Guest Blogs, IVF, Life of a Mum

Infertility following miscarriage, a guest blog

Thanks to lovely Lausanne for sharing her experiences of fertility issues in this blog……

Where do I start? How about right back in 2000.

I had been seeing my now husband for 6 months when we found out I was pregnant. I was 29 and he was 30. We were both in shock but neither of us were getting any younger so we knew it was what we wanted and were looking forward to the arrival of our baby in late spring 2001.

However it was not to be. I started spotting at around 8 weeks and after 2 very long and painful days I miscarried in a hospital toilet in Chislehurst in Kent. We were devastated. I had been having treatment for severe endometriosis when I fell pregnant so the fact I had actually had a positive test seemed like a miracle to me at the time.

I recall in the days following the miscarriage waking each morning only to remember that I was no longer pregnant and being overwhelmed by the crippling disappointment to no longer feel like I was doing the important job of growing a tiny human, because it didn’t matter to me that I was only 8 weeks along my every waking moment was about providing that tiny being with the best possible chance of survival.

I had no idea how common early miscarriage was until it happened to me, and you very rarely find out the reason for why they happen, and much as the medical profession see it as just one of those things it is impossible to not question yourself and was it something you did or didn’t do that caused it.

Fast forward to 2004. We were now married and living in Market Harborough. I had undergone 2 further surgeries for endometriosis.

It was almost like the procedure of having the adhesions removed followed by a treatment of zolodex medication to stop my periods put my body into the best position to get pregnant. So I fell pregnant again in July of that year.

This time round everyone assured me that it would work out for us, they could feel it in their waters or they had a good feeling about it this time. I did too, especially as I had started being sick daily at around the 7 week mark. I was advised that this was a sign of a strong pregnancy so I felt very positive. Until the first week of October literally days before my 12 week scan I started to spot again. I was terrified, why was it happening to me again, this baby was very much wanted and everyone had told me it was going to work this time……

I had to wait 2 days for my scan and I had stopped spotting and was still being sick so I had convinced myself that perhaps it was going to be ok. We had the foresight to take my mother in law with us for the scan because when I heard the question “did we get your dates muddled up” after what seemed like an eternity I knew it was over & I just shut down. I don’t remember a great deal, other than feeling so let down by my body and like I just wanted the world to stop.

My mother in law was wonderful and asked many questions which we couldn’t ask because we were consumed by grief.

Now as many women who have suffered multiple miscarriages know, you have to have suffered 3 miscarriages before they will investigate.To me this is barbaric. How on earth in this day and age is it ok to say it is ok to suffer this devastating, life changing event 3 times before it can be looked in to?

I knew I couldn’t go through the same thing again so we paid for private tests to find out if there was a cause behind the losses.

I can still remember getting a call from the consultant at the time to say they had found an issue involving a mutated gene in my test results which meant I suffered from a blood clotting disorder called Factor V Leiden. In layman’s terms it meant that the blood supply was not getting to the baby in the uterus and I was miscarrying as a result.

In order to prevent this from happening I would need to start taking a low dose of aspirin daily and in the event of any future pregnancies I would need to have daily injections to ensure my blood remained thin to stand any chance of carrying a baby to term. However this never happened because I never again conceived naturally after that miscarriage and after more surgery to deal with the ongoing debilitating disease that is endometriosis at the age of 35 we embarked on the long and arduous journey of IVF.

We soon realised with the extreme number of tests you have to endure with IVF that with a blocked left Fallopian tube and extensive endometriosis scarring and only ovarian tissue on my right hand side it would have been an impossibility to fall pregnant without intervention.

We went into our first long protocol cycle full of hope, I did everything to prepare my body, including giving up red meat, processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, you name it I wanted to make sure I was doing everything to give my body the best possible chance to be able to get pregnant.

At first it all felt like a bit of a novelty doing daily injections & having multiple scans to track my progress. You feel like you are doing the most important job in the world and as such I fell in to the trap that was the belief this is how I would get that very much longed for baby.

You are being bombarded with many statistics at every step of the way so I remember the immense feeling of disappointment at my first egg collection where I only managed to achieve a retrieval of 4 eggs. I was assured that they were good quality eggs but after 3 days only 2 of the embryos were continuing to divide so it was time to undergo the painful procedure that is embryo transfer and both embryos were put back. Then it was time for the two week wait.

I stayed at home, I remained either in bed or on the sofa, hardly daring to move in case I dislodged the embryos inside of me.

It made absolutely no difference to the result which was crippling cramping pains on day 10 of the wait followed by a very heavy period. The slap in the face of it all is that you still have to do a pregnancy test after 2 weeks just to confirm that you aren’t pregnant.

That whole procedure takes around 3 months, a quarter of a year, a whole season. You are advised to take at least a month between cycles to give your body a chance to recover, so cycle 2 is scheduled. Again I am required to undertake a long protocol as I was unsuccessful in securing any embryos for freezing with an increased dosage in my medication in the vain hope I will produce more eggs this time around.

However I fail to down regulate and remain on the drugs for 8 weeks injecting a total of 56 injections. I feel rough, am tearful, moody & my legs feel very sore to touch from the daily injections.

We are advised to stop and take a 3 month break. This seems like a lifetime and to say we were upset is an understatement.

But we continue because the statistics show for a woman of my age 95% of woman will get pregnant within 3 cycles.

So this is it cycle number 3, this will be the one that gives us our baby.

Except it isn’t.

Even with the increased meds, the successful down regulation, the successful collection of 13 eggs this time round, I still never made it to the end of the 2 week wait before I started spotting.

At this point I have had enough. I want to throw the towel in, I cannot do this anymore. I am both mentally, physically and emotionally drained. We stop.

We go on holiday, we adopt another cat, we avoid family gatherings with children, we retreat into our safe haven to lick our wounds and prepare for life as a childless couple. We make plans but there is always that gaping hole. The endometriosis kicks in again, causing so much pain some days I can barely get out of bed, I am physically sick and the pain is so intense some days that it causes me to faint. I have woken up twice on the bathroom floor in a pool of blood.

It wasn’t unusual to find me in a hot bath at 3 in the morning to try and get some pain relief whilst waiting for cocodemol to kick in.

Finally after having major surgery to remove a 5cm cyst from my right ovarian tissue I was advised that I needed to decide if I wanted to undergo any further fertility treatment because if not I would need to have a full hysterectomy. An extremely sobering moment in our lives.

We had always thought we would come back to fertility treatment again one day but now we were being told it was now or never.

So in 2014 we made the decision brave or foolish who knows to try again for one last time.

I psyched myself up for the treatment, we were on the highest dose of medication with multiple daily injections this time round only to fail at the down regulation stage again. We had to stop and break for a month which was heartbreaking but we had promised ourselves one final full cycle of treatment so we went again in the beginning of 2015.

I never believed it would be successful especially as I was as sick as a dog with a stomach bug the day before embryo transfer.

The procedure was extremely painful and I remember thinking well that is it. Our IVF journey is over and going home in silence.

I didn’t rest, I didn’t lay up, I carried on as normal and waited for the stomach cramps to come but 10 days went by with nothing, then 11, then 12, I started to think just perhaps this may be our time at last and on day 15 when I had to do my pregnancy test I will never ever forget that feeling of seeing the two pink lines.

We were ecstatic, terrified, elated, panicked, overjoyed & scared all at the same time.

I felt truly blessed to be pregnant, it wasn’t an easy pregnancy, I was sick twice a day up to 18 weeks, I had gestational diabetes and Lilia was stuck in the transverse position right up to 36 weeks where I was admitted to hospital as a precaution because of the risk of a spontaneous labour which would have killed both her and myself.

She was eventually born at 38 weeks after 15 years of trying for a baby at the age of 44.

She is more than worth the wait, I am incredibly lucky to be her mum and I know I am blessed.

My heart goes out to those who have and will endure this process, it is tough, it is painful, it is a huge gamble, it is expensive, it makes you cynical, it is a license to print money, it is unknown but without it there would be no Lilia and for that I will always be eternally grateful.

Lausanne is Market Harborough based- and like me has a huge love of kids fashion- so much so she has a preloved kids fashion business

Peachy and Birdie Shop

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The Lockdown Diaries – Acknowledging Anxiety in Isolation (guest blog)

Words and images by @chameleoninhighheels

When the government (quite rightly) extended the lockdown a couple of weeks ago, I wondered whether this was the perfect ending to a day I’d rather forget. To be brutally honest, it was a shite day. On the surface it was lovely: sunshine, a walk, a socially distant conversation with a friend we met in the park, time in the garden, meals together, family time. Bliss. Only it wasn’t. In my head, it was hell. Doubts about myself and others, returning to normal life, staying locked up, it was all a big, scary, chaotic and scrambled mess.

The familiar lump in my chest and stomach resurfaces, it spreads its claws uncomfortably around my organs and renders me unable to think straight or to see sense. I try to work out if this is related to lockdown, or if there are other demons at work. I think it is both. The fears and doubts have been there a long time, but now are magnified by a world that projects fear and cannot be a safe place for us right now. I try and rationalise my thoughts and talk myself through what I can and can’t influence. I listen to the conversations in my head and weigh them up. I counsel myself and know that the shrink in me is right and wants to kick me off the imagined couch, but I am not ready to leave, not prepared to say: Yeah, I am fine now, thanks for the session.

My thoughts are as stubborn as the monster inside my body. Normally I would schedule a meet up with one of my closest and most trusted friends. Such things have to be talked about in person. But I can’t do that. I would probably also start doing lots of things to distract myself. But today I can’t do that either.

All the dinner is cooked, there is no more food to cook because the fridge is empty, I had my daily exercise and colouring pictures with my daughter gives me more time to think than I can handle. I tentatively tell one of my friends via text and it helps, she is understanding and downright fabulous. She doesn’t try to fix things for me. She is just there. I can breathe more easily. And then I just do something I read the other day by Glennon Doyle: Sit with it. Sit through it. Experience it. And let it pass over.

It’s a bit of a challenge to sit in peace when you have two kids crawling and climbing over you and a puppy chewing on your clothes. But I sit, and I allow myself to feel crap and I endure those feelings of inadequacy, loneliness and anxiousness. And I survive. I still don’t feel great and am far from being a bundle of positivity, but those inner restraints have loosened a little. I am aware that lots of people will be feeling up and down during this time, and many are feeling like this all the time. I also know that everyone’s experience is unique and personal and definitely valid. My feelings may seem ridiculous to some but they are real for me and I have the right to those experiences.

That doesn’t make me weak, stupid or unloved. I am strong – I will get through this day and others; I am knowledgeable – I am aware of my mind and I know that not all feelings are real but they can seem so; and, most importantly, I am loved – not by everyone and that is ok, but I am no less worthy than the next person.

This has been a deeply personal account of what is going on inside me, and I know that I have made myself more vulnerable with this than ever before. I am never dishonest in my blog posts, but there are many things I do not share as freely as others. Whilst I am always scared of repercussions, I am not afraid anymore of revealing a bit more. We are locked up, but we are not silenced. And I have been silent for too long. 

We all have good and bad days, and from now on I will be more willing to openly share the good and the bad, without holding back, in the hope it will speak to other so they know they are not alone.

Read more from Chameleon in high heels here- CIHH instagram