Actually excited to be TTC – CD3

I don’t know why I hadn’t realised it already (after all, AFs arrival is a pretty obvious sign of a new cycle) but its only just sunk in that we are back to TTC. It feels like ages since we did this last (it was October). But today we are officially CD3.

I feel really lucky that we are able to start trying again so quickly. I was expecting to be banned from trying for months due to the molar pregnancy but thankfully it was only a partial mole and the hospital have said that if my next test is clear they’ll sign me off to try again. We’re actually jumping the gun a bit as my next test isn’t until Thursday but I’m convinced it will be clear and I don’t want to miss another month so I’m going to pretend that we’ve already got this month’s all clear. After all what are the chances we’ll actually conceive this month?

So I’ve stocked up on another supply of conception support vitamins and after the boy’s birthday party this weekend I’ll be cutting right back on the wine again. Fingers crossed we are able to conceive again quickly and that this one will stick (or more importantly keep growing as after needing three D&Cs, i don’t think sticking is our problem).

In other good news I’ve also finally got a referral to the recurrent miscarriage clinic and the consultant is not the rubbish one I was seeing about the molar pregnancy but a new one who is the recurrent miscarriage specialist for our whole area. I really hope I get to meet her and not a junior doctor working her service. Will find out at the end of next month but in the meantime I’ll be following Barren Betty’s lead and writing a huge list of questions in preparation for the appointment.

Chris and Gwyneth – Another miscarriage divorce story

I awoke this morning to news that Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow are getting divorced. Sad news for them and their children but I hope that it will bring them happiness in the long run. What surprised me is how many articles which I read mentioned Gwyneth’s miscarriage as a catalyst for their divorce. It seems to me that they’ve had a whole catalogue of pressures on their relationship. Could it really be the miscarriage which pushed things too far? And for myself it leaves me wondering if my desire to keep trying for a baby is ultimately going to lead to the end of my marriage?

The statistics don’t look great. Apparently statistics show that more than 40 percent of first marriages and nearly 70 percent of first live-in relationships fail to reach the 15-year mark. Adding the trauma of recurrent miscarriage can make staying together even harder. I currently feel like our miscarriage experiences have brought my husband and I closer together. We’re going through something which others ( unless they’ve been through it too) can’t really understand so we feel a bit ‘us against the world’. But what if we end up suffering a fourth/fifth/tenth miscarriage? What if one of us decides it’s time to stop trying when the other isn’t prepared to give up? What if my husband realises that I’m the problem and that he can have the family he desires easily with another woman?

The statistics aren’t on our side. Compared with couples who’ve had successful pregnancies, those who’ve had a miscarriage are 22 percent more likely to break up, and those who’ve experienced a stillbirth were 40 percent more likely to do so, according to a recent study. The reasons for this are varied but one of the most widely cited reasons for splitting is an apparent disconnect between the way men and women grieve. If I man hides his emotions this can be perceived by his traumatised wife as being uncaring or that he is ‘over it’ already when she can’t imagine ever feeling ‘normal’ again. On top of that, there can be a tremendous amount of guilt with both parties alternating from blaming themselves to blaming the other. These feelings can lead to anger, sadness and ultimately withdrawal and the relationship may be unable to survive.

We’ve already experienced three traumatic miscarriages in less than two years of marriage and I’ve already experienced many of the emotions I’ve described above. In a bid to keep our marriage strong I’ve tried to find tips for staying together during this trying time and I’ve set out below some of the things I’ve learnt:

1) Keep talking – Too often, people hide their feelings from each other. I’ve found myself holding back for fear of bringing my husband down with my sadness and immediately after our last miscarriage I refused to talk about it simply assuming that my husband knew how I felt. This lead to a huge row with lots of tears when he ultimately failed to guess exactly when I wanted him to say and do. My advice is to talk each other and talk to other people who know what you’re going through (either in person or like me via a blog). Just don’t expect anyone to know what’s inside if you don’t share.

2) Take your time – Grieving takes time, and there are no deadlines, despite what you may hear or the pressure you may feel. I initially felt proud of myself for ‘getting over’ my miscarriages and each time retuning to work within a couple of days (or within 24 hours after my second miscarriage). But ultimately this was not healthy and more than a year later I still have moments where I re-live the horror of my first 12 week scan when we discovered our longed for baby had died. Just remember that there will be good days and bad days, and there is nothing wrong with having a bad day even after you thought you were ‘over it’.

3) Care for each other (and show it) – My husband and I have very different grieving styles but I know that he is hurting and as his wife I want to be there for him to help him through this. It has made a huge difference for me to realise there is no ‘right way’ to get through this. Ultimately my husband is the most important person in my life and I regularly remind myself that whilst losing our babies is really though, losing my husband would be unbearable. Whilst we can’t control whether our next pregnancy fails, we can do everything in our power to ensure our relationship survives.

Are mother/daughter relationships self-perpetuating across generations?

“Will I turn into my mother?” I’m sure it’s a question asked by many daughters as they get older. And as they start thinking about having their own children, the question becomes “Will my relationship with my daughter mirror that of mine and my mother?” These are questions which I have found myself dwelling on more and more in recent years. I wish I could say that my family is just like the Bisto family from the old adverts. But like many families, my relationship with my family, and in particular my mother, well lets say its complicated.

Looking back at my life so far (I’m only 33 so I’m not exactly in memoir territory), I have no idea how we’ve ended up where we are today. I had a happy and stable childhood. One sibling, two parents married to each other, both working good jobs (if not highly paid). We had family holidays, went to after school clubs and never particularly argued. During my teenage years I was probably a little challenging. In my late teens I got into a relationship with an older man and my parents weren’t exactly approving (unsurprisingly). But that relationship ended in my early twenties and I don’t think my relationship with my mother would be any different if I had dated someone of my own age.

Essentially my mother is what can only be described as distant. She freely admits that she isn’t a hugger. She’ll cuddle a distressed toddler but once a child gets to school age the hugs pretty much stop and as a teenager and older they are non-existent. Not even my dad is privilege to a cuddle. She blames this entirely on her own parents who she describes as being emotionally absent. She’s also not much of a sharer of feelings, in my family we will often talk about what we’ve been doing but not how we feel and difficult conversations are generally avoided. I used to appreciate this as it meant I never had to have any uncomfortable conversations about dating or friendship groups. As a teenager I would hear my friends talk about having awkward chats with their parents and felt relieved that mine weren’t like that. However, as I’ve got older, I’ve started to wish that my parents would take a bit more of an interest in what I do. It’s sad to admit it but there are times when I almost feel like I don’t have any parents as I don’t seem to be able to confined in them when I’m having a tough time, and if I do, I don’t get the support that I was looking for. I’m sure this all makes me sound very needy but I’m not talking about my mother not being interested in whether I’ve had a bad day at work or a row with my husband, I’m talking about big stuff.

Three years ago I got engaged. I was so excited to be planning my wedding and was looking forward to some proper family bonding with my mother and sister. I asked them both to come wedding dress shopping with me, something that I hoped they would enjoy. However, when we tried to arrange a date, it transpired that helping me choose a dress for my big day wasn’t high up their list of priorities. Both my mum and my sister are teachers which means that get five weeks holiday during the summer so I asked them to let me know which dates were good for them (stating my preference for a Friday or Monday so that I could have a long weekend off work). They eventually (after weeks of pestering from me) came back with two possible dates, both Wednesdays. That was all I could have, out of a full five week holiday they could find two days when they could possibly be free to come dress shopping with me. That hurt but I sucked it up and didn’t say anything. After all it was only a wedding dress, I’d just hoped it could be a big moment for us as a family.

After the dresses was chosen, there were eight more months until the big day and in all that time how many times did my mum telephone me, come to visit me or even ask how the wedding planning was going? None, not even one. It was as if the wedding wasn’t happening. If I mentioned it that was fine but she never ever asked.

One strange thing about my parents is that they seem to think that I’m embarrassed by them. Which I am not and I have no idea why they would think it but they allude to it all the time and ignore my protestations that it isn’t true. This all seems to come down to the fact that I have what they perceive to be a ‘good’ job. I always thought that as a parent if your child was successful this would make you happy but in my case it seems to make them distant. My sister is a teacher and regularly talks to my mum but I’m made to feel like I would be far too busy and important to speak to her so my mum never calls me. Never, not even if I haven’t spoken to her for four months! I know I tried to see how long should would go without speaking to her but after four months I gave up and called.

I wish I had a better relationship with my mother but I have no idea how to change it. I’ve basically brushed it under the carpet and told myself it doesn’t matter but it does. It matters to me, a lot. I’d always thought that if something really bad happened that I’d feel supported. After all, the only times when I’ve been disappointed by the lack of support in the past have been to do with planning a wedding, buying houses and splitting with an ex. Big things but not life changing. But this last year I’ve had three miscarriages. I have told my mother about all of them but only after the event (she only knew I was pregnant with the first one). On each occasion she told me she was sorry but then followed it but by saying it was common and she felt sure that next one would be different. She never asked me how I felt or seemed in any way sad that these were her potential grandchildren that kept dying.

After each of those three telephone calls where I told her about the miscarriages, she hasn’t asked me about the miscarriages again. The last one happened just before Christmas and when I stayed at my parents’ house over the holidays she didn’t even ask how I was feeling. It was like the ultimate elephant in the room and if i dare bring it up the subject will quickly be changed. She has no idea about the subsequent molar pregnancy, hospital visits, cancer risk or anything related. She knew I ended up in hospital for three days having emergency surgery but never asked why. In fact she hasn’t contacted me at all in 2014 other than one text asking what to get my husband for his birthday.

I wish I knew what to do to change my relationship with my mother but I think it might be too far gone. All I can hope is that if I am ever able to carry a baby to term, my relationship with my child will be different to that with my mother. My only concern is that I remember my mum saying the same to me about my grandmother. Maybe we’re all destined to become our mothers no matter how much we want to be different.

365 days

One year ago today we went for our first ever 12 week scan expecting to see our little baby waving back at us, only to discover that our baby had stopped growing weeks before. Just 365 days ago we discovered that we were on a different path to the one we’d been expecting. I knew the miscarriage stats but I just didn’t think it would happen to us, particularly as those 12 weeks had been seemingly symptom-filled and uneventful. As we left the house to drive to the hospital I remember feeling excited about being able to share our scan pictures with friends and family the next day. Sadly that isn’t how our story played out.

Today I can’t believe it was only a year ago. 52 weeks sounds like so little time but in that time so much has happened. I’m no longer the person I was a year ago and I don’t think I’ll ever be that person again.

Since the discovery of our first miscarriage on that very cold Tuesday, we have had two positive pregnancy tests, two more miscarriages, all missed-miscarriages discovered at scans. I have had three ERPCs to remove the ‘products’ having failed to effectively miscarry them myself. I’ve had an unsuccessful medically managed miscarriage, a molar pregnancy diagnosis, a laparoscopy and I don’t know how many hospital appointments and blood test – let’s just call it a lot!

I am annoyed with my body for failing to do what people often refer to as “the most natural thing for a woman to do” and I’m am annoyed with the universe that I have to go through this. Why me?! But I am also strangely proud. I can’t believe I’m doing this and surviving. My relationship with my husband has been tested and has been found to be strong. My mind and my will have been tested and have been found to be strong. Sometimes I feel like Im going to break but as I stop fighting and let those feelings take over I discover that it’s not true. I have astounded myself with an inner strength I had no idea I possessed and I feel like I know myself more than I ever have in the past.

One area that has been tested during the last year is my relationships with my friends and family and some of those have been found to be less strong. I am to blame for some of this as I have stepped away. Unable to juggle all of the balls I’ve let some of those relationships go. I had hoped that as the balls of friendship hit the ground they would bounce back up, propelled by my friends’ desires to be their for me during what has undoubtably been the hardest year of my life. But unfortunately it appears that I may have more ‘fair weather’ friends than I had originally realised. In some ways this makes things easier as I don’t need to find the energy to be sociable and I am able to be a bit selfish and concentrate on my needs and those of my husband. Whilst I appreciate that everyone is going through their own struggles, I do wish that I had a little more support but I’m sure everyone feels the same and after 365 days of neediness I’ve probably exhausted my quota. I hope that when this is all over I’ll be able to pick up the balls of friendship again and start juggling even if it will take some time to get into a rhythm again.

I’m not sure where I go from here. It might be the end of the first year but it is by no means the end of the story. I’m hoping to be signed off from the molar pregnancy unit in a few weeks and to start TTC next month. I don’t know what the next 365 days will bring but unlike last year I’m prepared for it to be hard and I feel strong enough to face it.

Finally some good news!

The results of my molar pregnancy testing have come back from Charing Cross and my hormone levels are entirely back to normal. Because of this and the fact that I am at low risk of recurrence the women I spoke to said that they should be happy to sign me off next month which means that based on my current dates we might be cleared to TTC in April. AND if that wasn’t good news enough, my fertile window looks set to fall at the time when the boy and I have a romantic weekend break planned!!!

Part of me feels like we should wait until we have the results back from the recurrent miscarriage tests but despite being referred in December I haven’t had my first appointment yet so it is likely to be ages before the results come back. And we’ve got a 50% chance of our miscarriages being unexplained. And I’ve been told that the molar pregnancy was a complete freak occurrence so really we’ve only had two ‘normal’ miscarriages so far. And I can always take baby aspirin if we get pregnant again so if it was a clotting issue we’ll be protected against that. As you can probably tell I’ve talked myself into this already so fingers crossed I’ll be back on the preverbal horse (sorry husband) next month. I can’t believe I’m feeling excited about scheduled baby making sex!

Still, not again

One of the things I love most about blogging is reading other people’s stories and knowing that somewhere out there someone is feeling the same way I do. Having my feelings mirrored by others almost legitimises them. When I’m giving myself a hard time for not being ‘over it’ yet and feeling like I’m being too indulgent with my grief, to read that someone else is feeling the same way makes me realise that I’m not alone and that it’s ok to be sad or jealous or angry or whatever other emotion I’m feeling at the time.

I’ve been reading The Second Bedroom blog for a while and sadly the blogger suffered a miscarriage at a similar time to our last one. They are currently taking a bit of a break to recover from that loss and she recently wrote a post which really resonated with me. It was about being jealous of other people’s pregnancies (something I’m definitely guilty of) and there was one particular line in her blog which hit me so hard it look my breath:

“I don’t want to be pregnant again, I want to be pregnant still.”

Tears and magically appearing appointments

I received the testing pack and other info from the Trophoblast Disease Service at Charing Cross Hospital this week. There was a booklet telling me about molar pregnancy that was so out of date it had pages crossed out and new paper printouts stapled in to replace them and a leaflet letting me know that there is an app which I can download to schedule my testing appointments (so basically a just calendar then). There was also a box containing test tubes for urine and blood serum to be returned for testing and an instruction booklet explaining how the process works.

It all seemed very simple except the people who work at Charing Cross Hospital obviously have no idea what it’s like to live outside of London. The testing pack instruction letter says to “have serum sample collected in the NEXT FEW DAYS” (emphasis added). So I phoned my GP clinic to book an appointment for a blood test and despite explaining the situation I’m told the earliest I can be seen is 20th March!!! I’m supposed to have this testing done every two weeks from the discovery of the molar pregnancy but its already been 8 weeks since my D&C and I can’t even get a first appointment for the first blood test until the end of the month.

When i tried to explain the situation to the (frankly quite aggressive) receptionist I was then told that I should go to Charing Cross Hospital for the tests despite needing them every two weeks and living hours from London. I asked if i could have them done at my local hospital? “No”. Or if one of the doctors could do the blood test for me? “You can book an appointment with a doctor and ask them”. Or if she would be able to ask them for me to save me wasting one of their obviously rare free appointments? “No”. Or could I just have a telephone appointment to ask one of the doctors? “Your doctor doesn’t work today. You can call back on Monday and book a telephone appointment but I can’t book you a telephone appointment for Monday on Friday”.

I honestly didn’t know what to do. I’m told I need to have these tests done. I’m told I shouldn’t ignore the testing requirements as its important to check that the molar pregnancy isn’t becoming cancerous. I’m told I can’t try again for a baby until the testing is done. I’m told the testing should have started weeks ago. And then I get an aggressive, unhelpful and unsympathetic receptionist. So I’m on my mobile phone, standing outside my office with colleagues walking in and out past me, in the rain and late for work as the GP clinic wasn’t open until 9am. I feel my eyes start to tingle and i try to stop it but i can’t, i start quietly sobbing at the sheer frustration of it all. And then the miracle happens…. witchy receptionist’s diary has suddenly changed and I could magically get an appointment that day or next week. I have never felt more annoyed. Why do i need to be reduced to tears before she would help me? Does she take pleasure from hearing a grown woman sob? I know I’ve said it before but I just don’t understand why this has to be so hard!

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