Recently, I’ve been trawling the World Wide Web reading fertility blogs more frequently than I have done in the past. My husband (let’s call him “H”) constantly reminds me to stay away from mumsnet and the like. While I agree with him that mumsnet doesn’t generally do my mental healthy any good, I just can’t seem to get enough of infertility blogs at the moment. I’m addicted to reading success stories – because they give me hope. When babies pop up right, left and centre and all you want is your own baby, it’s nice to know that you’re not the only one riding this [damn] rollercoaster, because more often than not this rollercoaster ride feels lonely.
Without sounding too religious here, I woke up this morning with an urge to write my own infertility blog. I have been writing as I go along in this process, but it is not until now that I decided to publish my thoughts. To be honest, I never thought I’d write one because I did not for a second think I’d have enough material to write one. Naively, I thought that by now, surely, I’d be busy changing nappies, complaining about sore nipples from breastfeeding and going to Gymboree classes instead of doctor’s appointments… But here I am, a good two and a bit years into this journey and I have no baby yet and I am not currently pregnant.
Asherman’s Syndrome, also referred to as intrauterine adhesions (IUA), is a condition that occurs when scar tissue forms on the lining of the uterus, often resulting in infertility. There isn’t any one cause of Asherman’s Syndrome, but it is expected that 90% of the cases are caused by a surgical procedure, and especially D&Cs. The main reasons for having a D&C are:
- after a miscarriage to reduce the risk of a serious infection;
- after childbirth to remove a retained placenta;
- to stop excessive bleeding at birth; and
- after termination of a pregnancy.
Thinking about this, it seems odd that a surgical procedure, which is supposed to help you, causes you further trouble… So, why is this?
A month ago, I left hospital after surgery feeling quite positive despite having a punctured uterus (the hole-in-the-wall) and a stitched-up tummy. Morphine does wonders to your mental health – I can see the benefits of being a junkie!
I thought I simply had to take the oestrogen tablets (progynoba) that I had been prescribed for six weeks, recover from surgery and then move to IVF early June… Bam!
BUT, what I learnt since leaving hospital is that:
- Asherman‘s Syndrome is not a straight-forward condition (in fact, it is quite a rare one so awareness about the condition is low — even among the medical profession)
- most women need the same operation several times to clear all the scarring; and
- a pregnancy with Asherman‘s can lead to all sorts of complications – including, increased risk of miscarriage and stillbirth because there isn’t enough space in the uterus for the baby to grow. SCARY SHIT.
I had my hysteroscopy scheduled for 18 April 2017, the Tuesday after the Easter weekend. I walked to hospital in the sunshine and remember feeling very positive. I was almost skipping down the street – in hindsight this might seem like odd behaviour for someone who was heading to hospital to be put to sleep…. who doesn’t love a daytime nap?!
I figured I wold be under for 5-10 minutes – after all this was just a quick check that everything was as it should be in my uterus. I thought I’d be out for a few minutes, wake up, recover and then skip out of the hospital into that beautiful, sunny spring day. I met the anaesthetist, the surgeon and signed the usual consent forms. All set. “See you in a little bit”, I said to H and then casually strolled into the theatre in my [sexy] hospital nightie (you know the one with an open back where you’re showing your bottom to everyone else on the ward).
I woke up hours later in a daze and in a lot of pain – and I could hear H saying “can I take a picture of the records” followed by “is that negligence?”. I was wheeled into the gynecology ward where they wanted to monitor me over night. I remember feeling confused: (a) why was I on the ward; and (b) why was I in so much pain?
Fast-forward six weeks to mid-November 2016. I was feeling a little better following the miscarriage. We had had a lovely week in Dubai to load up on vitamin D ahead of the winter, so things seemed brighter. My period had returned (somewhat normal – I can’t remember to be honest) at the right time, so I felt hopeful. My body was back to normal!
I went for an ultrasound scan with the guy I had been to see previously on Harley Street to track my ovulation (I wanted to make sure I was ovulating regularly again). The good news was that I was ovlulating, but the bad news was that the scan showed that part of the foetus was still in my uterus. WTF?!!
It turned out that the little foetus, my bean, was more stubborn than its mother (what comes around…) and would not give in. Sobbing loudly I walked back to the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) (again) at the London Hospital and asked to be seen. The lady at the desk asked if I had had my period. Yes, I replied, but I KNOW there is still a piece of the foetus inside me. She didn’t believe me until I managed to get the private ultrasound report sent over.