Livin on a Prayer

“Woahhhhhhh we’re half way there, WAAAAOOOHHHHHHH HOOOO livin on a prayer!”

This is my way of saying, I’ve hit 20 weeks! Half way. Would you Adam and Eve it?*

I’m actually in a state of disbelief that I’ve got this far. 20 weeks. I’m now officially out of the danger zone and into the ‘holy crap I’m pregnant’ zone. Last Saturday DH and I went for a private scan just to check out how the little monkey was getting on.

Wow. There has been an awful lot of growing going on. The private clinic (I say ‘clinic’ it was actually a weird little room with an ultrasound machine in it, but it did the job) used a 4D scanner so we were able to see the baby actually moving around. The last time we saw a 4D scan was at 11 weeks, just before the wedding and frankly it looked like a Nik Nak. But this time…..there’s an actual baby in there! He/she was wriggling around so much, constantly moving and rubbing its eyes, sucking its fingers. It was just incredible. I wish I could have one of those machines at home, I’d be watching all day. After about 10 minutes or so of us ohhing and ahhing monkey had obviously had enough of putting on a show, turned round and showed us its bum and wouldn’t turn back again. Ha! We get the message!

“Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear, WAAAAOOOHHHHHHH HOOOO livin on a prayer!”

Well this week, we feel less like we’re ‘livin on a prayer’ and a lot more like we’re going to make it. The scan has made us feel so much more confident in the pregnancy, and to add to that I’m now feeling movement every day which is such a reassurance.

We’ve started planning things. We’ve talked about names, and not even in a whisper but right out loud.

We’re going to have a baby.

This hit me yesterday when stood in my kitchen and I sobbed happy, happy tears. The whole time I’ve been pregnant I haven’t let myself go and properly cried or been overly happy about it because I’ve always been waiting for it to end. Enough now. It’s time to enjoy this.

 

* Sorry, not sure what’s wrong with me I’m a bit hyper today but really no excuse for going all mockney on you, on top of a Bon Jovi reference. For my non-British readers ‘mockney’ is the use of cockney phrases/accent when you’re really not a cockney. Whilst I do have a saaaaaafff (south!) east London accent, I’m definitely not a cockney!

That girl

I’ll start with the headliner – I’m 6 weeks pregnant. If you want to skip this post, go ahead…been there many times.

For those of that are ok to read about it, this is the story of how I found out I’m that girl.

Since my last (forth) failed IVF cycle in May I’ve been attempting to ‘forget about it all’ and have a summer of fun in the lead up to our wedding in October. As you can tell from my last post this hasn’t really been going that well. I did fill my summer with fun things but the pain was still very intense and I was filled with an all-consuming sense of dread that this was never going to happen for me.

We continued ‘trying’, albeit half heartedly – not testing for ovulation just DTD around the time I usually ovulate. Last month it fell on a Monday, I was knackered and told DH I really couldn’t be bothered and what was the freakin point anyway? It was hardly likely to be lucky cycle number 42. But DH convinced me we should….oh the romance!

Day 32 of my cycle came around and still no AF. I quite often have cycles of 31 days but I checked my tracking sheet (yes, I’m an obsessive infertile) and noticed that I’ve never got to day 32 and there is always spotting for days before if I have a 31 day cycle and I hadn’t had any spotting at all. So despite it being ridiculously unlikely it was still on my mind…that little voice that says ‘maybe’ can never be crushed despite so many disappointments. So I decided to do a test so I could stop thinking about it and just get on with making dinner for the three 14 year old dance students I had staying with me.

I peed on the stick, and then cleaned the bathroom a bit (14 year old girls are messy) and my eyes swept past the test and I saw 2 lines. 2 LINES. I’ve never seen 2 lines, not even a hint of second one. My first thought was ‘there must be something wrong with this test’. I was shaking but I just couldn’t believe this could be right. I rushed out and bought 3 more tests of different brands.

By the time I got home one of the students was having a shower and then dinner was ready so I couldn’t retest. DH came home I didn’t say anything, still sure it couldn’t be right. I sat through the longest dinner of my life and then rushed to the bathroom and did 3 tests – all said the same. The digital test said 2-3 weeks. I went downstairs and told DH and he sobbed his little heart out once he’d got over the sheer disbelief.

The next day I called the GP to book an appointment – I was cheerfully told that I didn’t need to see the GP, I just needed ‘decide where I want to have my baby’ and call the hospital. What the hell?!! Fucking fertiles. I don’t have a baby, I have maybe. Its the strongest ‘maybe’ I’ve had so far but its still a maybe. I insisted on seeing the GP, who also talked about ‘my baby’ willy nilly and refused to give me an early scan.

Then on Tuesday (a week after finding out) I had some brown spotting. It wasn’t much so I tried not to panic – I know how common it is. Wednesday morning brought more so I phoned the local midwife who told me to go to my nearest early pregnancy unit, which really freaked me out because if the professional is worried its bad news right? As I was at work I went to St Thomas’ EPU, DH met me there and my mum insisted on getting on the train from Kent to be there too. After a very anxious 3 hour wait for a scan we went in. It was too early to see much but there was a sack and yolk in the right place and all looked as it should. DH and I cried, like alot. The nurse looked at us like we were mad, although surely she sees this all the time?! But then she did ask me if I’d ever had an internal exam …look at my notes lady- 4 rounds of IVF – I’ve had more dates with dildo-cam than you’ve had hot dinners!

Today is the first day since Tuesday that I haven’t spotted so I’m hoping I’m done with that. I’m trying to be as zen as possible about the whole thing. My boobs hurt. I feel sick in the mornings. I’ve got to try and trust my body, no matter how much of an a-hole it’s been in the past. If it does go wrong I’ll have plenty of time to be sad and feel like shit. Although it is quite worrying that the longer I’m pregnant, the closer I get to my wedding day leaving less time to recover from a miscarriage. It really is ridiculous timing …my hen-do, the wedding, the honeymoon…but if this little miracle sticks around I couldn’t give a shit. And if nothing else, it proves that my body CAN get pregnant, something I was very much doubting.

So for now at least, I’m that girl. The girl that everyone tells you about, who takes a break from IVF then gets pregnant – I’m like an urban myth. And of course I’ve already been told by my mum and MIL that its because I ‘relaxed’ and ‘focused on something else’. Except I wasn’t at all relaxed. I was miserable and stressed and having a baby still filled so much of my thoughts. Also, I totally stopped all of the good stuff – healthy eating, no drinking (wine was becoming one of my 5-a-day), mediation, positive thinking etc etc. My mum is convinced its because I started taking these vitamins my aunt had taken after numerous miscarriages that, she believes, helped her to go on to have a baby….I’m still sceptical (although I’m taking them religiously!!) but if nothing else my hormonal acne has totally cleared up for the first time in 3 years, so if you’re interested this is the company, but be warned – it ain’t cheap: http://www.foresight-preconception.org.uk/Default.aspx

Keep everything crossed for me people.

Summer of fun

I was going to start by saying I’ve been a bad blogger as haven’t blogged for ages and what’s the point of having a blog if you never write anything….but then Barren Betty got there first and said all that earlier this week. Yeah, thanks for stealing my thunder BB.

Sooo anyway…where have I been? I’ve been bloody busy doing a million things that’s where! Organising bits and pieces for the wedding, booking a honeymoon (Sri Lanka- eeek!) and, well, getting drunk a fair bit too.

Last time I left you on a cliff-hanger (well, more like on the side of a low ledge) as I had my WTF appointment the next day. And as predicted it was more of “we don’t know why it didn’t work, you should try again, it should work at some point!” Well ‘should’ is all well and good but so far it just doesn’t and it’s all getting rather expensive, not to mention fucking heartbreakingly awful. Basically, we’ve tried every trick they have, so we should just repeat…but honestly, after 4 failures how can it work? Surely it’s just that they don’t know what the problem is, not that there’s not a problem?

DH and I have decided to give the whole IVF gig a rest for the year. We’re getting married in October and going on honeymoon over Christmas so we’re just going to ‘forget about it’ (yeah, right) for the rest of the year and see where we are and how we feel in the New Year.

Instead we’re going to have a ‘summer of fun’. We’re going to drink, we’re going to eat, we’re going to visit loads of places we say we’re going to but never do. We’re going to get our lives back again. And I have to say I’m rather excited about it.

And yes, I still get miserable, and yes I have days where the pain just stabs me in the heart and the god-awful realisation that this really, really might never happen kicks me in the tits, but I’m determined to enjoy this year.

So far we’ve been doing pretty well – we’ve been for a walk along Regents canal….

Little Venice

Little Venice

Although IF is still never far from our minds – this was DH’s wish on a ‘before I die’ chalk board by the canal:

before I die

We walked up to the top of Primrose Hill before going for a lovely Greek dinner at Lemonia (where John Torode from Masterchef was having lunch too!)

Primrose Hill

Primrose Hill

 

There have also been rather a lot of cocktails…..some up high….

View from the Shard

View from the Shard loos!

And some in posh hotels with lovely Twitter girls…

cocktails

And this is pretty much my plan for the summer…drinking cocktails and having fun (and definitely not being heartbroken and empty)! Fuck you IF. Fuck you.

I get knocked down…

…but I get up again. Isn’t that how the shit 90s song goes? Except I’m not really sure how to get up again.

This week is definitely up there in the list of worst weeks of my life. After my friend’s pregnancy announcement burst my denial bubble last Sunday I worked at home on Monday, feeling fragile and tearful but making it through the day.

On Tuesday I went to work and had a very stressful meeting in the morning, the outcome of which was basically that out of a team of 6 people I was the only one left to do any work on a very big and difficult project (one of the reasons being my Director is going to Bali for 3 weeks – alright for some!) I then realised I had forgotten to do things on 2 of my other projects and then had one of the women I manage (who is overly dramatic and anxious) haranguing me about what I was going to do about a problem on her project which is essentially unfixable.

And I snapped. It was just too much for me and I felt so overwhelmed, all this stuff was going on at work and all I could think was ‘I’m never going to be a mother. I’m never going to have children. Work will be the only thing in my life and I hate it.’ I went to the toilets and sobbed. This is not an unusual occurrence but normally I go in, have a little cry, if anyone comes into the loos I stop or cry quietly until they leave, then dry my eyes and get on with my day.

This time I just couldn’t stop. People came in and out and I continued with huge gasping sobs. My work friend came in and asked if I wanted to go and get a coffee and chat but I sent her away – there was no way I could think about leaving that cubicle. It was so scary, I don’t think I’ve ever felt that out of control of my emotions – such a huge wave of grief that pushed me down and wouldn’t let me up again. After about 10 minutes or so my boss came in, by which time I was a little calmer. She took me away for a chat where I told her I just wasn’t coping and felt so overwhelmed. She told me to go home and work at home the next day and she’d have a think about what she could do to help. I then had to walk through the office with a tear stained face and collect my things – of course there had been an all-staff meeting that day so everyone from my company was there. Awesome.

As I waited at the bus stop on the way home I was on Twitter on my phone when I saw an email pop up from my friend that had a miscarriage shortly after our spa trip entitled ‘Our exciting news’…..well, we can guess what that was about! Of course I’m happy that after having a miscarriage she has now got to 3 months with her pregnancy (meaning she must have got pregnant again the month after her miscarriage) but when I saw that email, after the day I’d had it just tipped me over the edge again. I sat on the bus with tears rolling down my face, as if I hadn’t humiliated myself enough that day. I managed to stop crying by the time I got on the train but felt like I was going to hyperventilate. What a fucking day.

On Wednesday I spoke to my boss who said that I should go off sick for the rest of the week….but there was an all day meeting on Friday for the big and difficult project and if I didn’t go to it it would have made my work over the next few weeks almost impossible so I said I’d go to that. She then said that she’d spoken to my 2 Directors and they all agreed my workload should be cut in half for the next few months until I feel more able to cope. I just can’t express how bloody awesome my work is…it definitely helps to work for psychiatrists/psychologists at times like these!

Thursday night I realised that the meeting on Friday was being held at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists! Cue another meltdown! I felt really anxious Friday morning before going into the building but it wasn’t too bad, I just made sure I didn’t look at any of the artwork.

The weekend has mostly been better – Friday night I drank wine with friends in the sun in Regents Park which was lovely and chilled, and then yesterday I went shopping with my Bridesmaids for their dresses, which went very well so that’s another thing ticked off the wedding list.

But today is, of course Father’s Day. I hate that I’m stopping DH be a father. I went to my mum’s for lunch and my brother and SIL were talking about filling in a ‘baby’s first book’ for their daughter and everyone was talking about the different things their kids did and the stories/memories they tell their kids which made me lose it again. I took myself off to my old bedroom and sobbed. I just can’t get the thoughts that I will never be a mother out of my head. I will never fill in a ‘baby’s first book’. I can’t think of other options: donors, surrogates, adoption. I can only think that.

Have my WTF appointment tomorrow so we’ll see what they have to say…more shoulder shrugging I’m sure.

 

Every time.

Every. Fucking. Time. Every time I have a failed cycle – because that’s the only kind of cycle I have – someone close to me announces they’re pregnant. And this time is no different.

Just before I was about to start my first fresh IVF cycle last year my brother called with the news that my SIL was pregnant. At 39 she decided she’d had enough of a life of cocktails and holidays, and although hadn’t really thought about having kids before decided she would quite like to so they just had one. It’s been really hard but I think I’m getting to the point where it doesn’t hurt too much to see my niece, and I know this will only get easier and of course I love her dearly, but she will always be  a reminder that I should have a little one that age.

As I was down regging for my first frozen cycle I got the news that a friend of ours wife was pregs. We’re not mega close with them but it still hurt. They’d been trying for about a year and she was getting really worried and the last time we’d met we talked it all through. Of course I was happy for her but it’s still hard to be left in the no-baby club on your own. And again, seeing her gloriously 8 months pregnant is a painful reminder of what I should be.

A few days after my second frozen cycle I went away with the girls and realised another one of our friends was pregnant – in fact the SIL of the pregs one from our first frozen cycle. I wrote about it in this and this post, and very sadly she had a miscarriage. I haven’t seen her for a while and suspect that she is in early pregnancy hiding.

And this time, 2 weeks after my BFN one of my closest friends emailed me last night to say she is pregs with baby number 2. I knew it was coming – she told me earlier in the year that she would be trying for number 2 this year, as will at least 2 other of my close friends. And she did it in a really sensitive way – she had read up online about the best way to tell an infertile friend you are pregnant which was really sweet of her. Knowing it was coming and facing the reality are two different things – knowing that on my wedding day she will be 7 months pregnant and I should be 5 months but won’t be already hurts so much. And at the moment all I can feel is anger and sadness and bitterness and…

WILL EVERYONE STOP STEALING MY BABIES.

Because as stupid and irrational and unfair as that is, it’s all I can think. You’ve all stolen my babies.

Since coming back from Italy I’ve been waiting for the sadness and grief to hit. It was kind of on pause whilst I was away because I just had to hold it together. Since I got back I’ve felt ok. Not exactly over the moon, but actually ok….to be honest I have been pretty much half-cut since I got back (except when at work!) and whilst I knew this is definitely not a long term solution, for a week or so it helped me through. But I knew I wasn’t dealing with it or facing it. I felt like I was in a safe little bubble of denial.

Last night that announcement popped my bubble and all the hurt and fear and pain gushed out. I’ve been crying on and off since and the deep ache in my heart and gut has returned. The huge hole of misery that I’m so scared I’ll fall into and never get out of. I don’t know how to face it. I don’t know how to deal with it. How do I accept that the ‘never going to be a mother’ option is now very very real, and in fact the most likely? I don’t know how to do this.

Sun, sea and stress!

 

 

 

View from Bro's villa

View from Bro’s villa

The day after my BFN I booked my flights to Italy for my brother’s wedding, and flew a week later. I hadn’t booked it earlier as if I had been pregnant there would be no way after 3 years ttc and 4 rounds of IVF I would be risking anything! Especially as I was going on my own as DH couldn’t get the time off work and to get to the town where my brother was getting married I had to get a bus from Naples airport and then a train for 2 hours. However, since my womb was (still) empty I lugged myself and my baggage (physical and emotional) across Italy.

And Italy did not disappoint. It was absolutely beautiful. My brother was getting married in a little town called Maratea on the

View of Maratea

View of Maratea

side of a mountain and the views were absolutely stunning. The people were lovely, the food was amazing and the wine was plentiful, delicious and cheap.

I was staying with my mum, step dad, sister and her 2 boys about half hour away from Maratea by the beach at Praia a Mare. That was also lovely, especially as we tended to get better weather down there when it was a bit more cloudy up the mountain. It did however cause lots of to-ing and fro-ing and we always seemed to be in a rush for something or late for something else.

There were 6 of us staying in a 2 bedroom chalet and tensions were running high most of the time. This was not helped by the fact that my mum, my sister and I are all control freaks! We’re all used to doing the organising and being in charge of what happens so put us in a very small space together and its going to get fraught.

Praia a Mare

Praia a Mare

Also, my mum takes an INSANE amount of time to do ANYTHING which I found very frustrating. On top of this, my father was there (in Maratea), which made my mum crazy, my sister is just coming out of a divorce and weddings are obviously packed full of couples/love which made her crazy, and I was a week into my recent BFN and there were loads of kids and babies at the wedding which made me crazy.

My step dad is an absolute saint for not just running away…or killing us all! Luckily we’re not a family of arguers so there was lots of snapping and muttering but no full on shouting – we’re far too English for all that!

But on the day of the wedding we had a great time. The venue was stunning, the rain held off and we all had a wonderful day. I’m so pleased that I went. We couldn’t really afford it with our wedding coming up in October but I would have been even more broken hearted to have missed it – to have infertility take away another experience.

View from wedding venue

View from wedding venue

Whilst away I had a long talk with my father about the whole IVF stuff. I’ve written about my dad before in this and this post. He’s kind of an odd guy and we have a rather strange relationship with him. I hadn’t seen him for 5 years so I was rather nervous about that and knew he’d upset me in some way as he always does!!! He doesn’t mean to, he’s just not very aware of other people’s emotions or of how to be sensitive to other people – I guess he’s just a pretty self involved guy and having lived in the states for 40 odd years he’s not exactly close to his kids or grandkids.

So we had ‘the chat’ about my infertility. And although he did try and say it in a sensitive way (for him!) the bottom line of what he thought was:

  • IVF is not going to work for me, I should stop trying (he actually used the phrase ‘lost cause’)
  • Surrogacy is not an option – they’ll steal your baby!
  • Adoption is not an option – all kids up for adoption have had mothers on drugs whilst pregnant and you’re just setting yourself up for a life of misery with a problem child.
  • Get over it, you’re never going to have kids. Move on with your life.

Sooo that was fun! I know he was trying to be supportive and just give me his advice, and he did admit that he doesn’t know what it’s like to really want children as he was never that bothered (gee, thanks daddy) but man it hurt! And we were at a party at my brother’s villa the night before his wedding which was supposed to be a fun night but was just me and him in a corner with me crying. (which of course made my mum angry, which added to the whole stress levels) Ugh.

On the plus side, he did say that he’d just got this big contract through at work and that he would give us some money towards the wedding. This is very typical behaviour of my father – say the wrong thing, offer money. And I am extremely grateful for that money, but I’d exchange it for a ‘proper’ father in a flash.

So overall, I’m glad I went to the wedding, I’m glad I was there for my brother, I’m very glad I got to eat and drink amazing food and wine but it was most definitely not relaxing or healing! But in a weird way with being so stressed I didn’t have time to be so sad! So, erm, I guess that’s a good thing…?!!

Sunset over Maratea

Sunset over Maratea

BFN ritual

I wake up at about 5am with an awful sicky knot in the pit of my stomach. I try to keep calm, do some deep breathing and let DH sleep as long as possible – I know it’s going to be a long day and want him to be in oblivion for as long as possible. By about 6am I can’t wait anymore and wake him up and then we cling to each other for a while and tell each other we’re scared – he tells me he’ll always love me no matter what. By about 6.30am I work up the courage to pee into my specially appointed test day plastic cup, which was all washed out and left to dry the night before.

I dip two different brands of pregnancy test into the pot – making sure I face them away from me having learnt after test day number 2 that if you dip them and see just the test line come up straight away you know its negative and have to go back to the bedroom knowing already and DH will see it on your face. So I dip the tests, close my eyes and put them down on top of the loo then go back to the bedroom to wait 3 excruciating minutes with DH.

When the time is up we go into the bathroom together, holding hands and gingerly walk towards the tests. They say what they always say. Not pregnant. One line. Pure, pure whiteness. I throw at least one test across the bathroom before animal noises escape from me. DH holds me up before I can crumple to the floor. We go back to the bedroom and cry. And cry. And cry.

An hour or so later I call my sister. She coos soothing words to me, she crys with me. Then I call my mum – the worst call to make. I know where I get my animal cry noises from. My mum is not a crier normally – I’ve heard her cry way too much over the last year. She crys because her little girl is in pain and she can’t do anything about it. I will never have a little girl to love so much. I hate that I make her feel this way, I know it’s not my fault but she’s sad because I’m sad and I hate it.

We send our texts to friends and family. I let my twitter family know. I prefer to get it all done and out the way in one go. We try to sleep – DH usually does but I never can.

We get up about 11am and have something to eat, potter round the house. Random bouts of crying ensue. By about midday I run a bath and open the wine. I realise that DH has thrown away the tests and all packaging, tipped away my pee and washed the cup out. He goes out and buys lots of naughty food whilst I lay in the bath – he’s so brave to go out into the fertile world and I’m so grateful I never have to go with him. What did I do to deserve such a wonderful man.

We bumble through the afternoon. In the evening we cook a special dinner together, radio on, rather tipsy. We watch Game of Thrones. We cry.