So, im going to change tac here a bit and talk about something that no one tells you about.
When you leave the hospital after losing a baby, they give you a wealth of sheets about how to spot problems with your recovery, infections, retained tissue etc, but no where does it tell you what a bitch mother nature can be.
1. You immediately want to be pregnant again – i don’t think I’ve come across one woman who doesn’t feel this way, be it a MC, TFMR or still born. I was 21 weeks and 4 days when i had Milo, and if i could have been pregnant the next day, i would’ve been, despite that meaning being pregnant for 14 months!! You feel empty, that sense of knowing its not just you anymore goes away and you just feel broken and lost, and empty. Those movements that i hated between diagnosis and having him, were now so beautiful to me and i missed them.
After the initial post birth bleed, which lasted 3 weeks, hubby and i got back to baby making, and some!!!!! We needed to be close, after everything, but in the back of my head i knew id be more fertile following the pregnancy and really hoped for a freebie (IVF free) BFP!! Some women do manage to conceive before their first AF (aunt flo/period) and ive chatted to them and found it is a total head f**k…it can often end in a MC as your body just isn’t ready, and the emotions of guilt and fear can be overwhelming and make the new pregnancy very hard to deal with. Sadly ill never know, as 7 weeks after the birth, AF arrived.
2. Your body lies to you – so 7 weeks post TFMR, Im in a pretty ok place, mentally, well some days anyway. So i took AF in my stride, decided to see it as a positive, my body was recovering, thats good. However, after 200 days AF free, it did also hit home, i wasn’t pregnant anymore. That chapter of my life was well and truly over. I wanted to focus on the positive so decided to get back to baby making with hubby!
Prior to be being on any birth control my cycles were 28 days bang on, to the hour! When i came off the pill, they lengthened to 33 days. So 27 days after my first AF, comes the next one, much worse than the first, I’ve no idea why, you’d think the first one would be bad, but the second seems to be much worse for some reason. I was tracking ovulation (ov) and got a positive 9 days before AF arrived – as i have a 17 day lutel phase, i knew that couldn’t be right. And then i read that OPKs don’t work properly for a while after a pregnancy! Probably should have read that before wasting the money, but hey ho! At least i could blame the OPK for the weird result. I thought perhaps my body had been reset and would follow the pattern it did before going on the pill. How wrong i was! Well im not patient, at all, but id had a period and decided it was time to get in touch with the clinic
My fetal specialist had informed me that after 1 period i was ok to TTC again as it showed my body had recovered. So imagine how devastated i was when the clinic informed me i had to wait 3 bleeds…wtf??! I went back to the consultant who wrote to the head of IVF to plead my case and get me accepted with the next af.
Next cycle starts and i track ov, only with OPK’s, I’ve never tracked using temperatures, sounds like a right faff but i have learnt that temping is actually the only way to confirm you have ovulated, the tests show the hormones are doing their thing, but temping actually proves you have ovulated, something that cant be detected on a test! So anyway, we get a positive so get cracking, and about 8 days later, the symptoms started….stretching pain, increased sense of smell, nausea. Im secretly thinking, my god, we’ve done it, and CD27 comes and goes and still no BFP, CD33 comes, I’ve gotta be pregnant right? Still no BFP. On CD39 AF appears outta no where – what the hell???
I turn to my trusted ladies who are also TTC after a TFMR and they explain, I’ve not ovulated at all, despite the positive OPK, so my cycle was long and AF light as there was no egg to trigger the lining to thicken. This was new to me, despite having PCO, I’ve always had a period, sometimes had to wait 35 days but never 39. How could my body do this to me? Give me all the signs and symptoms, only to take it all back and stick two fingers up at me by not even releasing an egg at all!!!!! Oh my god, what cruel joke is this?! But my ladies helped me through, again, told me it happened to them and i must not worry, my body has been through a trauma and has a lot of healing to do.
I called the clinic again but they said no, i told them about the letter and they said theyd come back to me. They got my favourite nurse to call me back and she told me they would go ahead, but only because i was pushing for it and they really didn’t think it was a good idea. Due to my 9 day lutel phase, i reluctantly agreed to wait 3 bleeds, they kept throwing MC risks at me but i didn’t hear it, i didn’t care, i just wanted to to try, properly, when there was an actual chance rather than relying on my weak eggs and hubby’s gay sperm. But i do as I’m told, so we waited….
So after my 39 day cycle, the symptoms all happened again, but i knew it couldn’t be a pregnancy, hubby and i were back at work by now and shattered after 9/10 weeks off so the baby making wasn’t happening as much as it should. What i did notice this cycle was i knew when I was ovulating, no tests needed, instead I was treated to painful stabbing pains around my ovary (it changes sides depending on which ovary is releasing an egg). My morning wee also smelt ‘different’, i know thats not pleasant but i told you id be honest!
AF arrived on CD28, so i thought, once again, that i was returning to pre pill cycles, i was actually quite pleased about that.. I was on my 3rd period since the baby so i called the clinic, we were finally accepted!!!!! Woohoo right? Yep, right up until 16 hours before the embryo transfer was due and they call me to tell me the incubators had broken and my single remaining frozen embryo, or frostie, couldnt be defrosted….it was cancelled!!!
That hit me hard, i have to admit. I was so geared up for it and so so ready to be pregnant again (it didn’t occur to me it might not work) but i didn’t want a cooked embryo, just a defrosted one, and i fully expected a 27/28 day cycle again, which wasn’t long to wait really. So next af arrives and we request again, get accepted and rightly so seen as it was their error!! I start going for bloods daily as per usual and given my cycles i thought id see a surge by day 10, but alas, it wasn’t to be. Finally on day 17 they saw my LH surge and i was booked in for transfer 6 days later.
The embryo lost 10% of its cells upon defrosting but the embryologist assured me this was fine, by the time i had the transfer, it had regained those lost cells, perfect! No reason not to get pregnant! Except i didn’t. I knew within 4 days it hadn’t worked, even so, i did 2 pregnancy tests only for AF to arrive the next day in full force! I thought this would push me over the edge but i kept telling myself it was better now than in 20 weeks time and although it was hard, that mantra got me through it.
That nicely brings us up to date with the IVF journey! Im entitled to 2 cycles on the NHS, which I’m so grateful for as it really is a postcode lottery! Im currently awaiting a letter from the clinic before starting again so we are currently on an IVF break.
3. People will say some silly things to you. Losing a child is hard, for all involved, parents, family, friends, even the casual acquaintance feels they should say something of comfort, more often than not though, they say something really silly. This also true for people who know nothing of infertility.
Some of my most loathed phrases include;
-Everything happens for a reason – what???? Can you tell me the reason, tell me why I’ve put myself through years of treatment only to lose my baby to a condition so rare doctors have no idea why it occurs? No? Then don’t say it!!!
-God has a plan for you – yeah to push me to my very limit and never reward me for getting up in the morning despite it all
-God wouldn’t give you more than you can handle – are you freaking kidding me? So i have to go through this, just because i can?
The thing is, people who say these things genuinely care and honestly feel they are consoling you in some small way. They are looking for reasons things happen, when there just isn’t one. Ive had to learn to smile and say thank you….although that has dwindled to an uh-huh of late. I have to remember that these people care about me and have no idea what I’m feeling or going through, and that none of this is their fault. An ‘I’m sorry’ would suffice but people feel thats not enough, and id be one of those people if the roles were reversed….its just something that you get used to!
So those are the things i have really noticed in the 6 months since i had my baby, things no one told me to expect, and i hope in some small way, they help other bereaved parents.