It's been almost two years since that first miscarriage. Not a minute has gone by that I haven't been gripped with panic at my sheer desperation to be pregnant again. I have been obsessed and depressed, hidden from view, sick to my stomach with pain and anxiety and stress.
Of course I put on a brave face for my boys, try to limit the effect on them. But is this it for me? Subsistence living, putting one foot in front of the other, one tear on top of another, getting through the day, doing it all over again and again and again?
Baby is gone. I'm heartbroken. I really, really loved this baby, could touch it, smell it, feel the letdown as I fed it.
I tried everything to hold on to my baby - Heparin, Prednisolone, progesterone, aspirin, high dose folic acid, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, visualisation, PMA, rest, relaxation, hoping, praying, begging, pleading. I visited our babies' grave and asked for guidance but couldn't help feeling that they might be wondering why this baby should get to live when they didn't.
All I can do now is pray for an early bleed so we can try again. Are you looking at me with pity? What chance does the infertile woman who's had five consecutive miscarriages have?? Why can't she just be grateful for what she's got??? What doesn't she just adopt????
When we started IVF, my doctor said to me "Brave women are generally rewarded". So we'll keep going.
It looks like I am pregnant again. I am very reluctant to say it after what happened the last two times but I am forever optimistic and don't want the event to go unmarked regardless of the outcome.
I got another pink line today. It's not strong enough for a photo but it is there and it is pink.
I am still wondering if it is just a dodgy batch of tests, or if some Internet cheapies are capable of picking up unpregnant levels of HCG. Remember, I went 13 cycles in 2005/06 without a shadow of a line and after that I only managed to conceive by IUI/IVF. And now, with an FSH level of 17, I have had natural pregnancies two cycles in a row. The odds of someone with my FSH level conceiving at all are 2%. So this is hard to believe. The dodgy test theory seems more plausible.
But then we did spend two years dealing with male factor. DH has been fixed since Christmas. Maybe his little fellas are finally getting their act together. And high FSH does not necessarily mean poor quality eggs, not at my youthful age anyway.
Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please god. And anyone else who has any sway. Please.
I'm watching the Arctic Monkeys at Glastonbury on TV. I feel happy. There is more to life.
I went to Glastonbury eight times between 1990 and 2002. It was an annual pilgrimage, no matter where in the world I was living. I was, still am, in love with the place. It has a magic that no other festival can match, no amount of commercialisation can displace. I always thought that I would bring my children there one day. We would rent a camper van, park in the family field, visit the circus, the theatre, picnic at the top of the hill watching Billy Bragg and Van Morrison, Glastonbury staples.
So why are the three of us not there this year? Same reason we're not anywhere - TTC. For almost two and a half years I have been a slave to the rhythm, never missing a beat, a cycle, an opportunity. No more.
I have already committed to a weekend away in August, ten days away in September. That means no IVF until October. Whatever.
Woohoo, Arctic Monkeys encore - I love Glastonbury!
Monday 11th: HCG trigger shot, 5000iu Wednesday 13th: ovulation Tuesday 19th, 6dpo: very, very faint line on HPT Wednesday, 7dpo: very, very faint line on HPT Thursday 21st, 8dpo: slightly stronger line Friday 22nd, 9dpo: fainter line, about the same as Tues and Wed
Feel like I'm having another miscarriage, watching the lines get fainter and fainter. And yes, I did think I was pregnant yesterday. Maybe I was. I doubt it though, just one of those nasty tricks of nature for those of us unfortunate enough to test compulsively.
Once again shattered, kicked in the gut, isolated, deflated.
Still hoping for tomorrow.
FYI: A shot of HCG, the pregnancy hormone, can be given to trigger ovulation. Ovulation should occur approximately 36 hours later. The length of time that the HCG stays in the system depends on the amount administered and the metabolism of the individual, however a rule of thumb is that half of the HCG leaves the system every 24 hours. Thus, a shot of 5,000iu HCG would decrease as follows:
Day 1: 5000 Day 2: 2500 Day 3, O: 1250 Day 4, 1dpo: 625 Day 5, 2dpo: 313 Day 6, 3dpo: 156 Day 7, 4dpo: 73 Day 8, 5dpo: 37 Day 9, 6dpo: 18 Day 10, 7dpo: 9 Day 11, 8dpo: 5 Day 12, 9dpo: trigger gone
The body has about 5iu HCG when not pregnant so anything above that is considered positive for pregnancy. The average HPT measures a level of about 20iu HCG, so a positive test after about 8dpo should not be a false positive. Be warned though, Internet cheapies can catch about 10iu HCG - I know this as I was getting very faint lines when my beta was 10.
I want to make something absolutely clear. The failure of our recent IVF cycle is the worst thing that has happened to us on our TTC journey. This is way, way worse than when our baby died last year at 12 weeks. Then, we had a baby to love and hold, we will always have a grave to visit. This time we didn't even get a good follicle. Never mind an egg, an embryo, a foetus, a baby. We are so fucked up that we can't even get on the first step. We probably never will.
Last year I left our baby's burial with so much hope, that I would be pregnant again by IUI within a few months. It didn't happen, but I was still ovulating, nothing wrong with me as far as we were concerned. And then the wonderful news, DH's varicocele ligation had been successful, his little fellas were swimming again. Surely pregnancy was just a matter of some hard work and dedication? We have never been short of that and smugly thought that it would as simple as IVF. We thought we'd been through the mill enough already. Ha!! Turns out I am a poor responder. Even the medical staff at our clinic were shocked, there had been no indication of this before. So why can someone have a great response on IUI meds and then a terrible one on IVF meds? It just happens. My FSH has shot up and there is no turning back the clock.
We will keep trying as long as the clinic will keep taking our money. But don't be under the impression that this is getting any easier for us, just because we have been through so much already. As we get closer and closer to the end, the nightmare becomes the reality, we now live it every minute of every day.
We do have a good life together, the three of us - please don't suggest that my desire for children precludes me from loving my husband and son, that is ridiculous. Nobody could love their family as much as I do, as anyone who ever wanted a family as much as I do. I know I am one lucky mother, it's just a tough life these days.
What does that mean? Well, it's medical terminology for throwing caution to the wind and doing what everyone else gets to do for free. Unfortunately for us it's taken a few thousand quid's worth of blood, sweat and tears to find out that the only thing we can do at this stage is have a shag. Or Timed Sexual Intercourse.
Follicles today were 17mm, 12mm, 10mm, 9mm and 8mm. I trigger tonight so only really a chance of one egg (follicles should be about 18mm before the trigger shot is administered in order for them to release a mature egg, and even then there is no guarantee that there was an egg inside in the first place). It's funny but my doctor didn't tell me today that it only takes one, in fact I got the distinct impression that one is definitely not enough. I guess that's that myth out the window! I suspect he'd say the same about that one solitary sperm that's supposed to be all you need.
Still, ever the optimist, I'll be giving it my best shot. I've had 12 days of maximum dose drugs so if there is an egg, it should be in tip top shape by now. My lining is thick and DH is firing on all cylinders these days. How can we lose??!?!?!
I've wanted to tell you this for the last five months, but decided to wait until contracts were signed, sealed and delivered. I am writing a book on fertility. It is not autobiographical, although it will draw on my own experiences. I will let you in on the details when I have discussed them further with my publisher and co-author. I may also need your help at times!
In other news, I have two good follicles - one must have been hiding behind the other at Monday's scan. I have two smaller ones that probably won't make it but we are going to go ahead. We're basically just in the same shit state as we were last time, and that almost worked out.
I am also losing my hair, it is coming out in alarmingly large chunks. I am on Prednisolone (steroid) to prevent miscarriage - hair loss can be a side effect although I never noticed it before. Has anyone else had this experience?
It's one of those days where time moves slowly inside my protective bubble and speeds up outside it to compensate. This uneven space time continuum lets me analyse the situation, contemplate the implications and prepare myself to re-enter reality, which is now as unfamiliar to me as Jupiter.
Unlike on TV, there is no once-off diagnosis of sterility; the doctor doesn't call you into his office and say "I've looked at the scan and I'm sorry, you can't have children", and then you are free to come to terms with the diagnosis and reshape your life accordingly.
If only it was that easy.
Instead, you face the drip, drip, drip of infertility. Month after month, year after year of hopes dashed, slowly fading, until one day you get to the point where an outsider would deem it time to close the book. The chances of a baby are so slim and the costs so high that nobody would consider it a sane bet.
But there is a flaw in the argument. That outsider never wanted a baby so much that he or she would saw off their own right arm to be able to have one. That outsider never had to make the choice to give up everything they had ever worked towards, all they had ever hoped and dreamed of. This is not a rehearsal, this is the rest of our lives, right here and right now. We don't have much time left and once it is gone, we will never get it back. It is not about a cost-benefit analysis. If there is a 1% chance, then it could be us. If we do get to the end unrewarded and I look back at the career, the home, the financial security I gave up in the pursuit of the babies I could never hold, then I will have no regrets. Because I will know that we will have done everything we could possibly have done. What more can you ask of yourself?
But we are not there yet, despite how it looks, no matter what others think.
Only one follicle. Back for scan on Wed and will have to wait until then to talk to doc and decide how to proceed. Can't think straight now, my already massive FSH headache has been compounded by an end-of-the-line ache that is travelling around my body and delivering blows to all my vital organs. There is no sense in any of this. There is no sense in anything. When we were struggling with male factor, everything appeared to be fine with me; now that DH has been fixed, we are dealt the fatal blow. My poor boys, they don't deserve this. DS has stopped asking for a brother, wants a puppy now. Maybe we will focus on that for now.