Consultation

Before I talk about my appointment, I just want to mention that in addition to cooing over a newborn in the morning yesterday, when I came home I discovered a pregnancy announcement on Facebook (12 week scan!), and then, as if that wasn’t enough to convince me the whole world is having babies apart from me, my next door neighbour catches me out the front to warn me they are having an extension built, just in case they have another baby.

Right.

Just in case.

This is the neighbour who has already gotten married, pregnant and had one child in the time it’s taken us to not be pregnant with number 3. She’s going to lap me again – I bloody well know it. She’s probably pregnant already. I’ll have to spend my time furtively ducking out of the house so I don’t have to coo over her bump for months on end just like I did two years ago.

Sigh.

Well, now I’ve got that out of my system, onto my appointment.

I don’t have any experience with fertility clinics, but what’s the first thing I have to face on the way in? A corridor of massive montage photos of thousands of babies. Lovely! There really is no escaping babies at the moment. I hope it’s catching.

Dr Bird was really nice. She was also very matter of fact.

They did a very, very thorough ultrasound. Nothing was missed – that probe squished around in places that nothing else has ever reached.

In short, this is the outcome:

  • I have another cyst, this time on my left ovary. 5cm x 4cm x 3cm. She said I should be scanned again in 6-8 weeks to ensure it has resolved.
  • My uterine lining is “very thin”. Both of these are probably a result of my recent miscarriage.
  • Left ovary is normal with several follicles (yay!)
  • Uterus 100% normal (yay!)
  • They need me to dig out some immune testing details from my recurrent mc tests, to ensure I was tested for everything they would recommend, back in Aug 2013.
  • They do not test for natural killer cells. It is controversial and because it is a blood test and not a sample from the actual womb, the clinic is of the opinion it is not overly helpful.
  • Husband’s SA from two years ago shows some abnormal morphology (our GP told us it was “normal”). He’s going to get a repeat test. However, she said that since I obviously get pregnant, this is not likely to be an issue.
  • Going forward, she suggested that it might be a good idea to try on our own for a while longer because I have only been gluten free since April and the loss I just had was a chromosomal issue. These are more common given my age, and there is still a good chance that my coeliac diagnosis will now allow me to carry a pregnancy to term.
  • If I do get pregnant, their recommended treatment if they suspect immune issues is steroids. I’m not sure how I feel about that. She said there is a very low risk of defects (cleft palate). Er, okay…
  • DH and I could consider a round of IVF. She said that the theory for us would be it would allow a collection of lots of eggs in one go and that they could “flush” the good eggs to the top (by selecting the best quality ones out of those that make it to day 5). She also said that it was a possibility that we would undergo IVF only to have another miscarriage anyway.
  • She didn’t recommend genetic testing of the embryos (PGD). She said for the expense (close to £10,000) it would gain us very little advantage because it only tests for the correct number of chromosomes, and at least one of our losses was tested and was normal.

And here are the worst parts:

  • I am 40. She mentioned this several times. Apparently, just 35 days ago, my chances became significantly worse. She said that not only are my eggs of lower quality, but there are less of them. She told me that my miscarriage risk has increased regardless of my history, and that abnormalities and miscarriages are now even more likely.
  • At the end of the appointment, she folded her hands on the desk and said to me that given I already have two lovely children, I might want to think about drawing a line in the sand at this point.

That was when I finally cried.

So.

I’m still mulling over all this and working out how I feel about it. I also have a terrible headache, which I think is a combination of the emotion and the lack of sugar and (already tiny amounts) of caffeine where I’m preparing for the juice fast on Sunday.

My overall impression from the appointment is that they will do what they can, but that I should be prepared for the fact that it may never happen. I am 40, which is apparently reproductively old, and I may not ever have another child.

As far as doctors go, and aside from a round of IVF that will only do what me and DH can already do, with no guarantee of an improved outcome, I have pretty much exhausted current medical knowledge.

Form Filling

It’s taken me two hours to fill in the forms for my clinic appointment next week. Two bloody hours cross checking scan dates, miscarriage dates, how many weeks I was each time and compiling it into a succinct and readable format.

Eugh.

A trip down memory lane I totally haven’t enjoyed.

11 pregnancies, two children. 7 losses in a row in the last 2 years 10 months.

That makes my historical odds of a live birth 0.18.

Incidentally, the clinics success rate (live births) in 2012 (most recent data available that I can find) for IVF/ICSI on women aged 38-40 is 0.15.

Husband said to me:

So we’re gonna pay £5,000 to lower our odds?

Ha ha ha. Yeah – I know. It’s f*cking mad.

How can something so essential to the nature of existence be so bloody DIFFICULT? I just don’t understand why it’s had to be such a quagmire of crap for so long.

The hardest thing for me, is that by walking through those doors next week, I’m effectively holding up my hand and saying, Help me. I can’t do this on my own.

Which is just shit. Really it is. Because I’ve always been a very, very independent, self-sufficient, capable sort of person and to do this feels like an admission of failure.

Sigh.

And I’ve looked through the literature and the procedures and the screening tests and everything else, and to be honest there’s so much to do, it’s looking like it’ll take a miracle for us to have a baby by the end of 2016, if at all. And certainly not in 2015, which is what I have been secretly hoping for as these January nights have slowly ticked by.

And on top of all of that, I’ve got the guilt back.

The guilt that says Why do want to do this so badly when you already have two children? Aren’t they enough?

And it makes me want to cry because of course they are enough, and they are more precious to me than anyone could ever realise. Even more so because I know how fragile and transient life can be, and I know how I’m so bloody lucky that they both even made it here in the first place. When I reach out and touch their soft skin, and feel their baby hair, they seem like walking miracles to me and it takes my breath away. To see my children and know that I can’t make another, that I can no longer do what I’ve already done… For so long I’ve imagined myself with three. The ones I’ve lost… it’s just too sad.

So all-in-all it’s been a bit of an emotional morning, dredging all those old hurts back up. And it’s left me feeling incredulous that we have spent so fucking long on this. That all that time has passed and we are still no closer.

And just to really brighten up my day, my temperature went down again this morning, after going up yesterday. I’m currently in some kind of holding pattern where my temp zips from pre-ovulatory to post-ovulatory, and back again, every 48 hours.

I can feel that boiling sensation of having to do something about all this. That familiar feeling that has allowed me to walk out of jobs, flats, relationships, even countries. It’s bubbling away inside trying to concoct a plan that will get me the fuck out of this situation for once and for all.

Anyone know where I can get a hotline to the gods? Or find a voodoo woman?

I’m ready to make a deal.

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.

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