Uncertain

I had a big wobble over IVF this weekend. I told DH I wasn’t sure about it any more. That I wasn’t sure my heart was really in it.

He said no need to decide now, so we’re going to our consult tomorrow, and we’ll get the infection screening and my AMH test done, and the results of DH’s SA. Then we’ll have a bit of time to decide whether to go ahead (assuming of course that we don’t end up with a rubbish SA or useless AMH result after that).

We’ve been talking, on and off, about getting a dog.

Yeah, yeah, I know this is a giant cliché, but in a weird kind of way, it would help us. Dogs are loving members of the family, and require time and commitment, both of which I have bucketfuls of stored up ready for the baby that never came. We haven’t mentioned it to the boys, but they would be beyond excited at the idea of getting one. And my Dad is a very active retiree with a garden and he owns two areas of woodland that he manages, so we have a dog holiday option too (I haven’t mentioned it to my Dad yet ;-).

I’ve always loved dogs and we grew up with them in our house, right from when I was born to when my mum left home and took them with her (I was 16), so I know all about the downsides of them, and the importance of training. I just can’t get past the feeling that there is a missing someone in our family. Maybe that someone could be a canine, instead of a human…

And the other things I’ve been thinking… how long ago all the baby stuff seems now. How difficult it would be to go back to that. How tiring, and how much I’d worry about having two kids so close together, and a third out on a limb, so much younger. I’m worried that the big gap would make me want another baby, all over again, so I could give the youngest a closer sibling, and that we’d be stupid enough to get into this whole cycle all over again.

And all that stuff in the loft… I keep thinking about the massive decluttering session I could have by letting it all go. How nice it would be to have that empty space.

And how nice it would be to have that empty space in my head, to say goodbye to almost three years of this madness and really focus my energies on something else, something that stood a chance of coming to fruition.

And of course, my youngest starts school in six months. For the first time in 6 years that will leave me with free time every, single day, to start working on bringing in some money with a sustainable freelance business of some sort. And if I can bring in some money, that means better quality of life for all of us. If I get pregnant now… that will go on hold for another 6 years.

And holiday options for us, now our children are clearing the toddler phase… they are much better. We can be more active, more adventurous, and maybe, if I can get back to earning a little money, we can see the world together.

So, there we are. All these things rattling around in my head.

It kind of feels like the right time to stop. This cycle and next cycle are the last two chances I have to have a baby in 2015, and also, coincidentally the two cycles that will take us to exactly 3 years of trying. 3 years is a damn good effort, and seven failed pregnancies in that time has been a rough ride.

And let’s not forget that I turn 41 at the end of this year. I always said (and it was a big deal when we passed the milestone that would take me into having a baby at 40+), that I didn’t want to be having babies in my forties.

I should also make it clear that I say all of this sitting high up on the fence. I’m looking down at two alternate futures here, and I can see good and bad things about both of them. If I found out I was pregnant this cycle, I’d be over the moon, but if I’m not… well, I think I’m done with the sobbing and crushing heart-ache that comes with each monthly bleed.

So, we have a big, big decision to make in the next two weeks. This IVF thing is hanging over my head and as much as I want to know we tried EVERYTHING, I’m not 100% committed to the idea right now.

That may well change, but today I feel a strong sense of how much I want to move on.

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.

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