Category: Fertility

Our secondary infertility story: Part 10 – Feelings before a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy.

May 2016

You can catch up on the rest of the story so far, here: 

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9

I am only a few days out from having a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy. Where the doctor looks to remove the endometrioma cyst on my ovary, search around for any obvious causes for my inability to get pregnant, and scrape out any other endometriosis from anywhere it should not be. I am also sick with a cold and my period is supposed to be due any minute. I am in a foul mood and I am struggling to come to terms with just about everything. I am nervous I’ll be deemed too sick to have the surgery. I am nervous about the surgery. I have never been put under general anaesthetic before in my life and for some reason my lack of control of the situation is really getting to me. I mean, I like to have some control in my life, but I wouldn’t call myself a total control freak. Yet this freaks me out. I’m going to be completely out to it and anything could happen without my knowledge. I know that these procedures should hopefully help my quality of life (my periods have been HORRIBLE and I just want the madness to end*) and the unavoidable end game is that there is the hope that it might help my chances of being able to conceive with my husband. You know, that baby we’ve so badly wanted for years now, who hasn’t turned up yet. Tardy little bugger.

I am struggling because I am usually a realist. Or even verging on optimistic. Yet, I am in a headspace where I feel quite disillusioned and unable to imagine an outcome that actually makes me feel like things are getting better. See, this whole fertility thing has been a mixed bag for me. When I got pregnant with the Little Mister it was amazing. He was determined to hurtle his way into this world and I am so glad he did. But…I was the person who got gestational diabetes. I was the one who against the odds was lucky enough to have PUPPP (from halfway through the pregnancy and not at the end like most people). Whenever I was told the odds of something happening to me during pregnancy were low, I just stopped listening because it turns out I’m pretty ‘special’ when it comes to the weird shit. I even got a ridiculous infection in my amniotic fluid that brought on labour really fast (luckily the Little Mister was full term when it happened). It was considered an unusual case for some reason at the time.

So you can imagine how I’m feeling days out from this surgery. I am not optimistic about this cold pissing off in time. If I do miraculously shake off the illness in time, I can’t imagine coming out of it with the doctor saying, “Everything was routine and normal. We found the exact issue and you’re right as rain. Good luck trying for a baby in a few weeks when you’ve recovered.” and then my period gets easier and we suddenly conceive like all those ‘friends of friends’ we keep hearing about. I just can’t go there. I imagine us still not conceiving and feeling defeated and confused and frustrated. I imagine the hurt of being on the two week wait roller coaster over and over again. I imagine waking up and being told they took my tubes or my uterus isn’t viable for baby carrying. Despite having previous tests that have not indicated this to be the case. I imagine my anger that maybe if I hadn’t tried Clomid in the first place I wouldn’t have ended up even more infertile. Like that’s a thing. I worry – what if it all goes wrong and my keyhole surgery turns into open surgery? What if I don’t ever come back and my quest for a second baby leaves my first baby without me ever functioning normally again? What if all those things the doc said were such a minute chance of going wrong with me, go wrong with me? Because I’m me?

Yes. I’m probably coming off as a Negative Nancy right now. A paranoid…Patricia. But it’s not that I’m trying to be down in the dumps about it all. A small part of me is excited at the possibilities. But a larger part of me is used to this not being so simple. I can’t seem to believe that this will ever come easily. That our time might come where we get to feel the miracle of a good, successful pregnancy. It feels like it’s been so long with no results or clear answers. I know people try a lot longer than us and I know that those people would be laughing at me for feeling like this only 2 years in. But it’s tough. I don’t know how they do it.

But I guess I know why. Because our family isn’t complete yet. Because that old nursery in the back of my house feels like a sad place. There’s a space in my heart waiting for a special little person to decide it’s the right time to come to us. And we just can’t give up on that nagging feeling that we can’t be done yet.

I think I also think of my own (adoptive) parents. They never got their answers. They did all the right things and deserved the world and it didn’t work. Hence the adoptions of my brother and I. Of course none of us would change any of that for the world now, but I often (half) joke that my mum is a terrible example for hope for those with fertility issues. Because every procedure she’s tried that I am now going through, didn’t make things better!!!! She’s been a tremendous support, but gosh it’s a bit disheartening too.

I keep trying to remind myself that I am lucky because one advantage I have is knowing that my body has done the whole baby thing one time before. That gives me a slightly better chance than someone who has never been able to do that.

I don’t know how I’m going to get through this. Other than I’ll just literally have no choice but to get through it. I guess when I’m lying on the table counting backwards from ten, I might stop overthinking it. I guess whatever greets me at the other end will be whatever it is. I just hope and pray (in the non religious sense) with everything that I have that I will be strong enough to cope with even the toughest or most unpredictable news I might receive. I hope I will be able to handle whatever comes my way with as much sanity as I can possibly muster.

Life isn’t fair and I might not ever get the ‘fair’ outcome my friends and family are believing I deserve. And it’s knowing this that drives me crazy these days.

I just hope that maybe there’s a bigger plan out there that will end in some kind of joy for my family. It’s hard not knowing what that ‘plan’ is, but I really have to believe that there is one.

Luckily, I was allowed to go through with the surgery – my cold was not going to be a problem. I was glad to just get on with it. I was so relieved to wake up and be told that my tubes were intact and that everything that was growing in the wrong place had been removed. Sadly, this did absolutely nothing to help my fertility, but it was good to know my health wasn’t an issue anymore. It was a relief to finally be able to take good drugs to get rid of my cold and in all honesty, I think that the general anaesthetic was actually great – I had a good sleep haha. 

*despite my hopes, my periods didn’t get better – they got inexplicably steadily worse

Our secondary infertility journey: Part 9 – Stop telling infertile people to ‘relax’.

When I wrote this in March 2016, I was in a tough place. I kind of got my ranty pants on. But reading it back, I don’t regret it and I don’t have any problem with sharing it now. I hope it doesn’t ruffle anyone’s feathers or make anyone feel defensive – that’s not my intent. I know people mean well. I’m just trying to shed some light on what it’s like when you’re struggling. 

You can catch up on the rest of my story so far here:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

Mr Unprepared and I are going through what is called ‘secondary infertility’. This means that we are lucky enough to have a child already (conceived naturally), but are struggling to conceive a second. To qualify for this reluctant title, it means that we tried for over a year on our own before needing to seek medical advice and testing.

Everyone in our lives has been so supportive and caring, since we’ve shared our situation. Choosing to be fairly open about it has been the best thing I’ve done. It has strengthened my relationships with those close to us and I am sure it has prevented a lot of awkward questions and conversations.

However, there’s one thing that irks me. Something that I keep hearing and reading. Nobody who says it means harm. There is surely an element of truth in it. But I still struggle with it.

“Maybe you just need to relax and not stress. I know someone who tried for ages and then when they finally relaxed and stopped worrying about it, they got pregnant right away!”

Yep. That old chestnut. Heard it a thousand times.

Thing is, it’s kind of complicated, this ‘stress’ factor. At least it feels that way for me. Which is ironically quite stressful.

See, I’m sure that stress can affect hormones. I know that excessive stress is bad for our physical health in general. I mean, it all follows that it can probably affect fertility.

I am not disputing that.

It’s just hard to be told constantly that you just need to ‘relax’ and ‘stop thinking about it’. Because, when you really really want something, you will think about it. You do have to do certain things that cause you to be reminded constantly about your fertility status. It cannot be avoided. And I have been known to fall into the trap of stressing about whether I’m stressing too much to conceive, which causes more stress! Surprise, surprise.

This is why I don’t react so well to being told to ‘relax’. Because duh. Someone who really wants to get pregnant will do anything it takes. Including efforts to reassess the stress in their lives and to try to make sure there isn’t excessive stress where unnecessary. We are not stupid. We’ve thought of it. Our doctors have probably mentioned it. Trust me. At this point I kind of feel like unless you have some specific, helpful advice on what to do in order to relax, please refrain from telling me that story about a friend of a friend who stopped trying and suddenly – voila – pregnant as fuck!

Would I love to be THAT friend one day? Of course. I do love hearing success stories, do not get me wrong. But some days, those success stories just sound like more people who managed to be better than me at fertility. And those days are the worst days.

So I have decided to try to stop analysing my stress. I know I’m the worst over thinker on the planet, but the thing is, when we conceived the Little Mister I was under a lot of stress (maybe even more than I am under now because I’m trying harder to not let things get to me given the circumstances). But he came along. Puts things in perspective.

If I have a ‘stressed out’ feeling, I will not freak out that I am too stressed to conceive. I will just be stressed out (like a normal person), think about how to stop/relieve the stress and move on. I’ve got to stop making the stress about how it may relate to our fertility efforts. People have conceived under way more horrible, unwanted circumstances throughout history. People have fallen pregnant during crazy times – with terminally ill partners and during times of grief. If they are going to get pregnant, they are going to get pregnant. If you are not, you are not.

Let’s stop making it all about the hopeful mother to be. We carry enough responsibility for all of this on our shoulders. We can’t control everything. I refuse to be told I just need to ‘relax’. When in the history of being told to relax, has a stressed person ever felt like relaxing and not strangling the person who suggested it?

Even if, by some miracle, I am suddenly super relaxed and ‘stop thinking about it’ and fall pregnant one day, I will NOT be preaching to those who are struggling. I will not be telling everyone to relax. I might pass on some of the things that helped me to relax (if asked), but I won’t attribute everything to my ability to calm the fuck down. Because it takes more than that to conceive. And every person, every couple, is different in some way. Everyone has their own journey, physically and emotionally. Yes, I said ‘journey’. You can spew now.

So how about we calm the fuck down and chill the fuck out about telling everyone to ‘just relax’. Just ‘stop trying’.

No amount of ‘relaxing’ will help someone who has an actual physical medical complication that prevents the ability to conceive.

Because people can’t always just stop trying. That’s fucking dumb. You don’t stop trying until you’re so over it all that you think your dream is over and you’ve exhausted a bunch of medical options. And I am sorry but I refuse to stop dreaming and hoping right now. So deal with it.

Our secondary infertility story: Part 8 – After the first round of Clomid

This post was written in March 2016 – after my first medicated cycle. Let’s just say it didn’t exactly go ‘to plan’. 

You can catch up on previous instalments of my story here…

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

So…I was cautiously optimistic about starting Clomid during my last cycle. I didn’t expect it to help me become miraculously pregnant first time around, but I did hope that perhaps something promising would appear in my ultrasound. Something to tell me that I was going to ovulate up a storm etc.

I was nervous before my scan, but hopeful. I’d had a strong reaction to the Clomid. I’d been hilariously (and awkwardly) emotional all of a sudden while taking the tablets. I thought that must mean something was taking place in my body. I did notice that my already fairly heavy period became much heavier than it had ever been but I thought that any change in my body had to be good, because there’d been no changes whatsoever in the whole time we’d been trying for a baby, which had been discouraging. I felt like the time it was going to work, you’d think there’d be different symptoms throughout my cycle.

Nope. Turns out, things can probably get worse.

It turned out I had only one follicle on my left ovary and a 4cm cyst. A cyst that hadn’t been there when I started the search for better fertility a few months previous. There was a chance the Clomid caused it (i.e. the doctor couldn’t rule it out). Great. That thing I was hoping would make a difference seemed to be making more problems.

I was told the cyst would probably go away by itself but the doc would check on me before I was due another round of Clomid.

I went to this check hoping like hell the cyst would be gone. That I would be told I could try again. That even perhaps, I might be pregnant (I had an early blood test to check).

Nope. The cyst got a little smaller, but not enough. Now I have to go and have scans to see if it’s endometriosis/an endometrioma. In which case, I might have to have a procedure to have it removed. I was advised to not have Clomid again at this point (pending the next scan etc). That’s a cycle or two without help. It’s just me and Mr Unprepared, all alone in this again. While it’s not forever, it’s a setback. It’s tough. It’s disappointing.

I was really angry on the way home from my appointment. Frustrated. Pissed off that life is unfair. Scared that my body hates everything. Worried about the stress and what it will do to my body. I cried.

And then I went home and just tried to get on with life. I tried to remember the so called perks of not being pregnant or worrying that I might be. I could drink alcohol 100% guilt free. I would be able to exercise vigorously without even an inkling of doubt about whether I could be hurting/risking something (I then had in the back of my mind that I could rupture the cyst and be in all kinds of hell so I did end up being careful anyway). I could take all the ibuprofen I need for my period pains. Not be pissed off at the fact that I had to pretend like I might be pregnant for half of my life, when I knew deep down I wasn’t.

So now I will just try to relax until I am put into action again. It’s hard to see pictures of pregnant people in my Facebook feed or hear talk of little babies, but I am strong and I will get through this somehow.

Our secondary infertility story: Part 7 – Clomid

This was written in February 2016. It hadn’t been published yet as I just wasn’t ready. In hindsight I can see that I was clearly more hopeful than I let myself believe. I actually feel quite sad for the February 2016 me because I know she had a lot more to go through before any good news was to be received. This was the beginning of a really rough year. 

You can catch up on anything you may have missed here…

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

In our continued efforts to get me knocked up (we’re hitting the 18 month mark of trying to conceive), I have just started a round of Clomid. It’s basically a medication that is supposed to help stimulate ovulation. I have to take 5 tablets (one each day for 5 days) early on in my cycle and then have scans and I guess the doc tells us what to do next. And by ‘what’, I mean we know ‘what’ to do haha – but he’ll probably advise us more on the ‘when’ etc. Saaaaaah romantic.

I’m nervous. Nervous it won’t work. Nervous about letting myself think that it might. I’m relieved we’re finally trying something definitive, instead of just doing seemingly endless exploratory tests (i.e. blood tests and intrusive look sees galore while not actually trying anything new). I also feel weirdly not fussed by it. Yes, it’s a weird mix of emotions that sound like they contradict each other, but trust me – it’s possible. The not fussed feeling is more that I have become somewhat accustomed to not getting pregnant month after month. It’s not that I don’t have moments where I take it hard, but I’ve pretty much stepped off the rollercoaster of hope vs disappointment. Now I just try to maintain a baseline if you know what I mean. Check in with me in a few weeks…I bet that baseline will be kaput. But I’m trying!

I’ve gone a bit quiet on the whole ‘sharing with people’ aspect of fertility for now. While it’s been so liberating and heartwarming to share our story with friends and family and to feel their support, it’s time to be a bit more shoosh about it a bit. It’s just what feels right for me at the moment. On the off chance that this medication works for us*, I don’t want people to immediately know when it’s happened (I’m still on the side of keeping things quiet for the first trimester – especially after our troubles conceiving) and I also don’t want people feeling like they’re waiting for the conclusion to a cliffhanger episode of their favourite tv show (I mean I am sure I am not as exciting as that but you know what I mean), counting down the exact dates I’m working with, before they find out which way things have gone. I don’t want that pressure! Eep!

People always have success stories to tell me about clomid. Which makes me feel good to hear, but I also know that life isn’t always ‘fair’ so I am reserving any excitement about it**. I hope I can be another success story, but everyone is different and I just want to be really realistic (read: play it totally cool haha).

To be continued…

*spoiler: it didn’t
**probably was a good idea in hindsight

Our secondary infertility story: Part 6 – Only Child?

I wrote this on the 27th December, 2015 (we’d been trying to conceive since July 2014). I have been chronicling my/our journey through secondary infertility. While it’s not something I wanted to publish right away, I couldn’t stop myself from needing to write our story. 

You can catch up on previous instalments of this story here…

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

As I sit here typing, I am waiting for my period. Like literally waiting. I’m a day late and while a small, eternally hopeful part of me is getting a bit excited (despite my better judgement), I know that I am more than likely having a slightly late period due to stress. Stress or Murphy’s law, anyhow. Maybe life is trying to give me a break – a consolation prize. Like, if I am going to not be pregnant yet again, then at least I can have a nice Christmas break without bleeding from the uterus or something.

Anyway, that aside, something has been on my mind lately, just nagging away at me. Maybe it’s because the Little Mister is having a break between day care and the beginning of his ‘big school’ career (4 year old kindy). Maybe because I’ve seen him behaving as the typical, over tired, over excited 4 year old that he is at this time of year. Maybe it’s a relatively harmless comment I heard once – something that struck a nerve, unintentionally. But I have been feeling really conscious of the fact that my gorgeous 4 year old is growing up an only child (as of yet) and that with no sibling in sight for him, that’s exactly what it looks like from the outside – to those who do not know our struggles.

While I have learned a lot from being a parent about getting better at not giving a flying you-know-what about what other people think, I am struggling with this one a bit. I know the phase will pass (because I’ll become distracted or make peace or find something new to worry about or all of the above), but I am reflecting on this because I do feel that there is a stigma about only children (there shouldn’t be).

Every time my child is demanding adult attention (there aren’t many other young kids in my family). Every time he doesn’t want to share. I wonder if people might think it’s all because he’s an ‘only’ child. Yet, I know there are lots of kids with siblings who are exactly the same and it’s written off as being used to sibling rivalry. There are lots of ‘only’ children who are amazing, thriving humans – both little and grown.

I think I feel guilty about the Little Mister not having a sibling, because it’s something he wants too. While I’ve had to let a lot of that guilt go, it hasn’t disappeared. I want him to grow up with that built in someone. I want him to feel those joys and annoyances. All of that stuff. I want him to have a sibling to be with when Mr Unprepared and I become old or eventually pass away (hopefully peacefully after a long life). I want him to know what all of that stuff is like. It’s always been our dream to have more than one child. It’s not everyone’s dream, but it’s been a lifelong one for both Mr Unprepared and I – since before we ever knew we’d meet each other.

I worry that one day I might have to make peace with (and grieve) the fact that he could very possibly be an only child for all of his life. I hope that stupid people won’t judge him for being an ‘only’ child. I hope he won’t be sad that he is one or that he will understand when we are eventually forced to explain to him why.

I love him with all of my heart, but my heart is big. There is so much room to love another. I truly hope I get the chance.

Our secondary infertility story: Part 5 – Ovulation Tracking

This post was written in December, 2015. We’d been trying to conceive since July 2014. 

You can catch up on parts 1 to 4 here…

Part 1
Part 2

Part 3
Part 4

As I write this, I am coming to the end of a cycle of ovulation tracking by blood tests. It’s been quite the time consuming process and I have spent a lot of time hanging out with phlebotomists in pathology clinics. I have had to have tests at least every few days (sometimes a few days in a row) and it has been a bit exhausting!

When I first started doing it, I was already getting used to the fact that blood was being drained out of me constantly (I’d already had a bunch of blood tests done for other exploratory things). I was kind of blasé about it. I thought the biggest annoyance would just be the time it would take going back and forth to the hospital (where the pathology place is).

A few days ago, I started to feel the emotional effects. The ones I had been completely not expecting. I had been very clinical in my approach. Guess it all catches up with you eventually. I tried to give my right arm a rest but my left arm wouldn’t give up any blood. Twice. So I was getting upset at having to turn my right arm into a pin cushion. I started to feel drained (ha – literally!) when I had a bunch of tests all in a row, with no days off. I started to realise that the closer I got to the end of the tracking process, the more real it felt. Like, what happens after? I hadn’t thought about AFTER. I was just all about one foot in front of the other.

Since I started these tests, the Christmas decorations have been put up in pathology. That’s nice. The staff are all so kind. Like really. Like I would hug them if they weren’t always holding needles (and if it wasn’t probably inappropriate haha). There’s one lady who always says sorry when she sticks the needle in and says she’s just not sure why she does the job she does, but she’s so full of empathy and adorable that it distracts you. There’s the lady who is super efficient so you don’t have time to worry about anything. In and out. Then you’re out of there. There’s the guy who is young and makes me feel super old but who put me at ease with great chit chat and made me miss my brother (they have the same name). There are all of the phlebotomists who recognise me because I’m there so much and treat me like a real person. I am so grateful. I guess they make their living by having to put nervous people at ease, but I think it’s more than that. They are wonderful people.

Today, one of them told me that she knows I must really be feeling over it. She said she hopes that she sees me when I’m eventually pregnant. She had such compassion in her eyes. I hope for that too.

I’m starting to enjoy the drive in to the hospital. I make the most of it. I turn up my fight songs and sing (or rap) along. Lots of Bliss and Eso seems to do the trick. I park my car, put on my game face and I march on in there. I take a number like a boss and I catch up on my Facebook newsfeed while I wait. I have read great comment threads about feminism, ‘mummy blogging’ and racism. I get right on up in there, because I have the time to.

On the way out, I send a snapchat photo of my arm to a select couple of supportive friends, Mr Unprepared and my parents. Another one down. It makes me feel not so alone.

In the car, afterwards, I take a deep breath and brace myself to take on the rest of the day. Sometimes the blood test is forgotten in minutes. I hug the Little Mister (if he’s not at day care) or I take some time out for myself – even if it’s just a few minutes. I try to remind myself I don’t have to be superwoman and that having blood removed from my body constantly is not nothing. I have to go easy on myself mentally and physically. Sometimes I have a cry, but mostly I try to stay strong. I can’t help but feel guilty sometimes, when I feel depleted and sad. I mean, there are people going through way tougher stuff every day. I am in awe of those people.

I don’t know what the results of these tests will be (I suspect I am ovulating OK or at least my hormones will say so). I don’t know exactly what the next steps will be (it’s not like I’ve done this before – not this way). I am not sure if my doctor will catch it, so he can call us and confirm in real time when I’m good to go (haha). I don’t know what it’s like to go from here. I’m a bit nervous about the unknown. I have good days and I have bad days. I just hope that I’m a step closer to our dream of having a second baby*.

 

*maybe just give it another year and a half 😬

Our secondary infertility story: Part 4 “Don’t forget – you’ve never been clucky”

This blog post was written in November 2015, during our journey with secondary infertility. We decided not to talk about it much back then (to protect our privacy and because today’s topic was really difficult), but I just couldn’t stop writing. 

Catch up here…

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

My mum looked at me and said, “But darling, you’ve never been clucky.”

In that moment I was a little taken aback. Oh yeah. That’s true. How did I forget that?

What the hell were we talking about, you ask?

Well, I had been talking to my mum about how it was really difficult to see so many people around me having second babies. It was something I’d kept to myself a lot and at the time of our conversation I was really struggling. I told my mum that I felt awful because when I thought about those lovely little babies (and the ones that were yet to arrive), I felt NOTHING. Nothing. Was I some kind of cold hearted monster? Was I so selfish in my own pain that I had stopped caring? I felt horrible about it. I was beating myself up.

I felt left behind by everyone. I felt a little resentful – why was it so easy for them? It’s like they planned their second babies perfectly – oh look, their babies will have the perfect age gaps between them. Because that’s what they (the parents) decided. How lovely for them. I fought those bitter, jealous feelings every single time another announcement was made. Luckily that phase did not last too long (although it felt like an eternity for me) and the bitterness disappeared (even if the sadness remained). Bitter is not who I am and I am grateful for that. It didn’t sit well with me at the time and I knew I was not willing to let it eat away at my soul. I didn’t need that on my conscience. Those people were lucky to give their first children siblings. I would never begrudge them that.

I’ve never felt such mixed emotion in my life. It is actually possible to be genuinely happy for somebody as they grow their family at the same time as feeling incredibly sad for yourself. It is very difficult to explain but it’s true. My sadness for myself does not in any way diminish the joy I feel for someone else, yet it feels grief filled and all consuming sometimes. How does that work?

So there I was, feeling horrible because I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t care for people’s pregnancy details. I didn’t always ask after their brand new babies (I am so sorry). I had trouble remembering their names (well – there were a lot of them).

I felt like an awful, selfish human being.

But the moment my mum said those words to me, I felt a huge weight fall off me. She was right. I was never clucky. I know that sounds weird because I loved being pregnant (even when I hated it) with the Little Mister. I have ALWAYS wanted children. I have a strong maternal side. I love children. I think kids are cute. I think babies are amazing.

But…I lack the real cluck that a lot of women I know seem to have.

I don’t always need to know every little detail. I can’t talk about baby stuff forever without my eyes eventually glazing over. I like figuring out what works or being able to share what I know with others, but only because it serves a practical purpose. I love my friends’ and family’s babies because they’re my friends’ and family’s babies. Not just because they’re babies. I liked my own kid as a baby because he was my baby. I was NOT impressed with being a big sister when my baby brother came along so many years ago (and yes I still feel bad about that – love ya bro). See? Not clucky.

When people have brand new babies, I am not running as fast as I can to the hospital to meet the little thing. I’m all chill. Like, I’ll meet the kid eventually. Of course I’m very moved and feel honoured to meet a brand new baby while they’re…brand new, but I don’t feel that overwhelming NEED to just because they’re a baby. It depends on who that baby is to me and what their arrival means for their lovely family. I feel like Miranda from Sex and the City sometimes haha (I hope you get that reference).

I still find holding babies really awkward even though I’ve had one. Sure, I’m probably out of practice at this point, but I think it’s also because I lack that cluck. If a new baby is doing the rounds, I can happily not have a cuddle that day. I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything. I know my turn will come. I am not rushing towards the mummy trying to get dibs. I can think they’re just absolutely gorgeous but I’m not going around sniffing heads like a deranged maniac (haha – kidding – be that maniac – good for you – you’re the ‘normal’ one)!

Of course that doesn’t make me a cold hearted monster (I hope). I hope I’ve been the best friend I can be at this time. I hope nobody has felt hurt or has taken it personally when I just couldn’t be there. I do think babies are a miracle of life. Trust me – I’m holding out for my own second miracle. I wouldn’t try this hard if the desire wasn’t so powerful.

It’s just that sometimes I struggle with other people’s baby news because it’s painful for me to care so much. Other times it’s just because I’m not a clucky person.

And that’s OK.

I was putting so much pressure on myself to be someone that I was not. To feel things that I didn’t HAVE to feel. My mum’s seemingly off the cuff remark released me from that pressure. A lot of healing was done that day.

Are you a clucky person? Are you like me and lack the ‘cluck’? 

Our secondary infertility story: Part 3 – Buying tests – it’s a minefield of awkwardness.

This post was written in November, 2015 – about 16 months into the trying for a baby/dealing with secondary infertility thing. I didn’t feel comfortable publishing all of my story in real time (some things needed to play out first), but I couldn’t stop myself from writing it all down. Here is the third instalment of my story…

You can catch up on part 1 here and part 2 here

When we first started this ‘trying for a second baby’ thing, I wasn’t too fussed about testing for ovulation or buying ALL the pregnancy tests. I was coming off the pill again and it had taken about 4-5 months to conceive the Little Mister in 2011 so I expected no immediate results. I had no idea it would take as long as it has (…and we’re still waiting)! Once that amount of time passed, I started to wonder if my body had changed since having my first baby. Maybe I was ovulating at a different time (even though my cycle seemed to be the same in length as it always had been). I decided to try to find a home ovulation testing kit that would work for me. I did the pee on a stick ones where you had to analyse the two lines, but it seemed dicey. I had no idea if I was reading them correctly. I got these from the supermarket mostly. Chucked in with the groceries. Cue nosey check out ladies.

“Oh, are you pregnant?” (I can’t even begin to tell you how that doesn’t make sense)

“Oh, are you trying for a baby?” (said in front of my little man who had no idea)

I left every exchange fuming and swore never to buy anything ‘sensitive’ from there again. A STRANGER’S FERTILITY IS NONE OF YOUR FREAKIN’ BEESWAX, PEOPLE. Unless you are up in my bits for profesh reasons then it is a NO GO ZONE. For reals. Don’t ask me or I will start to imagine violent things happening to you like only a PISSED OFF TO HAVE PMS YET AGAIN person can. I might not know you, but I will find you and I will kill you. Or at least I will threaten to in a way that makes Liam Neeson seem like a fluffy little kitten.

Aha! I thought. I will buy my groceries online – tests included. No nosey check out ladies (and I am singling out ladies because the teenaged boys are far less likely to comment – or give eye contact). YES.

But no.

The delivery driver (who is awesome) comes to me and says, “Here is a list of the things we didn’t have in stock…”

Guess what those things were. Sigh.

Then I found out that Clear Blue (not sponsored but bloody should be) does a digital test. It would be much more obvious and easy to read. Flashing smiley face means you’re reaching peak fertility. Non blinking, solid smiley face means you’re ovulating. Blank circle means you’re not. Simple. You were either in the zone or you weren’t. Perfect. Only thing was the dual hormone one that I liked was only available in a couple of places in my home town. It was freakin’ expensive but worth it for my peace of mind. There is nothing worse than going month after month not conceiving and worrying that you missed your ovulation time. I can handle my body not allowing it, but my own human error? Much more frustrating to think about the possible missed opportunities.

So I headed into the heavily populated pharmacy where I’d found the tests. I hadn’t told anybody about our attempts to make another baby. It was classified information. We were still hoping we’d conceive within a year, keep it quiet and make nice announcements for all the Facebook likes after clearing the first trimester. What dummies. People were really getting on my back about when we’d provide the Little Mister with a sibling, so I was super sensitive about it all. Don’t get me started on why that isn’t cool either.

I find that I have to straddle the line between being suspected of shoplifting for acting too shifty (it’s not like I can hide the tests in my bag until I pay for them) and being so open about it that people start asking questions or starting rumours (it is quite the small world where I live). So I joined the longest line ever (damn it – the longer you wait the more likely someone will notice). When I got to the front, feeling like I might have saved myself some humiliation, the pharmacy assistant said, “Should I be saying GOOD LUCK?”

OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE. SAY NOTHING. IF IN DOUBT, SAY NOTHING. In fact, say nothing anyway.

The next time I braved the line, used all of my life savings and bought two packets. Yes. I figured this would buy me two months without having to face anyone saying something stupid. I thought I felt braver too. I had gone past caring who knew. Or so I thought. Who do I see paying for something at the counter right in front of me? A dude I used to go to school with. Nope. My fear of awkwardness had returned. I suddenly became very interested in celebrity perfumes. La-dee-da. Nothing to see here.

Two more months went by. No luck.

I went back to the pharmacy. Nobody I know in the store? Awesome! The tests were practically half price?! Sign me up!! So I went to the counter full of hope that for once, nobody would cause me embarrassment or piss me off.

“Um. These are scanning at full price. Are you sure these were the ones on special?”

“Yes. I double checked.”

“Let me get my colleague to check it out.”

So the colleague goes and looks on the shelf.

“WHICH ONES WERE THEY?”

“THE CLEAR BLUE DUAL HORMONE BLAH BLAHS.”

OH GOOD LORD.

They ended up giving me the tests for the sale price and I fled to the safety of my car.

Seriously. I just bought a couple of packs online – discounted too. I am done with that shit.

Ever had a similar experience? Want to have a bitch about it? Feel free!

Our secondary infertility story: Part 2 – HSG.

This post was written in October 2015 (about 15 months into our efforts to conceive) while everything was still fresh in my mind. I’m trying to publish the stories that I would have liked to read at the time. These stories haven’t been told by me until now, because it was a sensitive subject that was hard to talk about and I thought it best to wait until it wasn’t so raw. 

You can catch up on part 1 here

I’m quickly learning that sometimes it’s the anticipation of a fertility related procedure that is the worst part. So far I have had an ultrasound (yes – that includes the type where they stick a wand up your hoo ha to get a closer look at things) and today I had an HSG (a procedure where they push dye through your fallopian tubes to check for blockages and stuff – yes – that involves a complete lack of dignity in the hoo ha area too).

I have found both experiences to be very nerve wracking. Waiting to undergo these things was one big mindfuck, to be really blunt with you.

There are two elements to help you lose sleep at night:

  1. Not knowing how you’re going to cope with the physical procedure – it’s quite *ahem* personal and you hope that things won’t hurt or cause you pain or put you at risk of infection (I am a bit sensitive about that because it was an infection that caused me to go into labour some issues when I was heavily pregnant with the Little Mister). You’ve never had some of these things done before, so the unknown can always be daunting.
  2. Not knowing how you’re going to feel emotionally – before, during, after – depending on what the experience is like and what the experts find while they’re exploring/testing. Will the staff you deal with be friendly and have a good bedside manner? Will they explain things to you in a way you understand? Will they make you feel comfortable at such a vulnerable time? What if you get bad news? Is that at least an answer (after spending over a year not knowing what the hell is going on and why you’re not pregnant)? Is no bad news good news? Even if you still have no idea why you can’t conceive?

Today as I was lying there on a big table with my feet up in stirrups, feeling the air on my private parts, I felt all kinds of nervous. The lovely radiology nurse was so good at talking to me – making conversation, showing empathy. I was able to ask questions about the kind of pain I would be dealing with (if any). Nurse people, you are all AMAZING. While I did have a midwife (after a C-section, PUPPP rash, an infection, blood tests out the wazoo and several drips etc) make a stupid comment at me after I had the Little Mister, “Gee, you don’t like pain do you?” I have decided that she was just being a thoughtless cow and it’s OK to cope with the anticipation of something you’ve never had done which might be invasive or hurty in whichever way you need to. For me, asking about the pain level or when I’ll feel the discomfort – having the nurse, phlebotomist or doctor tell me in detail what’s going to happen and what I might feel at each stage is how I cope. It stops me from having an anxiety attack about it all. It helps me to relax. If it helps you too, then do it. If someone doesn’t honour the process you’re going through and how vulnerable you are in that moment, they are in the wrong job. It’s not a reflection on you.

If the nurse hadn’t told me the pain/cramping/discomfort might only last 30 seconds to a minute, I would have freaked out thinking the procedure took longer (it’s not like I’d had it done before). If she hadn’t explained in detail (with warmth and empathy) the process I might have just kept thinking the worst about the words on the consent/information form I’d signed – ‘injecting’, catheter, cramps, ‘side effects’…etc.

I am honestly so overwhelmingly grateful for the people who have been so good to me in this process. The kindness and caring of the staff has been second to none and I admire them so much for bringing that to their work.

In the end, everything happened exactly how the nurse described it might. When it was over in a flash, I was just relieved it wasn’t worse. I was given my dignity back and looked after well.

In both my ultrasound and my HSG, things have come up as seeming to be normal*. Which is great from a structural point of view, but mystifying from a ‘why can’t we conceive?’ point of view!

I am just relieved that I will not have to do any more blood tests or have any more strangers exploring in my private parts for a little while.

I know that it will take a couple of days at least to process everything that’s happened so far. I find that on the day I’m a bit mentally numb, glad I survived a procedure, a little bit weepy, but it doesn’t all sink in for a while as the busyness of getting back to real life kicks in. I just hug the Little Mister and keep on going until I get a moment to myself. Then I let myself bawl, journal it out, use my wonderful support networks. Plan for whatever comes next.

I don’t have my follow up appointment with my doctor until mid-late November. About three weeks from now. I am hoping that he can take all my information gathered from my tests and give us a real direction to head in. I am nervous but excited to actually get started.

*while they didn’t technically see anything wrong, in hindsight I have looked at the X-ray and wondered if the fact that the dye seeped out slower through one of my fallopian tubes could be a factor in my secondary infertility.

Our secondary infertility story: Part 1 (15 months trying to conceive).

This post was written in October 2015 when everything was still fresh in my mind. It hasn’t been published until now, because it was a very difficult thing to talk about and process at the time. I would like to finally share my story of secondary infertility and beyond (currently expecting a little miracle in February 2018 – we are over the moon) over the following days/weeks. It’s both therapy and also hopefully something that someone else might find helpful or informative or interesting. I tried to document my experiences by writing the stuff I would have wanted to read. I’m no hero or crusader but I do hope that I could make at least one person feel less alone. 

As I sit here on the first day of my stupid (literally) bloody visitor for the 15th month since we started trying for a baby, I am feeling a little bit nervous. A little bit overwhelmed. See, I thought waiting for my period was stressful for the 14 months that came before this! The confused feelings of hope versus pessimism fighting each other every single day until I got that negative at home pregnancy test or later, when I’d given up on those and just waited until the bleeding started.

But no…this is a little more stressful! See, there’s all these rules before they start doing some proper tests (I have already had what feels like litres worth of blood tests removed from my body so it totes doesn’t count) and they all depend on where you are in your cycle. I won’t bore you with every little detail, but basically once my period arrives I have to jump into action. An ultrasound 3-4 days in, a blood test to prove I’m not pregnant (doesn’t take a rocket scientist but I do understand why they do it), an X-ray to check my tubes at 10 days (which isn’t as lovely and easy as it sounds and involves stuff stuck up my clacker and dye forced through my tubes)!

I have a long way to go on this journey (even if things go amazingly with early medical intervention for whatever might be wrong with me it will feel like forever haha), but I am starting to learn so many things. Here are some of those things…

It’s all pretty fucking emotional 

I mean, I’m not stupid. I knew this would be an emotional rollercoaster. I mean, duh. But I didn’t realise just how much. I have cried over things that I never thought I would cry over. I think I tried to be all matter of fact going into this, which is a ridiculous expectation because have you met me (or read my blog)?

Some days, the weirdest (in)fertility related stuff will make me cry like a baby. I don’t even mean a single tear rolling down my cheek as I grieve for the baby that feels so far from my reach. I mean, big fat tears that keep on coming. And the craziest thing? It feels so damn good to cry sometimes!

Earlier this month, I found out that the 5K fun run I was going to do with friends wouldn’t be a realistic option, because I will most likely have that X-ray right before it. I had been so excited about the run. If it hadn’t been fertility related, I would have shrugged, made mock angry noises about not being able to go, apologised to my friends and been done with it. But what did I do? I CRIED LIKE A BABY on and off for two whole days. And the thing was, I wasn’t wallowing. I was just crying! It’s like you kind of get on with things, but you cry too. It’s like a release valve that keeps me going, weirdly enough. I guess sometimes the bigger disappointments rise to the surface when you experience smaller ones.

Get a really awesome magazine subscription – treat yo’self!

All these appointments mean some sitting around. I have learned that I really want to make the most of that time. It’s like my poor woman’s version of the mythical ‘me’ time! Before all of this, I considered getting a subscription to my favourite magazine Marie Claire. I then thought, don’t be silly, Kez. When’s the last time you actually got through an issue from cover to cover? Don’t waste your money!

NOW? Now I think it will be the best investment ever and will give me something nice to look forward to – a little distraction. Also, you get a discount if you subscribe, so technically I am saving money 😉

Always a fan of a bargain!

You have to let people in

I know it sounds funny because I’m generally quite an outgoing, open person. But sometimes I just can’t talk about certain tough things going on behind the scenes for me. I freak out about making myself vulnerable or about how people will react. I worry about burdening others with my problems (even though I am always happy to be there for my friends). When we made our first appointment with the specialist, I started to open up a bit with those closest to us and the most wonderful thing happened. A lot of people were full of love and support. I mean, sure, I should have expected that because we have such beautiful people in our lives (hashtag blessed and all that), but I am an anxious freak sometimes. I know it’s wrong, but sometimes I just expect the worst.

I didn’t want to be that person who never talks about it, because no-one ever talks about it. The year leading up to that had been so stressful with nobody to share the struggles with. I decided that I just couldn’t go on any longer keeping it in or I might explode.

When the kindness started coming back to me, I was so overwhelmed. It was the first time in my adult life that I had ever put myself on the line so much. To see that there was nothing but love and positivity was so humbling (and shocking) to me that I actually took a few days to let it sink in and accept it. To all of those who have been there for me/us – I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have no idea how much you’ve made a difference.

Some of the weirdest stuff will make you feel better – just go with it

Want to know something totally embarrassing and ridiculous? Right now, my fight song is Bad Blood by Taylor Swift. Yep. Because each time I get my period (instead of being pregnant), now we’ve got bad blood. It makes me giggle, but it also makes me sing at the top of my lungs like a loony. It’s not even an optimistic song and the metaphor doesn’t quite translate and I really find Taylor Swift irritating, but it makes me feel all bad ass. I get all feisty and for a second, I feel like I’m gonna blow up the place with my awesomeness and (sometimes) good hair and maybe everything will be OK. I am not even gonna apologise for it. I’m just gonna take the laughs where I can. Even if mostly I’m just laughing at myself. #squadgoals (OMG I hope you know that was a joke)!

The other day, my mum (who is amazing and went through infertility with my dad before they adopted my brother and I) said, “You just have to learnt to go with the flow…literally.”

Yeah, it’s funny. So expect stupid ‘period’ jokes*. If you’re too grossed out, you might need to find another blog haha.

Get organised

I just bought myself a whole bunch of planners and stuff. It’s helped for two reasons. One being that now I know where the hell I’m supposed to be and when. There are so many dates and times and appointments thrown at you when you start this process. I have to remember haematology appointments (I may have a little blood disorder** – no biggie), specialist appointments, dates to have blood tests by, ultrasound dates, blah blah. It’s a bit overwhelming. I have a dedicated folder to keep my referrals and test requests from my doctor in. The idea of losing some of those just gives me anxiety! I have to know what’s going on each week and I admit I had become a bit chaotic and disorganised before this, so it’s been a great kick up the arse.

The second benefit to being more organised is that it helps me to feel in control. It calms me. At a time of my life where I couldn’t be more out of control of what’s going on (i.e. not knowing what’s wrong with me or whether I’ll be able to get pregnant again or when that might possibly happen), having a way to keep organised just makes me feel like I’m nailing something. I can breathe out, knowing that I haven’t forgotten anything.

I hope that sharing this stuff helps somebody else. If you’re going through this too, I am cheering you on. I really am. I know that I am new to this whole process and I can’t imagine what it’s like to try for multiple years with no success***, but I am sending lots of love x

I shall leave you with this…

x

*It actually got less and less funny

**I was subsequently tested again and got the all clear – turns out I have a slight tendency to be a ‘bleeder’ but I don’t have any diagnosis for Von Willebrands as originally suspected

***3 years later…