Waiting for Time

I appear to have let more than a week go by without ringing someone and asking them to pleeeeeeease help me have another baby – for free! I saw my counsellor on Tuesday, a woman of profound understanding of the human condition and… and… sense. I am always lost in admiration for the way she combines exquisite sensitivity, genuine compassion – and excellent British Common Sense. We agreed a possible Plan, but when I got home and started to discuss the Plan with John, I discovered his ears were a bit bunged up from all the sand he’s buried them in.

John, it seems, does not really think we need more fertility treatment. Not, I hasten to add, because he does not want more children – he has always wanted lots – but because he has inexplicable faith in the battered and stuttering arrangement of weirdness I call my reproductive system. He is in favour of continuing the just-shag-and-see approach, on the basis that it worked one-and-a-half times in the past. 

I shall be riding roughshod over his considered opinion and trit-trotting off to the doctor anyway. Because A) I want to, and once I decide A Thing Has To Be Done, then yesterday is never quick enough and God help whoever gets underfoot, and B) John has no actual objection to pursuing more treatment, he is simply optimistic – there’s that word again – about our chances of another organic, made-at-home baby.

 Now, I think the man does have a reasonable point (particularly as I am bleating ‘no injectables!’ so regularly I sound like a drug awareness infomercial) but I am uneasily aware that time – and that bitch, probability – is not on my side. I don’t want to piss about with all that endless having sex business – that sound you hear is my husband sobbing, by the way.

Perhaps it might be useful – to myself, obviously – to recap. As this was BB – before blog – I’m already foggy about some of it, and I will have to polish my case history precis in any event soon.

We married in March 2004; I was just 29. I discontinued the pill the month beforehand. In May I went to my GP and explained that I was worried about conceiving as I had such irregular periods, and I had also googled cough, read that didelphys was often associated with an incompetent cervix or two. I was, for some reason, expecting a brisk dismissal of my fears, but although he told me to go away and try for two years he did screw his face up and concede I was at higher risk of miscarriage. Remembering events of 5 years ago is a challenge to my withering neurons, but I know the news upset me horribly because I embarrassed myself by publicly bursting into tears at restaurant that evening while celebrating a friend’s birthday. It was the first inkling of what was to come, and two days later I was back at the GPs telling him I wanted a private fertility referral; I wasn’t going to wait two years, thank you so very much. He shrugged and wrote me the letter.

So, over the course of 2004 we saw a gloriously eccentric Obstetrician who ran the usual tests.  John’s sperm test came back well within all the parameters, but I will treasure forever his expression when Gloriously Eccentric Obstetrician gave us a spirited and talented mime of a deformed sperm. I had a hysterosalpingogram at a private hospital which was woefully underequipped on light bulbs: the radiologist – the same chap I saw again recently – was obliged to site the canula-things through my cervi by the light of a desk lamp perched precariously on a wheelie stool – which his elbow kept knocking away. My uteri were both pronounced reasonable sized with – and I quote – ‘fabulous’ tubes. (I have the x-ray films here if anyone ever wants a butchers at my fabulous tubes. Of course, that was a while ago… perhaps they haven’t aged well.)

So, we commenced Clomid for 6 months, which was unsuccessful, although it did bring 4 of the 6 cycles down under 40 days duration. I had blood work ‘suggestive of ovulation’ and LH surges the day before my period a couple of times. All was Confusion, and by early 2005 I was on the waiting list to be seen at our regional Centre for Reproductive Medicine.

I am very bad indeed at brooking delays. My first IUI cycle there was private, because the NHS simply wasn’t quick enough for me.  The consultant, bless him, put the sperm sample into the juicy looking endometrium on my left, not having realised that the only follicle with anything promising about it at all was attached to the uterus on the right. I got home and had, for the first time in my life, proper hysterics. He did, to his credit, shoulder the responsibility in full the next day when I finally succeeded in speaking to him – although in fac I rather suspected the source of the trouble was a communication-fail from the nurses doing my scans, who had all been clearly confused by my didelphys to begin with. You would think the fact that they had detected I only had a follicle on one side of my highly unusual and noteworthy reproductive kit was worth… I dunno… perhaps flagging up to the boss? Still… bygones.

So, we got all our money back, and by then NHS list had caught us up anyway. For IUI number two, I again steadfastly refused to produce a follicle on my left side – and we had decided by now that my right hand uterus did not look a great bet for an embryo, despite the frustrating fact that its associated ovary was much spritelier: the cycle was abandoned. So, my reproductive system officially now looked like this:

didelphys uterus

– bearing in mind that my right and your right ARE NOT THE SAME. It’s alarming how many medical professionals I have seen mix up patient’s left and their left.

So – IVF! Ho! to IVF! IVF! IVF! We’re starting IVF! Bring it ON! So… where the buggery fuck is my period, and why am I cramping so much on my left side? I could… I could pee on a stick I suppose…?

A strong positive line, immediately. I was still sleepy and thoroughly confused by it: I decided to seek a second opinion and  nearly crippled myself thundering down the cluttered stairs and flinging the front door open just in time to intercept John backing off the drive. He wound the window down and looked at me enquiringly. ‘I’m pregnant!’ I blurted, waving the dripping stick in the air. He stopped the engine and scurried over to inspect the stick.

Much happiness, etc. A scan at 6.5 weeks showed a bright flashing heartbeat and a healthy-looking yolk-sac. We dashed away on a last-minute holiday to Ireland, on the basis that it would be the last one we took by ourselves. I began to feel horribly, wonderfully nauseous, and spent the days driving down pot-holed country roads in a tiny hire car, clinging greenly to the wheel, because John’s driving made me feel even iller.

I went for another scan at 8+ weeks, before they discharged me to my GP. We were so blithe going into that room. There was a junior and a senior nurse, the junior was operating the wand and the senior was standing next to her, directing her where to look.

They wouldn’t show me the screen. After a couple of minutes I asked if I could have a look too, and the senior nurse assured me kindly that as soon as they’d seen everything they needed to, she would turn the screen round – but they weren’t getting a very good picture with this machine – would I mind moving to the room next door where there was a more sensitive ultrasound?

God help me, I never suspected a thing. I upped-sticks into the next room quite cheerfully, and wondered why John came to stand next to me and stroked my leg, instead of perching himself on the chair behind the nurses again.

He knew, of course. He said afterwards that the heartbeat we had seen before had flashed so very brightly that its absence now was glaringly obvious. But even when the doctor – who had mysteriously replaced the junior nurse in the room transition – turned the screen towards me and told me sadly that she had looked very, very carefully and couldn’t find a heartbeat – I still didn’t fully grasp her meaning. As she scanned slowly right through the koala-shaped little fetus to show me that there was no sign of a flashing beat, I had a vague idea that heartbeats were so small and… well, embryonic… at that stage, that taking a little rest and re-starting again later was perfectly acceptable. It wasn’t until she had actually left the room that I began to understand our loss, and started to cry.

And I proceeded to cry a great deal. Life was suddenly unutterably shit. The medical management of miscarriage was distressing and painful, with a hefty shot of pethedine and the associated morphine floating the only redeeming feature of the experience.

I arrived at our first IVF with a good deal more mental baggage. It took a long time – and double doses of gonadotrophin – to wake my ovaries up, but they eventually produced a very average 10 eggs. Apparently, coming around from the sedation I burbled continuously, incoherently, and even more mundanely than usual about some tricky work problem. I have no memory of this, merely of trying to remove my oxygen mask – so I could make my drivel more clearly heard by everyone in the recovery suite, no doubt.

Some precis. I do go on. I’ve typed enough; I have to go to a nursing home fete now, and be nice to people. I am selling cards, as you may realise – my fame is not yet so widespread that they’ve asked me to open the thing.

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8 Responses

  1. Your counsellor sounds like Jane Austen: “combines exquisite sensitivity, genuine compassion – and excellent British Common Sense”.

    I know someone who had kidney cancer. The medics removed the healthy kidney by mistake. I’m beginning to wonder if the left/right thing is more common than we know (and I’m just glad I opted for a double mastectomy, just to make it simple for them).

    I love the way you write. If I lived near you and was organising a fete, I’d definitely invite you to open it, because you would give a rip-roaringly hilarious speech.

  2. Here in the US, we have rules that come down from the accrediting bodies that force us to mark the patient’s limb/breast/kidney/etc. prior to surgery. Sometimes human error still takes over. Unfortunately, it is more common than people know.

  3. This post is so well written I’ve had to read parts out loud to Husbando who chuckled along. Its amazing how you can turn what obviously was a frustrating, and emotionally devastating journey into something so comedic and charming!

  4. Sarge and I have entered negotiations on Trying Again, as well. We’ve already had a staggeringly huge fight since he’s of the same “optimistic” persuasion as John. And I’m like you, yesterday is never fast enough. You put that perfectly. Sigh.

    I am wishing you several large doses of incredibly good luck; you deserve it.

    xoxoxo
    Flicka
    (One day I’ll leave comments with my real blog again. So lazy!)

  5. I would like to have seen the mime of the deformed sperm…

  6. 1. I tell you, you’re good at this writing gig.
    2. I hope it didn’t rain the WHOLE time you were in Ireland.
    3. And, I think we’d ALL like to see the mime of the deformed sperm. A re-enactment, perhaps?

  7. Next time I see you, you have, I mean HAVE, to perform The Deformed Sperm for me. I will get you drunk first if necessary.

    H is a little heigh-ho-granola about our chances of bed=baby too. I think it’s because there’s nothing wrong with his bits, therefore why on earth shouldn’t they work? They worked before… oh, wait. Hmm. Anyway, he was hugely optimistic about this very cycle what has Gone West, and is now a little shaken. I promise it wasn’t me doing the shaking.

    Hugs, because of all that past loss and sorrow, which no one should ever have to go through, let alone someone as sweet and funny and deserving of loveliness and giggles as your good self.

  8. […] blinked a bit when I regaled her with some of the odder aspects of my previous treatment (I started writing a precis for you but only got as far as miscarriage number one, the writing of which made me cry, so I […]

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