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This week we had a major scare.  Late Tuesday night I began passing lots of bright red blood.  We visited the maternity hospital, however by the time we arrived I’d stopped bleeding and after a speculum examination the doctor was unable to determine the reason for the bleed.   They performed a trace of the baby’s heartbeat and seemed happy enough that it was a healthy rate and so at 4am they attributed the bleed to my ectropian cervix & let me go home.  At 8am I woke up for work and went to the toilet.  I hadn’t bled overnight but when I stood up after using the toilet I began to bleed all over the floor.  I quickly put a pad onto my knickers and rang the hospital.  “It’s probably the ectropian again” they said “but come in just to be sure”.  By the time I’d walked into the bedroom to tell The Boy I’d soaked my way through the sanitary towel and was bleeding all over the place.  In my daze I didn’t think to check which hospital I should go to and assumed it was the one nearest to me as the antenatal assessment unit (AAU) was open from 8am.  We eventually arrived at the AAU (rush hour was definitely not on our side), only to be informed that I’d made a mistake – emergencies such as this had to be seen at the maternity hospital, not my local AAU, as they didn’t have any doctors on-site.  Within fifteen minutes they’d bleeped a consultant, checked baby’s heartbeat (still fine) and an ambulance had arrived to take me across to the correct hospital – blue lights, sirens, the lot.  As luck would have it The Boy is really good friends with one of the paramedics assigned to transfer us.  It was surreal but nice to see a friendly face – although she looked genuinely frightened when she realised it was us.  One of the midwives cancelled her clinic to accompany me and The Boy drove separately and met us there.

I was taken to the delivery unit and hooked up to the CTG machine that monitors baby’s heartbeat, movements and uterine activity – i.e. whether I’m having any contractions or not.  All seemed fine.  Again, they couldn’t work out the cause for the bleed but by this time I had soaked through another pad so they could see for themselves it was serious.  I was admitted overnight and had regular observations taken of both me and the baby over the next thirty-six hours.  They also scanned the baby which revealed that he or she had grown really well since the last scan and there was no evidence of any bleeding inside the womb.  The sonographer also checked the placental and umbilical cord blood flow and they were fine too.

The medics have ruled out the ectropian because I bled too much, plus I hadn’t had intercourse within 24 hours so there was no reason for it to bleed without any kind of “trauma” to bring it on.  They ruled out a placental abruption – again, because there was too much blood plus I wasn’t in any pain.  It wasn’t a clot because the baby’s heartbeat was too good – plus they would have seen it on the scan.  So the only diagnosis left was “unexplained cause”.

They discharged me on Thursday night with advice to rest, but not too much as this could cause a blood clot – no pressure to get the balance right then!  My community midwife arranged for me to be seen every day for a week to check baby’s heartbeat for reassurance which was amazing of her.   The next day I returned to the AAU that I’d thrown into such a panic earlier that week.  Apparently they’d been ringing up the maternity hospital to check on me as they’d been so worried!  They repeated a CTG on the baby which again was fine, however my pulse-rate ranged from 106-120 (anything above 100 is abnormal) so I was advised to rest more.  Yesterday and today my pulse appears to have settled and I am feeling a bit happier about things.  My community midwife has just been to visit me at home and the baby’s heartbeat is fine at the moment.

So here’s my dilemma.  I feel well and the baby seems to be okay at the moment.  So I feel that I should return to work.  But my midwife thinks I should be signed off for a few weeks because it might happen again and the baby’s life is at risk.  Ridiculous as this might sound I’m not sure what to do for the best.  If I go off for a few weeks chances are that my work might insist that I start materity leave early and if all goes well with the baby I’d rather not lose out on precious time that I could be having with him or her next year by starting my leave early.  On the other hand, more importantly,  I don’t want to risk having no baby at all just because I want to maximise my maternity leave.  All the medics and other midwives have said that bleeding can just happen and that it can be fine, but having lost multiple pregnancies already do I want to take that risk?  Would it help?  Undoubtedly my work is busy and incredibly intense and under my new boss I find myself working late almost every day.  In addition I was getting up early, rushing to the swimming baths before work, and then trying to fit in some yoga at the end of the day.  The day I began to bleed I remember I’d texted The Boy saying “I feel like death”.  Perhaps I’ve been pushing myself too hard?  I wonder if there’s a way to reduce my hours and my caseload instead?  When I initially found out I was pregnant my boss referred me to Occupational Health at five weeks pregnant.  I’ll be twenty-nine weeks tomorrow and I’m still waiting for an appointment despite having chased it twice.

After everything I’ve been through I can’t quite believe that I’m facing the possibility of losing this baby, particularly as it seems to be developing okay.  I know that the right thing to do is to ask to be signed off now and hope for the best.  But if I stay off work will I let myself get even more worried about losing the baby?  Is it better to have some distraction? Having read through this I think I’ve talked myself into visiting my GP and asking for some time off.  My baby’s life is just too important.

What would you do?

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26 weeks!

This time last year was probably the most difficult stage of our journey to have a child so far.  I was in the midst of fighting my case to persuade our CCG to grant funding for IVF and I was terrified that they’d say no again.  If I’d known then that just a year later I’d have a decent-sized bump, looking at my baby on an ultrasound scan at twenty-six weeks I really don’t think I’d have believed it.

Of course it hasn’t been plain sailing.  I never really allow it be!  I have started to enjoy being pregnant and I check out my bump multiple times a day.  But as I became more aware of our baby’s pattern of movement I knew it would lead to a meltdown when I couldn’t feel the baby in the same way as I’d become used to.  This happened over the last two days.  On Sunday I’d noticed a slight reduction in movements but I put it down to being out of my weekday routine.  By the end of Monday I’d barely felt the baby kick and I spent 3.5 hours lying on my left side, eating ice-cream and drinking cold, fizzy sugary drinks.  It worked and the baby kicked a few times but that was largely it.  I am used to being kicked a lot now!  Eventually The Boy & I visited our local triage unit.  As soon as I sat on the blue sofa in the waiting area the baby kicked!  They measured me, checked the heartbeat & asked me to stay for half an hour to take a trace of the baby’s movements and heartbeat.  It turns out this baby was moving a lot but I just couldn’t feel it at all.  I have a posterior placenta so I should have good sensation of the movements so they couldn’t really explain why, but thought it had probably just moved to somewhere with more space to move its limbs around.  Just as we were leaving the midwife mentioned I was measuring small and asked us to return this morning for a growth scan.  By this point it was about 2am so you can imagine I didn’t get much sleep last night!  On a side note a couple who had also gone to triage last night left shortly before us WITH THEIR BABY!  The man looked completely shell-shocked whilst the woman was beaming.  The Boy overheard him saying the baby was premature and he became worried (& a little bit excited) that we too might leave with a baby in tow!  I’m assuming they were wheeled off to a ward somewhere but I think she must have been further along than I am, because she was holding it in a blanket.

Anyway, after a sleepless night the growth scan turned out to be fine.  The baby was back in the range of normal and it was suggested that because I’m tall (6ft) my bump may be smaller because the baby has more space? Who knows!  The sonographer checked my fluid levels and my placenta so I feel like I’ve had a fairly robust MOT.  It was also really lovely to see the baby again.  I tried to sneak a peak at the gender area – there was nothing obvious but even the sonographer wasn’t sure if she was looking at an arm or a leg at one point so it probably wasn’t the clearest picture!  My husband wants a surprise & I do too really but I’d also love to know.

On another side note I made the epic mistake of buying myself a second-hand swimsuit on eBay.  Never do this!  In hindsight I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea but I begrudged spending £30 on something I’d only wear for a few months so I went on eBay instead and found a really pretty costume.  When it arrived I naturally checked the crotch to make sure it was clean and there was a crusty layer of something resembling vaginal discharge on it!!  I had to construct an awkward message explaining that it wasn’t clean ( I didn’t go into details but figured she’d find the stain when I sent it back) & requested a refund.  I know I could have washed it myself but I just couldn’t have worn it knowing what had been there – yikes!!

So there we are.  Twenty-six weeks, still totally anxious and expecting to miscarry any day but enjoying being pregnant more and more, finding fun in the little things again and even managing to relax at times!

I cannot believe it’s been so long since I last posted a blog. Apologies for not posting.  I haven’t wanted to tempt fate by putting too many updates onto here but I still love reading other people’s blogs and felt that I really ought to put something down in writing about the past few months.

I’m now almost twenty-one weeks pregnant which is a milestone I have never come anywhere near to acheiving before.  I’m still struggling to believe it quite.  I’ve had a myriad of scans, mostly private (already this baby has cost us just over £1000 in scans alone!).  Now that my midwife can check the heartbeat for me however I have stopped paying for scans – I’ve absolutely loved seeing he/she grow over the weeks but really I only need to know that it’s alive.

From my gynae’s perspective my big hurdle was the ten week scan with a Harmony test that checks for Down’s, Patau’s & Edwards syndromes.  He’s based in a private IVF clinic that doesn’t really deal with recurrent miscarriages (despite this being his NHS specialism) so his team, although used to highly strung women, is not used to the level of anxiety that I carry around with me.  Upon refusing to pay for the Harmony test until I had seen for myself that the baby was alive the receptionist asked if it was likely to have died.  My response?  “Of course! It’s highly likely!” to which she replied that it had never happened there so she didn’t know what to do.  Finally she agreed to let me pay after the scan and I sheepishly shuffled out thirty minutes later with my credit card in hand and a very happy smile.

So far everything seems to be okay.  The Harmony test revealed we were in the lowest risk category and the anomaly scan showed that the baby has grown within the range of normal with no obvious concerns.  He/she seemed pretty reluctant to roll so we have to go back in two weeks for another scan to photograph the spine.  The sonographer did a lot of prodding and sent us for a walk.  When we returned the baby had put its legs right over its head yoga style and was not to be tempted to turn!  She seemed to think she’d seen enough to say the spine looks fine but she still needs a photo.  Another chance to see the baby is always fine by me!  Interestingly she started the scan by using the pronoun his instead of its when pointing out features.  Once she asked us if we wanted to know the gender and we said “no” she changed to it.  I’m not convinced that this means she slipped up.  She would have had to have determined the gender straightaway & I’m not sure its that easy to see so I’m hoping it’s a generic use of the term as it’s better than it.

One thing that has been worrying me though is the possibility of cervical incompetence.  This is mainly because one of the girls on the forum has just lost her baby at 22 weeks from this and as someone who had two D&Cs within nine months I am at a higher risk for this.  I’ve also been having bleeding after intercourse which had been worrying me a little although it always stopped immediately, plus some feelings of pressure down there as though the baby is about to fall out at any minute!  I managed to push for an urgent examination which was yesterday and was discovered that my cervix is a good length – phew! – but that it is ectropian which basically means I have soft skin cells on the outside of my cervix (like we have inside our cheeks) and they’re meant to be tough like the skin on our outer body.  So any kind of messing about down there (i.e. sex!) is likely to cause bleeding.  It’s caused by hormones so you can get it while you’re on the pill or whilst pregnant but its totally harmless.

Baby is starting to move around which is lovely and hopefully this will start to soothe my nerves once he/she gets into a regular pattern.  At the moment it’s hit and miss but I’m hoping this is because it’s still early days movement-wise.  Plus I have an awesome midwife who has a similar history to me so she’s offered to see me weekly because she gets why I’ve been so nervous.

So all is good right now.  I haven’t forgotten those who are still struggling though and I’ve been as careful as I can to be sensitive to their needs.  At my 12 week scan I was scanned immediately after a couple who had clearly been given bad news.  This happened again at my fifteen week scan too.  And I couldn’t help but feel their pain because it’s still very real to me, despite my current position of abundance.  I don’t know that I’ll ever forget the pain of miscarriage.  I still think we need to talk about infertility and miscarriage more and I’ve been pretty open about my history to anyone who asks about the pregnancy.  I do intend to do more – Tommy’s has some awesome fundraising events to raise awareness so I think I’ll pursue that in the future.

Anyway, that’s enough for now  🙂

A litle relief …

The scan went well. After warning the sonographer about my history – and my week! – she whipped the screen away from me before inserting the dildo-cam and asked me to give her time to look first.  But almost straight away she turned it back and showed me a much larger looking embryo than last week with a “perfect” heartbeat.  It’s measuring 8 weeks exactly so it’s had a bit of a growth spurt and is 2 days ahead.  It even wiggled its bottom during the scan – the sonographer videoed it for us!

They couldn’t locate the cause of the bleeding. They suggested that it could have been a result of me pushing the pessaries in way too far. Apparently that can cause the cervix to bleed, in addition to being on Clexane & Aspirin which hadn’t occurred to me as a possible cause.

Anyone that reads my blog regularly will know that I err on the side of pessimism and on the rare occasions I have embraced the positive it’s blown up spectacularly in my face, so for now I can’t yet allow myself to become anything other than neutral about this.  I am so relieved that my scan was positive but unless I can be attached to the dildo-cam for the next seven months I cannot be sure that it’s still fine now.  This is because with my first pregnancy I had a great scan at 8 weeks 2 days and the embryo died the next day.  So I still go to the toilet with fear and trepidation, I am still worried about every twinge and I still fear a disaster around the corner.  But I am hopeful that these feelings might begin to subside one day, hopefully if this pregnancy progresses successfully.

Thanks for the positive comments and thoughts.  I’ll take all the positivity I can get right now!

Falling down

I had hoped that I would have some good news to share.  June was the month that I was going to do my first proper ICSI cycle, regardless of how many follicles I had.  I decided I had become a real negative drain and so throughout May I switched my attention to becoming the life and soul of the party – not something I am known for!  I relaxed, I laughed, I drank gin and ate gluten and … I fell pregnant.  Cycle on hold.

This time I passed through weeks four and five with no bleeding.  I managed my stress through hypnosis and I was pretty chilled – for me!  I had a HCG test which was “sky high”.  Last week I had a scan and measured exactly where I should be: 6 weeks and 5 days with a healthy looking heartbeat.  My consultant described it as “textbook”.  Phew!  They even gave us a photo.  We’ve never had a photo before – even the sonographer became tearful at that point.

And then three days later I began to bleed.  Brown mucus at first, but today it’s progressed to red fluid.  My boobs were a bit sore until Monday – they’re not any more.  I felt a bit sick last week – I don’t any more.

I have another scan tomorrow and I’m desperate to hear that the embryo is doing well but my past experiences really don’t give me much hope.  I feel so responsible for this.  My body is failing us again.  I have worked so hard over the last three years to have a healthy baby but I fall down every time I try. And I’m not sure how many more times I can get myself back up.

Positivity has left the building

A few weeks ago, when I attended my endometrial scratch, I asked what would happen if I didn’t produce enough follicles.  The nurse said that it would be cancelled but “that almost never happens; it won’t happen to you”.  On Easter Sunday my cycle was cancelled as I still only had one good-sized follicle.  The doctor’s advice was to take the HCG trigger on Sunday evening and try naturally this month.  My consultant rang me last night and advised that I’m likely to get the same response on the next cycle and that as I’m on the top dose of treatment there is very little that we can do except go ahead with egg retrieval and see what is collected.  He did say that as I had a few smaller follicles growing he could give me a drug that coordinates them to all grow at the same time.  That could be good.  So last week I was crying because I thought I’d only have five follicles.  This week I’m devastated that I only have one.

After investing in therapy to make me positive I had actually begun to believe that IVF would work for us.  Now I am struggling to come to terms with the fact that I may very well remain infertile for the rest of my life.  I can’t accept it – it actually frightens me to think I’ll never carry my own child.  My pregnant colleague makes it look so effortless – I know she’s not finding her pregnancy easy but I am so envious of her today.  I wasn’t envious a few weeks ago because I really thought it would be my turn soon.  Now I realise that it probably won’t be.

Currently I’m dosed up on HCG and Progesterone, on the off-chance that I’ve magically conceived a healthy pregnancy naturally this month.  It’s laughable really.  I feel embarrassed, as though I’m pretending that I might be pregnant.  How can I have conceived when all the medicine in the world of IVF didn’t yield a thing?

I’m also stressing because I’m stressed and if I have magically conceived then stress won’t help with implantation because it might cause my uterus to contract.  Aargh!

IVF is now on hold until June – a full twelve months after starting the IVF process (how many follicles might I have had if the CCG had simply said “yes” straightaway?).  I’m an emotional wreck which is probably a combination of normal disappointment and the cocktail of hormones I’m currently taking.  I have no other choice but to wait, but it breaks me every time there is a delay such as this.  I am heartbroken and there is no positivity left in me at present.

1, 2, 3, oh!

It’s Day 8 of my cycle so I went for a scan to check my lining and follicle growth. My lining thickness is good so that’s a relief. The not so good news is that I only have 3 follicles on the left ovary and 2 small ones on the right. Only 1 is a good size. The others will need more drugs to stimulate them to grow to a usable size. In December I had 7 follicles on day 3 of my cycle. In March I had 14 follicles on day 27. I hate to sound whingy and negative but I have to wonder why, when it really matters, have I now only got 5? I’m on the highest dose of fsh yet it seems to have had the opposite effect? And why has my previously good right ovary suddenly shut down?

The nurse didn’t have any answers and just confirmed my fears that this number is “not great” – her words, not mine.

I have another scan on Easter Sunday so we’ll hopefully see a decent improvement but I’m trying to prepare myself for bad news. The nurse stressed that it’s early days so fingers crossed the next few days brings me more follicles.