Another miscarriage: surviving the plane crash

I miscarried last night. Our sixth loss in a row. As I looked at the blood in the toilet I wondered which little speck was our guy, and felt sorry for him having to end things in such an undignified way. I had cramps, but they weren’t too bad. I was glad that we had miscarried now, at 5w2d and not later into the pregnancy. I’m glad I didn’t need medical intervention, especially surgery after all the trouble I’ve had with my lining from my previous surgeries.

I can still barely believe what happened. After my son was diagnosed as having a virus, perhaps slap cheek, I was unwell for days. Dizzy, headachy, nauseated, fatigued. I put it down to early pregnancy hormones. But then, at 4w6d, I got a hot, red, itchy rash over almost my entire body. My worst nightmare had come true. I had a serious illness. I saw my doctor and she said that the embryo would have had, “no chance”. She said she’d have diagnosed me with German measles if I didn’t show good immunity to it from previous blood tests. Honestly, WTF. I haven’t had a virus like that since I was a kid.

I feel as though I have been in a plane crash and have realised that I have survived, but have no idea what to do next. I am a bit paralysed by what has transpired over the last couple of weeks. I think I will have to take some steps to seek out a counsellor, even though the last counsellor I spoke to was like a brick wall and left me feeling no better than before.

We have some big decisions to make. When we first began thinking about having our second child, I imagined and expected that we would have a two year age gap. I was so upset when that gap became two and a half years, then three years, but each time I gradually came around to it. When the gap was two years people asked my constantly about when and whether we would have a second child. Now they don’t say anything.

We are staring down the barrel of a gap of around four and a half to five years if we try again and succeed. I feel as though the gap is getting out of control. Perhaps I am being unfair to everyone who had a close relationship with their siblings growing up with a large age gap, but to me it is starting to feel pointless having two children with quite different childhoods. And putting ourselves through all the sleeplessness again when our lives feel so easy now.

But then I think about the rest of my son’s life. Once you’re in your twenties, that five year gap becomes smaller and smaller. It would eventually become insignificant – surely. Thinking about my son having a sibling for the rest of his life gives me the resolve to consider doing another round of IVF.

The alternative is quite scary. There must be so many couples out there that decide enough is enough, we have given it our best but our relationship and family and sanity must prevail over more attempts. We are so close to this point. I just don’t know if I have quite reached it yet. We wanted this so much, and when I saw that positive pregnancy test a week ago the age gap issue floated out of my thinking completely. I was just happy that we were pregnant.

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Broken hearted

I knew as soon as I answered the phone. The nurse’s voice was solemn, she asked if it was OK to talk. I braced myself. “Your HcG has actually dropped since the last reading. It was 206 and now it’s 196. I’m so sorry.” When she didn’t explain that it was possible that things could still be OK I realised that I was having a miscarriage. Again. I’ve actually lost count what number we are up to. I started sobbing on the phone almost immediately. The nurse asked if I was OK. “Of course I’m not OK!” We agreed that I would do another blood test on Monday but it barely mattered. Embryo number six will not make it.

I text my husband even though he was at lunch. I figured he should know. And then I completely broke down. I lay on my bed and I cried so much. And I’m crying again now as I write this through my tears. My heart is broken again.

We’re pregnant! Well, maybe?

I took a pregnancy test on Friday. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was hopeful. It was a First Response early result test, the only ones I use after all these years of trying. And there it was, two strong pink lines. Pregnant! I was not as excited as I thought I would be, more relieved. And happy.

Things changed quite quickly though. I took my son to the doctor as he had a strange rash on his face and legs. The doctor didn’t know for sure, but suspected that he had a virus commonly called slap cheek. She said “make sure he stays away from pregnant woman and anyone that’s not well.” I said, ‘but I’m pregnant! I just found out today!!” The doctor suggested I take my son to a grandparent, but we didn’t have anyone in the city. She said I probably already had the virus anyway if I was going to catch it, and there was nothing I could do. It was possible I could miscarry.

I was beyond distraught. What were the chances of this happening to us ever, let alone the day I find out that I’m pregnant. I was so upset. When my husband came home he thought the worst as he saw my teary face poke through the door. He suggested that I move out for the weekend. I didn’t want to call on my friends on a Friday night, but he was right. I did. I was in exile. We told my son that I was sick and needed to stay away from him.

When I looked into slap cheek further, I read that many people develop immunity to the virus from being exposed as a child. If you do catch it when pregnant though it can cause miscarriage as the virus attacks the red blood cells of the baby. It made me so worried.

The next day, my wonderful friends made me scrambled eggs for breakfast and took me to the zoo with their daughter. We had a lovely day, although after walking for a couple of hours I was pretty exhausted. In hindsight, I think that walk did something to my back, because the next day I woke in agonising pain. It radiated across my shoulders and down my arms. It radiated down my back and hips and legs. I was paranoid as hell that I had caught the virus. Why else would I be in such pain all over my body??! But almost as soon as the pain arrived, it was gone. The next morning I awoke basically pain free. Maybe I was OK. Maybe I didn’t have the virus!

Then the spotting started. FFS. Only the slightest, slightest bit of light brown spotting, not enough for anyone else to probably ever notice, but enough to freak me out completely. And I noticed it across three days. My first miscarriage began with spotting, albeit a bright red spot. The loss of the first of the twins began with spotting. I never had spotting with my other pregnancies. Fair to say then I have been a tad anxious.

The last couple of days I’ve felt fairly dizzy and queasy, and lacklustre. I’ve spent a lot of time sleeping. I’ll periodically poke my poor boobs to check that they still feel sore, and they seem to. I feel as though I should still be pregnant, but its anyone’s guess really. I’m expecting a phone call soon from the clinic to let me know if my HcG has risen as expected from my initial reading of 206 at 16DPO. It reminds me a little of the call I waited to receive from BEP (beedy eyed peepus), my obstetrician, to confirm whether or not our previous pregnancy had a trisomy. Every minute is taking a lifetime.

 

 

 

Back on the mouse-wheel of infertility

My colleague that sits next to me in the office is pregnant. Again. Unless something goes drastically wrong she will have two kids in the time we have been unable to have one. She’s so happy. I overhear her making  telephone appointments for scans, pregnancy yoga classes, “babymoon” holidays, and buying a bigger car. It really gets me down and that bothers me.

It was one of the reasons I’ve decided to take time away from work. I’m taking three months off. In part, this time is to repair some of the damage done to my mental state over the last two and half years. When our first embryo transfer failed, it hit me in a different way than I expected. It has been like a thick fog descended on me overnight and has barely lifted. My senses have been dulled and I don’t feel happiness like I usually do. I grump at my husband and cry way too much. It’s no good for anyone.

So I’m trying to take charge. I also want to do the best that I can for our second guy in the freezer, embryo number six. I was so anxious prior to and in the weeks following our first embryo transfer that I believe it may have affected implantation. It was unhealthy and unhelpful, and given the stakes are so high I feel a bit stupid in hindsight that I didn’t prioritise my health and sanity more by taking time off work then. Not that I can do anything about that now.

My boss was amazing actually. When I raised with him taking time off it was as if he had figured it out before I had. He said that he realised that the alternative to me taking leave was that I’d probably quit, which was true. This was more important than my job and he agreed. I don’t know how he convinced himself and management in barely 24 hours to approve my proposal, but here I am, on leave now for three months.

Fingers crossed that its productive in more ways than one.

A new journey: peeing on a stick

I didn’t think when I started writing this blog that I would be writing about peeing on a stick. I also didn’t think I’d have another two losses after our first miscarriage (well, three if you count the fact we were having twins on one of those occasions). But here I am.

Peeing on a stick. Not terribly graceful. Not something you’d discuss over the water cooler at work. Initially, peeing on a stick for me meant using a pregnancy test. It’s ludicrous what I put myself through. I get myself a FRER (or First Response Early Result) test, so that I can test at the earliest possible time. Never mind the fact that when I have had a positive result (so, five times before) I’ve never got a positive test before my period is due. I tell my illogical and somewhat deranged self, “maybe you could get an early result! Why would you want to wait if you could find out early!” And so it goes on.

The worst part though is waiting for a non-existent positive result. I sit there in the bathroom. I squint. I move the test into the light. I tilt it.  I throw it in the bin. I get it out again. I repeat the charade for what feels like a squillion times until I have given myself a headache from focussing so hard and trying to make something exist that doesn’t: that elusive second line. Sigh. Not this month.

Last month we tried an ovulation predictor kit for the first time. I didn’t even know what OPK meant on my Fertility Friend app until last month. I’m not sure why, but I decided to go top shelf. We got a Clearblue digital test. It promised to give us our four most fertile days for optimal “love making”. My poor husband. “Love making” at the moment is more like a scheduled requirement than a recreational activity.

My period came and went. So I opened the Clearblue test. Yikes, it looked complicated. The instructions suggested I should have started testing the day before. Not a great start. I told myself I would start the next day. And then I turned to my old favourite Google and asked some questions: when to test, how long do you need to hold on before testing, morning, afternoon or evening… so many questions! I decided that I would aim to be consistent at least and test in the middle of the day, after holding on for a couple of hours each time.

First day of the OPK… nothing. Second day flashing smiley! I looked at the instructions and it meant… high fertility! It was early in the piece, only day 11. I was pretty sure I usually ovulated after day 14 so didn’t pay too much attention. The next day another flashing smiley. We were at a music festival all day and all night long. Maybe I’d done the test wrong I thought. It did say to use first morning urine and I’d ignored that.  In any case, we were absolutely exhausted, I hoped that we would have more opportunities.

On day 14 I was at work. I wondered how many other women have to attempt to smuggle an ovulation test into the cubicle at work. It wasn’t exactly discreet, I had to shove the test up my jacket sleeve and then walk to the bathroom. I hoped my boss didn’t call me into his office. My arm was abnormally rigid.  I took the test. The results take a good five minutes to show, so I decided I would go back to my desk and then surreptitiously look at the test in my desk drawer.

Thankfully no-one cottoned on to my bizarre behaviour. The elusive solid smiley appeared! According to Clearblue that meant ovulation was imminent. It was like receiving the call to arms. Turns out that two years of trying for your second child can make you pretty determined to conceive.

The next two weeks were spent wondering if I’d stuffed up the test. I don’t think I did, my period arrived exactly two weeks after the test claimed I ovulated. Sigh. Back to peeing on a stick again.

 

 

Another year on

I got my period today. In a moment our chances for conceiving this month evaporated. I felt myself slump and fade into a moment of sadness.

That moment was nothing thought compared to the meltdown I had yesterday when I took a pregnancy test and, even with the strongest squint, there was no hint of that big fat positive. I cried so much. I felt myself being dragged back to the lows that followed our termination. So much pain, and anger, and sadness, and helplessness. It sucked. I thought we were doing so well and then, bam.

I could feel myself having an angry imaginary conversation with a friend. Yelling at them that they had no idea what it was like to nearly lose your job because your mind is elsewhere for months on end, to feel physical pain in your heart every time you saw a woman walk past with a perfectly round baby bump, to sit alone with your thoughts for hours trying to guess whether this month might be the month that the nightmare comes to an end. I felt so angry. So trapped in an endless shitty nightmare.

I did my best to imagine all the people in the world who are in a shittier place than us. To be grateful to live in a beautiful country, in a nice house, with a wonderful and supportive husband, and to have a gorgeous son. I feel guilty sometimes how self-absorbing this journey to pregnancy is. I know it frustrates my husband. I can understand why.

Today, though, I am resigned to the fact that 2016 holds no hope for us. I’ve changed my focus to that arbitrary line in the sand that is 1 January 2017. A new year.

A year ago I thought the same thing about 2015. My husband and I sat down beside the river at my in-laws holiday house and wept quietly on New Year’s Eve, knowing that the end of the year meant the closure of a chapter of our lives, but also meant that our little ones were gone and drifting further away from us.

Come on powers that be, haven’t we been through enough? Please give us a leg up and let 2017 be the year that we welcome our second perfect baby. I’m not ready to give up!

 

 

 

You think you’re ok. Then…

It has been nearly six months since we ended our last pregnancy. I can’t quite believe it. Yesterday, I messaged a friend to say that I think I have come to accept our situation and have adjusted my expectations. Today, I broke down like a deranged mess in front of a whole toddler gym class when someone asked me how I was.

You see, today is our (latest) baby’s due date.

Today is also the day that I think I have got my period again, after trying so hard to get pregnant last month. This was the first month we have been able to try and get pregnant since we ended our pregnancy. I’ll explain why.

For a few months I had little to no periods, with horrendous abdominal pain. I’d never really experienced period pain before, so I visited a gynaecologist. He wanted to run a few tests to make sure I didn’t have Asherman’s.

We started with a HSG. It’s when a radiologist puts a catheter in your cervix and into your uterus and squirts dye in there that should flow around and show up on a screen. It was at the same hospital that we went to when we ended our pregnancy. That alone was enough to set me off. Then I had to take a pregnancy test. It felt cruel. Then I was back in a hospital gown again. Lying on a table in a brightly lit room again. This time there was no anaesthetic. The pain was excruciating. I honestly can’t remember ever being in so much pain. It was painful because the dye wasn’t going where it was supposed to. It was stuck in the neck of the uterus. I cried so much that day that the radiologist put a note on my report that she thought I needed psychological help. I had Asherman’s.

It was in December last year that I feared I had Asherman’s. I never thought I would be in the same situation again nearly a year later. This time I arrived at a private hospital. I was dressed in a gown again. I was given misoprostol again. I was led into the brightly lit theatre room again. The anaesthetist was there, she held my hand. The operation was a “success” if you put aside the fact I had bad scarring in the neck of my uterus. The gynaecologist said he had divided the scar tissue and we could start trying again immediately. We were so optimistic. It was a rare win for us in the crap of the last two years that we have plodded through.

Now though, as I sit on our couch writing this, I feel like I’ve come down to earth with a thud. We are still on a long road. We’re not even pregnant. If we get pregnant we and our little baby then have 39 weeks to survive, well, 35 if you minus out the first four weeks that you don’t know you’re pregnant. It’s hard to stay positive sometimes.