Saturday, 6 May 2017

The long and bumpy road

We got married nearly 4 years ago, on the best day ever in June 2013.  Like many newlyweds we quickly abandoned the contraceptives in order to start a family. 2013 was a big year. We got married, I started a secondment post, taking a step up the career ladder, and we bought our first home. 

Moving into 2014, we started actively trying. This basically means, ovulation kits and timed sex. As the months went on and we neared the year mark, we were both starting to worry. A number of other things happened in my life around this time. I was the first to arrive at 2 very separate, sudden deaths. Within the team, I'm the only person that had happened to at that point. I attempted to handle it as professionally as possible but was obviously affected by them. 

A close family friend who had been receiving treatment for breast cancer found out she had bone mets. I found a lump on my breast about 3 weeks before my 30th birthday. When I was seen in breast clinic 2 weeks later, it had already disappeared and was totally fine. 

Looking back now I realise the combination of these things alongside the beginnings (not that I knew that at the time) of our infertility journey, led to how I felt next. 

I started having panic attacks. Something I hadn't experienced since my second year of uni (2004) I would get half way to work and have to stop somewhere to cry, maybe call Ben, and then calm down. Sometimes I wouldn't manage it and get to work in tears. Gradually, from August 2014 to about March 2015, things got worse. I had a particularly terrible week, admitted defeat, and was signed off by my GP. 

The guilt I had at this time was immense. I barely told anyone that I was off sick. It was strictly need to know. 

It was around this time the GP did my routine blood tests, suggested Ben have a semen analysis, and referred us to sub-fertility clinic. That was the real start of our fertility treatment journey. 

I had about 5 months off work. Counselling and medication helped to get me strong enough to face the next steps. Further tests revealed very little and we were "diagnosed" with unexplained infertility. We went on to have 2 unsuccessful rounds of IUI with clomid. 

Moving into 2016 and we started our work up for the one funded round of IVF we can get on the NHS in our county. 5 fertilised embryos, one fresh transfer, 2 frozen transfers, with a further 6 months off work following a chemical pregnancy and here we are today, Friday 5th May 2017.

We went for a 10 week scan on Friday. It showed that the baby we thought we were going to have stopped growing at 7 weeks and 5 days. At our 7 week scan there was a heartbeat. There was no foetal heartbeat on Friday. It's called a missed miscarriage. 

I still feel quite pregnant, I have a little bloated bump, and no symptoms of miscarriage. We're having a scan on Tuesday to confirm the findings of Fridays scan, and then we'll discuss the "management of miscarriage".

I'm not writing all this because "woe is me". I'm writing because mental health is really important, Infertility totally sucks, and raising awareness of how the two can go hand in hand is essential. 

I'm also writing to say, that I'm coping so much better with this situation than I thought. We both are. It's going to be shit going through the miscarriage. It's going to be painful physically and emotionally. It is the end of our treatment journey and it's not the outcome we wanted. 

Life is worth living. There is so much good in our life together. So much for us to discover, so many places we want to go, beautiful things we want to see and wonderful people we want to share it with. 

It's going to be a bumpy road, but it's time to close this chapter of our lives. We are stronger than ever. I'm writing this to remind myself just how much we've been through in the last 4 years and to show myself that we've come out the other side, because I'm probably going to need reminding of that frequently over the next few months.