One of the most annoying things when you’re trying to conceive is other people’s [unhelpful] comments. The number one classic (which I’m sure you’ve all heard) is: “you two just need a holiday and it will happen…”. I often feel like responding with “well, I’d prefer it if my chopped up uterus didn’t take a holiday”… but, of course, instead I smile awkwardly.
After two and a half years of operations, doctor’s appointments, ultrasound scans, drugs up to my ears and thinking about WHEN I’m going to have a baby 99.9% of the time, day and night, it turns out that what I did need was a holiday – NOT TTC, but to get away from it all.
In fact, this is the first time since the early days of our relationship that H and I actively tried not to get pregnant (and it was rather fun too 😉). With Olaf and Sven (our two chromosomally normal embryos) chilling (literally!) in the Frozen Land (read about our PGS testing here), our consultant urged us not to get pregnant during our three months off before transfer (which should hopefully be in September). I have always thought: “wouldn’t it be romantic or ironic (in the Alanis Morissette sense) if I just fell pregnant naturally midst all this fertility chaos?”
Who am I kidding? H and I have never fallen pregnant naturally (the one and only time was through IUI) so this is really a romantic notion. I’ve now changed my tune: I want a little test-tube baby Jesus.
I consider myself lucky because I have a lot of wonderful friends in a number of corners of the world. With my closest friends, I talk about EVERYTHING, but yet through this process I have felt very lonely at times. I feel that they just don’t get it. In no way have they been rude or unsupportive – in fact, they are my cheerleaders – but there is no way I can expect them to understand what I am going through because they haven’t been through the same thing. They can empathise, but it would be unfair of me to expect them to understand fully the pain and the trials and tribulations of the infertility journey.
One day when I was feeling particularly low – after my second IVF cycle had failed – one of my besties called me. She acknowledged that, having just had her second baby without difficulties, she’d never be able to understand fully what I am going through. She wondered if I’d like to speak to one of her university friends (who I knew briefly) about her infertility journey. She connected us and my friend’s friend (who lives in the US) called me one evening. We spoke for over an hour. She shared her experience of her four-year long IVF journey that ended in a traumatic birth of her beautiful baby girl. She gave me tips on how to cope through the lows and cherish the highs. For the first time in a long time, I felt a little less lonely – there was someone out there who knew exactly what I was going through. And for that I was, and still am, grateful.
I started this blog back in January shortly after our second IVF-round had failed. As I’m sure you know if you’re reading this, the infertility journey has its ups and downs and some days, weeks, months are harder than others. After the second round, my heart was shattered and I couldn’t muster up the energy to write. Quite a lot has happened since January: I have had a few more tests done and completed our third IVF-round (a fresh cycle) in March and it was brutal for many reasons. That too failed and, truth be told, my heart was heavier than ever before. We are doing a second ERA now in May and a fourth egg collection round in June. I have no idea how that will go, but I’m ready to write again. So, here we go…
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?