Dragging myself out from under the rock

It’s been two weeks today since my latest D&C and it’s been a strange old time. The loss this time has affected me differently – and arguably worse – than last time and I have really been struggling the past week.

The first week after the D&C I think I just felt empty, but after that it was a new sensation. The best word I can think of to describe my overall state is drained. I have had no energy, no enthusiasm, and definitely no ability to be happy. I’ve not wanted to have anything to do with anyone, and I mean that in a literal way as I have avoided all contact with humanity beyond what is required of my job. I’m a pretty cheerful and out-going personality usually and so people have been noticing, which has also not helped.

I delayed telling my best friend about the (failed) embryo transfer and D&C until last weekend, but when I finally did confess and apologise for being such a terrible friend she was very supportive and understanding. I also delayed talking to my mother-in-law until this week (she has known for about a week before that), which I think was a good decision as I was a tiny bit more ready for her 10 million questions when they came (all of which I have no answers for, of course).

I’ve been asked I don’t know how many times how are you? But you know what, most people actually don’t want to know how I really am.  They want me to answer that I’m feeling much better and looking forward to the future and positive that with more persistence eventually I will have a baby.  But that is really, really not how I feel.  So I am either torn between giving them the answer they want or being honest and telling them I’m totally crap and really don’t want to talk about it anymore.

I’ve quickly found that the second option is not socially acceptable.

But it’s been an interesting time in terms of not caring what other people think as I have routinely been giving the second answer and disregarding the consequences. People get very awkward after hearing this, but I’ve spent so much of my life (particularly recent years) trying to be diplomatic and always appear like everything is fine in public but this is to please other people.  I am do not have the energy or the motivation to please other people right now.

By refusing the diplomatic option, I think people are starting to see how deeply this whole baby-making fiasco is affecting me.  While hardly making them able to tap into how I feel fully (how do you effectively convey the intensity of IVF and the associated loss to someone who has never experienced it first hand?), I think people are starting to realise I am struggling.  This is the first time I’ve let people really see that during this process.

Also, my boss is sending me off to a counsellor as I think she’s decided I’m depressed (maybe she’s right – how do I know?)  I know I have been pretty brutal at work….

But actually the past couple of days I have started to feel a tiny bit better.  I started yoga on Monday and, while I’ve always dabbled in it in the past I’ve never really focused on yoga, preferring running and gym classes instead. This time I have promised myself that at least for the next month I am going to try and go to yoga 3 times a week.  This week I think I’ll make it 2 times as I had a work engagement last night, and also it’s probably better to ease into it.  The yoga I do is physically challenging (good) but also I think it’s helping me to like myself a tiny bit.

Physically, I think I’m doing much better.  Almost no bleeding anymore (thank goodness!) and my boobs have gone down a little.  My belly is still more inflated than normal, but I have lost half a kilogram and I’m hoping the other half will be gone by the end of next week.  If I can get another kg off after that I think I will start to feel a little better in myself.

I haven’t read or commented on anyone’s blogs for a week or so because I just don’t have it in me to share your joys and pain just yet.  That doesn’t mean I don’t care and I am utterly thrilled that many of you are doing so well right now. I’m glad someone is getting this IVF stuff right!

 

 

 

 

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Resting, repairing, restarting

Since my last post I have taken a bit of a step back from the world and mainly stayed away from people as a means to heal and grieve. It was good yesterday to spend most of the day at home, being close to my hubby and not having to feel the stress of external pressures.

I don’t know what came over me though, but I somehow agreed to go out for a bike ride for a short while. Now, I’m an outdoorsy, sporty type by nature, but due to all the associated IVF stuff I have not ridden my bike for almost a year!  Quite a shameful admission, but it’s true that I’ve been trying to avoid jiggly activities that might shake up the ovaries and womb.  Well that’s not a concern anymore, is it?!

I really enjoyed the ride, wind in my hair, dust in my face.  I’ve done no real exercise beyond some nice walks for the past two months so I did huff and puff a bit, but I returned home feeling kind of normal (temporarily).  It was a good experience and brought some emotional relief too.

But then it turns out that maybe it wasn’t such a great idea as I had some cramps later (took Ibuprofen and everything was fine after that) and looked up what the advice is for activities post D&C.  Turns out that no intense exercise is recommended for a week or two. Oops.  Also no sex due to risk of infection so the drought goes on 😦 Anyway, I’m fine now other than a couple of small cramps so I don’t think any harm was done from the bike ride.

I’m working form home today which gives me another day to hide from the world and feel both physically and emotionally better before facing the office tomorrow. I’m still super-bloated and the scales say I’ve gained 2kg since the operation on Friday (seriously, how?!!) so it is going to be tent-based fashion for at least the rest of the week. My boobs are not sore anymore so that’s nice, but they are yet to deflate to their regular size (I have mixed feelings about this).

I also got a call today from the place where my embryo was sent for genetic testing and was nearly floored when they told me it would cost 450 EUR of testing.  REALLY?!!  We are now weighing up whether to test it or not. I still think it’s important but 450 EUR seems a lot.

Otherwise, I’m now looking forward to re-starting my regular life again. I’ve had some wine over the weekend and many, many cups of tea (I am delighted to add tea back into my life!). Hubby and I are thinking of making a trip back to my homeland in a few weeks to see my Mum, but we are yet to formally plan it.  Given we have a few months off from the IVF treadmill we are going to try and enjoy ourselves and take advantage of our (temporary) freedom.

While of course this is not what either of us wanted, we are trying to find a way to make the best of our situation and hope that something more positive is around the corner for us.

 

There is nothing anyone can say

Yesterday was the end of being pregnant for me. You might argue that it actually ended the day the embryo’s heart stopped beating, but I don’t know precisely when that was, other than in the last week. Until yesterday, I still had the embryo existing inside of me, even if it wasn’t thriving so I figure that I was still pregnant until then.

But now it’s gone and all that is left is an emptiness.  How do I feel?  I mean, physically I feel mainly fine today.  I’m bloated and the pregnancy hormones are still floating about (they take a few weeks to completely go) so I don’t feel like I did before I was pregnant either.  I kind of feel like a frumpy version of my pre-pregnant self.  The lady at the supermarket asked me today quite innocently if we are planning on extending our family beyond cats (no, it looks like I’ll just start a cat empire actually) and I think that was because she could see my mini bloat belly and mistook it for something else.

Emotionally, I don’t know how I am. How am I meant to be?  I have randomly been sobbing on and off all week, but I think I’m pretty functional most other times. More than anything I feel empty. I’ve had so many thoughts the past few days and quite a lot of them have been around the topic of maybe it is time I quit this IVF stuff now. I think that will pass at some point and we will try again, but it’s just so exhausting mentally. All this failure saps the joy out of the rest of life.

As I was lying on the operating table yesterday, the anaesthetist – who is a very nice man and remembered me from my last missed miscarriage / D&C  (great, I’m locally famous as the woman whose babies keep dying) – was trying to be kind and was telling me that I will have a baby eventually and to keep trying.  I appreciated his support but all the while I was nodding and agreeing there were tears flowing like rivers down both sides of my face. I must have looked like a right old sight!

I woke up not very long later to find that everything had been cleared out of me. Now for those faint of heart and who do not want to know about gory stuff, DO NOT CONTINUE READING THE REST OF THIS PARAGRAPH. I don’t know precisely what happened, but the procedure seemed to have been a bit more brutal than the previous one. This time around I woke up to find what the nurses described as a “tampon” inside of me because my cervix had been cut a little. The doctor downplayed this so I am not really sure how much of a big deal this actually was, but I have suspicions it was more serious than he was letting on.  Anyhow, he instructed a nurse to remove the “tampon” and I fully expected her to whip out something akin to a Tampax. (The thought of another person removing this did not massively thrill me but I was so numb to people getting involved in my business by then that I thought it inconsequential). Anyhow, what proceeded to happen was that she pulled out what seemed to be three miles of cotton gauze from my lady parts. It was very much like one of those annoying clowns who goes to hand you a handkerchief from his sleeve and it just keeps coming and coming!  I was thinking how much more can there be??

They then made me stay in the clinic for another 30 minutes just to make sure I didn’t bleed more (again, I think what they meant is to make sure I didn’t have a life-threatening haemorrhage, which was a nice thought to have). Then it was straight home and back to bed to try and sleep off the anaesthesia fog. I had some pain initially but it wasn’t severe enough to take painkillers. Unfortunately I do have antibiotics to take for a week – I think thanks to the cervix situation – so I am still not drug-free! I am not happy about this but also I don’t want an infected cervix/womb so I’m not arguing this one.

While yesterday I had a bit of fog from the drugs most of the day, today has just been about getting out of the house and trying to be normal (see supermarket visit above).  Hubby and I went for lunch and I had a glass of wine (!!) which was really nice and I was pretty relaxed. We then went for a stroll to get some ice-cream and passed a total of four pregnant women within about 200 metres. Then we went into the ice-cream shop and two heavily pregnant women walked in together and I lost it. I just walked straight back out the ice-cream shop and sat down on a bench and had a cry in public like an idiot. Hubby just chose an ice-cream for me and came out and fed it to me without saying anything.

There is nothing anyone can say. I am just sad.

 

The end of the unknowing

It turns out no miracles were granted to us this time. The doctor confirmed what I already knew in my heart of hearts. There is no longer a heartbeat. 

The news didn’t shock me. It’s what I expected. I’m still sad and disappointed and frustrated and tired, but I am a tiny bit lighter now that I have actual clarification. 

So what’s next?

First up is a D&C on Friday. I had a long chat with the doctor about the options and frankly all the natural or semi-natural options sounded way worse than the D&C. I’ve had that before so I know what to expect. Last time the worst bit was the pessary I had to insert the night before which is meant to soften the cervix. The cramping was so intense I didn’t sleep that night, so I asked the doctor today if that’s what they give people to induce labour and he said a version of it in gel form but it is about an eighth of the dose that I got. Holy cow no wonder I was suffering!!

Anyway, this time I’m going to put it in at about 3am so I can catch a few more hours of sleep before they kick in. The appointment is 7.30am and I expect to be home by mid-morning based on last time. The actual procedure takes 10-15 mins so the only real time spent at the clinic is coming around again after the anaesthetic. Last time I had a new mum wheeled into recovery next to me who was phoning all her family telling them about her new baby which hastened my departure from the clinic substantially!!

Apart from that I am now no longer banned from anything. I thought I’d be more excited about this than I am. I’d give up the wine and caffeine and running and everything else for a baby in a split second. But given I’m not getting a baby any time soon then I think I’ll crack on and enjoy the wine etc (in good time of course).

As for next steps, we are planning to do another entire cycle and get some fresh embryos even though I have one more frostie in the freezer. This time they will be PGS tested (if possible) so I’m hoping this helps us. We are also going to go for a  genetic blood test thing just to rule out that there is not some weird and rare abnormality that means we can’t conceive healthy embryos (this would be a properly freak occurance, but we are not leaving any stones unturned). 

The timeline for this is long though. First I have to wait for two periods after the D&C – that’s about 2 months from now. Then it’s a month on the pill before the downreg and then the stims and collection. 

I will then wait another cycle at least to do a FET (no fresh!!) so we are looking at a transfer in Sept/Oct at the earliest. Ugh. I turn 38 in December and I feel the clock ticking. 

I would like to say an enormous thank you to all the lovely ladies who have offered such generous support. There’s a few of you here who are in the early stages of pregnancy and I hope so much for you that you continue to progress well. I am thrilled for you and know you have all suffered your own sadness to get to this stage. 

I love you all for your generosity and positivity. Strength in solidarity. 

Counting down the hours and minutes

My positivity seems to have been short-lived as the past couple of days I have been feeling the weight of a kind of dread. I know what’s coming tomorrow at the next scan and I don’t want to process it. 

I’ve tried my best to continue on as though everything was fine and that my next scan would show some great growth and development but I’m almost certain that’s not going to be the case. I’m so sad I don’t even know how to express it. And I’m tired. Tired of all the trying, the invasive treatments, the waiting, the pausing regular life and then no good results to show from it. 

I can’t help but wonder why does this fate befall me. I thought I was due a success this time, I really did. I want this so badly and I thought that this would really help to weigh things in my favour. But it turns out this is not the case. I’ve been ultra-conservative in everything I’ve done – no alcohol, caffeine, excessive sugar, processed foods, lots of rest, the only exercise being walking (no gym or even yoga), no sex (that includes no self-loving); I even refused to drink tap water and have been drinking bottled water exclusively. What an idiot I am to have believed that this would work. 

So here we are a full year later from starting the IVF treatments and actually three years on from the first medical intervention (I had surgery to remove a fibroid before all of this) and what have we got to show for it? Nothing except a heavily depleted bank balance, a soft, damaged body and an empty soul. Is it worth it? Well it would be if there was a baby at the end of it, but otherwise no. 

Hoping for a miracle

The past two days have been such a blur, and not a happy blur at that. After the last doctor’s appointment I have been feeling grief in all its forms, even though nothing has been 100% confirmed yet. In my head, it has felt like it is all over and I am just now waiting  for the confirmation next Wednesday.

The main feeling I have been having is fatigue. I’ve got no energy and no interest in doing anything at all. I did go to work the past few days, partly because it was good to have something to do and partly because I’m one of the senior people at work and other colleagues were on leave – had I not turned up we would have been in a little pickle!

Hubby has been brilliant and has not forced me to do anything, although he did encourage me to get out of bed when he found me back in there at 7.30pm last night. We have skipped two nights of family-related activities even though everyone is gathering for the wedding today. I’m not sure how he managed that, but I could not love him more for it.

He has also been the positive one out of us both. He even said to me on Thursday night that he is still hopeful because there is a heartbeat. I’m glad he’s in charge of positivity because I struggle to find the same enthusiasm. I have been looking at my soft, hormone-laden body the past couple of days and started to hate it. I can just about bear the changes these hormones do to me when I think there is a viable pregnancy, but I start to loath myself when I know my body is not nourishing a baby.

But then last night something weird happened and I started to search online for other cases like ours of slow fetal growth. Now, I’m going to be honest… most of the anecdotal evidence I found was not great. Most people who had slow-growing foetuses did not have viable pregnancies.  But most of those did not have a fetal heartbeat at their scan. If you look at my measurements – size of 2.5mm and heart rate of 80 ppm – this is perfectly normal for 5/5.5 weeks pregnant.  The only problem is that when I was measured I was 7 weeks pregnant, meaning the baby is 10 days behind in development.

Is it possible that I just have a really slow growing baby? I mean that’s not massively cheering either but maybe it’s just a slow starter and will catch up later? Remember my first HCG test was just 80 and then it went up to 511 four days later. They do say that FET implant later/slower than “spontaneous pregnancies” (what a description for people who have sex like normal couples and get pregnant. Oh the luxury of those people!)

The truth is that the most likely outcome is not going to be good for me, but for now (as far as I know) the heart is still beating and I am still pregnant. So I guess I have to keep hoping for a miracle, even if it’s unlikely.

I am envious of people who can fall pregnant naturally and then from the time they get their positive pregnancy test they can be excited and carefree. I know so many people who have conceived on the very first time they have tried or have had an accidental conception. They have gone on to have complication-free pregnancies and natural births with no pain medication. Why does it have to be so hard for us then? What have we done to deserve this fate?  I really feel like I’m unusually unlucky sometimes, or at least the controllers of fate have not spread their gifts evenly.

Somehow today I have to gather the enthusiasm to seem normal in front of hundreds of people at the wedding. I’ve made a last minute fashion-change to wear a dress I’ve had for years, rather than the one I had planned to wear. This is partially down to weather (it’s a bit cooler than expected and the first choice dress is quite summery) and partly because the first choice dress has a belt and I think it might be really uncomfortable to wear. I put it on for 5 minutes last night and instantly wanted to rip it off.

The other dress I have is tailored but is pulled in at the waist in a way that is not belted (yay) and can semi-hide my bloat belly. At least I will be able to suck it in for photos and get away with it (I think). Now all I have to do is find a way to smile like I mean it and not burst into tears if anyone dares to ask me about our plans for children.

 

Nope

Intuition is a funny thing. Sometimes you can’t put your finger on it but you just know something is not right. That’s been my feeling for some time and today I was regrettably proven right. 

The scan showed that I do indeed have an embryo in my womb (no ectopic!) but as the doctor poked about for a while looking for a heartbeat I started to get the same bad feeling that I got last time. He said the embryo was still a little immature and so harder to see the heartbeat. I asked at what rate the heart was beating and he told me it was around 80bpm. I remembered this was lower than what other ladies reported after their scans so questioned him. 

I said the embryo is 7 weeks along so asked shouldn’t it be stronger? He then muttered that he needed to check the timings. I told him I’d calculated it and the embryo was 7 weeks (I was right of course). I then asked how big it is and he told me 2.5mm. Again, red flags going everywhere for me at this stage! I then asked isn’t that small? And he again said he would need to check the dates FFS!! He later revealed that it should be 10mm at this stage so it was REALLY small!

Then as I was so sure on the dates he took a closer look and confided that the sac looked to be abnormally large, another sign of abnormality. 

The world started closing in on me at this stage. 

Further discussions happened and he finally confirmed that indeed the embryo is way too small for 7 weeks. He said that he was “not optimistic this will be a viable pregnancy” and that most likely the heart will stop beating in the next few days. There is like some kind of freakazoid percentage that says the embryo will survive but the reality is that it is too far behind in growth. 

Doctor seems to think the issue is either we are really freaking unlucky to have 2 embryos with such abnormalities or that the whole batch is corrupt. I’m leaning on favouring the latter. So even though we have one frozen embryo remaining I’m pretty certain we are not going to use it. Instead it looks like another full cycle. This is what I didn’t want. 

So our plan of action is to keep taking all meds for now as though everything is normal. Then I go back next Wednesday and he’s going to tell me it’s dead and arrange to scrape it out (D&C). (I may have paraphrased his exact words here!)

Hubby and I both left the appointment full of sadness. We sat in my car for a while just being sad. He suggested I don’t go to work but I decided to go anyway (better than being alone at home). My boss knows my situation and removed me from the office immediately for a coffee, a bit of a cry and then we went and bought some new Havianas flip flops (because WHY NOT?!). 

This time I didn’t get a shock like last time. I expected this actually. I’m massively sad and hurting but I’d prepared myself for this a bit. I still feel like a useless lump and a poor wife/woman but I guess that’s to be expected.

For now it’s another waiting game. When does this ever end?