Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Waiting to hatch

Well the Red Menace has almost left the building, and I'm already gearing up to hatch the golden egg. I have to admit, my clean living halo slipped a little (well ok, a lot) over the weekend. I noticed the other day that a restaurant in town was now allowing punters to BYO and not charging corkage. I rang up one of my friends and suggested getting a few people together for dinner. She said why not, let's put the session back in recession. So four of us headed out, bottle of wine each in hand. We left the restaurant, bottle of wine each down the hatch. We then progressed to the pub, and from there John and I went home, grabbed whatever booze we could lay our hands on, and popped in next door to see our neighbours. Luckily they are as big a pair of pissheads as we normally are, so they were their usual hospitable selves. The next day was a total write off. I didn't get out of the scratcher until around 5pm. As sick as a plane to Lourdes, I was.

Anyway, all that hedonism is behind me now, and I'm back on healthy form again. I went back to Catherine, my wonder woman acupuncturist yesterday evening for another session. For the first time ever, I bled when she took the needles out. Don't know what that means, but I suppose my circulation must be healthy enough. I also went back to the gym last night, before I fell off the wagon entirely. I started on the Evil Pills on Sunday night. I'm feeling a teeny bit weepy on them today, so I think it's off to the gym for me again tonight to get those endorphins flowing. I received my order from the medical test centre on Monday too. Preseed and peesticks galore. I had to tell John that preseed is not something you get from the garden centre to spread on your spring bulbs. It's more to do with lady gardens. Enough said.

This Saturday we are heading down south for John's niece's christening. I'm looking forward to it and dreading it all at the same time. I'm delighted for the new parents, you couldn't meet nicer people, but I'm dreading somebody not in the know of our situation giving it the "when is she getting a little cousin, nudge nudge, wink wink". I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Another remembrance

This day two years ago, Tuesday November 21st, 2006, I underwent a D&C after I had been told that my first pregnancy had ended in a missed miscarriage. It was one of the saddest days of my life.

We had been trying to conceive for six months when we got lucky. It was the first month that we got in any way scientific about the whole business; I invested in a digital thermometer and a charting book from Boots, as well as a pack of OPKs. My ovulation date co-incided with a long weekend at the wedding of friends in the Ardeche region of France. The setting was beautiful, the weather was spectacular, the wedding itself was amazing, and we were in honeymoon mode. We were at it "comme les lapins" all weekend.

Two weeks later, much to our delight, we found out that we had brought an extra little passenger back from France. In our minds it was a boy, no rational explanation for why we thought that, just pure gut feeling for both of us. Being the ever pc people that we are, we nicknamed him Kermit the Frog, since he was made in France. A week later, I started to get light brown spotting. It was the start of a bank holiday weekend. We didn't panic at first, but my GP told me to call him in a couple of days if it got any worse. Over the weekend it got heavier, so the following Tuesday I phoned the GP back and he told me to go straight to our local maternity hospital. A friend of mine from work drove me to Limerick and John met me in there.

At that stage it was too early to see a heartbeat on an ultrasound, but we did see the gestational sac, so there was no doubt that there was a pregnancy there. I was sent away and told to come back the following week for another scan. The following Tuesday I was scanned again, and this time we could see a heartbeat on an internal scan. The first time you see your own baby's heart beating is an amazing one. The sheer awe you experience looking at that tiny little pulse on the screen. Unfortunately it wasn't all good news that day, we were told the gestational sac was a very irregular shape, and this was an indication that the pregnancy might not be viable, although the sonographer said that she had seen this before and it was not always bad news. We were given another appointment for a week's time and sent on our way.

At this point I started googling "gestational sac" and "irregular shape" at every opportunity. Not a good idea really when you are trying to put your mind at rest. One friend of mine told me that she had been told the same thing at an early scan on her first pregnancy, and she went on to deliver a perfectly healthy baby girl. That gave me some reassurance. The following Tuesday we went back to Limerick for another scan, and we were given the bad news that our baby had died. The gestational sac was measuring six weeks three days, when it should have been a week more than that. We were absolutely devastated. I suppose in hindsight we were naive as regards the statistics of miscarriage, one in four pregancies. At that stage I had nine nieces and nine nephews, and only one of my siblings out of six had ever experienced a loss in pregnancy. My mother had one loss out of eight pregnancies. I never thought it was something that would touch us. How wrong could I have been?

A week later, I was admitted to hospital for a D&C. Physically and emotionally it was an extremely tough day. It was a cold day in November, and the hospital was undergoing renovations. I was admitted to a day ward around 10am, fasting from 6pm the evening before (big mistake, I should have eaten much later in the night, nearer to midnight) and the noise level in the ward was horrendous. It was like someone was operating a jackhammer just under my bed. A few people had told me in advance of the D&C that it is a painless procedure. John's sister, who had had it done a number of times to remove fibroids described it as quite uncomfortable. This was the only warning I had in advance.

Uncomfortable was the understatement of the year. After about an hour I was put on a saline drip to stop me getting dehydrated. At around noon, my gynaecologist came in and introduced herself, and without further ado shoved a couple of pessaries up into my cervix (pleased to meet you, Doctor, OWWWW!). The midwives told me that there would be pain relief available should I need it. I was doing the whole brave patient routine, thinking there are women in here in the throes of labour, I'm not going to start shouting for pain relief over a few little cramps. I sent John down town to get some lunch and I settled in for the afternoon. All of a sudden what had been like minor period pain was like the most excrutiating period pain, multiplied by around 20. I rang John on his mobile in agony to tell him get straight back here. I was getting progressively weaker from the lack of food. The room seemed to be getting colder, and the jackhammer was still hammering away at top volume.

I rang the bell and asked the midwife for pain relief. She took my blood pressure and told me that it was dropping, and we would be getting a slot for theatre soon. At this stage it must have been around 4pm. I was writhing around the bed in pain at this stage and begged for something, anything, so she gave me pethadeine. This made me really woozy and out of it, and not in a good way. It didn't really do much for the pain either, probably because I had asked for it too late. If I had asked before the pain increased to unbearable levels, it would probably have stopped it before it got really intense. The midwife and porter came to wheel me up to theatre just after that, and the combination of the motion of the moving bed and the pethadeine really started to give me the room spins. I met the gynaecologist outside the theatre again, and I was almost passing out at this stage. It took two people to lift me onto the operation table. I was so out of it I literally could not move a muscle.

I woke up probably around twenty minutes later, still in pain. It was then that it really hit me, my baby was gone. I was given two rounds of painkillers in suppository form. I was wheeled back down to the ward and left to rest for a while. At one stage I went to go to the bathroom and when I stood up I literally saw stars. I was discharged later that evening, so glad to get back home to the comfort of our own bed. After a couple of days I was feeling much better physically, but it took much longer for the emotional pain to ease. In some ways I think it has never fully gone away and it never will.

A few months later I found a post on a parenting website about the Shrine of the Holy Innocents in New York. It is based in a Church in Manhattan, and is dedicated to all children who have died before birth. Parents of babies lost through miscarriage or stillbirth can name them and have recorded in a book of remembrance kept in the shrine. Although I was brought up by religious parents, I am not strongly religious myself, but the idea of this brought me some comfort. We named our lost little one Kieran, because as I said before, we always thought I was carrying a boy. I have been thinking about him a lot in the past month or so, wondering what he would have looked like, imagining all the mischief he would be getting into now if he was still with us. No doubt he would be chasing the poor cats around the house, terrorising them. I like to think him and his sister and our other lost little ones are waiting for us, somewhere in the next life.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The green light at last

At long last after twelve long months of knicker watching and ewcm charting, eight months of home injecting, four months of clomid popping and all the associated angst, we have been given the green light to go. All I'm waiting for now is the Goddam witch to arrive so that can get this party started.

I've got my prescription for five days of clomid @ 150mg per day at the ready. I went online today and ordered a ten pack of opks, a ten pack of hpts and a six pack of pre seed. Maybe I should pop down to the offie for a six pack of beer as well just to get us in the mood. Did I ever think when we started off on this baby making journey way back in the spring of 2006 that it would involve such a plethora of pharmaceutical goods? Erm, no, actually. I thought all we would need would be a glass or two of wine (enough to get in the mood without getting comatose), a nice bit of nookie and Bob's your uncle, or rather Jane's your Mammy and John's your Daddy. I never thought it would get to the stage that I'd end up on first name terms with my local pharmacist, a fertility specialist, my gynaecologist's receptionist; or that I would end up having repeated rendez vous with a dildo cam. But such is life.

So as of this month, we have graduated into a class of real ttc'ers. I'm already looking to the calender and trying to figure out will John's work's Christmas do coincide with my ovulation date, and if so, will he co-operate and stay off the beer for the night, or will I have to take advantage of him in his drunken state? If this cycle goes like the last one, my next visit from the red menace will be due around December 23rd. I'm trying not to get my hopes up, because I know if I build myself up too much the let down will be great, especially on Christmas week. But isn't it the time of year for magic and wishes coming true? So Santa, if you're reading, I've been a very good girl all year, and I promise to go to bed early every night between now and Christmas, so can you please bring us a BFP?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Good news at last

Woooo hoooooo!! I had my blood test this morning and results were excellent.

Oestradiol 686 (needs to be 400-800, has never been more than 380 before)
Progeterone 81 (needs to be 60-100)

So it looks like we have the go ahead.

Think I will go and ride the living daylights out of my husband to celebrate.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lest we forget...

Yesterday John and I travelled to Dublin for the day to attend the Miscarriage Association of Ireland's annual remembrance service. This is something I have been wanting to do for some time, but didn't get to it last year, probably because we were still reeling from a fourth loss in the space of a year. I was looking out for remembrance services closer to where we live, but there don't seem to be any. The other day I was on an Irish parenting website and a poster mentioned that it was on this weekend, so very much at the last minute we decided to go. We were both so glad that we did.

When you lose a baby early in pregnancy, there is plenty of grief associated with that loss, but very little ritual with which to vent that grief. There's no funeral, no grave. For a lot of people there is very little public acknowledgement of the fact that they have lost a child, which only serves to compound the grief and pain. Some people plant trees in memory of their lost little ones, which is something we did, but it was very much a private thing between John and I. This service was really beautiful in that it gave parents (and we are parents, in a different respect to most people) an opportunity to come together in an interdenominational service, to offer prayers, listen to readings and music and to just openly grieve their losses in a way that is just not possible in everyday life.

The most poignant part of the whole ceremony was the procession of light. We were all invited to light a candle for each of our lost babies and carry them to the steps in front of the altar. We carried up four candles between us. It was kind of surreal getting a light from another couple at the back of the church, knowing what or whom these little lights signified. They looked a good ten years younger than us, and they were lighting two candles themselves. In the end of the procession, the steps were covered with candles, each one representing somebody's lost baby.

The church was absolutely packed with people of all ages. I noticed an elderly man sitting alone who I would guess was around eighty years of age with three candles lined up on the back of the pew in front of him. In the row in front of us were three ladies who looked in their sixties or seventies. I would guess they had been coming there for years. There were also many families with young children, which represented a beacon of hope, and also middle aged couples with teenage or twenty something offspring in tow. Here and there were childless couples like John and me, huddled together for comfort. One of the bidding prayers was for parents who have no other children. We both cried buckets throughout, to the point that I had a headache from crying by the end of the ceremony, but our tears were cathartic ones.

At the end of the service each family was presented with a silver Christmas tree ornament of a dove. The theme of the ceremony was the dove as a symbol of hope and peace. We then got to sign the book of remembrance and enter the names and memories of our lost little ones. All in all it was a beautiful ceremony and we will definately go to it again in years to come. I would really recommend a similar service to anyone who has experienced the loss of a baby.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Filling in time

As many of the blogging brethren have commented on their own blogs this month, it's hard to think what to blog about when you're not actively ttc in a particular cycle. Unfortunately that's my lot on an ongoing basis, until the powers that be up in Galway deem my hormones to be of an acceptable level with which to have a go at baby making. It's now a year since I last was pregnant, so it seems as though a lot of time and procreational opportunities have slipped past since then. Like my fellow ttc'ers I am still on a waiting game, but mine is a month long wait from one blood test to the next instead of a two week wait.

Anyway I'm blathering on here because I have little to report really. I'm still going to the gym, and so far I have lost 3 lbs (yay me!), but seem to be up a lb this morning compared to last Friday (boo me!). I haven't been drinking, have had a little bit of junk food this week, but not a huge amount, so I don't know what's going on. Mind you, this is my usual pattern when I try to lose weight, and I usually give up at this point. But I am determined this time. The muffin top is almost gone, and I have toned up a bit around my middle and my jelly belly, so that's progress. I'm trying to get to the gym three times a week, and not be intimidated by all the baldy, grunting, sweaty steroid heads who frequent the place. So far I have managed to avoid passively inhaling the fug of testosterone, so I haven't morphed into an Eastern European shot putter (yet).

I managed to get through this month's clomid cycle without too much weeping and wailing. I was a bit down in the dumps last weekend, but I think that could be due to the start of official winter time, and the dark evenings. I'm hoping the endorphins will keep the blues at bay.

John's niece is being christened at the end of the month, and I estimate from my ovulation date this week that I am going to be on cycle day 2 on the big day. This is usually marked by crippling period pains and full force of the crimson tide. Crimson tsunami even. I've told him that if I'm not up to it I might bow out. The other thing about it I'm dreading is that there will be friends of my brother in law's who are also friends of John's there. Some of them we haven't seen since brother in law's wedding, and they also came to our wedding. I'm pretty sure they haven't got a clue what's been going on with us for the past two years, so there's plenty potential for foot in mouth remarks as regards to our baby making plans, particularly when John is the godfather to this little one. So I'm kind of dreading the whole thing, even though it will be a nice family gathering. I just know that one misplaced remark would be enough to send me running for the bathroom.

Another event that has potential for awkwardness is coming up next week. There's a reunion on in Dublin for the bank I used to work at. When I was in my last job two or three years, the bank was bought out, and a lot of long term employees took voluntary redundancy. They still keep in touch with everyone who has left and every two years or so they have a reunion. I missed the last one as it was when I had my first miscarriage. I am going to go, because it's an opportunity to catch up with friends I haven't seen in a few years, but I'm just dreading somebody asking me how long are we married now, and any sign of the patter of little feet? Maybe most people will know not to ask, given that we've been married over three years now and I am 39 years old, which means we have either no interest in having kids, or we are trying and there's nothing happening. There's always the potential for somebody to drop a clanger though.

I'm due to have my next blood test on Tuesday. I've tried everything this month - dairy free diet, no alcohol, exercise, accupuncture. If that doesn't work I don't know what will. Tune in next week for results.