What does a Day mean?

In New Zealand Mother’s Day is just a few days away. I’m trying to mute the phrase on various social media platforms in an attempt to reduce the triggers – Radio & TV advertising is more than enough for me to deal with!

When reading various infertility blogs I’ve seen different schools of thought when it comes to this day – some people hate it, attempt to hide from the world and look forward to the day its passed….others like it, using it as a time to celebrate their own mother, not personally feeling the pain of it themselves. Me….I think I’m in the first category at the moment (I think it’s likely that most peoples reactions to the day will be fluid depending on what is happening in their own life at the time).

I’ve also seen suggestions of sending cards to women going through fertility treatment, or those who have experience miscarriage or baby loss to acknowledge the fact that while they might not have a baby to hold in their arms, they have a Mother’s heart, as CarlyMarie phrased it.

But I’ve heard of others who think sending a Mother’s Day card to someone who doesn’t have a child to hold in their arms is hurtful & insensitive.

Sometimes I think I’d like it if a friend or family member thought about the situation enough to send a card acknowledging my situation, but I also fear that if I did get one I’d actually find it too painful…..What are your thoughts? How do you feel about Mother’s Day and the idea of sending cards to someone that isn’t your mum?

Found on the Interwebs…

Uni is kicking my butt at the moment so not much time for blogging. On a positive note it means not enough time for thinking (ie crying), but the flip side is there’s not spare energy or resources for anything other than uni, so I’m basically avoiding any other aspect of life until I’ve got on top of my uni work load.

In the mean time I thought I’d leave these images I found on Pinterest here for your viewing pleasure.

MIA: A Piece of My Heart

{CW: Miscarriage}

Dear Baby,

Today would have been your due date. We would have been eagerly awaiting meeting you if we hadn’t already met you. We really thought you were the one that we were going to get to hold in our arms. We did everything we could in the hope of you – I had another hysteroscopy to check there was nothing that would prevent you from getting all comfy, I took extra drugs, had intralipids, and we had pre-genetic screening of the batch of embryos you came from. You were the one that had all the right number of chromosomes. But still during the TWW, we worried. We’d nearly run out of hope, and could hardly comprehend that this time we might get a positive pregnancy result.

When we found out we’d got our BFP, we were so happy. The joy on your Dad’s face was a sight to see. We told our friends and family – wanting to enjoy the moment as much as possible for as long as possible, you see when you’ve already experienced a loss it’s hard to take a BFP as definite. But this time, we dared to dream. We wondered what you’d look like, we imagined our life with you, we started discussing if we’d choose a midwife or an obstetrician to look after you and me. I wrote letters to you, we talked to you. We talked about you with those who knew, helping to ease the anxiety that comes with such an exciting and scary time. I started a Pinterest board, thinking about what we’d need to get in anticipation for your arrival. I watched your cousins play, imagining you playing with them too.

And most of all, we dared to love you.

We really thought we were going to get to meet you, dearest baby. We’d never made it to a 7week scan before, so were super excited to see the flicker of your heart.

Instead, we found you’d gone…..and with you, had gone pieces of our hearts.

We will always love & miss you Baby.

xoxo

PS we left these flowers for you and your siblings today. 😘

Getting Caught Out

I really hope that someday, I’ll be able to write about the good…but for now you’re just getting the bad & the ugly….

Over the weekend I was thinking to myself about all the people who say it gets easier with time, that I won’t always feel as bad as I do now. I was cynical and wary…..nothing felt to be changing or getting better, I couldn’t see any way out. “Maybe they just say that ‘cos it’d be cruel to tell someone this is their lot”, I thought to myself. And this was all reinforced, when Saturday afternoon I was picking up some bits from the supermarket and a pregnant lady walked past me…I don’t know her, we didn’t interact, didn’t even make eye contact. But next thing I found myself struggling to catch my breath, and not far off being a soggy mess on the floor of one of the aisles (hopefully the chocolate aisle not the nappy aisle!). I managed to hold it together til I got home, the single tear that escaped when I made it to the car and the carby snack I grabbed on the way through checkout the only sign of my battle.

Then yesterday on my way to class, I thought maybe just maybe this burden of grief is ever so slightly lighter, I’d managed to concentrate just a little better and get some study done. It’s only just over 2mths since that day, so maybe for me that’s the length of time I need for full grieving, maybe now things are going to improve a little, I’ll take even the tiniest lift as I know it’ll help me get through another week. Maybe everyone is right, maybe my weekend meltdown was just PMS, those hormone gremlins taking over my head yet again.

Not long after I got home last night, I checked my emails…..I read the first line of an email from a family member…”We’re expecting #3″…..I couldn’t read the rest, I handed the tablet to my husband as I crumpled, crying uncontrollably, bent over as if in physical pain. He pulled me up, held me tight, stopped me from falling as by now my legs were shaking and I was crying so hard my teeth were chattering. A while later when I’d calmed down, he tucked me up in the couch with a heat pack (by now PMS had turned into cramps, such fun, good timing!). I was a soggy mess for most of the evening, & gave into self-medicating with chocolate (so hard to break the emotion eating cycle when you’re so low and haven’t developed any other coping mechanisms yet). Poor man, I don’t think he’s ever seen me like that before, I don’t think I’ve ever seen me like that before.

And just like that, the vague hope that maybe things will get easier is dashed, I’m back to wanting to hide completely from the world, struggling to concentrate or make simple decisions. The tiny thread that was holding my heart together has broken yet again, and if I’m honest it wasn’t even a bittersweet reaction I was having, there was no sweet in it at all. Logically I know I’m happy/pleased for them, by right now my head and heart isn’t able to feel anything good for them (though I don’t feel anything bad about them either….I can only feel for us at the moment)

That’s the thing with this place of grieving….you never know what’s going to catch you out.

That Crazy Lady.

I’ve always been keen on kids. From a young age, all I wanted to be when I grew up was a mum – a career didn’t really interest me. I was the kid at school who looked after the younger ones. I quickly became the neighbourhood babysitter. And I seemed to have a knack for it – I accidentally stole my friends babysitting job because the kids only wanted me after I covered for her one night!

I’d catch babies & toddlers eyes when standing behind them waiting for the green pedestrian light, or when travelling on a plane together etc. I’d make them laugh, distract them from their discomfort, especially on long haul flights when everyone was tired. I trained and worked as a nanny. As an adult I’d often end up holding people’s baby at parties – I got cuddles which I loved and the parents got a break. I was everyone’s new best friend. I could get babies to sleep when others struggled, I could get them to eat or take a bottle when they were determined not too. I seemed to have the magic touch – I’d smile at a kid & suddenly be their new favourite person, my in-laws even started calling me the “baby whisperer” (though I always asked them not to as I didn’t want them to jinx things for when I had my own kids……I didn’t think it might jinx my actually having babies!)

In the past few years I’ve felt I’ve lost this knack….part of this I put down to not actually showing as much interest as before – a women in her child bearing Years is a prime target for all the “when are you having your own” comments. But mostly I worried I’d used up my magic, and actually I wouldn’t make a good mother. I also found myself looking, possibly not so subtly (or at least it felt very obvious to me) at other people’s children…..tiny new borns in prams, me peering round the edge of the cover trying to get a peak of such tiny beauty that would hopefully soon be mine, looking at cheeky wee toddlers exploring the world, glancing (well possible staring) at babies being carried in front packs…..

I fear I stopped being discrete about my observations, I think the desire to join the club must have been written in neon lights on my forehead…and I fear it left these mothers I didn’t know worrying I was a crazy lady just waiting to pounce on their baby and run off with them. This has spread to me thinking my friends and family who have children fear this too – that given half a chance I’d take their children to be my own, that I wasn’t safe tonhave around their children….

But as much as I felt I’ve lost my mind during this period of TTC, I’ve never wanted their children (even though I love them to bits)….all I’ve wanted is a baby of my own……I’m really not That Crazy Lady.

Guilty as Charged.

I am a Queen of Guilt, I can manage to feel guilty about pretty much anything. Though looking at Brené Brown’s definition of guilt and shame, I think its probably more shame I feel. But rather than explaining the difference, I’ll continue using the word guilt (and you can go read her books and see for yourself if her definitions work for you).

Guilt goes hand in hand with those feelings of failure – bit of a vicious cycle really. It’s easy to feel guilty for not having achieved the desired outcome, but particularly so when there are so many variables at play. My guilt has increased even more so since we finished treatment. I’ve pretty much read all the different things one could/should try in an attempt to improve chances, so there are lots of opportunity for feeling guilty.

The thing is when going through this, there’s this common thought bandied about by people going through it, medical professionals, well meaning others – if you’re going to have to walk away from treatment and having children at some point, then you want to make sure you know you’ve done everything you could have. But for all that we did do, having reached this point – I don’t feel like I did everything I could have. I don’t feel like I did enough.

I feel guilty for having put on weight, for not having done enough exercise, or for having done the wrong exercise (which is probably partly why I put on weight as I was trying to manage the guilt at the time for doing too much or the wrong type of exercise!), for eating the wrong foods, for taking too many or not enough supplements, for not seeing a Chinese herbalist for longer, for not getting that health issue checked out more, for being too stressed, for not feeling grateful enough, for drinking too much coffee, for only drinking decafé coffee (those chemicals you know), for having too much dairy, not enough dairy, for not having enough acupucnture, for letting my hair air dry (a cold head’s bad ya know), for drinking cold drinks, for not drinking enough herbal teas, for eating too many carbs, for not eating enough vegetables, for wearing my Fitbit, for having my phone to close to my body, for eating microwaved foods, for not being grateful enough, for using the wrong skin care products, for getting my hair dyed, for  gardening without gloves, for drinking that wine, for not sleeping properly, for not doing enough therapy after our loses to remove stored emotions, for not detoxing, for not doing the fertility diet beforehand to ensure I was in the best form, for using electric blankets, for having showers too hot……the list goes on. I’ve even started feeling guilty for the things I did when I was younger (working shift work, using paints etc etc).

So for all you go through treatment saying you’d do anything if it meant you got pregnant, the reality is you never know whats going to make the difference – if anything. And me, well I look back on what I did do, and just see all my imperfections. I didn’t follow my healthy eating plan to the letter so maybe that’s why it didn’t work. I didn’t give up coffee, alcohol, carbs, sugar or processed foods 100% so maybe that was the issue. If only I’d been able to be healthy properly, maybe it’d have made a difference. Because we all want to know why right? If we had a reason for why we didn’t get our baby, then maybe it’d all make sense. Instead, I just feel guilty for all the things I didn’t do, which leaves me feeling, that all this was my fault.

 

Hello….

from the other side (of the computer).

Sorry 😂 having gone to Adele’s concert over the weekend I’ve been using Adele quotes all weekend long!

I just wanted to say hi to all of you who have read, liked & commented on my blog. It really means a lot. Infertility can be a pretty isolating experience, so I was a bit worried about how it would be if my blog was just talking into a void…..thankfully, you’ve ensured I haven’t!

Also, if there is any topic you’d like me to write about, or any questions you’d like answered, please ask 😊

And yes, Adele was every bit amazing as I was expecting, and then some! We had fab seats, the weather was perfect & we had no probs getting to it from the concert. Adele has a wonderful voice, a beautiful smile and a great sense of humour – the songs were as good or better than her CDs which doesn’t often happen, and her chats in between were so friendly….I wish she was one of my friends! Her songs made many ppl cry anyway, but I was pretty fragile on the day, and then when she introduced one of my favourite songs of hers, she said it was about her son. So hard to have the best experience overlaid with my daily pain, but I guess this is my new reality 😢


PS if any of my blog posts resonate with you & you’d like to share them with others, please go ahead. If you know me outside of this blog, all I ask is please don’t share my identity 😘

Coping strategies – or lack of.

Last night wasn’t the first night I cried myself to sleep – though this is one of the few times I’ve admitted to it (silly isn’t it, feeling embarrassed about giving into tears). Sleep is proving more difficult than normal, which automatically lowers my coping abilities. Needless to say, today was it was a very tired me, trying to stay awake through Uni classes and attempt to interact with people normally.

Besides this lack of coping….all my normal coping strategies don’t seem to be of any help. Normally I like escaping into a trashy novel – I’m finding that most of them have the ability to make me cry (not really what I want when catching the train to town) or I’m not really that interested in someone else story. I’m even less interested in the magazine I normally like browsing – don’t really want to know how well someone else life is going! The reality is, I just don’t really care about anything at the moment.

Walking, gives too much time for thinking (and we all know how bad that can be!), colouring in can be the same. Having a nice coffee in a cafe, generally results in seeing babies and families, so I just feel sad again. Sunshine doesn’t seem to make its way into my heart & uplift me anymore – -if anything it causes some dissonance as I feel my mood should match the sunshine but it doesn’t.

So I look for distractions, keeping busy, unfortunately while I have lots of study I should do, I’m struggling to concentrate on it – it’s so easy to think of everything you shouldn’t dwell on while trying to read about everything I’m supposed to be learning.

But when it comes to bedtime (which I find myself delaying most nights) there aren’t any distractions, I can’t turn my brain off, and there’s no hiding from the pain.
Tell me, what are your most effective coping strategies? Maybe you can help me find some new ones xo

The Imaginary World in my Head.

{CW: miscarriage}

From quite a young age I’ve had a habit of imaging an alternative life, making things I really wanted to have happen, happen. If I was having trouble getting to sleep, or we were on long road trips etc, I played out scenes in my head – these scenes always felt pretty real. When you’re going through something as future based as IVF, you end up living in this world too – you need to keep imagining why it is you’re going through what you’re going through and your life’s on hold waiting for that life you’ve imagined, so if you’ve got a good imagination, it can feel like this imaginary world in your head is real.

The day before our last transfer, a good friend told me she was pregnant. That came with the usual avalanche of feels, happy for her, sad for me etc but I managed to not cry til I got home! But then we had transfer, and while waiting for pregnancy test day I imagined telling her I was pregnant too – she’d made a comment about none of her friends having babies at the moment (all our mutual friends had kids already), so I was looking forward to letting her know she had someone to be pregnant with. And then we got a BFP.

Finding out you’re pregnant, after so many negatives and losses, is as terrifying as it is amazing. Every bodily sensation is analysed in great detail, thousands of times over. And underlying all this, is a high level of anxiety. As part of my way of coping, I wanted to try and enjoy my pregnancy for as long as it lasted. Yes, this sounds a bit pessimistic, but when you’ve had your innocence and naivety about pregnancy stolen by loss, you’re all too aware that there’s a lot of things to get through before you’ll hold that baby in your arms. So this time we let ourselves dream, we tried to hold on to the excitement and hope when ever we could grasp it in amongst the anxiety. I let myself imagine being pregnant with my friend, I saw us going shopping together to get things for our babies, sharing, comparing & supporting each other through our pregnancy. I imagined us spending time together once the babies were born, going for walks, having coffee, messaging in the middle of the night when we were both up feeding. I imagined our babies growing up together, playing at the playground together, maybe even having family holidays together. Imagined our babies being friends like we were. All this, a whole other, future life – in my head. I hadn’t even told her we were pregnant yet.

Our scan date was booked, where we’d see our babies heartbeat and then we’d ‘graduate’ from the clinic, let out into the world to choose a midwife or obstetrician and be pregnant rather than having fertility treatment. I made a coffee date with my friend, for the day after the scan. I was planning on telling her then. Our blood tests results were still doing well, so I dared to dream we’d make it to the scan all ok, and then I’d see my friend the next day and tell her, and share with her all these dreams I’d had. We’d hug and talk and plan for our babies future. My imagined world was close to becoming my real world.

And then we went to the scan, and my world, imagined & real, fell apart. There was no heartbeat, there was no baby. We had a blighted ovum. I cancelled that coffee date. I needed to stay in my survival bubble with my husband.

We haven’t seen each other much since then. I’ve had to protect myself a bit. Because, not through any fault of her own, she’s a reminder – a reminder of how pregnant I should have been. I miss our friendship, but it will never be the same again, not that its over, it’s just different. There will always be a reminder of what might have been.

Today we had a bit of a chat via text messages. It was the first since her baby had been born. Her baby was barely even mentioned, but just the contact with her gave me flashbacks. Scenes from my imagined world, flashed into my brain, each one followed by the painful memory that that will never be. In the moments between messages I’d imagine her at home with this baby I’ve never met, but who was going to part of my babies world, doing her thing, learning to be a mum, and I’d remember I should have been not far off having that myself.

That imaginary world was all well and good for helping manage my anxiety when I was pregnant, but it was so real and I miss it so.

Anniversaries

This week is our wedding anniversary. Even before we started TTC we’ve always celebrated anniversaries, Valentine’s Days, even half year anniversaries on occasion. But once we started fertility treatment, it became even more important for us – part of celebrating the little things along the way. It was also a good way of reminding ourselves that our relationship is our top priority, above everything else going on in our lives.

The thing is, we started fertility treatment one week after our wedding. So it feels like our whole marriage has been overshadowed by hormone drugs, emotional rollercoasters & disappointments. We also had a bunch of other stressful situations with deaths, family health scares & big changes with both our jobs. It would be easy to say this marriage business wasn’t such fun, but we’ve both kept good sight of the fact we’re dealing with something bigger & seperate to the marriage itself. 

I’ve had people say over the years how lucky I am to have such a loving marriage, and maybe there is an element of luck, but mostly it’s a lot of hard – good & worthwhile, but hard – work. We’ve both had to consciously choose love, & choose each other over and over. That can be hard enough when just dealing with normal, day to day stresses – but throwing in all the IVF stress takes things to a whole other level. I experienced a lot of side effects from the drugs – physically & emotionally – and I wasn’t always (often) a nice person to be around. It takes a lot of strength to keep loving someone when they’re not being so loveable – thankfully, my husband is good at loving me, even when I’m struggling to love myself (which lets be honest, is most of the time at the moment).

We were looking through our wedding photos recently & reminiscing. It was such a fun & happy day. With all the loss & disappointment we’ve experienced since then, it feels like our wedding day was the last time I was truely happy. 

So celebrating this anniversary is a mixed bag. On one hand it’s hard to seperate our wedding anniversary from all the tough stuff we’ve been through, but on the other hand I’m super grateful that inspite of, or maybe because of, all the hard shit, we still have a great marriage full of love, kindness & support…….and that, I think, is totally worth celebrating.