Another miscarriage

I haven’t blogged for a while. I’ve been busy getting pregnant … and miscarrying again. It’s this thing I do. This time the odds were stacked against me from before I even conceived. I began to realise through the summer that I either wasn’t ovulating or I was ovulating so late that I missed it. In September I finally succumbed & bought a clearblue fertility monitor. I ovulated on day 22 of my perfect 28-day cycle & got pregnant. Alarm bells began to ring – I needed 10 days post ovulation for a pregnancy to survive. My GP dismissed my concerns. “Ovulation tests are completely unreliable”, he told me, “you only need to ovulate to get pregnant – timing isn’t important”. I wanted to believe him so I chose to do so & left, happily believing what everyone had told me – that it couldn’t possibly happen to me again. This baby would be fine.

A couple of weeks later I woke in the night & realised that all my pregnancy symptoms had disappeared. If I was going by my last AF I was 7 weeks pregnant so I rang the EPU. As I’d had 3 previous miscarriages they got me in straight away for a scan. My husband & I sat with all the very obviously pregnant women and waited. I’d duly downed a litre of water and the wait was unbearable. I waited over an hour with a full bladder – sheer torture! The scan showed a viable pregnancy sac but no heartbeat. We were told it could be too soon & we were booked to come back in a week.

About 8 weeks earlier a girl that I really dislike at work had told me that she was pregnant. She knew about my losses & she’d had a blighted ovum earlier in the year so we’d shared similar experiences. I’d appreciated her giving me the heads up about her pregnancy but with me being the only person who knew about it I was the only person she then chose to confide in about how awful she was feeling & how difficult it was to hide being pregnant so it was a relief when she finally announced it to the team. That said, her timing couldn’t have been worse. It was three days before my second scan, two days before my birthday. All of a sudden she went from wearing loose clothing to figure hugging outfits that showed off her bump. Knowing my history everyone looked to me to see how I was reacting to the situation (nobody knew I was actually pregnant again, let alone potentially miscarrying) & I had no choice but to smile, ask questions about her latest scan & generally coo over the news.

My second scan revealed a heartbeat but a very slow one. My baby was growing but also probably dying. That day the pregnant colleague wore a tight black & white stripey dress with a red belt around her bump and I signed myself off work. I didn’t begrudge her her excitement but each time I saw her I felt as though I’d been kicked in the stomach. I decided to eliminate the stress factor & took a week off. Sadly that turned into four weeks as the final scan confirmed that the baby had died, funnily enough it died on the day of the red belt & tight dress. I was swiftly put forward for surgery (at my request as natural and medical methods haven’t really worked for me before) & the next day I was first in the operating theatre.

I never intended to take so much time off work. Last year I took a day after the medical management & two days after the surgery. Work was my rehab & I needed it to get me through. This time I barely functioned for two weeks. I spoke to nobody. All I could do was read up on miscarriage and try to decipher why I’d fallen foul to it again and what I could possibly do to avoid it. I read books, blogs, articles, forums. In the final week I took up yoga, meditation and I visited a herbalist who took me off wheat, dairy, sugar and she encouraged me to go organic. She also helped me work out how to get through my first day back at work and somehow I managed it. Gradually my mood lifted & lifted until I was almost alarmingly euphoric. I didn’t baulk at the pregnant colleague who had tied a bow around her bump on my second day back. On the contrary I was amused. I dug out some compassion from somewhere and showed a genuine interest in her baby and in the discomfort she’d been experiencing. I realised that I had to do this if I was going to cope. It was obvious that everyone had guessed my situation and were watching “the show”. My boss sought regular updates and she passed them onto her boss & in turn they fed back their perspectives on the situation & also comments that others had made. Unintentionally and without malice they let it be known to me that I was the office gossip. So I had to cope and find a way to move their attention away from me so that I could get on with the very private process of grieving.

I’m not that euphoric anymore. I feel more like me & this Christmas I should have had a six month old baby, or be happily pregnant and not have the heavy heart that I have instead. Like so many others going through this I’ve held onto the good things in life and this has helped me to stay positive. This is particularly easy for me as I work in a brain injury unit. I’m thankful that I can walk, talk, eat, work, go out when I want and have fun. Plus I still have hope. Whatever happens, one day I’ll be a mum. What I really lack though and what would have been a really useful Christmas gift this year is Patience.

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So comedy didn’t work

This month is our first month of trying since our due date. When the day arrived my period came too and I felt like a weight had been removed from my shoulders because the pressure to be pregnant by my due date was gone. So I relaxed and got my comedy out after sex & decided to chill out about trying. Everyone has told me that I just need to relax so now that I am surely this will be our month?

My period came five days early on the first day of my holiday. I have to be grateful for the kindness of my body letting me know it’s okay to eat soft cheese and pate & drink alcohol so that I can at least enjoy my holiday. It’s such an irony that I love my body for doing that but also hate it for failing again.

This time I stopped bleeding the same day, then bled heavily for 3 days, stopped for a day & then had one last day of bleeding. Google tells me that I may have a weak uterus. Let’s just add it to the list! Is it something to be worried about? I have no idea.

Ah well, back to the fun of trying.

The two week wait – take 6

So this is our fifth month of trying post miscarriage. I know that 6 months is really not long but again I’ve been feeling so impatient to get pregnant.

This month I’ve read online (so it must be true!) that women who were visited by a comedian after ivf implantation were far more likely to conceive than those who didn’t. I like this idea, so this month after sex I’ve been watching Lee Mack on YouTube to relax me & make me laugh. He would be quite mortified if he knew! Rhod Gilbert was good too but he gets so angry at times so I went back to Lee Mack.

My period is due next week while I’m on holiday. More precisely it’s at the very end so I won’t know if I can safely drink wine or eat pate or soft cheese until the end. This is a problem because I’m going to France! That’s my entire holiday diet out of the window and I’ll be gutted when my period arrives & I’ve abstained for no reason.

I’m driving myself mad by over-analysing non-existent symptoms. I lay on the floor and noticed my boobs felt uncomfortable – do they normally feel uncomfortable when I lie on the floor? I can’t remember. My cat jumped on my left boob in the night & it felt really tender – is it possible that I’m pregnant or does it usually hurt when she digs 4kg of weight into my nipple? Then I wonder what were my symptoms last time? Fainting. Then I get upset because I am not fainting! It’s ridiculous. I have eight to ten more days to go of this. I will be doolally by then.

And this month I was supposed to be calm and not thinking about it!

Carrying on

The next couple of weeks were the hardest of my life to date. A close friend of my parents’ hanged herself on the same day I found out I’d miscarried. My poor mum couldn’t get over it. She couldn’t support me & I couldn’t really say much to support her.

I chose to have medical management a few days later. I opted for that because somehow it felt too clinical, almost too easy to have the D&C. I felt like I owed it to my baby to suffer & feel pain because that seemed to me to be the only way I’d fully accept it.

It’s weird the things I remember from that day. I remember being really pleased that I was offered toast because I give my patients toast and often fancy it myself because it’s white bread which we never buy. My husband loves Jeremy Kyle so that was on the TV while I was writhing in unbelievable pain. The tv is only free for an hour or two so I remember it stopping & me feeling so grateful. And then bleeding, bleeding, vomiting, diarrhoea, crying, more bleeding & then I passed the foetus. Suddenly the pain stopped. I bled on for a few more hours and then I was allowed home. Dave made me sit on a continence pad – so I didn’t bleed in his car!

The next day I cried and cried. I was told later it was a hormone surge. I rang my mum but she didn’t want to speak to me. She told me it was done now so I should get over it. I was shocked. She couldn’t be sympathetic – looking back I see that she was grieving for her friend. I rang one of my sisters who told me that mum would never get her friend back but I’d have another baby. She said I’d never really had it so I’d had nothing to lose. All the usual unhelpful things well meaning people come out with because they’ve never experienced it and so don’t realise it’s the last thing we need to hear. And yes she had a colleague who had a miscarriage last year but guess what, she’s just about to have a baby now. She suggested I leave mum alone and not try to contact her.

So I went back to work. Being at work was my support mechanism. And it really did help.

The Missed Miscarriage that I didn’t Miss

I suffered a few more episodes of spotting after my big bleed at my friend’s house. The midwife said it was entirely normal and told me not to worry. My mum used to be a midwife & she wasn’t so sure. All I could do was wait for my 12 week scan and hope for the best.

My husband was convinced it was all fine but I just didn’t feel right. I was still vomiting & my boobs were really sore, but I wasn’t exhausted like I used to be & somehow I just didn’t feel pregnant. I was even starting to show by 11 weeks. It was more at night than at any other time & I knew it was just fluid but it helped to reassure me as I was worrying that I’d miscarried.

It was two weeks before Christmas when the big day finally arrived & we went to the hospital for our scan. Dave was so excited! He’d got the exact change to pay for the photo & he planned to hand it round at his Christmas party that weekend. The sonographer wanted to do if we wanted tests for Down syndrome at the 20 week scan & I remember saying “I’m not convinced this baby’s alive so I’m not too worried about that now”.

She started the scan and immediately asked if I had had any bleeding. I explained the history and she said “what I’m looking at here is very small for twelve weeks”. I was still no clearer – was it still okay then but just a bit small? Was that bad? She hadn’t said it was dead … and then she clarified “there’s no heartbeat”.

I just looked at Dave & told him I was sorry. He was gobsmacked. He simply hadn’t seen it coming. We had to be taken past everyone in the waiting room to the EPU to discuss options. I chose medical management because it seemed too quick and too clinical to have surgery. I felt I needed to suffer and I also felt that I owed it to the baby to pass it out naturally. Although it was right for me at the time it didn’t work. I passed the baby (I know I should call it a foetus as it was only 8 weeks, but it would be my baby right now if it had survived so I still call it that).

More signs

I’d spent the night visiting my friend when I had my proper bleed. She’d been really excited as she knew I’d decided to start trying. She’d got pregnant literally on the first attempt so I’d been starting to feel the pressure – most of my friends got pregnant on the first time too. Hmph.

The next morning I went to the loo and passed a huge clot. I was literally beside myself but I wasn’t in my home town and my friend had taken her son to a drama class. I told her husband and he looked a bit worried. I was meeting some more friends for coffee that morning and decided to travel there & reassess the situation. I phoned the EPU who advised to wait a few days or if I was gushing blood then I should attend A&E so I just tried to relax and distract myself. That was on the Saturday. By Tuesday I was in pain and had some bleeding still so I went to the EPU who said they couldn’t scan me because it was less than a week since my last scan. The nurse said my cervix was closed which was good & that if I was really having a miscarriage I’d know about it because I’d be in agony with heavy bleeding. She told me to stop being paranoid, literally laughed at me for worrying (& made me laugh at myself for being silly) & then sent me home.

I really regret not pushing for a scan that week. It was another month before I learned that my baby had actually died that weekend while I was at my friend’s house.

Bleeding…

When I was six and a half weeks pregnant 2 things happened at the same time. 1) One of my patients went for a full body scan & when she returned I spent an hour with her talking about her therapy needs. I was later told that I should avoid her if I was pregnant or trying to conceive because the radiation from the scan had made her ‘radioactive’. The nurse had forgotten to send the memo to my team. I started bleeding that night. I can only think it must have been a coincidence. I don’t know enough about the science behind these things but I don’t know if that exposure was enough to kill my baby or if it was simply a naturally occurring chromosome deficiency.

That wasn’t helped by 2) the ward had an outbreak of diarrhoea and vomiting at the same time, which typically I picked up. I was off for a few days but my GP was concerned about me losing nutrients that the baby needed.

I went for a scan and was reassured to see my baby’s heartbeat flashing away on the screen. It was still alive! However we were warned that we were vulnerable to having a miscarriage in the future. I went back to work & 2 weeks later we returned for another scan (just standard procedure) & saw the baby again. It was all fine, the baby was growing appropriately & so I stopped worrying & started telling a few close friends – the sort I’d want to know even if I miscarried.

My mum turned out to be incapable of keeping things quiet and asked me to tell my siblings so she didn’t have to worry about letting it slip. Reluctantly I did so – I have 6 siblings. I didn’t tell one of them because he never told me about his last 2 children plus he lives in Australia and I hate Skype & email seemed the wrong way to tell him.

2 days after my second scan I had a massive bleed.