Real Messy Life

It’s been a bit quiet round here, I’ve been severely lacking in energy and motivation for anything – so what little I have had has been saved for getting myself out of bed and to Uni, and doing assignments. I’d been thinking to myself I should just wait til I had time to write a proper post, about one of the ideas on my list of Blog Post Ideas, but I’ve always tried to keep this blog real, to show what it’s really like learning to live again after IVF, not just profound, wise posts that offer advice or learnings. So that means I need to share the messy real life…..and to be honest it’s all just f’cking hard at the moment. Motivation & energy levels are still really low (and now to make things even better I have a nasty cold too #woeisme), there are triggers everywhere (favourite TV show had a stillbirth & ended with a pregnancy announcement last night…resulting in me becoming a soggy puddle on the couch!). It’s hard to make plans for the future, when all your dreams have been dashed, when nothing really excites you. We’re both really struggling, which adds another level of difficulty to it all too – how do you support each other, and your marriage, when you can barely get through each day? Seeing the pain in his eyes, as he voices his bewilderment about feeling so low is really tough, I just want to make it all better, but I don’t know how to fix this.

It’s all so f’cking unfair. They say going through things like this makes you stronger….well I’d like to know where it is, as it’d be nice to have a bit more strength than just what’s required to get out of bed in the morning!

So that’s the raw messy truth of how I’m doing, let me ask – how are you doing today?

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On this day.

{CW: Miscarriage}

A year ago today, 22 August 2016, we had one of, if not the, worst days of our lives. It was the day of our 7week scan. All the blood tests said I was still pregnant with our last embryo, the one out of the 4 we had pre-genetic screening on that was chromosomally normal. We’d not made it to the scan day with any of our previous pregnancies so we thought we had finally got lucky. The excitement and desire to see our babies heartbeat was high, even though I had some serious doubts due to symptom changes a week or so earlier.
I remember being incredibly nervous, sitting in the waiting room at the clinic, waiting for our specialist to call our name. I remember going into our appointment, getting myself up on the bed, with the ultrasound wand in place, watching the screen as the specialist moved it around trying to get a good view…..and still moving it around trying to find the foetal pole, a heart beat, anything to show a sign of life. I remember thinking, this is bad, its not supposed to look like this. And I remember Mr not having any idea of what was happening, til the specialist said “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat, its a blighted ovum”. I remember just going numb, staring at that screen, as my husband held my hand and started to cry. The specialist left us “I’ll give you a moment”. We held each other tight, he cried, I was numb, frozen, barely able to form thoughts let alone words. After I was dressed, and the specialist returned, he tried to explain. Bad luck basically. The worst luck ever. I remember the specialist looked like he was trying not to cry too, he said he’d been looking forward to our scan all day. It’s easy to feel like just a number in the process some of the time, but for that moment I knew the specialist genuinely cared.

We talked through options for how to manage the next steps, and he gave us time to think about the decision, letting us text in later what we wanted to do, so we didn’t have to actually have a conversation about it.

And then we went home. I remember holding hands the whole drive home, I just stared blankly in front of me, random thoughts floating through like “Why us? How will I survive this? Why aren’t I crying?” I remember sitting on the couch when we got home, still staring in front of me, Mr held me close, I didn’t want to be held or touched, but I knew at some level that for the future of our marriage, I couldn’t block him out at this point. He needed me too. I remember thinking a blighted ovum was super cruel, here we were in love with our baby, and it had never even been there. I felt like such a failure, betrayed by my own body.

Somehow we made it through the evening, I think I cried eventually. We somehow found a way to tell our family. The next day we drove out of town for the day, trying to escape our world for a moment, in the hope we’d find a way to breathe again. Somewhere in there we made the decision of what to do next – I wanted on a D&C, Mr thought I’d already had enough drugs & intervention so maybe we should let it happen naturally, but after the last time I didn’t want to go through that trauma again. I also, however bad this sounds, just wanted the drugs, wanted the general anaesthetic so I could escape this pain for just a bit. I also just wanted someone to look after me for a change with no expectations in return. Fortunately (as fortunate as one can be in this situation) we only had to wait a few days before the hospital had a space for us. What should have been a half day at the hospital ended up almost a full day there – thanks body for being more weird again. And a day or so later we went away out of town for a few nights, we just needed to leave our life for a little bit….except you can’t ever escape that pain.

While I remained numb for weeks after, it wasn’t a numbness that means no feeling, it was more a freezing of the emotion. It didn’t change, there was no ebb or flow, there was no escape, and no release or respite. Just so much heaviness, so much pain.

A year on, I still hold the memory of our baby close, I might not have got to hold them in my arms, but for a few weeks there I was pregnant, the pain is still strong, I miss our baby so much. I’m guessing over time the memories of the days themselves will fade, but our love for that wee embryo never will.

Dear Baby

{CW: Miscarriage}

A year ago I was pregnant. A year ago I wrote another entry in my journal to the baby I was carrying. I’ve decided I’ll share that entry with you here. I think it helps show, that no matter how early someone miscarries, that baby was real and loved.

Dear Baby,

5 weeks yesterday πŸ™‚ Another week achieved. On Friday I figured you must be growing lots as I kept getting really really hungry. Then over the weekend I started really worrying about you. The few pregnancy symptoms I had (super smell, nausea & tiredness, oh and aches) seemed to disappear, which scared me! Made it hard for me to concentrate on studying thats for sure. I’ve had a bit of nausea today again, but the worry wobbles are still in full force 😦 tho I read in a pregnancy brochure today that most miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities – and we know from testing that your chromosomes are normal, so surely you’re ok!

I keep trying to daydream about you to get rid of the worries – I wonder if you’ll have curly hair like your Daddy, or if you’ll get blonde hair since we both have siblings with blonde hair. I wonder if you’ll have my blue eyes or your Daddy’s hazel eyes. I sure hope you get your Daddy’s eyesight rather than min!

Waiting for Thursday when I get another blood test to check you’re doing what you should! And by then, your Daddy will be home and he’ll help me worry less.

Daddy sends you a hug too.
Lots of Love,
Mummy xo

One of those weeks.

It hasn’t been a week where heaps of things have gone wrong as such….just a trying week. I’ve lost track of the number of pregnancy announcements I’ve seen, and then the media has been full of election turmoil, and a media frenzy about someone asking a female politician if/when the plan to have kids (I gave a lot of reckons on this, but I’m not going to go into it here).

On top of that it’s just been a week when grief hits you out of nowhere, particularly for Mr – so lots of compassion and support has been needed for each other and our marriage, and that takes quite a lot of energy.

I felt my mood sliding downwards this afternoon, so headed to the Mall. I don’t overly like the mall, but thought being around other people (without needing much energy for interacting/socialising) might help me feel like I’m not the only person in the work, rather than sitting at home on my own. Also though there might be a slim chance of finding a jumper to buy….and retail therapy can help sometimes right! Typical of course, the place was full if pregnant bumps and push chairs….just what I needed! Rapidly list any interest in shopping, so after buying myself fries & a cookie (desperately trying to find something to help!) I headed home again.

Got home to an email from a friend…..you’ve probably guessed already…..yep, another f’ing pregnancy announcement. Now there’s definitely different levels of coping/reactions when it comes to these announcements, depending on who they are and their story. This friend went through IVF for their first child, and had several unsuccessful cycles since trying for a second baby, and have now been blessed with a natural miracle, which of course is super awesome.

I started thinking her eating well, and seeing a naturopath obviously worked, maybe I should give it ago & see if I can stick to a similar healthy eating plan……and then swiftly fell headfirst into reality as I remembered there will be no natural miracles for us.

I think now might be a good time to return to my place under a rock with a supply of chocolate and hide from the real world for a bit.

Through the cracks.

After my last post, I was thinking I should see if I can actually find something positive to write for a change – and then a couple of (almost related) things have happened that I decided were share-worthy.

Growing up my family weren’t ones for saying they loved each other, hugs were fairly common (though I think as a child I had to be pretty demanding to get enough), though possibly not between me and my siblings. I think I was about 23 before either of my parents told me specifically that they loved me – as in verbally to my face, not like “Love, Mum” in a card or letter. So I also wasn’t in the habit of telling others I loved them. It’s like I had to teach myself to how.

My In-laws however, quite frequently tell each other that they love each other. My niblings on that side of the family have been told by their parents, grand parents, aunts/uncles ect from they day they were born that they’re loved. It took a long time before I told my niece that I loved her, not because I didn’t feel it, but because I didn’t feel comfortable saying so, and didn’t feel, being the uncle’s partner (so not married & not blood related), I was allowed to. I still remember the first time she said it back to me when she was about 3 – I almost cried.

As I wrote in a previous post I’ve been struggling to feel loved by others – I hear their words, and logically know its true, but actually feeling it….not really happening.

One of my closest friends has 2 beautiful little girls. I have loved those girls since the day they were born, in my mind they’re my nieces too (can’t have too many niblings can you?). They generally get pretty excited when I come to visit, running at me when I arrive, and climbing all over me, drawing pictures and snuggling in close. They’re pretty good at filling my hug tank up. The other day when I was visiting, the oldest was cuddled up on my lap, when out of the blue she turned in close and said “I love you”. Not only was I able to reply the same, without any thought, I noticed her words actually made their way through the protective wall to my poor beaten up heart. For a change I actually felt that someone loved me. And while I often leave my friends place with a bittersweet feeling (I’d so love to have a child as lovely and beautiful as my friend’s) for that small moment, it was perfect – and I’m claiming that as a win. A small movement in a healing direction.

And to add to that….my now 9yr old niece ended a message to me today with “love you” – all on her own accord, not in response to me saying it first

 

Raw Honesty

So often we’re told to keep positive when going through shitty times, like infertility treatment etc, and while I know on some levels this helps, I think it’s also good to acknowledge the reality of unsuccessful treatment, and all that goes with dealing with the losses and disappointments. Lots of articles and blogs about people dealing with infertility talk about the silver linings, how much they’ve grown as a person, how they’re stronger now, more compassionate etc but often I find myself thinking that I haven’t grown or hot stronger –  and that maybe there’s something wrong with me. Sure, I get up out of bed everyday and do the things that are expected of me (like going to uni…possibly not things like going to baby showers!) but that doesn’t leave me feeling stronger. In fact most of the time I just feel tired, exhausted with life.

I appreciate the intent behind those articles and blogs – trying to give those of us struggling some hope and to feel like we’re not the only ones, but sometimes I just want to know how people are really feeling – the shitty, bitchy dark thoughts that take over when they’re not putting on a brave face and coping with the world. Because really, we spend most of our days in the offline world, trying to look like we’re doing ok, and surviving so I figure surely our blogs and articles are the places for that raw honesty. And I find I feel less alone when I read about others honest shitty thoughts, that maybe I’m not so bitchy after all. (Having said that I don’t want my blog to always be negative, and to sound like I’m a Moaning Minnie!). Because I think in sharing our pain we can create stronger connections with people – I know for myself its not easy showing my true thoughts and feelings to the world, especially now I’m well practiced at putting on a brave face and keeping on keeping on!

There are a few blog posts I’ve read in the past few months where I saw some more raw honesty, and while I wish these bloggers weren’t experiencing the pain, I was grateful they shared it with us readers – maybe you’d like to read them too, from The Ecofeminist, Delayed But Not Denied and Breathe, Write, Repeat.

Sharing our experiences with the world so honestly reminds me of this poem, which has always rung true to me….

So my request of you is, keep sharing your good days but share your honest shitty thoughts too 😊

Flowers in Winter

I wasn’t really planning on this being a metaphorical post, but now that I’ve created a title I can see how it could be one….

A few years ago someone close to us was given a Daphne bush when they had an ectopic pregnancy, and then when we had our miscarriage last year, they gave us one. I haven’t known anyone who’s had a miscarriage/baby loss since ours, but I’ve often thought it’d be a nice thing to do – who knows, maybe it would become a ‘thing’ to give a Daphne bush to someone grieving their baby and that future.

Last week I noticed that this Daphne bush had started flowering – it’s possibly a little early (but plants seem to be a bit confused with our weather here….I have hyacinths flowering already!), but it reminded me that in a couple of weeks it will be a year since our last transfer, and then a year since we lost our well loved embryo. And while nothing really takes a way that pain, I figure being reminded by a pretty flower (and I love the scent too) is one of the better ways to be reminded.

And while I don’t really feel like I’m blooming, I’m still alive, taking one day at a time, so I guess a bush that flowers most in winter shows its possible to survive the dark days.

Do you have any special reminders of your losses?

Magnetism

We caught up with friends today who are here visiting from overseas. We hadn’t seen them or their 2 girls for about 3 years (and they don’t know about our struggles). It was barely a split second before the girls stopped being shy and decided Mr & I were their new best friends (possibly helped along by the unicorn gifts!), snuggling on our laps, holding our hands as we walked around the nature reserve and asking us to carry them.

It was nice to see my child magnetism might be returning – and that these kids at least don’t think I’m a bitter old women. Β And I even managed to actually play and have fun with the girls #winning

But seeing this lovely family, with great family dynamics, building wonderful memories together, seeing my husband playing so nicely with the girls and being so loved by them – reminded me so strongly of why I want a family of our own.

That’s the thing isn’t it….just because the treatment is over, doesn’t mean the dream is.

Can you feel the love tonight?

Have I given you all an ear worm now? I started out with LeAnne Rimes lyrics “loving you, isn’t something I should really do” – but it didn’t quite fit with what I want to write…so now I have both songs mingling in my head!

A few weeks ago, I was watching a conversation on Twitter, someone was being open about the depressive episode they were going through at the time, and many others were sending (virtual) hugs and other words of support. This particular tweep commented that while they appreciated the thought, real hugs weren’t actually something they wanted right then, and another person responded that they’d felt the same when they were grieving the loss of a loved one – they didn’t want the contact, and couldn’t feel the support even though they knew it was well intentioned. But they did say, once they’d got out of the deepest depths of grief, they were really grateful for the love, support and hugs that were still given to them during that time, and that that was what got them through.

It got me thinking about how I felt after my miscarriage last year, and after that day earlier this year when my world fell apart. I didn’t want to be hugged by anyone, not even my husband, and to be honest months down the track there are still only a select few that I’m happy to be hugged by (and of course that changes with each situation). And when people told me they loved me, or were sending love to me, it didn’t mean anything to me – logically I knew it was a kind thing to say, but I just couldn’t feel it. Again, even with my husband I couldn’t feel the love when I told him I loved him or if he’d said it to me – but on some logical level, I knew my survival, and our marriages survival was relying on me to say and do these things even though I couldn’t feel them. So I made myself say them, and made myself hug my husband and a select few others, hoping that one day it would stop being an effort, and I’d actually feel the love that I was told surrounded me.

In my foggy grief stricken haze I could vaguely see that I was closing in on myself, and blocking everyone else away – it’s a common survival mechanism after all. The thing that struck me most though, was that not many people could see (or at least acknowledge) that that’s what I was doing. So they allowed themselves to be pushed away, gave me time and space to heal & grieve my way. But what I realised on some level then, and even more so in hindsight, was that the few connections that remained were vitally important. And I could have done with more. If everyone lets themselves be pushed away, then the result…..is I’m left alone, with only my head for company. Humans are social creatures, we need connections with others, loneliness causes as many if not more health issues as things like smoking. Yet, we are so quick to think “I don’t know what to do, I’ll just leave them, give them time to heal”, waiting until the person dealing with grieve, depression etc is ready to connect again.

Now I realise there’s a fine line between not giving someone space so they’re not lonely, and overcrowding them. But I’d suggest risk the over crowding, because you might be the only one stepping into that space and giving them a life line to hold on to while dealing with their pain.

So if you know someone grieving I suggest you find ways no matter how small, to maintain some connection with them, so if they want to talk or need company the space is not too big for them to cross. Tell them you don’t know what to say or do – they probably have no idea either, because when you’re that down you have no idea whats going to help. But acknowledging that, helps being people together. Send little texts every few days, so they’re not alone. Drop off baking or a meal – home cooking is often loaded with love, and that sometimes gets through….knowing someone did something specially for you, might not seem to make it through the clouds of pain right then….but it will be remembered, like a glimmer of light, later. Send them a card, treat them like you did before what ever happened – as in don’t contact them less, don’t stop inviting them to things etc. Even just saying ‘you might not be up for it, but if you are we’d love to see your face” or words to that effect. Tell them you want to visit, or go out for coffee etc, and then ask when – if action is reduced to one decision its so much easier to handle.

And by doing these little things, you make it easy for them to dip their toes back into life again when they’re ready, the space around them isn’t so big it feels scary to step across, you minimise any awkwardness they might be feeling, and most of all you keep them wrapped in a bubble of connection and love….that one day will break through that protective ice barrier, and they’ll learn to feel love again and to give love again.

Please, what ever you do, don’t let someone grieve alone – even when they push you away.

Where does Hope hide?

Hope is a funny thing, I don’t think any of us would go through as much fertility treatment as we do, if we didn’t have some glimmer of hope to hold on to. But when you decide to stop fertility treatment where does hope go? As far as I can tell the decision to stop is more complicated than just losing all hope. Being hopeful definitely becomes very difficult.

Often in the early days I scoured the internet for people’s success stories, reading about someone else’s miracle helped me feel hopeful……but as time went by, this hope tended to be replaced with envy. Envious of others success, envious of others BFP, envious of people getting natural BFPs, envious of people who didn’t need as many rounds of IVF, envious of others having more eggs, better eggs, less procedures, less side effects…..

And now that we’ve stopped fertility treatment….envious of those who are still going through treatment, envious of those who shill have hope. 

Over the weekend we were talking with people we know, who are embarking on a trip overseas for a donor egg cycle. They told us their plans, the process, the details, the sightseeing they’re going to fit in too. And through it all shone their hope. It was exciting and hopeful, I felt hopeful. 

And then I remembered…..we’re not sharing this process with them…..it’s not our hope.

That sneaky feeling of hope hadn’t gone anywhere….it was hiding all along…

Now I need to tuck it away again, and figure out how to be hopeful for others without feeling it for ourselves.

PS. Please don’t go suggesting we try donor eggs or any other options – those options aren’t for us.