Damn Royals!

**WARNING- this is a very shallow post and generally just me being bitchy**

First Princess Kate taunted me with her big royal wedding as I was going through my engagement envy stage of life and now it’s the royal babies!  I think she’s doing it on purpose.  It’s like she knows exactly what I am struggling with at the moment and just wants to outshine me.  Isn’t being royal enough??

I am totally kidding…I know she isn’t doing it purposely but isn’t that how we all feel at times?  Like EVERYONE is just getting pregnant on purpose.  We know they aren’t but it still feels that way.  This is the part I truly hate about infertility…the ugly jealousy.   The jealousy of others having what you don’t, getting pregnant without all of the worry, feeling like you aren’t a part of the “mom club” and the list goes on and on.  And then there are the Duggars with their 19 children AND counting!  I mean seriously could they spread the fertility wealth just a little bit??!

Some of the things that I have found to be helpful when the jealousy monster shows up:

  • drink wine
  • find other friends who will support your jealous thoughts without judgement
  • watch mindless TV shows that have nothing to do with children or pregnancy
  • drink more wine
  • blog
  • go shopping

Thank you for letting me vent and not be judged.  NOT that I am not happy for the Royals but do they really need all of the fanfare…would she be getting this much publicity if she were struggling with infertility??   I think not. I did read that she is suffering from acute morning sickness, which is terrible so I will give her that much.

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Great Article on Baby Envy

A fellow fertility friend of mine recently sent me this article.  As I read it, I felt as though I could have written every word.  I too have suffered from that all too familiar feeling of baby envy and have felt extremely guilty and terrible for feeling that way.  I have even let some of my close relationships suffer because of it.  It’s not something anyone plans to have happen but it just does and sometimes we don’t even realize it until it’s too late.  It helps to know I am not the only one who has ever felt this way.

Consumed by baby envy: The new social divide between women struggling in their late 30s to become pregnant and friends who have children

By KATHERINE BALDWIN

But in her early 30s she suddenly became bitter, resentful and mean-spirited towards friends and even to her own sister-in-law.

The depth of her anger, jealousy and hatred took her completely by surprise.

Painful truth: Becky Bramall (26) from Hull, lost a friendship due to jealousy over her friend's pregnancy

Painful truth: Becky Bramall (26) from Hull, lost a friendship due to jealousy over her friend’s pregnancy

‘I was feeling this really horrible set of emotions and it was a side of me I didn’t think I had – a very black side,’ says Karen, a 45-year-old writer in Nottingham.

‘My anger at the time was palpable. I felt physically sick.’

And the reason for her dramatic personality change? She was suffering from profound fertility envy.

Karen was married and in her early 30s when she discovered that she would struggle to conceive. Knowing she wanted a family, and concerned that her fertility might have been compromised after her appendix burst during her 20s, she went for tests and learned one of her fallopian tubes was damaged.

 But as she began her fight against infertility, it seemed that everyone around her was getting pregnant.

Most painful of all, Karen’s sister-in-law announced her pregnancy just as Karen and her husband James were starting IVF.

The prospect that a new child would soon arrive in the family knocked Karen for six.

From then on, Karen avoided contact with the expectant woman. ‘I couldn’t listen to anyone going on about being pregnant,’ she says. ‘I’d have probably told them I hated them or something.’

Her bitterness extended to every woman with a swollen belly who crossed her path. ‘These people had what I thought I’d never have,’ adds Karen. ‘Often I’d just fall into a heap and sob.’

While Karen was shocked by her personality change, her behaviour is by no means unusual. Counsellors who work in the field of infertility say feelings of anger or jealousy towards friends who have had babies are more common than not.

And, as more women leave motherhood until later in life, and consequently struggle to conceive, feelings like Karen’s are becoming increasingly common.

New babies, invitations to christenings and ultrasound scans posted on Facebook remind infertile women of what they cannot do

New babies, invitations to christenings and ultrasound scans posted on Facebook remind infertile women of what they cannot do

Nearly a fifth of British women are childless at menopause, statistics show –  some by choice but many others by circumstance.

As Karen knows all too well, infertility can leave women feeling excluded from a privileged members-only club. At the same time, invitations to christenings and ultrasound scans posted on Facebook remind them of what they cannot do.

‘When people are diagnosed with an infertility problem, it’s almost as if women with baby bumps or prams start coming out of cracks in the pavement,’ says Diane Arnold, who provides support to women and couples via the Infertility Network UK’s professional advice line for members.

‘You want to be pleased for your friends, but deep down you’re thinking: “Go away with your babies,” ’ she adds.

But the topic of fertility and friendship can be taboo, and women often find their jealousy is compounded by guilt.

‘You feel like such an awful person. You don’t understand how you can feel mean towards someone who’s having a baby, but you do,’ says Karen.

Norah Harding, an infertility counsellor who helps couples through fertility treatment with stress-reduction techniques, agrees the emotions women experience can be multi-layered.

‘On top of feeling envy and a sense of failure as a woman, you can feel doubly bad because you’ve also become a bitter person,’ says Harding, of Reframe Counselling and Psychotherapy.

In surveys, women say infertility is the worst thing that has ever happened to them, even when compared to the death of a loved one, says Harding, who’s noticed an increase in people seeking emotional support around infertility.  ‘When someone else seems to get pregnant easily or accidentally – that can be really difficult to take.’

Karen found herself in that position when a work colleague announced her baby news just after Karen and James had decided to go down the IVF route.

‘I remember she would joke: “My husband only has to look at me and I’m pregnant,” ’ she says. ‘I could have throttled her.’

And when Karen heard her sister-in-law had given birth — just before Karen had eggs implanted after a first cycle of IVF — her response to her husband was: “So what”? She refused to go and see her baby nephew.

Then, there was good news for Karen — her IVF worked first time and she quickly reverted to her bubbly, optimistic self. It was as if a switch had been flipped.

'I went from being a recluse to being this happy, generous person who was delighted to see pregnant women and children, says Karen

I went from being a recluse to being this happy, generous person who was delighted to see pregnant women and children,’ says Karen (picture posed by models)

‘I suddenly had the biggest smile and was full of cuddles for babies everywhere,’ says Karen. ‘Overnight, I went from being a recluse to being this happy, generous person who was delighted to see pregnant women or their children.’

When she was a couple of months pregnant, Karen visited her sister-in-law and for the first time met her nephew, by then a few months old.

Karen never discussed her infertility or her envy with her sister-in-law and both sides of the family moved on as if nothing had happened.
Soon, though, the shoe was on the other foot.

To her surprise, Karen conceived her second child, Georgia, naturally not long after the birth of her first daughter, Holly, and she had to break the news of her new pregnancy to a close friend who had failed with IVF.
‘She was shell-shocked. She couldn’t hug me.

She found it really hard to deal with,’ says Karen, whose daughters are now aged 13 and 12.

‘On top of feeling envy and a sense of failure as a woman, you can feel doubly bad because you’ve also become a bitter person’

Fortunately, her friend did eventually have a baby herself and the relationship survived the infertility rollercoaster.

But things aren’t always so straightforward. Becky Bramall, a 26-year-old social worker from Hull, lost a friendship completely due to infertility.

Becky and her husband Mike spent two years trying to conceive naturally before finding out they both had infertility issues.

‘My close friend already had a child but that wasn’t a big problem,’ she says. ‘I didn’t mind being around children – it was pregnant women I struggled with.’

Then, one morning, Becky’s friend texted her to say she was pregnant again. ‘I was devastated,’ she says.

‘She already had a little girl. I knew then it was going to be too hard for me to continue with that friendship.’

As her friend’s pregnancy progressed, Becky found it increasingly hard to see her stomach growing or to look at her scan pictures. She gradually withdrew, not responding to messages.

‘I found myself getting increasingly upset and it just made it so hard every month when I got my period,’ says Becky, who eventually stopped seeing her friend altogether after about five months.

‘She did contact me not long after her daughter was born and asked if she’d done anything wrong. I explained to her that it wasn’t personal — I just couldn’t be around pregnant women. I just felt numb.’

Becky and her husband did finally conceive, through IVF, and now they have a three-month-old son, Finley.

After Finley’s birth, her friend congratulated her via Facebook, but the two haven’t spoken.

Becky thinks that friendship is over for good and she still struggles with feelings of bitterness.

‘People think that once you’ve had a child, all the pain goes away. But it doesn’t,’ she explains.

Pregnant pause: Many women who can't conceive begin to avoid expectant mothers

Pregnant pause: Many women who can’t conceive begin to avoid expectant mothers

‘I look at my brother and sister-in-law who have two children who are close together in age and I think, we’re never going to have another child without it being a massive procedure.

‘The anger and frustration that we can’t just have what everyone else seems to get so easily is still there.’

And things can be just as difficult on the other side of the fence. In a poll of 354 women conducted by the pregnancy and parenting website BabyCentre.co.uk, 86 per cent of women said they felt guilty when telling friends who were trying to conceive that they were pregnant.

While every woman deals with things differently, Norah Harding says some friendships may need to be ‘parked’ if one party is struggling to conceive, to be picked up again later when things have been resolved or feelings are less raw.

‘If you feel like people are walking on eggshells around you, that doesn’t help either,’ she says. ‘When you’re struggling with a sense of hopelessness, you’re very sensitive to imagined or intended slights.’

Sometimes friendships are never quite the same again.
One 41-year-old mother-of-two, who says the issue is so sensitive she doesn’t want to be named, explains she’s struggled for years with a friend she made at university 20 years ago, who has unexplained infertility issues.

 ‘Julia was such a brilliant friend, but seeing her every day with her big belly was so hard…Her body was a physical reminder of what I couldn’t do’

‘She’s been awful to be around,’ says the part-time teacher from London. ‘She’ll invite my husband and me to a barbecue and then add the comment: “Please don’t bring your children,” which makes it hard for us to go.

‘She tries to airbrush my children out of my life – she is always trying to organise weekends away with “the girls” which are almost impossible as we all have children.

‘I feel very angry that because of her reaction to her infertility, I always have to tiptoe around the subject of children.

‘I do try to be understanding and have changed the way we socialise to try to deal with the problem, suggesting we meet for weekday lunches when I’m not with my children. I have even thought about dropping the friendship. But, then, what kind of friend would I be?’

Experts say the best solution to fertility jealousy is to talk openly about what’s going on.

‘Women who experience fertility problems need to give themselves a break and be kind to themselves,’ says Anya Sizer, support co-ordinator at the London Women’s Clinic.

In a poll conducted by BabyCentre.co.uk, 86 per cent of women said they felt guilty when telling friends who were trying to conceive that they were pregnant

In a poll conducted by BabyCentre.co.uk, 86 per cent of women said they felt guilty when telling friends who were trying to conceive that they were pregnant

‘Feeling envious at a baby shower or fed up of seeing pregnant women doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a human being.’
But talking about fertility jealousy can be difficult even for the closest of friends.

Clare Axworthy, 32, and Julia Shields, 33, have been good friends since they met through work at a publishing company in 2005.

But, a few years ago, their relationship was threatened by infertility. Both women began trying for a second child around the same time — their first children were only nine months apart.

Julia became pregnant straight away and instantly told Clare, assuming the same would happen to her. But Clare went on to struggle for a year.
They continued to work side-by-side, but the relationship changed as Julia’s pregnancy progressed.

‘Julia was such a brilliant friend, but seeing her every day with her big belly was so hard,’ says Clare. ‘I felt that it wasn’t fair. Her body was a physical reminder of what I couldn’t do.’

At one point Julia, now a full-time mother from North Somerset, tried to talk to Clare about her pregnancy but she clammed up, denying that there was anything wrong.

‘I couldn’t say to a really good friend that I couldn’t hang out with her because I felt bitter, jealous and insecure,’ says Clare, who lives in London with her husband.

Clare did eventually conceive, just as Julia’s baby was born, and both women went on to have a third child. Clare says they both agree their friendship is as strong as ever now, but she admits things could have been very different.

‘Had I not got pregnant again, I’m not sure how I’d have dealt with it, and I might have cut her off a bit,’ she says.

‘I think it would have been really difficult for us to stay such close friends.’
Sadly, there are an increasing number of women in Britain who know just how that feels.

Contact the Infertility Network UK on 0800 008 7464 or visit infertilitynetworkuk.com.

So maybe I am crazy after all…

So I came across this interesting piece of information today: “From a mental health point of view, up to 1 in 5 women who experience miscarriage have anxiety levels similar to people attending psychiatric outpatient services, and up to a third of women attending specialist clinics as a result of miscarriage are clinically depressed”  I thought this was very interesting because over the past 2 years I have found myself so much more anxious over many things that have nothing to do with miscarriage or infertility.  I find myself up in the middle of the night thinking about the most random crap and wondering why I am worrying about it so much and at 2 o’clock in the morning!

A fellow fertility friend of mine told me about her friend who wrote his thesis statement on couples going through infertility treatments and asked her how she didn’t go f***ing nuts!  And it is true…how do we not go crazy??  Or maybe we are crazy but God forbid should someone point that out because they might get punched in the face.

I often times think I might be just a little crazy for continuing on this journey after everything I have been through.  Who else in their right mind would willingly keep getting pregnant after so many losses or  pump themselves full of hormones and go through torturous procedures just to get pregnant?   Over and over gain no less!

The worst part about all of this is that miscarriage and infertility are such taboo subjects that no one really talks about.  So many of us are just suffering in silence.  I am very fortunate to have found a therapist that specializes in working with woman going through infertility and miscarriage and have also found a really great support group through Resolve.  I also have a great network of friends who have gone through similar struggles but I wouldn’t have found these people unless I started talking about it.

When I think back to those statistics I read today, it made me realize just how deep this effects us from a mental health stand point.  It also makes me very sad for all of those who are going through this on their own without a support system.  I know first hand the levels of anxiety associated with miscarriage and the levels of grief and depression that one goes through when suffering from a miscarriage and no one should go it alone.  One of the reasons I started this blog was to connect with others and if I was able to reach even just one person and make them feel like they are not alone than that will be one less person out there suffering all alone.  I remember how relieved I felt when I talked to someone about my struggles for the first time because I knew that I wasn’t alone and that everything I felt was normal.  IF you are going through this alone, I encourage you to find others to talk with and find a support group or therapist who can help.  You wouldn’t tell someone who was going through a major depression to just buck up and get over it right?  As I wrote earlier, the Resolve website is a great resource and can help you find a support group in your area.  Also the Psychology Today website is a website you can use to help find a therapist in your area.

I say if they really want to punish people in prison…put them through infertility treatments.  Pump them up real good with hormones and then make them think they are getting out in two weeks and then when their two week wait is over let them know they are not in fact getting out of prison or give them hopeful updates every 2-3 days and then tell them 8 weeks later they are not getting out.  And then just keep doing this over and over again.  I bet our crime rates would go way down!

I Just Knew…

Two years ago I got pregnant with my first little one.  I was so happy and excited.  I downloaded the What to Expect App on my phone so I could track my progress.  I signed up for updates and emails from The Bump.  I even went as far as to purchase one of those maternity belly bands because my pants were getting tight.  We made announcements to our family and very close friends because you know that’s what people do when they get pregnant right?  They tell everyone!

It was also around this time 2 years ago almost to the exact day that I just knew something was wrong.  It was 2 weeks before we were leaving for vacation and I was getting ready for bed when all of a sudden I had this very strange feeling.  To this day I will never forget that feeling and it is hard to explain but I will try.  I felt like everything got really quiet, not just in my house but even my body got real quiet. It was like everything just stopped.  Then I just had this strange thought in my head saying “it’s gone, it’s over”.  And then just like that things weren’t quiet anymore.  It was such a strange, almost surreal feeling.

I quickly googled signs and symptoms of miscarriage and went down the list to see if I had any of them.  The most common: cramps…not one, bleeding…not a drop, back pain…nope.  I had none of the signs.  My boobs were still incredibly sore and I was feeling exhausted so my pregnancy symptoms were still there.  So I proceeded on and went on vacation the following but I still kept thinking about that feeling and couldn’t get the feeling that something wasn’t right out of my mind.

The week we came back from vacation, we had an ultrasound scheduled at 9 weeks…not because there was anything wrong but we had the opportunity to go early so we went.  We went to the hospital rather than my OB-GYN since it was technically a diagnostic ultrasound due to it being so early.  We were so eager and couldn’t wait to see our baby however the ultrasound technician made it very clear that she was NOT discussing anything with us and that she would just take the pictures and give it to the radiologist.  I would have to get the results from my doctor.  I thought maybe this was just a formality and she was surely going to show us our baby.  But no she did not…she took those pictures, told me to get dressed and that I would have the results from my doctor in 2 hours.  I remember I kept thinking “what results?”  It’s a picture of a human baby not an alien right??

At this time I noticed my husband was sitting very quiet.  I asked him if ge could see anything and he nodded yes but didn’t say anything.  So I said “well what did you see?!”  He told me that he saw a sac but no flicker on the screen which he remembered from his 2 daughters ultrasounds that he saw a flicker for the heartbeat but that maybe it was too early.  He saw I was getting upset and then apologized and told me he was probably wrong and not to pay any attention to what he said.  I tried to tell myself that yes my husband is dumb and has no clue what he saw or is talking about but I thought of that night before vacation and that awful feeling and I just knew.

A couple of hours later, the doctor called and told us that the ultrasound showed a fetal pole measuring about 6 weeks with no heartbeat and that I was supposed to be 9 weeks so this was not a viable pregnancy.  I just remember I kept saying that I had NO symptoms and maybe my dates were wrong and that’s when I learned a new term: missed miscarriage (A missed miscarriage is when the baby stops developing but you don’t experience any miscarriage symptoms and your body still thinks you are pregnant).  He advised me to come in the next day to the office to have an exam and go over my “options”.

We were in shock.  Everyone was calling and texting us asking how it went because you know we told everyone and now we had to untell everyone that there was no baby.  The next day we went to my Ob-gyn office and saw another doctor (I go to a large practice so I see a different person every time).  She examined me and went over our ultrasound results and then said that she thought it might be possible that maybe I am not as far a long as I thought and maybe I really am only 6 weeks which could be early to see a heartbeat.  She didn’t want to get our hopes up but wanted to make sure that it was not a viable pregnancy before we made any decisions.  I loved her…she was so bright and optimistic even though she looked twelve.  I didn’t care how old she was because on that day she was the best doctor in the world until she called 2 days later to tell me that my hcg level showed it was dropping.  And then the following week when we went for the follow up ultrasound and everything was exactly the same as the week before…no heartbeat…no baby.  We were devastated all over again and once again I kept thinking about that night before vacation which would have been around 6 weeks and how I just knew.

This was also the night before my first day of school which as a teacher I didn’t have time to have a miscarriage let alone miss the first day of school!  I can’t even tell you how I got through that first day with my second graders or really that week before of setting up my classroom and getting ready to start the year or the weeks that followed for that matter.  I had my appointment for my D&E the next day which was the 2nd day of school and luckily on a Friday.

When I think back on that time 2 years ago, I feel so many things.  Obviously sadness and pain but also a little jealous of my first pregnancy self.  I got to experience what it was like to get pregnant and be genuinely happy and excited rather than worry about how long this one is going to last or worry every day what the results are going to be at each appointment.  I am grateful that I got to experience all of that even though deep down, maybe even mother’s intuition…I just knew.

Recurrent Pregnancy Loss AKA RPL

I have recently stumbled across some fellow RPL (Recurrent Pregnancy Loss- defined by having 2 or more consecutive miscarriages) Bloggers and have been interested in reading how others are dealing with this and what their plans are for moving forward.   RPL presents a unique challenge in the infertility world because you are able to get pregnant and usually without much effort which is a contradiction to the definition of infertility and not being able to get pregnant.  The problem with us RPL’ers is  we don’t seem to be able to STAY pregnant.

I have found others, like myself, are also usually diagnosed with Poor Ovarian Reserve or Diminished Ovarian Reserve…is there really even a difference??  They both suck!  And Poor Egg Quality as the most likely cause for the miscarriages.  So the difficulty really comes down to getting pregnant with a “good egg”.  For me this is what keeps me holding on and hoping that one day I will get pregnant with that one good egg and stay pregnant.  It also baffles me as to how I could have managed to get pregnant in the first place let alone five times if my “reserve” is so diminished and poor.  I often joke with Dr. F that I am probably one of his most fertile infertility patient.  Imagine how many babies I could have had in my twenties or early thirties?!

I was speaking to a former infertile who had trouble conceiving but did eventually go on to have children. She said she was always so jealous of those who were able to at least get pregnant even if it didn’t last.  I thought just the opposite…why bother to get pregnant if it’s just going to end.  I guess it’s both a blessing and a curse?  Sometimes I wish I didn’t get pregnant at all but then I think of my little angels and know that they do have a purpose even if  I was just meant to be a mom to them for a short time.

The fact that I am able to get pregnant is one of the main reasons I am still so hesitant about moving onto IVF.  Why would I want to put my body through all of that when I can do it on my own with what could be the same results?  The benefit I guess would be that we would have a better idea which embryos would be more viable if any especially if we did CCES (comprehensive chromosomal embryo screening).  I still struggle with that part too…the knowledge of knowing which embryos are viable and which are not is so incredible but at the same time is that tampering with nature and God’s plan too much?  These are just my own personal thoughts and certainly don’t want to judge those who have or had gone through embryo testing.  In fact, I would be curious to know for those of you who have had embryo testing…was this decision a struggle for you?  If so, what made you decide to just go for it?

I never thought I would be here at 5 losses…one was devastating enough, then two was just heartbreaking, and so on.  I often wonder how many more I will have to go through or will my body just eventually say enough and I will stop getting pregnant?  But when I read the success stories of those that have suffered multiple losses too and then have gone on to have their rainbow babies it gives me hope and strength to keep on going.  I keep telling myself it only takes one.

For all of my fellow miscarriage survivors:

miscarriage

Here are a few other RPL bloggers you may want to check out: My Hope Jar  Project Sweet Pea and My Perfect Breakdown

Book Recommendations

Following the advice of my awesome support group leader, I am gathering as much information as I can about all of my options and listening to my gut feelings as I read.  This will hopefully help me to come to some decisions about where to go from here.

Here are some books that were recommended to me by friends or fellow bloggers that you might also find helpful on your journey:

1. Silent Sorority by Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos- I just started this yesterday so I can’t really say too much about it but it is a memoir written by a woman who struggled with infertility for years and decided to live childfree.

2. Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos- This was recommended to me by a co-worker/friend of mine and is written by the woman who did My Big Fat Greek Wedding!  This is her journey about going through 13 rounds of IVF (yikes!) and ultimately decided to adopt her daughter through the foster care system.  It is an amazing story and beautifully written…and funny too!  At the end of the book she also has information about different types of adoption.

3. I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home by Lisa Manterfield- This is another memoir written by a woman who struggled for 5 years to have a baby and decided to live childfree.  It is a quick read and really details her struggles not only with infertility but how she overcame her grief over not having a child.  She also has a blog too called Life Without A Baby

4. Sweet Grapes by Jean and Michael Carter- This is a book written by a couple who struggled with infertility and decided to live childfree.  In the book they focus more on the process that they had to go through to really accept and mourn the loss of not having their own child rather than living childfree.  This is a really important step to go through on this journey regardless of what options you choose after that.  For this couple they chose to live childfree but they also include chapters about couples who have gone onto other options such as adoption, donor eggs, etc.

5. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson- This is NOT a book about infertility although the writer does have some struggles that she mentions in the book.  It is a memoir written about her life and it is HILARIOUS!  So I would recommend this book if you are looking for a break from all of the infertility crap and really just want to laugh because we all you could use that every now and then!

One of the reasons I started this blog was not only to get out my own crazy thoughts but to connect with and support others.  If just one person reads my blog and feels less alone or finds some helpful information or advice than one of my goals has been met.  Please feel free to share any books, websites, etc. that you have found to be helpful:)