Today I felt joy for the first time in 2019. So far this year has been filled with uncertainty, anxiety, sickness, sadness & guilt. I know these aren’t the emotions you should associate with being newly pregnant. And don’t get me wrong, there have been moments of happiness & gratitude. But after going through fertility treatment, I always thought the only emotion I’d feel when it worked, was joy. But nope.
I used to feel joy regularly. On my walks to work. In my lunch breaks when I’d find a spot by the water in this beautiful harbour city I live in. With my friends & family. Cuddling my dog. Snuggling my husband on the couch. But that’s the thing about being sick, it takes away the ability to feel anything but a need to survive. And there are women who experience this for the full 9 months. I honestly don’t know how they do it. But I guess that’s the whole point of this future-parenting thing, you learn how to survive.
I feel like all I’ve been doing for the past 3 months is waking, regretting waking, trying to get through the day with as little interaction with people as possible & eating constantly (only out of necessity). Then finally when the whole day has passed, slowly and painfully, that blessed thing – sleep. They say when you’re depressed you just want to sleep all the time. Is that what this is? Because when I’m sleeping I’m not feeling. I’m not feeling sick, or down, or guilty that I’m feeling down. I’m just at peace. And I sleep constantly. In my lunch break. When I get home. Whenever I can.
I’ve never been through anything more horrible in my life. I keep thinking of my brother who had to go through chemo, as well as a pretty horrible surgery, and how awful he must have felt (thank god he is now ok as a result!). And then I feel guilty for complaining, because ultimately, this is a positive nausea. It’s normal, healthy & a sign that something great is about to happen.
But today, I woke up feeling ok. I decided to walk to work. I put on some high-energy tunes and suddenly that feeling of joy came rushing back! I smiled in relief! I felt so positive that my ability to be happy hasn’t been taken away, it’s just been on pause for a few months, I’ve been the un-dead for 10 weeks. But now I’ve been brought back to life. And I know the nausea isn’t completely gone, it will return. But it’s fading. At almost 14 weeks, it’s finally leaving me. And I’m ready to be myself again. To any of you who have gone through this, or worse, my heart goes out to you. I had no idea how terrible it would be. I thought I would feel slightly ill every now and then, but grateful for the reminder that there was still something growing inside of me. This was not that. This was hell. And I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
So it’s happened again. Thank fucking christ. Actually I think I said that to the nurse.. I’m sure they’re used to my swearing by now! 10 weeks tomorrow. I can’t believe we’ve made it this far. And can I say it has been (without exaggeration) the longest 10 weeks of my life.
I received the phone call at work on the 28th December, so locked myself in the boss’ glass cage office as he was on leave. ‘Congratulations Clare, you’re definitely pregnant!’. Absolute relief washed over me. The rest of the day I was so happy! It’s a little bit more dull than last time, not the unbridled joy of naivety. But I’m still so so happy.
We’re trying not to talk too much about what will happen this year, just in case it doesn’t come to fruition. It’s tough that we won’t be able to relax until we pass that 12 week mark, even then, who knows. But I have to remember that this is what we’ve been waiting for, to enjoy it, to be grateful & to revel in being free of blood tests, clinics, ultrasounds and 3pm phone calls for the foreseeable future!
As soon as I hit the 6 week mark the nausea started. Constant, draining, unforgiving nausea. The only way I’m able to even write this post is due to a window of relief that happens every now and then. I constantly feel like I’m hungover in a car with motion sickness. But most of the time I can’t throw up. I’ve been prescribed something to take the edge off, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t enjoy food at all. I’m eating lots of little snacks to keep my blood sugar stable, and only starchy, carby things like pretzels & toast works. I don’t look forward to meals and I don’t enjoy eating. I gag at the smell of coffee and alcohol (which is probably a good thing). I don’t like chocolate anymore, or anything sweet really. At the end of the day, I know this will pass. And I hate that I’m constantly whining. We’ve waited and worked so hard for this, and I thought I would be overjoyed, excited and happy. I want to be, to connect to the little spark inside me, to start thinking about what will be, but all I can think about is how to kerb my nausea & when my next nap will be. I haven’t really even thought about the baby, or being a mum at all yet. I’m hoping the 2nd trimester goes easier on me, I can get excited and start enjoying this.
Here is a day in the life of a nauseated zombie:
– Wake at 3:30am to pee. Start to feel nauseas as soon as your eyes open. Audibly shout ‘fuck this’. Eat a dry biscuit which is super hard to chew & swallow on account of your dry mouth. Hope to god you don’t wake up again until you need to
– Get up at 7:30 for work, try to eat as quickly as you can. Sip popper on the side of the bed, chew a biscuit, anything. Walk around in a daze as the nausea hits you like a wave anyway. Go to work, even though all you can think about is going back to bed
– Have a coffee. This is the only thing that gives you relief. Enjoy the next hour of being sick-free. Try to get all of your day’s work done in this hour because you won’t be able to later
– The wave hits you again at about 10:30. Go to the work loos and spit in to the toilet for half an hour because your body won’t let you get any relief from vomiting
– Wait an hour and a half for your lunch break. Try to avoid co-workers. The nausea is like a huge wave that hits you when you’re trying to swim. As soon as you come up for air another one hits you, rolling you under again. Then another.
– At midday go and lie in your car for an hour and sleep. If you’re sleeping, you’re not sick.
– 1pm – 5pm try to catch air between waves. Spend most of your time in the work loos or pretending to make cups of tea to avoid looking at a screen because makes it worse. Tell yourself to never have children ever again.
– Hope to god your co-workers aren’t picking up on the fact that your boss is asking how you’re feeling every 2 seconds in front of everyone, even though he’s been sworn to secrecy and probably thinks he’s being subtle. Pretend you’re fine and that everything is hunky dory, even though you’re on the brink of gagging at every waft of aftershave, re-heated leftovers & the general male musk of a sports media company.
– 5pm race home as fast as you can and collapse into bed. Sleep for 1-2 hours. Sleep is good.
– Wake in time to make dinner as quickly as possible, get husband to step in on most tasks because you can’t stand the smell/thought of the kitchen bin/cooking meat/steamed vegetables
– Eat dinner as quickly as you can, you don’t enjoy it but it makes you feel better. Try to get the dog to stop breathing hot stinky air into your face while you’re eating, it also makes you gag
– Proceed to lie on the couch for the rest of the evening thinking how shit it feels to be you and that you can’t wait until the 2nd trimester. Try to remind yourself that things could be worse and that it’ll all be worth it in the long run. Try not to resent husband for getting out of all of this scott free.
– Go to bed, curl into a ball of self-pity and look forward to having 8hrs of sleep where you don’t feel anything
– Rinse and repeat for 24 days and counting…
On the up side…
We’ve seen a heartbeat! Last time we had the dating scan, there was an embryo & a gestational sac, but no foetal pole and no heartbeat. But this time – it took all of 3 seconds for the lovely (and a little bit spunky) fertility specialist to find a little flicker! We could see it on screen and he let us hear it, 123 beats per minute! It was pretty amazing to see something living & growing in there. A sense of relief washed over us both. He said he wasn’t in the least bit worried and sent us on our way.
So now, we wait. It’s all a game of statistics and each week they’re more and more in our favour.
A couple of years ago I went to my regular GP because I was constantly feeling tired & unwell. She spent about 15 minutes with me before telling me it was a B12 deficiency and prescribed injections for the next month.
I still felt shite. So I decided to go by some word-of-mouth suggestions to see a ‘holistic’ doctor. Now normally I’m inclined to follow evidence-based protocols when it comes to health and my body. I’ve worked at a healthcare agency where I was surrounded by incredibly intelligent people with multiple degrees and PHDs and I learnt a lot about clinical trials, data and evidence being everything when it comes to health. But something inside me was telling me that I wasn’t getting all the information I needed from a 15 minute consult. And when you hear so many stories of ‘I feel sooooo much better after seeing this quacky dude’ then you kind of think, what’s the harm?
So I went to a functional GP near me (also known as ‘holistic’, ‘integrative’ or ‘functional’). She spent a good hour with me. She ordered a blood test that nearly drained my body as well as stool & urine samples. Wow, I thought, she’s really comprehensive. She’s ordering so many tests, she must really know what she’s doing. I’m so grateful she’s taking the time to find out what’s wrong with me.
The follow up appointment involved her going through an iGg antibody test which showed me what I might have an intolerance to. It came up with dairy, egg whites and sheep’s milk. She said to cut those out of my diet completely. She also told me to give up gluten, starchy foods, most grains, caffeine, alcohol, processed foods and sugar. I asked her what was left… She told me that it was all about making the choice to improve my health and that yes it’s hard, but I had a responsibility to eat better. I left feeling really guilty about how terrible my lifestyle choices were, despite being a healthy weight, fit, non-smoker who’d never touched drugs in her life. Who knew caffeine & gluten were silent killers?
I decided to take her advice with a grain of salt and reduced my dairy intake. She’d provided no information or evidence as to why I should give these things up. Low and behold, I felt better in about 6 months. Job done.
So a year and a bit later when I’ve discovered I’ve now got PCOS and have just miscarried, I thought ‘’Well, this lady fixed me up last time, maybe I’ll get get her opinion on how to treat my PCOS and if there’s anything else amiss”.
An appointment later, and she’s told me that I probably have a thyroid problem (because my temperature is too low) and that could have caused my miscarriage. In order to heal my thyroid, I need to give up all the aforementioned foods and take my health a bit more seriously.
Hang on, what?? My fertility specialist had told me (and I know from common sense and my own research) that the miscarriage was not my fault. But here is this lady, suggesting that if I had given up all the fun things in life and not been so irresponsible with my diet (!), I may have carried this baby to term? First of all, I think this is a really irresponsible thing to say. Miscarriage is a really tough thing to go through, and many women automatically think that they’ve done something wrong, that their bodies have failed them. But statistically, its just a risk with any pregnancy. It’s incredibly common and although it’s tough, it’s just part of life. So to infer that a woman does in fact have power over this, and that it may indeed be caused by dietary problems, is largely inaccurate and just plain horrible. I left the appointment thinking I’d been irresponsible in drinking the odd coffee and indulging in a treat every couple of days, that this had caused my thyroid to fail and me to miscarry. My husband had to talk me out of this nonsense, and told me to listen to the specialists. I knew in my head that she wasn’t right, but it planted a tiny seed of doubt in me that I in fact do have a thyroid problem and that I won’t be able to carry a baby to term.
Since then, I’ve done a FUCK TONNE of research. It’s what I do. I used endocrinology journals, studies & blogs, (like Hormones Demystified which is an excellent source of endocrine truth) to sense check this advice. And what I got from these sources, is that the integrative medical community is largely the modern form of quackery.
For example, the IgG test that my ‘functional GP’ ordered for me is pretty much useless as a diagnostic too for intolerance. It is not recommended by the mainstream medical community, as there is no evidence that it is actually indicative of intolerances, and actually harms those who have genuine allergies, because now there are so many people walking around thinking they’re intolerant when they’re not, there is a lot of crying wolf. I’m pretty sure the reason I felt better after giving up dairy, is because I stopped eating things like ice-cream, yoghurt, custard, treats with dairy, and a daily skim milk coffee – all of these things have sugar in them. I generally started eating more healthily (instead of cheese or yoghurt as a snack I’d take to vegetables & nuts). I think this, and cutting out sugar made me better – a known cause of fatigue & insulin issues.
The other misguided quackery were the thyroid tests she ordered. My endocrinologist said TSH is the only test anyone needs to diagnose thyroid disorders, and mine was at a really good level. The Functional GP ordered TSH, as well as T3, T4, Reverse T3, and a bunch of thyroid antibodies. I’ve now realised that NONE of these tests are diagnostic tools and are warned against by endocrinologists. The other red flag is that I fell inside the lab’s normal range for all of these. However, I was in the ‘upper end’ of normal, and she told me that I needed to be in the ‘lower end’. Surely if I was falling into the normal category for all of these tests, I’m not at risk of my thyroid causing miscarriage? I know in my head that I’m fine. But it’s really hard to shake this seed of doubt in my head now. It’s really hard to not be anxious that I’ll miscarry again.
There are a lot of women out there who are desperate to fall pregnant, or desperate to find out why it’s so hard. And I think the alt-medical community is taking advantage of this, whether they believe it themselves or not.
So I’ve resolved to listen to the conventional medical community, who are telling me I’m fine. But I can’t help thinking how much anxiety & confusion these Functional GPs are promoting..
Today is ‘bring your kid into work’ day. It’s an opportunity for parents to show their kids what they do. There are tours of the studios and photos with Santa. So all the parents are busy doing all the things. And I’m sitting here like a chump pretending to work. Because I don’t have a child and don’t have an excuse to be away from my desk all day.
Which got me thinking about a post I did on all the reasons being kidless is great. But now I’m going to list all the reasons having them IS great.
On days like today. When you get to use your child as an excuse to not work
Being able to get scarily excited about Christmas without seeming like a weirdo
Going to see Disney films & animations at the movies without seeming like a weirdo
Wrapping all the presents. Wrapping presents for adults is a bit boring. You know they’ll thank you for the gift, but nothing is as exciting as getting a present at Christmas as a child! How nice it would be to see your kids eyes light up on Christmas morning!
Taking kids to see Christmas lights. Again, we still do this as adults, but this was way more exciting as a kid!
Having someone to help exercise your dog. When you can’t be bothered walking the pet you can farm the chore out to your kids. Two birds one stone.
Activities. I’m currently doing a lot of craft projects and it feels a little bit out-of-place without tiny hands getting in the way and mixing the paint colours and getting it on their clothes
Being able to work part time, or take some time off work. My friends will kill me for writing this, and yes, I know it’s not a holiday, but how nice to have a purpose OTHER than your career (that you don’t really enjoy that much anyway). And how good to not sit at a desk all day. To be moving, bending, carrying, walking, lying, crawling.
Sugar rushes. I just feel sick when I eat sugar these days. How awesome is it when kids have all the sugar and are funny little arseholes that you wish were vegan. Parents hate sugar rushes on the outside, but I’m sure deep down there’s a part of them laughing when they’re running around in circles yelling ‘beefcake!’ repeatedly until they run into some furniture.
The night before Christmas. Currently this is a boozy dinner with the in-laws. How lovely would it be to add the mystery of Santa coming in the morning, to put out carrots & milk (or in my case, Tim Tams & Baileys) for him and his reindeer? To wait until they’re asleep and fill their stockings with s̶u̶g̶a̶r̶ presents.
Decorating the tree. This year I was the only person without a child eyeing off the best tree at the Scout hall, I borderline lied about not having kids because I was embarrassed to take it so seriously as an adult. My husband sat hungover on the couch and watched me decorate it whilst watching the cricket. I desperately need some little people to bring the joy back and drag him out of his hangover to participate in tradition. And make traditions of our own.
Maybe it’s just this time of year that gets me. And don’t get me wrong, I know there is a lot about Christmas with kids that is crazy stressful. And maybe the parents taking their kids around the building wish they were at their desks, pretending to work. But right now it’d be nice to have an excuse to be stupidly excited about Santa in the building. Instead I’ll shrink away behind my computer and hope that no one notices I’m blogging. Maybe next year I’ll have a tiny little excuse to not be at my desk at Christmas….
Like any regular baby, well before she was born, my husband & I were making life decisions about her future presence. The house we were about to buy needed to have grass. My job needed to be flexible enough to spend time walking her. We needed to consider how our lifestyle would work with her around. And I was so epically excited for her arrival. Probably more excited than any other milestone in my life.
We made the drive up to Bathurst, which is a pretty decent stint from where we live. We’d already purchased bowls and beds and food and had been given various hand-me-downs in anticipation of her arrival into our lives. We spent just under an hour with 4 puppies. She chose us. She was cheeky, sociable, energetic, growly but not barky, and one of the smallest of the litter. She just wanted to be around us. I’d put her down and she’d come awkwardly bounding back into my lap. We loved her instantly!
On the way home my heart broke as she cried the tiniest and saddest of cries because we’d taken her away from her mother & siblings. We’d been assured that her mother was well and truly sick of her and just wanted rest, both for her nipples and her sanity! But it was one of the hardest things I’ve done. The only solace was that she was leaving her old life, but entering one of complete love and affection and treats and cuddles and would be a treasured member of the extended family for her whole life.
We also discovered that we had chosen the fartiest puppy. Of. All. Time. The toxic fumes emanating from the back seat required all 4 windows to be wound down and noses to be held. She still vents the most horrendous farts I have ever witnessed in my life. From any living being. She clears rooms & puts people of their food.
She was a really easy puppy. Other than the usual toilet training mishaps and needle-teeth biting, she’s very smart and eager to please, often completing tasks for a simple pat as a reward. She loves humans, any human, and is only truly happy in their presence. But she’s independent enough to want her own space, as long as its within earshot of a human. She was a breeze to train, and had leant to wee on grass in a week or two, despite the large set of stairs she needed to hike up to get there. She picked up the basics of sit, stay, drop & come very quickly. She only ever chewed designated toys and sticks, never developing a taste for furniture, or irrigation, or skirting boards, like a lot of other puppies. Although she did take a liking to my underwear which was both awkward and expensive!
She’s unlike any other Labrador I know. She’s small, athletic, anxious and tightly wound. She’s controlled in her movements, muscly and doesn’t put weight on easily. She drops like a kelpie and hunches pre-fetch like a working dog. She only barks when she’s uncomfortable or frustrated and delicate as she enters the water. But food. Oh food. It is her kryptonite, like every other Lab. She will eat anything but grapes and lettuce. Her favourite food is meat off-cuts, closely followed by a whole carrot, taken to a hiding spot in the garden & eaten lovingly like a bone.
She is anxious around most dogs. She’s happy to say hello and let them sniff her but in greeting, but will then move on. She was attacked very early on in her life at a dog park and since then has never been happy around most dogs, particularly the small & fluffy variety. Through lots of training I now understand that most small dogs verbally attack her, and she is just reacting to their aggression. But the smaller dogs, even though aggressive, come across as cute and yappy, the owners very rarely care that they’re the instigators, and the bigger dog who is just trying to defend herself is always blamed, so I keep her away from the teeny aggressors & their annoying parents. There is an exception – she loves her cousin Rosie to pieces (who she’s known since they were puppies) and will harass her tirelessly. But most other dogs she’ll only tolerate, not enjoy, until she knows them better. She is way happier around her humans.
She is my little companion. She never says no to an activity, in fact she lives for them! She will go wherever I go, without complaint. Camping, swimming, driving, running, bush walking, beaching. She encourages me to find new places and venture where I otherwise wouldn’t, in the hunt for a decent swimming hole, or new smells, or unspoilt bush where we know no other dog or human will venture. She makes me walk further and quicker than I otherwise would on my own. She doesn’t let me lie on the lounge for too long, or dwell in my sadness. Whenever she sees me cry she gets confused and will put her face right in mine, close enough so I can feel her hot breath, wag her tail and make little whiny sounds that make me laugh. She’ll lick off my salty tears and suddenly I feel better. (Make no mistake, I rarely let her lick me because she also loves to lick her vagina as frequently as possible). She loves the smell of milky babies, she doesn’t know what they are but I think she likes them. She’ll tolerate toddlers and will happily steal their cupcakes and lick their hands and faces (mums you’ve been warned!), much to their pleasure! She is gentle when she needs to be but will on occasion knock over a little person.
She is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. She loves me more than any other human in the world. And its the best feeling to know that I am her favourite, her Mum. She won’t leave my side at the park and she comes when she’s called, not because she knows she has to, but because she wants to come back to me, for pats & scratches.
If having a human child is anything like having a fur baby, it sounds pretty bloody good to me. But she will always be my first, I have more love in my heart for other children, but she will always hold a special place. And I don’t feel an ounce of guilt over that.
I wrote a blog last week but didn’t post it. You’re welcome. After re-reading it I realised that that was me then. But its not me now. It was full of expletives and outrage and was basically a stream of hormonal verbal diarrhoea that I won’t subject you to. Especially at the most wonderful time of the year when we should be talking about elves & presents & fairy lights & the sweet sweet smell of pine trees in your home!
So needless to say, now that the hormone Pregnyl (seriously, FUCK YOU Pregnyl) is out of my system, I feel MUCH better. It was a dark, dark time in my life. I accidentally killed a spider and cried. The house was a little messy and I cried. I couldn’t open a jar of jalapeños and I cried. I watched terrible Netflix Christmas movies (but FYI A Christmas Chronicle – amazing piece of Netflix production!) and guess what.. I cried. My husband was confused. My dog was scared. My family were worried. And I absolutely hated myself!
On top of the emotional side effects of this devil drug that supposedly makes my uterus cushy but my personality putrid: weight gain (3 kgs in 2 weeks), bloating (I genuinely looked 7 months pregnant), ovaries hurting like a mofo & being constantly tired (anything so much as a glance at my weights and yoga mat made me feel weaker). But the silver lining, and there is ALWAYS a silver lining, is that it only lasted a couple of weeks (excl. the weight!). Only to do it all again this month!
I think it’ll get easier. I think I’ll learn to adapt like I always do. I know what to expect now, and maybe next time (and yes, unfortunately there’s a next time) I feel the crazy bitch inside me quickly rising to the surface I can make a detour to the Thai massage place, or just lock myself in my room for an hour and bash it out into a pillow or something. But seriously – what do people do when they’re hormonal to ride it out? Are there techniques? Please don’t say meditation, anyone who has been in a hormonal fit knows it’s really not possible to sit still and contemplate yourself in a fit of rage. But I need something other than alcohol to sort me out! One excellent way to let out the rage is to attend a ‘screamo’ festival in a dustbowl in 30 degree heat. And that’s exactly what I did!
Anyway, onwards and upwards! I’m trying to ignore the fact that my pants are all starting to cut into my balloon of a stomach, now is not the right time to worry about that, especially because of the added temptation of Christmas. I’m trying to focus on the fun things in my life, of which there are plenty! Although I have to say I have never experienced anything remotely close to anxiety or depression until this year. There is a little ball of something in my stomach, it feels tight & hot & like it could take over my whole being any moment. But for now I’m managing to keep it down below & exude a cheery glow on the surface. I can’t ignore it, but it’s manageable for now. Apologies to everyone for when it takes over my person in the coming months… !
All I can say is surely pregnancy will be a fucking breeze after this! I think I just jinxed myself. Oops!
So after 2 cycles on Letrozole, the last one being pretty unpredictable, my fertility specialist decided to go straight to the good shit. She gave me a box of syringes & a sharps disposal box and left me to my own devices. I might as well be a junky the amount of times I’m jabbing myself right now.
Sitting in my OBGYN’s office earlier this year after finding out I had PCOS, trepidatious to say the least, she went through the many options I had ahead of me. I think she was trying to make me feel better about the fact she’d just told me it was unlikely I’d fall pregnant without help. She brushed over the injectables, saying ‘you probably won’t need to go that far’. I never thought I’d go that far. I was scared to go that far. But here I am.
At first it was a bit rocky, I almost fainted the first 2 days and had to lie on the bathroom floor for a few minutes. Granted, one of these days I was especially hungover after a wedding, so I can’t tell if my floor whoring (great phrase BTW) was from the injects or the alcohol. My bad. By day 3 I was nailing it. I ice the injection site so I can’t feel the needle going in, its not painful and I don’t have any bruises or side-effects (yet!). The fainting thing is just me by the way – I feel faint when I walk into a hospital, or look at any form of blood, I’m just a weirdo and can’t handle anything medical-smelling or looking. Don’t judge me!
So this is my new normal. I’ll probably be injecting myself for half the month until after Christmas because I’m trying not to believe the first cycle will work. Can you tell my coping mechanism is to keep my expectations really low so that I never get disappointed?? If anything, this treatment makes me feel incredibly lucky. Lucky that I’m not diabetic and injecting myself for my whole life.
The injections have worked though, and I have one beautiful follicle, which is exactly what we’re after (yay for no twins!).
I’m also turning 34 next month. I thought it would be a huge deal, and that it was considered ‘old’ in terms of fertility. But I realised this morning that I was the youngest person in the clinic, and that 34 really isn’t over the hill. So I’m hopeful!
Ideally, my next post will be ‘yay! I’m pregnant!’. But if its just ‘yay! The injections work!’ I’ll take it. You learn to just go step-by-step and try not to plan too far ahead or get too excited too soon.