Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Right Words

I went swimming with my mum this morning - a nice little Tuesday routine we've got into since I've been on maternity leave. On the way in, a woman said "hi" to me. At first, I didn't recognise her and looked behind me to see who she was really talking to, but there was noone there. So I turned back and she said "yes - I mean you".

It turned out that she was the mother of one of the children in the class of 6-year-olds I left in October. I hadn't taught them for long and I was meeting her out of context - and my brain has left work behind pretty thoroughly. I did remember her daughter, thankfully, and we chatted a bit about the class - they like their new teacher, but they like me more and she hopes they'll get me back when I return to work in the new school year (thank you!).

Talk turned to the pregnancy and the fact I'd stopped work so early. She had also stopped early when she was pregnant with her daughter - she was an older mother who had done IVF! "Me too", I said. She then went on to talk about her sister who had lost pregnancies and done IVF. "Me too", I said. We talked about how hard it is to keep trying when you've had so many disappointments and how easy it is to resent fertiles who appear to churn out kids with no effort or appreciation. She says she still feels that way sometimes, even though she has her little girl (no siblings - she decided to quit while she was ahead, a sentiment I understand very well).

I hadn't said anything about how I was feeling about imminent birth, but as we were about to go our separate ways she said, "Don't be scared. When I was getting close to birth, I was terrified the baby would die". I couldn't say anything at this point.

"But they want to live," she said. It's no guarantee - there are none of those in this business - but I needed to hear that.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Different Sad

For the last seven years, on the night of 4th December, I have gone to bed and lain for a bit thinking, "I should be clearing up from a 1st / 2nd / 3rd etc birthday party and where there is a room full of boxes there should be a baby's / toddler's / child's room". Most years I have cried bitterly, some years I have tried to shove the thoughts and feelings out of the way.

December 4th was the only due date we ever had for any of our 6 lost pregnancies. It was the first. After that, I put serious effort into not finding our or working out any others. This last Saturday (or thereabouts, since so few babies arrive on their due date), our first child would have been seven years old. I did think about it this year, but it felt different. For a start, that room that was full of boxes is now transformed into our bedroom but mainly, in about a month, we will (please God) be sharing that room with our baby.

The new life does not cancel out the ones we lost - it will never be OK that we went through that - but it does take away a lot of the pain. Since our losses were so early, I do not mourn an individual child in the way those who have lost babies later in pregnancy do, I mourn the loss of potential and the loss of a life we could have led as a family - and a whole load of other more hidden things that IF/loss does a number on (intimacy, confidence, friends, financial stability etc, etc). Finally, that potential and that life look like they might actually become real.

I have poked and prodded myself to see if my inability to have a genetically related child pains me much, and it really doesn't. In fact, as time goes by I a) feel so much that this child is mine in every important sense and b) think that not passing on some of my seriously dodgy genes is probably a very good thing - I mean, genetic clotting conditions, high blood pressure and all the other possibly inherited health issues are not something any child's going to thank me for.

So this year, on the night of 4th December, I still thought of that first baby and felt sad, but it was a different sad - a gentle, regretful sad, not a raw, stinging one. Next year, I will still remember, still feel sad, but I hope (I pray) that next year will be even more different in an even better way.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Roccie has nudged me into putting in a post - thank you!

The title refers to a nice little article I read on my iPh.one as I tried to relax over an eggn.og lat.te and toasted frui.tbread (guess where I had elevenses today?!). As if losing multiple pregnancies is not upsetting and scary enough, this article in the BBC news online today suggests that those of us who have had more than 3 miscarriages are at a 500% increased risk of having a heart attack in middle-age or after. Although they pussy-foot around a bit about causation, I'll eat my hat if clotting is not the link here. It seems on the evidence of this pregnancy that my main problem was bad eggs and that having a donor fixed that problem. BUT who's to say that, if I had done a donor cycle without aspi.rin (125mg) and Cle.xane (40mg), I wouldn't have lost this pregnancy too - possibly at a later stage, since my clotting condition (Fact.or V Lei.den) tends to be a 2nd/3rd trimester issue. I know at least three people who have been diagnosed with Hug.hes Syn.drome (Anti-phos.pholipid An.tibodies) through testing for recurrent miscarriage and more who have, like me, an additional unidentified clotting issue which was identified through a TEG (throm.bo-elast.ogram). I'm now off my aspirin so that it doesn't affect the baby or bleeding during labour, but I intend to get back on a low dose ASAP afterwards - it helps to control my migraines and I can only hope it might help to protect me from future heart problems.

I am still here and still pregnant - 35 weeks now. I am still anxious too, but things seem to be going well. In a way, I wish I didn't know the stories of several bloggers who lost their babies at term, during labour, or my own friend's story of how she lost her two week old baby girl to Group B Strep. These were avoidable losses and reminders that, however far I get past the time of my own losses, I could still lose my precious baby for some totally unrelated reason. In another way, I feel thankful to these girls, who have used their blogs to educate and inform so that hopefully others might push hospitals to check things they might otherwise have ignored. I spoke to the senior registrar who was taking the high-risk clinic last Friday about my anxieties and pessimism and she was lovely. She said that of course nobody had a crystal ball and nobody could promise me that nothing would go wrong, but these things were rare (though she and I both acknowledged that they still happened more often that they should). She also didn't belittle my fears, saying that with my history it wasn't at all surprising that I was anxious. She is referring me to the hospital's consultant midwife to talk about my fears about giving birth.

My various health issues are conspiring to make labour and birth even more scary and complicated. I saw the anaesthetist on Friday and she is very keen for me to have an early epidural, as they have the convenient side-effect of reducing blood pressure - convenient for me at least, since high BP is one of my issues. My BP is also labile - it goes up even further when I am stressed or in pain, which are givens while in natural labour, so it would help with that too (protecting my blood vessels from BP surges). BUT - I can't have an epidural if I've had my Cle.xane in the previous 12 hours because of the risk of bleeding - nor could I have a spinal if I needed a C-section. So, if I go into labour within the 12 hours after my Cle.xane dose (7.30 in the morning), it's a natural labour or a C-section with a general anaesthetic for me. AND, because of my sleep apnoea - if I have a general, I would then be at risk of stopping breathing during recovery and I'd have to spend time in the ordinary high dependency unit, not the maternity one, because the maternity one isn't set up to deal with apnoea patients, and I'd be separated from my wee boy. I also would not be allowed any heavy-duty op.iate pain-killers because they affect the breathing centres in the brain.

To me, then, the obvious thing seemed to be to schedule a C-section or an induction. That way, I would know when not to take my Cle.xane and everything would be more straightforward (barring disasters or early labour). But no - they explained that a C-section is not ideal (major operation, increased risk of clotting for me, restricted movement after birth etc) and nor is early induction (if my body and baby weren't ready to go, it could lead to slow, unproductive labour, a distressed baby and an emergency C-section). They really would like me to go into labour naturally, as they feel that is my best chance of a good labour and birth. The consultant assured me that most women manage to get the Cle.xane timing right and that most first labours have a long, slow first stage so, even if I had taken the blood thinners, there would be time for them to work through my system before I needed an epidural. Well, I don't know if labour runs in families but my mother was in labour for 12 hours in total with me and when my sister gave birth to my niece, she went from twinges to birth in an hour and a half!! I can only hope that they have other ways of controlling my blood pressure, should I follow my mum and sister!

I really must get round to writing the second half of my "Why Donor Eggs?" post. All I can say just now is that I cannot imagine being any more bonded to a baby than I am to this one. I love him completely already and feel so protective of him, regardless of genetics.