How much is too much?

I’m in the middle of no-man’s land at the moment as I wait for my next cycle and likely transfer date in November. It’s actually nice as I’m mainly medication-free (thyroid meds excepted) and I almost feel like my usual self at the moment. 

The pregnant girl at my work is being occasionally irritating – I nearly cried at my desk on Friday when she came back from a doctor’s appointment and was joyfully telling everyone she could kind of see a hand on her baby scan – but I really feel that’s my sensitivity rather than any insensitivity on her part. 

However, this and the recent family christening drama have made me wonder how much should I have to apologise for my own grief?

I understand that we are all in our own bubbles and narcissistic to varying degrees. So while I’m walking around thinking everyone is staring and pointing at me as “the childless one” maybe they’re not. Or maybe it’s a fleeting thought before they go back to thinking about what’s for dinner. 

There is a grounding for these thoughts in that there is some unresolved issues currently with my hubby’s family and I’m not really sure how much I should unload on them. I think I’ve explained before here, that his parents are very nice, kind and generous people but they have an almost total lack of empathy. So even if I did emotionally unload I won’t get the response that I want from them, which is kindness and understanding. 

I realise that in a normal situation most people would just be honest and let them understand the pain that we are feeling. But my husband is VERY private and I don’t think he would want me to do that. At the same time, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that we’ve been married for 3.5 years, together for 7.5 years and I’m fast approaching my 38th birthday. With no baby in sight it doesn’t take much to deduce that maybe we have a sensitivity to this topic. 

So am I being overly unrealistic about how other people should behave, or should those who are close to me be more sensitive? Should I be apologising more freely for my own grief? How much information is too much to share? 

All advice welcome!

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Don’t test the universe

It’s so easy to get caught up in the emotional weight of failed IVF, failed pregnancy, miscarriage and loss.  To say I’ve been swept up in a whole sea of negativity in the past couple of months is not even covering it.  I’ve been purposely staying a long distance away from blog land because I felt like I didn’t have much to contribute.  I also felt like things couldn’t get worse than they were.

I was wrong.

They got worse.

Last week my cat went missing and my heart is broken. Even if you don’t like cats, all you need to know is that my cat was very special to me. She and her brother were rescued together by my husband and I from a full-scale-crazy-cat-lady when we first moved to his country five years ago. Having a cat was part of the deal.  We chose one each, although my cat chose herself when she strolled confidently out of the pen and meowed at me.  It was love at first sight!

Living in a country that is not your own, especially one that is vastly different to your own in culture is hard and I have found it particularly hard for various reasons. But at the end of the day I’ve always known I could come home to my cat and everything would be okay. She has a funny personality – a bit sensitive, prone to panicking by strange noises and happenings – but she was entirely devoted to me, staying by my side always. If I get up from the sofa, she gets up from the sofa. If I go to lie on the bed, she comes with me.  When I have my shower she sits on the closed toilet seat lid and keeps me company.  She has/had a way of purring when she sleeps that makes vibrations that I find soothing. On those days when absolutely nothing was good in the whole universe, she was the one thing that made me feel just enough better to keep going.

I even joked (although maybe I was a bit serious) that if I had to choose between my husband and my cats I’d choose the cats.

So since she’s been missing I’ve been super traumatised. I won’t go into all the various details, but it seems she might have got a fright while sitting on the window ledge of our first floor apartment and fallen off.  I have searched everywhere, spoken to the neighbours, put signs up, added her details to Facebook pages for lost animals.  Nothing. I walk the streets at least twice a day still looking for her and she went missing last Thursday. Over Thursday and Friday I must have spent about 15 hours looking for her in total.

I literally sobbed non-stop Thursday night and all day Friday, managing to compose myself on Saturday for a wedding and then a Christening on Sunday (I lost it a bit at that, but everyone seemed to think I was very emotional about the baby – ha!). Somehow the past couple of days I’ve reached a plateau of peace. Cats are cats.  Bad things happen to us all (cats included, but not specific to them) and I have to find a way to move on.

But the strangest thing that’s happened, and which is the only mildly positive or at least not entirely negative thing is that it’s given me perspective. Suddenly the IVF stuff has taken a back seat in my brain.  I feel like I couldn’t care less about the next round of IVF.  Here I am trying to make a new baby and yet my current baby is missing.

So while I will still give absolutely anything to have my gorgeous cat back – I even made a wish on the New Moon last night that she would come back and I’ve never done that before – it has helped me develop a tiny bit of perspective, if only fleeting.

Also, don’t test the universe.  Just when you think you can’t feel any more pain something worse comes along.

As for the IVF stuff… well I went to my doctor for a check-up post-D&C a couple of weeks ago and he was surprisingly open to more investigative tests along the lines of auto-immune related.  I had armed myself for a bit of a fight before my appointment and then he was quite open and keen to do these tests too which shocked me.  Today I went off to see a rheumatologist who has in turn set up a series of investigative blood tests for me.  I have Raynaud’s Syndrome and that can be an indication of an underlying auto-immune problem so we are trying to determine if we need further supportive meds for the next IVF round.

It’s good to have something else to test, even if it all comes back negative. This doctor was also really nice, comforting and very encouraging. He made me feel the most normal I have with any medical professional in a long time.

Our plan is now to start the next IVF round at my next period.  The general programme is one month of the pill, then the down-reg drugs, followed by stims.  I estimate the eggs will get taken out sometime in early September, which will mean a late October, early November transfer.  In the meantime, I’m heading off on a holiday back to my mother country next week (even though it’s winter there – ugh) followed by a little holiday in a jungle on the way back.

Now if I could just get my cat to come home I will be happy.

Cellulite and broken dreams

It’s been five weeks now.  Feels like forever and yesterday all at once.  For a while all everyone wanted to do was to ask me how I am, and I constantly struggled to answer them.  Now they’ve stopped asking, which is a kindness in a way.

This loss has affected me differently from the first one, deeper, driving right to my core and draining me of energy and positivity. It was about 10 days of so after the D&C that I really started to fall apart.  It got so bad that my boss sent me to a psychologist, who diagnosed me with depression and suggested medicating me.

No.  No more medication.

But the psychologist did at least validate my feelings. I wondered if I was being overly dramatic, but no, she listened – not just to the current news, but to my whole story.  We all have complicated stories, but the fact that she actually seemed a bit blown away by mine was nice in a really odd way.

After that I gave myself a good talking to and started to make some positive changes in life. My theory is that if I do things that are meant to make me feel better, maybe eventually it will work.

So I started my yoga practice and returned to some regular running.  I have been eating unbelievably well – dieting to lose the IVF/pregnancy softness that is inevitable – and taking a bunch of super-expensive vitamins that will apparently make my egg quality spectacular.  Plus, I went back to my lady who gives me my cellulite-clearing treatments. Maybe it’s just me, but pregnancy (even if it is not a full pregnancy) gives me cellulite on my thighs. I won’t lie, I like my legs and they usually look pretty spectacular.  My husband has always said my butt and my legs are fantastic (well my boobs are quite small, so every cloud etc) and so when they all started to go bad it put my self-confidence at a maximum low.  The cellulite-busting treatment helps me to get some confidence back, and it ACTUALLY works.  It’s not some BS cream.  It’s heavy duty massage that hurts like hell but does break up the cellulite and clears it out.

I was doing okay for a while there and starting to gain confidence and positivity.  And then I got the karyotype (genetic) tests back. The doctor had always told me the testing was mainly pointless because the missed miscarriage was most likely caused by a genetic defect.  And after having had two of those in a row I figured our embryos were just genetically bad.  A group of rotten apples if you like.

But then the test came back and there was no genetic issue with my baby.  None.  SO WHAT THE HELL IS CAUSING THE MISSED MISCARRIAGES?  I have really no idea, and my doctor was totally useless saying just that the “treatment” will continue.  No extra testing, no hypothesising.  Just try again.  Kiss goodbye to 10k and whatever small piece of normal life you have and try again.

Well stuff that.  I have started doing my own research (hellooooo my old friend Google) and there are so many tests we can do!  All sorts of things for auto-immune issues that could, for example mean that my body is not feeding the placenta (or what would have become the placenta) and thus a perfectly normal embryo could fail.  I also have something called Raynaud’s syndrome which can sometimes be a sign of an underlying autoimmune problem.  My doctor knows this and yet he still doesn’t test for autoimmune. He tests for nothing. Recommends nothing.

So I’m going to go to a haematologist – without mentioning this to my doctor – and I will test myself.  If anything important shows up I will of course mention this to my doctor, but this is what it’s come to.  To say my doctor is not my favourite person is an understatement.  His one-size-fits-all approach must be a great cash cow, but for sure it doesn’t work for everyone.

But do you know what was the worst bit about the karyotype testing? I found out the gender of our baby.  It was a girl.

This broke me.  Completely.

I don’t know why it should matter so much and would I have been more or less sad if I had learned it was a boy? I don’t know. But knowing the baby had a gender was a huge reality-check.  I lost a baby.  Another one.  While people all around me have babies. It hurts more than I thought would be imaginable.

So that’s why I haven’t been writing on here recently.  I really am just focusing on finding a way of getting up every day and carrying on. I can’t even bear to read the other blogs and I’m sorry to all of you kind and wonderful ladies out there who I normally keep up with.

It’s just that every time I tune in here I see someone else’s baby scan and I see the little legs of a baby forming and it breaks my heart.  If my first pregnancy had worked I would be finishing up the last days at work now and giving birth in a few weeks.  If my second pregnancy had worked I would now be parading around the beach with a beautiful baby bump.

But there are no babies for me. Just cellulite and broken dreams. Some part of me is still fighting, still wants to go on or else I would have totally thrown in the towel by now.  My husband is spectacular in all of this – he’s been so patient with all of my sadness and moods and has barely made me see his family at all (thank goodness).  Someone give him a medal!

I look back a year ago when I was just starting all of this.  I was so full of optimism and expectation that this would just work.  It was never really an option that it would fail. Somehow I have to find that optimism once again.  I’m trying.  I really am.

 

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!

 

 

 

 

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.