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.
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! 🙂
I’ve never been one for a blog, and yet, here I am, writing a blog. It’s not actually my first blog as I did do a bit of a travel blog many moons ago. Still, it’s my first serious blog so bear with me if it’s not fluid. I’m sure I’ll get better.
I have decided to write this as I’m about to go through what many women go through and yet, it doesn’t seem to be openly discussed. IVF. In vitro fertilisation. I’m not sure why we don’t talk about it. Maybe it’s the uncertainty of it all. Maybe it’s because it means laying bare our inadequacies, our inability to produce a child. Surely that’s what women are meant to do? Have children? Maybe it’s just a lack of understanding. Even as I’m writing this I’m not sure exactly how I feel about it all. The last few years have been a rollercoaster of emotions. Being told I can’t have children, then being told I might be able to have children, then getting pregnant, then having a miscarriage, then not being able to get pregnant again, then being told I qualify for IVF, then being told I’m too late, then being told they can just squeeze me in. As I said, it’s been a rollercoaster. And I’m sure my journey has been fairly easy compared to some.
I think the strangest thing for me is the lack of discussion. It’s funny how women are actively encouraged not to tell anyone about a pregnancy until 3 months. This is because there is a high risk of miscarriage within the first term. So does that mean that we are not allowed to get excited, not allowed to share our joy with those we love? But this also means we can’t share our grief when things don’t go the way we planned. Grief is personal, yes, but a problem shared and all that. How do you tell someone you had a miscarriage if you didn’t even tell them you were pregnant? It’s like we’re not allowed to share. We have to go through the ordeal by ourselves. Ok, so maybe with a couple of other people – husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, etc. but my family is wider than that. My friends are my family. Talking about these things is cathartic. It helps us to heal.
Anyway, I digress, I’m not here to talk about miscarriage, I want to talk about IVF. Before I got signed up I can honestly say I had no idea what it was all about. I imagined men in white coats shaking things around in test tubes and didn’t really think any further than that. Reality hit when the box of medication turned up on my doorstep. Sorry, I say medication… what I actually mean is needles. A massive box of needles. Despite the fact I start injecting myself tomorrow morning, I am still not completely sure what I am injecting myself with. My primitive understanding is that it is some sort of hormone suppressor. I have to stop my body doing what it wants to do, i.e. ovulate, so that in a week’s time I can start injecting myself with another drug to induce ovulation, but on a grand scale. I think that’s pretty much the gist of it.
My body is going to start to change shape, my hormones are going to be all over the place, logistically I have to travel backwards and forwards between North Wales and Shrewsbury for scans and blood tests and somehow, I have to carry on as normal because the world does not stop just because I am going through IVF. And then, at the end of it all, I might not even get pregnant. In fact, if you look at the statistics for a 43 year old, I’m pretty damn unlikely to get pregnant.
So why go through it all in the first place? I can’t not, surely. I consider myself to be a fairly pragmatic person. I’ve accepted that it’s a long shot, but it’s a shot nonetheless. If we get pregnant, we deal with that. If we don’t, we deal with that. Life goes on.
Anyway, I’m not writing this because I want your luck or your prayers (that’s not really my thing) but because talking about it is my way of dealing with it. Being open, being honest, engaging in conversation and sharing my journey is my way of facing the unknown.
8 hours until injection number 1.