Disconnect

I’m actually a very good sleeper. I sleep a little like a brick, usually from the moment my head touches the pillow until my a few minutes into my sunrise clock coming on in the morning. I might wake up once during the night to pee, but I go straight back to sleep. That is, until I get my period. Then it’s all change. I’m fidgety. More fidgety than usual. I’m hot. I’m cold. I’m hot again. I itch. I itch everywhere. I’m uncomfortable. In every position. It absolutely sucks.

I used to suffer with insomnia a lot when I was younger. Night time was when my brain came to life. When every single problem, no matter how insignificant, came to the forefront of my consciousness. Where all my creativity ignited. It was exhausting, draining, hard to manage. And then I got diagnosed as a coeliac and went on a gluten-free diet and the insomnia stopped. I’m not suggesting for a minute that gluten causes insomnia but it was definitely diet related for me. Apart from when I have my period, obviously. Then it must be hormone related. Damn hormones.

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Anyway, as I’m up, at 3.45am, I might as well put my brain to use instead of just uncomfortably tossing and turning in my bed. There’s been a lot going on recently. I have separated from Elton. Most of you that know me, will know this already as it happened back at the beginning of December. It had been on the cards for a while, things just weren’t right. Unfortunately there has been a lot of grief in our marriage. Miscarriage, failed IVF, the realisation that a family is not what I will have, it’s all tied up with Elton. It’s not his fault but I can’t move on with him. I need to disconnect.

And that just momentarily brings me back to why I’m up at this unsociable hour. Why the fuck do I still get periods? I’ve gone through this before I know, but it still makes me so angry. Not that I’m desperate to go through the menopause but having a monthly reminder of what could have been is just like a sucker punch. Every fucking month. Anyway, I digress…

So, disconnection. It’s an interesting word for me as it has recently come up in my therapy sessions. One thing that I have had an issue with my whole life is feeling disconnected to things that I have done. This struck me most when I got back from nearly two years of travelling. Almost as soon as I got back I felt disconnected from the whole experience. I had memories and a bunch of photographs but, the only way I can describe it was, it felt like it had happened to someone else and I had just been told about it, rather than experiencing it for myself.

I have recently been through this experience again. For those of you that follow my other blog page, you will know that at the beginning of January I ran the equivalent of three marathons in three days as part of an ongoing challenge I have set myself this year. Now I haven’t run a marathon since 2011 and I have NEVER run three back to back. It was incredibly emotional, going through pain, joy, disappointment, happiness, pride, elation, relief and a whole host of other emotions yet almost immediately I felt completely disconnected from it. Like it had happened to someone else.

So this feeling of disconnection became the topic of conversation when I recently met with my therapist. And what an interesting conversation that became! I am adopted. I was removed from my mother after a few days and put in foster care and then adopted at the age of 10 weeks. Just a wee baby. I’ve never had any issues with this. My parents are amazing, loving and incredibly supportive and I have never wanted for anything. I have also met both my natural parents and their families and still have a close relationship with my natural father and my half-siblings. I’ve never felt that my adoption was a ‘trauma’ in my life. However…

The way my therapist described pregnancy is that mother and baby are one. Joined not just by the physical umbilical cord and subsequent breast feeding but in every other way as well. The first three months of a baby’s life are fundamental. The child develops into an individual but is grounded by this continued bond with their mother. Any child removed from their mother during this time is quite likely to go on to develop some issues in adult life – I’m not a psychologist so I’m not going to attempt to go into this any further, suffice to say, the way it was explained to me made sense.

So I went through a physical ‘trauma’ when I was just a couple of days old. I obviously don’t remember this but it has left a scar. I am disconnected. Disconnected from myself. I seek out relationships, activities, experiences, adventures that make me feel things but these feelings are short-lived. They are in the moment. My emotions feel very real, they feel very intense, but then they’re gone. Like they happened to someone else. In order to really ‘feel’ emotions, I need to reconnect to myself.

A dream that I have had many times throughout my life is that I can breathe underwater. How cool is that? I mean, sometimes, when I’m swimming, I actually question whether it’s true as the dreams have felt so real! I’ve always just thought this was a cool dream however, as my therapist pointed out, there is only one place in reality where you can actually breathe underwater. The womb. Boom. When he said this it was like a lightbulb moment. This is my safe space. This is my point of reconnect. These dreams are positive. I need to have more breathing underwater dreams. Slowly but surely I will reconnect with myself and then, maybe, I will be able to connect properly with everything and everyone else.

I think the closest I came to reconnect before was when I was pregnant. And that makes sense to me now. Perhaps that’s why it’s been so hard for me to get over my miscarriage. It wasn’t about losing the child, although that was a huge part of it, it was also about losing part of me. It was like a step backwards in the ongoing reconnect that has been my life.

Sorry, I think I might be rambling. It is 4.30 in the morning and I am tired. And my hormones are all over the place. Damn hormones. Still, this has all been a bit of revelation to me. Some of you may be thinking it all sounds a bit kooky, and I think I would too if you were telling me. But it resonates, it has ignited something inside me. It has raised something in my subconscious. I actually feel the head of the nail has been hit.

Time to go back to bed. Maybe I’ll dream I can breathe underwater. Maybe I’ll have a moment of reconnect. Maybe those moments of reconnect will become more frequent. I can live in hope.

Goodnight.

Let the adventures begin :)

Wow, roll back 10 months and things were a little different. There we were, balanced on the edge with our heads above the parapet, waiting for science to gift us with a child, or not. It seems like a really long time ago, and yet, it also feels like yesterday. I always said that I would find my way of dealing with it and I did. I do. Sometimes. I suppose what happens is you become settled in the life that is rather than dwelling too much upon the life that could have been. Well, most of the time anyway.

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Things have definitely moved on. I completed all those triathlons. My plan B. I got a new tattoo!! Other things have changed – my job for instance has become more permanent, albeit more part-time, but that’s good. It works for me. It gives me the freedom to do other things. Next year is going to be more about other things. Other work too. But mainly other things. Visiting friends. Spending time with my family. Getting out and living life to the fullest. This is the stuff that is important. This is what keeps me happy, keeps me on an even keel.

I’ve managed to spend some time with friends and their young child recently. I thought I might struggle but actually it was great. Obviously there were times that I felt a little choked up, but all in all I think I handled it pretty well. I need to be able to visit those friends of mine that have been lucky to have children. And deal with it. As well as improving my relationship with my step-daughter. This stuff is important too. Very important.

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November has been a funny month. I had a shoulder niggle that, if I’m honest, had probably been going on since the summer. Turns out I should have had it looked at a long time ago. And it’s not a shoulder injury, it’s bicep tendinopathy. So that put a stop to any lifting of weights and riding my bike or swimming (not that I was doing a lot of that anyway). Running it was then. My running partner had run every day in October and was planning on keeping going, so I joined her. Today I completed day 34 of running every day and I plan to keep going until Saturday when we head off to India and Nepal. I never really enjoyed running before. It’s always been something that I’ve done as a means to an end. Oh, and it comes at the end of a triathlon. But I have to say, I’ve rather come to enjoy it. I don’t think I’m one of those people that gets the ‘runner’s high’ just yet, but it’s been a good month. And I keep beating my time at Parkrun so I must be doing ok 😀

I also seem to drunk a great deal of gin in November . I haven’t been on the lash permanently but somehow I seem to have gone through rather a lot. Oh well, I have enjoyed it, especially finally getting to sample the new Blue Slate Gin from Dinorwig Distillery, the gin that I was part of the tasting crew for (see previous blog post).

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The sad news is that my grandmother died. That was a complicated relationship as I am adopted. She was the mother of my biological father who I have known since I was 19. She was a fantastic lady, always welcomed me into the family with open arms. She was a Scot, and a proud one. I feel honoured to have met her and to have had her in my life. Unfortunately she had been horrendously depressed since the death of my grandfather two years ago. I think, in reality, she died of a broken heart 😦

The happy news is that my little sister (half sister on my biological father’s side) got married. It was a really beautiful day, down in Gloucestershire, at Berkley Castle. They both looked amazing and I am so happy for them 🙂

Anyway, enough of my rambling (I’m not even sure what this blog post is about anymore…) six more days and we’re off. Off on our big adventure. I’m getting super excited now. Plans have changed as they inevitably would but they’ve changed for the better. We’ve had our flights booked to Delhi for ages now but having finally decided on what trek we would like to do we are now flying out of India two days after we arrive and heading straight for Nepal. Two days in Kathmandu and then we’re flying into one of the scariest airports in the world – Lukla – the starting point for treks up Everest and other mountains in the Khumbu. How exciting is that??!!

We’re not going to Everest, or even to base camp. We’re heading to the quieter valley to the west. The Gokyo Valley. We will be hopefully summiting a mountain called Gokyo Ri which is 5357m high and offers superb views of Everest, Lhotse, Cho Oyu and Makalu. I’ve never been above 5000m before and Elton has never been above 3000m so it’s super exciting for us both.

From there we should, all going well, have a couple of weeks to then travel around Northern India and take in some sights. When we booked this, five weeks sounded like such a long time, now it seems like nothing at all. But I mustn’t complain. We are incredibly lucky to have this opportunity. And we’re going to make the most of it, blog post to follow I’m sure 😀

Just had to share

This evening, following a good workout at Crossfit and while enjoying a gin and tonic in the bath, I came across this article. For anyone in the same situation as me, i.e. involuntarily childless, it’s a good read. Actually, it’s a good read for anyone. Might make you think a little. Take some time to read it.

The M Word

I did say that I had wanted to cover the subject of miscarriage in this blog so here goes. It’s one of those subjects that people don’t really like to talk about. It’s hard because it involves grief, very personal grief, yet it is incredibly common. In fact it is believed that around one in six known pregnancies result in miscarriage and many more occur prior to a pregnancy test even being taken. These statistics are astonishing! And in my mind it’s even more astonishing that it’s just considered ‘normal’.

We (women) are encouraged to keep pregnancy a secret until the end of the first trimester (first 12 weeks) because miscarriage is most likely during this time. So at a time when you are excited, scared, nervous, celebratory, overcome with joy, terrified – all of the above – and your hormones are all over the place due to the ongoing changes in your body, you are to remain quiet. Maybe tell a few close friends and family but otherwise zip it. And then, if the unspeakable happens and your body rejects your pregnancy, again, you have to keep quiet. After all, you can’t really go announcing that you have had a miscarriage if you haven’t told anyone you are pregnant…! It’s back to work, back to life, back to whatever it is that you need to do. No time to grieve properly, no time to heal your body. Why??

I had a miscarriage on Monday 6th October 2014. There will be many people I know reading this who had no idea I was ever pregnant although I did tell quite a few people. I felt I needed to tell work as I do a physical job and I also told quite a few friends as we were away for a reunion weekend at Centre Parcs and I obviously wasn’t drinking. Still, there are many people who never knew.

We’d been trying for a baby since Spring 2013. After not having any joy all the usual tests were done. I was aware that at my age (I was 39 at the time) I might be pre-menopausal although I wasn’t having any symptoms. After a series of blood tests the doctor told me that I wasn’t ovulating. I had thought that this wouldn’t bother me. In my mind I just wanted to know whether I could have children or not. If I couldn’t then we’d make other plans for our life. Unfortunately it devastated me. Not the reaction I’d expected.

After a couple of weeks I decided to go and see a different doctor. She agreed to run the tests again and this time I was ovulating. I think because my periods were (are) so irregular, it was impossible to predict the correct time period to check my hormone levels. Anyway, we were back on. The doctor prescribed me Clomid and I was told to use ovulation tests to ensure that we were ‘at it’ on the right days. My first month using Clomid I didn’t ovulate according to the tests. But then I didn’t get my period. I knew I was pregnant. I was getting tired in the afternoon. I kept getting dizzy spells. I was needing to pee more than ever. One Sunday, Elton and I went for a run in Newborough Forest – my usual 10km circuit – and I just couldn’t manage it. I kept getting dizzy and having to walk. I knew.

On Wednesday 3rd September 2014 I took a pregnancy test. I was working away at the time. Positive test. I didn’t know what to do with myself! I rang Elton. So excited 🙂 I rang my mum. Overjoyed 🙂 In the morning I told my two friends at work. By Sunday I was starting to get some sort of morning sickness. I got it in the afternoon. It really floored me. It was a confusing mixture of nausea and acute tiredness combined with some sort of allergic reaction. I would be dry retching one minute and then start sneezing and then it would turn into burping or yawning. I also got REALLY itchy palms. Weird I know 😮

My boobs were sore, I couldn’t stop peeing during the night, I was over the moon! I wanted to feel it. Every inch of it. I downloaded an app on my phone so that I could see each day what was happening to my baby. I went onto forums to talk to other new mothers to be. It was the most exciting time.

First midwife appointment was Wednesday 17th September. It was a form filling day. That was the first day I felt no symptoms. In fact I didn’t feel pregnant at all. Over the next few days the nausea/tiredness/allergy came and went in differing degrees.

On Monday 22nd I went for a bike ride. I was really sensible and chose a route that was predominantly on the cycle track but then managed to cycle into the back of a car in Conwy. It wasn’t a bad crash, just a bump, but I went to hospital anyway just in case. They booked me in for a scan the following day.

On the Tuesday when I went in the hospital did a pregnancy test. I was convinced it was going to come back negative and that it had all been in my head. Of course it wasn’t. I had an internal scan as it was still very early on in the pregnancy. I was told they could see my little bean but it was too early for a heartbeat yet. Apparently my baby was between 5 and 6 weeks and around 7mm long. Amazing! I was booked in for a follow up appointment in two weeks’ time.

A couple of days later I went to the doctor to get a prescription for some pregnancy safe antihistamines. When I told her about the scan she said that she was worried as the hospital saying my baby was 5-6 weeks didn’t match with my dates and meant that the baby wouldn’t be developing properly. Great. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I had been suffering no symptoms for around a week.

Second appointment with the midwife on Tuesday 30th. She told me that potentially my baby had stopped growing at 5/6 weeks and I just hadn’t miscarried yet. She held off on booking me a follow-up appointment. I was devastated. I started spotting on Wednesday 1st October.

The day it all happened was horrendous. I’d had a bad night’s sleep the night before and felt like crap. I started bleeding in the afternoon and by the evening this had turned into really bad cramps and clotting. I tried to go to bed around 9pm but my cramps got worse and worse. I started having diarrhoea, felt really nauseous and was in immense pain. By 1:30am I had almost passed out. Elton called an ambulance. Before they arrived I think I passed the embryo while on the toilet. I wasn’t really with it to be honest. The paramedics gave me some pain relief and then took me to Ysbyty Gwynedd. I was transferred from A&E to EPU where I delivered the sac with the midwife. The following day I had to go in for a scan to ensure everything was gone. Just what I needed. To be sat in the waiting room with a load of pregnant women.

That was it. All over. The dream gone. No baby. I had to tell work as there was no way I could go in for a couple of days. I had to tell my friends, well the ones who knew. The hardest part of all was not being able to talk about it openly. How do you broach the subject? ‘Hi, how are you? Did you have a good week at work? Oh, by the way, I was pregnant but I’m not any more, I had a miscarriage on Monday’. It just doesn’t happen like that. I went to the doctor. They were pretty much like ‘oh well, it is pretty common you know, especially in women your age. At least you know you can get pregnant’. Helpful. Not. This article from the Observer from 2010 talks a bit more about this.

So what do you do? You move on. You have to. As I’ve said in a previous post, I’m a pragmatic person. I wouldn’t let this take over my life. We’d keep trying. But it ate away at me. Suddenly everyone was getting pregnant, people at work, people in the village, friends. I wanted to be happy for them but inside I was hating them. Every person I’d see walking around with a pram I’d judge. They don’t deserve a baby, they’re smoking. They don’t deserve a baby, they’re too young. They don’t deserve a baby, they already have four children. Why? Why? Why? I needed closure.

My baby had been due on 9th May 2015. We planted an apple tree. She’s a beautiful Bardsey Island apple tree. She gives us the most beautiful blossom in the spring and delicious apples in the autumn. She’s slowly growing, arms stretching up towards the sunlight. Every time I look at her I think of my baby.

I know there are women out there who have had numerous miscarriages and miscarriages way later in their pregnancies but a miscarriage is what it is. It is horrendous, it is sad, it is incredibly personal. But talking about it helps. My advice to anyone going through it would be don’t bottle it up. It can eat away at you.

I’m sorry, I hadn’t originally intended this blog to be a diary log of the events leading up to my miscarriage but it has been incredibly cathartic. If you have read all the way to the end, thank you for listening. This has been better closure for me than the tree, almost 😉

So now let’s crack on with the IVF! 🙂