Is honesty the best policy??

Usually, when I blog, I sit and write from the heart, and have no hesitation clicking the “publish” button.

My last post was different. I read it, and re-read it, and then saved it, and then came back to it, and then thought “to hell with it, this is how I’m feeling” and released it to the blogosphere.

That night, I lay in bed with some serious guilts. I felt like a truly awful human being – selfish, unkind and juvenile. There were hardly any comments, which, exacerbated by my state of paranoia, made me think that nobody else ever felt this way and so there was something wrong with me. I actually considered taking the post down. Why? Because my blogging community is full of people whom I’ve come to really respect and admire. I worried that everybody would lose their respect for me.

But, a comment from a fellow blogger made me think, “if I can’t be candid and honest on my own blog, where can I be?”.

Over the past few years, I’ve often sat in front of the computer, in tears, and find the process of writing extremely healing and really quite cathartic. So much so, that I leave the computer feeling stronger, more rational and ready to crack on with life. Even more so, when the comments start piling in!

So how honest should we all be? Is it a problem when we start blogging as an escape from the judgement of family/friends but then fear being judged by our online community?

honesty-and-freedom-pic

I survived!

I am referring here to my visit yesterday, to see my sister-in-law and her new baby. This is the visit that I have been dreading ever since I found out she was pregnant back in October, and I had built it to be an absolute mountain, in my head.

My sister-in-law is 40 years old, and this is her third (although her first with my husband’s brother). I don’t know whether this helped a little, as it was far less “intense” than visiting my friends who have all had their first and are just FULL of “baby”.

I’ve never had much of a rapport with her, which I think is why I’ve had such conflicting emotions over *this* particular pregnancy, but, with an unprejudiced mind, she will probably be incredibly helpful when my time comes, with practical advice and support that I would otherwise lack. She also pointed out that we will share a few months of maternity leave, together. You never know, we may be best buddies this time next year.

My new nephew is beautiful, and precious and I just CANNOT WAIT to have my own little munchkin in my arms.

I’ve come away feeling:

  1. *Gulp* – this gorgeous little thing is just adorable and I could cuddle him all day
  2. “Yikes, that felt a bit crampy”, cue *knicker check* – oh god, what if I don’t get to this day with my little one?
  3. Proud, that I have managed to accomplish the thing that has kept me up at night, and has occupied my thoughts almost every day on the commute to work
  4. At peace – like I am ready to be a mum, and cope with the sleepless nights, my neat, tidy house going to pot, the financial sacrifices, like giving up clothes shopping and posh meals, along with the sacrifices to my social calendar

It’s funny, a lot of you said that I’d be surprised at how I felt, finally being pregnant and meeting a new mum and sprog. I’m glad to say that you were right 🙂

Harmony, growing pains and the first grandchild (14+6wks)

Life has gone back to its usual 110mph pace, although this has sort of been my saving grace over the past month or so, with little time to fret, and the much-anticipated second trimester being on my doorstep before I knew it.

I have *definitely* chilled out a little, where baby bean is concerned. The knicker-check is less frequent (although not entirely absent) and no longer is every abdominal niggle sending me to the private scan company in fear. This past week has definitely seen an increase in aches and pains in my lower abdomen, with excruciating stabbing pains if I move too quickly. I suppose it’s no surprise, seeing as baby bean is now apparently approaching apple-size. I have a little, but definite, bump, although I’m still in that category where nobody would automatically offer me their train seat, as it could possibly be central obesity vs baby (and nobody wants to make that mistake).

My boobs are continuing to grow at the rate of knots, with my other half exclaiming every time I take my top off. Unfortunately, I don’t think I qualify for page 3, as I also seem to have developed veins and stretch marks EVERYWHERE. Sigh. Still, I can’t complain. It’s taken 3 years and £10,000, and it is *totally* worth it.

Harmony results all came in as low risk, which, again, was great news. We also know what clothes section we need to shop in when the time comes… BUT, I’ve been sworn to secrecy!! Even from you, fellow bloggers, as my other half wants it to be a surprise for everybody else, and I do still have the odd friend who reads this.

The past few weeks have seen a challenge of a different kind – one that has been on the horizon for months, and which has slowly been nibbling away at me. My sister-in-law (40 year old, 2x children from a previous relationship who are 11 and 9, not yet married to my brother-in-law) had her baby a few weeks ago.

Some of you might recall that I discovered the news of their pregnancy shortly after my own IVF cycle failed last year. My husband tentatively breaking the news to me of this completely unanticipated baby will ALWAYS stay with me, along with the utter despair that I felt for months afterwards. I’m sure that these memories are part of my continued inability to be truly happy for them, including the fact that (the way my friend put it), “they’ve got to the finish line before you”. And it shames me to say it. I’m not a nasty person, really.

I genuinely thought that finally being pregnant, would change how I felt… but it hasn’t. There is a juvenile, selfish part of me that feels pushed aside, that the miracle of my hard-won pregnancy no longer has the spotlight and the recognition it deserves. And the fear that, when my baby enters this world, nobody will care, cos, “been there, done that”.

My mother-in-law, whom I have taken on holiday, spa-days, shopping trips, who I involved heartily in my wedding plans as she has no daughters, who I used to call every other day on the way home from work, has not spoken to, or visited me in THREE WEEKS (she lives 5 minutes round the corner). To say I feel abandoned may be a bit dramatic, but I definitely feel hurt.

The next hurdle is meeting my new nephew.

I have never been one for huge gatherings full of excitable people (my own gatherings, included!), so I made a deal with my husband that the first time I meet him needs to be alone, with just my sister-in-law. (This is in the event I bawl like a baby myself, which is a distinct possibility the way my hormones are behaving – I don’t want to be on show). This is, however, easier said than done. Over the past 18 days, I’ve had TWO days off work. It is honestly so difficult to fit a visit in around her kids, my brother-in-law, doting grandparents etc, as well as MY own need for a day in my pjs whilst I’m cooking baby bean.

Hopefully, the next time I post, it’ll be to pat myself on the back for being a dutiful auntie.

To Test or Not To Test…

I have been following many of your blogs over the past few weeks, and feeling such empathy, understanding and relief at most of your thoughts and feelings, as they more than often mirror my own. And that is what I LOVE about this blog community – that it’s my little world where I’m understood and where my feelings are accepted without challenge or judgement.

These past few weeks have seen me transformed from “nervous ball of worry” to “cautiously optimistic and actually a little bit excited” as I am now in my 11th week, and approaching that much-coveted-12-week-mark. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not sat in some yoga pose, all chilled out and unflappable – that would require some kind of lobotomy! But, I’m definitely relaxing more.

This week has seen a different sort of dilemma, in the shape of Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT). In the UK, on the NHS, the current provision is a blood test and Nuchal Translucency for Down’s Syndrome. This test carries a stupidly high false-positive rate of 5%. That means 1 in 20 women will be told their baby has a high risk of Down’s Syndrome, when they aren’t. This then leads to the prospect of unnecessary invasive investigations like amnio/CVS which carry with them a 1-2% of miscarriage. It also has a false negative rate of 15%, meaning more than 1 in 10 women will be told their baby is fine, when it is not. There is no testing for Edward’s/Patau’s, which, out of all the Trisomies, have the worse outcome, leading to miscarriage, stillbirth, or death shortly after birth.

I was blissfully unaware of NIPT, until a work colleague, who is a cardiology doctor, told me about Harmony which is far, far more accurate, and also looks at Trisomy 18 and 13 (Edwards and Patau’s). It’s available privately for £400 or so. Samples are sent to the US, and then returned within 10-14 days.

So I ummed and aahed about this.. Did I want to open this can of worms? It’s all very well if you are low risk for everything, but what happens if you are high risk? I would be far too apprehensive to have an amnio, and couldn’t bear the prospect of a termination, but then what is the point of the NIPT?? Was I just undertaking an investigation simply because it was available?

Also, having gone through IVF to get this wonderful, precious, pregnancy, is it fundamentally wrong to want to know if something is wrong, or do you just “accept what you’re given”? I remember, a year ago, a fertility nurse in my clinic telling me an IVF mother had gone through with a termination at 20 weeks, after discovering the baby had got a cleft palate on the 20 weeks scan. A CLEFT-FKING-PALATE, seriously! I remember thinking that this mother ought to have some kind of psyche intervention, but am I just as bad for wanting to “mess” with this pregnancy?

The opinions we’ve had from friends and family are SO varied. A few of my fellow IVFers didn’t accept any kind of screening with their pregnancies, having just been happy with whatever they got given, so to speak. My friends have seen both sides of the coin – that it would be advantageous to know that everything was low risk, and that if there was something wrong, that it would be better to know in first trimester than in the second or third, but that having a high-risk result could lead to all sorts of anxiety.

My mother-in-law begged me not to, and pleaded that I “left my little one alone”.

More importantly, my husband, who’s invested in 50% of this little bean, has supported the decision to press on. If our baby is high risk for Down’s, this doesn’t bother us so much, but allows us to be prepared for the health issues they’re likely to face, and how it is likely to impact our lives, too. If it is, God forbid, high risk for the other Trisomies, we face a dilemma – do we amnio or wait and see what happens, with the forewarning that we may lose our baby bean?

Yesterday, I sent that package off, for it to journey across the Pond. I just hope I don’t regret the decision to open Pandora’s box!

On a more positive note, our 12th week begins on Monday, and will be the first time my husband sees our little jelly bean, live on telly, complete with limbs and a face, since the “6-week-spotting-scare”, where jelly bean was more like a blob. He is like a kid before Christmas, and it is so lovely to see 🙂

I feel so sad…

It keeps coming over me in waves, sporadically and unprompted.

I cried so much yesterday that I ended up with a migraine. I took a concoction of painkillers, and a sleeping tablet because my mind would not stop racing, and I still didn’t successfully get off to sleep until the early hours. I’ve had to call in sick, because even without the pounding head, I can’t stop my emotions running wild and I’d undoubtedly end up in tears at some point.

I don’t know why I’m feeling quite like this. Well, obviously, I know the root cause, but I DEAL with adversity. It’s what I do so well. My mother died when I was born. I had no other family other than my dad, who was in and out of hospital during my childhood. I cared for him. I got though medical school when he died suddenly. I dealt with it so well. Why does this feel 10x worse?

I envisaged the negative test and that I would simply just pick myself up, start enjoying a bit of normality after months of anything-but, and say, “hey, let’s focus on round 2”

But I keep thinking that, at some point, there were 8 little embryos that had the potential to become 8 little babies. OUR babies. 50% me, 50% him. And they’ve just gone.

I so badly want to start feeling normal again.

Heartbroken

So today was testing morning….and it’s a big fat negative.

Crying Sad Puppy

Deep down, I knew our chances were not good with the grade 4 embryos we had, but there’s still a part of you that hopes for a little miracle.

We were away for a few nights in Oxford, which is a BEAUTIFUL city – home to one of the most prestigious universities in England, and very quaint with cobbled streets, gorgeous old buildings, independent shops and cafes. But the entire break was dominated by thoughts of the 2WW coming to a close. Up until this point, I had been at work, and not had time to dwell on it. There are some advantages to having a life that is work-eat-sleep-repeat.

In an attempt to “wind down”, we had sex (which incidentally, was great – not in accordance with calendars/charts, or forcing it when we’re both completely shattered after long hours at work, or worrying that too much lube would be detrimental to the little swimmers, but because we wanted to!).  If you remember from my previous posts, I was quite unwell around the time of my transfer, and then returned to the shift work, so we’d not been abstaining because anybody had told us to, but because the opportunity hadn’t arisen. There’s some VERY conflicting advice about sex (post-transfer) online – mainly due to the lack of any robust evidence around the area. Some clinics insist on complete abstinence and not even some “self-induced” pleasure in case an orgasm is detrimental to the implantation process. Others say sex as normal, because out-of-context of fertility treatment, who abstains during in the last 2 weeks of their cycle?!

However, I started spotting with streaks of blood shortly afterwards. Not sure if it was some local trauma from the pessaries, or a bit of cervical trauma, or if it was heralding the start of a failed cycle.

The testing was traumatic, to say the least. It was the first time I have ever known that there was a real chance. I actually felt sick to my stomach – worse than when I sat my final exams. I left it on the bed with the other half, and knew that the lack of response from him of any kind after a minute or so meant that it was negative.

I actually feel a little bit like my heart has split itself in two. And there is no plaster big enough to mend it.

All that emotional energy, time, mileage, money, physical trauma, that has been invested in this cycle. It’s all been for nothing.

hurt-sad-heartbreak-Quotes

Post-embryo transfer: Day 1 (and a lot of heartache)

This past few days has been SO draining, emotionally, not helped by the fact that I have either had a sicky bug, or I have reacted adversely to the Cabergoline I was started on to prevent OHSS.

I literally slept 20 hours of the day on Friday, and have struggled to keep anything down, even water. My entire tummy has been in pain – ovaries down below and stomach up above, and I’ve only been allowed Paracetamol for pain relief. Bah. Only today have I finally got up and left the house for an hour to go DIY shopping with the other half (that’s love for you – though, to be fair to him, he did wipe vomit off my face several times, so probably deserved a little reciprocal effort).

We got a call on Thursday (Day 1) to let us know that 8 out of the 14 had fertilised. I was expecting a certain amount of drop out but was a little shocked at nearly 50% failing to take. Apparently, one was out of its shell, another too immature, and the other 4 just sat there refusing to engage with the little swimmers.

On Friday (Day 2) they told us that 7 of the 8 had divided but the embryos were looking to be of a lower grade. BUT, since they were dividing, that was still a good sign.

On Saturday (Day 3) we got a call telling us that we ought to come in for transfer that day, and that they would be transferring two. Now, I don’t know what the situation is across the pond, but the HEFA (the regulating body for assisted conception here in the UK) has strict guidelines in order to prevent multiple pregnancy. They only transfer two back, if you are over a certain age, it is your second+ attempt, or if your embryos are of poor quality, and they will never transfer more than one blastocyst.

My heart sank. I literally felt like I’d been dug up from the ground, and would have chewed my right arm off to stay in bed. And now I was facing a 2 hour round trip to be prodded down below for grade 4 embryos?!

The embryologist explained that although they were of poor quality, the grading system existed to enable them to have an objective method of deciding which were the best to transfer. The fact they were still dividing suggested that they were still viable, and that there was still a small chance of success (albeit a lesser one). Also, by transferring two, they were doubling that chance. The other 5 had either arrested in development, or had fewer cells but, as they were not grade 1 or 2, did not meet the criteria for freezing (another UK policy).

So as I lay there, once again, with my legs in the air and fairy on show, having water injected into my bladder via a catheter as I was too dehydrated to fill up naturally, I quietly sobbed.

This just really is typical of the heartache involved in IVF. All that emotional energy, the physical haul, the time, the money, just seemingly gone to waste. I know I’m being defeatist, but I can’t help it. Nobody – not the embryologist, the consultant nor the nurse, suggested that this would be a downright failure. I even did the worst and looked at forums, in my moment of weakness, and read of success stories of couples with poor quality embryos vs failures with Grade 1s and blastocysts. But I feel like I have to prepare myself for the worst when I test in 2 weeks’ time… which is very different to how I felt this time last week.

*retreats away to lick wounds*