*Warning – highly likely trigger points* very sensitive and graphic content.
I was in my 5th IVF cycle and I was convinced it hadn’t worked, right up to the day of my blood test after my 2 week wait for results after the Embryo transfer. I had actually already grieved the failed cycle and accepted it hadn’t worked and was ready to jump straight in and start another one.
When I got the phone call I was blown away. I knew straight away as my nurse couldn’t contain her excitement and told me I wasn’t just pregnant but that my HCG levels were incredibly high which was obviously a very positive sign. She actually said if this was her pregnancy she’d be very excited! My HCG level was 383. You only need 75 to confirm pregnancy…. my first thought “oh fuck it’s twins.”
After 2 previous miscarriages I did my absolute best to contain my excitement as I wanted to wait until the scan in 2 weeks’ time to confirm the baby was in the right spot and that it had a heartbeat.
But as much as you try, there’s a part inside of you that feels instant love and connection to that little sesame seed sized pod of cells. You can’t help but work out your due date – (it would have been today, 9th March 2019). You can’t help but wonder if it’s a boy or girl. You can’t help but wonder what they will grow up to be like. You can’t help but think about how excited Lexi will be over having a little brother or sister. You instantly know you would do anything, including sacrificing your own life to protect your baby.
Fast forward 10 days. I’m feeling nauseous 24/7 but loving every second. My boobs have doubled in size, which I was not loving every second of that lol but I’m still trying to not get my hopes up. My parents, sister and nieces have come down for a visit and life couldn’t be more perfect. Or so I thought….
Sitting there watching TV and felt a tiny cramp. Which is totally normal so I wasn’t worried. A few minutes later I went to the bathroom and time literally stood still. I was bleeding, badly. I was screaming inside no no no not again. This isn’t happening. But also on the surface I was totally calm and telling myself everything is fine because you can’t allow yourself to accept what is happening, because then it would mean it’s real and you’re dreams are being ripped away from you again.
I guess I knew it was over then as I had the forethought of holding onto a section of what I was losing so we could get it tested for genetic abnormalities. But again, you still cling to that hope that it’s not over.
I called my nurse. The usual instructions followed. Lay down. Insert extra progesterone pessaries (the grossest things in the world and what every girl going through IVF dreads). Relax. Try not to stress. I’d like to meet any woman in the world that could remain calm when she is pregnant and starts bleeding. But I do understand that there’s actually nothing they can do or say to help.
Then the pain started. A deep, stabbing pain on my right side that took my breath away. It was getting worse as each minute passed to the point of being unbearable when Mum and my sister drove me to the ER.
The ER nurse made the experience so much worse. She was joking, trying to make light of the situation and it wasn’t until she helped me to the bathroom and saw how much I was bleeding that she actually started to act professionally and stopped the joking. She immediately referred me to the acute care section and called for a specialist.
After 3 Endone’s and 3 injections of Fentanyl I was off my face but to the point now where I was screaming in pain. I can’t even actually think of how to describe it. I’ve never felt that kind of pain before and even thinking back to it now it makes me wince remembering how much it fucking hurt. It was at this point they were prepping me for emergency surgery thinking it was an Ectopic pregnancy and it was rupturing my Fallopian tube which can be life threatening. They prep you for the worst which is that they will have to remove the tube, which you automatically realise that it was hard enough getting pregnant already and now this will make it 100 times worse.
I got wheeled away to have an internal Ultrasound where the guy that did that was literally the biggest wanker I have ever met. Making jokes with his female colleague about my Retroverted Uterus. Saying to me “so this is an IVF pregnancy and we’re doing a scan to see if it’s still there or not?” I say yes. His response, “Yep cool. Easy as.” Um no it’s not cool you inconsiderate asshole! Then after the scan he looks at the bed and goes “oh wow you are bleeding a lot aren’t you?!?!?!” Thanks for pointing that out dickhead!!!! As if I didn’t fucking notice. The lack of empathy and compassion shown by him makes me wonder why he ever got into that line of work.
Back to acute care where the most amazing Doctor I could ask for, came in to deliver the bad news. I could tell from the moment we made eye contact what she was there to tell me and I shut down. The only way I can describe it is to actually say I had an out of body experience. Which I don’t know if I even believe in, but that’s what it felt like. I was completely devoid of any emotion. The physical pain stopped. I was looking in from the outside of my body and doing everything in my power to escape that moment so I didn’t hear the bad news.
I didn’t hear a word she said. All I heard was white noise. I was literally numb and empty. I knew my body and mind was shutting down to try and cope with what was happening, to try and detach from it all as a defence mechanism I guess. My Mum, sister and niece starting crying. One of them gasped. I remember looking at them and still feeling nothing. I just sat there staring and was actually thinking how weird it was to be sitting there. I don’t even know what that thought meant, I still don’t know.
The news was that the scan showed it wasn’t ectopic so no surgery. But that the sac had ruptured and therefore no longer a viable pregnancy. The baby was gone.
I had only been 2 days away from having my 7 week scan where we’d actually get to see our little baby and hear its heartbeat and being able to finally relax a little bit. But now it was all gone. All over. Dreams torn apart. All hope taken away. Again nothing can describe the feelings that consume you and the pain that takes over.
Next up comes the clinical side. I get told that there is remaining ‘product’ inside me which I need to pass so I don’t get an infection. PRODUCT!!! That’s the word they use to describe my baby. I can never use that word the same way I used to.
The solution to helping this pass is inserting some kind of pessary vaginally and also one rectally to help reduce the inflammation and the pain. Luckily everyone left the room for this. Things couldn’t get more uncomfortable and horrendous.
Once they all realise it’s over, it all changes. There’s no more rushing. No more urgency. Everyone that comes into the room is calm and quiet. Most of them don’t make eye contact, but the biggest killer is the ones that do. The pity you see in their eyes is almost enough to make you scream. It’s then that you want to be alone. You want the world to swallow you up and to hide from the pain and the grief. But there is no hiding. There is only heartbreak and shattered dreams.
I got taken up to a ward then and got what I wished for which was to be alone. And truly alone I was. A few hours before I was laying there with my hands on my stomach knowing there was a life growing inside of me. And now I lay there with nothing but emptiness. Pure emptiness that not a thing in the world could fix, other than turning back time.
The next morning reality hits even harder. When the “product” starts passing and it’s not just blood anymore. The crippling pain of seeing that is indescribable. A feeling I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
Life becomes a blur. Nurses in. Nurses out. Blood tests. Poking and prodding. Being constantly asked if the “product” is still passing. Being told that the pregnancy levels are coming down “nicely” and that’s “great news.” Sitting there wanting to actually punch them in the face as they tell you this and put on a positive smile. I can appreciate now that they are trying to help, but honestly seeing smiling faces and having people trying to turn the most horrific event of your life into something positive, is just a kick in the guts.
You finally get sent home and walk in to the feeling of what now? Last time I was home, life was revolving around the future of an impending mini human. Now what? Do I try again? Do I take time off?
My amazing fertility specialist, Dr Kee Ong, fit me in the very next day for a follow up appointment to review what happened and to come up with a plan of attack. He really is the most caring man I have ever met and makes these difficult times just that little bit easier. Again he tells me that he knows I want a definitive answer as to why it happened, but unfortunately there is no answers. Miscarriages are so common and can happen for so many different reasons so you never get a reason why. Which is incredibly difficult to hear, because you of course blame yourself.
Plan of attack is to have surgery the following week to ensure all the ‘product’ is cleared and we decided to do a Laparoscopy to see if my Endometriosis was back. I also decide to have some time off from IVF to give my body and my mind a break. After almost 2 years I was finding I just couldn’t keep going. My entire life had revolved around it for so long and I needed time out.
This is where I hit one of my lowest points. I was post op and in an immense amount of pain. I was bloated and couldn’t really move much so I had all the time in the world to lay there and start hating the world and hating myself and go through all the ‘what ifs.’ After a few weeks I got back into running and set a goal to do the Gold Coast airport half marathon the following year. This was a major turning point in my journey and one I will go through in another blog.
Four months later and I decide to start another cycle. I was in a great head space. I was well rested. I was fitter and stronger than I had been in quite a few years. I had made the decision that this would be my last cycle. That no matter what the outcome, this was the end of my journey. Dr Ong decided to go all in. I would be taking even more medications. This was it. My last ditch effort to have a baby and to give Lexi and brother or sister.
During this mess my partner had left me and I wasn’t coping at all. I was trying to get used to being alone. I was trying to find a place to live. I was trying to just make it through each day. I made the decision only a few days in, to cancel the cycle myself. I couldn’t go through with it. I couldn’t bear the thought of it failing again. But I was also terrified that this time it would work and I’d be doing it on my own. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make as deep down I knew I’d never start another cycle again. I knew I’d never carry another life inside of me again.
Today is going to be tough for me. That’s why I’ve written this over the last few weeks. It’s my last ‘due date.’ I should have been 9 months pregnant and eagerly awaiting a trip to hospital to meet my baby. But instead I’m grieving a loss that I will never get over. I’ve spoken to many women that have suffered the same and they all say that you never get over it, you just slowly learn to deal with it.
It’s still something I’m coming to terms with, 7 months later. Especially as I was fortunate enough to have 15 embryos in the freezer that are waiting to be used. I always wanted to donate them if I had any left after having my own child so it seemed the obvious choice to make. On my journey I got to know so many amazing women that have been trying for years and are still on their journey to have a family. I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to give this gift to someone that cannot have their own children and I’m currently starting the process in order to finalise my donation.
The thought of being able to help a family who can’t conceive helps me cope a little easier with the fact I failed at my attempts and I wish so badly that my embryos can create that for them. The big question people keep asking me is how I will feel when I get told that someone has given birth to a child that carries my genes. To be honest, I really don’t know. Only time will tell.
For now I do my best to keep moving forward and to stop the constant thoughts of the “what if’s” I find it difficult though when I will always carry the scars on my stomach from the surgery. It’s a permanent reminder.
This due date is hitting me harder than the others as I know it’s my last. But I’m hoping as the day passes and I honour my Angel babies by getting a commemorative tattoo today, that the grief will start to lessen and I can learn to focus on the joy I felt when I was pregnant and look at my tattoo and smile. Rather than look at my scars and cry.
To all those incredible women that are still on their journey, I take my hat off to you. You’re so brave and strong and inspiring. I hope that your dreams come true xoxo