Fruits of our labour

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Last year we bought a house. The garden needed lots of work, still does. I’ve been slowly chipping away at it.

We inherited a lovely little plum and pear tree. Both have been struggling, they are old, scrawny, ravaged by slugs. They hadn’t produced fruit in years we were told. We decided to put a compost near them to see if that might boost their growth.

A year of organic compost later, the nutrients and goodness feeding them for the last year has turned these sad, barren little trees into lush, solid, strong trees bursting with luscious fruit. I have been pulling gorgeous, delicious fruit off them for weeks. They are so sweet and so tasty.

I can’t help but make the comparison to my withering miserable old womb. Progressively with each loss my awareness and attention of my womb has increased. Progressively over the past year I’ve been giving it more love and more attention and more nutrients and more goodness. Maybe one day it will flourish too.

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The Sauce

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I stopped drinking this year on New Year’s Day 1 January 2013.

It’s not official or anything and it’s actually been over a year but there were a couple of alcohol fuelled meltdowns after each loss last year so I don’t count last year. Haven’t touched the stuff properly since New Year.

Do I miss it? Hell yes.

Why am I doing this? Is it because I won’t allow myself to live a little? No.

Is it because drinking has a negative affect on fertility? No (but I suppose that’s the upside of quitting).

It’s because I know as soon as I get back on it there’ll be no stopping me. I can’t just have one drink or a few sips. All the months of anxiety and anger and grief will come flooding out with every sip. It’s an exposure I can’t afford. I reckon I’m not far from reaching the bottom of pit-o-despair as it is. A little help from the sauce might just expedite me there on a direct train.

The relief and release from having a drink for me is fleeting. It feels good at the time but then my sadness reappears even stronger. I don’t want to feel worse right now, I want to feel better.

Currently, I can’t even attempt that little glass of vino with dinner for fear of needing to shotgun it directly from the bottle. Or becoming that belligerent dinner guest who tells all the fertile couples off for being so flippin perfect all the bloody time. Or better yet, turning into that emotional sobbing slobbering mess everyone is afraid of during a work function.

I can see it all play out in my head. The pats on the shoulder, the nervous uncomfortable glances exchanged between friends, their rushed excuses for a quick getaway. Perhaps you’ve had enough now, let’s get her home. I can feel the hangover from the hangover already. If I’ve already destroyed my kitchen during a sober meltdown what am I capable of during a trollied tantrum? I best not find out.

I wasn’t out getting shitfaced every night of the week but I sure did enjoy the taste of nice a glass of wine or a homemade cocktail. A few units a week, at social gatherings or a meal out, or just to unwind. But tasting anything remotely boozy now fills me with dread. It’s like my body’s warning me to tread lightly.

I am getting some grief for it. Why don’t you just chill out. Why don’t you just have a few drinks. It’ll loosen you up. Yes I think A drink (singular) might do that but I don’t have the control to stop myself and you probably won’t want to be around when I turn into the Shitfaced Incredible Hulk after my second.

On the upside, quitting has made me feel healthy! I’m contributing to my wellbeing and fertility! Or so I tell myself. I’m improving the quality of my eggs and all that other good stuff. And I guess if I can control any part of this process, this would be it.

I’m not saying I won’t try to have a glass of wine on holiday next week. Because I probably will. I’ll test the waters and see how it goes. At least if I turn into a miserable sobbing cow it will be with The Hubs and he is used to it!

Books Books Books – Part 1

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I think I’ve nearly bought every book on pregnancy loss that has been written.

Information. Give it to me. I can’t know enough. I must absorb every scrap of knowledge in order to turn our luck around. Or so I think.

As a way to remember all the books I have read to help me through this process I have decided to write them down here. Some of them were more beneficial to me than others.

Part 2 will cover books that I’ve found helpful to begin to heal the soul and for a hopeful look at the future. I’m still making my way through some now.

Pregnancy Loss

Miscarriage : What Every Woman Needs to Know
by Professor Lesley Regan
I bought this book when I was first accepted into St Mary’s Recurrent Miscarriage Clinic so I could understand their perspective. This book explains a lot from a clinical standpoint but doesn’t delve much into the emotional side of miscarriage.

Preventing Miscarriage : The Good News
by Jonathan Sher and Carol Dix
An empathetic and encouraging look at miscarriage. Covers immunological causes of miscarriage as well as more conventionally recognised causes.

A Silent Sorrow. Pregnancy Loss : Guidance and Support for You and Your Family.
by Ingrid Kohn and Perry-Lynn Moffitt
I didn’t really connect with this book, I’m finding it hard to finish. It’s not a easy read but is a supportive resource.

Miscarriage : Women Sharing From the Heart
by Marie Allen and Shelly Marks
Heartbreaking. Full of stories from women suffering, I found this book difficult to read during my darkest moments.

Miscarriage : Women’s Experiences and Needs
by Christine Moulder
Shares a lot of women’s varying experiences with loss and has a good section on guidelines for good practice that are not put to use often enough.

Trying Again : A Guide to Pregnancy After Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Loss
by Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman
A good resource for the various causes and tests for pregnancy loss.

Avoiding Miscarriage : Everything you need to know to feel more confident in pregnancy
by Susan Rousselot
Hate the title. Reviews all the causes of miscarriage and has a good section on the psychological impact of loss and how to rebuild confidence.

Coming to Term : Uncovering the Truth About Miscarriage
by John Cohen
A personal look at miscarriage but also follows the treatment by several consultants I’ve seen personally. Interesting.

Fertility

Taking Charge of Your Fertility : A Definitive Guide to Pregnancy Achievement, Natural Birth Control and Reproductive Health
by Toni Wechsler
An amazing resource that made me feel empowered and aware and appreciative of my body. Can’t recommend it enough.

Is Your Body Baby Friendly : Unexplained Infertility, Miscarriage and IVF Failure
by Alan E. Beer
A fascinating look at immunological aspect of miscarriage and infertility. Controversial within the medical community but hopeful for those of us looking for answers.

The Infertility Cure : The Ancient Chinese Wellness Program for Getting Pregnant and Having Healthy Babies
by Randine Lewis
Really interesting read for anyone who is interested in traditional Chinese medicine and fertility. A west meets east approach.

The Fertile Female : How the Power of Longing for Child Can Save Your Life and Change the World
by Julia Indichova
Very encouraging and uplifting.

The Infertility Diet : Get Pregnant and Prevent Miscarriage
by Fern Reiss
Not a huge fan of this book. There have been so many progressions in fertility nutrition that makes this book now seem very out of date.

The Billings Method : Control Fertility Without Drugs or Devices
by Dr Evelyn Billings and Ann Westmore
A book purely about cervical fluid. Yup. A true gem. Was hard for me to follow at first but once I got the hang of the method it became the most reliable means to determine my fertile days.

Inconceivable : A Woman’s Triumph Over Despair and Statistics
by Julia Indichova
A great story of how one woman turned her luck around. I blame my juicing obsession on her.

Fertile Thinking : Your Practical and Emotional Aid Through the Trials of Infertility and Beyond
by Anya Sizer
A brilliant little book jam packed with coping mechanisms and strategies. So glad this book entered my life. It helped me find a structured way to approaching our fertility journey and struggles with loss.

Long walks & quinoa

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I can get into that. If this guy can live 123 years on that stuff, it’s good enough for me. I’m not saying I want to live that long but hey it’d be nice to stick around long enough to see the fantasy kids and have fantasy kiddies of their own. And if these things are this guy’s secret weapon then I’m in.

1) Quinoa. I love quinoa. It tastes good! The protein, the fibre, the omega 3, the lysine, the iron, the magnesium. All good stuff! Easy to make and supportive of our digestive system. Item 1 … Check!

2) Walking. Hey I love long walks. What’s not to love about a little fresh air, getting the circulation going, touching base with nature. I can do that! Check!

3) Drop the sugar. I think there’s something to that. Might have to wean myself off the Ben & Jerry’s then. Less enthusiastic … check.

4) Let’s hope the first three are enough to crack the secret of eternal life because I don’t think Sainsbury’s is carrying skunk this season.

Autopilot

The only thing my husband and I have problems discussing is how my negativity and anxiety directly contributes to our inability to have a child. He feels it does. I know he’s right and I can do nothing about it. It’s clear I’m doing nothing intentional to sabotage our chances. But we also both know that although I’m doing everything I can physically, I’m doing nothing psychologically to help things.

I don’t know how to fix this. I can’t feel any less horrified and tormented when we lose a baby each time and he would never ask me to. The grief and sadness takes its toll. I can’t feel confident we will end up with a child in the future either. We have lost five babies, four of which the cause is unknown. I am terrified.

And although he’s convinced it will work next time, if it doesn’t where does that leave us? How many do we have to lose before it’s enough? He says we will never know unless we try. But the risks and consequences of trying are so overwhelming and debilitating that I don’t want to try. How could I survive another loss?

He has no concerns about trying again. His positivity is astounding. But what he can’t handle is how these losses and the constant set-backs are destroying me.

The hopes for our most recent pregnancy were destroyed by a random chromosomal abnormality that had nothing to do with our RPL, our age, our health. How can I feel confident or positive trying again when nature throws us a curveball like that? Another obstacle in an already unfair playing field. The anticipation and dread is too horrific.

The options as I see it:

1) I protect myself from any future pain of losing another child by not trying to have one. Would the pain of never having a family destroy me? Probably. Would I actually believe it if I said we tried our best? No. Would I hate myself for not being strong enough to give it another go? Already do.

2) We can try again, from which there will be three resulting scenarios:
a) We lose another one. I recede into an even deeper pit of despair from which it is unclear I will ever return. And what? Try again after that? Not sure it’s possible.
b) We succeed with our sixth pregnancy. I can’t even contemplate the possibility. It hurts too much. My mind simply cannot not go there.
c) Neither of the above because we are unable to get pregnant again. Can’t even go there.

So where does that leave us? I’m not sure. Maybe I’m in no position now to try again. Maybe that will come back with time. I’ve obviously not lost hope completely yet since I’m still doing the supplements, the tests, the yoga. The physical me is going for it. Maybe the mental me will get back on the bus at the next stop, or the stop after that. Maybe I’ll step back into the driver’s seat. Until then we’re on autopilot. I guess that’s good enough for now.

Juiced

It’s Saturday morning. I’ll try to keep it light.

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Although Operation Sweet Pea (preconception plan) is more like boot camp the way I force myself kicking and screaming into rigorous routine (I’m an all or nothing kind of girl), there are some bonuses. One of the things that makes me smile is making and drinking fresh organic fruit and veggie juice for us both. I try to juice everyday and notice when I haven’t. I love the feeling I get from it, and love the idea that it’s sending nutrients directly into my bloodstream.

I’m feeling slightly guilty saying that stupidly because during my treatment with Traditional Chinese Medicine I was told to stop juicing because raw foods have a detrimental affect to my system overall. More than any of the strict rules I complied with during the treatment (you can read them here), this one broke my heart. I have difficulty seeing how fresh organic vegetables and fruits can be bad for me. As a vegetarian I rely on raw food.

I was trying to satisfy the eastern, western and personal protocols in the last pregnancy and it consumed me. It was probably a way to channel my anxiety of being pregnant (and terrified of losing it) into something constructive. But I was so hard on myself. I took all the joy out of eating. It became a chore.

The time spent watching dust collect on my much loved juicer made me rethink things. I have to decide which elements of treatment to abide by and which to skip. I am going to allow myself to pick and choose because this is my body and I’m calling the shots. Rightly or wrongly, my days of feeling pressured to follow a protocol 100% are over. There has to be a little give and take in this process because it’s hard enough as it is. Otherwise I’ll just beat myself up more than is necessary for not sticking with the plan.

This time things are going to be a little less structured, a little more organic, So I’ve decided to keep on juicing and just enjoy how it makes me feel, hoping that will have a positive effect on my health and fertility.

I’m going to write down my two favourites that I’ve come up with so I can keep track. These use fruits or veg known to enhance fertility and I’ve included the benefits of the ingredients so I remember why they’re so good:

Juice 1
1/2 Grapefruit
(increases cervical mucous)
1x Beetroot
(detoxifier, prevents birth defects, high in folic acid)
1x Carrot
(regularises ovulation)
1x Apple
(antioxidant, boosts immune system)
1/2 Lemon
(reduces vaginal acidity)
Handful Basil
(antibacterial, antioxidant)
1/2″ Ginger
(increases blood flow to the womb)

Juice 2
1x Apple
(antioxidant, boosts immune system)
1x Kiwi
(Blood thinning, high in folate)
1/2 Lime
(antioxidant)
1/2 Cucumber
(high in folate and B vitamins)
1 Kale leaf
(antioxidant, boosts immune system, reduces inflammation, enhances egg maturation)
Handful Mint
(antibacterial)

Back on the horse.

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Ugh. The very thought of it makes me feel ill.

Commence Operation Sweet Pea (otherwise known as preconception plan)

It has only been 6 weeks since finding out our baby’s heart stopped and one month since the ERPC. And although I may never get over the last loss (or the others before it) I feel like I need some direction here. Am I ready for this? Probably not. But I need to feel like I’m doing something rather than waiting, healing, grieving.

I don’t really feel like I’ve given myself a proper chance at recovering 100% but I’m hoping this can carry on concurrently. I know what’s got me motivated. It’s that damn ticking clock again. Too loud to ignore, I’ll allow myself to gently ramp it up again, trying to be good to myself in the process.

So today marks Day One of gearing myself up mentally and physically for yet another go at this.

Commence once again the charting, the supplements, the progesterone, the fertility diet, the visualisation tapes, the self abdominal massage, the yoga, the protein shakes, the OPKs, and I guess most importantly, the next round of further investigations. New doctors. New tests.

The next two months will be preparing for hopefully another Opportunity Sweet Pea while we hold off TTC until results of more tests come back. Ditched the old consultants, it’s time for a new perspective. More bloods for anti thyroid antibodies, biopsy for NK cells and the whole gamut of NK cell blood testing. Press here to empty bank account.

But it’s good. It’s a step in the right direction. If I say it out loud I’ll have to stick with it. Right? Ugh.