Letting Go

Last night, early labour-like cramps started. Heavy bleeding followed, along with relief that it was finally happening. After an uncomfortable evening and several pad changes I went to bed. I was expecting a disturbed night, but the pain settled and then left.

This morning although I had some more heavy bleeding, the cramps were mild and intermittent. They tailed off by the end of breakfast. Since then, the bleeding has slowed down to very little.

I’ve been through this so many times, and I know I haven’t passed the pregnancy. My temp was 98.3 this morning and runs at sub 97.9 in the follicular phase, so the miscarriage is incomplete. So far.

I’m hoping it will pick up again tomorrow (or very soon). I want this to be done. I want to let go.

Or maybe I don’t. Maybe my body, that has tried so hard for me but keeps failing, doesn’t want to give up just yet.

My sense of appreciation for this physical body that carries me around has never been stronger or more accepting. At the age of 40 I love every mark and every scar on my skin. Every stretch mark, every lump and every less-than-perfect contour. Repeat miscarriages have taught me many things, but most profoundly, although they initially made me hate my physical self, they finally reunited my mind and body with a deep love and respect.

My body is not at war with what I want, and it is not the enemy. It has taken me so much time to realise this.

So, I wait some more. I understand that although mentally I am ready to move on, the physical body still grieves. It hangs on, tries it’s hardest to maintain hormonal balance, works tirelessly to sustain a pregnancy that was never going to be a success. Such determination. Such commitment. The kind of commitment that will hopefully result in a happier outcome at some future point.

Letting go is not just an emotional process, but a physical one too, and they may not always run to the same schedule. I have to accept that, and wait patiently for them both to arrive at the destination.

Thinking About 2015

New Year has always been a very special time for me. A time for reflection, and planning. A time to take stock and evaluate how I’m doing and what I could do better.

Now that Christmas is subsiding and our days are spent lounging around at home indulging in too much food, drink and TV, there is a heavy weight on my mind.

Pregnancy.

But, before that, my miscarriage. It still hasn’t happened. I’m still waiting to pass the gestational sac. I had some very, very faint contractions this morning, and a few last night in bed, but aside from effectively a light period bleed, nothing else. I’m hoping it’s not going to be too much longer, but my body always has such trouble letting go of these lost babies. I wanted to start the New Year with all this in the past, but as the days slip by it’s looking less likely.

But, trying to move on…

DH and I have talked a lot over the last couple of days about everything and the subject of IVF has come up again. We will have been trying three years on our own in April. Three years that I have been in stasis… waiting, waiting, waiting for my life to feel complete. Waiting, waiting, waiting for the family I always thought I was supposed to have.

I’ve been mentally better this year, 2014, than I was in 2013. My depression was quite severe back then (probably combined with likely post traumatic stress on almost losing my life during a very bad miscarriage), and I was crying pretty much every day. Now, I’m functioning like a “normal” human for the most part, but I cannot motivate myself to fully move on while I am still expending so much energy thinking about HOW I can have this baby I’ve been trying to have for so long.

I want to get past this, but I know that the only way I can get past this “easily” is to just bloody well have another baby. Anything else is going to take years of grief, loss, bitterness and finally (hopefully), acceptance before I can focus on life outside of this TTC prison.

Which has brought us back to IVF. Somehow (rightly or more probably, wrongly), it gives the comfort of doing something.

I want this baby so much. It’s like a hole in my heart and a dark place in the corner of my life that no light can touch.

Twice I have tried to walk away, with brief success, but never have I let go of the dream. Would I ever even be able to?

There are two clinics that we could travel to.

I looked at the live birth rate, which is given for the 40-42 age group for IVF (2012):

Clinic 1: 10 live births, out of 67 cycles. 122 embryos transferred in total.
Clinic 2: 0 live births, out of 26 cycles. 48 embryos transferred in total.

So, 14.9% success at clinic 1, and a big fat ZERO % success for IVF (for 40-42 year olds) at clinic 2.

The cost of this, is in the region of £5,000 – £6,000. The price of a decent car. Or four great family holidays. Or more than half a (desperately needed) new kitchen. For a one in seven chance of having a baby (and that’s at the better clinic of the two).

DH and I agreed that if it worked we wouldn’t begrudge a single penny of that money.

But if it didn’t…

But on the other hand, I don’t want to spend another year like this. Waiting, hoping, miscarrying. Finding myself at the same point for the third Christmas in a row at the end of it.

We were supposed to be done by now. We were supposed to be finished with all this crazy trying to get and stay pregnant bullish*t.

What are we going to do?

I hate not having a plan, I hate not being in control, I hate how this has panned out over the last few years.

Sigh.

I suppose the thing that frightens me the most, the main reason I haven’t been able to contemplate IVF seriously, is that I am terrified they will transfer a great looking egg, and I will lose it anyway in the first trimester because all of my eggs are just so crap and I am just too old and too worn out.

You Know What?

I JUST WANT TO BE REALLY GOOD AT SOMETHING.

Revelation.

That’s what this feeling is. That’s what I’m feeling. I just want to be really, really good at something.

40 years is enough time to be good at something.

And although I have done lots of things – travel, study, live abroad, work abroad, had a career, had another career, tiled a bathroom, had writing published, run a couple of blogs, lived alone, got married, had kids, tried every hobby and activity going, I’m not really an expert on any of it.

That’s what I’m feeling. I’m 40. There should be something I am really good at. Right??

I am the archetypal jack-of-all-trades.

I can do lots and lots of things reasonably well. I get to a moderate level without too much trouble, but I can’t do anything really well.

And losing pregnancy after pregnancy is not helping my feelings of competence.

From competence comes confidence – scientifically proven – and that’s what I need.

I need to be good at something.

And if I can’t be good at making a baby, then I have to find something else I can be good at while I’m failing to be good at what I really want to be good at.

7 Weeks And Waiting

When I got the news at the scan I was okay. I was pretty much expecting it. But now there have been a couple of days for it to sink in, and my body still hasn’t passed this pregnancy, I’m feeling pretty shit to be honest.

A combination of very angry and very sad.

I’m taking my temp each morning, as it normally drops on the morning of the miscarriage itself. It did drop on Saturday, but since then it’s gone back up (wtf, right?) to where it was. I’m still bleeding lightly, but no pains or signs of anything happening.

The hospital didn’t offer me an ERPC (evacuation of the retained products of conception – suction removal, basically), probably because I am already bleeding. And you know me – I wouldn’t have taken it anyway. The thought of it makes me feel sick.

But, that means, as it has done before, this horrible wait while my body comes to terms with what’s happened.

And you what I can’t stop thinking about? My Dad’s text message: This 3rd child isn’t happening. And one of my (supposed?) best friend’s emails. She just wrote “Oh Rose!” and then she changed the subject. She couldn’t even bring herself to say she was sorry to hear the news. I know that she doesn’t “agree” with our decision to have another baby, but just because she doesn’t support our choice, does that mean she can’t even offer a polite condolence? My friendship with her has drifted over these last couple of years, as have others, and it makes me sad and angry that she can’t offer basic support, in spite of her own beliefs about what we choose to do.

I don’t pester her with details, or ever moan about what we’re going through. I simply tell her if we get good news, and then (obviously), I have to tell her when we get bad news. That’s all.

When I think of these two comments, my chest stings with the emotion I feel. It feels like rejection, judgement, criticism, deep inside my body cavity.

Sigh.

As I’ve said before (and this is why our in-laws know nothing of what goes on), bad sympathy is actually worse than no sympathy.

What I do know is if I ever get pregnant again, I won’t be saying anything about it to either of them.

So, that aside, I’m feeling really stuck, really fed up.

Whenever I go through something bad, or emotionally difficult, my response is to make a plan, change something, try a different approach, drop everything and travel for months on end (done that three times). But with TTC and pregnancy failure, it doesn’t matter what you do, you cannot ever really control it.

I find this SO hard to deal with. You can’t escape it, you can’t control it, you can’t change it.

It makes me feel powerless and it highlights my feelings of failure. Failure!! My biggest fear. Criticism and failure just about kill me every time.

I know I need to do something, but I just don’t know what.

I feel like throwing away all our possessions. Moving to Norway or something, doing something completely different. Change of scenery, change of life.

But realistically, this isn’t really something we can do. Oh, I don’t know. I’m only really typing here because it’s a release of what I’m feeling and I can’t talk to anyone about it. These thoughts tumble around in my head and I just need to let them out.

I read a story on a mc/loss board today about a lady who had 6 mcs, had chromosome testing on 3 which were bad, and was diagnosed with poor quality eggs/diminished reserve. She then had IVF and currently has a healthy pregnancy. I’ve always been so wary of IVF because I thought if my eggs were shit then surely IVF would just entail paying for another miscarriage. But maybe not. And actually – the only testing we had done showed NO abnormality on a baby boy. It was before my coeliac diagnosis and was probably an issue with my immune system/general level of health.

That’s why this pregnancy loss sucks. Because we were unlucky enough to get a defect after being gluten free.

So, as I have done for almost three years, I wait some more.

I did read that sometimes empty sacs can be reabsorbed by the body and then you get effectively a heavy period when your HCG finally drops to zero. Maybe that’s what is happening. I have a repeat scan on January 2nd, so will find out then at the latest if nothing happens in the interim.

Today, I just wish I was better at everything. Turning 40… it makes you look back on what you’ve achieved and wonder if you could have done it better or differently. And of course, I couldn’t have done anything other than what I did, but with hindsight I can see more clearly where I could have made better choices. Where I’ve wasted time, had false starts, and given up when perhaps I shouldn’t have. I have no regrets, but I do feel that I should have something more to show for 40 years of life. I don’t even know exactly what, but something.

I know that comparing yourself to others is a losers game, but when I do compare myself to others – the other mums I know, the other friends I have that are my age – I seem less grounded, less organised. We’re still on our first property and my earnings are zero despite my earning potential and the fact that I have two degrees.

I feel like we’re still trying to get 30 right, ten years on.

I feel like I’ve got to 40 before I should have.

Other People’s Reactions

Over the last 2 years 9 months, the circle of people that we have shared our TTC journey with has gotten smaller and smaller.

Because we are trying for a third child, our situation is viewed differently to those trying for their first. Friends and relatives can be quite critical of us and our choices, and this has been (and continues to be), extremely hurtful.

The first people we cut out of the journey were our in-laws. So sad, as they are really lovely to us and care about us deeply. My mother-in-law however, has a tendency to say what she thinks regardless of what the impact of that is, so when we announced our first pregnancy after DS2, her words were:

You know that it will be DS2 who will suffer.

She believed that we would neglect him as he would be the “middle child”.

When we miscarried, aside from the story of how they didn’t speak to us for almost 3 months, the verdict was clearly that these things “happen for the best”.

They have had no knowledge at all of the subsequent losses and my hospital stay earlier this year.

On New Year’s Day this year, one of my best and oldest friends said to me, with regard to my miscarriages:

It all works out for the best though, doesn’t it? It’s all for the best, really.

I suspect she thinks I am too old to be galavanting around trying for a baby. She always sends me details of her younger relatives getting pregnant (she has a large family), even those who I barely know. I suspect she is trying to hint that I am a different generation to these girls (which I am!). I may be wrong, of course.

This evening I texted my Dad to tell him the news. He doesn’t like emotional situations, so text is much easier for him to deal with.

His response?

“This 3rd child is not happening. Perhaps your body is saying 2 is enough.”

Sigh.

I know that deep down, the motive for these comments probably stems from the fact that they don’t want to see me suffer, rather than the fact that they think I am being an idiot for trying.

But, it doesn’t help us. It doesn’t make me feel better. It makes me feel like I am being judged as a fool for continuing to try for something I want so badly.

And in part, I think people want us to stop so that they don’t have to feel awkward and deal with the situation.

There is something about human nature that tends towards belief in a predetermined fate in the face of failure. When we fail at our goals, people always fall back on these cliches.

Perhaps you’re just not meant to be a doctor.
Perhaps you aren’t meant to win the race.
Perhaps you just aren’t destined to be an astronaut.
Maybe you just need to stop pursuing this and find something else.

But how will we know if we just give up?

JK Rowling’s Harry Potter was rejected by 12 publishers before it found worldwide fame. What if she had listened to kind words from people who didn’t want to see her dreams crushed?

Maybe you aren’t quite right for children’s books. Maybe you should try journalism?

Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky script was rejected in the region of 1,500 times.

Maybe you’re just not cut out to be a writer/actor?

In fact, Stallone’s story is more incredible than that. He was personally rejected from countless acting roles because of his unconventional looks and was at the point of having nothing left. Where would he be now if a good friend had said:

Perhaps you should take a normal job. Settle down. Have a nice life. It’s probably all for the best.

I love these accounts of triumph in the face of everything. Because they show something special – a spirit of passion and belief that transcends opinion, failure and loss. They are the beacons of hope for every one of us pursuing a dream.

And yes, I know that for every Stallone, there are probably thousands that never make it no matter how hard they try.

But at the end of it all, on your deathbed, do you want to look back and wonder what might have been if you’d tried just a little longer? A little harder?

So, if I had the courage, I would tell people in real life the following:

Yes, it may be hard to watch us go through this. Yes, you may wish that we would stop and “spare ourselves” any further agony. But we walk this path with our eyes wide open. We know loss is a very real risk – every single time we try for a baby. As long I am able to bear that ever-present hazard, I want you to say only one simple thing. That you are sorry to hear the bad news. Nothing else is needed.

And I will decide when, and if, it’s for the best. Not anyone else.

And that, I suppose, is why I blog about these events. Because the distance between us spares us from the pain. Although we connect over the rollercoaster of TTC, our shared goal means that understanding goes without saying. There is no judgement here. There is no questioning of motive or dissection of emotional stability.

For that, and for all the other wonderful things in my life, I am humbled and grateful.

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