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.
Dani speaks the truth…
Have you heard Alessia Cara’s song ‘Here’? If you haven’t heard it yet, you probably haven’t switched on the radio in a while. You can check out her video below. As Alessia’s song has been on the radio a lot recently, for some reason, every time I hear it I sing along with some different […]
Or: We all have our things.
We’ve all been there. Some of us more than others. And it strikes me yet again today that we have more in common with each other than we think.
Yesterday I did my usual logon to Amazon to send a new baby gift package to friends. This is something I’ve done so many times that I can do it in my sleep. I pretty much have a list of new baby presents that I send to people in varying quantities depending on how friendly we are.
(For info, my top gifts are: a funky babygro, Tomy’s Starlight Dreamshow – it projects lights onto the ceiling and plays a lullaby, and a Doudou et Compagnie “doudou” which is a little animal holding a comforter. Fun fact: I have one of the top rated lists on Amazon for what to buy your friends who have babies. I started this back in the early 2000s… Another fun fact: Amazon tells you the last time you bought something – I last bought the doudou at the end of August. FML.)
And I try and be positive, I really do. And most of the time I succeed in doing this stuff on autopilot and not really letting it hurt me. I just log on, click “buy” and send it whilst barely breaking a sweat. If you looked at my card statement you’d be forgiven for thinking I have a very pampered baby. (I always get fun rather than functional gifts because they can buy the nappy bin / bottle warmer / breast pump themselves! Plus I get credit as cool auntie/friend rather than chapped nipple facilitator.)
But sometimes I get to daydreaming about what I’d buy if it were my own baby I was expecting…
I know exactly what buggy I’d get. (Although this has recently been challenged by a new one I saw whilst walking around town.) I already know what my future baby’s favourite toy would be. (Although they do always make their own mind up and knowing T and me, would probably imprint on a stinky shoe or something.) I know what kind of clothes he or she’d wear. (Stripes and marine theme and animals if he’s a boy; smocked dresses and bloomers and animals if she’s a girl… None of this gender fluid stuff for our kid! Apart from animals!) I would carry him in a sling and I would buy her so many toys she wouldn’t know what to do with them. (I don’t care if they’re spoiled! Our baby would be the spoiltest child in the world!)
But… But… I may never have him or her. We are early on our infertility journey (one IVF that initially worked but ended in miscarriage at 9 weeks) and yet we are so far (I’m coming up for late 30s and I’d never prior to IVF ever gotten pregnant, despite ostensibly having many opportunities).
I scour the blogs and try and figure out if there’s anyone like me. There are so many of us out there who are going through one thing or another. We are a sisterhood of non-motherhood. I have sparks of recognition when I see someone in her late 30s who’s still doing this, and I have hope when I find someone whose IVF has worked second time after a first failure. And I feel a tiny bit of entirely selfish and unjustified despair when someone I “know” has their struggle ended by a successful cycle (or even “worse”, an unexpected spontaneous pregnancy).
And this is selfish of me. I want people’s struggle with infertility to end. I want to know that there is hope for all of us. I really do.
But a part of me says: When can it be my turn?
In years, it has been almost 20 since I first began being “active” (at a relatively late age… Later than all my friends!). I used protection in the beginning like everyone else did – but I was also quite laid back about the possibility of having a baby, or perhaps I secretly wanted one. A few years later when I was in long term relationships I pretty much dispensed with it. In my very long term relationship I had various fertility related problems so was told I’d likely have trouble conceiving, so even the times I could in theory have conceived – nothing ever happened. I never had a pregnancy scare. I never saw blue lines on a test. When I met T, I was mid 30s and we didn’t use anything – we tried straight away. So in total I had around 12 years of “not not trying” and 3 of actively trying. By any stats I should have had at least one pregnancy that “worked”. But before IVF, I never did.
And here’s the thing: I can go through life and I can do my sleepwalking-Amazon-buying and I can even get super excited for other people and throw them baby showers and talk about baby names and things. I can do all that because I’ve always been the person who didn’t have a baby. Who – according to many of my friends’ assumptions – didn’t want a baby.
And today… A Facebook acquaintance of mine (friend-of-a-friend) posted that she really hated her job. She cried in the toilets because it was so horrible. This is someone who gets to do super-glamorous stuff, meeting celebrities and living the high life – and she’s telling us, boring nerds who sit in offices, that she hates her glamorous life and wishes she didn’t have to go to this outwardly awesome job. It made me stop and think, because I often look at her life and think it must be really fantastic. It obviously isn’t, if she’s in the toilets crying. (I’ve had my times of crying about my job, but I tend to go home and do it!)
It reminded me of my post a while back where I realised that the grass isn’t always greener – that we all have our things, and even if other people’s lives look fantastic, we all have our struggles. Even people with these amazing looking lives have their own private sadnesses. That friend-of-a-friend said (when I said “But your life looks so amazing!”) that it looks good on social media but she cries in the toilets. There is a distinction between what we envy in others and the reality of their lives. For all those women who finally have their long-awaited baby: there’s sleep deprivation and the impact on their relationships, and the fear that there’s a tiny human for whom they now have a lifelong responsibility!
And I realised that we can’t be Pollyanna every day – it’s perfectly normal to feel a sense of malaise about life now and again, and we the infertile have to deal with being the “have nots” every day that we struggle with infertility and loss. It would be weird if we didn’t feel that loss now and again. So I’m not going to beat myself up when I feel those pangs of loss or if I can’t bring myself to visit the baby who’s just been born, at a time when I’d be almost 5 months pregnant if I hadn’t lost our baby. And maybe it will be even harder to see my new niece when she’s born in a few months. I don’t know. I’ve always had to deal with being the aunt and not the mum. Maybe I’ll just take it in my stride.
Sometimes I want to scream at the universe.
I’m not always sweetness and light. (I’m not even, if you met me IRL off here!) I am only human and sometimes I want to rail at the injustice of it all. I want to scream that it’s unfair that I could have been an unwanted baby and yet I struggle to get pregnant in the same way that my first mother struggled against it. I want to shout at people who always had it easy, who don’t know the meaning of white privilege or what it feels like to be Other, who have never struggled for acceptance or tried to make their way in a world where they’re always seen as not quite belonging. I see how some adoptees are angry about their circumstances and I think in many cases it’s justified, because there is something unjust about a world where there is such suffering and where people voluntarily end their babies’ lives before birth, or pass them to other lives where they have very different lives to the ones they might have had.
But that’s not the way I am. I think all of these things inside my head, for milliseconds at a time, and I push them back down and try as hard as I can never to let them take over, and not to let them rise to the surface and make me into a bitter person. I’ve had some crappy things happen to me in my life – some really brutal things – and for a while I was that bitter person who hated life. But with age comes acceptance and understanding (possibly! got a bit of a way to go!) and I decided a while ago that I didn’t want to live my life that way. In a life where many defining things are out of my control (my adoption as a baby, my infertility, my race being different to the norm where I live, my gender being one with less equality) I choose to focus on the things that I can control.
I can control the way I look at things – which controls my moods, up to a point. I can be kind to myself. I can understand that, yeah, you’ve been through some bad times in the past, but things are pretty good now. I can focus on the good things that I’m grateful for: health, love, Dog, a job that may not be full of fun but pays me enough to live – and enough to go and find the fun in the world.
I can see those feelings coming towards me like missiles:
She’s pregnant really easily and you can’t even get pregnant without IVF.
He progressed quickly up the ranks even though he’s not as good as you.
They have three children and they’re still not grateful.
…and I can bat them right back.
As my (ever wise) dad often says:
Life is unfair.
There’s no point worrying about things you can’t change.
Things can change in an instant.
To which I add my own personal favourite:
Everything will be okay in the end.
If it’s not okay… it’s not the end.
I kind of think that we have to accept that life ebbs and flows. Terrible things happen and we have to roll with the punches, and it can feel like the universe is against us – when really all it is, is terrible luck. I don’t believe that there’s some malevolent god punishing us for anything. And I don’t believe in karma, not in the mystical sense. I do believe that in a scientific sense, you get back largely what you put out. If you go around being a horrible person, someone’s going to be horrible right back to you the first chance they get. And if you try generally to be nice, people can recognise that, and people mostly appreciate that, and they’re more likely to help you if they can.
I don’t know what I’m saying today really. It’s just a stream of consciousness – and that stream is this: We are okay. We are good. It’s okay to be sad or angry some of the time, but I’m going to focus on happy because it’s much more enjoyable. 🙂
(Or: Going with the Flo)
And here it is.
I don’t know how I thought I would feel when I got my period – the first period after my very first pregnancy and my very first miscarriage. (I refuse even after all this time to call it “Aunt Flo(w)” as I don’t believe in calling such a ****ing horrendous thing by the name of some benevolent female relation – so sue me!) It felt like it was coming yesterday, and it happened overnight. I feel sort of resigned. Sort of morose.
I’ve just looked up the dates. I started this journey back in April. I was so optimistic then! My Day 1 on the IVF journey was April 15, and my last period ended on April 25. My (IVF) pregnancy was confirmed at the beginning of July and lost a few short weeks later. It’s now August 13, almost four months since we started on our IVF journey and around 15 years since I first could have considered having a child. A lot has happened in that time and the time before. I finally joined the blogging community. I finally put a name to that loss – infertility; not just not-being-a-parent – and we suffered a new loss, of our much wanted baby.
How do I feel?
In some ways I feel mildly depressed. I don’t think I have anything like full on clinical depression, so I definitely wouldn’t want to overplay it. I think I have a right to feel disappointed, grieving and angry at times. It’s a natural reaction. For me it’s more of a low level background noise, with the loss always there in the back of my mind, whereas my days are generally a net happy result. I have my amazing partner T and I have my superdog and I have a job which I don’t love, but which pays the bills in the way that I don’t have to worry about it too much. I’m in a way better place than I was a few years ago, in my Other Life.
It’s probably the hormones and the nasty shock of my body having to get used to a period after a brief hiatus of not having them for a while. I have horrific periods, but I’m happy to report that whilst they bear no resemblance to my friends’ stories of periods (I seem to lose a lot of blood, and I’ve had operations for endometriosis, and I have a fibroid, and I’ve been given drugs to make them lighter and less painful with no discernable effect), they are nothing like a miscarriage. And for that I’m grateful, because I don’t know how I’d cope if it happened again. But we will try, of course.
I think I feel emotionally tired because we have to put our hope on hold for a while. Whilst I know there’s no real reason why we’d ever get pregnant naturally, because it’s been 15 years and I had no sniff of a pregnancy until IVF, I always had this hope in the back of my mind that it could happen naturally. Because it happened for my parents after 15 years, miraculously. Because I’m now with someone who actually wants to make a baby. But they found a fibroid during the confirmation scans for my miscarriage, and it’s right smack bang in the middle of my uterus, so really it needs to get sorted out before we can start again.
The appointment with the gynaecologist isn’t until October, which seems so long away when this was identified in July. I know it’s not life threatening so I should expect a wait, but it’s hard to be optimistic when I know I won’t get an operation to remove the fibroid until October at the earliest (and probably later once I get on an op waiting list). And after that I’ll have to heal, and we will have to wait until our turn comes round for IVF cycle #2 which could be at least six months, and our hospital (where the fertility clinic is) has completely shut down comms, so I have no idea what to expect. It’s disappointing.
Just the waiting.
We are all in the infertility community used to it. So many stories of waiting, and hoping, and some of them have happy endings and some don’t. And meanwhile, other people’s happinesses are hard to bear. By which I mean: other people’s fertility, the representation of everything I/we don’t have.
Today: another bump post of a pretty much ex-friend looking more glamorous with a 28 week bump than I do even without a bump. I’m dumpy, 15kg over my old weight, confidence hugely knocked. The one thing I used to have over Them was that I could turn men’s heads (for in my experience, there’s nothing more appealing to sleazy men in the city than an emotionally screwed up borderline eating disorder). Why do I even care? I don’t know… I don’t need other men’s approval. It’s just I’m realising that I can’t even be a vixen if I can’t be a mother. (I told you I was feeling sorry for myself.)
And elsewhere on social media: a post been going round for a while about tattoos of semi-colons; they’re meant to represent that a story isn’t finished, which people have used to represent all sorts of persistence through loss (such as fighting depression). As opposed to a full stop (“period” in US) which represents the end of something.
And I guess that’s what my period is.
It’s the end of our chapter, of our first IVF, of my first pregnancy, of my baby so lovingly if medically conceived, of our first loss.
But not the end of our story…
T kisses me and tells me he loves me every day. If he could, he would take my broken heart and hold it in his hands and squish it whole again. He’s a good man. I’ll always be happy for having him, and for enabling me to have Dog (who I’d probably never have adopted on my own), for our little family with its ghost baby who we may or may never meet.
I really am okay.
My blog is cathartic so you get the best and worst of me… and periods bring out the worst, so don’t be alarmed. If you met me today in real life I would smile. I’d be fun. You’d think, she’s fine. I was hugely flattered the other day when a couple of girls from work asked me to join them for a drink. (I hadn’t been out with them before… The nature of my work means it takes ages to get to the going out friends stage as we rarely work with the same people.) We drank bubbly and chatted, and I realised that I was okay. The thought of going into the dating game (as they were) makes my stomach turn. I’m happy to have found my prince-who-isn’t-a-prince. If my worst problem is not my health, or having enough money to live without putting myself in danger – I’m better off than the majority of people in the world.
And so I persist. We keep calm and we carry on. It’s the only way. And tomorrow (or in approximately 5 days) I will feel much better.
An update on where we’re up to on our IVF journey
I’m back at work after they confirmed that the miscarriage completed. In fact it did take pretty much most of the two weeks to complete. (The more horrible two week wait, as I’ve christened it.) I learned a lot about miscarriage that I never wanted to know. I told some people and dealt with the universally sympathetic reactions and the usual platitudes. I grabbed happiness where I could. I generally feel pretty good in myself… Like someone who’s come through something difficult and sad, but I feel like I’ve been through the worst and it’s got to get better from here.
They confirmed in my final scan this week (yet another TV scan) that I have a significant fibroid right smack bang in the centre of my uterus. It’s something like 1.5cm across, so it’s larger than our little Pizza Baby was before we lost him. The nurse practitioner and the doctor at the Emergency Gynaecology Unit (EGU, where you have to go when you’re having a miscarriage) both said that they thought this would affect both the success rate of implantation (as it’s right in the middle of the womb) and the chances of developing a successful pregnancy.
We were kind of surprised that they hadn’t done anything about this beforehand. We are in the UK and treated on the NHS (National Health Service), which means that a lot of the time the treatment is not hugely diagnostic before the first cycle. I think the NHS is amazing and I am so grateful that we don’t have to pay for this. (NB We do pay indirectly through taxation, and we have to pay for prescriptions but this is nothing compared to other countries or going private.) Our NHS catchment area means we are eligible for 3 cycles before we’d have to go private. However it does seem that private clinics and overseas does more testing than we experienced – I guess this happens when the patient is directly paying for treatment, and I’m sure that they’ve worked out the optimal success rates for going straight to IVF.
We’re not sure how long the fibroid’s been hanging around for. In my previous op for endometriosis (my second version of this op which happened last year before we started IVF this year) it was mentioned that there was “something” that looked like a fibroid, but that it wasn’t in the womb lining and wouldn’t affect pregnancy and we should just go ahead with IVF. So I don’t know if this fibroid is the previous “something” that has grown, or if it was always there (as the endo op I had doesn’t look inside the uterus apparently), or if maybe it’s been there for years and years and affecting my many years of infertility. I can’t imagine that it has… but I’m not an ultrasound expert so I don’t know if I had it before. I certainly don’t remember having this big black blob in the middle of my uterus.
So the good news is – the nurse called me from the EGU and said that their doctor will see me within 6 weeks. I was mainly worried that we would not be able to go back on the waiting list for IVF (Cycle #2) until this has happened. Also the NHS waiting list for GP referral is 18 weeks, so I’m lucky that they can see me within 6. I am hoping that it is quite straightforward and gets resolved quite quickly and then we can get back to trying.
Some observations and feelings
I wanted to explain how I’m feeling right now because it is all part of the IVF experience, which I’m trying to document on this blog. And there are so many thoughts and feelings, and they change on a pretty much hourly basis!
Other people’s reactions: platitudes or downsizing your loss
The first thing I think that is very noticeable is how it feels when you tell someone about the miscarriage. I think people just don’t know what to say. They are universally sympathetic and offer condolences – this, selfishly, I feel is a great get out of jail free card for when I couldn’t face social occasions. Nobody’s going to force you to go to their birthday or come to their baby shower if you mention the M word.
However: the platitudes are hard to deal with. The most common in my experience have been “It happens really often” and “It was really early” and “I knew someone who had a miscarriage and they got pregnant afterwards and it was all fine”. The problem with these platitudes is that it feels like they’re diminishing your loss.
I really don’t care if you think “It wasn’t really a baby” – he was a long awaited baby for us*. We had been going through this process (TTC and then IVF) for years and months so we can’t “Just try again because it’s your best chance after a miscarriage and isn’t it great you now know you can get pregnant…”. We are not like those people who just got pregnant without trying. It took ages and ages and we have to process that loss, and it’s big. (*I don’t know what gender our baby was, but I use the pronoun because we thought of him as a person, a not-yet-born baby, not an it.)
I don’t think people understand just how horrific a miscarriage is – in my experience it was not like a heavy period. It was contractions and pain and bleeding and passing a very small dead baby and clots, unpredictably, over two weeks. I don’t have periods like that. I fully understand that a lot of people don’t have direct experience of miscarriage so can’t be expected to know that – I didn’t beforehand. But it definitely has felt to me that people have thought it was somehow easier to deal with because it was “early”.
I also think this not talking about pregnancy for 12 weeks is weird. I still wouldn’t, because it would be difficult for me at work, but I find this culture of not talking about pregnancy/miscarriage is so strange when you are going through one of the most significant experiences of your life. And you’re just expected to move on and forget about it afterwards.
How it affects me vs how it affects my partner
I have really noticed that we manifest our feelings in different ways. T is naturally a very positive person. He is pretty much the best man in the world, and he is considerate and kind. He is also an optimist and and action planner. I am a bit of a loose cannon, direct but up and down and all over the place emotional, and I had a physical attachment to the baby that he didn’t have, and a painful physical experience that he didn’t experience. When I was in pain, he looked after me and was sympathetic. He held me when I cried. (I rarely cry and only cried once but got all kind of snotty and hysterical – before it happened, before the final scan of doom – after the ambiguous “Come back in a week” scan.) But at times I’ve just felt that it didn’t affect him very much.
From T’s point of view the miscarriage was confirmed and then had to happen, but now it’s over, he’s all about trying again! And he looks at it like we were an outside bet from the get go, and he just sees this as one opportunity loss from a larger set of opportunities – his optimism means he thinks we just need to move on to the next opportunity. From one point of view this is nice because I am good when I’m chivvied not to wallow. It is also nice just to be a couple, and he is being great about making me feel wanted physically – at a time when my body confidence (weight gain through IVF and pregnancy) is at an all time low. During the uncertain time of possible pregnancy loss and IVF side effects, I just wasn’t in the mood – but now it’s like he just wants to go for it because he thinks in his optimistic T way that we might be able to conceive naturally. Plus it just means we can enjoy what we like about being a couple, a physical closeness and just having fun without worrying about all the IVF and TTC stress.
I’ve talked about feeling sad a lot and T has tried to cheer me up. He’s cooked for me and he’s been nurturing and nice and given me lots of cuddles. He’s also left me to wallow when I was at home off work and just wanted to sit on the sofa all day and eat rubbish. So I’m not complaining – I’ve just noticed we’ve reacted differently. I feel like I think about what happened pretty much constantly and I feel like T thinks about it once in a while. He’s looking forward more and encouraging me to do that. I’m okay with it; we just both have understandably different experiences, even though it was a shared experience. If that makes sense!
Anger/frustration at failure/loss compared to others
I’ve found myself in the past couple of weeks feeling a sort of insane jealousy-anger-frustration-madness whenever I see pregnant women. I see them all the time. It’s summer in London; it’s hot and pregnant people appear to be omnipresent. It’s like I see their gigantic baby bumps and I just have a millisecond of wanting to scream it’s not fair!! I feel like I’m a failure – I’m bloody late 30s and I have never managed to sustain a successful pregnancy. Yeah, I eventually got pregnant but where did that get me? Nowhere!
I’m jealous of their buggies. I see them and I look at what make it is and I mentally compare it with the one that I was going to get, that I’d already picked out in my head. I see them smoking whilst pushing the pram and I want to knock them out. (All these emotions last like less than a second. It’s like this sudden flash of anger-pain-resentment and then it’s gone. Please be assured I would never act on these thoughts. The best way I can describe them is like that millisecond thought you have when you’re standing somewhere high and you wonder what it would be like to just let yourself fall. Or is that just me?)
I had to sit in the EGU on several occasions whilst pregnant women waddled past or sat there waiting with their toddlers running around screaming and I want to scream too.
I’m sure these feelings will pass. But I really found myself having them a lot lately.
My sibling (who already has a young child, the first grandchild) has passed his Golden Child baton to his child. The grandparents were overjoyed when grandchild #1 was born and I found it very difficult as I was going through my marriage breakdown and infertility problems (ops etc) within the context of that. I also had compex feelings about having been adopted and my insecurities around that when I would go to the family home for family gatherings. I found it hard to react well; although I did make the effort, we didn’t see each other that much as I was going through the separation and moving out, and I tried to avoid those situations. It also caused lots of arguments with the family and my relationship which were probably more driven by me and my inability to deal with the situation and emotions it was throwing up for me.
Fast forward to now, and our relationship is much improved within the family, and we all dote on the little one. Then they announced earlier this year that they were expecting #2. I felt the old feelings return, but things have changed for me – I’m in a different, great relationship and we knew we were on course to do IVF. I started having fantasies that I’d be able to bond with SIL when she was on her maternity leave as when I found out that the cycle had worked, it would have meant that our maternity leave overlapped. As we know now, that didn’t happen.
I think I always felt resentment that things came so easy for them. That stuff was simple. And that nobody acknowledged my pain. But I never really stopped to think that they couldn’t have known. I didn’t discuss infertility with them. My folks had an inkling but my sib is not that thoughtful at the best of times. When the miscarriage happened, I couldn’t face telling them so I asked my parents to tell them. They did… and the level of support and outpouring of love I received from them was amazing. They all sent loving messages. My parents told me that when they told my brother over Skype, he started crying. My tough brother. It showed me that they did care after all. We are a British, stiff upper lip, “get on with it you wuss” family and yet they all showed me they cared. My pain was their loss too. My brother who cried lost a nephew or niece. And of course my parents understood the pain of infertility because they adopted some of their children when they thought they couldn’t have any naturally.
I don’t know how I will cope seeing my heavily pregnant SIL, which I’ll have to do in the next few days as we have a family event. I am the sort of person who finds it most hard to deal with sympathy – and I know they’ll be sympathetic. I suppose I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.
Re-entering the social scene
When we were going through IVF, I just dropped out of the social scene. I’m very social (some might say borderline alcoholic – joke) and so I didn’t want to have to answer questions about not drinking. In my circle of friends, if someone makes an excuse not to drink then everyone starts going “wooooooo she must be pregnant!” – I didn’t want to have to deal with that. I missed a lot of socials. People started asking why I was so busy all the time. (I was at work, too.)
I’ve told a few friends what happened – very few. And they’ll help me re-enter the scene. I went to one party before the miscarriage started, because I’d been commissioned to make the cake. But it’s a slow process to get back out there. I half feel like I don’t want to yet. I’m doing one or two things with my BFF. I’ll gradually ramp it up again. I guess it just takes time.
Trying again and complications
So for us, the next steps are that we will be waiting until the next time… and before that, the operation… and in the meantime, we get back to our normal lives and we just – get on with it.
It’s a very British way to be. Stoic. Uncowed in the face of adversity. And I’m really quite okay in many aspects of my life… I sort of stop myself and pull myself up now and again, and I tell myself that I’m very lucky to have the life I have. It has its little complications but I’m lucky and fortunate. I live in a developed country and my government gives me the opportunity to try and address my fertility issues without incurring huge personal debt or having to raise large sums of money to make it happen. I have at least two more chances (for IVF cycles) and could then probably go private if we wanted to.
And apart from that – gosh, my life is pretty cushy apart from that. Apart from the fact that our baby died, and apart from the fact that I’ve had infertility for as long as I’ve been potentially able to have a child, I have a roof over my head, a job, my health, a relationship I treasure and a dog that’s the best dog in the world and a loving family – none of which I had when I was born into deprivation on the other side of the world. Bloody hell. I’m doing okay. I remind myself of this daily – when I have those flashes of anger, when I have those suckerpunches of pain.
I will be fine.
I am lucky.
I am okay.
Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.
(*My favourite quote)
Live laugh love.
What’s weird for me is that I feel like I’m back to normal life, but I’ve been irrevocably changed. It’s like I have this invisible costume that nobody can see. I sort of look the same, but I’m different. #IHadAMiscarriage
Just for continuity, I decided to replicate the not-so-Clearblue test this morning, as a control, because I like to think of myself as vaguely scientific and slightly
irrational, before informing the doctor. It was a lot clearer this time… I think this is a safe cross! Whoop whoop. This was at 04:30 this morning as I tend to wake up at various times during the night and need the loo. T of course was delighted to be woken up at that time with the good news!
I’m now feeling very worried about things as I’ve read up on chemical pregnancies and so on, and I’m not sure what to expect, and I want to know when we can be into the “safe” (ish) stage.
I know it probably sounds really pathetic but I’ve never been pregnant before and I don’t know what it should feel like. I don’t even know what to expect in terms of appointments, because I’m that kind of
pessimistic realistic person who wasn’t expecting anything to work. I mean, I’m hopeful obviously or we wouldn’t try doing it. But I didn’t want to get my hopes up only to have them dashed. So I haven’t even looked into what to expect. I had to look up the piece of paper they gave us after transfer and it says if we have a positive test then we go in for an early scan in 2-3 weeks. I’m guessing you can’t see anything at that time? We’re just supposed to email them and let them know the result of the test. And carry on using the Crinone gel… lovely. I’ve no idea what to expect though. I’ve never got this far before. I mean I’ve never even really suspected I’ve been pregnant before.
I read this stuff when people are upset because they haven’t gotten pregnant in a year, and I think mine has been at least 15 years… Perhaps I should have gotten upset sooner? Have I screwed up somehow? I just kind of always assumed it was a problem that couldn’t be fixed. (I’ve been lucky that it’s just very long term unexplained infertility and I’ve never lost a pregnancy – I’ve just never been pregnant.) Maybe this is why I don’t feel the same sort of grief as some people seem to on their blogs… I am not denigrating their experience at all; just trying to explain how I feel about it. Like to me all this is a nice bonus and not a life or death situation. I still would like to think that I could have a happy life without children, but whilst we’re in with a chance, I’ll give it my best shot.
I had a nice day off yesterday (Test Day! And again!). It was so nice to chill out and not have to do a load of stuff. Although I did do quite a lot! Went to the mall after all the drama over the pregnancy test. I ended up buying lots of them! (Thanks Arwen!) I have used the digital one which I posted yesterday, and the Clearblue cross one I used again today. I don’t think those ones are that great but it was good as a control and to see it had changed since yesterday. I also have the First Response ones which I’ll maybe use tomorrow(!) or something. I guess I should probably stop using one a day! It makes me feel a bit better that something might actually be there. I wonder how often you’re supposed to test?!
I also got some clothes, including some “sitting around the house” pants with anchors on* which I said to T were some additional pregnancy pants. To be fair, I do pretty much strip off when I get in, and put on something more comfortable. Usually some very baggy pants and a sweatshirt with pizza and hotdogs on it. (Cartoons of my favourite foods, not actual food… That would be a bit gross.) I just like to relax when I get in. Take the bra off! Seriously, those puppies are getting huge. I think it’s the Crinone gel which if I understand correctly is supposed to make your boobs bigger and some other stuff. Who knows. Either way I would rather not have these humunga-boobs. (I prefer not to know too much about what’s happening as then I don’t worry a load. But maybe I should look up something!)
(*I pretty much have 3 themes when it comes to clothes: Black – for work; nautical – for smart-ish casual; cartoon animals – for play. I’ve terrible dress sense. Let’s just agree that right now and be done with it.)
I’ve also had this weird metallic taste in my mouth. I don’t know if it’s actually metallic. Maybe it’s the folic acid I’ve been taking. I don’t know. It feels a bit weird. I’ve felt a bit sick but I’m not sure if that’s just some sort of wishful thinking pregnancy-symptom-sympathy or whether it’s an actual symptom. I don’t think it comes on this early. I also have a swollen stomach and generally feel periody, so I’m not sure if that’s a good sign or a bad sign either. I’m not trying to second guess symptoms too much, but I would really like not to start my period!
Anyway my pregnancy-ish mood* meant that I went and spent a load of money in the mall – my reason being that I don’t often get a day off and I generally feel like I should spend that with Dog and T, and not going around shopping. I don’t shop that often because I’m usually walking around the place with an excitable furry thing (and for some reason London isn’t very dog friendly – boo!). I had an unsuccessful attempt at ASOS last week – never again – well, not until I grow a foot. Every single thing I ordered was mega long! How I wish I was tall and willowy but I’m not. I think I’m probably better in shops where I can try stuff on. And realise “Gosh I am really no Angelina Jolie” and reach for the sweatpants.
(*This is my excuse for everything from now on. I had a bacon sandwich this morning and told T that it must be a craving rather than sheer greed.)
I ended up going to H&M and getting some lounge pants (the anchor ones above and some others which are probably a bit questionable! but you can’t have too many lounge pants!) and Uniqlo (made for short people like me) where I got a few dresses and skirts – useful stuff for work. It’s boring but it makes me feel better to have stuff I can wear to work rather than feeling I have to cycle round the same 3 dresses. I’ve put on a lot of weight over the last year or two (half of it is Happy Weight, and I was probably underweight to begin with through relationship breakdown etc) but half of it is probably just having a quite unhealthy working-late eating-late lifestyle. I would like to get away from that and be a bit healthier, but I love pizza! Pizza is magic.
Also ended up getting a new phone because my last one has carked it. (I don’t think this is a very interesting update really but I’m trying to demonstrate the breadth of my trip to the mall.) I went into a shop and bought a phone. How very grown up of me! The girl there had just started so was sooo happy to have sold a phone on her first day! It was very sweet. I decided to pay for the whole thing and go for a SIM only pay-as-you-go thing as it’s actually cheaper, although it seems nuts when you spend that much in one go. I’m literally (okay not literally) surgically attached to my phone. My current phone has decided not to play ball any more and it’s distressing. How am I supposed to live my life! Well I’ve finally managed to pay off some debts (T is a sensible type and thinks we should have no debts before having a bub, whereas I’m a spender) so I thought I have enough to pay for it. Anyway I got given a new number as I’ve switched networks. It looks like a really nice number! But I’ve had my number since 1999 and so I was weighing up whether to switch it or not. I’m thinking not. Although I do like the look of the new number. But if you’ve had something for 16 years, maybe you should just stick with it…
We had a nice date night swanky meal last night. It was at a funny restaurant at the top of a hotel and you can see out over London. I’ve been working so much lately that it was really nice just to go out on a date! Also I felt less guilty at leaving Dog at home as I’d been home with him a lot of the day. It was nice just to spend time together in a non IVF / sitting on the sofa watching DVDs setting! I suppose it was supposed to be a commiserations meal as I would have drunk loads of champagne if it had been a negative test yesterday. As it turned out, we decided not to drink, which made the bill a lot cheaper! Imagine if I have to spend 9 months not drinking!! Eek. I mean, I’m British… It’s what we do. I’ve found it okay not to drink so far but I haven’t been in a social situation where I’ll be expected to drink. T says just to take the glass and pretend to drink and nobody will notice. If we make it that far, I don’t want to tell anyone we’re pregnant until it’s a done deal, ie when I’m very very obviously pregnant, about 6 months! I wonder if we will make it.
It almost seems too easy… Like something has to go wrong now. We’ve been through all the IVF process and it seems almost unfathomable that we could be the 25-30% of couples it works for. There were 12 couples in our “intake” (like school! We all did the IVF orientation / info session on the same day) so that means out of all 12 there should be 2-3 couples who it worked for.
Could it be us?
It’s testing day!
You’d think this would be a good thing now the Two Week Wait is over. I barely slept last night as I kept waking up in between having dreams about negative pregnancy tests. (Yep, even my subconscious isn’t holding out much hope. I mean, that would be too easy, right?)
One thing I always do is get up during the night and go to the bathroom. A lot. So it was a bit unclear what “first thing in the morning” should be. I mean, should it be 2am? 4am? 6am? I settled for 6am as that’s the time I usually get up when I’m going to work. Well, that or earlier. Anyway, I did get up at other times too, so I don’t know if my wee was diluted or whatever. I’d also been drinking a shedload of water yesterday as I had the most horrific headache. Not sure if it was a migraine as I’m not sure what counts as one, but I had it all afternoon into the evening and I felt awful. I am the sort of person who’s a bit trigger happy on the old meds – I usually get a lot of headaches but take painkillers, which I obviously haven’t been doing, and also I’ve been sneezing a lot due to hayfever (and Dr Fit told me not to take antihistamines, so all round I’ve been a snotty headachey mess).
So… 6ish this morning, I wee on the stick and this is what happens…
Now, I know it’s not very interesting to see other people’s wee sticks but I’m being serious here… What is that supposed to mean? It could be wishful thinking on my part, but I’m pretty sure there is a faint line going across the minus line – it appeared pretty much straight away and I watched it for a few minutes and it stayed like that. I don’t know if I weed on it wrong (I don’t have much previous for this, sadly) and somehow muddied the waters with some sort of cross-weeing (I wouldn’t put it past myself to screw this up) but it isn’t entirely minus, as far as I can see.
Here’s another picture, then I promise I’ll stop:
Let’s just say that Clearblue pregnancy tests should be renamed to Not-so-Clearblue. What am I supposed to do with that?
I’ll tell you what I’m doing.
I have the day off. (So I can sit around and mope in the face of negative test.) T and I are off for a swanky dinner this evening, and apart from that I was planning on doing some baking and going to the mall. I don’t get to go shopping that much as I am usually at work and then when not at work I feel like I should be spending time with Dog. (And T, he he.) So today I’m spending time with Dog and will pop out to the shops and buy one of every pregnancy test they have going… and possibly some clothes. And I’m thinking of getting a new phone, because mine doesn’t really work any more – probably because it keeps getting full of random pictures of Dog and food. We shall see.
Anyway, I showed the test to T and he’s of the optimistic opinion that it is “probably positive” and therefore he’s banning me from drinking champagne at our swanky dinner tonight.
I keep looking at it and wondering whether I’m just one of those deluded women who has a negative test but doesn’t acknowledge that it’s negative…? I mean, I was expecting it to be negative so I’m a bit flummoxed by this whole idea that there’s a faint vertical line.
Obviously in this respect, Dr Google is a quack. All I’m getting from google is a load of hopefuls on mumsnet and whatnot with people saying “Oh it’s definitely positive” but with nobody coming back to say whether it actually was. #nothelpful
So… I’m going to wait and test again. And test some more. I’m supposed to email my doc today and tell them whether I’m pregnant or not. I’m thinking not, but I’m not entirely sure… AAGH. So I suppose I’ll wait a few days and see if it goes either way.
Please feel free to post helpful,
get-a-grip-of-yourself-woman! encouraging / other comments and let me know what you think, how you’re feeling today and any other exciting news! 🙂
I have an announcement to make…
It had to bloody happen, didn’t it? It’s summertime, which means hayfever season and EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD IS PREGNANT.
I’m not pregnant. I’m just… blobby. I’m actually turning into Jabba the Hutt. I’m not even going to dignify that with a picture, because it’s actually Jabba the Hutt with swollen breasts, greasy hair, skin breakouts and a load of stomach bruising which in combination is I’m not pregnant.
Anyway, so it turns out that all the weddings we attended in the last year resulted in an easy quick-as-you-like-it pregnancy. The first one – my extremely self-satisfied everything-comes-easy friend: pregnant on honeymoon. The second one: another honeymoon baby. And now, the ones who’ve been trying to “catch up” with us for a while (cue announcement – I mean, when does anyone make efforts to catch up otherwise?): ANOTHER BLOODY PREGNANCY.
I’m happy for them. I really am. Well… that and fuming. Because for every super-pleased-with-themselves friend who gets knocked up on honeymoon, there’s me:
Yes: during my long spell of infertility (= my life) I’ve actually managed to get into a long term relationship, cohabit, get engaged, get married, get separated, do a lot of silly things, get into another relationship, cohabit… and decide to try for a baby. That whole thing spans over a decade and doesn’t even count the decade before that where I was mainly growing up and trying to find out my way in life. And now we’re on the lovely not-at-all-guaranteed IVF journey and I’m feeling pretty sorry for myself. In a ranty way. (Btw this is just a vent. I’m always nice to pregnant friends. I even buy thoughtful gifts and feign an interest in their pregnancies when really I just want to scream it’s not fair!!!)
During just one year the number of babies that have popped out (on Facebook mainly) are enough to build my own little army of babies. (They wouldn’t do anything. So probably not that effective as an army.)
This is how I feel. It’s like everyone who even sneezes gets pregnant. Today’s announcement = the last straw. I even was invited to the meet up “catch up” but I knew there was likely going to be a pregnancy announcement so I avoided it. Typical. If only pregnancy were catching, I’d have about a hundred babies by now.
So here’s what I think…
I’m pretty new to the world of blogging, and even more so to this concept of “infertility blogging”*, and so far I’ve found it really interesting and enlightening – and comforting – to find that there is a whole community of people out there who are dealing with infertility. I’ve found it heartening to hear of success stories; I’ve empathised with those who’re dealing with horrible things, and I’ve generally found it to be a really supportive and lovely community.
(*Oh, the sadness in those words…)
I wanted to write down some thoughts about what seemed to be the sole topic of infertility bloggers over the weekend: Mother’s Day.
Because the thing is… I don’t hate Mother’s Day.
I know this seems really counter to what everyone else has been saying. I’m with you on the baby showers, the pregnancy talk, the need to share countless pictures of babies and bumps on social media (aaah, the bumps!)… I understand your pain with all that stuff, because I’ve been there too. I’ve avoided social gatherings where I’ll be the only one without a baby. (I’ve also been to them, because sometimes I just have to suck it up.) I’ve reacted well (throwing baby showers) and not-so-well (throwing tantrums) and I’ve generally been, y’know, human. Fallible.
But you see, I had a mother before I even thought about becoming a mother. In fact, I had two mothers. My birth mother and my mother. So to me, Mother’s Day has always been about her – my mother. (And somewhere in the back of my mind, my Other Mother.) For me it is a day of celebration and it’s not a day of mourning. I spent 30-odd years of my life without a baby (and I still don’t have one) and with a mother. My mother who’s been there for me my whole life and who I hope will stick around, however crazily at times(!), for many more years to come. I think I’ll always celebrate it whilst I have a mother, and I hope I’ll have the strength not to begrudge it when she isn’t around. (Who am I kidding, my whole family are going to live forever.)
And for the Other Mothers… I’ve even been fortunate enough to have an amazing mother-in-law (now my ex-MIL… life is complicated) who was part of my life for a really long time. And even though I no longer see her, I still think about her and love her. I hope she knows that I still love her. And I have a new almost-MIL who’s also lovely, who has welcomed me into the family. And I hope my birth mother knows that I think of her, too. I hope she is at peace with the idea of the grown up me, that I don’t blame her for giving me up as a baby, that I hope the life I lead honours that. I’m lucky because I’ve had not one mother, but many who have taken me under their wing and nurtured me… loved me. Even though I can be really annoying at times!
And to be fair, it wasn’t even Mother’s Day in the UK – it’s in March. So I didn’t have to “deal with” anything yesterday. But I didn’t have to in March either. I’ve not entered that club yet… I hope one day soon I can join them.
I’m not going to make Mother’s Day about mourning, but a celebration of my mothers’ (purposeful apostrophe placement) love for me, and my love for my mother(s). I’m lucky… I came from nothing in life, travelled halfway across the world, gained a family of a different colour(!), have had all sorts of opportunities in my life. I’m lucky. I’m healthy. I’m in a solid relationship that I am set on keeping hold of until one of us kicks the bucket. I have an awesome small furry being that likes nothing better than snuggling up next to me and licking my face. (Fortunately I don’t mind that bit!) I generally quite like my life, and a baby would add to that more than not having a baby subtracts from it.
My infertility does not define me.
Mother’s Day is not about me and my lack of being a mother. I’ve never been a mother. Maybe I never will. But I can say with some certainty that I’ll always be grateful to my first mother for giving me up in the hope of a better life. I’ll always be happy that my mother picked me (okay, I was next in the queue, but she picked the idea of me… and my dad did too).
And please understand me – this is only about my thoughts, and I don’t want to take away from people who have suffered far greater losses than I have. I haven’t ever been pregnant. I’ve never been a mother. And I don’t pretend to know how that feels… I can’t imagine that. This is just about how I feel, and no pronouncement or judgement on anyone else. We all deal with things in our own way and I think it’s safe to say there is no right or wrong. I would like to think that’s what makes us human.
Be kind to yourselves.
So – Mother’s Day. A day of celebration, not mourning. A day to be kind to yourself and let your loved ones be kind to you. A day for one half of my awesome parents to be celebrated and thanked. A day of flowers and cards and I know I’m all grown up now and I have my own life but I still need my mum. A day of gain; not loss. A day of considering my lovely T and how far he’s willing to go in helping me to become a mother, dreaming of us one day maybe becoming parents. Because that’s something to celebrate, not mourn. If it never happens, we can still look back and say we tried.
A day of choosing to be happy.
I choose happy.
It’s the only explanation.
So it’s day 28 by my rough count and this means I’ve been on the Gonal F pen injection for a week or so. I lose track. (I just do what they tell me to do and try not to think about the rest.)
What I noticed is that I only seem to get the bruising from the big pen thing and not from the down regulation injections (Buserelin for me). I’m still on a half dose of the Buserelin in the mornings, and aside from the faff of having to take 2 different needles and a syringe out of the packets, it’s pretty painless.
Whereas the big pen Gonal F is super easy (just whack on the needle, turn the dial to the dose and jab it in), it’s left me looking like I’ve done ten rounds in the ring with a tiny mouse. Or mice. I mean, I’ve taken a beating.
It doesn’t actually hurt that much but I’m not keen on the look of my stomach right now. That may be more to do with being a right fatty (I have put on a lot of weight due to not being miserable, haha). Vanity is a small price to pay though. I also feel quite bloated but I can’t tell whether that’s the drugs or eating too many burritos.
On the plus side, the side effects I was getting last week don’t seem to be as bad. I still have hayfever but Dr Fit (see Day 27’s post) said it’s probably best not to take anything, and who am I to challenge Dr Fit? Exactly.
So I’m just keeping on keeping on. If all goes according to plan, this means I have the potential final scan tomorrow to check that my womb lining and follicles are all hunky dory. If I manage to have 3 follicles up to 18 (mm, I assume it can’t be anything bigger than that!) it means egg harvesting would be Monday.
Quite honestly I’m looking forward to egg harvesting as I rather like sedation and it’s preferably to working an 18hr day! It comes to something when you’d rather be knocked out than go to work, huh.
But the way I look at it, that’s when the magic starts…