This blog entry is more like a diary and it’s a longer one than normal so you might need a cuppa and a biscuit.
So after much conflabulations we have decided to try for another baby. Should be easy right? After all I got pregnant within roughly 3 months with both girls and I’ve been in the extremely fortunate position to bring 2 pregnancies to term.
Once I stopped breastfeeding O I skipped off to the Doctors to get back on the patch as I found that was the best contraceptive for me. There’s only one type of pill you can go on when breastfeeding and I found I didn’t like it and I could be hopeless at remembering to take it.
In June 2018 and I came off the patch and allowed my body 2-3 cycles to get back to normal assuming I would be pregnant at roughly Christmas or in the New Year given past experience. I was utterly determined to try and think of things to do during pregnancy to at least attempt to enjoy it. I never really felt I glowed with either pregnancy “where’s my F*cking glow?!” was a regular complaint. I also felt that I had a few regrets over my mat leave with O as mentally it was such a difficult time and there were several things I wanted a “do-over” on.
Fast forward to June 2019 and there hasn’t been any reason to pee on a stick. Aunt Flo has become regular and only 1 or 2 cycles that were a 3 week blip instead of 4. I’ve tried every little fate joke I can think of: “oh I’ve bought a new bottle of gin, watch me get pregnant this month!”; “buying ovulation sticks will definitely mean I won’t need to use them”…….month after month has rolled by.
In this time there have been 10 (that’s right 10) pregnancy announcements. These range from friends, extended family and Facebook friends. It was beginning to feel like a bit of a joke when I said to Andrew “everyone is getting pregnant”
“Don’t be ridiculous Claire, there can’t be that many!”
“There have been 9 Andrew!” I wrote out a list of names and it actually got to 10. See, I wasn’t being mad.
Now each one is great; I mean it’s fine but now I’m that weird one who starts looking at the statistics and not having the “look I have elbows!” reaction. 1 in 4 pregnancies don’t make it to baby coming home. So who’s it going to be? At the time of writing in June 2019, 2 babies have made it home. The 11th isn’t a pregnancy announcement; it’s a miscarriage announcement. I quickly post off face masks and chocolate because they need to look after themselves. That’s the shitty thing about being a member of the really shit club: that nagging voice is always there: 1 in 4; 14 babies a day. Oh, and I’m forever bursting bubbles over sleep pods and anything not advised by The Lullaby Trust. Better to be informed than woefully ignorant.
I decide to get a routine appointment on the phone with a doctor to see what the crack is about getting tested because I feel something isn’t right. It’s been so easy before so what’s the deal now? We get off to the usual start for me: “do you have my notes on the screen in front of you?” ok yes she does so surely there’s a big red note: PATIENT HAS HAD A NEO-NATAL DEATH; probably not.
I explain my history and tell her about Alexandra and Ophelia and we generally have a good chat.
Until she asks: “how old is Ophelia?”
“And how old is Alexandra?” Time stopped whilst I figure out what has just happened. Yep the doctor who I told that my baby had died a mere 4 minutes ago has forgotten THAT SHE DIED. Oh FFS.
“Erm; well she SHOULD BE 3 ½”
“Oh yes of course sorry” Honestly, she’d remembered the hard bit: their names!
We managed to fluff past that bit and regained the control of my eyes rolling all over the place in exasperation.
We agree that I can go for some tests now and that we can explore the option of Andrew having some tests too later down the line. I’m duly informed that we don’t qualify for any IVF treatment on the NHS as we already have had babies; as was my assumption. We would need to be self-funded if we needed and decided to go down that route. There’s always got to be a strict criteria naturally but don’t worry kids; there’s always plenty of money for Trident and bombing people abroad! “Luckily” I’m at the right part in my cycle to get the first set of blood tests taken that same day and I’m able to get booked in with the nurse for my second set in July.
So later that afternoon I took myself off to the doctors and scoured the pregnancy information board trying to work out what community team my new area falls under and if there’s any outside chance that I possibly run into my first midwife (after the hiding in the pasta aisle at Morrison’s fiasco) I’m assured that there wouldn’t be as we’re the other side of Leeds.
The nurse is one of those in her 50s-60s with a kindly face. We have a good chat and she asks about Alexandra’s name and she shares that she lost a son when he was 18. Despite my silly veins, she’s a dab hand and gets the blood out really quickly and painlessly. I compliment on her technique; honestly one of the best blood tests I’ve ever had! She leans in and pats me on the arm and quietly says:
“you know sometimes it helps conception if you’re on your front; you know…. if you’re on all fours! It tilts the pelvis!” Ha brilliant! And it’s at times like that I love being a Yorkshire lass on home turf. I’m sure that husbands and partners the world over would be delighted with that news!
Wednesday 3rd July
Time for more blood tests and swabs; lie back and think of England. It’s no worse than a smear and the nurse who must be of a similar age to me is nice so that takes the edge off. I see on BBC Breakfast the sad news that the mother who was stabbed to death at the weekend’s baby has died. Just utterly devastating.
Monday 8th July
I have my follow up phone appointment with another Doctor to discuss my test results and it’s an absolute farce because I’m further down the phone call list and my turn comes when I’m on the bus and I can’t hear a dam thing. The bus is of course packed to the rafters. My results are normal apart from one thing: progesterone; meaning the hormone in control of producing the egg every month isn’t behaving itself. The eggs might not be of good quality if one is produced at all. Pfffft. I hate being proved right; so there is something. I could be staring down the barrel of secondary infertility.
Tetchy is probably the best word to describe how I feel. I’m not completely and utterly devastated as I know I’ve been extremely fortunate in being pregnant twice and carrying both Alexandra and Ophelia to term. Maybe Ophelia was my free pass after Alexandra’s death? But seriously, if she had lived I wouldn’t be even contemplating a third baby and therefore not having to think about infertility (probably). I ask the doctor to refer me to Leeds Fertility for further tests and to investigate the possibility of IVF. I’m also advised it’s worth Andrew getting some tests too to find out if it’s just me or if there’s an issue with both us. Oh goody, I’ve got to nag Andrew into speaking to a doctor about awkward things. Great.
A friend is going through IVF but she doesn’t live nearby but gives me the non-rose tinted reality of IVF which is what I need. I also chat with a Mum friend and go to a SANDs meeting to get things off my chest. Thankfully, I chosen the right friend to talk to as she doesn’t bat me off with a flippant comment or remind me that other people have it worse: I’m allowed to be angry at my body. I’ve already been through enough. I don’t need this as well.
28th July 2019
After some nagging Andrew booked and has had his phone doctor’s appointment. He has some to pick up some paperwork/forms from the Doctor’s and he can only do this on a Friday afternoon when he’s off; which he promptly forgets to do. This means it’s punted down the road another week as the surgery doesn’t open on a Saturday.
3rd August 2019
Andrew has been a very good boy and picked up his leaflet (hilarious reading) and booked his “little cup” appointment; it’s for October. A letter arrives saying I’m on a waiting list for fertility exploration/treatment and asking for our full details. So lots more waiting to do.
We return from an absolutely fantastic weekend away in Edinburgh at the festivals to the devastating news that a couple in a wider circle of friends has had a still born baby girl. I read the news on Facebook and immediately break down. I go downstairs to tell Andrew and I don’t think I’m even speaking English in between my sobs. I send over some messages and a reading that we had at Alexandra’s service. After getting hold of their address I order some freezer meals for them. I tried to remember what would have been useful for us in the early days and that was it. We had people do a shop for us but I just didn’t want to cook. I desperately want to run over and try to “save the day” but it’s not appropriate so I just keep sending the odd message to check in and say how beautiful their photos are.
It’s the run up to Alexandra’s birthday and we’re grumpy. Just utterly grumpy. I want to be planning a Frozen themed something or other but we’re not. And it’s raining. Lord it’s raining. I know that’s what the UK does best but jeez give it a rest! We have a great weekend away with some of my Guiding friends and we plod through September.
We’ve got our first consultant appointment at the fertility clinic at the start of October and Aunt Flo is late…..and she’s late around Alexandra’s birthday. I’m so away with the fairies that I drive my car into our wall. Brilliant. I’ve in the main been like clockwork and so, against our better judgement, get our hopes up. Dates are quickly worked out and I’ve put dibs on a name. I take 2 tests; both negative. But I don’t take this too much to heart as we had 4 false negatives with Ophelia. And then…..boom hi Aunt Flo on the anniversary of Alexandra’s death. So off we go to the consultant appointment. I so wanted to be one of those couples who have to cancel.
The consultant appointment is vastly different to what I’m expecting. He rattles through questions and isn’t fazed by anything. He explains which test we would need to pay for and we decide to the extra blood test and I’m also booked for an internal scan to see what’s going on. Andrew also has a date with a cup. The consultant doesn’t seem bothered about the test results I’ve had done via the GP. He appears to give the impression that the GP was being massively over cautious. Let’s do more tests and keep trying; we’ve got a 50% chance of conceiving naturally in the 2nd year of trying. So all in all quite positive.
My internal scan is actually a breeze. In my experience a smear has been way more awkward. I try not to look at the doctor’s face looking for any emotion or hint of what she’s seeing. Science is cool. Once she’s taken all the images she needs she turns the screen and lets me see all the gubbins. A bit of fluid on the c-section scar but nothing to be concerned about; it’s healed very nicely. She shows me the womb, counts the eggs and says she thinks a certain side is getting ready and points out the egg that’s getting ready to launch as it were. Fascinating!
Meanwhile I chase my GP as I’ve heard nothing from the form I had to hand in from the consultant requesting copies of reports and more tests that have to be ordered through them. My surgery is having building work and the form was put in a pile of paperwork next to a printer on the temporary reception desk so it’s going to be a minor miracle if it doesn’t get lost……
It took 2 weeks and me chasing twice for the GP to call back and confirm that yes they’ve got the reports request and that I can collect the pee pot for Andrew and I can book in the next blood test at a time convenient to me. I have to Ophelia with me to the blood test and the nurse looks about 12. She has to do a bit of a wiggle to get to my silly vein and Ophelia is utterly fascinated and asks “does it hurt?” “no it feels a bit awkward; a bit of an ache”… and then she excitedly says “it’s coming out Mummy!” So I’m hoping she goes down the doctor/nurse route than serial killer after all that staring at needles and blood!
We have our second consultant appointment and again he doesn’t seem overly phased by our results. Basically we have a semi official diagnosis of “unexplained secondary sub-fertility”. He leaves the decision with me if I want to have the tubes checked as he doesn’t see a reason for them to become suddenly blocked. So more waiting and trying and if no natural pregnancy by September 2020. It’s IVF for us. At a minimum cost of £6000 per round.
This year is going to be great right? After keeping a couple of friends waiting we finally are able to book our trip to NYC in May as a celebration of meeting 10 years ago on a Girlguiding trip to Botswana. I’m so excited about this as it’ll be my first ever girls only foreign trip (not counting study abroad) and also it’ll be my 4th trip to NYC and hopefully in warm weather and not snow!
We hear about Covid-19 vaguely in the February and we’re not too worried and assume that it will pass us by a lot like MERs and SARs….boy we were wrong! I had a stinking cold during February half term and it’s the first time ever that I’ve taken a full week off work. A month later I get a sore throat and Andrew has odd symptoms like losing his sense of taste and smell but at this point that isn’t an official symptom.
Covid-19 wise the picture is just getting worse and worse and Ophelia’s temperature spiked for the 2nd time in 8 days and so on the Monday evening 17th March we decide to self isolate just to be on the safe side. A week later, the country goes into lockdown.
At first it’s all very different and kind of exciting. We’d long ago given up on ever getting pregnant naturally and were enjoying ourselves and booking in theatre and comedy gigs as we were at a point where we had a little bit more freedom with our time. At the back of our minds we assumed that we would start the process of IVF in the autumn.
I tried to broach the subject of taking the pressure off every month with Andrew but he translated that as me wanting to stop trying. Eventually during lockdown he got it and we tried to make the best of the time that we had unexpectedly been given. He got 3 rooms decorated during lockdown!
We celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary mid May and Andrew managed to get a delivery from a local Italian restaurant (after I found the menu and gave him the number!) He redeemed himself by getting some nice fizzy wine for the meal. As our wedding anniversary was a Monday night we decided to leave the pink champagne until the weekend……
And so it was on the morning of Saturday 23rd May I took a test and there were the 2 blue lines shouting loudly and proudly. Just like Alexandra’s test, there was no doubting that result!
So there we are; just under 2 years after starting the process of trying to expand the Clan we finally had the positive test result.