Monday, 6 November 2017

Infertility and Me: An Update




I have been simply blown away and so encouraged by the absolutely huge response to my infertility week of posts. The kindness, understanding and vulnerability of so many people really took me aback and made me feel that sharing our journey was absolutely the right thing to do. Publishing them has shown me just how many people have been affected by, are currently suffering or just want to know more to help friends and family, so I know it won't end here for me trying to raise more awareness and keeping that conversation open.

There is one update on our story and one I have held off from sharing yet for so many reasons…. I am currently pregnant….But for every person who will squeal at that news, there will be others that feel pain and I completely understand that. It's exactly the reason I sat on this update so as to give the issues of fertility and miscarriage the platform and focus they deserve in their own right, for every story that might have a happier ending, there are plenty of others that don't. Those people deserve to be seen and allowed time to feel what they need to, and I am incredibly conscious of that. I have been there, watching numerous announcements, and feeling so over the moon for those involved but not being able to ignore the other emotion that the news then brings for you. So I get it, I was almost afraid to put this out there as I know that for me this was just pure luck and that doesn't help others who wish there was something more concrete that could help them. Infertility affects people for so many reasons and there are often little answers that can help which is what makes it so hard.
me feeling very sorry for myself being forced to tank a lot of liquid and coffee before a scan
So how did it all happen? The 4 weeks between our first and second IVF cycle my stubborn streak really kicked in. I knew no-one at the clinic could take the time to help monitor whether coming off my system suppressing medication, my increased weight, and the reset my body had taken following the miscarriage would mean that some hormones were beginning to work. So I decided “I'll do it”! So as my post-IVF mega period started to wane I amazon primed myself a basal body temperature thermometer. Your temperature (along with other factors) is actually a fascinating insight into how your cycle works and I wish I had bothered to learn more about it, and what each stage means, much earlier in life. I downloaded the free app fertility friend and started charting my temperatures daily along with taking Ovulation tests as a back-up. All of this was in the hope that finally my body was experiencing fertile days, the elusive beast that they are to someone like me! Honestly at this point knowing others get pregnant without having to think about it totally fascinates me; it's such a complicated piece of science, I have so much respect for it now.

It was my first time doing ‘temping’ and I had no idea if it worked but I knew I would be so mad if I suddenly had a natural period before our next IVF cycle kicked off.  A period of course means the chance to make a baby and for someone who has had amenorrhea  the idea of having the chance to try is so exciting. Baby making without a lab full of people?? It was a novel prospect for both of us! And what do you know, my hunch was right and I was showing real signs I was about to ovulate. It was go-time for Ally and that prizewinning sample of his, to work their magic. And against all the odds it actually worked…

I'll do a post on where I am and what all I have experienced in these first months very soon, but for now the other reason for keeping it low key aside from giving those important issues respect and those suffering a chance to talk,  is that being pregnant after miscarriage or a missed miscarriage is sometimes incredibly hard. No matter how wonderfully grateful you are for this life, the recurring grief, fear and anxiety about being back in this position can be very difficult to deal with.

Ally focusing on trying to find the hearbeat
This time round I have lost that initial bubble that some people enter into, where you want all the bump photos and excitedly map every day’s progress for the baby. Instead for me it's taken time to accept that we might make it to the end and I had been pretty aloof with this wee one until now. Last pregnancy I could have told you pretty much how many minutes pregnant I was alongside of course which fruit they were sizes with. This time however I have been working out how far I can go without having to tell people seeing as I fear them questioning my reserved manner about it all. Lucky for us both, Ally has been making sure baby knows we are there for them by lying face down on my stomach shouting nightly Chicago Bulls updates at them, what an informed baby!

Still tickled every time he can manage to find it! 
Ally and I had been discussing the PTSD like effects that have come up since being pregnant again and it was interesting to see that actually discussed in the news the other week. There are various elements that I have found very hard, and continue to do so, regardless of being pregnant myself scan images for pregnancy announcements that catch me by surprise are still an issue. I still sadly struggle to look at my own scans which is something I am working on,  but whenever a new one crops up it sends me in a bit of an unexpected spin. Actually going for scans themselves are a horrendous experience now and I didn’t even realise I would find it as hard as I do. Even people knowing I am pregnant (which until now has been a very tiny group of people) is tough as you just feel you are waiting to let them down if it doesn’t work out. These are just little examples of the things some women post baby loss go through but it rarely seems discussed which made it feel more important to put it out there.
 I know these feelings are difficult for people to understand but that won’t change if it is not spoken about more, so here I am to harp on about it! I relate it a bit to when a person survives a very hard or difficult disease, there is an expectation that every day on from survival should be joyful and a blessing. Of course in reality that is not always the case no matter how thankful they are. I feel the same to be pregnant, so very thankful but that doesn’t just make everything magically ok either. I have spent a few weeks working on my feelings with it all and I am feeling more positive as we go, I definitely feel a lot more at peace with how I am coping now.  Earlier on I just felt guilty and overwhelmed with the pressure to be in LOVE with being pregnant again, chastising myself for missing ‘the experience’ ( whatever that in itself is meant to mean) or not then giving others this experience as they would like it. But actually just accepting that this is what this pregnancy is for me, and that it might stay that way or it might not, that’s ok too.
I am so conscious that for me this has happened when we least expected it, but that is just luck and the awareness that this doesn’t happen for everyone is so important to me. I worry anyone will question would I have shared the extent of our experience thus far if I hadn’t happened to be pregnant? And I can understand why. It is a question I had thought about myself and it felt right to touch on it. I had written my posts back when I had just come out of IVF treatment and I had no idea what the future held for us.  The posts were not written at a time where things were in a better place and a happier ending was possibly on the cards. I had started writing with the full decision that once we had come through our final cycle and I finally had a bit of closure on at least the physical treatment, regardless of the outcome, that I would be sharing them with people. After my last IVF cycle we were suddenly given the space to be free of medication and focus on just telling that story and for us, being pregnant currently doesn't erase our previous experience. We feel as strongly now about raising awareness as we did before and the response and kindness people have shown me has really encouraged me with that.
us trying to relax while waiting on the 20 week scan
So there you go, I am almost 23 weeks at this stage and I have so many emotions going around.  I am happy to be enjoying the experience a bit more as I manage the anxiety that goes with it but getting the 20 week scan out of the way was a big part of me moving towards that and if it doesn’t improve much more, I will just learnt to further manage that too. I worry this will read like a damp squib as technically it is (so far) the news that I know so many wished for us. And we are definitely hopeful for that now too and are truly overjoyed at what lies ahead but seeing as I didn't sugar coat the experience so far, I can’t hide the aspects that continue to be hard and I am pretty sure I won’t be alone in that experience. 

For now though it's time to just enjoy the happy responses and congratulations,to stop breathing in and actually rock this very late developing bump that has appeared. I guess this story isn't over just yet...

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