Infertility means…*

*Disclaimer: this is entirely about me and my situation. Other people may not think the same way. Other people may have entirely different experiences. Whatever your journey has been like so far, I wish you all the best and sincerely hope you get your miracle soon.

Misty trees

… asking yourself if you’re sure you really want a second cup of black tea today. (I won’t even discuss coffee. The last time I had one was the end of August. At the time we were on an enforced break from IVF because I had to have a hysteroscopy before continuing).

… trying very hard to drink enough water because now staying hydrated is even more important than it is anyway, but hating having to pee in case you see blood.

… being willing to try all kinds  of random things that may or may not help. Eat an avocado every day? Why not, I like avocados. Brazil nuts after transfer? My new favourite snack! Wear socks to bed? Okay! Give up chocolate? Hmm, maybe not that one ;-).

… sitting in the waiting room at your clinic and being greeted by name every time another member of staff walks past.

… always hesitating/checking the before booking a flight somewhere or buying tickets for an event in another location because what if you need to be near the clinic that day for another ultrasound/blood draw/transfer

… constantly scouring the Internet for reassurance that you’re doing the right thing by paying out for another transfer.

… giving up any food that sounds even vaguely yummy every few weeks because this time it might have actually worked and you don’t want to end up feeling guilty because you ate sushi/soft cheese/pâté or took some medicine after a transfer.

… spending the last two weeks of every cycle feeling utterly, completely exhausted because of the progesterone you’re on (all the fun symptoms of early pregnancy but most likely without the actual pregnancy!)

… constantly being afraid that you’ve started spotting, then when you discover you actually have momentarily feeling relief that at least it’s over now and you can move on, before the devastation of what it actually means kicks in. (I am aware that spotting in IVF cycles doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but when it starts the day you would usually get your period Every. Single. Time. and doesn’t stop until you get the negative pregnancy and can stop progesterone it’s really pretty obvious what’s going on).

… not giving up hope. Not now, not any time soon. Putting up with all the early appointments, blood tests, needles and hormones because I still believe that someday, somehow, I will get to be a mother.

The unknown is scary…

Queenstown

Recently we had a meeting with the doctor at the fertility clinic and were able to put a plan in place. Basically we’ve agreed that, since it worked so well last time, I will try the same procedure again. Same hormonal injections followed by insemination. I’m not going to tell you exactly when we’ll be trying again – partly because I want to keep some things private. I don’t really need dozens of people waiting to hear the results of my pregnancy test! But also because I don’t know myself exactly when we’ll be able to try again. It all depends on how quickly my body gets back to normal after the loss. Since I was nearly 17 weeks along and there were two babies, its slightly different to a “normal”, early miscarriage. I do know I have to wait two cycles, so it definitely won’t be happening this year. Much as I would like to finally be able to hold a baby in my arms, I’m okay with that. After everything that’s happened this year, I’d be happy with an uneventful rest of 2018. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past three years, it’s patience. When baby-making doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to there is a lot of waiting involved. Waiting for the right time in your cycle to have certain tests, waiting to see whether it’s actually worked this time round, and waiting for the right time to start treatment. I’m used to waiting.

One of the worst things about having to start this process all over again – apart from the obvious fact that my boys deserve to still be here – is not knowing whether we will ever end up with a living, breathing baby that we can actually bring home with us. I was very lucky that I responded so well to the hormones and the IUI worked first time. That’s now what usually happens, and the doctor has already prepared me to not expect that again. We have two tries left and after that…. who knows. I am hopeful that things will work out for us, but it would be a lot easier if it was possible to look into the future and see that, if we just keep going, one day it will all have been worth it.

Goodbye October

It’s 1 November today. October is over and I feel like I can finally take a breath.
Today also happens to be the first Thursday of the month, and thus What’s New With You day with Kristen, so you should definitely check that out. I won’t be linking up – my regular readers know how my October was and those coming over just from the link up don’t need to be confronted with that – but I wanted to write something to mark the end of the absolute worst month of my entire life.

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In October, we lost our baby boys. With them we lost our hopes and dreams, our joy about finally starting our family. All our plans for the future have had to be put on hold… we have no idea for how long.

In October, I also lost my grandma – an amazing woman who never stopped making everyone laugh, no matter what life threw at her. She raised nine children, lost her husband relatively early and still kept on going. If I can get through the hard times with even half as much strength as she did I’ll be doing okay.

While we’re on the subject of grandma’s, my other grandma had a pacemaker fitted about a week ago (eventually, after it was postponed twice!). The operation went well, thankfully, but really universe? Was it actually necessary to throw another thing at me in October?

However…

In October I also learned that I can get through the absolute worst thing I could have imagined without falling apart. Whatever life throws at me, I can survive it. Of course I have cried, raged and felt numb at various times. I’ve gone through phases of being unable to believe this is actually happening to me. In the early days, I occasionally actually forgot I wasn’t still pregnant, then I would suddenly remember that it no longer mattered how I got out of bed or what kind of cheese I ate and the sadness would hit all over again. I feel like I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster for the past month. But I didn’t break down completely. Even at my lowest points, it never occurred to me to give up. It’s an ongoing process, my life will never, ever be the same, but I know I will get through this and whatever lies ahead.

In October, Jan and I grew even closer. We had already been through a lot over the past couple of years just trying to conceive our babies. We got through that together, and now we are getting through the loss of our babies together. I am genuinely so proud of how we handled this situation, and particularly of how Jan handled it. He dealt with all the practical aspects – keeping our families informed about what was happening, calling work for me when I couldn’t bring myself to say what had happened out loud, calling the hospital and the pathologist to find out what was happening. He held me when I cried, made me cups of tea and lit candles for both our boys and my grandma. And he also looked after me throughout my physical recovery – bringing me my antibiotics and breakfast in bed so I wouldn’t have to get up, making sure I ate enough even when I didn’t feel like it, doing a load of washing when I first came home from the hospital so all my maternity clothes were clean ready to be put away where I didn’t have to look at them. In the hospital we both talked a lot about our feelings (there wasn’t much else to do!) and I am now more convinced than ever that he is going to be a fantastic dad when the time comes for us to actually bring a baby home. Soon we will hopefully start the process of trying to conceive all over again, and there is nobody else I would rather go through it with.

In October, I also learned that people can be amazing. My friends, of course, have all been wonderful (they are my friends for a reason!), but I have also received lovely messages from the most unexpected people – from someone I knew at school and was convinced hated me back then to the colleague I would least have expected to reach out. I guess the old adage about finding out who your friends are is true. My entire extended family  have also rallied round with messages of support. Every single one of my blogging friends (and I consider you all my friends) has been fantastic. Every kind word, every message of support, every e-mail and every text has meant the absolute world to me. Both people I love and people I barely even interacted with previously have reached out, told me their stories, helped me believe it really, truly will get better. Even through all the sadness, so many people out there have actually managed to make me smile.

Even though I am mostly okay on most days, I am glad to be saying goodbye to October, but along with the grief I will always remember the positives. It’s going to be a long winter this year, but with Jan, my friends and my family, I will come out the other side stronger than before. And I truly believe that one day we will actually get a baby to bring home and raise. I just hope we don’t have to go through any more heartbreak before we achieve that goal.

And breathe

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This morning my family said goodbye to my grandma. I couldn’t be there, but I was in spirit and I had one of my cousins read something out for me at the celebration of life. We will miss grandma always but we all have so many memories that will live on forever.

Meanwhile, yesterday was our follow-up appointment at the hospital. Pretty much as expected they have no idea where the infection came from. All my swabs were negative, so I definitely didn’t have any vaginal infection. They found traces of infection in the placenta and the babies though (the boys were otherwise perfect – no physical abnormalities/defects that would have caused a miscarriage). The most likely explanation is that some bacteria that’s naturally present in the vagina made its way into my uterus and developed into an infection there – a random event that couldn’t have been predicted and was undetectable from the outside, other than via a blood test. Next time I will be in a different risk category and if I start spotting again they will happily do a blood test even if I have no other symptoms or anything that indicates an infection. If there is a next time…

I have alluded to this, if not in blog posts then certainly in replies comments, but now I’m just going to say it outright. Our babies were conceived using fertility treatments. Not IVF (I know that’s where everyone’s mind goes first!), but the hormones I had to inject myself with were the same. We were incredibly lucky that it worked first time and resulted in not just one but two babies. I have no idea whether it would work a second time. Right now, I don’t even know whether we automatically get to try a second time or if my health insurance will have to approve the procedure again. We were originally approved for three tries, but the remaining two may have been cancelled out when I actually became pregnant. All I do know is that it’s highly unlikely I will ever become pregnant on my own. And I’m 35 now… time is not exactly on my side. And, whatever happens I have to wait two cycles to allow my body to physically return to normal before we can start trying again.

For now, we at least have some kind of closure. Perhaps not as many answers as I would have liked, but reassurance that it was nobody’s fault. Not ours, Not the hospital’s. We were simply the victims of bad luck. Now it’s time to heal. Then we will pick ourselves up, take a deep breath, and join the infertility roller coaster again…