My Mum died, and other news

I’ve been wondering how to title this post long before I even tried to write it, so I’ve gone with the direct option because frankly this is the sentence that sits square at the front of my brain right now: My Mum died.

My Mum died and my heart is broken.

She died at around 2.15am on Saturday 8th December with both my sister and I by her side. I had arrived late Wednesday night and came directly from the airport to the hospital as during my flight she had deteriorated significantly to the point where she was unconscious when I arrived.  I think she knew I was there though as her eyes flickered a few times when I spoke to her. I told her many times that I was there and that everything was ok now.  In the morning I got on her bed and gave her a cuddle too and she seemed to rest her forehead on mine as though she knew I was there.  By about lunchtime on Thursday she was completely unconscious and we didn’t see much response from her thereafter.

Both my sister and I stayed at the hospital in her room for the entire time.  The only time we left her room was when the nurses came to tend to her and freshen her up. By Friday we were both losing our minds but also we knew that it was more kind for her to go, than to stay in the state she was and we started willing her and giving her the “permission” to go.  She was such a feisty, strong woman though that she really, really hung on. Her heart was so strong that even the nurses couldn’t believe she was still alive on Friday.

When she finally left us early Saturday morning it was a blessed relief that she was finally at peace but it was truly awful.  Towards the end she looked so ghastly that I was afraid to look at her.  I realise that is terrible but it is quite traumatic to watch someone die in increments. When she died I was stroking her hair and holding her and my sister was on the other side holding her hand.  I guess as far as deaths go it’s the best you can hope for in such a circumstance.  She was surrounded by love.

I guess there is an argument that we all knew that she was gravely ill, but it doesn’t actually make it any easier to deal with. I’ve lost both of my parents now in vastly different circumstances – one as quite a shock and one not-so-much – and the trauma is no less in the latter scenario.

The days that follow are now some kind of blur.  Maybe I should have written something at the time but I didn’t feel able to. Almost immediately after my Mum passed away I developed laryngitis so here I was trying to organise a funeral with no voice. Apparently it is a legitimate reaction to grief to lose your voice.

People were very kind to me and my sister but it was a strange time.  I was living in my Mum’s house for a few days alone but without her (my son stayed back home with his dad and grandparents which was weird in itself). The funeral was the Wednesday following her passing, during which I recalled some happy and funny memories as part of the service. My voice had partially returned then but was not 100%. I remember feeling afterwards that a 45 minute service, lovely and heartfelt as it was, it just not enough to pay tribute to her life.  It almost seemed rude to have such a short amount of time dedicated to such a full life.  I still can’t get over this.

Also, I found the funeral to be a massive exercise in managing other people’s grief. While many people were certainly keen to support my sister and I, it really felt like we were doing the heavy lifting with looking after other people. My husband didn’t come over to Australia as we jointly agreed that it would be better to have him stay with baby N so that there was some consistency there. I had good friends supporting me so, while I missed him, I was ok.

Then at the funeral, I had two completely unexpected guests turn up – one was a girl I went to school with and practically have had nothing to do with since, and the second was an ex-boyfriend of mine from when I was 19. We have remained excellent friends over the years as we have some bond that is hard to put in words.  We definitely have a connection as he lost his mum to cancer at a young age as I did my dad, but we also have a special something between us beyond that.  It’s all above board, my husband knows about it and I think we both recognise we are not a good romantic match, but I do love him. Anyway, so he’s this tall, gorgeous, blonde surfer and he just strolls into the funeral and you know what?  I lost it. I had kept it together so nicely until then but I was so very touched that he came that I just hung onto him for dear life for about 5 minutes. It was kind of at the point where someone almost had to tell me to let the poor guy go.

Afterwards about 80 people came back to my Mum’s house for the wake. It was so bizarre.  Everyone is so convivial and yet you can’t hold down a conversation with anyone for longer than 1 minute because someone else comes to ask you something else. Also, because I think people realised we would (eventually) be selling Mum’s major items they started asking me if they could buy things.  At her wake, they started asking to buy things.  This still blows my mind.  So here I am in the middle of all the post-funeral feelings and someone is asking me how much for her sofa.  Seriously, WTF people?!

And then you know what happened the day after her funeral? I turned 40. Yep, it was my 40th birthday, which I was meant to be spending on a romantic trip in Milan with my husband. But instead I spent it at my Mum’s house with my sister and friends crying and drinking champagne.  Actually, somehow it turned out to be a great birthday full of love. I missed my Mum ENORMOUSLY but given the situation we did try and smile and celebrate in a low-key way.

The following Sunday I said goodbye to Mum’s house, and goodbye to the town I grew up in from the age of 3 and full of all the pain and emotion headed back to my boys.  And for the first time in my entire life, I got upgraded to business class on the plane.  I cried.

My return back was a blur.  Baby N was a bit strange with me for the first couple of days – he wouldn’t sleep the first night which was great with jet lag! But he soon got back into the swing of it and seems no worse off thankfully.  He’s at a beautiful age now – 18 months – and I adore him.

I don’t remember much what happened next.  There was Christmas and New Year, which was a blur. I didn’t feel much up for anything so we kept a pretty low profile, doing simple things as a threesome. I was exhausted too and couldn’t really seem to catch up with myself.

About two weeks ago I started to feel a tiredness in my muscles that was similar to how you feel after a really, good, tough workout.  Except I’d not worked out. This progressively got worse over several days until I found one night I couldn’t get out of bed as my muscles were so weak and I was in so much pain.  After I vomited a bit with the pain it completely freaked my husband out and so he sent me for some blood tests.  Long story short it seems I had a viral infection of sorts.  Nothing very exciting or unusual about that in winter… except that this viral infection seems to have triggered something far worse which is called Polymyositis. This is inflammation and weakness in your muscles and if not treated it can be very dangerous.

It has rendered me quite disabled in that I have no strength in my body to do basic things such as holding my hairdryer above my head to dry my hair, or pouring the water jug, or lifting /caring for baby N. I can’t walk very well or very fast and I’m in a lot of pain. At the moment they are trying to confirm the diagnosis – I’ve had a bunch of blood tests and an MRI so far, but they also need to do some kind of neurological test and a muscle biopsy so it’s not over yet. So far 2019 has sucked so very much!

Many people seem to think my immune system was compromised by my grief.  It all sounds believable but I’m just so unhappy right now.  Meanwhile my sister-in-law has just announced that she’s pregnant with her second, a girl.  You may recall that my husband and her husband are brothers and our relationships are not at all strong.  Throughout this she and her husband have been completely unsupportive and downright rude so I’m struggling with that too.  My parents-in-law, however, have been incredible and baby N has half-lived at their house as I’ve been incapable of caring for him alone.

Right now I’m trying to focus on getting better.  My treatment is high dose steroids – the same ones I took for the IVF but at much higher doses. On low dose they made my face fat and me kind of psycho so I am freaking out somewhat about what kind of nightmare I will become on the strong dose.  Either way I have to get better so there is no option.

Please someone tell me I’ve had enough drama and I can go back to a quiet, normal, boring life again soon?!

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These are some special tulips my Mum grew and tried to live long enough to enjoy (which she did)

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

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.