Monday, September 16, 2013

Still Not Over It

I'm not very sure where I go from here, both in terms of this blog and in terms of my "recurrent miscarrier/subfertile" self.

I'm getting on with life and the initial grief over the last cycle not working has passed. That said, now that the journey is over - at least in terms of new treatments and new babies - I am becoming aware of what it has left behind.

I have an amazing son and I love him with all my heart. I love him in exactly the way I expected to love my child way back at the start of this journey, when I thought that I would have a child that was genetically mine in the old-fashioned way (involving my husband, a bed and myself, all in one room - not it different cities). I do not feel any grief over the fact that he did not result from my eggs - thankfully, I discovered that was a part of parenthood I didn't require. But I do feel grief about what a very long time it took us to get here, about the fact that I am an "older" parent when I was not planning it that way, about the losses along the way (although I do not feel those as the loss of children - personally, they were very early and I view them as the loss of pregnancies and possibilities) and about the other losses we suffered while pursuing parenthood (career progression, romance & intimacy, money, self-worth, friends, confidence in my body - the list goes on).

I think I'm a better person after all this - I am definitely stronger, I empathise more with others in their difficulties in life, I am less self-obsessed (though look at me, starting every paragraph with "I"). I also maintain that even if we hadn't had a child, I would be OK - not brilliant, but OK - and I am OK with one child.

I do get angry sometimes, though, when there seems to be an expectation that I will be more grateful for my very hard-won singleton than my friends should be with their easily achieved 2.4 kids. After all, I nearly had no children - so I must be very happy to have one. It's true that I do feel lucky to have him and grateful beyond words that I had the money and other resources to pursue treatment and to be living in a time when treatments are possible. I feel immensely grateful when I think of myself as part of the IF/Loss community - without entering the pain Olympics, I think we went through a lot, but I know that there are people out there dealing with worse and not getting the result we got - how could I possibly not acknowledge my luck here. But when those around me in real life, say things like "You must be so happy that it all worked out for you?!" or "You are very lucky to have him." when referring to my son, I feel angry. Because 7 years of trying, 6 losses, countless failed treatments, embarrassing procedures, tests and questions, the discovery of several chronic conditions along the way and a failed attempt to have a sibling doesn't strike me as very lucky. Lucky would be planning a child, trying for a couple of months, getting pregnant and having a baby, followed by something similar a couple of years later if you wanted more than one!

When reading other people's blogs, I find myself reading about women who are going through such a similar journey to mine (including a couple recently from the UK who have clearly been visiting the same clinics and specialists that I did) and I hear/see them saying the same things I did. I want to rescue them - I want to tell them not to get sucked in to treatments that cost huge amounts of money and are not backed up by good research. I want to tell them not to see donor eggs as a last resort. But that's not my job or my business - I had to go through that process and I would probably not have appreciated someone telling me I was on the wrong track (even someone who'd been there before). I am helping out as often as I can at our SANDS group for those with IF (sadly most have also had a miscarriage or a stillbirth as well - please tell me there's research that's trying to join those dots because it doesn't seem like a coincidence to me).

Anyway, here I am, not quite sure where to go.

Monday, June 17, 2013


Being the mum of a baby who resulted from DE brings some painful hits.

Several people - including my own husband, to his subsequent horror and shame - have referred to my son's donor as his "real mother". This week, a good, kind friend at work (who knows my situation) was talking to me about a plotline on a UK soap about gestational surrogacy, where the surrogate wants to keep the child. My friend said she thought is was awful, as the child was not genetically the surrogate's, "she just cooked it".

Like I said, "Ouch!".

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Done and Done

This cycle is over and so is our journey through infertility and loss.

I thought I'd be ok but then the nurse who took my blood this morning was nice to me and I've been trying not to cry all day. The final straw was the call to get the result I already knew. I had to give a presentation to the staff at my school after the kids went (I hadn't been able to rehearse it because last night, when I came in from the infertility support group I help out with, I got a migraine - hardly any wonder, really - stress at work, failed cycle and hormones - the perfect storm). So, the call had to wait.

Tonight, I want comfort food and wine. Tomorrow, I want to restart my anti-anx.iety medication. I want to be numb for a while. I don't want to think about those three embryos that could have been my son's brothers or sisters and the fact that, even if we did do more treatment (which we can't/won't) we can never have that donor and that genetic combination again. That breaks my heart - how could I not want more like him - more for him?

And if one more person tells me "it wasn't meant to be", I might say something unforgivable.

Of course, although the physical journey is over the emotional one is not - and we will always carry it with us. Everything feels fragile right now - I am terrified that we will lose our wee boy, which would be to lose everything. And I can't bear the thought that he might be lonely - if not now, then one day in the future.

I think I have some processing to do.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Familiar Feelings

I went to the shopping centre today and there seemed to be babies everywhere.

And Clea.rblue seem to be advertising pregnancy tests on TV a lot. On Thursday, I passed a couple and the guy was pushing a double pram - "That's not fair!" I thought, "They got two at one go!". Yup, all the sad, angry, bitter, jealous stuff I thought I'd ditched when I had my son has come back. In fact, some of it I thought I had ditched before he was conceived. They're subtly changed this time - babies and pregnant tummies are still triggers by themselves, but siblings are really hitting the jealousy button. I saw a couple in the supermarket today with a toddler and a very new baby in a sling - and to cap it all the guy was singing to the baby and his partner (wearing the sling) was doing a little dance! Do they not know I'm in a delicate place right now?!

I POAS yesterday afternoon - I was cleaning the bathroom and there are two tests in the cabinet, both almost two years out of date (no idea whether that stops them working or not) and the urge took me. Very negative. That was 6dp3dt, so I know it was obscenely early and, working backwards with the figures from my son's HCG levels, I don't think he would have shown up as a positive at that point. I got a level of 120 at 12dp3dt and working on the idea that it would at least halve (since it was more than doubling) every 48 hours working back, it would have been 15 at 6dp3dt. I think Cle.arblue registers positive at about 25. So, probably too early on an out of date stick but I still feel low about it - mainly because my gut tells me it's right (oh and, by the way, can you tell I'm thinking about this a lot?).

I got a pack of new ones today and will test again tomorrow. Most cycles when we were having some sort of treatment, this was my strategy: test early and when you get a negative, you're disappointed but you know there's a chance you're just too early, repeat daily till you lose all hope. I liked to think it let me down gently - there was certainly no way that I was entertaining the idea of success right up till the clinic called with the beta to shatter my dreams again.

As for all those horrible feelings, I will get past them. I had achieved a state of relative equilibrium even before my son was conceived. After his birth, I was unstoppable - I patted bumps, cuddled babies and burbled away about the joys of breastfeeding. And for a long time, I did not think there would be any children, never mind two of them and I was delighted with the one I got. For the first year or so, I didn't even think of the frozen embryos - and we actually talked about donating them on, till the clinic told us that was not allowed in this country. I think that the fact that half of the girls from my antenatal group have had baby no.2 and the other half are trying has something to do with it - and the fact that most of my friends have two (or three) kids. Briefly, I was "one of them" and now I feel different again and I don't like it. Some people do not view parents and one child as a family, I find. For some people, it has to be two parents and two children - nice and symmetrical. And we did, way back in our courting days, agree that we wanted two.

Of course, the biggest and best reason we wanted this to work is for our son. His best friend came round last night and the pair of them ran and played and climbed and giggled so much. It was quite a different atmosphere to when it is just the three of us. It made me feel sad. At one point they were in the bath together and my son was swinging his toy watering can and it hit his friend and I told him to be careful of his brother. I have no idea where that came from - except I suppose that I do - wishful thinking.

I will be ok again. The hormones will settle, I can take my anti-dep.ressant/ anti-an.xiety medication again and I can switch from the beta-bloc.kers that make me tired to more modern blood press.ure medication. Oh, and the ring pessary for the prolapse being too big and in the wrong place is probably not helping my mood right now (noone wants to go near it till they know whether I'm pregnant or not) - I could have the repair surgery and do much more than I can now. I can grieve what we have lost and get on with enjoying life with my wee boy - which he deserves.

I will be ok again.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

No More Second Chances

The other embryos did not survive the culturing on process. We didn't think they would but it's still sad. This cycle is bringing back a lot of negative "not fair" feelings I thought I had let go of when my son was born. I can only hope they'll fade with time.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Never Simple

So . . . I have a 7 cell day 3 embryo on board. 

Of the three we had to defrost, one was a no-hoper (lost 7 out of its 8 cells), one lost 5 out of its 9 cells and they'll culture it on but don't have much hope for it and the one that went back kept 7 out of 8 cells. So no choosing from three lovely day 5 blasts for me but a clear decision for a day 3 which takes some of the agonising out of it.

Feeling pretty miserable though as the bl**dy ring pessary I have for my prolapse had to come out for transfer and wouldn't go back in properly. Ended up at the hospital gynae ward but they couldn't sort it out fully and I've now got a bigger size of ring but it's still not sitting properly AND I'm terrified that all the pushing and shoving down there will have ruined any chance of this working :(. As post transfer techniques go, it's hardly ideal! Feel particularly miserable about the possibility of letting my son down by not giving him a sibling.

Test date is Fri 17th but I'll POAS  before then. The problem with the ring also has implications if I do get pregnant, as it suggests the prolapse has worsened. The only treatment for prolapse while you're pregnant is the ring pessary but it seems my muscle-tone is now so poor that it wont stay in place at all. So there may come a point where bedrest is the only alternative which would be disastrous with my clotting issues (need to remain relatively active). If anyone out there has any knowledge or experience of pregnancy with prolapse, I'd love to hear it - I can find almost nothing online

Ugh - just feel miserable. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Staring at Change

Our embryos come out of the freezer at about 9am tomorrow - our 10 year, one month journey may be over by lunchtime.

I thought that having nothing to transfer might be a relief - it won't be. Turns out I really do want this - for me and for my husband (in those naive, early days, we agreed we wanted two kids) and very, very much for my son. I have been panicking about the fact that maybe I waited too long, that I am not fit enough, that I am too fat, that the badly fitting ring pess.ary that's holding my prolapse in is interfering with the absorption of the Cyc.logest . . . you get the picture.

I am also preparing for grief. This all started with a first pregnancy that ended in a first miscarriage and I fought all the way from there to here. I didn't really stop to grieve because I was never very sure what I was grieving. The losses were early - I didn't feel like I had lost a baby, more that I had lost the possibility of motherhood this time. But six losses mount up. Six losses (all natural pregnancies, separate from treatments), failed rounds of, a failed IUI, two failed IVFs. Some interesting diagnoses along the way - high blood pressure, a clotting condition that affects others in my family. And then there's the lost friendships and the lost opportunities - the career chances I didn't take because we were focusing on treatment, the holidays we couldn't take because we were paying for treatment. A lot of stuff.

And I think that, mainly, I pushed it all down and deferred it - waiting for "the end" - the time when I would know what I was grieving. Was it going to be the losses I spoke of above or was it going to be the much bigger loss - was I going to be grieving the loss of motherhood?

I am one of the lucky ones - we have our son. And one thing I don't grieve is my genes. Happily, since he arrived, I have never felt the need to mourn the fact that he is not my genetic child. How could I? He is all I could ever have hoped for - I love him more than I thought it was possible to love anything.

But, as we get closer (maybe very close) to the end of our journey, I realise that there is grief there and I'm a bit scared of how it's going to come out. I also realise that infertility/miscarriage is always going to be part of our lives. Because our son is the result of donor eggs and we intend to be (are already being) honest about this with him, we are not going to be merging into the world of fertiles now that we have our son. No bad thing, I think. I want what I went through to count for something, to help someone other than me. I am already helping out with the infertility support group at our local SANDS and I would like to be involved with the Donor Conception Network - an organisation whose ideals I strongly agree with.

The name of my blog becomes very relevant again. For our embryos, for us, for my son, I need to hope for the best. But I'm not sure how prepared I am for the worst. We'll see . . .

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

This is . . . Different

I did my 2nd Cet.rotide shot in the kitchen today while the wee one ate dinner in his highchair - not how I remember the last cycle!

I'm also telling almost noone: immediate family, best friend, two closest friends in town and definitely not my work. I was always very honest about my treatment before but things have changed at work and I don't want any decisions to be made about what class I have next year based on the fact that I might get pregnant. Also, strangely, after 10 years of not minding, this time I feel more of a resentment that other folk get to do this the old-fashioned, private way while we have to involve a medical team and schedule it all around work. Thankfully, as I'm on a constructed cycle and with a clinic that works weekends, they can schedule transfer (should there be a transfer) for a weekend.

Bad news is that our babysitters are all away for the possible weekends. No way am I taking a toddler to the clinic - for his sake and for the sake of the other patients (just not fair!) - so my husband will drop me off & take the wee one out somewhere in the city our clinic is in and come back for me when it's done. Again, a little different from the last time when he came in and held my hand through it all. But I'm a big girl now and I am doing this cycle pretty much solo. Same will be true of high risk appointments if it works - because they're on the day CM is home with the wee one. That's fine though because its how you have to do it once you already have one child. And I just feel fantastically lucky to be in that position.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Here We Go Again!

I picked up the meds for our FET today. Gulp.

My period is due sometime this week. Transfer - if we have anything to transfer - will likely be in about 2 weeks time. We have three good embryos frozen, we will defrost all three, try to take them to day 5 and, if any of them get that far, transfer the best. If either or both of the others survive and look good enough, we will refreeze them in case this cycle doesn't work.

They may not survive the thaw. If they do, they may not survive to day 5. If they do, it may not implant (strictly single embryo transfer for this 44 year old, high-risk mum with post-birth prolapse!). If it does, it may still miscarry. Etc, etc, etc. I know what can go wrong - and I know that things can go wrong that you don't even think of.

My biggest fear is that I do get pregnant and one of us (or both) doesn't survive - but that is every mum's worst fear, isn't it? There are many others, involving health, money, stamina, work and family. The last time, I felt like I had nothing to lose - this time it feels like everything. I am happy, mostly. I am mummy to an amazing little boy - which is all I ever wanted. So why do this? I am risking it for him - to give him a sibling (a full sibling, as the embryos are from the same batch as him - although I am less and less convinced that this matters - family comes in many forms). And for them, the embryos. I am not a religious person but I cannot bring myself to sign a form and allow the embryos to "perish". They exist because of us and I feel like we owe them a chance.

I have no idea how I'm going to feel about either a BFN or a BFP. I imagine a BFN will leave me sad and disappointed but a little relieved - infertility and miscarriage has been a ten year journey and I am ready for it to be over. A BFP might be exciting but terrifying. Who knows?! Let's wait and see . . .

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Small Things

The friend I wrote about back in July of 2012 - the one who had been trying even longer than us and was finally pregnant - is in hospital being induced right now.

She went in on Saturday and, as of last night, had not had the baby yet. I'm jumping at every text alert, checking Facebook obsessively and wondering if today is the day she finally gets to hold her child. It's my dad's 77th birthday today and it's also my best friend's birthday so I reckon 6th March is a good day for this very welcome little one to arrive.

I'm thinking back to my own experience of childbirth and becoming a mum (so far, quite similar to hers) and how it took me a while to feel the joy of it. I kind of hinted at this to her - I wish someone had told me that it was normal to find the first few months so hard. Needless to say, I wondered if it was me, if I was too old, too late, whether it was the fact I'd used donor eggs. Actually, it just turned out I was really tired and slightly in shock. As time went by, I settled in to it all and one day found that it really was wonderful after all - extraordinarily hard work but wonderful too.

As the two years and two months have gone by since my son's birth, sometimes the big things have felt slightly flat. First Christmas - both of us ill and me in crisis with my work. First birthday - same holiday, same issues. First trip away - I slept in the bottom part of a bunk bed with him and my husband slept in another. First tooth - slightly eclipsed by the fact it was discovered during a hospital appointment that confirmed he had reflux and I'd not been aware of it. First crawl - while my husband and I were out and grandparents had him. First steps - missed those too.

What I'd like to tell my friend, I realise, is not to stress about these supposedly important events. In being a mother, it's actually the small stuff that counts: getting up at 3am to rock them back to sleep, finding the things they'll want to eat and are also good for them, that kind of thing.

And sometimes, it's the small stuff that knocks you sideways and reminds you that all of that waiting and hoping paid off.
Stepping on a piece of lego - you have toys on your floor!
Seeing little plates and cutlery with your own in the washing-up pile.
Finding that your Am.azon recommendations are full of picture books.
Hearing a wee voice calling for you as you wake in the morning.
It happened - you're a parent - at last.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

You, At Two

You are two years old today. I thought of my labour last night, as I wrapped your presents - long and difficult but with the best result I could ever have hoped for.

I have been terrible at keeping note of your milestones - getting our house built and going back to work full-time (not to mention looking after you) have not been conducive to record-keeping. Luckily, your Bumpa loves to take videos, there are soooooo many photos of you from my phone, your nursery home communication diary is full of information and your mummy has a reasonably good memory.

But today, I wanted to put down some stuff to keep - I want to look back and remember . . . 

You are hard work sometimes - you have really embraced the idea of the "terrible twos" and have simultaneously developed a terrible case of "only mummy will do". There are days I want to run out of the house, jump in the car and head for the nearest coffee shop to hide for a while. As soon as I got there, of course, I would want to get back to you as quickly as I could!

A year ago, you couldn't walk. Now you run, jump, dance, climb and spin. And, wow - you on your ride-ons! Daddy and I joke about handbrake turns and wonder if you'll scare us silly with your driving.

You love technology - you want to know how things work and you want to get your hands on every item of hardware daddy and I have. Paddy the iPad is your favourite - we still get a surprise when we hear your cousin's voice in the room when he's not here and realise that you've Sk.yped him. Your almost-favourite thing to do on any device, though, is still to watch videos of cows! This is second only to sitting on Bumpa's knee, watching the videos he has made of YOU! It's the best little mutual admiration society there is.

You are the biggest procrastinator in the house. You have turned putting things off into an art form. You will deny dirty nappies, swear blind that toothbrushing has happened when it hasn't, find important things to do when tea is ready and will say "hold on" numerous times, as you nip out of bed during your bedtime story to go and find another that you think we might be persuaded to read.

Speaking of which, books are are a big love of yours. Early in 2012, when you were quite poorly, you once lay on the couch with me from 9am to 2.30pm listening to stories - you just wanted to be read to. I was almost hoarse by the time you let me put the TV on for some respite! Luckily, mummy and daddy love books too and can usually be persuaded to read another (and another and another . . . ). We are so happy that you enjoy stories.

Your speech has come on amazingly in the last 6 months. You talk mostly in sentences now and we understand a lot - though not all - of what you tell us. Your first understandable word was "kangaroo" - this was before you really called daddy anything and WAY before you called mummy anything - which, by the way, was only about 4 months ago! 

You are very funny about our names. If you call us, you start off with "mummy" or "daddy", if you don't get a response you'll progress to "MUM" or "DAD" and if that fails, you shout our actual names. You also love to recite the names of your relatives, in their family groups and not forgetting any pets.

Your family is important to you - especially your big cousins, who you adore and who adore you in return. We are so lucky that they are coming to live round the corner - we'll have some fun! "Ganny" and "Bumpa" are very adequate replacements for mummy and daddy and you spent your first overnight with them at the end of December - Granny said it was the best night's sleep she's had in ages!

Sleep - ah, yes. There's still a mattress on your floor and only very recently have mummy and daddy slept in their own bed at the same time as each other. You still take a loooong time to go to sleep sometimes, with frequent chuckings out of the dee-dee (your dummy) and attempts to engage us in conversation. And you still go through phases of waking during the night or getting up at half-past stupid o'clock. But you are much better than you were.

You are not good at sharing and the words "no" and "mine" occasionally accompanied by snatching and hitting are frequently heard during playdates with your friend V (actually, I think the term is "frienemies"). But you are also incredibly empathetic - you notice if people have hurt themselves or are sad and you want to comfort them - I love this about you. The other day, I was feeling tired and rested my head on my hand and you looked at me and said "mummy sad" and gave me a cuddle!

Which reminds me - you give the best cuddles and lots of them. You went through a phase in the spring of cuddling all your little friends so tight it looked like you might suffocate them - but it started a trend at nursery ;-). You made your own best friend at nursery - your very own friend who you made before you were one year old and whom you love and are very loyal to. I'm sad that when you move to your new room at nursery this week, he won't be going too just yet.

Your smile is amazing. When you smile at me, everything is good. And it's not just me - I have lost count of the times people have stopped me while we're out and told me what a wonderful smile you have. One little old lady, whom you smiled at in the chemists, followed us to the traffic lights to get another and told me you had made her day! 

I love you more than I thought it was possible to love anyone or anything. When I tell you I love you more than life itself, I am not exaggerating. I still can't believe we finally made it - made YOU. You are worth every single moment of the time we waited for you. I am so proud of you.