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Friday, September 29, 2006

Limbo

Pregnancy Loss is a very lonely spot. Parenting message boards do have a place for it, but it's not a very busy board. You can post your sad news, and then lots of people who've never lost a child will say how sorry they are, and plenty of people who had losses, but probably a long time ago, will offer support and words of wisdom. And that's it.

You're on your own after that, until you can start trying again. Nowhere to go during the dark days between loss and and the renewal of hope. For infertiles, that can be a long time.

The birth clubs are full of people going through the same experiences at the same time. The TTC boards also. Places full of support and empathy and understanding. Pregnancy Loss residents arive alone and leave alone soon after.

I've often seen it said on my preferred parenting message board, that people who've suffered a loss or can't conceive shouldn't be on a parenting board in the first place. Some of us already have children and participate in other areas of the board, but nobody in the world imagines in that first flush of excitement when they invest in the board, that they will end up in the Pregnancy Loss or Infertility sections. It takes a long time and many close friendships to get there. Should we just leave quietly now?

Maybe there should be a Limbo section, for people who just feel like shit, for whatever reason. Where we can rant and rave all day about how crap we feel. I want a message board like that. At least I have my blog.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

No, No, No

Oh God, my safety net is gone. No IUI for at least 2 cycles. For my own good. Can barely hold it together to type, more tears than the day of the scan. There is NO WAY I can get through the next two months with no hope of a pregnancy. NO WAY. Fuck all the positive things I said before, fuck fuck fuck. They were the words of a woman with hope.

How can it be for my own good??? The only thing keeping me going was the thought of another chance. The miscarriage didn't quite kill me emotionally, but no hope of a pregnancy before Christmas is sure to finish me off.

No man's land

And so it is.

The official period of mourning came to an end. Life began again, or at least picked up where it had left off. Friends stopped calling, colleagues resumed contact. Family members changed the subject. Time to start setting the alarm again, doing a weekly shop, going through the motions...

...drinking green tea, avoiding eye contact, smiling, avoiding the subject, temping, charting, HPTs and OPKs, Omega 3 oils, B complex, acupuncture, Tamoxifen, Gonal F, Orgalutran, Pregnyl and Cyclogest, sex, pineapple, scans, injections, counting the days, the hours, the minutes, hoping, praying, crying, crying, crying...

...but never forgetting.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Best boy in the world

Can I have a big round of applause for my wonderful, beautiful son? He has been such a tower of strength for me over the past two weeks. The day we found out the baby had died, he said to me "You're crying mummy, I'll make you better" and rubbed my face until I was "better". Whenever I've had cramps, he's rubbed my tummy, and he's a constant source of hugs and kisses. He knew the baby was coming (insisted he was getting a sister) but we didn't tell him about what happened (what difference does it make to a toddler whether the baby comes in 6 months or 12?). He asked me last week if my baby was sick. I can't remember saying or doing anything that would make him think that, but I suppose children notice everything that's going on whether we tell them or not. He still hasn't forgotten about the baby; the other day he made some space in his buggy and said "the baby can sit here". He's such a sweety, will make someone a wonderful big brother one day.

He's never been any trouble, latched on straight away, slept through the night from about 3 weeks, never made strange, no terrible twos, usually listens to reason. The only "problem" we've ever had with him is that he doesn't need very much sleep. And while this may be an irritation for us when we're still entertaining him at 11pm (please no advice, we've tried it all), it's probably something that will stand to him when he's older - the most productive people I know tend to be the ones that sleep the least.

We've both taken a few weeks off and have been having fun together every day. A definite upside of recent events. Some phone pics of our escapades:

Ice cream boyPicnicBlessington basin
DollymountKite chaserBeanie baby

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Can't you just say sorry?

Please, please, please, please, please don't tell me about your friend's cousin's aunt who had seven miscarriages and went on to have a child. In five miscarriages' time I will be too old and too skint to have a baby. I will also be hanging from a rope, not really conducive to a successful pregnancy. All your words tell me is that you haven't really been listening, or you haven't got a clue what I've been talking about, so you offer that little nugget of information in the hope that it will "cheer me up". It doesn't, it just depresses me further. And anyway, I want lots of babies - can you calculate my miscarriage per live birth expectancy and give me the final tally?

My peace has been disturbed by one solitary email.

Update: This post is in no way directed at any of the wonderful people that read this blog and have kept me going over the past year. Any stories you have told me or advice you have given me about people in similar situations has been a source of comfort and has given me the strength to keep going. And if I did get a comment that made me feel uncomfortable, I would reply to it straight away. I love you all xxxxx

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Small mercies

If I was having a hormone crash yesterday, no-one told my pee. I'm as pregnant as can be, test line as dark as the control line. Will somebody tell my body I'm not pregnant any more so we can get on with the business of ovulation and all that?

So I admit it, unless someone takes me outside and shakes some sense into me, we will be trying again asap. It will be no less than a miracle if we conceive straight away, but it won't be the end of the world if we don't, as our reward will be IUI twins the following cycle.

I don't know why (hormonal rollercoaster?), but I'm feeling more positive today. More positive than at any time this year, apart from when I was pregnant. The outlook is not bleak. We have found a "cure" for our infertility; it worked once and we hope that it will work again. The chances of having a 2007 baby are good, despite the increased likelyhood of recurrent miscarriage. And I will do anything to have a baby, so I'm not afraid of the risks.

When I think of all my buddies still trying month after month with no end in sight, I know that I am lucky. Ok, I don't actually have a baby, but I have great hope that I will be pregnant again soon, and that hope will get me up in the mornings - something that can be a daily struggle for those dealing with infertility.

Probably also the result of some hormonal opiate derivative rushing through my body in the wrong place at the wrong time, I no longer have "the fear". You know, every infertile's worst nightmare - other people's pregnancies and babies. The one thing that was guaranteed to turn me into a ranting, raving, wailing banshee now has little more effect than making me feel sad. No doubt it's just a temporary reprieve, but at the moment I just feel like this is our lot in life now, and other people's lives are separate.

It helps that a miscarriage is more real to people than infertility. Before we were just a couple who were having a few problems conceiving, nothing that a good holiday and a bit of relaxing couldn't fix, right? Now we are the couple who had to go through fertility treatment, only to have their second baby die.

We bury our baby tomorrow. I am looking forward to seeing the coffin and holding our baby in my arms, something I haven't been able to do yet. I am grateful for small mercies, and this is one of them.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Cry baby

Think I'm having a hormone crash today. At least I hope that's what it is.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The impossible dream

It's hard to explain how strong my desire for children has always been. By the age of about 10 I had it all worked out - 3 girls and 2 boys, this confirmed as fact by the needle and thread test. I made a pact with a similarly-minded friend in college - if neither of us ever met the right man, we would have babies (somehow) and live together and bring them up as a family. Every time I had a pregnancy scare I was secretly gutted when no 2nd line showed up.

I didn't meet DH until I was 30 and we didn't start going out until I was 31. He knew what he was letting himself in for - he remembers a pub conversation before we were together where I was spouting off about babies again; he thought to himself, "I'll give you babies". He was 28 when we started going out and joked that I couldn't hassle him until he was 30. Three months after that deadline I was pregnant with DS - it was our first attempt.

We thought it would be so easy after that. I was looking forward to trying again when DS turned one, but it was winter, we were getting married the following year, and we both wanted a summer wedding. I decided I could hold off until May at the latest (if we started trying in April we would have a baby by January for sure - a 2 year gap between children). In the run up to the wedding (a wonderful, special day) the thing I was most excited about was being pregnant again. In the months between December and May I started to become jealous of pregnancy announcements, as I felt it should have been my time. But my time would come very soon.

It did. No honeymoon baby for us, but only a 4 month wait. When I miscarried I thought, shit happens, just another couple of months to wait, a 2 and a half year gap isn't the end of the world. The rest is history, but where are we now?

During our period of infertility, there were times when I posted that I feared we may never have another child. I never really believed that and I still don't, although I know our odds have gone up. I am now 36 and looking at squeezing 3 or 4 children into the next 4 or 5 years. Can it be done? I am prepared to put my body through whatever it takes, I am prepared to let my career go down the toilet, and emotionally I know it's the only way I can keep going.

There is no way that our future does not contain more children, that is simply not an option for us.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Hello darkness my old friend

Some people may find this post upsetting, but I want to record everything that has happened on my last day with our baby.

After a sleepless night we went early to our obstetrician's clinic to have one last look at our baby. It's not that I held out any hope of a miracle, but I always said that if this happened I would want to be 100% sure. It's something I would advise only if, like me, you needed some extra reassurance. Our baby was definitely dead, I didn't need a technician to analyse it for me. The previous day s/he had looked like a perfect, fully grown baby, lying stretched out on his/her back, just sleeping. Yesterday s/he had shrivelled into a fetal position, arms and legs too short and oversized head. We got a picture, something I wish I'd asked for the previous day, but I don't think I'll be opening the envelope to look at it any time soon.

We went straight to the hospital and were checked into a private room, thank God. Valerie, our obstetrician went through the ERPC (Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception - a D&C for those that are still pregnant) procedure and reassured me about the anaesthetic - it was my first. She explained that tests would be carried out on the placenta and my tissue, but not on the baby unless I requested it. There is a 96% chance that at this late stage the problem was chromosomal and not indicative of any future problems - the 4% chance that it was infection can be assessed by testing the placenta and other tissue, and if a problem is found then I can be treated. Neither of us is interested in finding out what chromosomal problem our baby may have had, so we didn't take that any further.

Someone came to talk to us about burying our baby. We were warned that the baby may not come out in one piece (s/he didn't), but that she would organise the baby to be put in a coffin that we could pick up from the hospital (DH is afraid that curiosity will get the better of him and he will have to have a peek). There is a cemetery near us that has a communal plot for miscarriages and stillbirths, so we decided to go with that. She went through the admistrative procedures before dropping the financial bombshell - 500 quid to open the grave and more to have the baby's name engraved on a plaque (we are not choosing a name, it will just be Baby B). Doesn't anyone know how much we've spent already?!?!

Several people mentioned to us that although a miscarriage is a terrible ordeal, that we will get over it in time and then we can try again and before you know it we will have a baby. Not one to bite my tongue, I pointed out over and over again that we could try til the cows come home and it will almost certainly never result in a baby. If only miscarriage was always that fucking easy - you lose your baby, but hey, a couple of months later you get another one, and then you can tell everyone that it's ok because if you hadn't lost the first baby then you wouldn't get to have this one. A counsellor came to talk to us, and while she was very nice and easy to talk to, she didn't get this concept. She told me that I should contact the Miscarriage Association so I could talk to other people in my situation. I told her that I didn't want to do that as then I would have to watch these other people getting pregnant again and having their babies, and that that would be the worst thing I could do to myself. She told me that infertility must be hard too, but maybe I should try it anyway.

As I was waiting outside the theatre for the ERPC, saying goodbye to my baby and crying my eyes out (I realise I have been very factual in my last two posts, but I suppose I should point out that I haven't stopped crying since Tuesday morning), I had my only really negative experience in the hospital. A nurse sat down with me and told me she would look after me. She told me to remember that our baby's death was God's will and that it was part of God's plan for me. And guess what, if I pray really hard to God he will give me another baby. I told her we could pray all we liked but it wouldn't do any good as we can't conceive naturally. Well, do you know all I have to do? I can do IVF (thanks) and then I have to pray very hard to God and..........it will work! Maybe that's what all you ladies have been doing wrong. I was so angry that the first thing I thought of when I came round was to make sure I didn't have to deal with her again. I didn't, but I did mention it on my comments form before I checked out. Hospital got top marks in all other areas - I look forward to having a baby there someday.

We left last night. We tried to leave around 8pm but my temperature was too high. So we watched the match and tried again, and got home about 10pm. I had some cramping for an hour or so before I fell asleep, but no worse than bad period pains - almost gone this morning. I also bled quite a lot after the procedure, but it eased off fairly quickly and is very light now. I know everyone will tell me to take some time off to grieve, and I will, but I'm trying to think of today as CD2 as I need to have some sort of structure in my life.

To everyone (well, those of you who've managed to read this far!) who sent me messages here, emails, messages and PMs on MM, thank you. I read them all on my phone before I went to theatre, and while each and every one of them made me wail, they did make me feel better.

I know from last time that the first week is, in a way, the easiest as life is still focused on the baby and on our recovery. The hardest part of all is when everything gets back to "normal" and I will be pushed back out into the street to confront normal people, their pregnancies, their babies, and their fading memories of our baby. My greatest fear is not of another miscarriage, or even another prolonged period of infertility; it is of what will become of me in the coming months and years. I can handle the pain, but what about the bitterness, the resentment and the feeling of complete and utter brokenness and detachment that infertility brings? I need a hobby. Or a drink problem.

But I want to end on a positive note, for my baby's sake and for the sake of our future. Your support has made me feel special and cared for, and is the best thing that has come out of all of this. I know you won't forget us in the months to come, and maybe that is what will get us through.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

September 11th 2006

Our baby died last night. There was no heartbeat at a scan this morning. S/he measured 11w5d, there was some bleeding around the head and the placenta had become detached. The fact that the placenta had been attached means that we had actually reached that magic milestone, the "safe" stage.

I had some pains yesterday but put them down to stretching pains. Started bleeding at 6am, went for a scan at 9am. Was prepared but didn't really expect it. S/he looked so perfect, just sleeping, but I knew straight away. Have D&C tomorrow.

It's just one of those things, 1/1000 chance and nothing to do with our infertility. We've been told to wait for 2 cycles but I know that's not going to happen. Waiting for fertility clinic to call me back about next IUI, really hoping we can do it by November.

I always said I could handle another miscarriage and I can. (Although I don't feel comfortable calling it a miscarriage, the baby was waving to us less than a week ago.) I know how to handle it, I know only too well how to keep my head down and wait out the next month or so until we can start trying again. Same old same old. And I do appreciate the fact that we've been able to have a baby, even though it didn't last very long. I have been happier in the last few months than I had been since we started trying, so I know we've been lucky in a way.

I still have one more night with my baby, and even though its heart is not beating, it's still comforting to be together. It was one year to the day since our last baby died - September 11th 2005. Lucky I'm not superstitious.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

She's having a baby

The new baby takes after its brother - dancing mad! We saw it do two full-on Mexican waves yesterday, arms and legs. So that's it, I'm only 10w4d but I am having a baby.

I AM HAVING A BABY!!!

Sssshhhhh, don't tell anyone yet. Big scan is two weeks tomorrow at 12w5d and if all goes well I'll be shouting from the rooftops. Well, I'll probably be hinting embarrassedly at the possibility that I might be pregnant. I find it very hard to say it to people, did last time too. I don't like making a fuss and I certainly don't like putting people in a position where they feel obliged to make a fuss over me. Same way I don't like organising much for my birthday - don't like to force people into spending a fortune on dinner and drinks just because I say so. Wasn't even going to have a hen night for the same reason, but thankfully it was organised for me and we had a fab night - cocktails, sushi and a private karaoke room, how could we go wrong? Ha ha ha, two of my friends even paid our waiters to strip for us, which they did, halfheartedly. Apparently it went down in restaurant history and they've been slagged about it ever since (my friend knows the owner). It was all very tasteful, I swear, and I did not wear flashing willies on my head at any point in the night.

Hmmm, I digress. I don't like fuss. And this time round I'm even more aware that my good news may not be such great news for everyone. I am also getting ahead of myself, there is still a 2% miscarriage risk.

But a 98% chance of a baby!