Archive for February, 2012

A miracle happened and then ended in another miscarriage

miscarriageApologies for not having posted in a while but there was good reason. I have been going through hell and was unable to share what I was experiencing for many reasons, mainly because we were keeping our miracle pregnancy as quiet as possible. I can now, however share my brief miraculous journey with you.

5 years we have been trying for a baby, plus 2 failed IVFs and an egg donation IVF ending in  miscarriage. I have been diagnosed with secondary unexplained infertility, possibly due to the quality of my eggs. I am currently 39 years old and overweight (but still look hot). However on Saturday 4th February the impossible happened, I had a positive pregnancy test! On Sunday 26th February however, I miscarried.

Not only are the odds ridiculously slim for me falling naturally, the conditions in which I did also do not bode well for a normal, healthy fertile woman. When I was 3 weeks pregnant (approx) I had my knee surgery, I went under the knife! I then proceeded to take very strong pain killers and other drugs all of which are not advisable for pregnant women. After the op I was due to start my period 3 days later, but I didn’t. This didn’t concern me as I knew that surgery can delay a period by days or even weeks, and to be honest the thought of having to go to the loo every 20 minutes due to my heavy period wasn’t great when you’re on crutches, so I was fine with a delayed period. In the 2nd week after the op however, I started to feel really sick, and I mean really sick. I put this down to the painkillers so no problem there either. Then my boobs started to really ache, and I would wake up in the night in pain, just because I’d turned over and moved my boobs! So I did at this point start to think maybe I should do a test, just to rule it out, so I could continue to chuck pain killers down my neck.

I got hubby to buy a pregnancy test when he went on his weekly shop and when he got home I thought, ‘Oh stuff it, let’s do it now even though it’s not morning’. I truly expected for it to be negative. I’ve never been the type to do loads of tests as I don’t like false hope and a positive test one day can turn into a late period 2 days later. When I saw the 2nd line appear I started to go into shock and my eyes welled up. Hubby came into the kitchen (which is joined to our bathroom) and I was holding the test in awe, I just looked at him, he looked back. Neither of us knew how to react. We both instinctively knew that this could quite easily become another miscarriage, and so we both denied ourselves a congratulations moment. The odds were against this one surviving due to the surgery and the drugs I’d recently taken and we accepted this. On the other hand this embryo had to be a tough little cookie as it was the first one of mine in 5 years to make it, and it made it through the surgery and through the drugs already. And it was still here! It was giving me serious morning sickness, achy boobs and now I was also being hit with the emotions (crying at everything with no apparent trigger), which are all good signs that the hormones were kicking in as expected and embryo was bedding in for the long haul.

I had a check up for my knee surgery and my Consultant reassured us that the anaesthetic used wouldn’t have caused any harm, which was wonderful to hear. I had an appointment with my GP (who was over the moon for us) and we collected our MATERNITY PACK. What a moment! We have never had one before and it felt like we’d found the Holy Grail! This purple, plastic A4 folder would contain every detail of our pregnancy and be with us right until the birth. I was also given my Midwife’s contact details and told to make an appointment with her too. Again, this was overwhelming for us and we felt like this is it, we’re on our baby journey now! My GP also tried to get me an early dating scan to reassure me and to double-check the dates as my infertile background makes me a bit unreliable when it comes to dating.

The following week however my pregnancy symptoms would stop and start, for days at a time, and this concerned me. Also, one night I awoke with very uncomfortable tummy cramps, which made me fear the worst was happening. Nothing terrible seemed to happen though and I continued on as normal, I even went clothes shopping with my mother-in-law and picked up a couple of maternity items (they were in the sale and I would have been a fool not to have grabbed them, I was fully aware that it was too early for maternity clothes but sometimes you just go with the flow). I was due back to work on Tuesday 21st Feb.

That very morning I awoke to bleeding. Not much and no pain, but it sent me into utter panic. I called the midwife who basically couldn’t do much and tried to reassure me that bleeding is quite common in early pregnancy (which it is) but that if severe pain came on then I should go to A&E. I went to work but couldn’t focus funnily enough, I was all over the place. The worst feeling is knowing that stress isn’t helping, but being powerless to stop this forceful waterfall of despair from completely covering me. In the end we decided to go to our private clinic (BMI Chiltern) and pay for a scan, if only to calm me down.

The scan was very stressful for me, but the sonographer said that everything looked good, it was all in the right place and was fine for a pregnancy of 5-6 weeks. THIS IS WHERE I REALLY BEGAN TO MELT DOWN. You see I should have been 7 weeks, and I took what she had said to indicate that my baby wasn’t growing, and she couldn’t reassure me otherwise because it was a possibility. I could be wrong with my dates she suggested, but I was having knee surgery when her dates say I was conceiving. “I couldn’t walk let alone have sex!” I cried. So we left there confused, a bit reassured, but more confused.

Wednesday I fell apart even more at work, I had to excuse myself from a meeting because I just couldn’t cope with it all. I saw a counsellor in the afternoon who helped me immensely and explained to me that the main reason I wasn’t coping was because I didn’t know what I was coping with yet. I was basically having a threatened miscarriage so it could go either way, and for a control freak like me, not knowing what’s going on sends me nuts! I did actually feel better after seeing her and so tried to get through another day of still bleeding, cramping, but not at the same time.

Thursday we had an NHS scan and this was our wonderful moment. We were prepared for bad news but were in surprisingly good spirits, as if we were coming to terms with this strange situation and just relieved to be seeing someone else who could maybe shed further light on it. This scan also said 5-6 weeks gestation, but we saw a heartbeat! It was such a magical moment! Even though it was only a tiny flickering we knew what it was and the sonographer again was happy with everything else she saw. When we spoke with the nurse she explained that my bleeding could be due to my scar tissue from my previous c-section…..but that was 16 years ago. We were happiest at that moment I think; we’d seen our baby’s heart beating 🙂

Friday it went downhill fast. I had to come home from work at lunchtime as the pain had increased and was now coinciding with the bleeding. In the evening we went to A&E in Stoke Mandeville and saw a lovely GP who confirmed a threatened miscarriage still, but that just meant we were still in limbo. Saturday it got worse, and Sunday I lost my little one 😦

Today I went back to work but I’m still in pain and bleeding, but I didn’t know what to do as I’ve been sitting at home for ages because of my knee; I needed to get back in to society I think. We both knew from the start that the odds weren’t great for this pregnancy and we were trying to be realistic but at the same time, one has to be positive surely? Today I actually feel quite positive about the future as I have just been fertile so surely I can do it again? I though I’d share with you what I did differently in case it helps any others out there who have egg quality issues, or are just struggling to conceive;

  1. I stopped drinking alcohol completely 2 weeks before I conceived (and haven’t touched a drop since, and won’t be either) 2 glasses of wine a week can cut your fertility by 50% apparently but I had always struggled with going tea-total in the past. Now I can say that it might have made a huge difference to us so can’t recommend it enough (hubby also has given up the booze).
  2. I had been taking maca and wheatgrass as a smoothie, l-argenine and royal jelly supplements and drinking raspberry tea for a good 3 months before conception. Please look into supplements and find ones that suit your scenario. I have a previous post here on alternative things to try.
  3. I had been on holiday! You may now know that I am a stress-head and struggle with anxiety but a holiday was just what the doctor ordered, as they say.
  4. I wasn’t trying to get pregnant. This is the tough one because I haven’t a clue as to how I’m going to reproduce this! I was basically worrying about my forthcoming knee surgery, the last thing on my mind was getting pregnant as it would have been terrible timing (in a good way).
  5. Sex. It looks like I might ovulate later than I thought and so I’m throwing out the ‘baby timed sex’ out of the window. Ignore the ovulation sticks, stop taking your temperature every day and just make love when you feel like it 😉

Whilst Mother Nature has dealt me a crap hand yet again, I am going to hold my head high and smile for my new-found fertility. I WILL be pregnant again and I WILL one day hold a baby in my arms. Determined bitch I am!

In regards to the one I lost, I can only accept what my body has done, and it has done its job. If there is a problem with my pregnancy then my body has dealt with it as it’s supposed to. Does this sound cold? I don’t mean it to, I mean to try to be accepting of things that are out of our hands, to see the bigger picture and to face up to what’s best. This isn’t easy for me, but I deal with tragedy by moving forward.

I would also like to thank FertilityZone as I found their forum so supportive when I had a million questions and was a lost soul.

Good luck to you all, and keep smiling! A miracle is simply something that hasn’t happened yet 🙂 Be positive!

An infertile limerick for your amusement

I made this up I did 🙂

An infertile young woman from Crewe,
was too scared to go to the loo.
“I’m going out of my mind!
I don’t know what I’ll find!
I’m not sure what my uterus will do!”

I may not be an expert poet but I hope this will raise a snigger from those who can relate to it.

Be positive – your feelings are all that you really have

I often tell my 15 year old daughter to try to learn how to control her feelings; to own them and protect them. I’m referring to those times when she is offended by what others have said and she can’t quite shake the sadness that fills her because of those words. I explain that in life, money comes and goes, possessions break and are re-bought, jobs are fulfilled and then taken away and people love you and leave you, but the one thing you truly own in life is how you feel. So if you can change how YOU feel about what happens to you in life…well you just might be able to make yourself one happy existence 🙂

I try to follow my own advice here and when it comes infertility I think this is a perfect example of where we should remind ourselves to be positive in a situation that is actually depressing, heartbreaking and down-right shit at times. All of us are at different stages of infertility, some of us are pregnant, but ALL of us are petrified! We’re petrified of not getting pregnant, of miscarriages, of our own physical failures, of how our babies are developing and of stillbirth. Every stage of infertility is fraught with new stresses and fears, and every day and every week seems like a constant up hill struggle which brings nothing but misery to the woman. This is fact.

Well I want to be controversial and suggest that we change our mindsets! What we are doing is amazing and we should be proud of ourselves everyday, wherever we are on the infertility journey. We are wonderful women (with wonderful men/partners supporting us) because;

  • we are super strong!
  • we are ridiculously determined and will overcome financial, emotional and physical barriers to get what we want!
  • we don’t give up, we keep on trying!
  • we are organised, diligent, hard-working, understanding, empathic and seriously clever!
  • we are all the above (and more) WHILST having a normal life with a job, a home, a relationship and families/social lives too!

So come on ladies cut yourselves some slack. When you next look in the mirror, smile! And think how flipping fantastic you are! You are truly a Goddess on a mission, and wo betide Mother Nature standing in your way! Every day you deserve to feel ok, to feel happy in yourself. Choose to be happier, choose to try to put aside the negative thoughts and accept that sometimes things can go well. I know this is hard but I’m convinced it’s the best thing we can do, for ourselves and our future babies.

Be positive – spread the love – be happy 🙂 (oh dear I am such a hippy, lol)

Support and understanding is VITAL with infertility

It is such a shame that not all of us are lucky enough to have full support when going through the infertility journey. Most of the time this is due to people not knowing what to do or say, but actually I think that they should try a little harder. If a family member or close friend had cancer or other terrible illness, we would do our best to help them through it; give them lifts to appointments, visit them, buy them books/flowers…that kind of thing. But for some reason infertility makes people clam up, and I think it’s because it’s such a heartbreaking problem that it touches us all so deeply inside that we involuntarily ‘look away’. To be truly empathic is to open your heart up and be vulnerable to what life could do deny you, and whilst personal illness is similar in that we don’t like to accept ‘it could happen to us’, it doesn’t involve children. And that, I think is the key.

I have been deeply moved by other bloggers telling their infertility stories, but I am always sadly surprised at the lack of support some women seem to receive. As far as I see it, this is what an infertile woman needs support with (I fully accept that partners need support too, but this is from my perspective);

  • general emotional support – facing the fact that they may never have their own child, dealing with the emotions brought on naturally and from the IVF drugs, coping with constantly seeing babies/pushchairs/pregnant women.
  • financial understanding – this doesn’t mean you need to help pay the costs of IVF but you could be more empathic to the fact that your infertile friends suddenly can’t afford to go out all the time. Financial stress is very real and IVF is very expensive.
  • anger management/understanding – there are many times and many reasons when an infertile will be angry. It does make us angry when friends announce their pregnancies, not because we are angry at them but because it is a reminder that our own bodies aren’t getting pregnant. It does make us angry when people repeatedly tell us to ‘relax and it will happen’ or ‘have you tried…’ because we’ve been trying for years, know what we are doing and have seen specialists thanks! Yes that may be a bit rotten of us, but we can’t help it.
  • loneliness/seclusion – not all of us find it easy to share and talk about how we feel which leaves us feeling very lonely with our feelings. Sometimes just friendly smiles and someone noticing that we aren’t ourselves can make a real difference. In a social group when everyone has children, it can feel really daunting and we infertiles perfect the ‘plastic smile’ for when we see our pregnant friends or beaming new mums.
  • positive support – we know infertility is depressing, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be positive about what we’re trying to do. A positive attitude can achieve more than a negative one surely? So if an infertile is sad and down, try to point out that by trying IVF for example they are attempting to change the future 🙂 I know I would appreciate a friend who tried to cheer me up when I was feeling down, especially if it was over such a delicate subject as infertility, and that takes a lot of balls from the friend and would deserve a lot of respect.
  • couple support – the stress on the relationship can vary from couple to couple, but friends/family should be aware that arguments may be triggered by infertility. Just go easy on us, don’t introduce extra, seemingly trivial things for us to start worrying about. We have enough on our plate.

It has been my mission with my blog to not only have an outlet for my emotions on my own infertility journey, but also to help people better understand infertility even if they don’t have it. I have always been the type of person who wears her heart on her sleeve and believes that a problem shared is a problem halved and I think it is such a shame that infertility is still sometimes a taboo subject. So here are some suggestions if you know someone who is infertile, on what to say to them as an ice breaker if you like;

  • Oh bugger that sucks. I have no idea what I can do, but just let me know if I can help in any way (apart from the obvious of course, I think your hubby may beat me up) <Humour has its place in infertility>
  • Poor you! I don’t know anything about infertility, so you’ll have to educate me.
  • Good for you, going for IVF! Such a positive step, you’re both very strong.

It is my choice to be positive and it’s not easy, but with smiles and kind words from those around me it helps. If we haven’t reached the end of our infertility journey and are still trying for that baby, then I think it’s essential to be positive. If you ask someone who has children what would they do for their child, they would tell you anything and everything without hesitation. Well that’s what we infertiles are doing, we just haven’t got our children here yet, but we’re still doing everything we can for them.

I’m 8 days late, but Mother Nature is just messing with me. No fair!

I have a clockwork cycle, even with its own built-in ‘I’m on my way’ alarm system. 3-4 days before my due date (the 28th day) I start spotting and becoming very tearful/moody/aggressive and then ta-da! Even when going through and after IVF cycles my period has been incredibly reliable and positively responsive to any drugs, it is truly ‘a perfect cycle’. Today however, I am 8 days late. This never happens and so I am doing a ‘Jodie’ which means I am over analysing to the max!

On Monday the 23rd January I went in for my knee surgery, but I also started spotting on this day too. I thought ‘oh fab, not only will I have to deal with my incapacitated knee but now I will have to deal with my heavy period too!’ I was due on on Thursday, but nothing happened. Since then I have been feeling incredibly sick, my boobs have been really sore and have had absolutely no further spotting. The first thing I did was to look into whether surgery/anaesthetic can interfere with a menstrual cycle and it can. Some women report a total loss of a period whilst others were only a couple of days late, the medical advice was that if you were later than 10 days you should see your GP. I’m seeing my GP next Tuesday anyway so if needs be I can talk to her about it then, providing Auntie Flo hasn’t made an arrival of course. The nausea is most probably a reaction to the drugs I’ve been taking for my knee. My boobie pain is probably because I was supposed to be having my cycle and so I’m just a bit out of sorts at the moment. Right? This is my logical, sensible explanation for what is going on, BUT if you knew me you’d know that I can be a neurotic bundle of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ with a huge helping of paranoia and so this is what has also been going through my head…..

There is a miniscule possibility, and I mean so small that the word miracle doesn’t even cover it, that I could be pregnant. That somehow having surgery and being monitored has helped my body to hang on to a fertilised egg, whereas normally it fails to (one of my theories as to why I can’t get pregnant is that my body can’t keep hold of a fertilised egg). Whilst the thought that I could be pregnant should be a fantastic one, it fills me fear and more questions. You see if I am pregnant then i have just undergone anaesthetic and taken strong pain killers which pretty much all state ‘do not take if pregnant’. If I am pregnant….I may have just damaged my baby from day 1!!!

After everything I’ve been through, I don’t deserve this, Mother Nature needs to give me a break and maybe even deal me a good hand for once. So I am actually in the strange situation where I am wishing my period to arrive, to put me out of this neurotic train of thought that is so incredibly unlikely.  But tomorrow….I may just do a pregnancy test….just to rule it out. 😉

Donate your umbilical cord and help others, especially if others helped you.

It’s been in the news a bit recently and I’ve been listening attentively, taking it all in and making sure I fully understand it all. I’m talking about stem cell science and how you can now donate your umbilical cord after delivering your own baby. I know over the years there has been controversy over stem cell research and I must admit the idea of potentially healthy embryos being used for something other than making a baby, is why I took my time in finding out all the facts and deciding how I felt about it. I think this is a personal opinion and accompanies the similar  moral issue of abortion for example. I for one, agree with abortion, but wish there was an alternative, so I guess I am the type of person who accepts the reality of situations and their bigger picture, just feels hugely emotional about how sad and difficult life choices can be sometimes. Obviously the moral of that story is try not to have an unwanted pregnancy in the first place, but I digress.

donate umbilical cord

The photo shows the human umbilical matrix stem cells

Back to stem cells…I have learned of the utterly amazing stuff that stem cells can do in regards to all kinds of illness including cancers. It’s amazing! The fact that umbilical cords are normally incinerated after a birth means that this is the ultimate in recycling 🙂 Apparently it’s really easy to donate your cord too, go here to get all the facts : http://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/cordblood/

So why is a blog on infertility posting about the afterbirth? Am I being insensitive? Well, it occurred to me as I was watching Daybreak this morning and listening to a mum and dad so happy because their baby boy is alive due to a marrow bone donator, that this is what life is all about. If you need help, you ask for it, and if you are lucky enough to be given help, then keep the ball rolling and try to help someone else. All of us who are infertile and needing help with achieving our pregnancies could not say our thanks more, than by donating our cords when the time comes. Especially for those like me, who has received donated eggs. I used to donate blood but had to stop due to the fact that we are trying for a baby (they wouldn’t let me), and surely this is the same?

It just seems so obvious and wonderful to be able to do something so simple that can truly make a life or death difference to someone else. Can I ask you all to spread the word? Let all your pregnant friends know, reassure them that they don’t have to do anything differently, just give birth as normal, and at the end instead of the midwife putting the cord in the bin…she’ll put it in a special bag where it will be whisked away to do good! FANTASTIC!

http://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/cordblood/