The other side of the story…a male perspective

I started this blog in the hope that it would help people to understand what we have been through and hoped that it would help people struggling to know they aren’t alone. So far, it has been my version of events, my side of the story. I asked hubby a few months ago if he would like to write something for the blog. He said he would think about it. He thought about it and I’m so happy to now share what he has written about his side of our story…

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So after a little bit of consideration I have agreed to write a piece for my wife’s blog. I have to say when she started talking about writing a blog about our infertility struggles I wasn’t sure about it. However, I’m so proud of what she has achieved and I have seen the huge amount of support she gets from and gives to people who are surviving this horrible daily struggle that is infertility.

So here goes my version of our story (or at least some of the story so far)…

I remember discussing infertility during the marriage counselling we had to go through before our wedding. I sat there thinking…why are we talking about this now, we will be OK, we have plans. 3 kids, nice house, a dog! What can get in the way of our future hopes and dreams. Oh boy how clueless were we…?

I remember the night everything in our life changed in what I will call the ‘discussion’. ‘What do you mean you think we should start thinking about having a family’. ‘OK I think we are ready. ‘It’s a scary thought but sure let’s do it’. That was the cue for some of the happiest times in our marriage. It’s full of hope, love, lust and romance and I remember it being a really happy time for us. Excited about our future and creating our family together.

However, 18 months later we were still no further forward and we were beginning to think maybe there were some issues. I went to see the Dr to see what his thoughts were, hoping to rule out any problems. The Dr was a young guy who said he would run some tests. This meant my first visit to the clinic to do what I now call ‘magicing the beans’. I had never been so embarrassed in all my life to get a pot from a really good looking nurse for me to fill. After she explained the procedure, showed me the ‘material’, she left me alone. With regards to the ‘material’ I now have a theory that the more expensive the clinic the better the ‘material’ is. Also, the only thing I can say about the UK is we are pretty vanilla, Greece has some really kinky stuff!

Personally, I am programmed to deal with adversity by making jokes about the situation. So when my friends used to ask how we were getting on I used to tell the about my experiences of being in fertility clinics and how I played my part in the whole IVF thing. My favourite story to tell them about was when a fire alarm at the hospital caused everyone to be evacuated including two chaps who were ‘mid stroke’ at the time. Cue me walking into a full waiting room of guys all knowing what the other one was going to do. So me being me I gave wink and a smile to the guy next to me I sat down with the immortal line of ‘nice day for it’. Finding some humour in our situation helps me to deal with it. One thing I will say to anyone who has to do this is not be worried or embarrassed about having to give a sample. In my experience the staff are generally great and do a great job to make you feel at ease. No one is judging you or what you have to do.

So after we got the results back from the GP and he said the line ‘just need a little help getting pregnant’ I lived for the next few years with the realisation that our fertility issues were all my fault. I had a low count and poor morphology. I felt guilt, shame and a sense of not knowing what to do with the hand we had been dealt. We had conversations about no longer being together. We talked about letting each other go so at least she could have the chance to be a Mum. Of course, it came to nothing but we came to realise that conversations about the future were important.

I think that this is where the NHS failed with their approach to our infertility. They offered us no tests on K at all and just put it down to me. Immediately we were then thrown into the world of fertility clinics and ultimately IVF.

After extensive and expensive tests we have both undergone through private treatment we now know that this is not all my fault. Raised NK cells for one thing. We have more recently found out that K had lots of scar tissue from endometriosis, but her constant pain was disregarded by the IVF clinics. We needed IVF and that was it. However, even with this knowledge, with every cycle we do, I still feel bad that I am putting the person who I love most in the world though huge amounts of physical and emotional pain. This for me is worse than what I was going through alone and this was the cause of some really dark times in our marriage.

Leaving her in hospital with severe OHSS on our wedding anniversary was one of the really low points for me. Seeing her then go through it a second time after we were assured it wouldn’t happen again was also horrendous. Watching her being so unwell, swelling up, unable to breathe properly and being sick all the time…whilst I could do nothing, we just had to wait it out…twice. The severe depression that she suffered as a result of failed treatment was also horrific to watch…trying to help but not being able to. Living through K reaching the lowest point and being so unwell, yet trying to hold us both together just so she would get through the day. No one said it would be like that. I thought IVF equalled baby.

Infertility is a team ‘sport’ and whilst at times it has been incredibly lonely for both of us, we have found it better for our relationship to face it together. We have not always been like this and our marriage has not been the fairytale I thought it might be. We have had times during the last 10 years where we have both nearly ended things, we have fought, shouted, swore, packed bags, and she even threw hair straighteners at me (they hit the skirting board and broke so I suppose it serves her right). I did possibly deserve that though. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that infertility changed everything for us, not just once, but time and again. We had hope that embryos would stick, when they didn’t we were crushed. New test results gave new hope, add another drug in and it will work. It didn’t. We went from ‘only needing a little help’ to needing a miracle.

Infertility hits you like a wave and the feelings it creates come and go. We struggle through those ‘family’ times like Christmas, reminding us of the family we wanted so much and even after 8 years of IVF we seem no further forward and in some ways we are completely left behind. We have, however, shared some unforgettable experiences together, lots of travelling and holidays, even if most were an attempt to recover from failed treatment.

One thing that has definitely helped us has been couples counselling. This took us from a very dark place in our relationship to where we are now. It has taken time and lots of talking, but it has been worth it. I would recommend to any couple faced with infertility to get help to navigate the choppy waters (or dangerous seas). I wish we had done this sooner as it has helped to bring us closer and now we can face whatever comes at us together.

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A huge thank you to my hubby for being brave to share his side of the story. As we head towards another embryo transfer, I know whatever comes our way we will get through together

Transfer Cycle 8

I can hardly believe we are here. I can hardly believe this is us. Transfer cycle 8. Embryo number 14. The 10th time I have started a cycle in the hope that I get pregnant. It has happened once, just a few month ago with embryo 13. Unlucky for some, we thought it was lucky for us and look how that turned out.

And here we are again…back at the starting blocks. I try not to use bad language in my blog but…right now I’m so fucking angry and upset that we are back here again. Why us? Why me? Who the hell knows. It’s so fucking unfair. I hate this, I hate what it has done to me, to hubby and to us.

Right now I’m lying on a sun lounger staring at clear blue sky. An intense heat. It sounds idyllic. It looks idyllic. Those who are around us have no idea why we are here. We are here to get away from it all. To try to gather ourselves back together, to renew our strength, our courage, our relationship. We are in a good place. So much better than we have been before when cycles haven’t gone well. There were times I didn’t think we would get here again, we were so broken. But we got through it. We talked. We grieved. We survived. And here we are, on holiday again, loving being together and yet both worried about what comes next. Holidays are our reward for IVF failure…there I said it. The only reason we have so many holidays is because we need them. To escape, to recover, to try to find some slice of happiness after such sadness.

In the immediate aftermath of our miscarriage I thought that we might be broken again. We are not. We are facing the next cycle together, head on. Trying to keep a sense of perspective. A whatever happens, happens kind of approach. Deep down inside I am afraid, scared, petrified. It feels like I am suspended at the top of the Oblivion rollercoaster with the words ‘don’t look down’ ringing in my ears, knowing that I’m headed into free fall, with no control over what comes next. I daren’t look down. Another negative. Another positive. Another miscarriage. Another heartbreak. It really is the worst fucking rollercoaster that I have ever stepped onto. I’ve been on it for 10 years. When will it stop? I suppose it will stop when we decide it’s time to stop. We have 5 frozen embryos, now isn’t the time for hitting the stop button.

I have started the drugs for transfer number 8. I don’t have the headaches I had last time, but I do have the tears. I’m not sure if it’s the oestrogen, the reality of what we have already been through or fear of what is to come. Maybe a combination of all 3. I hope the tears pass soon. I hope the fear passes soon, but that’s probably unlikely.

What if I never see two lines again? What if that was it? What if all I see is one line & the words Not Pregnant? What if all we ever get is the 12 days of thinking we were going to be parents and being so utterly crushed when the words ‘not progressed’ are said by a nurse on the other end of the phone? That can’t be it. Or maybe that will be it. Maybe that’s the closest we will ever come. I need to drop kick those thoughts out of my mind right now.

Hubby is convinced that one of the 5 will work. The statistician in me doubts that. The odds certainly don’t feel in our favour. I hope more than anything that he is right. I don’t know if I will survive being crushed another 5 times, I don’t even want to think about it.

The next month is going to be another tough one. For now, I need to take one day at a time. Enjoy the sunshine. No more reading books about IVF and miscarriage. And remember that whatever comes next, I’ve been here before. I’ve survived it, we both have. We used to head into transfer full of hope and optimism, we even used to talk about our future family. Now, we talk about how we will cope when it doesn’t work. That in itself shows how shit this whole thing is. But, it is what it is. I have to try to remember that this can work, I can get pregnant. It took 13 embryos and 8 years of IVF to get that far. Maybe this time we will get even further, maybe we will even clear the hurdles and get to the finish line. Right now that doesn’t seem likely, but if we don’t try we will never know!

Let’s do this…again…

The question of “Giving Up”

I’ve been asked over the years if I’m ready to give up.  Our latest cycle seems to have raised that question again.  Before I go any further I want you all to know that it hurts to hear these words.  I wonder if those that ask this question have ever walked this path or have ever thought (and I mean truly thought) about what they would do if they had been dealt this hand.  For most people, they fortunately will never have to make decisions about the path they choose to take to try to have a family.  I am glad that they have never had to even think about the things that we think about every day, I hate that anyone has to go through this.

Why should I give up?  8 years, 7 transfers, 13 embryos…maybe it is enough, maybe its never going to work.  We have 5 more embryos frozen.  At the moment, that is 5 more chances.  Of course, there may come a point in the future where we decide to move on, but that is very different to ‘giving up’.

‘Giving up’ somehow implies that I don’t want it enough.  It implies that I need to admit defeat.  I have news.  This isn’t something that either defeats you or you beat it.  We entered the world of assisted conception 8 years ago, completely naive to the fact that we thought IVF would work first time.  Even the GP told us we would ‘just need a little help getting pregnant’.  For us, IVF it didn’t work first time.  We seem to live in a place where hope is given and then within a few weeks it is gone again.  Yet we continue to move forward.  Our relationship has been tested in ways I never thought possible.  I have had more medical procedures than I care to admit.  I have suffered depression as a result of not dealing with things when it didn’t go well.  I have felt left behind, out of touch with those around us and I have lost people who were once my friends.  There is a vacuum of silence between me and most people ‘close’ to us as they struggle to know what to say and I brace myself for what they might say.  Its a lose lose situation.  Everyone else around us moves forward, mostly with families that have grown over the past few years and will continue to do so over the coming years.  Our route to parenthood isn’t as simple as it is for many, but does that mean I should now ‘give up’.

Infertility will never defeat me because I am not at war with it.  It is part of me, it is part of us and our lives.  Saying the words ‘we give up’ will not make that go away or change it.  We have made the decision to continue to try to have a family.  I know it is not in the conventional way, but for us it is the only way it is possible.  Whilst we have the strength, courage, hope and probably just as important, the money, to keep having treatment, then we will.

There will come a point where we will move on.  In fact, this time last year I thought I was at that point.  It didn’t feel like I was ‘giving up’, it felt like I was starting to move on in a different direction.  I spent what felt like weeks and weeks in counselling sessions saying that I thought I would ok if we didn’t continue with treatment, but seemingly going round in circles, probably trying to convince myself that it was the truth.  We hadn’t had any treatment for 12 months & I was feeling the best I had done for a long time.  It turns out that I wasn’t quite ready to move on.  Something was telling us both that we would regret it if we didn’t have at least one more cycle of IVF.  It was a joint decision to find a new clinic and have more treatment.  It was the right decision for us.  Just as the decision right now to have further treatment with the embryos that we have frozen is also the right decision.

I went into the last frozen transfer with a renewed hope and positivity.  I am afraid of treatment, but that is because I know the reality of what it feels like and what the drugs do to me.  Yet, I am still willing to try.

Seeing 2 lines for the first time in 12 years truly was one of the best days of our lives together.  The day I started to bleed was one of the worst days of our lives together.  Being pregnant and then miscarrying has made our grief and sadness so much deeper that it has ever been before, but it has also given us renewed hope that one day somebody may call us ‘mum and dad’.  Should we ‘give up’ on that now?  Yes I am sad, I am angry, I think why me, I have no explanation as to why 6 transfers haven’t worked and why 1 did work and then didn’t continue to develop.  There is a place in my heart for all 13 embryos and there always will be.  I will always think of the dates that they would have been here with us and how old they would be now.  That will never leave me.  I know that 17th November will be etched on my brain and in my heart forever.  We have been through a lot, maybe if I was reading this story I too would be asking why we ‘keep going’.  And yet we are not ready to move on.  Our last cycle did the opposite, it gave us hope that at least one our 5 remaining embryos may actually stick around for the duration.  Whilst I know I am in the depths of sadness right now, I also know that in time it will lessen and I will be ready to transfer another of our embryos.  And as I keep being told, hope is everything.

Maybe its easier for those around us if we ‘give up’?  Of course it probably would be, they wouldn’t have to ride the roller coaster that we ride with each cycle, they too could get off.  Maybe they have ‘given up’ on us after all this time.  That’s ok too.  I get it, our story is now getting a little boring.  We don’t have a baby for all of our efforts, the reality is we may never have one.  It is probably hard for those people around us to watch us each time we are plunged to the depths of sadness and hope that we crawl ourselves out of it.  Each time we do.  It perhaps scares people that I may drift to a place of darkness.  Just because the tears are flowing and I feel sad right now for what might have been, it doesn’t mean that I am going to get to the same place I did before.  I got there because I didn’t cry or talk about it.  The fact that I am is a good thing.  It means I am dealing with it and not burying it.  How many times can we go through this?  To that there is no answer, I know that we will know when it’s time to move on.  I wonder if people would like me to say I’ve given up so that I can somehow forget what we have been through the past 10 years and just ‘get on’ with life?  I will never forget any of it.  I am changed.  I am different to most people that I know in the real world.  Infertility and our journey means that I always will be.  I have accepted this, I just hope one day that others can also accept this about me.

So, please don’t ask if it is time we gave up or if I’m ready to give up…when it is time for us to move on, we will let you know.

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Small Steps

The last few weeks I have struggled, swinging from being ok to being completely grief stricken.  My stress levels have been building, my anxiety has sky rocketed and have just generally felt rubbish.

Last weekend I had to pee on a stick to check that my body had ‘dealt with’ the miscarriage.  Staring at a negative test filled me with so many emotions, sadness that it was finally over, anger that we had to go through this, panic that we may never see two lines again and fear about what comes next.  The clinic called me a day later to check that I had a negative test.  The nurse talked about a follow up appointment, apparently it would be something to look forward to.  I corrected her, in a nice way of course.  I am forever disappointed, yet not surprised, by the lack of empathy and support that clinics show to patients.  I still haven’t been asked if I would like to speak to a counsellor.  Maybe it’s not in the script, who knows.  Its pretty poor though.  All they seem interested in is when I go back for a follow up and for another transfer.  Basic support seems to be lacking.  It really needs to change.

I have days where I feel generally ok.  Work is completely manic at the moment but at least it means the time passes quickly.  What is also means is that my stress levels are through the roof.  I have been working long hours just to try and keep things under control.  I haven’t been eating properly.  I wake up early worried about things.  I have pain in my back and shoulders.  All of these are my stress indicators.  I can hear them screaming at me to stop.  I cannot stop.  I feel a huge sense of responsibility to do the job to the best of my ability.  I suppose work is a great distraction, but at the same time I am also very aware that we are hoping to do another FET in the next 8 weeks and being in a state of high stress is not going to help me one bit.  In fact, I wouldn’t cope with it and so I cannot allow it to continue.  I can also feel myself hurtling towards the point of another panic stricken breakdown.  Last weekend I had moments of feeling like I did when I hit rock bottom.  For most of the day I felt the same way that I did on that fateful Sunday in December 2015 when I knew I couldn’t carry on as I was.  It was a scary place to be.  I never want to go back there.  I am determined not to.  So, it is time for some self care.  I need to try and re-balance things.  Easier said than done.

Alone

In the aftermath of the last treatment cycle, I feel alone.  I am surrounded by people and yet there are times when I feel completely alone.  Our latest cycle only added to the desire for a family.  I feel like I have been pushed back 5 years in our journey as the yearning for a family throws me back into the depths of feeling empty, feeling like something is missing and feeling that I am so far apart from those around me that I just can’t connect with anyone.  I thought I had moved on from these feelings, but I suppose it just shows how quickly it can all come flooding back.  A family was within reach, we had done it…but no, a cruel twist of something came and snatched it away from us.  And once again I am left with a heart smashed into a thousand pieces.  People struggle to say the right thing.  People struggle to say anything.  Someone dared suggest that at least now I know I can get pregnant…just no.  On so many levels, just no.  I understand the sentiment but no, not right now.  I am plagued by the feelings infertility brings, right now it will not leave me.  I know in time I will move forward.  I have done it before and I will do it again.

 

Lots of people have asked us when we will do another cycle.  I swing from wanting to do it as quickly as possible because I want to be pregnant and have a baby, to never wanting to put us through it again.  The thought of hormone patches, scans, injections, steroids and an embryo transfer fills me with utter dread.  I have always been filled with hope when we knew we were having FET.  Now I am filled with fear.  Maybe it is too soon to be thinking about it, but I can’t dwell on what has happened last time.  I need to find the strength to move forward.  Grief will come and go.  We all reach the point at different times of knowing when we are ready to go again.  If we get to June and I’m not ready, I won’t do it.

For now, it is small steps to start to prepare.  I have started to walk the dog more often, the fresh air definitely helps with the stress levels.  It will hopefully help me get rid of a few pounds that I put on during our last cycle too.  I need to address the stress issues at work and this time I will not be consumed by it, but it is easier said than done.  I have booked an acupuncture session in 2 weeks time.  I didn’t do it with the last FET but I think it may help my anxiety levels.  We have a follow up appointment at the clinic at the beginning of May.  I’m not expecting them to change anything but we can’t cycle again without the follow up.  All chocolate is removed from the house, healthy eating starts again from now.  Today I have started my vitamins again.  Small steps indeed.  But important ones.

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I need to try and work through the fear and reach a place of hope.  This quote sums it up perfectly:

“Never let fear make decisions for you.  Try to make life choices from a hope-filled perspective, as this will give you the greatest potential of achieving a happy life” 

Zoe Clark-Coates, Saying Goodbye  

The next few weeks will be key for me in deciding what to do next, more treatment or not.  All I can do is take each day as it comes, look after myself, be kind to myself and know that it will get easier with time.  The moments of grief will pass, the emptiness will lessen and I will find a way to move forward positively.  I have to.

You are not alone

Endings…& New Beginnings

Two weeks ago I felt like my life was falling to pieces and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  In my last post I wrote about surviving the first seven days after my miscarriage.  Another week has passed and still the grief hits me in waves.  I have also felt the anger come to the surface.  The questions that no-one can answer, why me? why us? why did this happen?  In reality, we will never know why.  All we do know is that we have been through so much in the last 10 years since being given our infertility diagnosis, I really don’t know how much more we can take.

For the last week, each morning when I left the house for work I have cried.  It starts when I tell our puppy, J, that mummy loves him.  I haven’t stopped saying it, I have said it to him since the day we had him, just now it seems more loaded.  I know one day it won’t bring the tears, but for now, it does and that’s ok.  My grief, my tears are an expression of love.

Grief

The loss, the grief, the hope that gives us nothing but heartache, the sadness, the tears, the anger, the feeling of being broken, the emptiness, the sheer exhaustion of it all.  In the immediate days after our loss, I wondered if I would ever be able to put me and us through it again.  Sometimes I feel done.  I can take no more.  Then I think about the 5 embryos that we have frozen, the embryos that we created (with a lot of help from the embryologists of course) and I know I cannot walk away from them.  I also know that it has changed me, just as infertility changed me, this too has left a mark on me that will last forever.  I know I have already started to move forward.  But I will never forget.

Each day feels a little easier and then it hits again.  But that’s ok.  We have tried to resume normal life.  We have even started to think about the future again, we have to otherwise what else do we have.  The FET cycle that we just went through is now over, it has ended.  It ended in the most awful way and I wish it hadn’t, but no matter how much I want to change it, I can’t.

 I am reminded that with endings, come the possibility of new beginnings.

New Beginnings

We have 5 more embryos waiting for us.  I need to start looking after myself again, getting healthy and basically I need to stop consuming my body weight in chocolate.  I have no idea how long it will be before I feel ready to go through another FET cycle, but I know I will get there.  And when I do, I need to be as healthy as possible.

We have a holiday booked so we can get some time away and hopefully some sunshine.  It will give us some time out and hopefully some space to heal.  To breathe.  To just be.

This week I finished my college course.  Another ending.  I have spent the last 6 months with some truly amazing people, all on their own paths, but all of us trying to reach the same end point of becoming counsellors.  I have been touched by each and every person in some way, the stories that they have shared and the safe space that was created so that I too could grow.  I feel lucky to have been on a learning journey with each of them.  Many of them are continuing to study together, my path is different.  So, I said a heartfelt goodbye to each and every one of them.  The tutor has held us together as a group, encouraged us, questioned us, guided us and most importantly has allowed us to just be us.  I feel privileged to have been taught by her.  She too has touched my life in a positive way and she has helped me to grow and flourish.  Saying goodbye to them all was hard, but I know in this course ending, we are all moving to a new, wonderful beginning.

It is 6 months until I start my university course and I can’t wait to get going!  Last week in the throws of sadness and anger I was going to withdraw from the course but with the dark clouds slowly clearing I can see that would be a huge mistake and if I want this I have to grasp the opportunity with both hands and give it my all.  No-one else is going to change my life, my career, only I can do that.

And so I have made progress.  I have bad moments, sad moments, angry moments, moments when I think depression is seeping back into my life.  But they are just that, moments.  Moments that pass.  Moments that are followed by brighter moments.  One day at a time, things are getting easier.  The miscarriage has changed me, why wouldn’t it?  I will never forget and I will never stop thinking about what might have been.  But I am digging deep to find the strength & courage to move forward.  It is all I can do to get through this.

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Seven Days of Sadness

It has been exactly a week since our world came crashing down around us.  After a week of knowing I was pregnant after 12 years of trying to conceive, everything changed again.  It has probably been one of the worst weeks of my entire life.  I genuinely don’t know how I have made it through some of the sheer moments of pain and grief.  I wanted to write this post in the hope that it helps others who may be trying to put one foot in front of another after they have suffered a miscarriage.  In all honesty, I didn’t have a clue what would happen to me, what my body would go through or how I would feel.

Within the space of a few seconds, I went from being pregnant and happy to being heartbroken and scared.  Seven days after it happened and I feel empty.  Empty uterus, empty heart.  I am exhausted, just completely wiped out physically and emotionally.  I am tired, of everything.  I feel done, defeated, broken.  And yet, I am hopeful and know that I am going to be ok.  But what has happened to me in the last seven days…here goes…

When I wrote my last post, in my heart I knew it was over.  I knew I was having a miscarriage.  I couldn’t say the word but that was what was happening to me.  I suppose I was still clutching on to some hope that maybe I was wrong and that our bean was a fighter and had by some miracle stuck around.  The pain and bleeding were pretty horrific for a few hours and then they all but disappeared.  This is where the false hope started to creep in.  Still, I knew it was done.  Utterly drained from crying buckets of tears, I somehow managed to get some sleep.  I slept until 1am and then I cried and cried and cried some more until 4.30am.  Sitting on the cold tiled bathroom floor, curled into a ball, I have never felt so alone in my entire life.  What have I done to deserve this?

A new day, the day I should have gone for my second Hcg test to confirm the numbers were dropping.  It snowed heavily so we phoned the clinic to tell them we couldn’t make it in.  In reality, I couldn’t face going in.  I didn’t want to go for a blood test, I had lost our baby, end of.  The nurse that I spoke to said that I needed to continue with the medication and to come in the next day.  I reluctantly agreed.  I couldn’t come off the drugs until they had confirmation either way.  We trudged through another day, random bursts of tears.  Lots of tears, seemingly set off by nothing, other than the realisation of what had happened.  Family visits passed a few hours, everyone truly as heartbroken as us.  My pain was back, the bleeding had slowed right down.  I stayed away from Google, I didn’t want to read stories of positive outcomes, I knew this just wasn’t the case.

The snow cleared so the next day we made our way to the clinic.  I walked in but I didn’t want to be there.  I felt and looked like crap.  I wanted to be in and out as quickly as I could.  The fertility clinic was just a reminder of what we nearly had.  Luckily, I was in and out within 5 minutes.  As we drove away, the tears flowed some more.  Why has this happened to us?  Both of us in a state of pure sadness.  A couple of hours later, the phone call came.  The Hcg had dropped from 3000 to 1100 and our worst fears were finally confirmed.  The nurse didn’t use the term miscarriage, she simply said that I was right and things hadn’t progressed.  She said it usually ‘resolves’ itself so they don’t offer a scan.  I have to do a pregnancy test in 2 weeks to make sure it’s negative.  That is something to look forward to then.  She didn’t offer me a counsellor, didn’t ask if I needed any support.  Fortunately, I already had this in hand but she wouldn’t have know that.  We would need to wait a month before we went for another cycle and she was quick to remind me that we had 5 embryos frozen.  I told her it would be a few months and we would need a holiday before we thought about another cycle.  She commented that it was positive that we had a positive, we’ve never had one of those before!  Yey for us…are you actually kidding me?  She did then realise what she had said and started to backtrack a little, but I understand the sentiment.  Heck, I’ve even thought it myself in the last few days.  She advised us to avoid Zika areas for a holiday.  She then started talking about arranging a follow up when we were ready…I took part in the conversation but I had switched off.  She had just delivered the worst news I had received throughout 8 years of fertility treatment, I couldn’t take in what was being said.  I said I would contact in a few months when I was ready.  Her parting line…you know where we are if you need anything.  Really, are you?  You haven’t even asked if I want to speak to someone about what has happened.  I don’t know why I expect any other.  Oh I know, because I’m a person with feelings who has just been ripped into two and maybe I expect to be taken care of through the good and bad.  Unfortunately, they got this very wrong, but that’s just my opinion.    The phone went down, the tears flowed.  It was done.  It was finally confirmed.  I am 1 in 4.

Another day came.  Hubby and I went to see our counsellor, I had arranged the appointment as soon as I knew what was happening.  We were going to need help to get through this.  It was probably the hardest session I have ever had.  I had stopped the medication the day before and now the period pain was ramping up to another level.  I sat in the session, in so much physical pain I could barely breathe for the first few moments.  Luckily the painkillers kicked in and it eased.  We talked to her about what had happened, how we were feeling, where we were up to.  She handled us with extreme care.  It’s not my fault, nothing I could have done would have changed the outcome.  We talked a little about the future.  About me not getting depressed again.  About me not sitting in a pool of grief for the next few months or years.  It was, however, the first time that someone used the term miscarriage.  As I talked about the events of the previous few days, I was using phrases like not developing, not continuing, positive then negative.  I couldn’t say the ‘M’ word.  She did.  In that moment I was struck by a wave of realisation, a wave of grief even.  It hurt like hell, but I needed to hear it, I needed to acknowledge that I have had a miscarriage.  She knew it, I knew it.  And since that point, it is how I talk about our loss.  I am no longer afraid of the ‘M’ word.  I have said it out loud a few times since, it hurts like hell, but that’s ok.  It has happened and to move forward I need to acknowledge it and talk about it.  We came out of the session, both feeling a little lighter.  Some of the weight had gone, for a few hours at least.  We talked about how we were going to take care of ourselves and each other.  I came out of the session knowing we are going to be ok.  The day continued with more pain and the bleeding got worse, much worse.  I was passing clots, lots of them and many of then were huge.  When was this going to end?  We tried to distract ourselves with lunch and a film at the cinema, but I kept drifting off, thinking about what might have been.  And then the tiredness hit.

I was due in work the next day, surely 2 days off sick was enough?  Wrong.  The next day came and I could barely open my eyes.  Exhaustion had set in.  The pain worse than the day before, painkillers not touching it.  The bleeding continued but not as bad as the day before.  I spent the day with one of my closest friends.  We chatted, sometimes about what had happened and then about just normal, random, everyday crap.  I ate my own body weight in crisps, chocolate, cheesecake & ice-cream.  It didn’t make me feel any better.  There were times in the day when I couldn’t move because of the pain.  Evening came, I felt sick (probably from all of the crap I had eaten) and couldn’t keep my eyes open.  I only cried 3 times all day.  I decided to order Saying Goodbye by Zoe Clark-Coates, a book with 90 days of support to help navigate the aftermath of a miscarriage.  I was going to need help to get me through this.  My strength felt all but gone.

3 days off work and it was time to go back.  I worked from home so I didn’t have to go into the office.  I couldn’t face it.  I logged on and within half an hour I was in floods of tears.  I can’t do this.  I gave myself an hour and if I wasn’t ok then I would log off and take the day off.  I got through the hour, then the next, then the next.  It was a struggle, a real struggle.  My mind drifted off, thinking about our baby.  The tears stayed away.  The end of the working day came and I was utterly exhausted.  The book arrived.  A friend then arrived.  The evening passed relatively quickly.  I took myself off to bed with the book.  I started to read the story of the author and her journey through pregnancy loss.  The tears came once more.  Our bean is gone.  I got through the first few chapters of the book and some of the things written helped me realise that what I’m feeling is normal.  Its going to take time to recover and heal, but it will happen.  I have the strength to get through this. I don’t have a choice.

And so today it is seven days since my miscarriage.  Another full day at work.  I cried this morning as I thought about how this time last week I left the house for work with a huge smile on my face, and a week later the smile is gone.  I had initially thrown my positive pregnancy tests away, but retrieved them quickly.  I looked at them today and my heart hurt, I cried and then I put them away.  Maybe one day I will get rid of them, but right now I’m not ready to.  It has been my first pain free day in a week and finally the bleeding has all but stopped.  Hopefully it has ‘resolved itself’ and I can start to recover physically.

One thing that caught me by surprise today was a feeling of panic.  What if this never happens for us?  What if we never have a baby?  What if I never get pregnant again or what if I do and I miscarry again?  I haven’t felt like this for a while.  Even though we still have 5 good quality embryos frozen, there is simply no guarantee that any of them will ever call me ‘mum’.  The desire for a family is stronger than it has been for a while and it has really taken me to a place that I haven’t been for a while.  I am scared of what comes next.

The last seven days have been filled with tears, sadness, grief, pain and the feeling of hopelessness.  But I am not consumed by them.  I will not allow myself to be consumed by them.  I allow the feelings in, I give them some time and then I try to move forward.  Sometimes it is the tiniest step forward, but that is enough.  I know in another 7 days I will have moved forward some more.  I am living one day at a time.  And that’s ok.

I also want to say a massive heartfelt ‘thank you’ to everyone that has sent us messages of love and support.  It has made a huge difference knowing that we aren’t alone and that you are thinking of us.  Those messages provide some light in our darkest of moments.

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From hope to heartbreak…

We transferred our embryo just over two weeks ago.  There is a reason the two week wait is also know as two weeks of hell.  During the last two weeks I have experienced more emotions than I ever thought possible.

The first few days of the two week wait I swung from ‘this can work’ to ‘this is never going to work’.  Two days in and I sat sobbing, saying that I’m never going to do this again, it is just too hard.  And then some positivity appeared.  But at the same time, I was gripped by fear.  All of the previous 6 cycles where it hasn’t worked kept coming back to haunt me.  The drugs probably playing havoc with me.  Oestrogen patches, progestrone injections, blood thinning injections, steroids, a conception vitamin pill and vitamin D became my daily routine.

I went for a counselling session 5 days after transfer.  I needed a sense of perspective and I needed to try to calm down.  I just couldn’t settle or concentrate on anything.  I talked things through.  It became apparent that my anxiety levels were sky high and I needed to try to take back some control.  Most of all I needed to breathe.  I came away from the session feeling much lighter, I had been able just to talk about living through another two week wait.  How hard this time is and how much it messes with every single part of you.  The will it work, wont it work, playing over and over, like a broken record.

6 days post transfer I was in the shower and I felt a sudden wave of nausea.  This was new.  By this point in previous cycles I had started to bleed.  So far, no bleeding.  I got through the day with something in the back of my mind niggling at me…this may have actually worked.

7 days post transfer and I caved and did a pregnancy test.  The First Response was calling my name…shouting pee on me from the bathroom cabinet.  And so I did.  Slowly but surely a faint second line appeared.  For the first time in 12 years of trying to have a baby I saw a second line, a positive test.  I took it to show hubby, just to check I wasn’t seeing things.  Nope, there was a definite second line.  Hubby cried, I just stood there completely numb.  This had actually happened.  I’m really not sure how I got through the day.  All of a sudden, hope had returned.  I was pregnant.

We were cautiously happy.  I was completely in shock.  I was also expecting it to end any second. I continued to test each day, knowing we were still 5 long days until the official test date.  Anything could happen, there were no guarantees that it would continue.  Over the coming days the second line appeared quicker and darker each time.  10 days post transfer I braved a digital test.  I have only ever seen the words Not Pregnant and part of me was expecting to see them again.  Still no bleeding, feeling more nauseous I took the test.  Then words I never expected to see appeared…Pregnant…closely followed by the words 2-3 weeks.  Holy shit.  The test the next day was also positive, as was the one on official test date.

I made the phone call to the clinic.  The nurse asked me what the result was…positive I replied.  I wanted to burst.  This was actually happening for us.  She booked us in for a scan for 3 weeks time.  Now, we just had to get through the next three weeks.  We moved from the torture of the two week wait to a new torture of the three week wait.  Not sure how we were going to get through but finally it felt like this was going to happen.  Cautiously happy but we were now starting to get a little bit excited that we would be having a baby in the middle of November. 10 years after being told that we would just need a little help to get pregnant, it finally felt like our dream was within reach.  I went for another counselling session.  It was clear that I was in shock.  Although it was the outcome we both wanted more than anything, I never actually believed it would happen.  I talked about all of the things I feared, most of all I feared that this wouldn’t end well and that I would be broken once more.  As ever, the session provided some perspective.  I started to actually believe that this was happening.

Two days later at 14 days post transfer I did another test.  Clearly I had turned into a pee on a stick addict, but why not?  As much as I feared seeing a negative, I loved seeing the positive, the 2 lines or the words pregnant.  This time it said Pregnant 3+ weeks.  Eeeek things looked to be progressing as my HcG levels were rising.  I moved from living in a constant state of fear that I would start to bleed at any point, to living with some hope and happiness that we were finally going to become parents.

It’s frightening how 24 hours can change everything.

15 days post transfer at lunchtime, I went to the bathroom and I had started to spot.  My heart beat out of my chest, my stomach sank and I felt sick.  I knew this wasn’t a good sign.  15 minutes later and I had a huge gush of blood, bright red blood.  I rang my boss and told her I needed to go, I left the meeting I was in and drove home.  I cried all the way home.  I knew this was the start of the end.  How could this be happening?  Why me?  Why us?  What have we done to deserve this?  How can life be so cruel?  How are we going to get through this?

I managed to get hold of hubby on the phone.  There is something utterly devastating in having to tell the person that you love most in the world that our dream of a family is probably over.  I could barely speak for the tears that were flowing.  My heart felt like it had been ripped out.  Hubby phoned the clinic and they asked me to go in for a blood test.  I would then need to go for another one 2 days later to see if the Hcg levels were rising or dropping.  The bleeding had subsided and was now back to spotting, but still I knew it wasn’t right.

Blood test taken, no false hope from the nurse, simply a time will tell type conversation. Back home we just couldn’t speak.  Dr Google became my new best friend but also my worst enemy.  So many stories of pregnancies progressing even with spotting.  I couldn’t grab onto that hope.  I needed to be realistic.  I started to send the message out to those few people who knew we had a positive result to prepare them for the worst.  Those closest to us clearly as devastated by the news as we were.  I hate that we keep putting people through all of this loss and grief.  Its just too hard.

The next day the bleeding had definitely turned to very light spotting.  OK, so maybe things could be ok.  The clinic called, my Hcg levels were at 3000, which for 5 weeks pregnant is in the middle of the normal range.  The nurse said we would need to carry on with the drugs, take another blood test tomorrow and hope that the bleeding stayed to the minimum but it would just be a matter of seeing how it goes over the next few days.  As the phone went down, I felt utterly deflated.

Within 10 minutes of the phone call, I had the most horrendous period pain.  I knew it was over, I knew what was coming next.  An hour later, I was literally pouring with bright red blood & I started to pass huge clots.  It is definitely over.  Whilst we wait for the blood test to confirm, in my heart I know it is over.   I have never felt so broken in my entire life.  The tears just keep coming and coming.

Embryo 13 on transfer cycle number 7 hasn’t survived.  Our hearts are literally shattered.  I do not even know how we start to grieve, to heal or to start to recover.  I have no idea where our strength will come from to get through the coming hours, days, weeks and months.  There are no words.

To our bean…for the very short time you were with us, we loved you more than we ever thought possible and more than you will ever know. 

You will be in our hearts forever xx 

Miscarriage

Time for Self Care

More and more I hear the term ‘self care’, but what does it actually mean?  Being stuck running the gauntlet of infertility puts a spotlight on every aspect of life, including relationships with those around us.  One thing I have learned is that I really can’t rely on anyone around me to take care of me.  That doesn’t mean that people around me can’t walk with me, hold me for a while and help me through the tough times, but in terms of looking after the essence of me, that’s up to me.

I decided that I wasn’t going to blog through our frozen embryo cycle.  I suppose this is part of my idea of self care.  I wanted to protect myself and hubby from the outside world when it came to finding out the result of our next cycle.  We both agreed that I would keep the cycle off the blog until we knew the outcome.  We are now mid-way through our cycle, I am pumped full of drugs and the embryo will hopefully be transferred in the coming days; yet I am wondering if I made the right decision about closing down the outlet for my thoughts and feelings as we go through this process yet again.  Writing has been part of my self care for the last few months and yet here at a time when I probably need that outlet more than ever, I cut it off.  It feels good to be writing but I’ve realised I don’t need to blog the in’s and out’s of our cycle at this point.  That can come later.  What’s important is that I write what I am able to write and what I feel able to share with you all.  Being honest, if my blog was anonymous I would probably write about the intricate details of this current cycle, the tears, the doubt, the anger and the anxiety.  I would also probably give a day by day account of the two week wait that I head into within the coming days.  I don’t feel able to do that on this cycle…but that’s about me rather than anyone that knows me who may be reading.  I suppose it’s part of my self care strategy, I don’t want to expose myself by giving a blow by blow account as this cycle is happening.  I don’t want to be vulnerable, I don’t want to show my lack of positivity, I don’t want everyone knowing that I’m struggling to get from day to day and I don’t want to feel pressure to let everyone know the outcome as soon as we know.  But that’s what infertility is doing to me right now.  I haven’t had an embryo transferred, yet I cannot get to a positive place thinking about the outcome.  All I can see is negativity.  I do not want to hear the words “just stay positive”.  I’ve done that 6 times before, I’ve thought positively about 12 embryos.  It made not one bit of difference.  So, I know I’m struggling and I’m trying to take care of myself.  Which leads me to one self care strategy that I’ve not had in my previous transfer cycles…counselling.

I sometimes wonder whether those that read my blog regularly get a little bored of reading about how vital counselling has become to help get me through each stage of our infertility journey.  I see it as looking after my emotional health.  Given how anti-counselling I was until I had a breakdown, I’m as amazed as anyone at my complete shift in how important it has become to getting through these times.  I have been to the depths of depression because of hope, positivity and IVF cycles that did not work.  I am not going back there.  I will not stand in the shower after a cycle hasn’t worked and question my reason for being on this planet, it is not happening.  I have spent the last few weeks swinging through all sorts of emotions, I have felt numb, I have felt angry, I have been in floods of tears and I have been full of hope too.  The feelings can change in an instant and I had no idea where they were coming from.  So this week, I spent time with my counsellor talking through some of the feelings.  I reached the point of realising that most of them were being driven by deep rooted anxiety.  I just thought I was becoming an out of control emotional wreck, but I’m not, I need some self care to help me manage my anxiety.  We then talked about how I could manage my anxiety through the coming days.  Not weeks, not into the future, not thinking about all possible outcomes, but the coming day or two.  That’s where I needed to start.  It is hard but all I can do is try.

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I have found so much support through Twitter, but I realised in the same counselling session that by being on it so much I was surrounding myself with the journeys of others and that was causing me to worry about our own cycle.  I have been through this so many times and I have only ever had a negative outcome that I don’t think I believe it will ever actually be positive.  Seeing others also have negative outcomes is heartbreaking and I just couldn’t cope.  It was starting to fuel my anxiety.  I try to support others as much as possible, but I had to admit that I was struggling and unfortunately I had to take a step back.  I know I have to put myself first, care for myself.  I also know that my infertility sisters on Twitter will understand and they know I will be back with them as soon as I feel able.  I also know that they will be rooting for us and supporting us every step of the way.  So to my Twitter buddies, a huge thank you for being you!

Talking of support, I facilitate a support group forfamily-2609525_960_720 Fertility Network UK.  Through this group I have connected with some amazing people.  I offered to start the group so that I could help others.  It has also helped me more than I ever thought possible.  Our support group is relatively small but I love that I have been able to meet with people who ‘get it’.  We speak the same language of IVF.  It makes a huge difference & for their support I will always be grateful.

I am struggling to keep my weight to the normal levels.  I put too much pressure on myself when going through IVF.  I have hormone patches stuck on my belly, my body is being pumped full of drugs and not fitting in my Jeansjeans has led to tears.  I have to be honest and say that I have skipped the odd meal here and there over the last few weeks to try and keep the weight off, it hasn’t worked.  I won’t be doing that moving forward.  I need to take care of my body and nourish it the best I can.  If I put on some weight I will go and buy a new pair of jeans.  If the cycle works, I will be putting even more weight on and if it doesn’t I will loose the weight.  It isn’t important right now and worrying about weight will only fuel my anxiety further.  So for now, it is parked.  I am not thinking about it any more.

I haven’t put my life on hold this time, like I have done for the previous 10 years and 9 cycles.  I haven’t started to think about the ‘what if it works’ scenario.  I can’t because I know it will start to creep into other things.  I applied to go back to university for a part time course, I had an interview this week and I nearly didn’t go because, well if the treatment works how can I possibly study and the whole process was worrying me, should I be doing it right now because I’m going through treatment?  I decided to go for it, I need to know I have a future even if I’m never going to be a mum.  I figure it is also part of my self care, putting me first.  What I thought was going to be a 20 minute interview turned into a 2.5 hour group discussion and interview.  They said I would have to wait 2 weeks to hear if I got a place.  I got an email the next day to offer me a place.  And so, putting myself first, feeling the fear and doing it anyway, not thinking or stressing about the ‘what if’s’ now means I have a place on a course that could see a whole new and different future for me.  It isn’t my plan B, its my life, my future.  There is no ‘plan’, I feel like I have accepted that my life will just be what it will be.

One day at a time

Self care means that I need to take things day by day.  I need to try not to think about whether the embryo will thaw, whether I will bleed early or whether I make it to test date and its negative.  I need to get through each day and see what happens.  I need to look after my emotional and physical health.  I hope I reach a place of positivity and I hope that our little embryo decides to stick around this time.  I know I will be heartbroken if it doesn’t work, but I also know that with lots of self care I can get through just about anything.  Self care isn’t about the big gestures, its about the little aspects of everyday life.  In the words of my counsellor…

“…if it feels like no-one else is around to hug you, then you have to learn to hug yourself”  

Wise words indeed.  Self care is about loving and looking out for yourself, that is what I need to do right now.

I know it’s hard for those around us to really understand what this feels like, and so this cycle I have no expectation of you.   All I ask is that you walk with us if and when you feel able, that you ask how we are both doing from time to time and that you understand that we are going through something pretty huge right now and we may need to put ourselves first, it is self care all the way for the next few weeks.  To those of you that have reached out to us in the last few weeks, whether through social media or in our ‘real’ world, from me to you a heartfelt thank you.  It means more than you will ever know.

You are not alone

Lucky 13…?

It is 13 years this weekend since I walked down the aisle to my now hubby and said ‘I do’.  I have so many fantastic memories of our wedding day.  Surrounded by family and friends celebrating the next chapter in our lives together.  I was in my mid-twenties, infertility hadn’t crept into our lives, we were renovating our first house and we were looking forward to whatever was going to come our way.

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Those 13 years have been packed full of good times.  We have seen some amazing places in the world.  We have watched many people close to us get married and have families.  We have built a life together.  A good friend of mine wrote in our wedding card that we should remember, even in tough times, to laugh together.  So many times during the past 13 years I have said, if I couldn’t laugh then I would just cry.

It has been 11 years since we made the decision to start a family.  11 years later we are no further forward.  Years of disappointment, heartache and sadness have tinged our relationship.  We try hard not to think about it, not to allow it to seep into the depths of who we are, but inevitably it does.  When I walked down the aisle, never in my worst nightmares did I expect that we would be tested so much.  And yet, somehow, we have survived, just us two.  Time after time we have brushed ourselves off and found the strength to move forward, together.

I used to read often on forums that infertility had made a relationship stronger and that IVF had brought couples closer together.  I could never understand how that could be the case.  For me, it felt that it just pulled us apart, that it had created so many cracks in our relationship I wasn’t sure if we would make it from one treatment to the next.  The years of treatments not working, the grief, the pain, the isolation and ultimately the lack of wanting to talk about it and what it really meant for us, lead to a point where we were just going from one day to the next…we just survived.  There have been times where we have felt broken, both as individuals and as a couple.  I suppose there is one thing that has always kept us together…love.  Pure and simple, the deep love that we have for each other has held us together in the really hard times.

I am happy to say that now in our 13th year of marriage, things are good.  Infertility is part of our lives, but it isn’t all of who we are anymore.  It consumed us for far too many years of our marriage, we no longer allow it to.  It feels like we are stronger and closer than ever before.  It hasn’t been easy and it has taken a lot of soul searching and honest communication.  Somewhere along the track we forgot to ask each other how the other one was doing, we avoided talking about the important things and we were scared to tell each other how we were feeling.  Once we started talking…and I mean really talking, things felt so much better.

At some point during our 13th year of marriage we will be transferring our 13th embryo.  That’s got to be a sign right?  Unlucky for most people, but lucky for us?  Probably not.  After being on this treadmill for so long I have come to realise that nothing is quite that simple.  So many times I’ve made those types of connections, been filled with hope only for it to be taken away again just as quickly as it came.  Like the time we were due an embryo transfer on our 5th wedding anniversary,  ooh now that was a sign.  Nope, I spent the week in hospital with OHSS instead.  Time after time I have tortured myself with false hope because of some sign from the universe.  Anyone trapped in the nightmare of infertility will understand what it’s like and how much it messes with you.  We grab onto just about anything in the hope that this time will be our time.

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We are heading into our 13th year full of love and hope.  Whatever happens, happens.  We will deal with it.  One thing I do know is that I’m lucky to have found someone to share my life with that truly loves me.  There is no-one that I would rather be facing the next year with.  From the bottom of my heart I hope that embryo number 13 is the one that finally sticks around, it wouldn’t be lucky, it would be amazing.

You are not alone

Another year comes to a close…

As 2017 comes to an end, it seems timely to reflect on the year that has just passed.  For many years we had entered a new year hoping that by the end of the year we would either have a baby or that I would be carrying our baby.  Sadly that has never been the case.  We entered 2017 with a very different priority and that was for our marriage to survive.  At the end of 2016 we were in tatters and quite honestly we both struggled to see a way forward.  Thankfully, a year later we are in a very different position and again we will enter 2018 with renewed hope in our hearts that we may one day soon have a family.  But, how did we get here?

January we sought help with our relationship from a counsellor.  It felt like we might not make it through the month but both of us wanted desperately to try and make it work.  One thing became clear very quickly, we had stopped talking.  Both of us were scared to say what we were thinking and feeling about our future to the other, so instead we were silent.  Counselling helped us to start to talk again.  It helped us to think about what we both wanted for our future and ultimately it led us to make some decisions.  The month saw us consider adoption much more seriously than we had done previously.  It was also the month that we made the decision that it wasn’t an option for us.  The door closed on that route for us and finally I was at peace with that decision, knowing for us it was the right one.

February we travelled to India.  I had always wanted to visit what looked to be an amazing country.  Winter holidays had become our new norm and rather than sit by a pool for 2 weeks we decided to go on a tour and then finish with 5 nights in Goa.  We had an amazing time, met some lovely people and we have memories that will last a lifetime.  The highlights for me were visiting the majestic Taj Mahal and seeing Tigers in the wild on one of the safaris that we took.  Something shifted in our relationship during our trip away and when we got home there was a renewed sense of togetherness.  Something that I had hoped for but hadn’t expected.

 

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March & April there was lots of discussion about more IVF treatment.  I just couldn’t see a way forward, couldn’t see how I was ever going to step into another clinic, how I was going to trust another medical professional and how I would ever put me and us through another treatment cycle.  It wasn’t going to happen.  I continued with counselling, I needed an outlet and someone to talk things through with.  I felt like I was going round in circles and wasn’t getting anywhere fast.  Yet the more I talked about it, the more it seemed like I would be ok, that we would be ok.  A breakthrough for us came towards the end of March and I agreed that we would start to look for a new clinic.  After a few weeks of filling the on-line form out and deleting it, I finally sent it off in Early April.  This was it, we were facing this again.

May we waited for our appointment.

June came and we met our new consultant for the first time.  It was like a breath of fresh air.  He actually listened. We decided on a further test for hubby, the Sperm Aneuploidy test.  Hubby’s DNA frag test had come back ok previously so we didn’t repeat it.  This test looks for chromosome abnormalities in the sperm.  We had tested just about everything else so why not?  We waited for a further 4 weeks for the results.

July we had the follow up at the fertility clinic and the results of the sperm test.  They were in the normal range.  We had a new plan.  We had a treatment protocol and so we headed into August expecting to start IVF at the end of the month.

July was also the month that this blog, Strength Through Infertility came to fruition. 

I had the idea and the name a few months earlier, but with lots of encouragement from hubby & my counsellor, I wrote my first blog.  I wasn’t sure if anyone would read it or find it helpful but for me it was the start of something new, something raw, something honest and something that has opened my eyes and heart to those around me who also find themselves struggling through infertility.  It was a special month.

August didn’t see the start of IVF, it saw me being referred to a gynecologist because of immense pain throughout my July cycle.  Knowing that we wouldn’t be having IVF in August we took the opportunity to take a holiday in the sun.  Menorca was the destination of choice and we had a lovely time.  We came back ready to face what was next.  The gynae suspected endometriosis and so sent me for a laparoscopy.   I knew from my cycle in Greece that I had a polyp so I also convinced her to carry out a hysteroscopy to remove it.  Sometimes it pays to be a bit pushy.  Within 2 weeks of seeing the gynae I was being wheeled into the operating theatre for the procedures.  They found that my bowel and uterus were fused together with scar tissue.  There was no active endo but they removed as much scar tissue as they could.  Could this be one of the reasons that the embryos never implant?  We will never know but at least the pain eased as a result.

September & October I recovered from the surgery and started to make preparations for IVF in November.  Healthy eating took priority as did preparing myself mentally for a fresh IVF cycle.  Counselling sessions and acupuncture kept me grounded & focused.  There were plenty of wobbles, second guessing and “I can’t do this” moments but I got there.  family-2609525_960_720

November was a month of waiting.  Waiting for the end of the month to start IVF again.  20 months since our last cycle and here I was facing the prospect of putting myself through it all again.  What was I doing?  I can tell you what I was doing.  Panicking.  Lots of panicking.  The end of the month came, the first injection was done and we were actually doing this again.

December began and we were part way through our cycle.  Early December we found out that we had 6 perfect blasts to freeze.  It was better that we could ever have hoped for.  It was also the month that I found myself at risk of redundancy at work.  Christmas also caused its usual emotional havoc with me.  Lots of ups and downs, but I survived, with the help and support of some amazing people in the virtual world.

And so there it is.  What a year.

Even through the heartache of infertility I managed to have a positive and productive year.  I know there are times when I won’t feel ok, I know there are times when it hits me, seemingly from no-where.  I also know that I have a great support network in place and I have some strong scaffolding around me holding me up when I need it.

I found a new on-line tribe in the Twitter and blogging world.  A tribe that helped me through some tough times, a tribe that ‘gets it’.

Writing this blog has helped me reach out to others, I have connected with people all over the world, I have written articles, blogs and recorded a podcast.  I never expected any of those things to happen, but they have and it’s amazing!

I found the strength to start to help others on their own journeys through my volunteer work with Fertility Network UK.

I found renewed confidence which helped me to go back to college and start a new journey of learning.  My own healing and self discovery through counselling has put me onto a path that I never thought I would step onto.  I have loved every minute and I can honestly say that for the first time in a while I feel like I have found something that just makes sense to me, something just clicks.  I’m not sure that counselling is in my future career plan but right now I feel at home when I’m learning about it.

Finally, this year I discovered that my future is bright whatever it holds.  I know I am going to be ok, I know that we are going to be ok.

All that is left to do it wish each and every one of you a Happy New Year & to say a massive THANK YOU for reading and supporting us on our journey.  It means more than you will ever know…

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