Strength

So, a little update about everything.

1. My lost recording

Husband had a look at the phone and backups, but he couldn’t retrieve it either. But you know what? After the initial shock of losing it, I actually felt okay about it. I’d been wondering on and off for a long time what to do with it, whether I wanted to keep it or not, and now the decision is made and actually it’s probably a good thing. I feel quite peaceful about it being gone. It’s pretty morbid to keep listening to it – which I did a lot in the days afterwards, trying to detect an irregularity or hear some kind of clue as to what had gone wrong. The scientist in me knows that it was just digital data that has been erased, but the (much-ignored) spiritual side of me says that the captured sound has been released back to my baby boy, so all is well.

2. Husband’s SA

Husband did his thing yesterday at the clinic. When he got home he told me that the “sample production room” at the private clinic we are now using was not as good as the one at the NHS hospital. At the private clinic it was a tiny room with a Poang chair from Ikea and a few erotic magazines. We used to have a Poang chair – we bought it when we first bought our house and we didn’t have any furniture other than an old futon:

chair

We sold it on eBay a few years later when we finally got a second hand sofa set.

Husband said he walked into the room and thought: Oh. A Poang.

Apparently the arms get in the way.

He said that the NHS room was bigger, had a comfy sofa, a TV and a couple of videos.

I asked what videos they had.

Well, there was a generic soft porn video, and er, a video of a Kylie Minogue concert from 1988, he said.

I didn’t ask if he watched it.

We get the results next week 🙂

3. My cycle

Damn temperature is still so high. Running at about 98.3. I’m wondering if my cyst is interfering in this cycle because 98.3 is my post-O temp (usually around 97.7 pre-O). My left side was aching a lot this morning. Trying to work out when I ovulated is going to be impossible at this rate, so we’ll only have the opks to go on. Pah. Just going to try at about the right time and then ignore this cycle as much as possible. Less heartache that way. I think it’s IVF or broke now. Actually, that should be IVF and broke.

4. A challenge

I needed something to take my mind of all this, so I’m working on a new goal – a handstand!!

I’ve always wanted to be able to do a handstand, ever since I was a little girl. I was fascinated with gymnasts on television and thought they were so beautiful and graceful. So here’s a shot of me being neither beautiful, nor graceful:

handstandpractice

I’ve decided to do 5 minutes of handstand practice every single day.

Why on earth?

Well, I’ve gotten really into yoga over the last year, and although I haven’t yet managed to create a daily practice habit, I have noticed significant changes in my strength and flexibility. I’ve always dreamed of being able to handstand, and I’ve been watching lots of youtube videos on mastering handstands.

So here we go. I’m using this method, so will be practising the wall plank (as so gracefully shown above) every day until I can hold it for 60 seconds. Then I’ll be practising the wall handstand, and finally the freestanding handstand.

I’ll post a video for you when I’m a bit better, although it might be a while.

I checked out Kino McGregor’s advice on handstands (my yoga hero), and apparently it took her 5 years to master a balancing handstand.

So I figured this would keep me busy until I’m through the menopause 🙂

Behaviour I Want To Say Goodbye To

This is a list, and a confession.

It’s the things I do that consume my time and energy while trying to conceive, in what I believe is a not-very-healthy way. These things are the things I want to say goodbye to. The things that, when we walk away from all of this, I will be so glad to be done with. These are the things that I want to stop doing, and the things that I want out of my life.

1. Buying tests

Ovulation tests, and pregnancy tests. Hundreds of them. Literally. I buy them in bulk (I told you this was a confession) and go through packs and packs each month. OPKs I might use several a day when I’m getting my surge, and one or two a day in the days beforehand. Pregnancy tests I buy at 10miu and I test from 7dpo pretty much every month. Why? Because late implantation is highly correlated with miscarriage. Strangely enough, I’ve never yet had a late implantation (pretty much always a positive by 10dpo latest), but I’ve still lost over half a dozen pregnancies, so as usual, I don’t fall into the normal pattern. The last time my pregnancy tests came through, the customer services lady wrote a message on my invoice saying “I hope it works this time.” Yes – it’s true – I buy so many that they actually know who I am. Anyway, that aside, I don’t want to spend any more money on tests, and I don’t want to spend any more time using them.

2. Obsessively Googling for Miscarriage and Fertility Information

This one is particularly bad. I can’t even count the hours I’ve spent gathering information. Whole days sometimes. If I had dedicated those hours to another cause, like learning piano, or even writing a novel, I would be an expert pianist and multi-published author by now. Especially bad is that I tend to do this when I should be working on other things – i.e. during the precious free time I get while my son is at preschool. Instead, I let the house slip into a disgusting state, eat lunch over my keyboard and read studies from 1997 that discuss the effect of mint tea on the uterine lining of rats.

3. Maudlin reflection on how sh*t it all is

More wasted time. Instead of doing something productive or enjoyable (writing, which I love, or reading a book, which I love just as much), I will slouch on the sofa feeling ungrateful and angry at the unfairness of the world, and then sink into a trashy television series to take my mind off of the “difficulty” of everyday life. It’s a deliberate blocking out of the world, and I also do it to escape behaviours 1 and 2. It’s also yet another totally mindless waste of my time.

4. Freaking out about other people’s pregnancies

It’s horrible. The envy, the jealously, the tears. And it’s totally unnecessary. I know it’s bad, because my wonderful husband, who is eternally supportive of me, once said “You can’t stop other people from getting pregnant.” No. I well know that. And I need to deal with it better. I should be able to be graceful enough to at least manage some enthusiasm and genuine smiles, right?

5. Not taking care of my appearance

I slob around in the same old clothes, most of them bought after I had DS1. I know I look like an untidy bag-lady sometimes, and worst of all is that a lot of the time, I don’t really care. I’m too busy doing 1, 2, 3 and 4 to spend any time on how I look. And that affects my confidence and makes me feel worse. Which exacerbates behaviours 1-4. Deep down, I suppose it’s a kind of self-imposed purgatory. I don’t deserve to look nice until my body functions properly and gives me a baby. Which I know sounds crazy, but I think that’s what it all boils down to.

6. Not committing to any form of exercise

I have tried multiple times to get back into running. And failed over and over again. Even things I still do, I don’t really commit to. I move around, I do a bit of yoga, a bit of strength training… and at the back of my head is the constant evaluation of whether it is worth forming a habit that I will have to stop when I get pregnant. I avoid signing up for races, or joining anyone else in exercising, because I don’t want to make excuses, or feel like I’ve failed if/when I become pregnant. And inevitably, I do get pregnant, which reinforces the behaviour, but then I lose the baby and I’m back to square one. It’s like my life is literally on pause. Talking of which…

7. Living life on pause

Nothing else can get a look in because of what we might be doing in six months. I avoid socialising, I avoid everything. I don’t want to show up for anything while I can’t get this thing right. I can’t focus on work, hobbies, pleasure, or even just being me, because I’m waiting. Waiting. Always waiting, for a baby that never comes. I even avoid close friends, because I don’t want to see them until everything is okay and I’m having that third child. Until we have something to talk about other than pitying questions about how I’m doing emotionally. I want to be enthusiastic and happy and sociable again, but I can’t. Because at the moment it just feels like I’m the failure. Still with no news and sadder every time they see me. I want to burst back into people’s lives with a big smile and a baby in tow and brave story of how we beat the odds. Instead I fear that I may never see some of my friends again, simply because I cannot bear to be pitied and I am afraid they will never see me as anything other than “the one who tried to have another baby but couldn’t”.

8. The emotional highs. And lows.

This isn’t so much in my control, but I am tired of everything always being so damn important. Instead of highlights like getting a good review at work, and lowlights like having to pay out for extra car repairs, we have highlights of adding a new child to our family, or a decent heartbeat at a scan, and lowlights of losing a baby, and being hospitalised for blood loss. I’m TIRED (I keep saying it), of the extremes in emotion. The extremes of what one month brings compared to the next. I want a lower-key existence. I want to celebrate smaller victories and mourn smaller losses. I want a quieter life. I’m done with all the drama. I’ve had enough drama to last me a lifetime – and then some. I want smaller ups and downs.

9. Obsessing over everything I eat.

Everyone who has spent any time TTC knows all about this one. Caffeine, sugar, gluten, alcohol, milk, chocolate, peas, soy, pretty much everything you put in your mouth has a points score. Did I mention I was tired? I’m tired of constantly analysing every mouthful of food. Tired of trying to eat perfectly. Tired of feeling guilty because I ate some white potatoes or I had a squirt of maple syrup on a (buckwheat) pancake. I’m even tired of writing about it.

So there we go. The inner workings of my obsessions.

Obviously, I am not a total basket case (honest!)- I still hold it together enough to run a house and smile at people when I talk to them. I still manage to pull off a pretty good “normal daughter(-in-law)” to both sets of parents. But inside… it just feels like everything is worn out and patched up with sellotape. I’ve had enough. Enough of reading studies on whether eating spinach will raise my progesterone, or how implantation is affected by how much you laugh. Enough of it all. If I’d known this is what we were letting ourselves in for, I think I might have thought twice about getting back on the TTC train. As much as three children is my dream, my perfection, my claim that I have done things PERFECTLY, it’s not good if my dream is slowly destroying the person I am.

And it’ll be a good thing to leave all that behind.

I Lost My Baby’s Heartbeat

I read a post this morning at My Perfect Breakdown.

It was about memento’s: saving things and marking the dates of our lost babies.

We’ve never given our lost ones names, or done anything commemorative. When you lose several pregnancies each year, it would be kind of crazy to keep up with it all.

What I did have though, tucked away on my iPhone, was a 20 second recording of my baby boy’s heartbeat. It was recorded from a doppler just a few days before he died at 10 weeks 4 days (early for a doppler, I know, but I’m very small and one of the lucky people who actually got to hear it before 12 weeks).

That file has sat on my phone for almost exactly one year, and I’ve listened to it maybe half a dozen times. It has a strong, regular, galloping sound. The sound of life. The sound of my child. That tiny baby I held in the palm of my hand after I miscarried. I always wondered how it could sound so strong one day, and be gone so soon afterwards.

I thought of it after reading the post above, and I went into my phone to find it.

It’s no longer there.

Looking online, it seems that the last upgrade to iOS 8 wipes out voice memo data. Sometimes it is recoverable with software, but I have tried, and mine is gone.

Just disappeared, into nothing.

I am so very, very sad.

I’m not big on sentimentality. I don’t hoard stuff (any more), but I didn’t know that the last time I listened to that sound, would be the last time I listened to it. I wasn’t ready.

It feels like a sign. A sign that everything about this is slipping away from me. That it really is all over and I will never, ever have another child.

Right now, today, I don’t even want to try any more.

I’m too tired of it all. Defeated. Broken down. I surrender. I can’t fight any more because I have no fight left.

And I feel relief. Relief that we actually don’t have to go on doing this to ourselves. Relief that if we stop I will never have to go through another miscarriage.

It’s all just too sad today.

Cycle Day 6

I don’t think it’s going to happen this month.

My temperatures are currently running at post-ovulation level. I don’t know why, but they haven’t dropped after AF. Well – they did drop for two days, but have shot back up again.

I’ve googled this as much as I can, but the only indication I can find as to why my temps are so high are

a) perimenopause (oh great!), or,
b) low oestrogen (which will mean a too-thin uterine lining).

Basically, I think things still haven’t settled post-miscarriage.

It’s really unusual for me to have cycle irregularities. But, I suppose I am 40 now, and my mum went through menopause at 44.

I just feel so tired of it all. It really seems that I never manage to take a step forward, it’s just been almost three years of walking against a glass wall.

feel really hormonal, as well, which is unheard of for the first two weeks of the month.

I even took a pregnancy test, which I knew would be negative (I’ve just had a period and we didn’t exactly try this month), just to rule it out. So right now, I don’t know what’s happening.

But what I do know is that I don’t care as much any more.

I don’t know if it’s just exhaustion, or if I’m somehow moving on, but I don’t have the energy to really worry about it. There’s only so much a person can take, and you never really know where that point is until you’re faced with difficulty. I think I might be getting there. When I think about not having this baby, it still makes me want to cry. But when I think about doing things to make it happen… I’m not sure I can really be that bothered any more.

Don’t get me wrong – we’re still eating healthily. Husband has his SA booked for tomorrow. We’ll still give it a shot this cycle. But… it just isn’t the be all and end all it used to be.

I used to feel that my whole life’s happiness depended on ‘completing’ our family, properly. The way I always intended. That passion and drive for a dream has faded. I love what we already have. Maybe there are other things in life that are waiting for me.

What has helped is being out of the ‘baby-zone’. For years, I’ve socialised with mothers and babies. Suddenly, all the children in my social circle (well, most of them), are growing up, thinking about school, attending school, turning into little people. I don’t have newborns shoved under my nose all the time and it’s a blessed relief. There’s no longer a constant, daily reminder of what I am missing. There’s no longer constant exposure to conversations about babies, pregnancy and birth.

I’ve even had passing thoughts about just making a clean break. Getting rid of all the baby stuff. Taking it out of the loft and giving it my blessing to go to new homes. Getting the space back. Getting the sanity back. Wouldn’t that be cool? To not have it all any more? It’s not imminent – the thought of it also makes me want to cry, but only for past grief, not for future grief, if that makes sense.

There are several emotional obstacles to this process of saying we’re done, and I’m giving them more thought than ever because I think we have to face the fact that after this cycle and IVF we really will be done. They are:

1. My mother-in-law
2. My sister-in-law
3. One of my oldest friends
4. ‘Ending’ on a miscarriage
5. My own childhood
6. The perception of giving up/failure
7. My Dad (to a lesser extent)

I’ll explore these in detail in a separate post, abusing this blog as a public personal therapist 😉

In the meantime, we wait. Because that’s all you ever do in this game.

Cycle Day 1

I had a dream last night that I gave birth. I was so happy, and wondering when we could start trying for number four (I know – crazy – but it was a dream). In my dream I went to the toilet and felt the placenta suddenly fall away from me, and I was shocked that the hospital had sent me home without checking it was out.

When I woke up, my period had started and the blood had soaked through my knickers and onto the sheets.

Funny isn’t it? Even when it doesn’t feel like it, I think our minds are connected with what our bodies are doing.

Well, it’s been a long month. 33 days to be exact.

My ovulation was a few days out following the five day juice fast we did, so that explains why I’ve deviated from my usual 28 days.

So.

Back in the ring this month, and this is the month I am going to conceive our third child. Yep – it’s definitely going to be this month. There is no alternative. Ovulation is due on 3rd March.

Just in case, however, things don’t go according to plan (because you should always have a plan B), we have also made appointments for our pre-IVF testing, which we’ll do this cycle, so everything is ready to go if for some reason I don’t get pregnant.

So, three things going on at the moment:

1) Ongoing diet changes

The juice fast has been amazing in helping me stay on the straight and narrow. I haven’t touched any sugar, diary or caffeine since I did it (except for some maple syrup on pancake day), and now, almost four weeks on, I really am feeling the benefit. My energy is good, I’m sleeping really well, and my skin has finally, finally cleared up. I reintroduced meat after about two weeks and had zero adverse affects, so I’m eating that occasionally too. We’re cooking pretty much everything we eat from scratch and I’m staying away from processed foods, tinned foods (BPA) and anything that comes under the umbrella of “crap carbs”.

I’m taking B12 (methylcobalamin), ubiquinol (best form of CoQ10), a prenatal vitamin and I am still on a very low dose of DHEA.

I have had almost ZERO physical symptoms with this cycle. No backache in the weeks after ovulation, no tenderness in my boobs at all, no bloating, no breakouts, and barely any ovulation pain. I did feel a bit tearful just after ovulation, which I think is a result of both hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) being on the low side – it’s the same every month. But otherwise, this has been a very quiet and restful month, and I think that (hopefully) means that my hormone levels are nice and steady, and everything is working as it should be.

I’ve been listening to a Glenn Harold relaxation CD (“Complete Relaxation”), every night and he is AMAZING. I’ve tried several relaxation tapes, and most of them are pretty good, but there is something about this one that just does it for me. I fall asleep listening to it every single night without fail, no matter what has happened in the day. Partly, I think, my diet means I am sleeping better so it’s easier to drop off, but I am a terrible over-analyser and this tape basically stops me from running over conversations and analysing them to death every night. In fact, in the last few weeks there have been three nights where I have actually slept though the night from around 10pm to 7am without waking up. For those of you who sleep well, this is probably no big deal, but I have barely slept through the night in 5 and a half years, so for me it is huge.

What else… oh yeah – I dug out my fitbit and have been trying to meet 10,000 steps each day. I want to make sure I am getting adequate blood flow to my ovaries and uterus so I can build a decent lining. Some days I do, some I don’t, but it’s making me more aware of movement. Lots and lots of walking is my plan for the next two weeks – the more the better.

Incidentally, if anyone uses a fitbit and wants to connect with me, my profile is here:

2. IVF

We’re booked in for a sperm analysis next Tuesday, and then infection screening and a follow up consultation the Tuesday after. They will also test my AMH, which I’ve never had done, so that will be interesting. After that it *should* be a case of letting them know when my period arrives – probably by 18th March – and we’ll be good to go (assuming the cyst has gone on my left ovary).

I’ll post about the IVF choice separately, and our reasoning, but we’re opting for straightforward, vanilla IVF. No ICSI, no PGD. Our clinic transfers on day 5.

I am actually looking at IVF as our exit plan. I don’t really think that it’s going to give us a better chance than we’ve already had, but we need to try this because if we don’t I will always wonder ‘what if’.

3. Failure

Because, of course, failure is an option.

I have to be realistic at this stage, and I think given how much effort DH have put into changing our lifestyles over the last year or two, we can find some kind of peace in knowing that we really DID do everything we could. It’s not feasible for us to dedicate our lives to “perfect” health, but we’ve given it a really good shot.

I don’t want to carry on living in fear of eating the wrong thing. Or wondering if I’m causing a miscarriage via an obscure sub-clinical vitamin deficiency, or a low grade immune disorder. I want to be me, without all this obsessing and crying. Each time I miscarry, I head back into TTC with a vengeance, but I have to say that my enthusiasm tails off quicker each time.

If I can’t get pregnant now, or next cycle with IVF, given everything I have done, and how much I have read and researched, and how many changes I have made to the way we all live, if my body still will not cooperate, then I think I can possibly begin to believe that I really am too old to be having children. Not that 40 is too old, but that for me, at 40, my body doesn’t want to go through the process any more. That my lifestyle choices, or maybe my genetics, have potentially shortened my reproductive lifespan and I need to accept that I am who am.

Self-acceptance is never easy, and it is even harder in the face of failure, but I know that’s where peace lies. So in the midst of all this, I am thinking about that too.

And I am hoping that I can accept what happens with grace.

Although, obviously, I reserve the right to go out kicking, screaming and biting while they put a straightjacket on me and throw me into the back of a hospital van.

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