Well the wife has convinced me to try and tell my side of our story. While I think it will be very therapeutic for me I'm not so convinced it will be of much interest to anyone else.
Reading through her version of events it's clear that my wife remembers things with a level of clarity and detail that puts me to shame.
Is it bad that I don't remember what year we started trying to have a baby? Or the month of each miscarriage? Or what other details go in what order?
Maybe it's because we've been through so much but then I never did have a mind for remembering such details. This may make me sound like an utterly useless twerp but I'm just being honest.
So will this account be of any use? Will it reveal anything my wife left out? I guess we'll see.
It wasn't long after we met that I realised Anne wanted a baby. She would often joke about it but I knew there was something far more serious beneath the surface.
Whilst I knew I loved her and had no doubts about us as a couple, I would tell myself I was not ready for children. “not ready”?! What does that even mean?
Seriously - if you are reading this and thinking to yourself “well I'm certainly not ready” then please tell me when will you be ready?When do think this amazing state of readiness will occur? Have you not heard all those parents who bang on about how it's so much harder than they anticipated?
No you're not ready. Of course you're not ready. But guess what - you never will be ready so shut up and get on with it!
Sorry for the rant but I can't express how angry I get with myself for delaying as much as I did. About a year after we got together she started having a few women's problems and needed to see a gynaecologist.
The man we saw was a bit arrogant to be frank and having asked her age told us “don't hang about” with regards to having a baby. Despite my dislike for his attitude I realised it was time to grow up.
So we're trying for a baby. No more contraception and this time next year we'll be waist deep in dirty nappies yeah? If only!
All my life I'd heard warnings about how easy it is to get a girl pregnant but 18 months later we found ourselves in our first fertility clinic.
At this stage it already seemed like we had been trying forever and couldn't really believe it had come to this. When we were eventually prescribed clomid it felt like the end of a very long road was in sight. Little did we know what was still to come.
A couple of months into the clomid treatment I came home from work one day to find my wife brimming with joy and excitement - we had finally done it! Pregnant at last. I spent the next few weeks walking around on cloud nine. I was going to be a dad. Then tragedy struck. In the fifth week Anne miscarried and our world was in tatters.
I just didn't know what to do. How could I make it better? How could I make all the pain go away?
The only thing I could think of was to ask Anne if she was OK. So I did. And half an hour later because I was still feeling so useless I'd ask her again. And half an hour after that and again half an hour after that. “Are you OK? Are you sure you're OK?” Each time sounding more ridiculous than the last!
But what else could I do? Surely I should be doing something.
I honestly believe a lot of the problem is down to how men are treated in hospital. Don't get me wrong - our hard working doctors and nurses do an excellent job and the vast majority have never been anything other than helpful. But when it comes to baby issues the woman is their only priority. As a man I've often felt like I'm seen as being outside of the problem.
On the face of it it may make sense - the woman is the one physically dealing with things so it's her we need to look after.
This attitude seems to extend to all aspects of pregnancy issues - fertility, IVF and of course miscarriage and whilst it may seem pertinent to take care of the woman while she's being told that she's losing a baby, there is the question of who will be taking care of her when she leaves the hospital? Yeah… me.
But I'm a mess myself and I feel like I have no right to make it about me. They say miscarriage is the loneliest thing a woman can go through and it always will be if men (or other respective partners) are made to feel like outsiders.
I have since learnt to be more open about my feelings because the simple truth is there is nothing I can say or do to make it better. But while I may not know the physical pain of it I can show her that I still feel the loss of our babies and that she is absolutely not alone.
One of the hardest parts of miscarriage is that there is no goodbye. No funeral. No service. No burial or cremation. You're grieving for a person who was never born and there's no given process for dealing with it. It's as if society would prefer you just kept quiet about it.
And when people do hear about it one of the first questions is ‘how far along was she?’ as if the fewer the weeks somehow means less of a loss - anything to make the issue easier for them to deal with.
None of our pregnancies have survived past 5 weeks - should that mean they somehow don't count? We have had eight babies and all we have is the pain of losing them. Who is anyone to try and take that from us?
Several months later as we reached the end of the clomid treatment we got pregnant again. As excited as we were, we were also understandably nervous. But surely the first time was just bad luck?
Sadly in fifth week once again we lost our baby. In a way this set the tone for all subsequent pregnancies.
From then on each positive test would fill me with a mixture of fear, excitement and always hope.
Early the following year we finally qualified for IVF. I felt quite positive about the IVF because it would be a different kind of pregnancy and there were drugs and things to give it the best possible chance.
When it began it was very daunting. This big box arrives on your doorstep full of drugs, needles and all sorts. Were we really going to be using all this stuff ourselves?
They gave us a dvd detailing the procedure for the nightly injections Anne needed. It was scary stuff. I made it my job to memorise the routine. I would prepare the syringe so all she needed to worry about was injecting it. I made a checklist of what to prepare each night.
I can't remember it exactly but it started something like this:-
1 - turn off TV
2 - turn off mobile phones/answer machine on
3 - cat and dog out
4 - lock doors
5 - prepare tray with following -
*1 drawing up needle
*1 injection needle
*2 drug vials
Etc, etc, etc.
We would do it every night at the same time shortly after dinner. No interruptions, no distractions and… well… as little stress as possible.
Our biggest worry was bubbles. We would spend ages flicking the syringe trying to get them all. Perhaps we were a little over cautious.
Although it was all very scary to start after a few nights it simply became routine. We did the injections for a couple of weeks and just as we thought this ordeal was over we were told she hadn't responded well enough and we had to do an extra week!
As for the big day there's not much to report from my point of view. I was not allowed to be present as Anne went through egg collection - not nicest of procedures but what with scans, tests and what have you she'd already lost most of her dignity.
So I guess it's only fair I lose some too… I won't bore you with details, suffice to say a five knuckle shuffle in a hospital will put you off playing doctors and nurses for life!
The end result was two successfully fertilised eggs and a couple of days later we returned to the hospital for embryo transfer. Sadly they both failed to implant and once again our babies were gone. We were devastated.
Over the course of that same year we fell pregnant twice more. The first ended in miscarriage again and just when it seemed like life had thrown all it could at us, nature played its cruellest trick yet. The next pregnancy turned out to be ectopic!
During an early reassurance scan they noticed something on one of the tubes but they weren't sure what it was. They kept her in overnight. In the morning they still weren't sure so they sent her home.
A couple of nights later Anne woke up screaming in agony. We sped to A&E. They gave her morphine for the pain but determined she was not in any danger and arranged another scan for the following day.
I think we convinced ourselves that everything would be OK and foolishly I returned to work. I came home that day to the worst possible news.
The scan had confirmed an ectopic pregnancy and Anne had been given methotrexate to kill off the baby growing inside her.
The following year was very difficult. Twelve months without a single positive pregnancy test. We felt like we were losing the battle. It wasn't until April 2015 that we finally got pregnant again but sadly once again we miscarried.
All of which brings us up to date. Several weeks ago I came home from work one day to find my wife asleep on the bed. As I woke her she opened her hand to reveal a pregnancy test - it was positive! The digital test read 1 - 2 weeks.
Immediately I was filled with fear. I knew Anne would of liked to see a little more positivity from me but it's difficult when we've been through so much.
She managed to get in to see her GP that week but was basically told to come back in a few weeks to see if things progressed. Again in the fifth week she started bleeding.
We saw the GP the following day and she referred Anne to hospital. This started a two week nightmare roller-coaster running back and forth to hospital for scans, blood tests and consultations.
The pregnancy was deemed to be non-viable and unlocated which, much like an ectopic, is potentially life threatening. We seemed to get passed from one consultant to another each with different opinions on how to proceed.
At one point we thought for sure Anne was going in for a laparoscopy but the surgeon who would of done the procedure advised against it in favour of a wait and see approach.
So for the last few weeks Anne has been going for blood test and thankfully her hcg levels have slowly come down. I say thankfully but of course, when they do hit zero our baby will be truly gone and we shall be right back at square one once again.
So that's the end - for now at least. We will continue trying and one day we shall succeed.
Although sometimes it may feel like an impossibility, I have to go by what I know in my heart to be true. I know Anne will one day make a fantastic mother and together we will make great parents.
I thank everyone for taking the time to read this story.
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