Tag Archives: recurrent pregnancy loss

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  🙂

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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.

Awakening the unconscious mind

So it’s been a while!  I signed myself off work after my last post – that turned into several weeks as I continued to faint, posing a risk to both myself and more importantly to my patients.  I wasn’t allowed back and this kind of forced my hand.  I was suddenly in a position where I had no choice but to take stock, to grieve properly and to start living again. Otherwise my health was really going to suffer.  During this period I have changed a lot.

I began to see a cognitive hypnotherapist (the one that’s pregnant!).  I have to say she’s been amazing and by some small miracle she has turned me into a positive thinker!  Anybody who has read my blog will not have failed to notice that I have erred on the side of pessismism throughout this journey.  This is a natural protective mechanism that often helps us not to be too disapointed when things don’t go so well.  But it was starting to do me some harm.  I had become struck with terror the moment I discovered I was pregnant for fear of miscarrying (which I inevitably did) and when I collapsed at work back in January I had started to project this terror into my proposed IVF.  I’d convinced myself it couldn’t work.  Then I convinced myself that I had already ruined it with my negative thoughts and I began blaming myself (somewhat pre-emptively!).  I couldn’t break away from this awful circle of negativity.

My “homework” was to spend time listening to hypnosis recordings developed specifically for me, walking in the woods (my happy place), going out for coffee and cake, doing yoga, reading for pleasure, sitting by the fire, enjoying a glass of wine and painting.  Slowly but surely the weight literally lifted from my shoulders.  I’d been having regular massages as my shoulder stiffness was causing headaches – they stopped about six weeks ago.  I began to laugh at my husband’s bad jokes.  I could begin to see positive intentions behind people’s actions – something I’d always struggled to do before, believing that the entire world was somehow against me.  I began to smile more and more, about nothing in particular.  Now, and I can’t believe I am actually writing this, I AM EXCITED ABOUT IVF!  I’m still fully aware of the stats; there is still a chance it won’t work.  But I don’t know the outcome yet, so I have nothing to be fearful of yet.  Who knows, it might actually work!  Stats-wise I seem to have good odds.  I have a 42% chance of success with the first cycle; this rises to 65% in cycle 2 and rises again to about 78% in cycle 3.  At some point it plateaus but we can only really manage 3 cycles (2 on the NHS & we’ll fund 1).

I’m starting to lean away from the herbs & all the alternative stuff.  I’m still organic where I can be but I’m not rigid about it.  I’m not massaging my belly anymore – it was always done in such a rush with no feelings of positivity & it put pressure on my bladder.  It just wasn’t pleasant so I’ve binned that.  I thought I’d feel guilty about giving it all up but for the first time in ages I think I am finally thinking clearly.  My most successful pregnancies (as a good friend pointed out) were when I wasn’t doing any of this stuff.  I’m still having acupuncture because the evidence for this is well-established.

I finally had my surgery by the way.  It hurt like a mother!  That was ten days ago.  Apparently it went really well and the cycst (which had grown again) came away easily.  She checked my the outside of my tubes and the right ovary – all normal – and said the endo wasn’t that bad so she didn’t need to remove it.  She said I might lose some follicles through the surgery but said that we have millions so to lose a few is okay.  Millions?!  I pointed out that I only had five on my right ovary in December and that my follicles were pretty precious to me.  Hopefully none were lost but I’ll never know because the cyst was blocking them anyway.

Typically the surgery occurred the day before I was due to ovulate so the surgeon said I probably wouldn’t release an egg due to the shock, so this month is out.  But she did say that I could start IVF as soon as I feel ready.  I’ll see what my gynae says on Friday but even if he says we can start this month I think I’ll wait until April.  It’s my sister’s 50th on April 1st and we’re going to Lundy Island for a walking & drinking weekend.  That’s basically all there is to do there and I don’t want to be abstaining or worrying about whether I’ve walked too far and all that crap.  It’s worth waiting just one more month I think.

In other pregnancy news my colleague texted me to confirm that I was right, she is pregnant.  I literally must have guessed the week that she found out.  I haven’t seen her yet but my stomach no longer lurches when I see that she’s texted me – I’m just genuinely pleased for her.  A fellow recurrent miscarrier who I met through a forum has also just discovered she’s pregnant again.  I used to stress about other people getting pregnant before me but I now feel pretty neutral about it, like I used to feel about pregnancy before I started trying.  Of course, I still have sporadic twinges of jealousy but they are momentary and I move on pretty quickly.  Sadly two other friends have miscarried recently. One of them must have miscarried 4-5 times in the last twelve months.  The other one has been told by her husband not to tell anyone about it, which perpetuates this feeling of shame that is so dominant in the miscarriage culture.  I totally see why he feels like this though. Tommy’s has a really good campaign for men and women to speak out about their experiences: https://www.tommys.org/miscourage-stories.  I’ve sent them my story but they’ve been so inundated with stories that they’re struggling to put them all onto the site.  It’s so telling that it’s such an unspoken issue, yet they’ve had such a huge response.

In other non-pregnancy news, I’ve rediscovered furniture painting.  I’ll put some before & after pics up once I’ve worked out how.  It’s amazing for mindful therapy.  And we’re having a new bathrom installed, so we’ll have no shower or bath for two weeks starting today.  I’m going to have to join a gym!

So all in all it’s good.  I think the fainting was my unconscious trying to tell me it couldn’t cope.  Apparently this is super common when an event happens that the mind feels too traumatised by to process, so it comes out in physical symptoms.  I stopped fainting about three weeks ago & my new boss seems to be very supportive.  He stopped me returning early twice to make sure I gave myelf a good rest before and after the surgery.  I’m starting back on Monday so wish me luck!

Clinging on

After my initial disappointment of not being able to start IVF this week I pacified myself with the thought that it was just a two month delay & that we’d be able to get started in March.  “No problem” I persuaded myself, “it’s a short wait & it’ll be worth it”.  Happily I got on with Christmas and cheered up.

This week however, I am in meltdown.

I contacted the hospital on Friday to ask whether a date has been set for the laparoscopy – they have no referral from my doctor.  Furthermore they can’t set a date until I’ve had an appointment to sign the consent forms etc. but that relies on him writing the referral.  I rang his office today and he’s written to me today (3 weeks after my appointment) to say it’ll take 6-8 weeks for a laparoscopy which is not what he said in the appointment.  So it’s not looking like I’ll have the surgery in January.  I get that so far I’ve only been extended by three months, not two, and that’s still not so long.  But  the doctor first said I could have IVF in June, then he said I didn’t qualify, then he said I would qualify but I’d have to write a letter and wait until September, then I got rejected twice for funding, then I got accepted but told to wait until December, then I was told January, then March and now April.  How many more times will I get pushed back?

In the meantime the colleague I’ve been suspecting of being pregnant is behaving more like she’s pregnant everyday.  And the awful Colleague will be back in May – probably just as my first cycle of IVF (if I ever get it) fails.

I am thinking super negatively at the moment.  I’m aware that it’s not good but I can’t keep positive.  I was positive a few times: 1) when I first got pregnant, 2) when I got pregnant the second time and 3) when I went to my last appointment where they scanned me because I’d been scanned so many times before I didn’t think there would be any shocks.  I was wrong to think positive – it doesn’t work for me.  I feel stupid when I’m positive and I turn out to be wrong.

I’ve decided to see a hypnotherapist.  I carefully selected the one I felt would be the best for me.  I’ve booked an appointment & committed to an extortionate fee.  Guess what?  She’s fucking pregnant.

Ummmm what?

Today I had a trans vaginal ultrasound to check my ovaries and uterus are okay. I’ve had loads of these and so I thought nothing if it. On an amusing note (to me anyway) the chair was lifted in such a way that my vagina was quite literally in front of my sonographer’s face. What a job that must be! It was a surreal experience to have a completely casual conversation with my vagina right on display like this!
Anyhow, as is now becoming the norm with me the conversation soon stopped being casual. I’ve always known I have a cyst in my left ovary – apparently it was nothing to worry about. Until now. Unfortunately the cyst in my left ovary is too big for IVF as it’s covering my follicles. If they try to retrieve any eggs they will likely burst the cyst and this runs a high risk of infection. My doctor isn’t willing to risk this with me.
Additionally I also have “a touch of endometriosis”. He says there’s a link between egg health and endo plus it explains my high FSH and low AMH (which has now dropped from 10 to 7 since March). Finally I only have 5 follicles in the right ovary which is otherwise perfect. On the plus side my uterus lining  (which I have been obsessed about being too thin) is currently an average thickness – so that’s pleased me at least.
The upshot of all this is that IVF is on hold pending laparoscopic surgery to remove the cyst. Hopefully this will happen in January so that we can be ready to start in my March cycle.

Obviously “disappointed” is an understatement but I’m hopeful that it’s going to align us with a more favourable outcome in the long term. I always felt there was more to my subfertility than just The Boy’s sperm. It just didn’t add up. But endometriosis has always been the one thing I’ve never thought I’d have, given how light, regular and (usually) painfree my periods are. I’m very confused.

At least I have a few more months to recover from the weekend’s drinking session! Another plus side is that I was reading Hello magazine or something similar and there was an article about some actress who had finally got pregnant after 11 years. She finally moved to our clinic, saw my doctor and got pregnant with twins on the first go. It reassured me that I have him. I know he isn’t a miracle worker but he does seem to know his stuff.

So stupid

It was our work Christmas night out last night and in view of the IVF next month I had decided not to drink. At the very last minute I decided that I’d be fine to have a couple of glasses of wine and asked The Boy to drive me. Big mistake!

I appear to be literally incapable of just having two glasses of wine, even though having a baby is absolutely the most important thing to me. I went with the flow of the group and consequently had about two thirds of a bottle of wine and a cocktail. Now it’s 7am on a Sunday morning and I can’t sleep for the guilt (and also the room is spinning slightly).

I simply don’t understand why I do this. I’ve probably ruined any healthy eggs  I have left and if the IVF fails next month I’ll blame myself. And rightly so! I haven’t had drunk since October and I just wanted to enjoy a decent glass of wine. I really hope that I haven’t ruined our chances of success.

 

Moving towards ICSI

In about four weeks time I’ll be starting my first cycle of ICSI.  My feelings about this are bitter sweet.  I’m excited of course.  I’m hopeful that it’ll work and that I can put my sadness behind me.  Sometimes I allow myself to believe, just briefly, that it really might work.  And that’s so lovely!  Then logic kicks in and reminds me that statistics are not on our side; my clinic reports a 35%-40% success rate for ICSI in my age-group.  Positively, I thought the stats would be lower and I like to think I’m in the young end of the age bracket (I’ve recently turned 36) and hopefully that helps our odds somewhat.  On the negative side the incidence of things like cerebral palsy and downs increases with IVF.  My only suggestion for why is that women who do IVF are typically older than those who don’t and developmental disorders are often associated with older women.  Probably I’m now classed as an older woman – maybe those things are a risk for me now too.  I know that my egg quality isn’t great, and I suspect my lining might be too thin.  These things will cause problems for us in ICSI.

Anyway, we’ve signed our consent forms.  We had to watch a couple of hours of videos and complete a quiz after each section.   It’s quite a sobering process, learning about how it all works, what can go wrong, the ethics involved, the storage of embryos etc. they cover a lot to make sure we’re fully informed.

We saw our consultant on the day that Panorama did an expose on the Zita West clinic amongst others, stating that a lot of fertility clinics are extortionists.  Our consultant told us about the programme, suggesting that we watch it.  We have agreed to pay for an extra – £680 for an embryoscope to watch the cells develop without disturbing them.  We’re getting everything else for free so I think it’s okay to pay out for this.  The theory is that some cells might develop quickly but not as well as others, so when you get to day 3 or day 5 you really need to see how they developed as well as how far they developed to make sure you’ve got the best one.

My biggest worry is that I don’t know if I’ll manage to produce many eggs.  Apparently my AMH is borderline okay/not okay.  So I’m having the top dose of FSH to maximise my chances of producing lots of eggs.  Some theorists argue this is a bad idea as it could compromise quality in favour of quantity.  At the moment I’m not sure what to think at all; ultimately my consultant needs to get a good look at my eggs and The Boy’s sperm and see what he thinks after the first cycle.  He’s already said he’s got nothing left to throw at it if this cycle doesn’t work.  But at least we’ll know what we’re dealing with I guess.  I think that’s what’s frightening me the most.  What if I don’t produce enough eggs?  What if none fertilise?  What if I miscarry again?  ICSI is potentially our only hope and I’m utterly terrified of finding out there is no hope left for us after this.

I had a phonecall from my best friend a few weeks ago.  She was sobbing; she’d had a miscarriage.  As I heard her speak I felt her pain so deeply that I was transported back to my first miscarriage.  It was interesting that despite all my experiences of miscarriage I didn’t know what to say to her.  I knew what not to say, but I saw her recently too and I didn’t even know how to bring it up to ask where she was up to with it all.  She says that I’m the only person she can speak to about it & I’m grateful that I can put my experiences to some use.  But it’s made me recognise just how hard it is for others to say and do the right thing.  I’ve been so tetchy with people who haven’t responded well to my miscarriages but it was interesting for the shoe to be on the other foot.

In other pregnancy news I think my colleague is pregnant.  She’s one of the loveliest people you could ever meet and I have told her more than once not to make the same mistake as me and wait to have children.  So why did the realisation kick me so hard in the stomach?  I guess the answer is because she’s able to do it so naturally, unlike me.  It’s also highly likely that she’ll make her announcement just as my first ICSI cycle fails.  The last colleague who was pregnant made her announcement while I was waiting for my second miscarriage to be confirmed.  So it’s almost definitely going to happen again.

I’ll try to post how ICSI goes.  Next week we visit the clinic for a scan and to learn how to administer the injections.  I hope The Boy pays attention – I think he’ll need to do them!  I’ll be going back onto the progesterone so I’ve pre-warned my close friends that I’ll be going a little bit loopy and hormonal for a few weeks.  Oh, the joys of subfertility!