Everything happens for a reason or does it?

When I hear the statement ‘everything happens for a reason’ my insides start to gurgle a little, my heart rate begins to rise, I feel a bit sick. I try not to let it spin my head around. Being able to truly believe that everything happens for a reason must be amazing. I used to believe it, I used to believe it because it would help me get through some of the crap in my life. I’d tell myself that this shit has happened to me because it’s going to make me a stronger person, a better person, a more empathetic person, more resilient. I can turn these crappy things that happened to me into life lessons. I would be that great oak tree that gets stronger after it gets struck by lightning.

But then life got really shit when it came to growing our family. Infertility and pregnancy loss. And I questioned it. I met some other incredible women who had been through some shittier shit. I questioned it. I always sought the good out of evil…I still do, but I can’t always see it right now. So I settle with, ‘Everything happens’. Period. Full stop. The end.

But what does a mantra like ‘Everything happens’ do to me? Does it make me bitter? Does it make me a fool for not seeing the good out of the bad?

I don’t talk about religion much here on this blog, but when people say ‘it’s god’s plan’, to me that’s even worse. When I was a kid and I was upset about something I used to close my eyes tight and through my tears ask god why? Why me? And god would reason with me. Actually, I was reasoning with myself, I just pretended it was god talking to me because somehow it made me feel a little better. But telling someone when they are going through struggles ‘it’s god’s plan’ is surely enough to make someone lose their faith, because it is so hard to understand why god would let a baby die…because… it’s his plan. It’s hard to understand why god didn’t bless a family with a baby of their own. It’s hard to understand why our loved ones are taken from us before their time. It’s hard to understand why god would let a terrorist kill people at an airport who are about to go on holiday with their children (innocent children) or who are separated from their loved ones because of work. It’s truly hard to understand what the greater good or plan is. If this was true, surely god is evil? I honestly don’t think that would be the case. For me, I think it is probably better to say that it is god’s plan to be with you, if you let him, when shit is thrown your way.

My current feelings are that time spent thinking about the ‘why’ is time spent wasted. Infertility has taught me how to be in the present. It is therapeutic, it’s survival. Although, it could be argued that by saying ‘everything happens for a reason’ and ‘it’s god’s plan’ would actually HELP with living in the present, but I feel it would be like living in the present with your head in the sad singing lalalalala!!

So for now I’ll try to ignore those few words ‘everything happens for a reason’ and live in the present otherwise it will eat away at me, little by little. I’m glad I’m mentally able to do that right now. I know it won’t always be like that.

Perhaps I’m just parking it for another time when I feel like thinking about the bigger why. Or. Perhaps infertility has actually taught me coping mechanisms for shit thrown my way.

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Infertility round 2

Caught between a rock and a hard place is what I would call planning for a second child after dealing with infertility the first time around. And we are not even at the stage of planning number two, we are still at the early stage of deciding whether we want a number two child.

Let's go back to times before we faced infertility. The times when we were naive to think getting pregnant was the easy, fun part, and it was the subsequent pregnancy and beyond that would be the more challenging part of growing our family. I'm pretty sure we would have said that our family would ideally consist of two children, a dog and a cat (or two). Today, if you asked us what our family would look like in several years time, I wouldn't be able to tell you because I just can't imagine it right now.

Today, I can't imagine Aviana playing with a sibling in the garden, showing them how to throw and catch a ball, or holding her baby brother or sister in hospital, asking THAT question 'where do babies come from?' or her poking my tummy and proudly saying to random people that mummy is having a baby. I can't see it. I don't want to see it. Because if I see it, I think it, I feel it and if it never happens, it will tear me up forever. But sometimes my mind does wonder there and I try not to cry over the fact that it is so distant and fuzzy. The future is so murky.

And yet, I am better prepared than I was before Aviana became part of our lives. Today I know I am infertile, I know what the chances of getting pregnant again are, I'm an infertility warrior, this isn't my first rodeo!

Somedays, I'm positive and hopeful….perhaps my hormones have 'reset' and I'll get pregnant without medical intervention, we have a frozen embryo I won't need to stimulate again, I now know all the IVF tricks of the trade, it would be a piece of cake!

And other days, I'm down and negative…I'm getting closer to 40 than 30, my eggs are even poorer quality than they were before, we only have ONE embryo in the freezer-it's got a 50% chance of surviving the thaw, there is a good chance I will have another IUGR pregnancy, we will be doing this with a toddler, I'm not sure I can cope with another IVF stimulation and suffer from OHSS. And then there is the risk of pregnancy loss, An ectopic pregnancy was a cruel experience.

And the negative is winning at the moment, infertility round two doesn't look good to me. I don't want to waste the precious time I have with Aviana whilst she is this small worrying about infertility. I'm not sure where this is going, but knowing I managed to survive that infertility journey the first time and looking back at that mountain, I'm not sure I can do it all over again.

Back again

It’s been a while, but that doesn’t mean I have forgotten about my great pudding club hunt.

Last week I attended our local infertility support group meeting for the first time in well over year and half.  Not because I’m trying to get pregnant again, but because my infertility has yet to be resolved.  It’s on my mind still.  Because I want to help others still in the trenches whilst I have a chance to look at it from a different perspective.  I have lessons I have learned I can share and want to share.

It was a great meeting, I saw some old faces and new ones.  We talked about jealousy and infertile guilt.  We talked about self care as a way to help cope with those feelings better.  I still get jealous of those who can ‘plan’ when they have a baby.  I still get jealous of those with beautiful baby bumps.  I still feel guilty where some of my infertile friends have yet to hold their much wanted babies.

Here is where we are at right now.  We have one frozen embryo from our first round of IVF.  We still have unexplained infertility.  We now have the added complication that because of my unexplained case of Intra-Uterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)  there is a good chance it could happen again, and because we don’t know the cause there is very little we can do to try to prevent it from happening again.

In fact when I went to my annual OBGYN checkup last week, I asked the doctor what they could do differently if I were to get pregnant again.  She INSULTED with the first thing that came out of her mouth – “Well first of all, we make sure you eat well and healthy…” FUCK YOU. It was as if she was saying that I was the cause of Aviana’s IUGR.  She also said that they would do an extra scan at 32 weeks.  But that was all she had to say about it.  Now, admittedly, she wasn’t my OB for my pregnancy and I ambushed her with that question.  But the first thing that came out of her mouth still hurt.  I am questioning whether I will go back there again.

Anyway…the point is that this unexplained IUGR makes us question whether we would even want to risk being pregnant again.  It’s an added complication if we ever want to grow our family again.

Also, I wanted to note that the majority of those who I follow on blogs and instagram have managed to succeed in bringing home their babies.  There are some of you out there who are still fighting, or have taken the path of what a lady in my IF group calls as ‘forced child free’.  I think of you often and wish infertility wasn’t such a totally unfair bitch. XX

What a difference a year makes

After the second explosion I remember turning around to see an old lady cowering behind her suitcase. The fear in her eyes was immense, she was terrified. OK we all were terrified, but it was her who I vividly remember the most. I asked her if she was OK, was she hurt, but she didn’t understand me – probably because I was speaking English when I was in Brussels airport. 

I remember that moment today one year later after the Brussels terror attacks, not because it was the one year anniversary(?) but because of the terror attacks in London yesterday. I heard today that another person died from his injuries – a 75 year old man. It made me think of the old lady in Brussels. It then made me reflect about how different my life is today one year on. 

One year ago I was also in the midst of down regulation for my upcoming 3rd IVF cycle. The one thing I thought of alongside figuring out how to get out of the airport alive was my medicine…I NEED MY MEDICINE! Looking back now it was daft to carry my bags with me, I should have left them behind. But all I could think of was needing to take my next injection. Not even a damned terrorist was going to stop me from this IVF cycle! And now here I am, one year later back in the UK with my beautiful 3 month old daughter, Aviana, the outcome of that cycle. 

One year ago if you told me my future I wouldn’t have believed you. On the edge of quitting, I somehow felt strength from adversity. I’m so glad I didn’t quit because I can’t imagine my life without Aviana in it.

Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.

-Walter Anderson

And so Life goes on. I will continue to fight terrorism and I will continue to fight the disease that is infertility with all of you. 

X

TTC and no more exams

I thought I was prepared for my 4 week postpartum checkup with my OBGYN, but when I got there I was taken by surprise. 

I had planned a few questions for my doctor….

  1. How to manage my urinary incontinence?
  2. What to do about my milk blister on my nipple?
  3. When could we TTC (try to conceive) again if we wanted to in the future, considering we have one frozen embryo? After all, I’m not getting any younger. Also, as someone who likes to think about the future it would be helpful to consider what is the art of the possible.

But when I got to the appointment, I never asked the third question about TTC-ing. Why? Because I didn’t really want to know. I thought I did, but when it came down to it, I realised I was afraid of the answer. I was afraid of my age being a factor, afraid of retelling my story of how Aviana finally came into our world to a new doctor, afraid of having a date in my head of when we may start another journey when we just finished this one. Plus I should be living in the moment. Well For now anyway 🙂

After my appointment I got in the car and realised I wouldn’t be going back for a while. 

I burst into tears. 

Why did I cry? I’m not totally sure other than assuming crazy postpartum hormones, but the realization that I didn’t need another vaginal exam after several years of showing my hoohar to countless number of doctors, residents, nurses and med students on a regular basis was actually a big relief. 

So it was a cry of relief for no more exams, and a cry for uncertainty to when we would TTC again if we decide to do that. Maybe Aviana is all the family we will want, maybe we will want a brother or sister for her, for once infertility is not on the forefront of my mind. So ultimately it was a cry of relief.

A new blogging adventure

The Great Pudding Club Hunt is over…for now.  But my infertility hasn’t been resolved.  Infertility doesn’t define me, but it is part of my life now.  I love this blog, I love the amazing people I have met through this blog, I love how it has helped me cope with infertility and how it taught me to keep fighting when things got really dark.

But this blog is not about being a parent, in fact it has always been about me not being a parent and dreaming of becoming a parent.  I am now a parent and I don’t want to write about being a parent here, I want to save this place as where I can speak freely about infertility and pregnancy loss.  I wanted a similar place where I can speak freely about being a parent, and that is not here but elsewhere.  So I have set up a new blog…

The Inconceivable Adventures of Parenthood

(https://inconceivableadventuresofparenthood.com)

I’m a little scared stepping out into the parenting world, I’m hoping this new blog will help me explore my thoughts and ideas.  There is so much parent bashing on the internet I am a little terrified!  But like I have used the great pudding club hunt to explore my thoughts, cope with the low times and share the good times with others in similar situations, I hope to use the inconceivable adventures of parenthood likewise.

I hope to see some of you there!!!

I will be posting here still, I am not going away, but it probably won’t be as regular (until our next pudding club hunt anyway ;-p)

Same old story – it’s just unexplained

PC Diary @38Weeks 0 Days

The unknown doctor came in, shook our hands and looked at us in turn, he looked concerned.  But after a strange pregnant pause he managed to get the words out….”Everything looks good with the flow to and from the placenta”. Phew…a sigh of relief! From the look on his face, we both thought he was going to say something bad.  Another awkward pregnant pause and he said to us “We don’t know why your baby is measuring small.” (This doctor had very a very strange and awkward bedside manner)

Chris and I had bets on how this appointment with the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist would go.  We both bet it would be ‘unexplained’, because that just seems to be the way the cookie crumbles with us.  Unexplained infertility has done that to us, it has better prepared us for accepting the unknown.  By the way the unknown SUCKS.  But nevertheless, we seem to be able to handle it a lot better now.  We think that the doctor was expecting us to give him a hard time about not knowing why Rocky is measuring small.  But instead we just said, OK so there is nothing obviously seriously wrong? Although, she was even further behind than our past growth scan in the 3rd percentile (She was in the 5th percentile the week before), but these measurements have error inaccuracies, especially at this late stage of the pregnancy. There was no denying the fact that she is still very small and behind.

The doctor recommended that she be delivered in my 38th week so we can get her out of me and feed her up.  Later that day I went back to my OBGYN for another non-stress test and an ultrasound to check on my amniotic fluid levels.  All was looking good.

It was an emotional roller coaster day of nerves and relief.  We don’t know exactly how healthy Rocky will be when she arrives into the world and what the impact of the growth restriction has been on her, if any.  Perhaps my anemia was the culprit, perhaps it has been my bowel problems not getting the right nutrition to her or perhaps she is just a naturally skinny thing.  We don’t know, but that’s OK, because we are going to meet her very soon and hold her in our arms.

At my next appointment with my Obstetrician we talked about the induction process.  We had been penciled in to arrive at the hospital on the evening of the 20th December to have my cervix ‘ripened’ overnight.  Rocky is currently head down and engaged at Stage 0 right now, and I am still 1cm dilated and 50% effaced, which is a good thing and may mean I don’t need to have my cervix ripened.  If that is the case, then I may be asked to come into the hospital in the morning of the 21st December and they will put straight onto the drug Pitocin (it mimics oxytocin, the hormone which causes contractions).  The doctor warned us how long this process can take 12-24 hrs, and there is no way of knowing how my body will respond.  Sometimes a small baby can be a good thing and time can go quicker and I may have an easier time pushing her out!  Or sometimes not….  they will keep a close monitor on Rocky because sometimes growth restricted babies struggle to keep their heart rate up during contractions.  If Rocky’s heart rate decelerates then there is a very good chance I would end up having a cesarean section.  But the great news is, there is no reason for me to not have a vaginal birth.

My birth plan is that I wish to avoid pain medication at all costs.  However, I am now being induced using Pitocin and this can cause contractions to be a lot stronger and successive far quicker than a natural labor would be.  This means that there is a higher chance of this being painful!  My current feelings are that I will try my dammed hardest to not ask for the pain meds – in whatever form.  Chris is well versed in my desire, and my doula will be there to help me get through it too.  Although I want a vaginal birth, I have spent some time thinking about how to cope with an unexpected c-section.  I am now feeling ready for that moment because I know Rocky’s health is the most important thing to think about.  Luckily I will be on one of my favourite obstetrician’s service that day and I feel like I can trust her.

All this being said, the past week has been strange.  I had some plans for my maternity leave…I was excited to be taking some time to myself and thought 4 weeks before Rocky’s arrival I would have some time to do these things – Christmas dinners with friends and colleagues, executive development program study, knitting, Christmas card writing, email sorting, Christmas shopping, housework, blogging and more.  But with being on ‘rest’, many doctors appointments and not knowing what is going on has actually been exhausting and I have done very little on this list.  Even the things that don’t require me to leave the house for I haven’t been able to focus on, I have just been lethargic and brainless.  It doesn’t help that I am not even sleeping well and having lots of pregnancy related nightmares.  I might be physically well rested, but my brain sure isn’t.

Finally, just one more thing.  Now when people say to me, oh you look so good for 37/38 weeks pregnant…I actually feel bad inside.  I now know that my bump is small and I have put on little weight to the detriment of Rocky.  Until I meet her and hold her safely in my arms, that guilt is not going to stop, no matter how much people will tell me it’s not my fault.

But guys….I am almost at the end of all this…I am on the brink of exploding with happiness about that!

THAT moment

The Pudding Club Diary @ 16w3d

Chris and I had THAT moment last night. THAT moment when you realise you have the summit in sight, when the pain, tears and anxiety were ALL worth it.  And we haven’t even met our little one yet.

As I was getting undressed for bed I pointed out my ‘bump’ and it’s definition.  Chris went to put his hands to it.  I let him…which is not a usual occurrence because if you are a follower you will know my personal issues with my stomach and understand that I still struggle with this.  But I also know I have to let Chris feel the little one too.  The day before, I lay in bed before work just staring at my naked tummy for about 20 minutes watching little Rocky squirming around in there.  I still haven’t really felt Rocky move, but I definitely have seen him/her moving in the past week or so.  That evening as Chris reached out to my tummy – he exclaimed…”I can feel Rocky!!”.  We looked at each other, and we were both teary eyed in that moment.  It was a moving moment.  Silently we knew what this meant.  It was real.  It wasn’t on some computer screen…it was physically real, in our hands. Our baby is alive and wriggling.

So amazing 🙂

 

The secret: marriage, infertility and infidelity

I have a secret.  But it’s not my secret to tell.  I didn’t want to know this secret, but somehow I have ended up the keeper of this secret.  Let’s just say this world is way too small for my liking.

Let’s start with marriage and infertility.  Infertility puts a huge strain on any couple’s relationship, whether you are married or not, it’s makes you question everything about you and the way your partner are together.  And sometimes your relationship is questioned through no fault of its own.  Infertility does that to you.  It tests your relationship in many ways that other couples could never understand.  The burden of infertility on each of the couple is heavy and yet we are expected to support each other throughout the grueling journey.  And yet each of us infertiles will experience the impact on our relationships in different ways, whether it is positive or negative.  Our journeys are different, our relationships are different.  But what I am 99% sure of, is that what is common, is that infertility WILL strain your relationship to the point of almost breakage.

When I typed into Google…”Infertility effects….” the top search entries that came up were:

  1. Infertility effects on marriage
  2. Infertility effects on family
  3. Infertility psychological effects
  4. Infertility side effects

That’s pretty damming (because google is always right of course).

I will do a separate blog post one day about my internet research into infertility and marriage someday, but for now, let’s just say….research shows that infertility does impact our relationships. (No shit Sherlock!!!).

But what about infertility and infidelity?  It may be argued from an evolutionary view that a failure to produce offspring may cause the failure of a monogamous relationship and increase the likelihood for infidelity to occur.  Well, I couldn’t find any research on this theory at all, despite it sounding like a pretty sound theory.  But I did find research on Zebra finches which are animals that are socially monogamous.  A failure for mummy bird to successfully hatch her eggs made zero difference to their monogamous relationship.  Daddy bird did not cheat on her,or vice versa, she didn’t go looking for another mate.  And apparently there is no convincing evidence to suggest that this is the case in any other monogamous species either.

So, I really thought that may be infertility could increase the chance for infidelity to occur in a marriage.  Turns out I am just paranoid.

For me, Chris and I have definitely had a few moments where we just could not understand each other, we thought may be we were on different paths, may be our marriage was in jeopardy.  But despite the rockiness of our emotional and physical relationship, I have never been tempted to cheat.  In fact any attention from another man was definitely unwanted.  No matter the times we argued.  I would not have it in my heart to cheat on him.  I feel like our relationship has solidified in crazy ways I cannot explain unless you have lived it.  My relationship with Chris is phenomenally strong, I never want that to go away.

I can understand however for some that infidelity may be an escape.  An escape from all the problems we face in our struggles to conceive what many do so easily and readily.

And so back to my secret.  I have a friend who is going through infertility who has cheated.  And none of the three parties involved know that I know.  I don’t want to know.  But I do.  I feel so so sad about this situation.  There is never a worse time to cheat on your partner.  But I also understand escapism and that some relationships do just simply fail under the weight of infertility.  So it is my secret to keep and not to tell. But it kills me at the same time.

What would you do?

Survivor’s Guilt

I have a broad understanding of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) I’ve read a lot about it…so much so that even my Instagram advertises about PTSD charities on my feed (weird).

PTSD

this advert about PTSD came up on my Instagram feed

 

There is one thing that I suffer from and that is Survivor’s Guilt.  This is when someone believes they have done wrong by surviving a traumatic event when others did not.  In my case I have double the effect.  Why?  Because I survived a horrifying terrorist attack and second, I survived infertility…all within weeks of each other.

I did not know anyone personally who died in the Brussels terror attacks.  But I saw people who were dead or dying being carried out on stretchers, left alone on the side of the road as I helplessly watched.  At the time I wanted to help, but of course I couldn’t, I was (sensibly) being pushed further and further away from the airport.  I have these images burned into my head of a man with his body broken, dusty, bloody, head with loose bandages wrapped around his head, face indistinguishable and arm hanging out, quietly moaning.  All alone.  But I was behind glass some 20 metres away watching this happen in front of my eyes as more as more people were stretchered out.

I get it.  They have a system of triage, there were only so many first responders who were there in the first 20 minutes after the explosions.  The cordon was set up to protect people.  After all, there was a third bomb in there.  We know tactics of terrorists are to create mass effect by targeting the first responders.  But that boundary, the distance was so close, but so far.  I heard people were saying – I’m a first aider…I’m a nurse…I can help.  But they weren’t allowed to.  I can’t get my head around those very short moments.

I feel guilty for surviving, for not being able to help.  Sometimes my mind is heavy with these thoughts.  This doesn’t outwardly appear to affect me overall.  Well, I don’t think it does.  But I do have some bad dreams (to be expected), not regularly, but perhaps it does affect my sleep.  I wake up very early some days, I tend to put it down to my jet lag, but actually, it could be a symptom of PTSD.  I don’t have problems falling asleep, and I’m not afraid to fall asleep, so I don’t feel like it is an issue.

Then there is my pregnancy.  I am overjoyed we finally achieved our dream, we fought hard to get here!  But along the way, I have made friends with some very lovely women who have struggled with infertility too.  And the feelings I have are that of guilt.  Guilt that I have left them behind.  Similar to survivor’s guilt, and in some ways could be classified as such.  Infertility is traumatic.  I feel like I took the last life boat and rowed away from the desert island leaving you all behind in uncertain conditions.  So some days I haven’t been able to open and read blog updates, Instagram is hard to scroll through.

For those of you who are reading this and now worrying about me (my mum probably!!!) It’s OK, I’m OK.  I am sensitive to my levels of anxiety and sadness, and how that impacts my daily life…and I am OK.  Writing this down is kind of a release to me, and re-reading my writing makes me see things more objectively.  And that helps.

I found some words that are helpful (I think) on strategies to cope with survivor’s guilt:

“Rather than focus on the burden of guilt, remind yourself that you and your loved ones have been given a gift — the gift of your survival. Embrace your will to survive and fight the forces that challenge your way of being.”

Reading these words make me feel happy because deep down I know they are true, I just need to remind myself of this when I start to feel sad or guilty.