Friday, December 23, 2011

39 weeks...to celebrate... and 4 years

...since N and I married, I had just turned 32, we met when I was 29 and the time has passed more slowly in the last few years as the waiting for a baby began. Can't believe I'm 36 though. It all just feels like numbers, quite meaningless. I think age is just a number ...except when it comes to diminishing fertility. For the first time in my life I envy peoples age and I'd love a few more fertile years to play with for future treatments. While my mind feels as prepared as it will ever be to make the transition to Motherhood I have been fantasising this week about have a body 10 years younger to get me through labour. A nice springy one!

My induction is booked a week today. I've read UK and other guidelines until my eyes hurt and spoken at length with my Dr. In his professional opinion he is giving me the chance to reach my due date with a day or two over and then as (he believes) the placenta starts to decline post EDD he wants to start an induction as (he believes) this will give the baby the best chance and why take any risk at all in going overdue?! It's not what they do in this country and he couldn't see why I was so keen to wait. I pulled the 65% (out of the hat) of women who labour spontaneously between week 40 and week 41 but I couldn't seem to hold my ground when debating what was best for a baby and it kept coming round to what was best for my body/birth experience/recovery by having a greater chance of natural delivery. Dr P sees the induction as a 'natural' delivery. The conversation became quite circular and so I am back to facing an induction on the 29th with excitement, fear, defeat and guilt. We shall see what the next few days hold and what's occurring at next Tuesday's appointments...

I do feel like the end is in sight for the first time and I am savouring every moment now, of sleep (when I can), uninterrupted conversations with friends, reading a book, swimming and walking round my neighbourhood having my bump rubbed and touched by all the local folk.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

38 weeks (and induction booked)...

...almost, as of this Thursday anyway.

I've come out the other side of my low stage where I felt I was going to check ups and nothing was happening and I must be doing something wrong and I felt really disconnected from everything.

I still measure under at 36 weeks (always been a week behind) now but have put on lots of weight, mainly fluid in hands and feet plus as Dr pointed out today...my nose...it's true. Nice to know the babies estimated weight was 3.2kg in new units or 7lb and a bit to me, at last weeks scan, a nice size.

Every Tuesday now I go for a non-stress test in the morning at the big hospital, leaving 2 hours to kill which is not quite enough time to go home and come back before seeing my Dr. at the clinic, all in all I'm out of the house from 9-5pm. Today he said the cervix 'has softened' which has really lifted my mood though the baby is unlikely to appear before next Tuesday when we will repeat the same tests and see what's occurring. It's nice to know something is happening. It's not that I want the baby to come early, I just want signs that it's coming.

If it hasn't made an appearance by the following Tuesday 27th, my EDD, I will be booked for an induction around the 29th. Argentina are famous for this, despite my Dr saying he'd let me go 10 days over, it turned into 7 days and now it's 1. Here, they don't wait long for a response after induction either, it's quick to CS which (as is more likely post induction) is where they get their 60% CS rate from I suppose. I've been prepared for this really and I'm aware of the pros and cons. It would be lovely if the baby decided to come of it's own accord before then.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Time to tackle another tricky relationship...

...this time with my boobs. It's never been good. The sheer joy of being pregnant after such struggles allowed me to feel kindly towards them as for the first 16 weeks they were the only evidence I had that I was pregnant (between scans). Big (b-cup), veiny, full, sore...thank goodness for my boobs. But at the moment I hate them. Like 2 barrage balloons I can't even eat or drink without knocking into them or knocking them into something or someone and so I need to face up to the fact that I desperately want to breast feed but it's going to be a struggle.


On first google search I was disappointed. Specific sites for breast feeding came up with absolutely nothing when I typed 'sexual abuse survivor' into the search box. In sections re. 'problems breast feeding' they were all physical issues rather than emotional. 


The La Leche League http://www.llli.org/ however did respond to my enquiry, quickly and suggested a podcast by the author of this book; 

When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on Childbearing Women Penny Simkin, PT, and Phyllis Klaus, CSE, MFT (2005) p.80

that I would buy if the country I live in wasn't so corrupt when it comes to parcels arriving/leaving.
http://breastfeeding.blog.motherwear.com/2009/03/podcast-early-sexual-abuse-and-breastfeeding-with-penny-simkin.html
...and P.16 of this document is useful http://www.breastfeedingmadesimple.com/thelongshadowHFM.pdf

So far I plan to buy breast sheilds. I have purchased a pump and tried it against my skin to see how it feels and even switched pump on for a second or two to see how tolerable it is. I have bottles for back up (not purchased formula yet) and to feed expressed milk to. I have spoken to my obstetrician about concerns who responded well but after being present at my polypectomy, numerous vaginal examinations and 2 embryo transfers he was shocked the subject hadn't come up before. He assures me I can have space and privacy afterwards for first feeding attempts which will help. I started a thread on Mumsnet which got a good response and on these recommendations I have also bought clothes that are discreet for feeding too which hadn't occurred to me.

I'm still quite determined and at least now I feel a little more prepared.

Thank you for the lovely response to my last post, private and public...good idea to tag/label posts too to reach wider audience.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Evolving blog...

How the garden feels at night underfoot in wax crayon and black poster paint.
I'd like to blog more about pregnancy and parenthood after sexual abuse but there is no clear blog sharing network such as exists in the infertility world that I can find so I'm starting from scratch. If I have found your blog online and you are returning the visit/comment then 'welcome', I love comments and new (and regular) followers.

About me...

I'm crossing the mid-30s line in a couple of weeks and I wouldn't go back to my 20s if you paid me. I love where I am now, emotionally, despite the struggles I've had in the past few years.

I suppose it looks as though my efforts to start a family began at the the removal of contraception back in June 2009 but in reality it was long before that. I restarted therapy in my late 20s when it seemed strange to others who thought I didn't NEED to but I knew I had to stop binge-drinking and getting involved with emotionally abusive men who knew the steps to my dance and knew the tune only to well.

Having witnessed the power of nurture when it goes wrong I was also terrified to reproduce until I felt I had expelled my demons. 

There was the added complication of making babies the non fertility treatment way as I struggle with sex...still.

I didn't recall the abuse or the perpetrator for years and when I did it was a huge revelation, the timing was terrible as I was studying and training hard but I was at my happiest and strongest and so I believe the truth showed itself only when I was ready to deal with it...even if that involved some awkward public moments.

Uncovering the abuse and remembering it and acknowledging it was the most amazing experience in my life. The pain and the lows were almost worth the relief and the highs that came with the truth. I still have mini breakthroughs/new memories now but they pass so quickly I can carry on a conversation or continue working through them.

I have virtually no visual memories of the abuse and 99.9% emerged in dreams and I had to write them down and read them later to see them.

Dealing with infertility and recovering repressed memories of sexual abuse draw lots of parallels for me. Peoples innocent questions sting sometimes and one feels compelled to knock out stock answers to save awkward moments. These questions include; 'When will you... try for number 2 (or try a baby)?', 'Do you remember your first time?' and 'What are you doing for Father's Day?'

No one in my family wants to talk about the abuse. My sister wants to keep up a relationship with my Dad and has no memory of him abusing her. My Mum is remarried and turns grey and trembles when I raise the subject so I've let it go. My Dad's new wife is unable to acknowledge it. Cousins, Aunties and Uncles prefer to keep up the facade also and so if I want to see them all I have to sit at the same table as my Father and play along.

I haven't decided yet where my Dad will fit into being a Grandparent. I have told him and my step-M I will not be accepting their offer of cash to but baby things. I saw my Dad once this year back in the UK but felt sick when he greeted me and knocked my 20 week bump. It was the first time N didn't come with me to a family gathering but I appreciate it's hard for him to keep up a pretence for my sake.

I spoke to my Dr for the first time about the abuse and feelings towards the birth in the next few weeks. He was shocked after all the examinations so far that I hadn't mentioned it to him but it was good to talk and make it clear I am very worried I won't be able to breast feed because it will feel too awful so I don't have any well-meaning-latino-touchy-feely-midwives grabbing my boobs...or (and the mere thought makes me dizzy) rubbing my nipple against the babies mouth to help it latch on.

So anyway, as I approach another life changing moment, I am reflecting and feeling extra nostalgic. I feel more positive that negative experiences in my earlier life will have a more positive effect on things now as I am all the stronger for them. I am less black and white too and while I'm glad I waited to start a family at the risk of it being smaller than I'd like now, I feel I've done the right thing and I accept nothing will ever be perfect and there is no end to the healing that has begun.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Progress...

Today I had a scan, at 37 (almost) weeks and it helped things feel more real. At first everything looked the same as 20 and 24 weeks. The view at 12-13 weeks is so magical but I've found the scans here from 20 weeks are just measurements of organs and I've had to ask the Dr if I want to see a glimpse of the face which is only possible in sections. But today we got told the estimated weight, 3.202kg and it really helped to know that, it felt like I'd done something right, it felt very real, that it had grown so much and was already a healthy weight should it arrive early.

I've definitely had a touch of the blues recently and started thinking weird thoughts about what may have appeared on the scan and I've felt guilty as it seems wrong to be anything but 101% happy being pregnant after all these years. Now I feel better I can see that I am very happy about the pregnancy but naturally anxious about life outside it as there's a lot going on. I will just share one aspect...

My husbands job has been axed so we don't know where (we have to leave the country) or how we'll be living after March. We can't afford to move back to our old place we rent out in London on one wage so it's going to be a struggle. We may head North in England or keep living overseas but my husbands job is unusual and badly paid so options are limited. For the future FET which doesn't hold much hope statistically being the weakest of the batch, we can now add £2000 to the existing costs of treatment, in flights back to South America. I'm sure we'll find some funds somewhere but it's very unsettling to not know where we are going with a little, tiny one in tow...at this stage.

But, we still feel like the luckiest people alive at the moment and if IF isn't the best training to living with uncertainty I don't know what is.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's my blog and I'll cry if I want to...PART 2

So how am I feeling?

Tired, very tearful, uncomfortable, frightened, excited, impatient, guilty, relieved...

I've become almost nocturnal. Some might say at 36.5 weeks I'm preparing for motherhood with such a sleep cycle but I say it's the 24/7 heartburn that started at week 20 that's got me here as it's worse at night and I feel I've no right to complain as I spent my 20s in a binge-purge cycle that's knackered my oesophagus.

I'm anaemic, par for the course, very oedematous but no other signs of pre eclampsia  thank goodness. I don't want to list all symptoms so I'm complaining only to my poor husband but otherwise continuing to hold on to how fortunate I am to be facing these symptoms at this stage.

Emotionally, I'm a mess. I told my friend I felt like I had the worst PMT ever at the moment and I felt bad for not 'glowing'. She said 'ooh cramps yuck!' but no, not cramps they don't bother me...'I just feel tearful, am tearful and am screaming at N because he's woken me and it's taken hours to get comfortable asleep and all he's done is talk to me.

I feel I've come full circle. I had a rocky 1st trimester with bleeding and high dose progesterone and serious nausea so spent a lot of it in bed and became a recluse. Here I am again as appointments become weekly with my Dr (same Dr from IF diagnosis, through transfer to delivery) and I'm starting to worry again about what's going to happen next and I'm having to remind myself why I feel so dreadful at the moment. This probably sounds odd, how I could forget why I feel the way I do, as I'm so pregnant now, I waddle with an enormous squirming bump with a big brown line down the middle (which I love) but it doesn't always = baby, in my mind. The pregnancy is as real as it could be but a baby?

The other day I laid out a little outfit and tried to imagine 'it' wearing the clothes. 'It' is a he and the most precious thing ever...don't get me wrong but sometimes I wake in the night to Braxton Hicks and feel my period could be coming and it takes a while to click where I am let alone what the hell is that burning in my back, chest and throat...then, I feel tiny thuds or a bout of hiccups and think god I'm so lucky, so grateful yet equally I'm lost and disconnected and I feel frustrated at what's going on in there? I might whisper 'show yourself...come on' and then feel guilty as there is more cooking to do and I feel selfish.

It's just the idea that this final stage will all just get gradually more uncomfortable and end painfully and then the real work begins and I'm scared I can't cope with it. I'm not complaining or wishing myself back to this time last year, I just want to do my best and worry I'm old and useless. With my tests, HSG and USS tracking and starting injectables plus surgery I haven't had a 'normal' month for a long while, to just keep my knickers on and not attend any appointments if that makes sense and I think that's where I'm snapping at N.

N says 'your doing so well' and I pull an ugly face and say 'liar'....

N says 'it'll all be so worth it' and I nod sulkily because of course he's right...

It's my blog and I'll cry if I want to...PART 1

I feel this blog has been really out of sync with the rest of the online world since the beginning (April 2009) but I'm not done trying to revive it yet.

The biggest issue was that post January, failed cycle and delays in treatment with surgery I became especially bitter and jaded and I found other bloggers were a few steps behind and still full of hope. They were following BFP post IVF posts with glee, like 'ooh that could be me!' but by then I was reading and seething and saying 'why couldn't that be me?' I felt so, so alone.

Then after a few months I got a BFP and the few followers I had dwindled. Let me say, please, I completely understand  why... but I found myself in a lonely place none the less. I tried to link up with IVF post pregnancy blogs via ICLW but many were about measurements, blood results and Mothercare purchases and less about the emotional side of things which is what I'm looking for in connecting with other blogs.

I haven't felt like there are many places I can go with my pregnancy to unpack my emotional baggage. But today, looking at my stats for the first time in months I see that not many folk are reading anyway so I should blog away, even if no one is listening.

I will continue to read others blogs who are in the treatment stage just as I always have and I hope they can see my url pop up in the stats and they know I read because I care and I just don't comment any more as I feel they would prefer not have any reminders of pregnant people in their blog space. I have a few pregnant post IVF/mc blogs to follow to so I'm going to make more effort to connect with those too. I have just read a few and feel inspired again...inspired to be honest...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I couldn't bring myself to see your bump until now...

...said the wife of a friend of my husband, a few days ago. V has a 6 year old daughter conceived via ICSI when she was 39. ICSI gave her 4 embryos, all 4 transferred resulting in a beautiful daughter. All thanks to the same clinic as ours too. But V has no idea that we had ICSI or that we struggled at all for this pregnancy.

People often ask why we aren't more open about IF, like we're being a bit silly somehow but for me it's about two people. I would gladly share our experience with twice as many people as I currently have but I respect that we are dealing with male factor IF and my husband has not told another living soul just as he respects I need to talk to others outside the relationship. So would V not make to my select list? Nope, because she told me about her husbands sperm count and morphology within 5 minutes of meeting her...no exaggeration and she will tell anyone who'll listen.

So when we last met she patted my bump and congratulated me and quickly shared how hard it was for her, she had finished cycle #6 and agreed with Drs to stop TTC#2. Cycle 3 did bring a pregnancy but it resulted in MC at 12wk. I am very aware of all this and her feelings about my pregnancy came as no surprise so I at least shared that we'd waited years for this pregnancy. V was shocked and assumed 'at my age' it was a surprise pregnancy. I reminded V I'm 36 in a few weeks and I've been married 4 years. It's the first time I've seen her speechless. She probed for details but I said nothing more than it had a been a rocky few years. It cheered her up and she rubbed my bump with a genuine smile.

In connection with my last post re secondary IF and TTC#2 after IF, V has had a rough time. Her 6 year old thought she was injecting Gonal F for cancer and 'mummy was dying' so she had to be told that it was to grow eggs to make a baby brother or sister. Then when the most recent cycle failed V and Dad had to break the news it didn't work but also that it never would and some families are only blessed with one child. Painful, so painful but as V pointed out not on the same scale as TTC#1.

I was saved by the bell, the doorbell, from our conversation as V got nosey for details just for gossips sake as  my friend arrived, 14 weeks pregnant after 1 ectopic and IVF #3. So we all sat round the table and talked about everything but our husbands sperm counts.

How can secondary infertility be worse than childlessness?

It just can't.

It would be impossible for anyone to know either so that's the first thing that bothers me about this. People, parents, say it hurts more TTC#2 without success as they know how wonderful it can be to be a parent and so they know what they are missing a second time around. Of course it's painful but in response to a rant of mine on this subject last year a wise woman who had one child via ICSI wrote (from memory) 'of course it hurts when you can't have another child, people never stop asking, your child never stops asking....when?....but at the end of the day you look at your life before when you were going through treatment and your study was a study not a nursery...my house is full of baby paraphernalia and baby noise and I'm accepted in a part of society I felt excluded from'.
So surely, while having one child not by choice is painful it is the difference between being a parent or not being a parent and that is huge! I wonder if people with secondary infertility would like to swap places with these childless people that it's 'easier' for?

Monday, November 21, 2011

ILCW number 98 and my 100th post

Thank you for visiting my blog this month if you're here for the 1st time...here's a bit about me.
  • I'm 35 (for a few more weeks) and living with my, also English, husband in South America. It's been 2 years and we fly to the UK just once every 12 months.
  • My due date is less than 6 weeks away and for the first time I'm starting to feel less guilty about my pregnancy. Until now anyone I've shared my pregnancy with has been informed that there was a long wait for this baby and usually followed up with an apology and an attempt to change the subject. 
  • I think about number 2 and wish I was just a year or two younger...is it possible to this lucky twice in a life time? We have 2 embryos left, grade B when frozen. I'm mentally and practically prepared for my next fresh cycle and stopping breast feeding earlier than recommended to try to get the FET before turning 37 and if possible/necessary get going on stimulating those follicles before time slips away.
  • I have a Dr who works as a gynaecologist-fertility specialist-obstetrician-midwife which means that he has been around for the last 18 months... from ordering tests, to recommending a fertility clinic, demonstrating the Gonal F pen, collecting my eggs, transferring 2 fresh embryos, confirming a BFN and breaking news I'd need a polypectomy under a GA thanks to injectables, encouraging me to find a little positivity before the FET, confirming a BFP, showing me a tiny black and white blob when bleeding started which later had a heart beat and grew just as it should, been available on his mobile 7 days a week and now....is 'on-call' for the delivery at the end of December. So different to the UK.
  • I gave up my career, counselling/psychotherapy/non-clinical nursing for the NHS to move abroad and I reluctantly trained to teach English as a foreign language after my first failed cycle but have surprised myself by enjoying teaching adults (who want to learn). It was a last resort but I'm actually going to miss it in December.
  • I haven't joined any mum-to-be/parent groups as my Spanish is not strong enough and the English speaking expats tend to be earning $ and £ and have nurseries, cars and birth plans in the same 3 hospitals in the city. Watching people I meet recoil in horror that we don't have a washing machine or a doula just taps into my insecurities about becoming a parent for the first time. I've compared my journey from the TTC stage to the UK and it can feel very lonely so I'm trying to go with the flow.
  • Before this pregnancy my fantasies about becoming a mother all involved a daughter, there are no baby boys in our family but since becoming pregnant I felt I was carrying a boy and it is a boy. The idea of a son to me feels like a blank canvas, less expectations somehow and I feel a bond since finding out the sex. 
  • I was sexually abused as a child by my Dad which, in my personal experience, remains more taboo, uncomfortable, painful then my IF experience but there are lots of parallels, both are isolating, complicated and exhausting to explain. I really want to breast feed but worry I will find it unbearable.
  • I'm learning that nothing is perfect, there's more than one way of doing things. I am never going to stop worrying. Most importantly, after struggling with childlessness I feel lucky now to have the dilemmas I have towards the end of this pregnancy.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I'm far too sensitive...

I looked on a BC spreadsheet today, I haven't logged on for months. People were listing EDD and treatment history, at a glance it seems about 80% got a BFP the first time around. Then there were several people who got lucky on their 4th try but not much in between. I didn't add myself but I would have stood alone as 2nd time lucky (total of 4 embryos transferred) and I have a friend who is now 12 weeks pregnant, 3rd time lucky (total of 7 embryos transferred). Such a numbers game but if someone else stumbled on this it would give a false impression that doesn't match the stats we all know.

Anyway there was a thread about TTC #2 and I realised how some people's plans took for granted that there was another BFP in their batch of frozen embryos after getting pregnant the first time around. I returned to a private FB group which is the only site I routinely check now, it's 19 women from BC with EDD in December/January and this week the same post arrived. People were talking about sibling age gap preferences and getting their figure back and career issues. I was the only one who seemed keen to give the two frozen stragglers we have a chance at life ASAP and who felt it was a long shot to be so lucky, more than once in a life time.

A second post on the FB group was a rant about one of the posts in 'IVF' on BC. How dare some woman complain and cut herself off from family because a sister-in-law had BFP?...or similar. How could this woman not be happy for her sister in law? This was followed by two other women agreeing saying they never felt jealous or resentful about other people's pregnancies whilst dealing with infertility. Honestly, I can't understand how these women can't even muster up a little empathy even if they can't put themselves in this ladies angry, hurt shoes for a moment. If anyone should understand...

Is it because they got a BFP from the 1st attempt at IVF? Is it because at least 2 of these women are planning on saving their frozen embryos to try naturally for a BFP next time around as they have unexplained IF? I feel miles apart from these people.  One woman said 'I've never felt bitter about other peoples pregnancies as it's not my baby, why would I feel jealous?'.

For me, it's the role of Mother I want and always wanted, not the baby. After considering donor sperm and adoption I realise there's more to it all than just passing on genes. I felt envious and bitter about 'failing' to become a Mother. Like I'd worked harder than most to apply for the job yet other's fell into the role, accidentally, without research, effortlessly and were then promoted to Mum-of-two/three/four.

Sometimes I feel I've had more sensitivity from my friends who haven't faced IF than this group of 19. A lot of the women are on my FB too and they are posting twice a day at times, complaining about symptoms and delayed Mothercare deliveries. Maybe I'm too sensitive but I would never feel comfortable doing that or changing my profile picture to a bump photo or scan, it seems too in-yer-face. I'm dreaming of the day I can post a photo of me and my baby for friends and family to see, I'll put them in an album so people can look or not look. I won't change my profile picture to just a baby photo either without including myself in it, who wants to chat to a baby online when they really are only chatting to me?

I know I can't protect everyone from feeling hurt and my pregnancy will affect others no matter what but there are little things I can do or not do that will make a difference. I'm going to do another (second) ILCW this month and reckon if I describe my blog as 'pregnant after treatment' that it will be clear to those who are at a different stage in all this where I am and they can choose to read or not. I'm quite lonely in my expat life so I fancy returning to do a bit of blogging on here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

What's different about an IVF pregnancy?

This will vary of course from person to person but for me (and others I've spoken to) I've noticed that after IVF:

I am returning a day later to add another to the top of the list...

-A common question from those that knew about treatment...'So was it natural or IVF?'...I don't think people realise quite how exceptional a surprise pregnancy with our prognosis can be.

-Painful and uncomfortable symptoms are a blessing and not just something to be endured, reassuring signs that the pregnancy is progressing.

-There is still some isolation as not everyone will know the journey to conception and previous support from others having fertility treatment dwindles (understandably) so I've found it a funny place to be at times.

-Questions like 'how many children would you like?' are still painful, people are more likely now to ask about plans for siblings or cheeky questions about the conception, innocent comments assuming that your journey was as easy as theirs. I know a few folk with boys or girls who are hoping to have a child of the other sex to 'complete' their family and are stressed about it...still seems such a luxurious position to be in from where I'm standing. When people say 'next time...' to me I feel I could never be this lucky twice in a life time.

-people want to compare notes about ante natal care so are often fascinated by the extra meds/scans/rept HCG tests that happen after ET...I've been told more than once how lucky I am. And I am. But I still wonder how it must feel to not to have to try to get pregnant and then and get a positive test result the first time you pee on a stick followed by a scan 8 (virtually worry-free) weeks later to see a grey, fuzzy, foetus waving back at you.

-'IVF must steal some of the magic' someone said. I'm not sure I agree. It's different. I'm talking pregnancy not the 'trying' part. I think I see it as a less passive process and no step/milestone is taken for granted.

-Guilt. I've made sure I've informed all my friends individually about my news, in a particular order and avoided any public announcements or shocks. Often in emails so that the news can be digested in private. The way I would prefer it to be delivered. I have seen expressions on peoples faces to match my own on many an occasion in the past. 'Congratulations...' through gritted teeth before running to the bathroom.

-It's still hurts (as my last post says) effortless conceptions and moaning about the sacrifice of pregnancy are hard to take. I am still envious of people who get pregnant after their first attempt or who are having a second or third child via fertility treatment. Daft...and completely irrational I know.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Good news for one, bad news for another and feeling mean.

As my next post says, I still feel the sting of other peoples effortless conceptions. To keep things in perspective I remind myself it's not a race, a competition etc. But what happens when it's my little (3 1/2 years younger) sister? Well it's something I'd anticipated in a year or two...but not now! Not 8 short weeks behind me...I still can't quite believe it.

Like all the other-people's-pregnancies I've dealt with, it's good news on one level but on another it touches a raw nerve. After a few days of feeling physically sick and beating myself up for feeling physically sick I realised what it was that bothered me about it.
1. That it was a shock. She had just moved in with a new boyfriend a month before the surprise BFP with a view to buying a flat and maybe talking about getting married in a year or two. I just didn't have time to brace myself for this news.
2. I'm terrified that I'm living abroad, far from friends and family and N is in Asia for 2 weeks when the baby will be just 4 weeks old. I had planned to treat my sister to a flight and holiday during that time for support and to spend time together. Now she will be 36 weeks pregnant so that's not happening. Her enthusiasm and support in becoming an Auntie just seems to have been swept away too.
3. I now realise that my sister wasn't using contraception and so the BFP could have occurred sooner. She was already 6 weeks pregnant when she finally peed on a stick. She had no idea when AF was due. Can you imagine the two week wait passing you by unnoticed ...subtract 2 more weeks of anxiety as well?! I'm very envious indeed! Ignorance is bliss as they say.
4. Daft as it may sound, I felt enormous pressure (though my Mum has never put pressure on me) to produce the first Grandchild and I felt equal relief this FET worked. I looked forward to passing my baby to my Mum's arms for her to experience something unique too. Now she will hold my sister's baby first in February (my Mum can't fly) and I will miss the whole thing too of course and no doubt see it all float by on good old Facebook.
5. Worst part. My sister decided at 9 weeks, just 5 days before I was due to land in the UK that she wanted to tell my Mum and I begged her to wait til I'd arrived and just sat with Mum for an hour an caught up before she called and dropped the bombshell but she didn't. It's a moment I'll never get back and the I feel my pregnancy had become half of 'the pregnancies' before I'd even landed.

I can see this from a rational point of view and that my Sister is still lovely and none of this is deliberate. But even the other IVF support group I told last week came out with all the cliches I'm enduring here in the UK...
-'oooh cousins...they can share every moment' (well no I live 1000s of miles away and actually I don't want to share)
-'ooh an Auntie....you must be so excited' (nope, I don't have the capacity for that amidst anxieties and hormones but it was something I had really looked forward to in the future).
We're both in a similar place in our life but in fact even further apart as we are both looking after number one which sounds daft but it's true.

As my friend said last week when I told her..."oh **...shit"...perfect reaction. Yes, it's great, I wouldn't wish IF on my sister and when I've safely delivered this growing baby and settled a bit I will have the capacity to be a good Auntie...but right now...I just wish this could have happened in 2012. Of course, I still realise how lucky I am after the journey N and I had to get here too!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

One month on...

It's coming up for a month since my last post and since the last ILCW, my second and only successful attempt at joining up with some more bloggers. I really enjoyed linking up with people and following the blogs since but I feel I have enough now and prefer quality over quantity. I want to be able to reply to all the comments I receive and to have time to read and really read the blogs I follow. I must confess I only stuck to the rules for 2 days and stopped before it felt too much to manage properly. I think I will leave my blog as before...where I welcome anyone new who stumbles across it.

During ILCW in July, I read more than one post from people having treatment to TTC  for the first time who felt frustrated at the number of pregnancy blogs around. I remember looking for other blogs where people were at the same stage as me over the past year and being disappointed too. I can understand their frustration.

This confirmed that I don't want my blog to become a pregnancy blog, with posts about which pushchair to buy or letting off steam during moments of frustration through this journey. This just doesn't feel like the place to do that. Regardless of how it may or may not affect my blog's audience I want to stick to the original theme. This is now a pregnancy after IF blog and there are issues that come up around this. They bubble to the surface when I log on and I feel I want to share them with my readers who have experience of IF.

I have decided to move over to my expat blog for more general issues but to return here to vent about IF related issues...there are a few I can tell you! I have a little back log of posts I want to write. I'm rushing all over the place back in the UK but each time I have a moment I want to return here.




Friday, July 22, 2011

ICLW July...second time lucky

  • Well last ICLW I discovered I was not on the list and had feared the same thing had happened this month despite completing the form...but hurrah...I have just discovered 2 lovely comments on my blog so it's worked this time...I already have one day to catch up on. Time to revive my blog!
  • I am 17 weeks pregnant as of yesterday and haven't felt much like blogging about it recently so I think my next few posts will be a bit random, I have lots of other things on my mind.
  • Not much to add to my intro/info, I live in South America, we needed ICSI for male factor IF, 2nd time lucky with our x2 embryo transfer (2 left which were Grade B)
  • I will be having an early 20 week anomaly scan at 18.2 before I fly to the UK for my annual trip home to friends and family.
  • I'm very anxious about flying (at the best of times) and I'm having lots of nightmares involving ridiculous scenarios mid air so I'm trying to be rational about flying in pregnancy but it's hard.
  • I will be breaking our good news for the first time when we are back in England so I am excited and nervous too. It will be the first time I have seen any of my family or friends for a year and what a year it's been, needing ICSI, 2 operations, a failed fresh cycle and a pregnancy.
  • What else...I'm never more than a few weeks away from mild brown (not spotting) just a little discharge so I live in fear of it returning, despite normal scans, closed cervix and reassurance that it's 'just one of those things' it's very hard to relax and think to far ahead.
  • And...while my world has been turned upside down in the past few years I have managed to continue with my passion for art. I have exhibited but not sold anything (maybe a few years down the line). Most of the work I have come up with recently has no real subject it's more about purging my frustration and just enjoying putting contrasting colours along side one another until I feel the page is 'balanced'...very childlike.
Thank you for visiting my blog. I look forward to discovering lots of new and inspiring blogs this week :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

A better day...

Calm was restored more quickly than I thought after my moments of panic. I woke on Saturday believing entirely that my trip to the on call gynae service was a dream. I discarded the small panty liner with a light brown smudge on it and got a flash back of the linen bin full of blood stained gowns and towels in the linen trolley from the real emergencies. The bleary-eyed Doctor with pillow creases on his cheek asking how much blood I had lost while I tried to explain that there was no blood but a hint of brown maybe, I had nothing to show but how important this was, especially as I may have deadly food poisoning...2 + 2 = ?disaster?

I picked my pregnancy book up again and found something useful about sensitive cells in the vagina causing spotting after intercourse or bowel motions but describing something more obvious than my meagre findings. Things moved back into perspective as I remembered the heart beat and the closed cervix. Also, a very uncomfortable internal examination but despite this I have had no more colourful PV loss. Maybe my body wasn't letting me down after all. The same book explained that gastroenteritis was not risky to the pregnancy alone, more the effect of resulting dehydration and therefore seek advice after 48 hours, if not tolerating fluids or you have a fever. So actually 5 hours of nausea, a bit of vomiting and one episode of diarrhoea didn't seem like the end of the world.

I wrote a few bits down in a post on BC re. above experience, fear and frustration that I seem alone in compared with the ladies sharing a due date in December post IVF online and got a lovely response from a handful of women, many with pregnancy number two, sharing the fact they did not shop until post 24 weeks for the baby, never stopped knicker watch ever, unless the baby had moved within an hour and one lady didn't announce until 30 weeks on FB. I felt much better after that, I have to say.

Happy news re. the lady with a high risk of Down's that I mentioned has also had the all clear. Her risk was very high 1: somewhere-in-the-teens but the official tests came back negative and she passed the risk stage of m/c post procedure, she says she would never, ever have the screening again. I can imagine how that would feel. For me it's worth the gamble because to be low risk is one more encouraging sign. I know I start at 1:350 so I'm looking for a reduction in that to make me happy. Still a week to go before the results.

Today's picture is of a Mother and her son on 'the world's slowest ferry'. The little boy was very fidgety and grizzly and his Mum was tired, eventually she pulled him to her and they both slept for about 10 minutes so it was a perfect opportunity. Sometimes I consider giving these little sketches to people but wonder if it would feel weird to think someone had been watching you without you knowing, a bit risky maybe. Anyway, I remember how I felt when I sketched it, not jealous but envious and hopeful that I might have a moment like this one day and that if I did I hoped I would appreciate it and remember it rather than the hard work and temper tantrums.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

From the best day so far to just dull, boring, repetitive stress...blah blah...broken record alert

After climbing in to bed following my last post, I opened my first pregnancy book. A friend passed it on to me who is in her 2ww after a 1st failed cycle so I hope to pass it back to her very, very soon. I had just given up after visiting the English bookshop and found just one book "What to EAT when you are expecting". So typical here where there is a famous obstetrician who puts women on 1500/day calorie diets. Most pregnant women wear skinny, white jeans and sport a basketball sized bump until EDD.


Diet has been an issue for me, more in an effort to get enough nutrients in (antenatal vitamins aren't recommended/widely available) as there are a lot of do's and don't's which vary culturally and I found it very hard to find anything to eat here. Partly because I can't read all the labels, I already have some food allergies and as I have no toxoplasmosis antibodies Dr P said, if you're unsure how your meat/veg/fruit is prepared...don't eat it. So I ate some well cooked chicken for the first time in the evening and I've eaten more of a variety of foods since passing 12 weeks so I expected a bit of 'gastric upset' but at 03.00 I woke and vomited violently, hourly, finally with some diarrhoea and I showered and dressed and went to queue for the GP. He said 99% of the time this will not harm your pregnancy which was not the 100% reassurance I was looking for. No scan, no heart beat just that I had no fever or pain so try not to worry. Diet prescribed of meat, plain rice, plain pasta and jelly plus other clear fluids for 3 days....so...not only can I not face anything from that list but I feel so guilty that the baby is getting nothing of value. I finally caved and got the standard antiemetic they prescribe here which helped ease the nausea enough to eat marmite on toast without butter. Not on the 'si' list but not on the 'no' list either.


I didn't have much more D or V yesterday but woke in the night feeling crampy and noticed a pink/brown tinge on the loo roll. WHY WHY WHY. I got dressed and took N straight to the Hospital with my antenatal card. I just can't watch and wait any more or google...I need to know. It was 5.30am so no point calling the Dr or attempting the number on the back of the card (I can't even order delivery ice cream). I was convinced I'd lost everything since the D and V, I added 2 + 2. 


It was an effort to work out the system at the hospital which is virtually empty at that time of night. I finally saw a very junior, brusk doctor who started making odd calls to a superior saying I was 30 weeks, despite my card info, he finally realised. Fair enough, 30 and 13 sound similar in both languages but my lack of bump might have been a clue? All very confusing, mostly in English he examined me, cervix closed and heart beat still there...'just one of those things'. I pushed him a bit about where the blood staining was coming from, it's been gone for 3 weeks and implantation is over (previous reason). He just shrugged, said hopefully the 'bug' hasn't done any harm' and then got back to the real emergencies. I got to see the maternity unit too when I was lost...hmmm is all I can say. If we make it that far I may need to make a proper visit and find out our options for English speaking staff and patient:staff ratio etc. 


For now I'm back on 'knicker-watch' and my food and hygiene obsession. I feel like screaming I'm so angry. I know I'm lucky to make this far but we've been through so much and I'm trying so hard to get some of the experience all my friends seem to have had/are having. What if I'm still getting a little blood staining in my discharge this time next week, when I go to the UK, all the way through?! It's so ridiculously stressful to have to take a taxi across town planning how to break a miscarriage to my Mum in my head and worrying how to say the words to wake N from his sleep that something might be happening. I showed N my latest colour swatch on the loo roll to which he said 'it that it?' but nothing can calm me down.


The heart beat was a relief, always, thank god, thank god but what about next time? I have got a lot more confidence from having a clean, white panty liner these past 3 weeks than the whooshing sound on a doppler which disappears as soon as the machine is whipped away. My next scan is weeks away so I really hope this pale brown/pink tinge does not return. In the mean time this is a huge test and I just have to keep going.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Endless worries wrapped up in a hopeful bundle.

I'm still so grateful that we may get to have a baby before the end of 2011, after a second (Frozen this time) ET.
I'm so relieved too to have passed the 12 week mark, it felt like it would never happen and I spent the following week worrying about coming off the progesterone and oestrogen. I still get sudden feelings of panic and I rush to look at the clock remembering that there really are no more drugs to take after 16 weeks on the trot.

Further relief came with the booking of the Nuchal translucency USS, yesterday at 12.6 wk. I knew it would reassure me after a few drug free days but as the day approached I worried what it would show. At 35, depending what you read I have a 1:300 or 1:350 chance of Downs and other syndromes. Before these new tests I would have been offered an amnio in the past due to my age but now these non invasive, risk free tests can feed info to a computer and tell me whether my blood test and the NT have lowered my risk from 1:300 or put it up and whether I am 'high risk' or 'low risk'. Results can be very sketchy but most people do it hoping to be a comfortable way in to the 'low risk' or it can be an anxious 6 months with more tests and decisions to make. One lady in the Dec 11 Birth Group has been given a figure of 1:14 and feels she will have more invasive tests with a small risk of m/c (7%) because she just needs to know. I can only imagine how it would feel. I am thinking of her and hope she will get a quick answer. So tough.

This lady had also been told that at 1:14, she has a 93% chance of a normal healthy baby. Incredible isn't it how looking at numbers in a different way can seem so different. 93% sounds great but I'd be devastated at 1:14. I promised myself not to google but I have since and while I felt happy with 2.1 NT I'm not any more. I found posts such as 'at 2.1 it is a little high'...hmm. Plenty of sites say up to 2.8 at 13 weeks and up to 2.0 at 11 weeks so maybe these ladies are at a different stage. The big number seems to be 2.5. Anything below that is...ok but better to be lower. There are lots of ladies at 1.3 - 1.8 which would make me feel better, so much clearer. I really want that 1:300 to change to put my mind at rest about another big what if!

Of course there are many other factors, the bloods can change everything. The scan was worth every peso. The foetus has nasal bones but not clear whether they are all the right segments but that is a small hope. 4 limbs, 4 lovely chambers of the heart with oxygenated and deoxygenated blood pumping around in bright red and blue like in my anatomy and physiology text books. A symmetrical (butterfly) brain, bladder and stomach. And the placenta is front and not a placenta previa so that's good too. Nice to hear the heart beat and not just see the waveform. I got all this info in 30 seconds at the end from a rude, arrogant Doctor who I hope to see for the last time in about 12 days time with the verdict. I have to collect my blood results on Thursday and deliver to him by hand. I will of course open them and have a look.

For now it's time to close google, I've overdosed on reading about NT and antenatal tests and have a mini book in my head. Maybe if my Spanish was better I would introduce the idea of patient information here, a little booklet perhaps...imagine!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

ILCW virgin

Hello...I'm 35 and living in South America, missing England and planning on having my first baby here in December following (ICSI in January) a FET in April. I avoid naming the country or city I live in as I have promised my husband N that this blog is very private (not easy to find on Google) but I will say it's the land of steak and Malbec and of course Tango, so now you know. It would be lovely to hear from anyone at any stage of treatment, pregnancy or parenthood.

I think I need to create a post like this for people to find when the visit my blog after I leave a comment on their blog, presumably mentioning ILCW so they know they are invited to follow/read/comment on my blog?? Bit confused my this part... 'Every day, leave 5 comments and return 1 comment for a total of 6 comments.' So then I pick 5 different blogs each day and leave a comment them? Not sure what it means by return one...reply if I get a response perhaps? ...we shall see, if not I will have worked it out by next month.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The odd one out

I've always felt like the odd one out, my upbringing was quite unusual. It started to work in my favour when I reached my late teens, I then went on to embrace it. Now, this feeling, can trigger a lot of insecurity. Not being able to conceive without reproductive medicine (as a couple) has resurrected a lot of dark feelings and memories. Throw in living abroad with a poor grasp of the language and everything feels foreign.

My 12 week scan was every bit as special as the others, more reassuring to see real moving limbs than the little 'grey shrimp' with a flickering heart this time. It felt a very personal moment despite the dildocam and I requested N's presence too. This was his first glimpse of the tiny one but also of my legs in stirrups and I think  that made it extra surreal for him. I had to also request a fuzzy image which the Dr downloaded to a memory stick and emailed. I think here people wait for the next scan, he seemed surprised at my requests but I couldn't bear to leave again without a real picture of the mysterious goings on inside. I decided to not see Dr P at the lovely fertility clinic any more but at the normal place, even though both are covered in our health plan. I will still be the bumbling foreigner having everything repeated 3 times at the reception desk for the amusement of the waiting room but I hope this will restore some normality.

I am now one of 20 people on a private FB group that branched out from BC. I'm the only one who didn't 'whoop whoop' after my scan, I just added a little note that all was well on an old thread and sent some personal emails to my Mum, sister and a friend. I don't feel 'whoop whoop', words that I know express excitement online like LOL means 'that's funny'. It's a bit like speaking in Spanish, I don't really feel I'm saying what I feel. I feel really protective too about our news. I feel like I'm not ready for any announcements either. I know if I did 'whoop' on BC or FB that no one would mind as I don't mind when they do...it's just it feels so alien to me. I have felt very nervous coming off the hormones too and that is holding me back a little. It just feels strange that the other 19 people who have all conceived with similar difficulty are choosing baby names, buying baby clothes and discussing breast feeding. My mind wanders back and forth from now until December and all the things that lie ahead. I'm just still taking small steps, smaller than most it seems. Interesting find on BC, I searched a few things on the regular 'December 2011' group and came across a thread called 'Has anyone else not announced yet?'...there were many women in week 12-20 who were hiding in floaty tops and still hadn't got used to the idea that they really were pregnant, let alone that a baby was on the horizon so I felt more at home there for a while.


Homesickness



Most of the threads I am finding information on these days are about shopping and the general order of antenatal care in the UK. The postal service here doesn't work...no exaggeration so I can't order anything and most things you buy here, clothes for example, are made here and are very poor quality at a high price. Food is what I am missing most. While I'm strong believer in eating what a country does best when you are on holiday it's different if you live abroad. N made a trip to Mauritius recently and managed to find bacon and baked beans. Incredible. Even when I have spent time in Bangkok, Hanoi and Hong Kong to visit friends I have found a better selection of food. Expats took me to local cafes doing a full English or a nice Italian style pizza when you need a change and of course the traditional food is so great. I always want to return home for Marmite though and N managed to make a dash to a big supermarket in Johannesburg on his way back to South America with find 3 jars. This is keeping me going. My last empty jar ended up being kept because I couldn't accept it was truly empty and I sketched and painted the final scrapings, several times.

I feel so far from home these days. It's 6 and a half weeks before we return for our annual visit and I will be eating as much asian food, spicy food, fish, humous and chocolate without anti melting agent as I can. In place of cold white wine which I must avoid I will enjoy squash that is not 'red/orange/yellow fruits flavour' and doesn't come in the form of powder, cranberry juice and a wonderful selection of tea. This country does have the best meat and red wine in the world (in my opinion) but that's the last thing I want at the moment. Marmite on toast, with butter NOT cream cheese, a twix and a cup of decaf earl grey would go down a treat!

What are the odds?

I do feel some relief, as predicted, to reach 12 weeks and 'pass' the 12 week scan. Many other feelings have taken me by surprise. I am often grappling with my anxieties and trying to decide which ones are rational and which ones are not. Things could still go wrong, of course, but the odds are better. As I like to remind myself in taxis/trains/buses to the airport, I have a greater chance of dying/injury on my way to the airport than on board the plane. It helps a little when I feel the odds are in my favour.

Back in December, 2010. N and I sat in the same room I had my 12 week scan in and were told we had a 45% chance of a pregnancy from a cycle with 2 embryos and a 30% chance of a live birth from that, with a 10% chance of twins. An image popped in my mind thanks to a wise Doctor I used to work with who used to tell families..."Imagine 10 (or 100) people at a bus stop....if we operated on all of them...X amount would develop X complication". At this time, I sat and imagined 9 other couples in a waiting room and wondered if we would be the one couple called through to news of twins or would we be left sitting. I found the odds hard to bear during the 1st cycle (that failed) but quite comforting when I was able to step back and see the bigger picture and imagine being in the 85% that would get a pregnancy from 3 cycles. Those odds were good.

I avoided looking at odds once I tested positive post FET but I saw a few numbers drift by on BC. Then, after the 6.6 scan with heart beat detected my Dr P gave us a new number...85% chance of a live birth. This is a great number. This is how it felt. Not that we were home and dry or had 'beaten' infertility as some people feel. It felt like the next step in the treatment, a real step in the right direction. Finally the odds were in our favour. And so I oscillated between feeling positive about these numbers and feeling myself becoming part of the one-and-a-bit couples left in the waiting area that didn't make it. After all, 4-6 hourly hormone tablets/pessaries and spotting, 35 years etc...hmm. But I had real hope, more than we'd had for years.

Now the percentage of losing what we have is minuscule and we have new odds of abnormalities and complications to face. These are the odds I've seen clients and patients deal with in my work and issues I've given a lot of thought to them but they feel welcome dilemmas compared to what we have faced recently though no less stressful. So as I sit in the imaginary waiting room with 100 other couples wondering if I will make it through the next door and I start to panic, I consider all the other odds, like being hit by a moving vehicle (it varies but where I live it must be higher than average). It provides a few rational moments at least in the emotional journey.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Doubt

Not only am I worried re. last post but I'm in such a state today. For all the 18 months I've been living out in S America, today...I just want to go home... to my local GP. In reality I'm lucky. I have a health plan here and have a lovely Dr (gynae/fertility) who did our fertility treatment outside out health plan (we had to pay) and is now doing all our antenatal care (free) as part of our health plan. He is only ever a phone call away and he is my midwife/early pregnancy unit/first port of call all rolled into one. 
So while I'm not 'missing out' on UK stuff (except freebies) occasional differences make me panic. Like...he wants to do a smear. The one inspection of my ladies bits that was forgotten pre treatment. I am supposed to 'drop in' this afternoon for one, with him. I haven't felt comfortable with it and finally got on google last night. Apart from the usual horror stories 'I had m/c 2 days after smear' (with no dates, history or evidence) there are currently no known contraindications to a smear during pregnancy, according to UK, US, Australia. Best article researched 1900 women. (6 hours of google).
The only arguement not to have one is that cells change so much in pregnancy it throws up false abnormal results and treatment cannot take place during pregnancy anyway so in the UK overdue smears are usually delayed until 3 months post delivery. Also the UK still only recalls women every 3 years (whereas it's more frequent in other countries). One other reason (according to UK/Oz) for testing in pregnancy is that sometimes it's the only time to catch women who do not attend routine smears.
Here, it's once a year, so that's why my Dr feels I need one as my last one (normal) was 18 months ago. I did have a virus in my 20s that suggested annual smears would be a good idea but they've always been fine at 3yrs. I had a cervical polyp removed in Feb (grew due to IVF drugs). Maybe he has other reason, I will grill him today.
I found lots of literature from US and Australia that says it's very routine there to have a smear as part of antenatal care and that it can pick up early signs of changes and infections that may be passed on to a new born via the birth canal.
I don't really know what I'm looking for in a response to this post. I will speak to my Dr and tell him why currently I don't want it done. It just feels hard to turn down something that all the other women in this country have and see as a normal part of their antenatal care. If I was born here all my friends would have had one and I probably would feel guilty turning down this test.
My 12 week scan is looming at the weekend too = stress +++

Monday, June 13, 2011

Online support

I'm managing to distract myself in the 1ww to the 12 week scan. I've been feeling better generally. I don't feel so absolutely dreadful day and night so that has helped my state of mind but of course I don't want to lose symptoms either as they provide peace of mind. It's a funny place to be in.

WARNING: sad topic to follow.

I have returned to BC after my holiday and found the birth club around my est. due date quite helpful. The group has spread to FB where (I had no idea this was possible) there is a private/hidden group which is v secure. It's nice to put faces to usernames and you don't have to be friends on FB to join the group. It's nice to use each others real names too. Occasionally I get a bit wound up by the posts on BC but generally they are quite sensitive and don't trigger much anxiety in me. There was one saying 'my Dr told me Progesterone pessaries are bad' with no justification or information to back it up. This sort of thing upsets me (see previous post).

Today there was terrible news about one of the ladies who went for a routine 10 week scan where unfortunately it turned out the foetus had stopped growing at 8.6 weeks. Devastating news and a shock as there had not been any warning signs for this lady. I wrote a few useless words of support and spent a moment just thinking of her and her husband. Then...back to me. This news has completely rocked me. My last scan was at 8.6 and I've been persuading myself that there's still something going on in there and chances are all is OK but my goodness. The tragic story from someone else's life is a reminder that anything can still happen.

I'm sure as things my end are confirmed I will feel more confident and no one is to blame for this. I did beat myself for going back online after I felt better staying away but I can't hide. I sat opposite a friend the other day who casually said '...and she had 3 m/c all at 12 weeks'. I have to learn to hear these things and get on with it without becoming incapacitated by worry.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Shh...I'm mentally flying this plane!

Amongst my many fears is flying. This is a bridge to cross once I know how my 12 week scan is (8 days to go and counting down every 6 hourly progesterone suppository to get me there). People often ask me what I'm afraid of? Take-off, landing, turbulence? It's the moment it starts down the run way, the engine gets louder and you feel yourself pinned a little tighter to your seat. From this moment on...I am out of control.

I imagine jumping out of my seat and walking uphill towards the airhostess who might be duty bound to restrain me, or perhaps at this stage I would be ordered to sit down and she would call the Captain (locked in his cabin) to warn him a passenger is on the loose. The fact is...I can't get off. On a coach or train I can demand that we stop. A boat? Dunno...launch a life boat? At least I can walk on deck and breath the oxygen at a normal altitude.  Short flights over land are not so worrying either. My first ever flight was London to Belfast and a passenger had a heart attack half way and we landed so fast it was incredible, there was the ambulance, ready and waiting. But long haul....over the desert/mountains/ocean...makes my head spin.

I finally got to grips with this when I flew alone, London to Bangkok. Fresh from the last page of Allen Carr's 'The Easy Way to Enjoy Flying' I felt reassured by each chapter, tackling the many 'what ifs'. My favourite...'what if a wing falls off? Well, then you crash but this has not happened in the history of commercial flights' (or similar). Once on board the air hostess announced a delay and asked if anyone would like to meet the Captain. Well, according to Allen Carr this can be v useful in overcoming one's fears. I jumped up and was led through the cabin by a smirking air hostess. I found myself standing behind a small child was showing the pilot his teddy and explaining he was called Joshua and he was 5. I turned on my heal to find a queue of parents and kids so I had to walk in and say 'I'm **, I'm 27 and I'm a very nervous flyer'. It did help. I was still terrified mid air but considered if I could keep mentally flying this plane all the way, I managed 2 hours then my feet relaxed to the ground, I sank back in the chair, I stopped sensing every movement. What if...? What if indeed. What could I do? I gave in, I let go, I slept.

I am getting these moments of giving in now, there are so many what ifs that I can't control. I try to follow advice. I take my medication every 6 hours. I appreciate that I'm not spotting right now. I try to let myself fall asleep, enjoy a film or book, enjoy a fantasy that this may actually work out. Let go of the things I can't control in the world.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hola

I think I've lost my tiny blog following all together in my attempt to shake off a few unwanted followers. I plan to get involved in the comment week that everyone has gone in for in the last few months, I feel I should make more effort and be braver to share and not take it personally that I don't get many comments which sometimes puts me off getting the blog out there, I always wonder why this would be of interest to anyone but before my motivation was for my friends who were following, is was more personal than FB and more discrete but as I'm not ready to announce my pregnancy yet I'm trying to use it anonymously as it's quite lonely being pregnant so far from home when you can't tell anyone and I have the scars of IVF, a failed cycle, mc and my recent spotting. None for 10 days now...please, please stay away!

It's like I posted a while back on BC and said I was finding the uncertainty and spotting hard to deal with, mentally, I was really clear that I had been fully checked out and had been told was just one of those things, it hadn't changed and had in fact got better but generally I was afraid, lonely and I talked a bit about being an expat and how things were different here. My response from half a dozen people was go to an EPU if you're worried. This was not helpful as if I went to an EPU every time I worried I may as well set up camp in the USS room, insert dildocam until HB detected and wait...I suppose I was more hoping to hear I wasn't alone or other ways people deal with uncertainty. The comments were well meant of course.

I'm hoping the brown spotting will not return and that the 12 weeks scan will bring confidence and allow me to tell close friends and family. This will be followed by lots of apologies for basically disappearing and turning down every social invitation I've had for the past 6 weeks. I did so well post FET, I was out and about, even at 5 weeks but by week 6 I've been permanently 'sick' and useless. Not that I'm complaining about symptoms, they are my best friend these days, very reassuring.

For now I'm booking tests for early signs of abnormalities and this is a welcome distraction from my current 2ww. It's scary but in a different way to the uncertainty of IF. And while the old dildocam without printer and my very cautious 'let's take it little by little' words from my Doctor seemed to have robbed me of the tearful joyous 6 week/9 weeks scans that I keep reading about.... in it's place I have a 'carnet perinatal', it has all my measurements, due date and numbers to call in an emergency. It's something solid to hold that says 'you're pregnant' and that makes me v emotional every time I see it. From joy, relief, tearfulness and fear. It changes moment to moment.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Week 9

I had a lovely spotting-free week at week 8 but it returned on Wednesday (just gone) and was pinker like the first time, accompanied by back ache and a new level of symptoms. I've been in bed most of the week and ended up calling Dr P on Thursday to see if he thought the back ache could be a urine infection. (He said yes and he was right).

He was due to finish his list in an hour and a half but said if I could get to the clinic in time he could fit me in...maybe do a scan and save a visit tomorrow. Well, like lightning I showered dressed, tidied my nether regions for my close up, jumped in a taxi (sod the expense), and I was en route to the 'GP's' to collect my routine 'early pregnancy' bloods...in time to flag another cab to catch Dr P in time for a good hour-long session that I think in the UK they call 'booking in' and is of course done by a Midwife. It was a relief to see the heart beat again and the growth.

Now it's the next milestone and there are some big tests to come...but that's another post.

Hibernating

I've really struggled in the last few weeks, especially before the 9 week scan.

Working, socialising and all the things that got me through the last cycle really helped my mood. I learned a big lesson from my first failed cycle where I completely isolated myself and the time dragged. The trouble right now is I feel so nauseous and dizzy I'm struggling to get out and about. I don't want to tell my small collection of friends here about the pregnancy yet because of the spotting but at the same time I have cancelled so many last minute plans because of the spotting, I find when it comes I like to stay indoors until I am satisfied it's following the normal pattern and isn't turning red.

I know if this all works out that I'll tell people eventually but one or two I can tell are pissed of with my flaky-ness. I've unconsciously surrounded myself with people without babies this past year in a new country. So most of my friends are going away for the weekend or doing something that involves booze or......like everything here...it starts at 22:00, which is when my day now ends. To avoid letting people down I've started making excuses not to attend anything. My boss, who had to cover my classes twice at short notice last week (first time migraine, second time 'infection...both are true) is waiting for me to reply to his email yesterday as to whether I'll be back to work tomorrow....honestly...I don't know?!

Poor N is working really long hours and food shopping, cooking and taking the laundry etc. There is not much 'convenience' in this country so everything takes twice as long and the time adds up. The simple things we used to enjoy are not possible at the moment. My continuous nausea means I can only stomach one or two things and so I don't fancy eating out and walking, well I'm ok but very, very slowly. The other day I had a window where I felt starving so we went out, N said how about here and I couldn't make a decision, 'in or outside' he said and I just barked...'I don't know, I don't care just decide and show me the chair and I'll sit in it'. It's hard to explain to N why I'm behaving this way. Since week 7 I've been spending a lot of time in bed because we don't have any nice seating in our living room. I turn the bedside light on because I've had a few headaches and I know N is next door tutting, thinking I should be outside a cafe somewhere, guzzling away for 2!

Week 6-7, more spotting, hibernating and a heart beat.

By the time I had my 6 week scan I was dated about 7 weeks and told to return at 9 weeks.

The brown spotting had returned twice and each time tailed off but as my symptoms grew stronger each time it was more frightening and found myself terrified. I managed to book the scan at 10.30am when in fact Dr P had told me he started work at 14.00. So at 11:00 as I rocked back and forth in the waiting room thinking 'what's taking so long/why are my boobs not sore/what is that shooting pain in my hip/how will I leave the clinic if it's bad news/how will I look after N/if it's OK will I tell my Mum?'...when the receptionist passed me the phone as it was Dr P saying 'um...I'm on the other side of town, can you come back'.

I took this as a bad sign and felt like I couldn't cope with the wait, I think it goes down in history as one of the most stressful moments in my life. I kept thinking it could be ok, to just keep busy until then but the brown spotting was haunting me....old blood is ok they tell me....but it must be fresh, new blood at some point, so where is it coming from?

Finally, back in the good old lithotomy position, the dildocam is in place and Dr P is measuring, the machine is beeping, I am straining my ears over the piped, chill out music to hear the magical moment the heart beat appears, that I have read so much about, one woman said she could see hers but not hear it so maybe that's what will happen...45 seconds has passed...deep breaths. Again, the screen swings round and everything looks so different, my uterus is twice the size and the grey blob looks like two grey blobs on top of one another and the bottom one is flickering. Dr P is talking about such and such weeks and so many millimetres but I can't hear anything I'm just waiting for him to say 'heart beat' and he does as he points to the flicker. I feel relief, breifly, no tears of joy no elation, just that right now today, I'm pregnant but why the hell am I spotting?

I manage to eat something in this brief window of relief and N tells me a friend has offered him a free holiday in the Maldives as his wife can't go. I say of course that's fine. I would go if I could and if all this work out N's responsibilities could be so different this time next year and I know he would want me to go if it were the other way round.

Week 4-5...joy, spotting, yolk sacs and sheer panic.

The first week since my 2 pink lines was lovely but ended in terror. Scary, exciting and surreal to begin with, I felt confident with my symptoms and felt so positive. I had promised myself I would take this approach and as the doubling HCG levels rolled in, it was easy-ish. I walked each day, worked, rested and spent time with N, trying to keep our excitement under control. I had booked my 6 week scan (6.6) and knew that a heart beat makes it 'official', I saw that as the next milestone.

At approx 4.6, one dark Sunday morning, I started feeling a bit crampy, hot tummy, constipation easing perhaps and I nipped off to the loo to be greeted with watery, brownish, pinky-red spotting. My whole life flashed before my eyes and the words 'how long until the next FET' flashed across my tunnel vision. I told N, who's reaction I'll never forget and shakily called my Dr. 'I'm bleeding'......'what?....yes, yes it's significant'. A minute later I turned to N, 'he said if it gets heavier go to A&E, he'll scan me tomorrow and I need to go for a repeat blood HCG on the way'. Off to bed as Dr ordered with a pad and I turned off the lights and just breathed, in and out, trying to slow my heart down.

About an hour later, those few tiny mls of 'stuff' had not returned, each time I went to the bathroom I was greeted with pale brown PV loss. Much of this is pessary residue I must add. Those of you who have used these will know how messy they are. Dr P told me to increase them from 8hrly to 6hrly so I found myself very uncomfortable indeed but gradually hope was returning. There was no 'red' and things were tailing off. By the morning.

On route to the clinic my boobs were so sore and I felt really nauseous, PV loss was now just pessary (with a brown tinge). My Dr popped in the dildo cam and I could hear the beeps of him measuring something, sounded just like measuring my follicles as the eggs were growing. He swung the screen round and I was full of hope before my eyes even adjusted, he seemed so confident. 'There's your baby, measuring just right for your dates with this little...how do you say...sack?!, can't see anything bleeding anywhere'...phew.

Dr P thinks it's burrowing/implantation and that if it returns I should rest. I feel reassured for a day of two. A little surprised it's just one as my HCG was so high but a little relieved that things look OK and I wasn't 'loosing' a twin. Another mini milestone and mini celebration.

Anon

I have moved my blog and just tested it out, I can't access it via the old address. Fingers crossed everyone following it will still be able to see posts and therefore it's (almost) anonymous. Over the past year I have shared my blog with one or two people in my day to day life, mainly those who have battled infertility in the hope that they will draw some comfort from it.

However, as I was faced at last with announcing a pregnancy I found I couldn't 'blog' about it as some of my followers are close friends and I wanted to tell them my news, gently, via email/letter as planned, so I've been a bit cut off. Also, I want to wait until reaching week 12 before telling people too.

Anyway, with the 12 week milestone still a few weeks away, it's nice to have this space back again.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thank you

Thank you to my handful of 'anonymous' followers for your BC messages and emails. I had to delete my last post as this blog is not anonymous and I realised after posting that I'm not ready to give any updates yet about my recent FET and other treatment related stuff on here. You can see latest developments on BC. I hope to be back again at some point. Until then, I will continue to look in from time to time and wish you all the best at your various stages of treatment. :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Out to lunch



I'm on a roll with relaxing and spending more time away from the internet, every time I am tempted to look on websites and blogs I find myself stumbling over things I hadn't even known I needed to worry about and ruining my happy state, so I'm having another internet holiday and I've even deactivated my FB account temporarily....scary. So, we shall see, back to the days of mobile phones and a daily email check. I wonder how many invitations I'll miss?! There's always the chance of a google search, so that comes down to will power. I'll look in again in a week or two but I'm off for now...Doctor's orders! (it really is).

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Envy

Since talking to the therapist I feel I have more perspective again and am less upset at other peoples pregnancies (most of the time), I'm not jumping for joy with happiness, it's still hard but I'm loosing the 'it should be me' aspect. I've never really envied other peoples lives or relationships so it was something I wanted to tackle...other peoples babies.

I still feel it, IVF, post miscarriage or easy, effortless first timers.... it all hurts ...but once the child is grown up and no longer a baby, I find it easier for one reason or another. Before I started IVF I reserved those gut wrenching feelings for pregnancies following an effortless conception but the moment I started injecting myself to get my ovaries working overtime I got 'fertility report' envy on the BC website and others...why do other people have more follicles/eggs collected/top grade embryos than us? And ever since my failed cycle I find IVF success stories just as painful. It took me by surprise really. Anyway I'm working on it all and feeling 10 times happier.

This is not a comparison, just one of the many things that amazes me when I think back to my old job, it involved children, babies and bereavement so I don't talk about it much. I spoke to one Mum whose son had died, so I could say good bye and hand over to the person in line for my job before I left for South America. She told me she had had a bad weekend, her sister had announced she was pregnant. I almost jumped in with my own assumptions but kept a professional head and said it sounded hard, what was the hardest part about it? The Mother told me, it's not the pregnancy, it's that I wanted to shout with happiness and tell my son but he's gone, he will never meet this child, his cousin and the worst part his cousin will never meet him. Everyone thinks I am upset by the pregnancy but it's not my child, it will never be and so I feel no envy at all.

I'll keep working on it, it's a natural feeling , envy, so I'm trying to forgive myself and I find that helps and focus on what it is that's really bothering me and then the envy dissipates and I don't dwell for so long on FB updates. I think it will always be a little hard...

New approach

I'm using all I learnt from the last cycle to manage this one when it begins. I'm not reporting every stage on the blog but talking to N and a close friend or two. I'm being vague about dates so no one will know if and when I am post transfer. That way I don't have any pressure to report bad news (embryos didn't survive thaw or another another failed cycle) and others don't feel anxious about how to support me. I will let people know outcomes, good or bad, as I need to.

I must say that had the first cycle worked I would probably swear by my methods, blogging every step, I almost believed it would make it work, like an imaginary being controlling my fate would see my words and say 'gosh, this has to result in a pregnancy, all this work and emotional toil'. The negative outcome showed the blog for all it was and the fact that I had neglected other areas of my life to draw strength from. So anyway, it's good to have this blog and it's readers, it's one area of my life and it helps in a small way. I would not have learned all I have learned these past 2 months about myself, infertility treatment and what helps and what doesn't. Not that it's a consolation, just that I have made the most of a difficult situation and learned from it.

I've not talked much about IVF with my therapist but all that has come up has impacted on everything else and I feel prepared for these next 2 tries, when ever they may be, I feel I am (we are) doing all we can.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

What took you so long?

No one has ever asked me why I am 35 and having fertility treatment yet I have been with my lovely N for 6 years. I have been interrogated in other ways. I have asked myself this question recently and found it useful to remember why it took me so long to the stage we are at.

I thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted children, I always arrived at a 'yes' because I felt there would be more regrets not having a family than having one but I'm certain that both options involve huge sacrifices. I hit the snooze button on my biological clock at regular intervals during my 20's, along side some very unhealthy relationships, a lot of hard work and study and some healing with from very damaging experiences in my childhood. I was (still am) terrified about the incredible influence a parent can have on their child.

Having a child seemed to be such an overwhelming commitment and change in life style, I wished I could squeeze another decade between 20 and 30. All I ever heard were people complaining about motherhood. After a hard day at work, I would go out with friends and eat and drink and laugh and I pitied the women going home to their kids. They would occasionally make it to a leaving do or Xmas party but they looked older than their years and frumpy. They all seemed to have husbands who would end up in the pub with us while they were putting the kids to bed whilst wearing a quilted dressing gown. They were happy to take a dull job to 'fit round the kids'.

For the first few unproductive months I was relieved at times to be able to carry on drinking white wine, enjoy going out with friends and continue with my life as it was. A friend of mine, L, once went to visit a couple with a new born, L was newly married and her and her husband went for lunch and had to 'ooh and ahh' at the baby. The new Mum told L she hadn't been out for 10 months, she was too exhausted and had to walk with a cane as the sciatica that started during pregnancy had not gone away. L said the poor, new Mum looked horrendous and later, on the way home in the car, L burst into tears and said 'I can't do it...ever...I don't want their life'. Well of course babies aren't babies forever and L has since had enough positive examples of Motherhood to change her mind. As I have. I can see the bigger picture now.

Before even deciding to try for a baby I had more worries, there were all the potential problems at birth, disabilities, autism or a healthy child who starts school and suddenly has a headache and dies a week later from a brain tumour (usually with an unpronounceable name). I've watched people deal with all of these heart breaking situations in my career, as a Nurse and later as a Therapist. 'Don't have children, spare yourself the pain' said one parent. But most were so inspiring it helped me make my mind up and after lots of soul searching, I decided to prove Philip Larkin wrong, or try at least...http://oldpoetry.com/opoem/show/6538-Philip-Larkin-This-Be-The-Verse

The latest taboo

To continue the theme from my other post, I have been thinking about all the bad examples of Parenthood I have had in my life. I've quickly forgotten these since struggling to conceive, as that has become a bigger worry and hence the idea of Motherhood is now a fantasy in soft focus. For the Mum's I know,  all negative comments are ignored and dismissed as ungrateful and all beaming smiles and bumps and bundles marked as smug as I dream of swapping places.


I wonder how other people imagine their life to be if they already had a child. Do people focus on babies and baby related activities. Family scenes or pivotal events; first smile, first words, first day at school, wedding day...all of the above, I'm sure. The longer I am unsuccessful in this journey, the more I focus on the happy ideals.
But I wonder how, those of us who don't have a child and are still waiting to get pregnant, imagine our lives would look if we had become pregnant...........say...3 months after starting to try and conceive. How would it look right now?

If there was a way to measure happiness and such a tool existed, would today be any better with a child? When I saw my therapist last I explained my strange existence since starting to try for a baby. From that first month, June 2009 (well May in fact but I was a week post ovulation and blissfully unaware that month didn't count) I felt my life separated into two parallel worlds, one with a growing pregnancy and one without (the reality). The childless existence seemed dark and empty and the imaginary life was perfect. Feeding my baby in a high chair while N leaves for work, whistling a merry tune and wiping away some mashed baby food that has found it's way onto his suit. Radio in the background and some sort of baby activity with friends planned in the afternoon.


I feel I am now on a mission for the ideals we see on FB and TV and seemingly perfect moments with friends kids. I want this treatment to work soon so I can begin my imaginary, perfect life. So I started weighing up the pros and cons again, regardless of the fact my choice has been (almost) removed.


I typed 'Do you regret having children' into google and managed to find the thread on mumsnet that sparked so many news articles and topics for chat shows around the time I left the UK. The more the thread developes, the more honest people become. This is how a lot of Mum's really feel; lost, fed up, depressed and unappreciated. I know it won't last forever and it hasn't put me off but it's another insight into a world I have no first hand experience of. It just helped me put things in perspective.


I love the comment from one woman on mumsnet who feels a gut wrenching jealous pang when she sees pictures of friends out and about, seemingly carefree, on FB while she is stuck at home and wondering if her relationship will survive the stresses and strains of having a small child. It's incredible to think some people would actually not have children if they had a time machine. As one woman says it's a taboo subject, to admit your life isn't great, even when you are lucky enough to be fertile.


I have a lot more perspective now, generally. I am not wishing my childless/childfree days away but treasuring them. I want to get pregnant, I really hope it happens soon and N and I are blessed with a healthy child. Until then, I'm enjoying my life, I'm learning so much and accepting things are the way they are and viewing them in a more positive slant.