly says “Please do not mention on social media.” I hadn’t anticipated that people would think telling people off social media would be fair game.
Now, I come with a history of infertility and a recent-ish (one year ago) miscarriage. I am 28, almost 29 weeks pregnant. In most people’s eyes, this is 6 months pregnant nothing-to-worry-about but that’s not how I feel, and there was a specific reason why I didn’t tell Person C in particular.
Person C was the person who absolutely crushed me when I told her about our miscarriage last year. I can’t even bring myself to think about it, but let’s just say she said all the wrong things. In case you are wondering what those are, they included:
“At least you know you can get pregnant.”
“It happens to loads of people.”
“Why don’t you just adopt?”
“Sometimes it’s not meant to be.”
“How far along were you?”
I have answers for all of those (which mainly involve paraphrasing a ruder version of “You’re not helping”) but that’s not the point of this post. The point is, I responded in a very visceral way and I am still kicking myself about it.
Firstly, Person B. She doesn’t have children. Actually I don’t have a big issue with her knowing. But I would have preferred her not to have mentioned it to Person C. She was actually apologetic and said that Person A had clearly said that it should not be mentioned on social media, but hey ho, she’s very good friends with Person C so I suppose that it was to be expected.
Person C. I actually did a blog post about her a while back but I took it down because I feel like a lot of my problem with her is my problem and not hers. Person C is older than me – and I’m considered a “geriatric mother”. She got pregnant first go, after waiting, in her 40s, and whilst on honeymoon. By all accounts Person C is a borderline alcoholic or at the very least an enthusiastic binge drinker. Like, not the person you’d expect to get pregnant that easily but I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles. And I get that. People get pregnant all the time.
What most people do though is have a modicum of sensitivity. Person C is kind of not that person. She’s actually great fun in real life, but over time I’ve distanced myself from her as she has a habit of not saying the right thing (putting it mildly). For instance when I split up with my ex, she told me she had never expected it to last. (Umm, it was like a decade and you came to my wedding.) So when she kept pestering me about coming to meet her baby, I felt like the best way to deal with that was to tell her about the miscarriage.
After the very upsetting exchange last year I just settled on not telling her stuff, and so I had absolutely no plans for her to be invited to my baby shower or even to know I was pregnant until the baby was born.
Instead I got this message from her. And I said thanks, who told you? And she told me Person B. And I said can you please not put it on social media as we are not telling people. And it just sort of escalated from there. She kept pushing on congratulations, how do you feel? And pregnancy questions and I just said I am not really into talking about it and there’s a reason I haven’t publicised it. And she wanted to know why. Like, the stupid ***** had completely forgotten about our conversation about miscarriage last year. Her response when I told her was “Oh I thought it was really early.” Like really… so it didn’t matter because it was “early”. Let’s not think about the months and years leading up to that.
She then had the cheek to say she was here to talk if I wanted to talk. Like, she’s the absolute last person I’d ever want to talk to about this! And then just to make it even better, “I had a miscarriage too. Sucks.” Well, yes, it really does. Why aren’t you more sensitive about it then? I literally cannot fathom why she thought any of this was comforting to me. And I know I am in danger of offending people here but I can’t even describe how different it is if you don’t have a child. She already has a healthy child and seemed to be suggesting miscarriage was no big deal (because I shouldn’t care because my last one was “early”) and I just can’t even.
Anyway, I don’t mean to rehash the whole conversation. It ended badly. She told me that as I was 6 months I should just “not worry about it” and I was just getting more and more upset and I told her that it wasn’t as easy as that and I really did not want to talk about it. It finished with her saying “ok” and me feeling suddenly like I was the bad guy.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I know I handled it badly. I know I’m okay at receiving congratulations from people – if they are people I wanted to tell, and not people who I specifically didn’t want to tell. It is really hard when you open up to someone about loss and your fears about pregnancy after loss and they tell you in a blasé fashion “not to worry”. Speaking from a place of having a healthy child or children. (I’ve lost count of how many people have said to me they had difficulties and whatever but now have two kids or whatever… It is not the comfort they think it is. Unless they are actually empathising it seems extremely cruel to tell people not to worry, like I can’t imagine they were completely carefree about it until they actually had their children.)
I thought I was doing better. I thought maybe the babymoon had done me good. But I’ve spent the whole time since the conversation yesterday feeling bad about it.
I had the NHS growth scan yesterday as well, and although it was fine, it didn’t really put my mind at rest. B’s growth has accelerated – particularly his stomach, which went from about 50th percentile to 100th. So he’s a fatty! This puts me at risk of suspected gestational diabetes. I’m not overly worried since I saw my amazing midwife this morning, but I was kind of mildly worried last night, so the timing probably wasn’t good. I have to go in for a glucose tolerance test in the next week. Also L (amazing midwife) said that sometimes the measurements can vary from scanner to scanner so they just need to rule it out. B is maybe just a big baby. (I’m v small so that seems like sod’s law!) We have the private scan tomorrow so we shall see. I’ve also been given iron tablets (which apparently turn your poo black!) as I’m slightly anaemic, so that at least accounts for the crushing tiredness I’ve been feeling!
T and I are going to the cinema tonight to see The Light Between Oceans. I’m anticipating a massive weepie. (I think it has pregnancy loss in. And adoption. Wonder why I wanted to watch it so badly!) So maybe I need to figure out some lighter things to lift my mood! On the plus side, I spoke with my boss today and he still seems to like me, and he’s even hinting about increased responsibility for me when I get back from mat leave. So it’s not all bad. And I’ve worked from home today and spent lots of time with Dog. It could be worse!
I’m very conscious that the tone of some of my posts has switched from infertility/loss to a cautious acceptance of pregnancy to (probably from the outside) a complete embracing of pregnancy, and I wanted to address that a bit and try to explain the whole storm in my head. Because despite what it may look like from the outside – babymoon, shopping for baby stuff, baby shower – I know that this is not a “normal” pregnancy.
I have never, ever gotten pregnant on my own. (Okay, you know what I mean!) I’ve never had an “oopsie”… I’ve never had a pregnancy scare… I’ve never felt funny one day and thought back to my last period and realised I was late. I was in a long term relationship for a really long time, during which I (and probably everyone else) thought we’d have children. But we didn’t. And before then and after then, despite being in relationships where I could have become pregnant, I never did.
We’re still not sure what caused my 10+ years of childlessness. (It certainly wasn’t lack of baby-making activity… just saying.) It wasn’t until I started blogging (I think April a year and a bit ago) that I finally started to put a name to what I had. Infertility. I kind of just thought I was a freak who didn’t deserve to have children. I was adopted, so I shouldn’t care about biological stuff anyway, right? (It turns out many adoptees do, a whole lot more than “normals”.)
A disparate range of afflictions – heavy, painful periods, endometriosis (2 operations to clear the decks), a possible blocked fallopian tube, some polyps, a fibroid or two, some chemical imbalances – that all conspired to prevent me getting pregnant all through my twenties and most of my thirties. An ex who didn’t understand the loss I felt the first time I had an investigative laparoscopy and they found extensive endometriosis and a likelihood I wouldn’t get pregnant naturally.
Fast forward a few years. I split with my ex. I met T and I told him everything. I mean everything. By that time I was approaching mid 30s and I knew I should not get into a relationship with someone who might want kids I wouldn’t be able to give him. T being T, said, “We’ll just do IVF.” And me being me, I didn’t even raise it (and we had a nice few months of going at it like rabbits, both for fun and just in case) until T suggested it was time to make the appointment about having kids…
One blog, two cycles of IVF, about 20 different drugs, two pregnancies, one loss and one ongoing later and here we are. I’m pregnant. 28-and-a-bit weeks. We’ve just been on babymoon. We have a mini collection of tiny outfits. A plan for a baby shower. A name and a nickname. T reads to B every few nights, a story about dogs just like our Dog. B kicks appreciatively (or maybe, “Do the voices!”) and Dog snores as Dog always does, possibly unaware that he’s scheduled to get a baby brother.
I have everything I ever wanted. A T, a Dog, and a baby on the way. A house (well, a teeny flat), a job I enjoy which pays me enough money to pay for the tiny flat… a nice family and a soon-to-grow little family of my own.
And yet… I’m scared.
Here’s the thing, for those of us who’ve experienced a loss before, I think we have a sort of PTSD (and I don’t use that term lightly: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I really thought the pain of however many years of infertility, the insensitive questions (literally a couple of days ago a friend messaged me, “Have you ever considered having children?” and if I hadn’t been pregnant, I would have felt a lot worse…), the constant pregnancy-birth-mother’s day-first-day-of-school announcements on social media were something I could deal with, because my feelings about never having a baby were so deeply buried, and it had always been thus.
And then we did our first cycle of IVF. And I got pregnant! It was amazing. It was exciting. We were optimistic. We passed those milestones – the repeated positive pregnancy tests, the ultrasounds, the little heartbeat flickering away, the… miscarriage.
The “ball of cells”, the “at least you know you can get pregnant”, the “it happens to loads of people”, the worst pain I could have imagined, obliterating the searing physical pain which was also most definitely not “just like a heavy period”. The dismantling of plans and dreams. The going back to a horrible job with unsympathetic management. The commiserating holiday at the dream destination. Disney, the place to bring your kids… the happy place. The misery of pregnancy weight gain without the baby. The loss of hope.
And I know that what we “suffered” is experienced by hundreds of thousands of people, and others have it much worse. I never had to give birth to a dead baby. I can’t even imagine the pain of that when passing my almost-baby was so painful. I never suffered repeated losses, because it took over a decade to make it to our first pregnancy. Our first loss. I’ve never had a real live child running about who died. I know it’s not the Pain Olympics. But I also know that what feels monumental to me is smaller than what many people have dealt with.
Maybe it’s because of this, because my decades of childlessness were more of an absence than loss, that our one hard-won loss last year hit me so hard. Because I really felt like maybe I was just not meant to have kids, maybe it would never happen, and when I got pregnant on IVF cycle 2, an ostensibly less successful cycle than cycle 1, I felt not joy but mounting fear that this would be another suckerpunch, another loss.
Pregnancy after loss is not like pregnancy, period. I see those pregnancies of friends and on social media and they’re so full of joy and excitement and that seems naive to me, like tempting fate. I saw our first baby’s heart beat. That meant we were in the tiny percentages of unlikeliness that something bad would happen… but it did. I barely slept leading up to our first scan, and I knew not to trust it. When we saw the heart beating, I cried. I don’t know whether from joy or fear. But it wasn’t the end of the anxiety and I didn’t “feel pregnant” and I didn’t rejoice. As each milestone passed – 12 weeks, 16 weeks, first kicks, T would ask me, when are you going to feel better? And I couldn’t answer him. He had to believe for the both of us.
Of course, over time, anxiety has decreased. How I feel about baby B now is nothing compared with how I felt in those first, fearful weeks. I don’t know when the anxiety moved to more manageable levels because it has been 6 months of slow, gradual reduction and trying to be as happy as others seem to be for us. All throughout this pregnancy, now in its 29th week, I have kept up this internal monologue of rationalisation… Read the stats, understand the risks… Know that every day that passes, the risk reduces. But I will never be like those carefree friends who have never suffered infertility or loss.
What helped for me was passing the halfway mark – 20 weeks, which coincided with “coming out” to people at work (though I told my boss and HR sooner due to the legalities). It may sound crazy but as T said to me, it’s okay now to tell people as you’d want them to know if the baby died… It’s no longer a “ball of cells” or “happens to everyone”. It is an actual acknowledgeable baby. People would be able to talk about it if we lost him, instead of having to pretend that he never existed. That makes a difference, I guess. As is being treated like an obviously pregnant woman. Getting seats on public transport. Having a sympathetic doctor who took my anxiety seriously and referred me to an amazing midwife. And the biggy – feeling him kick.
People who don’t worry about pregnancy loss tell you how annoying and uncomfortable it is, but honestly, I embrace every discomfort. Even when I wake up at night with back pain, even when my body is a mess of extra chub and stretch marks, I am thankful that I am experiencing something I never thought I’d ever experience. And I’m scared now that I’ve started to dream about him, our son, that he might not get here healthy and alive. That whatever pain I felt least year about losing our first baby, it would be a thousand times worse now I’ve felt B kick, that I’ve felt my skin stretching, that we registered him at nursery and bought him little outfits, that everyone knows.
There are those little reminders. “Is this your first child?” – I always answer yes. I know that’s not strictly true, that we had another almost-child last year, that B is our “rainbow baby” – but I can’t bring myself to tell that sad story to every smiling face who asks. People congratulating us then musing about maybe trying for a baby soon. I want to scream at them, start yesterday! It might never happen! (But of course it will, straight away, because you’re not us.) People who congratulate us in a thoughtless way that triggers off all the feels. I’ve taken to saying, It took a lot to get this far. A lot of medical interventions. About 20 different drugs. So no, I won’t be having a second child. I don’t even feel confident I can get this one here safely, but those words remain unspoken, always in the back of my mind.
That friend of mine who asked me the other day if I’d ever considered having kids – she has one, and told me that they liked him so much, “We might try for a sister for him soon.” She’s in her 40s… Oh, the naïveté! Imagine being able to think, I’ll just have another one and I hope it’s a girl. Like that’s your worst likelihood. Not, I hope we can have a child. I hope my baby doesn’t die. Just, I hope we can make a sister for him, but if it’s a brother then I guess we’ll deal with it.
A girlfriend of a friend from school is around 2 weeks behind us – and they constantly post pregnancy updates on Facebook. I can’t stand them. I can’t look at their confidence and I worry for them that they don’t know the risks, and I resent that they are so blasé about it, but then I tell myself that their way of doing things is the normal way, not our way. You shouldn’t spend your pregnancy worrying that it’s going to end, that there’s not going to be a live baby. That’s just us. At Halloween she dressed her bump with blood and doll parts so it looked like a baby clawing its way out. I can’t imagine she’s ever looked at blood coming out of her and wondering which parts were her dead baby.
And part of me is jealous that it’s not me posting bumpies and milestones and cutesy pregnancy announcements (ours would be Dog and a pair of booties, now you ask). But I don’t think I could cope with the idea of unannouncing. It was bad enough last time having to unannounce to the very few people we had told. It’s almost worse having to deal with other people’s grief. Pregnancy-wise, I’m just going to lay low, off radar (well, off social media) until-when-if B is born. If he arrives safe then I will be able to tell people, this is our son! This is Dog’s little brother! I can breathe. Meanwhile, I’ll participate in the rituals of baby shower and shopping and dressing the bump and enjoying other people’s happiness for us, and I’ll try my best not to let the worries take over. Fake it till you make it.
But until then, I will talk to my bump, feel B kick, and try and impart some reassurance to him that his mama is doing her best to keep him safe until it’s time in three months to try and get him safely into the world.
I’m still waiting, in this enhanced two week wait (before the first ultrasound that gives an indication but no guarantee of viability) so I’ve been trying to distract myself. Unfortunately when working one’s notice this means there isn’t a whole lot of work to distract yourself with, and also it leaves you (well, me) a bit open to the whole “Getting annoyed with everyone in the world” thing, probably exacerbated by social media.
So here in no particular order are the things that are annoying me this week…
- Rude people. This category encompasses almost everyone on the Being Annoying list. I just think the whole world would be much nicer if everyone was nice to each other instead of being rude.
- Antisocial behaviour (such as manspreading and BO) on public transport. Travelling on public transport is not fun at the best of times. And I’m not pregnant officially so nobody gives up their seat for me. (I really want to make it to 12 weeks so I can get a smug-pregnant-person’s badge. Transport for London does these Baby on Board badges which are meant to be so you can offer a pregnant lady a seat without being scared to offend someone who isn’t pregnant. I’ve never had one although this is the second time I’ve been pregnant.) I actually got up and moved away from a person the other day whose legs were manspreading into my seat. And being pregnant, this may be a symptom or it may just be my extreme sensitivity to smell, but I cannot stand the body odour of some people on the tube – it is making me feel sick. Another time last week I actually asked a guy to stop hitting me with his rucksack. He just went and stood in front of me and kept moving around so it was banging into me and I was like, Can you stop hitting me with your rucksack? Everyone on the tube was flabbergasted as people in London don’t actually like to make eye contact, let alone tell someone when they’re p*ssing you off. But he stopped, and I just stood there being angry.
- Entitled millennials. Now I am an official old person but I have had it up to HERE (imagine a marker) with millennials and their stupid bitching about nothing. Like, seriously, someone asked you to turn your music down because it was 4am on a weekday? How dare they! (This is a specific reference to my horrible new neighbour who has surpassed even my previous Neighbour From Hell in inconsiderate behaviour, and woke up everyone in the block by playing loud music at 4-5am – her excuse being that she suffers from “anxiety and depression and bipolar” and needed to invite some friends round for an unplanned party because of it. Because her right to feel not lonely surpasses everyone else’s right not to be woken up in the middle of the night. She has now started a war on our apartment’s Facebook page saying everyone is being horrible to her and anyone who doesn’t like it is obviously OLD.) No consideration for other people… And I realise I’m sounding like my parents here.
- Being a childless woman. It’s like you get all the crap bits about being female (sexism, big sore boobs, periods / side effects from IVF drugs) and none of the good bits! Smug mums banging on about breastfeeding! Mums in general whinging about their children in a completely annoying way when other people would do anything to have a child. People who do bad things to their own children. It’s just depressing that people who don’t deserve children seem to have no problem popping them out, and then us infertiles have to suffer psychological anguish because we don’t get to have children.
- Pregnancy after loss. I literally can’t enjoy it because I’m just waiting for it to end. It’s nice we got this far but I don’t have any faith in it right now. I’m beginning to hope, and I sort of hate myself for hoping because we hoped last time and it didn’t work. I don’t want to be this fat, swollen and hormonally ranty without actually ever getting to enjoy pregnancy. I can’t just “snap out of it”. Maybe I’ll feel better IF we get to 12 weeks, but we’re not even halfway there yet. This sucks. It also means I have to keep making excuses and sounding like an antisocial ***** because I don’t want to go out drinking and have to make up a lame reason why I’m off alcohol. I just want to get to the point where we can acknowledge the pregnancy. I guess that’s 12-14 weeks.
- Solicitors/lawyers. OMG What do they actually do? We’ve been waiting for our house to go through for like FOUR MONTHS. We have all the money ready to go. They’re just delaying over nothing. I feel so mad that I could have spent my notice period on holiday and moved house but instead we are stressing that it might not even happen before I start my new job next month. And I really don’t need that stress. As for the divorce… When can I have it? This is ridiculous. I’ve been with T longer than I was actually actively married. I might be having a baby with him, and my divorce from my ex still hasn’t bloody been finalised. It’s like lawyers just make money out of other people’s pain. ARGH.
I’m sure there are loads of other reasons why I’m angry. Maybe I’m PANGRY. (Pregnant-angry. Who knows. Maybe I’m imminent-pregnancy-loss-angry.) I definitely seem to be thinking more evil thoughts lately. Although I haven’t said much to people about it. I just think them in my head.
Sit with me on this one… I may be some time.
People talk about the dreaded “two week wait” – the period of time between embryo transfer and the first pregnancy test. What they don’t tell you is that it is far worse the second time round, after the first cycle ended in miscarriage. That’s not to mention the years and years (not 2-3 but 10+) of fertility problems before that. What I hate about infertility and this whole treatment protocol (IVF) is that it has robbed us of our innocence. I feel like I’m completely cynical, waiting for bad news, expecting the worst, trying to prepare myself for disappointment. And it sucks.
Before I ever started thinking that I might have some “fertility problems”, I kind of figured I’d probably have two children in my twenties (ha!) and my whole plans revolved more about preventing the possibility of pregnancy rather than trying to get pregnant.
Now, I think, “How naive!” when my friends say things like, “Oh, perhaps I’ll start trying for a baby [in my late 30s] after we get married.” I think they don’t even understand that it might not happen straight away. It might not happen for years. It might never happen. Because, of course, for most of my friends it does happen.
IVF cycle 1
I feel like our previous cycle had us in a completely different frame of mind. Actually, I think T is in a similar frame of mind as the first cycle. To him, it’s a numbers game and it will happen eventually and we just have to think positive. In cycle 1, we did think positive. Everything was new and exciting. It was a bit like, if we just do it right, do everything they say – we’ll get pregnant. And we did! Until the scan showed no heartbeat and delayed growth rather than a baby. The little blob with a heartbeat that we saw in week 6 was as far as we got. So much pain.
IVF cycle 2
I’m having such a hard time with this cycle. I really am someone who tries to be positive, or at least pragmatic, but I find the whole thing depressing. I’m on this massive cocktail of drugs to try and treat the immune issues. There is so much scepticism about immunology treatment for infertility/miscarriage but quite frankly I’m willing to give it a go. But we are sort of neck and neck to where we were in cycle 1 (down to 1 blastocyst on day 5, 3BB transferred, no frosties) and we know how that ended. The effects of the drugs the second time round seem so much worse when I don’t have the optimism to sustain myself through it.
I am finding it really really hard to deal with other people’s pregnancies who I know in real life. It seems these natural conceptions are in my face all the time. At work and on Facebook (which I have resumed, cautiously, as of this week because I needed to try something, anything, to take my mind off this). It sounds stupid but I feel like it’s unfair when people conceive without any worry and nothing to overcome to get pregnant. This is my problem, not theirs, but the feeling is so hard to deal with.
T says I need to be positive and optimistic, but I just don’t feel it. He is great and lovely (he’s T: his superpower is kindness) but it doesn’t stop my mind running. This time round I’m thinking, “Do I feel any different?” and I don’t know whether anything is wishful thinking, grief, hope, or whatever. I more or less feel normal. My boobs actually seem to have gone down, which is both easier to deal with and worrying (because surely if I was pregnant, they’d get bigger?). They’re still bigger than normal but not as big as when taking the IVF drugs. I’ve felt a bit sick/hungry but then I think that could just be psychological. It’s a good thing I have T and Dog to cheer me up or I think I’d be utterly despondent.
Last time I managed to hold off testing until the day they told us to test. I didn’t have any expectations and was completely shocked when it worked. But this time I am thinking, I want to know. I want to try and get my life back if it hasn’t worked. I need to prepare myself mentally. I’m seeing my sister on test day and I think that at least she will understand (if you read my past posts, in a stupid irony, they went through the same thing a few months after us) but equally I don’t know if I will be such good company. Also there’s all the complex feelings of: What if she gets pregnant before me? Everyone else has; why not her?
I want to feel like it will be okay, but right now it feels completely overwhelming. Even if we make it to a positive pregnancy test, we won’t be able to enjoy that. It’s just one hurdle of hundreds and it seems inconceivable (ba-dum-tish) that we will ever jump all of them. (I’m short and bad at jumping hurdles anyway.) I think before maybe I had this dream life of what might happen – T and I talk about it all the time – we even have the name for our child picked out and we refer to him (or her) and I can feel the dream fading away. Like it just doesn’t feel real to me.
What’s different this time?
Quite a lot is different this time round. The actual IVF protocol is almost the same but with Menopur instead of Gonal F. Even though we retrieved only 7 eggs (instead of 12 in cycle 1) the end result was 1 grade 3BB blastocyst on day 5 so… I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It still means only 1 embryo to pin our hopes on.
On the job front, I’m about a million times more chilled. I’m working my notice period whereas this time last year I was working a really stressful job. Notice period is nice! Everyone’s nice to you and nobody expects much. It’s like you’re doing them a favour just turning up to work! I’m doing like a hundredth of the work I usually do because I can’t do certain stuff on my notice period (eg I can’t do client work as I might steal clients!). I’m actually fine with this pace of life!
I spoke with my new boss on the phone today as well. It was great. I mean, I could have it completely wrong but we totally clicked in interview and it makes me so psyched to work there. I’m sure it will be a challenge and stuff but it’s different to what I’m doing now, and it’s more aligned to the type of work I like doing, so I think at a minimum it will be nice just to do something different. Also I’m getting a pay rise! Finally breaking a target salary amount that I always wanted to break! So on a personal professional level it makes me feel like I’ve achieved something. It feels like a good opportunity and I guess if everything doesn’t work out with this cycle then at least I’ll feel I’ve got something else good going on in my job. I think the worst last year was the realisation I was going to have to stick out my current job instead of going on maternity leave. (We haven’t even thought in detail about maternity leave as I probably wouldn’t be eligible for a lot, given my start date at the new job – but really I don’t care at this point and we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Right now I’m happy to give T most of the leave and he would be happy to take it – whatever it takes! We would be so happy to have a live baby.)
There isn’t much news with the new house but it’s still trundling along. We are trying! In the UK it seems to be a dark art. We are waiting on lawyers to sort stuff out. Really we are ready to move quickly once contracts are exchanged. I really want this to happen this month so it’s not happening when I’m starting my new job. Here’s hoping.
So right now we’re just waiting… on everything.