by Marie Florian
In October 2012 we decided to try for our first baby. 8 months later, in June 2013, I held a positive pregnancy test in my trembling hands, hardly able to believe that we were going to have a baby! We were literally shaking with excitement and immediately began making plans for our future family... A little more than a week later I woke up to bleeding.
I called the GP who told me it was probably a miscarriage and they would get me an appointment at the Early Pregnancy Unit. The GP never called me back. I waited an agonising 3 days before calling again and having another GP arrange this for me for the next day. A scan showed there was nothing left and a pregnancy test was now negative. We were evidently in the unlucky 20% of couples who miscarry and I was just one of the estimated quarter of a million women per year who miscarries. There was no follow up, we were told to try again when ready.
4 months later and I held another positive pregnancy test in my hands. This time there was little excitement, only a sense of worry. A scan at just over 6 weeks showed a heartbeat. This was wonderful to see! We began to relax and put our first experience down to 'just one of those things'. A week later I started spotting. I was prescribed progesterone and a scan arranged. The baby had died. I had to go back again the next day to doubly confirm this. While waiting in the small reception area a young woman came out of the scan room, scan picture in hand, face beaming, proudly telling her partner (who had arrived late and missed the appointment!) that all was OK and the baby's heart was there beating away. I burst into tears. I then went in and everything was confirmed.
I was given misoprostol pessaries and sent home with the warning to expect heavy bleeding and large clots for the next 2-3 weeks.
If nothing much happened following the pessaries then I should return in 2-3 days for some more. I bled heavily for 3 hours only, so returned to the EPU 72 hours later (the day before Christmas Eve). This time I was told to take a pregnancy test in 3 weeks time. If it was positive I would need to return to EPU for further scans and possible surgical intervention. If it was negative then they didn't need to see me again and we were just to get on with it. If we wanted counselling then we would need to arrange to see our GP and arrange to go on their long waiting list. So, that was that. Off we went. That was where the 'support ended'.
Over the Christmas period, while we were dealing with this 'event' I watched 'Up' the Pixar movie. With flashbacks to younger days the now old Mr Fredricksen and his wife Ellie had dreamt of a family. They lie on the floor and look at the sky. The clouds turn into fluffy babies and we Ellie's face lights up. She gets pregnant. They happily decorate a nursery. The next scene Ellie is in a doctor's surgery, head lowered, hearing bad news. The scene after sees her sitting alone in the garden, her eyes shut to the world. Mr Fredricksen watches her from the door and finally joins her, presenting her with a vision of an alternative life full of different kinds of adventures. Anybody can recognise this as a sad moment, but sad doesn't even touch it.
Fast forward to June 2014 and another positive pregnancy test that instantly caused anxious thoughts of 'I wonder how long this one will last'. I was right to be anxious as it lasted just a few days this time.
December 2014 we started a fresh cycle of IVF. Treatment was abandoned after egg collection due to a thin endometrium lining. 4 embryos were frozen. We went to New Zealand for 4 months and had a break from TTC. On return we tried 5 various methods of medicated and natural IVF cycles, all of which were abandoned before the point of embryo transfer. A private appointment was made in desperation for more information and fortunately they managed to succeed where others had not in improving my endometrium.
I am now 6 days past 5 day embryo transfer and praying for that positive test. I have not had any pregnancies since June 2014. I will never know the reason why I had 3 pregnancies in the space of a year and now none for 2 years. I feel that I may have been thrown into IVF too soon just because I met the criteria in my local area (I feel awful saying that as some couples who desperately need IVF can not access it when they need it). Have all the drugs damaged my body? If we had received adequate support and advice post miscarriages, then would we have thrown ourselves into such invasive treatment so soon after 3 natural pregnancies?
Things have changed over the last 3.5 years. We have a different group of friends; many old friends not knowing what to say, so avoiding saying anything at all. Perhaps they don't realise that we are so sad, or perhaps they think we should have moved on by now ? New, close friends have been met on internet forums and from realising from 'whisperings' that someone in the office at work is in the same boat. Putting on a brave face in front of family members has become the norm, as we attempt to hide our hurt away.
As well as dealing with the physical side of things (the pain of miscarriage and the trials of IVF), there are the feelings of loneliness and self-blame. The disappointment and feelings of loss. The guilt. Feeling like less of a woman; a useless failure. But for now we are willing to keep facing all the heartache, as we must keep chasing our happy ending.
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