Empathetic Sunday

I’m feeling particularly empathetic these days. Maybe it’s the hormones, maybe it’s the anxiety I can’t seem to shake, or the impending doom I feel about Nacho on a daily basis, maybe it’s a particularly emotional time in the blogosphere. But I’m finding it hard. There’s so much pain out there I just want to fix.

My hormones may be raging, yes, but it never ceases to blow my mind how emotional this journey is. It’s not just the highs and lows of our own experiences as individuals, but when you invest in the support of the journey of others in our community as we all do it is can be overwhelming. So much happens in the community of loss and infertility.

For the past several weeks, months, years I have witnessed, via blogging and twitter, long awaited BFPs, painful failed IVFs and IUIs, heartbreaking miscarriages, joyous births, devastating stillbirths, successful pregnancies after multiple losses, shocking second trimester losses, world-changing diagnoses, horrible set-backs, botched adoptions, cancelled cycles, making peace with moving on, cruel anniversaries, all bringing tears to my eyes.

It’s like being on the front lines of a warzone. There’s so much power, so much drive in our desire to be parents. It’s literally life or death. And we are faced with it everyday as we support each other. The sheer strength we all demonstrate to get ourselves through another day is mind boggling.

I’m saddened so deeply lately by my friends, you know who you are, who are struggling through countless failed ivf cycles. My heart is bursting with anger and sadness. The loss is blinding. I just don’t get why these things happen to good people. All we all want is a baby to take home.

And the losses. So many babies lost.

A few weeks ago the loss of a twitter friend’s second trimester twin babies really hit home. The twins were very close in gestation to Nacho, they had just reached “viability”. A cruel word. The grief and disbelief that this poor family must be enduring takes my breath away. How, in one day, can someone go from being fine to losing both her babies? I just don’t understand.

So much heartbreak.

I know, I know, there’s lots of good news out there too. Such happy stories, such relief. I celebrate these little milestones no matter how small.

Apologies for the super down post but I promised myself to get the thoughts that cloud my mind out onto virtual paper when I need to. Today has been a day of reflection too. Thinking of my own lost sweet peas tears me up inside. I think about all six nestled up in a cozy little pod together, looking after each other. I grieve for them everyday. I’m beginning to understand that that’s ok.

Looking forward

Well things have kind of settled down at work since I laid down the law with them the other week. Thanks to you all for your advice and sharing your experiences. That really helped me to feel empowered to do what is right for me and for Nacho. Why should I put up with this shit?! I guess after years of being on autopilot, striving to do the best in my career, now allowing my health to take first place is a big adjustment as stupid as that sounds, one that is long overdue. I feel the guilt of waiting until we were at a “certain place in life” before TTC. Hindsight is total cow. What a fool I was. There is nothing more important that meeting a safe and healthy Nachito and nothing will stand in my way to make that happen.

I am trying now to allow myself to think about actually meeting this little guy, a surreal thought, as a way to get me through each day. Tomorrow we will have reached “viability” – a milestone I had to be reminded of by lovely Lauren at OnFecondThought – and this idea is becoming more and more a possibility. Viability seems so out of this world, so premature, there is still so much time left (I hope), so much growing to do. I am feeling a little bit more relaxed about Nacho doing his thing. This is no doubt helped by getting the all clear on his anomaly scan, by his constant moving and having a Doppler to hand for times when he is isn’t. Little tiny milestones, one day at a time. There haven’t been many things I’ve felt able to think about. Going into a baby store is very uncomfortable. Buying anything is a long way off. Names? No way. But I’m allowing myself to think about getting him here safely.

Have I turned a new leaf? Don’t think so, not yet. As I start to try to look towards the future, I realise just how terrified of things going wrong I really am. Being labelled high risk makes me envious of the experience I always hoped I would have: a home water birth, an experience under my control, under our terms, one that is comfortable and safe physically and mentally for us both. A labour ward is a far cry from a home water birth but I know I should take comfort in the fact that Nacho will be well monitored to ensure his safe arrival. I don’t care what they do to me; just please let it be OK for him.

I think what is freaking me is out is that up until now my care has been a bit sporadic, inconsistent, unreliable and I have yet to see the same midwife or consultant twice. The more I think about it the stronger I feel about the terms of his birth. Obviously I know I can’t control everything, I certainly haven’t been able to control anything related to my fertility so far, and push come to shove I’ll do anything to get him out safely, but I’d like to make his birth as comfortable and safe as possible. I have been educating myself these recent weeks, reading up. I know it’s a long way off but that’s my way of empowering myself. No induction, no forceps, no drugs that can affect his heart rate, keeping the placenta and cord intact until it gives him as much of his own blood as possible, etc. At least that’s what I want. None of it may actually happen but I’d like to try. And under those clinical conditions I don’t know if I trust my body to get shit done. I don’t know if I can trust them to help me through it. Living without fear isn’t something that comes easily after years of losses and infertility. Neither is trust. They are already talking about early induction, something I really don’t want. I had been hoping for as little intervention as possible, and truth is I am terrified.

For this reason we are considering retaining a doula. I don’t know if it is a crazy idea but I am hoping to use a doula as a consistent face, my advocate, someone to limit interventions and encourage me to go as far as possible by listening to my body. Someone with a midwifery background, someone who gets it. DH will no doubt be a lifesaver but even he feels better with the idea of a doula. I feel like I can’t fully trust the hospital to fully support my choices and we can’t afford to go private. And why should we? We pay taxes just like everybody else so the least I can ask the system for is to support a choice I have every right to make, within the parameters of my care, of course.

Saying that, determination has never been something I’ve been short on so maybe if I’m able to get myself in the zone I can do this without a doula? I don’t know. And it’s entirely possible things will not go according to any plan and we’ll have to decide as we go. And maybe decisions will be made for me because things became desperate enough. Maybe I need to sit with this all for a bit.

A doula’s fees are a drop in the bucket compared to the exorbitant fees we have spent on private consultants, blood tests, procedures, treatment. And research has shown a doula can:

  • Shorten first-time labour by an average of 2 hours
  • Decrease the chance of caesarean section by 50%
  • Decrease the need for pain medication
  • Helps fathers participate with confidence
  • Increase success in breastfeeding

After all the extreme measures I’ve taken from preconception, and throughout the pregnancy, I really just want to give the little buddy the best, safest birth experience I can give him. If a doula can help with that I am inclined to go with one. I also see it as another way to try to overcome the fear and anxiety that has become second nature to me in the last three years.

It’s still a long way off but thinking about these things now helps to me focus on the day I might actually meet this little guy.

Have any of you used a doula or know anyone who has? Am I insane for considering it? Does anyone regret it? Were you happy with the decision?