Return of the bitterness

Ever since I found out about my two blocked fallopian tubes, I have adopted a sanguine, laid-back attitude to fertility. Even J has to admit I’ve been pretty relaxed.

Want to bring your kids round? Not a problem – I’ll supply the toys. A Facebook post on how awful motherhood is? Like! (Or Sad Emoji With Single Tear, depending on how much my heart is wrenched). Pregnant lady on the Tube? Why, of course you must have my seat. I wouldn’t have it any other way…

Then we spent last weekend at my best friend’s house in Bristol. My friend, S, has Baby A, who is now more like Toddler A, for she is 18 months old, saying lots of words (including ‘Dada?’ as she pawed wonderingly at J’s beard) and is generally at a very cute stage. Plus, S has what we jokingly refer to as ‘such an eye’, which means A is always dressed in a little pink tutu or tiny Nike high-tops or dungarees with a kitten on the bum or something similarly adorbs.

We spent the weekend playing with A, making dens with her and generally playing house. On the Sunday morning S and I went for a run, leaving J reading Each Peach Pear Plum with her. My ovaries.

It was fun – but this week I have felt the bitterness beginning to return.

Instagram posts of people’s kids make me cross. Someone I went to school with posted a sad lament at the fact her daughter had stopped wanting to breastfeed and I wrote a lengthy reply along the lines of “at least you have a daughter, you ungrateful bitch” (and then immediately deleted it, of course. I’m not a monster…).

Then, earlier today, I saw a heavily pregnant woman walking towards me, and got the full range of envy/hate/bitterness, all in one rush. I haven’t had that for a while. It took me by surprise. I think it took her by surprise, too – not many people scowl furiously at pregnant ladies.

It’s now just under two months until my laparoscopy. We sent off the IVF documentation to the genetics clinic this week. I just need to breathe, and be patient. And, probably, I should get off social media for a while…

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Pass the tissues

There has been one, modest blessing from all this trying for a baby (apart from all the sex. *glances anxiously at J*): taking pre-pregnancy pills, in all their zincy goodness, for more than a year and a half has meant 18 months free from colds. Hallelujah.

Until three weeks ago, that is, when J had a light sniffle – and two weeks and six days ago, when my face liquified and the contents of my head leaked out of my nostrils. Then, two weeks ago, J gave a gentle cough, and the following day I contracted a mild case of Ebola.

So yesterday, when J touched his forehead and exclaimed “why, darling. I do believe I am beginning to feel under the weather”, I ran. I ran for my life.

It was too late. It is 6pm and I am in bed.

This saga is frustrating for many reasons: firstly, being ill is crap and I thought I had found the glorious secret to avoiding it.

Secondly, I have to present a live podcast, in front of an audience, with people who are actually professionally good at it, this week. My hair is a mess and my roots are several inches long and I have nothing to wear and I don’t really know what I’m talking about and who does this podcasting bollocks as a career anyway? It’s not even a real word. It sounds like something a Teletubby would do.

But lastly, it is crap because this is not the time I am supposed to be ill. I have reserved that time: it is 5 June and the week thereafter, and then the run-up to my IVF, and then hopefully also for three months after my IVF, when I will merrily vomit my guts up before settling into a rosy, pregnant glow.

The period before that, though, is supposed to be our chill-out time, when we go on holiday a lot and drink too much and get so thin people gasp and go “to be honest, I think she’s lost a bit too much weight” and have lots of youthful, carefree sex. Being ill is not part of the plan.

Besides, I literally cannot take time off at the moment – I feel far too guilty about the five-day doctor-designated rest period after the laparoscopy (followed, ahem, by a three-day jaunt to Ireland for a friend’s wedding).

Urgh. Pass the tissues.

100/100

O hey. Sorry about the radio silence. I have just returned from a week eating schnitzels and regaining all my Christmas weight in Austria.

Our week away was not, in any way, relaxing, for we were accompanied by my entire, extended family of in-laws, including a seven month-old in the throes of cutting her second and third teeth and two boys, aged four and 18 months, who – well, they are two boys, aged four and 18 months. The result was that our trip was soundtracked by a constant, low-level hum, punctuated by periods of intense shrieking.

On one day, as she attempted to quell the screams of her snot-covered toddler, a cousin, the mother of the two boys, confessed her and her husband’s enthusiasm for a third had begun to ebb.

“We decided both to write down on a piece of paper how much, out of 100, we wanted a third, and he had 60/100 and I had 70/100. The trouble is, now he [proffers toddler] is like this [indicates screaming], we’ve both gone down to about 10/100.”

That afternoon, as it all became too much, I dragged J out for a walk up a mountain. Having gazed at the view (some clouds, a motorway) for a few minutes, we headed down through a forest. I had to ask.

“We’re about to go through a difficult period. IVF is going to be horrible. After this week, out of 100, how much do you actually want kids?”

He paused.

“Right now, it’s pretty much at about 40/100. But on the other hand, I 100/100 don’t not want kids. And I think that is enough.”

One to keep in mind when we are the parents of shrieking, snot-covered toddlers.

Coping strategies

I have a strong memory of a trip to the supermarket with my mother and brother that took place when I was but a girl of 12.

At the time, my little brother was five. Because he was autistic, he found it hard to understand why he should be shoved into a shopping trolley once a week and carted up and down the aisles of a grocery store. He screamed the entire time. Screamed. When you’re 12 and a boy you like works at the supermarket in question, it’s not a cool look.

During this particular trip, though, my brother was quiet. We were a couple of aisles in when I figured out why: my mum was feeding him grapes out of a bag she had picked up – one of those ones they weighed at the checkout to determine how much you should pay.

“But mama,” I cried in anguish as another grape disappeared into my brother’s gob. “You are such a moral, upstanding woman. How could you so cruelly deceive the kind, gentle folk who put the food on our table?”

“Coping strategies, dear,” she replied. “We all need them.”

It’s day 23 of my cycle and, despite the blocked tubes and the laparoscopies and the IVF we are currently in the process of jumping through hoops for, the Little Voice of Hope piped up today.

“You’re not PMTing like you usually would be at this time of the month,” it whispered. “You had a dizzy spell earlier. You’re not spotting. You’re probably pregnant. Go on. Take a test…”

But like my mother before me, I am cunning. I have worked out a coping strategy, too. I let the voice whisper its sweet nothings to me. Then, when it is finished, I shout, at the top of my voice, “SHUT THE FUCK UP”. 

And then I get on with my day.

Other people’s babies

I’ve been up since 6am, stress-eating cheese left over from last night’s dinner party, for today is my godson Max’s third birthday party.

This means not only must I endure a room full of three-year-olds (and quite possibly their younger siblings) – but I have to face his other godmother, who Max’s mum awkwardly informed me last week has just had her 12 week scan. Ooof.

My babied-up friends were quick with the quips about how infertility will feel like a blessing once I’ve spent an afternoon in a room full of screaming toddlers jacked up on sugar and boshing e-numbers like they’re, uh, smarties.

But going to events like this and not being part of The Mum Club is hard. Telling self-deprecating stories about little Ottilie’s latest adventures in bed-wetting is how parents bond at these things. It’s all they talk about.

If you tell them you don’t have kids, they laugh and shake their heads and start to reminisce about late nights and being able to be spontaneous. I don’t know how to respond to that, other than suggesting that, if it’s so galling, they just need to say the word and I will whisk little Ottilie home with me, never to be seen again… No, I thought not.

With impeccable timing, this morning my best friend, who lives in Bristol, texted me to ask whether she, her other half and her 18-month-old can stay in a couple of weeks’ time.

I said no.

Turning my oldest and dearest friend down makes me feel deeply, deeply selfish. I can tell she is annoyed at me. But the prospect of a baby (especially one as cute as Ava) sleeping in our spare room, the room in which our baby should be sleeping? That is too painful to bear.

This part of infertility – the social side, if you will – is one of the toughest parts of the whole, horrible fiasco. Babies are everywhere and the older I get, the more of my friends announce their little bundles of joy. I know I have to suck it up – but being faced on a daily basis with the one thing I can’t have makes the pain worse.

In other news, I have my HSG – injecting my uterus with dye and then x-raying it to see if my fallopian tubes are, er, tubular – tomorrow. I am trying my best not to think about it – particularly as, despite it being day 10 of my cycle, I am still spotting slightly. If it’s still going tomorrow, they might not be able to do the test.

So, yeah. Trying not to think about it…

 

That’s that

Well, I can officially say the Clomid didn’t work: cycle number three reached an undignified end when I burst into our bedroom yesterday morning, covered in snot and tears, brandishing a negative pregnancy test. J was less understanding than I would have hoped. He managed a croaky “I’m sorry” from under the bedclothes. To be fair it was 6am.

Wednesday was also the day we went to see the infertility specialist for the first time. It took us almost six months just to get the appointment, so I guess a part of me was hoping to come out with some kind of miracle – or at least another few rounds of Clomid. Or, you know. A newborn.

We didn’t get any of those. We also didn’t get much eye contact, or much of her looking at anything other than her screen. We told her our entire story – what felt like the 6,000th time we have gone through it with someone in the NHS – and then I started crying, and she had no idea what to do other than push a box of tissues across her desk.

(NHS tissues are tiny, by the way. Each one is designed to absorb a single tear. I used almost the whole box, then I felt bad for wasting NHS resources. Welcome to austerity Britain.)

She referred me for an HSG, a delightful little procedure whereby they inject dye into your uterus and fallopian tubes, then x-ray you to assess whether there are any blockages, and also yet another, internal, ultrasound. (I didn’t even know you could do an internal ultrasound until all this began. Imagine my surprise when they first whipped out the wand…)

When I woke up this morning I felt… bleak. Until now, there’s been a glimmer of hope that we can do this naturally, or as naturally as possible, without more involvement from doctors.

But yesterday the gynae all but told us outright IVF is likely to be the only way forward. That means more prodding, more poking – and months and months more waiting.

It’s the waiting that’s killing me. The earliest follow-up appointment, after the tests are done, is in July. For someone as impatient as I am, 18 months of trying has been a peculiar kind of torture. The suggestion it will be another seven months before we even begin to proceed with the bureaucracy surrounding IVF might just destroy me.

Some questions on Clomid

The last you heard of me (before I started moaning about my age), I was celebrating my enthusiastic new GP.

To be fair, she was great. But the pace of the NHS could be beaten comfortably in a race by most glaciers, and so I have lost patience and gone temporarily private.

I knew I wasn’t ovulating, for I have been diligently using OPKs and tracking BBT for months. Thus, I was pretty sure all I needed was a couple of rounds of Clomid and, boom, a baby would ensue. At the time, it made sense that I went private.

I’ve just started my second round and… I dunno.

The trouble is, there’s no one to ask. Mr Private Doctor is an appointment only kind of guy. I have exhausted the GP’s pretty limited knowledge of infertility (although her “aww honeyyy…” face cannot be improved upon) and it turns out literally no one in real life talks about infertility. Apart from on internet forums. Which make Donald Trump look like a beacon of accuracy.

So, here are the questions I would like to ask about Clomid, but that I have no one to ask. Answers on the back of a postcard, please.

  • When actually counts as the first day of your cycle? Because, you know, the bleeding started about six days after ovulation this time around, and progressing into more of a… gradual buildup. So I kind of guessed what my second day might be.
  • Related: does it matter if you take it on the wrong day? Am I going to die of that?
  • Related: today I felt a bit fainty. Is it because I took it on the wrong day? Am I destroying my (admittedly already not entirely functional) reproductive system?
  • Is it normal to feel like there is something sitting on your chest, all the time? Sometimes it’s about the weight of a small dog – a chihuahua, say – and sometimes it’s more of a three-year-old. Either way, breathing is not always completely easy. But that’s cool, right?
  • You know how Clomid is supposed to trick your brain into thinking it needs to release chemicals that make you ovulate? And you know how if you’re stressed you don’t ovulate? What happens if taking the Clomid coincides with your most stressful week ever? Will it still work?
  • Say, hypothetically, I got pregnant, and then I started bleeding because that’s pretty much what I do, and then I took more Clomid? What would that do? Really more as a thought exercise than anything at this stage.
  • Does my level of positivity have an impact on it working? Because right now, I cannot visualise getting pregnant. I’m trying to be super positive… but I just can’t imagine it happening.
  • Will you hold my hand please?

By the way, I have an appointment with an NHS specialist in February… but honestly, I can’t help but feel a new geological era will begin before the NHS works out what’s going on with my inner workings.