Monday, October 31, 2005

I don't want that one, I want a blue one

I posted before about my brother and his disappointment over finding out they are expecting a second girl. Now, I don't think my brother would in any way go to these lengths, but I recently read about a trial use of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis for gender selection. Julie has blogged about this.

This reminded me of an article I read a while ago: you can read the article here and the most interesting table is here. They asked a group of hospital ethicists in
what conditions did they consider prenatal genetic diagnosis - amniocentesis - acceptable. Interestingly, when the risks of amnio were presented accurately, fewer ethicists thought it was acceptable. And when the conditions, such as Down Syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and type 2 diabetes, were actually described rather than named, fewer people thought screening was ethical.

These are professionals who know what they are doing, we would hope, and who have heard of these diseases, know something about the outcomes and the current research programmes, but I doubt that mothers being offered amnio are even given the limited descriptions of conditions that the ethics panel were given. Most people know little or nothing about Down Syndrome or cystic fibrosis.

Personally, I would be too afraid of the risk of another miscarriage to undergo amnio, should I ever get to that stage, but if I was at risk of carrying a fatal genetic disease (by which I mean one that precluded even childhood), I might think differently. I might think even more differently about the kind of genetic diagnosis Julie is talking about, which however involves IVF even if you are otherwise fertile.

But it shocked me that some of the hospital ethicists surveyed thought that prenatal testing for an embarassing condition (red hair and freckles) was justifiable.

I don't think even Mr Insensitive, my brother, would be interested in selecting children who don't have his (and my) goofy front teeth...

Torturing myself

My period is due tomorrow or the next day... of course I am imagining I'm pregnant, and this must be why I'm exhausted, and have nothing to do with the cold I had all last week.

Where is the nearest brick wall, so I can bang my head against it?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I managed that...

Visiting a friend's new baby, that is. I made sure we didn't stay long, and we talked a lot about other stuff - my friend is very sensitive, knows our situation, and I think she made sure her husband knew too. We talked about general stuff, our reasons for being in town for the weekend, our recent holiday. I think, but don't know precisely, that they may have had difficulties getting pregnant. I do know she's been on long-term medication that you can't take while pregnant, so it may just have been that she needed to make sure she was completely stable before getting pregnant.

Whatever, when she heard about the miscarriage she was about 6 weeks pregnant, and a month later when I talked about meeting up she was sure to let me know she was pregnant and ask if it was OK for me. In the end I didn't feel up to it* but I was grateful.

And I bought wool from Loop. Mmmmmm.......

*And as it was part of a trip to a conference which I also had to cancel, I was not too chuffed when one of the organisers got huffy when I told him I was (I think) "short of time and also ill" so wasn't going to be prepared for, or up to attending, the conference, and said he was going to "report me to the organising committee".

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Things that make me go "bawl bawl bawl"

Finding out that my sister-in-law is pregnant again and that their second baby is due in April. She got pregnant with the first one just after the time Mr Spouse and I met, and the second baby is also a girl. My brother told my mum he was disappointed. Disappointed! Living in the land of the clueless, more like.

This is the brother who, about a month after the miscarriage, had stopped asking how we were doing, and when I wrote in an email that we were still struggling, ignored it. This is also the brother who is incredibly cavalier with his daughter's safety, we feel (uses a carseat he picked up off the side of the road, put her in a carrycot in the car when she was a baby, thought a framed backpack would make a good carseat - you are getting the picture). I really, really want to say to him "if you'd lost a baby you'd be a bit more careful with the one you've got" but at least I am too polite to say that.

I am not too polite, however, to feel obliged to pretend to be happy for them. I don't want to be happy for them. I want them being happy for us.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Things that make me go "smile!"

When I was quite unhappy, earlier in the year, a couple of months after the miscarriage, a friend who's been through a lot of depression and who is also struggling to get pregnant, asked me "what do you do that makes you happy?" So I thought of some things...

  • Gardening... my tomatoes are just getting ripe (in October! "You spend more time talking to them than you do to me..." says Mr Spouse)
  • Making things... cooking, sewing (I just turned a never-going-to-squeeze-into-it-again ball dress from when I was 19 into a blouse that got 2 comments when I wore it to work... despite the rubbish pattern which made the arms reeelly narrow and meant I had to alter the (*(&*^& thing about five times)
  • Going out for dinner with Mr Spouse most Friday nights
  • Work. Well, some aspects of work. Getting the right kind of results. Seeing children do cute things... which brings me to...
  • Children. Well, I'd hardly be desperate to have them if I hated them, now would I? I am one of those girls who people said "oh, you should really have children" when I was about 10. I've been babysitting since I was 14, I reckon, volunteering with children on and off since I was 16 and they let me do that instead of sports, and working in research on child development since I stopped being a student. I don't do quite as much of the hands-on testing now (I have slaves lackeys well-paid research assistants and students who are lucky and grateful to be learning their craft at the feet of an experienced pro like myself. But it's still fun to play with them when they are done being tortured tested.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Way to mess with a girl's head

I have been taking part in a clinical trial of a "fertility meter": this involves peeing on lots of sticks, and trying to persuade Mr Spouse into bed at the appropriate time of the month. There are three groups in the trial: one gets information about when they have an LH surge (this is what the ovulation predictor kits you buy at the chemists' measure), one gets no information (I have ranted on various message boards about why women in this group should jolly well stay in the study and not go off in a huff), and one, my group, gets information about the oestrogen surge that comes before the LH surge.

Now typically this surge lasts a couple of days (I've only ever had ones lasting either one or two days), so given my pretty regular cycles, this means I usually get a "high" (i.e. "now would be a good time to jump on your husband") reading around day 12 and 13, with reversion to low around 14 or 15, and that means my period would come two weeks after that. The first of the low readings after a high are actually when a normal ovulation thingy would read "fertile".

So it's a very good way to make me extremely paranoid (has my body given up? am I going to have a three week cycle? am I not going to ovulate? is this the end?) when on day SIX I see a high reading. Although in theory, what this should mean is that I inveigle Mr Spouse into bed about every other day for a week or so before, as well as during, the most fertile time, which is actually a method that seems to work just as well as targeting the most fertile time [in fact, that is why this meter is only being trialed - though I don't doubt it will go on sale, as desperate women will probably pay loads for it].

But in practice what happens is that I'm feeling so paranoid that this rubs off on Mr Spouse, putting neither of us in the mood.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

A brief story

This is an extremely well-written blog about infertility and miscarriage. Very brief, and I sense it is someone's need to tell their story and move on. Perhaps mine will turn into that. In some way, I hope so. I came across it when looking for a UK blog about miscarriage and/or infertility - so much of the system is different here that I can only learn so much about the practical side of what to expect from US blogs.

Friday, October 07, 2005

I don't seem to be very good at...


It's not helped by Mr Spouse having a cold and snoring loudly, but although he woke me up he did stop for a good half hour following liberal administration of Boots Snoring Remedy - he is a star, as it tastes disgusting. But then I went into fret mode, woke up more, went off to read a magazine in the living room, finished the magazine, felt no less awake, went to read other people's blogs (Julie and Hardscrabble, for the moment, though I have links to a load more). Then of course I felt more confused and alert, and less like sleeping, and more upset. Finally I went back to bed and removed my half of the duvet from Mr Spouse, who woke up and gave me a nice warm hug so of course then I really started crying.

Although I don't know much about the practicalities of doing IVF in the UK, and it can hardly be more expensive than doing it in the US, we have talked a little bit about whether we'd want to find out about doing it here - and I think we are pretty sure we wouldn't. It isn't the financial side (even if it was as expensive as in the US, we are actually OK in that respect, as I'm sure my grandfather would think it was a good use of his inheritance), but the emotional side - the success rate does not seem that high - and, from reading these blogs, the emotional side seems far worse than a normal "wait-and-see" approach - although of course we haven't got to the despairing stage yet, so perhaps having some hope would be better than none, but also the medical side sounds far, far worse than I though - and I'm married to a diabetic, and one of my very best friends has a baby conceived through IVF, and "siblings on ice" as she puts it.

So, falling asleep at the time I was normally supposed to get up, I then slept for 2 1/2 hours - I probably could have snuck into work late, but I still felt awful, including dizzy. I decided to claim "possible cold/side effects of flu jab yesterday", and ring in, or rather, email in sick. It is much easier to sound sick in print... I have a history of not sleeping very well, though it is not as bad since Mr Spouse came on the scene, and I have never come to a particularly satisfactory solution to the "I don't feel well enough to work today because I only slept for 3 hours last night" call to work... I know from experience that if I do go to work, I get nothing done, and then I do come down with the cold/migraine that has been threatening. So I usually just claim that it is current rather than future...

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Not quite what I was expecting...

I was a little nervous about talking to Mr Spouse about my thoughts on asking the GP if it might be time to see if anything is wrong... I thought he would probably say "it's not been that long, let's wait" or "well, you know you're more worried than I am..". In fact, it went more like this:

Dr Spouse: I'm getting a bit worried that I'm not pregnant yet, it's been nearly six months.
Mr Spouse: Oh.
Dr Spouse: I'm not sure if I should ask the GP, he'll probably say it hasn't been very long.
Mr Spouse: Well, if you don't ask, you won't find out, will you?
Dr Spouse: Er, no, that's true.

Expecting a struggle, I didn't really know what to say...

Next day:
Dr Spouse: What would you think, if we asked about tests and there was an option to go private?
Mr Spouse (staunch, at least partly old-style, Labour supporter, diabetic with an excellent specialist, NHS champion): Well, let's see what's involved.
Dr Spouse: Hand me that feather, I think I need knocking over with it.

So now he's rolled over and asked for his tummy to be tickled at all my possible objections, what am I to do?!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


I am starting this blog as I think I need somewhere (relatively) private to vent. I have another blog but most of the people who read it know me in real life, too.

To cut a long story short, I had a miscarriage in February at 10 weeks pregnant - you may or may not get more gory details later - and not surprisingly was quite depressed on and off for a while after that. I went to see The Counsellor With The Scary Shirts (in a slight mixup, Mr Spouse had also been referred to the same bloke, and three visits later between us, three different scary shirts had been sighted).

TCWTSS recommended a "negative thought dispersal exercise" where I imagine a train coming slowly towards me, filled with my negative thoughts ("I'm never going to have children" "I'm doing really badly at work" "I'm fat and ugly" "I think I'll scrape that guy's bodywork with my pedal, serves him right for cutting me up"), and then I put up my hand to tell the train to STOP!, and imagine it going slowly away.

Okay, so this is a moderately successful technique, although my trains look more like they should be in The General (whizz whizz STOP! whizz whizz) than Brief Encounter (gliiide). Very much needed today - which is kind of why I've started this - as my period started, which is officially Depressing.

This is now number 8 since the miscarriage - we have actually been "trying" for five of these - not numbers 1 and 2, firstly contra-indicated following medical management of miscarriage (try saying that with a blocked up nose) and secondly just not ready. No. 3 yes, but then Mr Spouse put his foot down about no. 4 when he saw me in bits when my period turned up. Then we've been "trying" (dreadful word, sounds like we could "try" harder...) for cycles 5 through 8.

So that's 5 cycles - and if you are over 35 (I am 38), according to that extremely reliable source, The Internet, you are considered Infertile if you have had no luck for six. It took us four last time - so we aren't far over, but are we at the stage where it's worth bothering, where anyone would take us seriously? Are we infertile?

But then having had one miscarriage, I am wondering if I actually had a second - a possibly positive pregnancy test (fading lines, almost at use-by date) followed by a four-day-late period, but was it really late, did I ovulate late that month? Am I nearly at the three-miscarriage definition of recurrent miscarriage?

It would be nice to know - but as you can see, I am still asking, What am I?