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.

insomnia-14

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.

Acceptance

I realise it’s been a while since I’ve talked about the whole childless thing, even though that’s what this blog was all about initially. Well, it wasn’t about childlessness, it was about going through IVF but ultimately that amounted to the same thing. Yesterday I ended up in a thread within a Facebook group I’m a member of, discussing the prospects of perimenopause. This then got me thinking about everything that has gone before and how I currently feel about things.

I know I’ve entitled this post ‘acceptance’ but that might imply that I’m in a happy place over my childless situation. I’m not. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in a bad place either, I have just come to accept my fate and now have to get on with the rest of my life. I see a therapist and that’s probably why I haven’t really blogged about it – blogging was my therapy for a while ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sometimes I’m quite happy that I don’t have children but sometimes (it’s happening less often) I get completely floored by it. My emotions run riot, I’m all over the shop and I have the deepest and unfathomable sense of loss. Maybe it has been conditioned into me, the need for a child. Maybe I’ve always been searching for some sort of completeness that I thought would come with a child. Maybe it never would have made a difference. I suppose the thing that gets me the most is that I will never know.ย Someone summed it up for me yesterday; I’m angry about having my choice taken away.ย 

I’m also really angry that I still have my periods. It’s like a sucker punch every month (or every 23 days in my case). If I’m not producing eggs anymore then why does my body have to keep reminding me of what could have been? Nature’s way of rubbing your nose in it? Harsh really. And then there was last month. 33 days and still no period. I knew I wasn’t pregnant but I had no symptoms of a period either. I ended up doing a pregnancy test. Why on earth would I do that to myself? Of course it was negative and of course my period came the next day. Like I said, harsh.

So, back to the perimenopause. Lately I’ve been struggling with fitness motivation. I’ve been tired. I’ve been having night sweats for a few years now but they’re increasing. I get headaches. I’ve been eating badly. I get strange nerve pains through my body. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I can’t actually be bothered to go to the doctor about it because it doesn’t affect me that much. I just need to give myself a good kick up the arse and get back on programme. I’ll start tomorrow…

The other thing that gets my goat is people with children. I have lots of friends with children. I love my friends, I love my friends’ children. But I don’t need to hear about them all the time. I’m sorry, but actually what I do is zone out of the conversation. Or walk away. Or start talking about my dogs (well, they’re children to me!). It’s really people I don’t know with children that I’m talking about. Or maybe they don’t even have children, they’re just rude. When you first meet someone, is it appropriate to ask them if they have children? I hadn’t really thought about it until I couldn’t have children. It’s not. I usually just reply ‘no’. Generally that means the conversation moves on. But occasionally people are really rude. ‘So do you not want children?’ WHAT THE FUCK HAS IT GOT TO DO WITH YOU??? Saying ‘I can’t have children’ usually shuts them up but seriously, WTF?

I have lots of friends who are childless out of choice. Their choice. Sometimes they like to bracket me in with them but that’s a little like putting a square peg in a round hole. I’m not childless out of choice. However, the above applies on their behalf too. And I don’t hold anything against people who choose not to have children. I do, on the other hand, hold something against people who have children but then choose not to love them or care for them or keep them safe. Those people are monsters.

Anyway, I think I might have gone off track (no change there, the rambler returns…) and have moved away from this concept of acceptance. It’s time to move on. I’m nearly 46 and I have to start thinking about a different course for me. I’m not going to have a family in the traditional sense but I have ‘my family’. I have my husband, my two dogs, my cat, my mum and dad, my friends. I also have my other half a family: my half sisters, my birth father. I’m doing ok. I have a home, my health and my fitness (generally) and I do a job that I enjoy. There are lots of people in the world far worse off than me and maybe, just maybe, in this age of climate change, political instability, unfairness, poverty and overcrowding, not bringing one more mouth to feed into this world is a positive step.

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.

Still waiting…

It’s really hard not to think about it. Has it worked? Has it failed? It’s impossible to tell either way until test day and that’s not until Monday. Four days away. That seems like an age. At least I’m past the half way point I suppose. And I’m working the weekend which will keep me distracted. Hopefully. Still, it’s driving me mad. I keep thinking I’m about to get my period. I don’t know why. There are no indications that it is about to happen. But then my palms start itching again. It’s only the progesterone I’m taking but it reminds me of when I was pregnant before.

In my mind I have to think that it’s failed. That’s the safe thing to do. That way there’ll be less disappointment. Won’t there? But what if? Can I let myself think about the what if? I seem to veer from one to the other in a matter of minutes. The fact that I’m still ill with this damn cough isn’t helping. I’m desperate for Night Nurse but I can’t take it, just in case. Tell you what, if it’s negative on Monday then I am getting pissed and washing it all down with a big glug of Night Nurse. At least I’ll have a good night’s sleep, something that’s definitely been lacking in the last 7 days.

What if it’s positive? What then? I haven’t really thought past this stage. I suppose I shouldn’t really as I’ll only be disappointed but is it not a good idea to prepare? I have a very active job. What will I be able to do? More to the point, what won’t I be able to do?

I think I have worked out that I’m not very good at waiting. Waiting sucks. Especially when it involves massive life-changing decisions like this. Grrrr.

The waiting game

The weekend was tricky for me. I’m not used to not coping but Saturday I definitely wasn’t coping (my blog post probably hinted at that). Thankfully I think I’ve passed that, for now. Well, the self deprecation anyway, not the illness. I was worried that I had overdone it, that I was ill and it was my fault. That my body was going to be trying to fight the illness so much that it wouldn’t be focusing on bringing life to my embryos. A very good friend of mine put it in perspective for me. Maybe the whole reason I was ill was because my body was too busy focusing on the embryos it didn’t have time to deal with a silly little virus.

And a virus is what it is. I have had two visits to the doctor since Saturday morning and have been given a ventolin inhaler to use alongside my normal inhaler and some steroids, both to try and ease my cough as I have had a total of about 5 hours sleep in the last two nights. I’m shattered ๐Ÿ˜ฆ There is nothing I can do about my coldsore, it will go away on its own. I just have to put up with it and probably stop fiddling with it… ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

My parents have been visiting yesterday and today and we had takeaway curry last night and went to the garden centre today to look at flowers and pots to put in my currently being built garden. We bought some lavender to plant round the bottom of my apple tree (see previous blog on the M word) and it smells divine.ย That was a nice distraction ๐Ÿ™‚ Now they’ve gone and I’ve got to get my head back into work mode. I’m back in tomorrow, although potentially not working directly with the kids as my cough is still pretty bad. At least the weather is looking to improve this week so I shouldn’t be getting a soaking like I did on Friday. Still, this is North Wales and unpredictable weather is the norm here.

There is another couple going through the IVF process a few days ahead of me who I have been following intently through their blogs. It is looking like bad news for them this time and I feel terribly for them. Reading their blogs brought me to tears. Because our timelines are so close together it is difficult not to feel involved, even though I don’t know them and they live the other side of the country. She is ten years younger than me. Her odds are much higher than mine, more like 4 in 10 (mine are 1 in 15). She has the possibility of going again with two frozen embryos. This is our only chance. It’s hard not to think doom and gloom. I have another whole week to wait before I can do my test. Seven days. Well six and a half now as I have to do it first thing in the morning.

I don’t feel pregnant but then this cold definitely has a hold of me and doesn’t really allow me time to feel anything else. I have sore boobs but that would be normal if I was about to get my period. My palms are itchy as they were when I was pregnant before but that’s just the progesterone I’m taking. I’m peeing all the time but that’s hardly surprising when I’m having to sip water all the time to keep my cough at bay. My moods are up and down but then my body has been under huge stress for the last few weeks and I’m taking hormones.

And so we wait.

Bad mother?

I don’t even know if the IVF has been successful yet but I’m already thinking I’m a bad mother. I haven’t been looking after myself properly. I can’t have been as I’m run down. I have a coldsore. I never get coldsores. I have what is, at worst, a chest infection and at best, a nasty whoopy cough and a cold.

The problem is that I don’t have the sort of job where if I phone in sick the work will wait or someone else will pick it up for me. If I phone in sick there’s a group of year 6 kids left without an instructor to run activities for them.

I felt a bit better yesterday morning too and, as I wasn’t in until lunchtime I was able to have a lie-in. What I would have done, if I wasn’t such a bad mother, is go to the doctor. But I didn’t. I chose to stay in bed instead hoping it would pass. Then, in the evening, I took 30 children on a night walk in the wind and the rain for an hour and a half. The kids loved it. The teachers loved it. I did my job well. I now feel like crap ๐Ÿ˜ท

Now it’s Saturday. I have been sent home from work by my good friend and colleague who has said they will work it out. I need to be in bed. I’m not a good mother. I had to be told to go home. I do, however, have a strong work ethic. Maybe my priorities are all wrong. Perhaps I’m too stuck in my ways. I was told ‘normal life’ and this is ‘normal’ for me.

Typically, as it’s Saturday, I now can’t see the doctor. Bad mother.

Passing the baton from science to nature

So today went as well as it could I guess. The whole procedure of having two embryos inserted into my uterus was remarkably easy. The hardest thing was having to have a full bladder and worrying I was actually going to pee on Dr. Massoud. I don’t think that would have gone down too well ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

When we arrived at the hospital we had a chat with one of the embryologists who informed us that both embryos had developed well. They like to see between 6 and 8 cells at this stage and both of ours were split into 8 which is great. The not such good news was that out of a grading of 1 to 4 (with 1 being the best quality) both of ours were graded 3. This means that either the cells weren’t equal in size and/or there was some fragmentation of the cells. Still, they wouldn’t transfer them unless they believed there was a chance, albeit about 1 in 15.

Saying it like that though, 1 in 15, sounds better than between 5 and 10%. I can imagine myself in a group of 15 people and being the only one who likes spiders or who is coeliac or who is an outdoor teacher. Being the only one to get pregnant in that group of people doesn’t seem quite so out of reach after all.

Still, from now on, it is all in the hands of nature. Science has done its bit. It all boils down to whether or not the lining of my uterus accepts those precious little packages of cells. It could accept neither, it could accept one and it could accept both (giving us the possibility of having quads as Gwen the hilarious nurse mentioned??!!) ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

So I have been sent home with a little picture of the moment the embryos went shooting from the catheter into my uterus and instructions to just get on with life as normal, without overdoing it and getting too stressed. On Monday 27th March – two weeks from now – I have to take a pregnancy test and then all will be revealed.

Surprisingly I actually feel quite calm about the whole thing now. The last two weeks have been fairly stressful and yesterday was just damn awful but now it’s really out of my hands. It will either work or it won’t. This is our only chance. We only get one shot on the NHS and we can’t afford to go privately. In all seriousness, even if we could afford it, I don’t think I’d do it. Perhaps if we’d had spare to freeze we might have gone down that route but we didn’t so there’s not point thinking about it.

If it doesn’t work then I just have to get used to the fact my life will be childless. I won’t be the only woman on this planet who wants children but can’t have them. Elton has a daughter who I love very much. We will be ok. Life goes on. We will probably go on some faraway holiday somewhere. I have my back up plan of the numerous triathlons that I have scheduled for this year as well as a 100 mile closed road cycle sportive in September. My mind will be occupied with training. I have my dog. I have my friends. I have a good life and we are happy.

I just want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been reading this blog and giving us their support. It means a lot. It’s been an interesting journey which isn’t quite over yet… ๐Ÿ™‚

Longest day ever.

My mistake. I was expecting a call before 11. I never got one. Imagine what that did to my mental state. Actually don’t. By the time I did get the call (around 3pm) the inside of my brain probably resembled scrambled egg. 

Anyway, next hurdle crossed. Midday tomorrow we go back into The Royal Shrewsbury where I will have both developed embryos transferred into my womb. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the success rate for a sticking pregnancy for someone of my age is between 5 and 10%. Oh boy. The odds really are stacked against us.

The next two weeks are going to be hell.