Sunday, December 24, 2006

Why is it...

that I come over all emotional when I hear or sing Christmas carols?

It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that I'd be in floods (well, a slight leak, to be honest) when we went to St. Paul's this afternoon, and a very small girl did a completely perfect reading, much better than a couple of the adults. She can't have been more than about 8 - she had to stand on a box.

I know that some of my feelings at Christmas are related to infertility, the same with choirs - I can't help hoping that I have children who love singing as much as I do, but I know that even children genetically related to us both would not automatically be musical, since Mr. Spouse is not particularly so. I also know that any girls we had could miss out since the best choirs are still all-boys - and I know part of my emotion is the regret that I missed out myself.

But Christmas is also so much about birth - and I have to remind myself to skip ahead to other parts of the story, where we are adopted as children of God, who are equal with birth children. And also that Joseph, crucial in Christ's lineage, was his adoptive father.

Somewhere, tonight, a child is born. Maybe to us.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I was going to ask if you missed me...

… but DD’s comment showed you have. How lovely to have such a devoted readership.

I had a really good trip; it was very worthwhile (I have to keep saying that so people won’t think I was skiving), and an extremely lovely part of the world. I hadn't been to SE Asia before, but in some ways the island I went to was very similar to the area of East Africa where I used to live. I hope I didn't bore people in saying so. In fact, my student's project team were probably more interested in hearing about the similarities than she was, as they are all Muslim and were interested in cultural things. The food was fabulous too (have been Googling restaurants in London where we are over Christmas).

It was also a pretty good way to spend the 2WW - not that I had any hopes for this month, but what with jet-lag and probably a very tired uterus after last month, my period was 2 days late, which really didn't freak me out in the slightest. Busyness and travel are good for me. The only bad thing was Mr. Spouse couldn't come too, but the flights over Christmas were prohibitively expensive, and we also feel we shouldn’t abandon his mother for her first Christmas on her own.

I think I am feeling more like we are likely to adopt and less like we are likely to get (and stay) pregnant with each month – this makes the adoption thing more real, but also more scary. I only spent about half a day being sad and emotional this month, I was reading a book on immigration to Britain on the plane and people’s stories were making me come over all weepy – though to be fair, anyone who doesn’t come over all weepy at the story of the Kindertransport has a heart of stone, I tell you.

So now we need to ring the agency in January and make sure they have found us a social worker to start our home study – I am looking forward to it, in a strange kind of way. I know people say it’s intrusive, but I think we are both the kind of people who don’t mind talking about ourselves, to a certain extent. It’s the bit after adoption that scares me. But we are also feeling sad for our friends, who I’ve mentioned before, who had just done their preparation course for adoption from China – except that he is about the same age as Mr. Spouse i.e. over 50 – and they have no idea what is going to happen now, except it looks like they won’t be able to now. After all they’ve been through – much longer than us, with no pregnancies – this must be devastating. There are very few other countries with arrangements with the UK so I don’t know what they are thinking now.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

There’s confidence for you…

An internet friend of mine who’s been trying to get pregnant for very slightly longer than us, who is about 10 years younger but otherwise whose path pretty much mirrors ours (one miscarriage about two months after mine, at 14 weeks, one suspected miscarriage about 4 or 5 months after that, a variety of investigations which revealed nothing much except possible low ovarian reserve, but that wasn’t certain) has just announced she’s pregnant.

At 3 weeks 5 days. 9 DPO. Including her due date – and the fact that she thinks it’s actually 4 days later due to ovulating late.

OK, so I announced my last pregnancy on here at 4w3d. But not on any of the message boards I read. And I didn’t even calculate my due date – and I now deliberately don’t know it. I will allow myself to feel sad on the anniversary of finding out I was pregnant the first time, as I think it’s around then.

In our world, the last cycle is over – phew – a uterine biopsy is, well, OUCH. And DOUBLE OUCH. Followed by lots of spotting and a thankfully early period, which at least put an end to the spotting. I bought a Mooncup. I have been putting this off for ages as I thought you had to buy different ones dependent on whether you’ve had a vaginal delivery or not, but it also depends on age which affects your pelvic floor muscles. I have to say that I probably could have used the girls’ version as I do Pilates and yoga and, erm, lets just say have a busy night-time life, certainly much busier than I did before I was 30. But no matter. It is so far no more uncomfortable than a tampon (I know it’s there but it doesn’t hurt) and it is quite convenient to know it can stay there for a much longer period of time.

We took in our CRB forms this week and as far as we know it all went well, but I may have to have US clearance forms, and I had a panic when someone mentioned references from all the jobs, voluntary or otherwise, that have been with children – that would be starting with volunteering at the university playgroup when I was 19 – does it even still exist? But apparently a selection will do, so I am to make a list of the organisations that I can remember.

Reading continues, for me at least (Mr. Spouse is not such a good reader – and is also feeling a little reluctant at the moment – but I think he’ll manage to process a few selected books in the end). I’ve finished reading (or, at least, skimming) three books by Caroline Archer, which seem OK; one thing that strikes me is that they use behavioural techniques while being rather scathing about them, and trying very hard to come from a hugely psychodynamic perspective. They explain interactions in terms of psychodynamics (the one I’m reading at the moment, by Vera Fahlberg, even goes on about Freud and the Oedipal phase – I didn’t realise anyone even put that in books any more) but then suggest largely behavioural interventions for the difficulties children have – introducing things gradually, in safe and anxiety-free environments, is a staple of e.g. behavioural therapy for phobias. The other thing that slightly bugs me is that none of the interventions have in any way been proven in any kind of research trial. I’ll read on.

I’m off on my exotic trip on Tuesday – not, I have to say, as excited as I could be – the journey there will take 48 hours including a nearly-24h stopover, and Mr. Spouse can’t come. I’ll be back just before Christmas so behave yourselves while I’m gone.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sorry to leave you hanging on there!

Blogger does not like very long posts, and I had been sitting on three quarters of a post for a few days, so thought I’d just put it up.

To continue the story: A lived with me for about six months, during which time he started school and learned a lot of appropriate skills. He started to refer to me as his mother. this is not such a big deal as it may sound – most African children have more than one adult woman they will call or refer to as Mama – it is sometimes necessary to ask people whether the person they are talking about is their birth mother/father and it’s not considered at all an insulting question. He would tell people when we were out that I was his mother – when he was living with me this seemed appropriate – and people would ask us this. This may seem a completely ignorant and mad question, but you have to bear in mind that it is very common in the region to see a white (albino) child both of whose parents are black, and for all they knew there was a similar genetic error which could make it happen the other way round. A became affectionate – but appropriately so – towards me, and seemed to enjoy living with us (my housekeeper and me).

He was also a little terror. It is very likely that he was sexually abused, possibly by the boys who were living across the road. The pattern in the region seems to be for older boys to “educate” younger boys by either forcing them to have sex, or to watch them. Anyway, he had inappropriate knowledge and, according to a colleague, tried to kiss her very forcefully. After I left, there was a rumour he had tried, or even managed, to rape a girl in his school. He could also be violent and oppositional – he was never violent or sexual to me but could be very oppositional, tended to run away (I had to chase him round town in the car a couple of times).

When A was a small child, his mother died, as I have said. His father was a refugee from Mozambique, and had no family locally. He had worked as night watchman for a family who, I believe, were from the UK, and A had lived with them when he was small. He spoke pretty good English for a child from his area (normally it is limited to Howareyouteacher) and gravitated towards wazungu (white people). The British family had wanted to adopt him but his father had understood this would mean not seeing him again and had said no. The only person left to care for him was his alcoholic father. We think he was enrolled in school aged 7 – we are not sure if there are some relatives of his mother locally – and things seem to have gone OK for a little while, until he ran away – aged 10, at most – and his father didn’t look for him.

Parenting was hard, and I don’t know how I would have coped with life as a single “parent” if it had not been for my housekeeper. Not only did she do lots of practical things round the house (but teaching A to do the things that were appropriate for his age), but she also babysat when I was away (he bit her), and gave me advice on how she would have expected her brothers and sisters to behave at that age. She was very longsuffering and I was, I hope, appropriately grateful.

The end of this stage of the story comes when I had to move back home and find somewhere else for him to live. His father this time wanted me to adopt him and take him home. I didn’t even know where I was going (as it turned out, I spent the next six months constantly moving) and if I would be allowed to do this, I did do some half-hearted investigating but it was never really going to be an option. I needed to find him a family locally.

Fostering and adoption are just not common at all in the region – people do not care for children that are not kin – so this was hard. He went to stay with a pastor and his family for a weekend and they said they couldn’t cope with him. I was in floods of tears coming home from their house – one of those count-on-the-fingers-of-my-hands floods that only come a few times in your life. Finally a very good woman who worked for the project, who was a friend of mine, said she’d take him in. My job was being taken over by a friend of mine, who continued to employ her, and I knew I could send something for his support through him, so I was very relieved. In fact not everyone on the project liked her (the other colleague I mentioned above, in particular, didn’t) but that didn’t really matter. At least he had somewhere to live.

There is more to come, I just don’t know when!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Instant parent

I don't think I've blogged about this already, but stop me if I have.

Stirrup Queens blogged about "finding a baby on the doorstep"; well, this almost happened to me. As in, it wasn't a baby, it was a ten-year-old boy.

When I lived in East Africa, lots of the neighbourhood kids used to come round and play on my sizeable balcony and watch my video and when there was food, they would eat. A group of older teenagers moved into a house opposite and one of the kids that was hanging around at mealtimes was A, who was 10. Turned out he was living with them, doing odd jobs, he had been living on the street, and I found out he wasn't enrolled in school, and asked around - my housekeeper suggested we needed to find out if he had parents before doing anything about this. So we put the word out on the bush telegraph and his dad turned up.

A's father was alcoholic and his mother had died when he was a young child. His father was more than happy for us to feed and clothe him so long as he didn't have to. So he moved in to the spare room. When he came he had only one set of clothes, no underwear, no toothbrush or comb, no school clothes, I think he may have had some flipflops but no proper shoes. Lest you think "well, he's a small African child", most of the children in my town had all those things, and their mothers would have been ashamed to let them out of the house in the state he was in. He didn't know how to wash his own clothes, and the other children laughed at him when they found this out, because they had all been doing theirs since they were small.

There is a lot more to this story, which I may tell you at one point, but at the time I remember thinking "well, I didn't think my first experience of parenting would be a stroppy 10-year-old boy". I was only just old enough to be his mother, realistically, but I was at least an adult. I have also had a lot of people comment "oh, how good of you that was" but really, was I going to chuck him back on the streets? What else could I do?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Of course when I want cycles like clockwork...

I'm going to go to the big hospital again next week to have the uterine biopsy (just thinking about it makes me wince) for the clinical trial - I was supposed to ring up on getting a positive OPK. This should have been on Wednesday (CD15 - and I had started my period very early in the morning this month so I was pretty confident). I bought (from Ebay) some very fancy OPKs just to be sure (usually I use hijacked fertility meter sticks). No little smiley face. Nothing on Thursday either. Am I using them wrong? I thought. Maybe they are too clever for me. But finally on Friday they did their stuff. Which (annoyingly, and I am telling you lot because you will appreciate - Mr. Spouse attempted to nod off when I told him) means that I will be going to Exotic Climes on next months' CD 12, which doesn't really give us much of a chance - and we've had to use condoms* this month.

I have two other blogs; one of them is my diary from when I was 11, and is at - I have been finding out where all the people I was at primary school with have got to, and it is very good for me - so many of them are not in a relationship, don't have kids, have been divorced... with one happy marriage, I actually feel pretty lucky.

*that little noise you hear is us collectively whimpering.

Monday, October 30, 2006

I think I’m going to have to dripfeed this…

because adoption is even slower than infertility. Life is measured in two-month segments, as far as I can tell, rather than two-week. But oddly it feels more like we can get on with our lives together.

OK, so I never finished the tale of the interview with the agency director, but it’s long enough ago that I will need to check I don’t repeat myself. She sounded pretty positive but trying to be realistic – we would have a good chance of being approved, I think, although obviously they can’t promise anything at this stage, she really endeared herself to Mr. Spouse by refusing to believe he is 51. But if it was between us and a younger couple, then a child’s social workers might well go for the younger couple. However, I believe that in a lot of cases only one couple is considered for a child or children.

One suggestion she made is that we might suit a pair of siblings with a large-ish age gap (e.g. a six year old and a one year old). She was very understanding of the “need to parent”, especially to parent young children and babies, which she says placing social workers often don’t understand, but not to make the mistake of taking an older sibling just so we could have a baby. I have to say I would be up for this if the older sibling was uncomplicated – but that is unlikely – though I heard about a child who had been in a loving foster home for four YEARS before an adoption placement so it is not completely impossible.

I also mentioned the possibility of mixed-race children. I’m not sure she really thinks that dark-skinned bi-racial children would be possible (we, on the other hand, don’t particularly see a problem – especially if they have heritage in a country we could take them to) but she said there are sometimes children who are mixed-race but appear fairly white, or sibling pairs with different fathers where one is mixed-race, and adopters who are dark in appearance won’t take such children, but again placing social workers tend to be rather unrealistic about such children. So that is another option.

So, we have found our referees (three friends – not family – plus one of the vicars at our rather over-staffed church) – they don’t show what the referees write to us, but the referees themselves are free to show us, which we have told them, and they have all said they’ll show us what we wrote. I’ve also been getting books out of the library, and vetting them for Mr. Spouse, who prefers to read newspapers. I have a feeling I might have to bite my tongue when the social workers recommend some of them, as there’s a lot of pseudoscience, poorly explained ideas, and unfounded therapies.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Chances are...

we will not be getting pregnant on our own, given these calculations, which don’t even take into account my previous miscarriages as a risk factor. I suppose I could restart the clock at the last, surgically assisted, pregnancy, and estimate about a 25% chance of pregnancy (6 months trying rather than a year) with a 40%-ish chance of keeping it making maybe 10% chance of one live birth in the next 4 years.

We were discussing this today after our adoption meeting where the SW was probing about how far we felt we’d gone with having a biological child, what we felt about using contraception, etc. I said I felt that we were being told we had a really low chance, and there was no treatment they could give, by the gynaes, and also (if she was any good at reading between the lines) that once we were matched, or had a newly placed child, that like with a birth child we would use contraception as we would want a gap between the arrival of children as any parents would. I do not honestly feel I could say we’d use contraception now (though Mr. Spouse and I are not quite on the same page on this one, as he is now very keen to Get On With It and afraid another miscarriage would set us back for too long, I am a glutton for punishment and feel I could cope with maybe one more…)

Of course the whole interview this morning was not about this. There was a lot more (including, inevitably, Madonna, but I brought my own twist onto this, I thought, with my observation – a major problem I have about overseas adoptions – that they would not be able to have any kind of developmental assessment to get an idea of any difficulties little David might have). Still processing. Output from program may or may not appear here in the next few days.

I think the order of the process is rather different between different agencies, but they sounded like they would be happy to find us a social worker for January, and a place on their February preparation course which, miracle of miracles, does not clash with any of my work commitments. We now have to forewarn our referees…

Thursday, October 19, 2006


A post about blogging...

I very rudely wrote far too much identifying information about one of the very nice women I spoke to on the phone about their adoptions, and as you may have seen I edited that post. People do not like to be identifiable, but adoptive parents especially do not like that, for extremely good reasons. When I started this blog I really wanted it to be a diary, somewhere to spill my thoughts. I don't have huge numbers of readers like Julie or even Thalia, and I don't mind - the occasional bit of feedback is good.

I do post as I say on a couple of forums that have adoption-related discussion and I had put my link on one of them (this one also has fertility stuff, so it seemed particularly relevant) in my profile, but I've decided to take that down. I'm not sure if this is sufficient to return this to the "personal diary, shared with a few" mode - I know I'm on a few blogrolls, but usually they are miles long so it's not like I get a lot of hits from those.

Anyway although this has not been of the scale that others' "outings" have been, the current hoo-ha with Thalia, together with a separate incident in which another adoption blog talked about something I'd been chatting in a PM with another board user about, which made me link them up as the same person, has given me a wake-up call. If you have any suggestions or other warnings, now is the time to make them. I don't want to stop writing, and I want to be informative, but I don't want to be indiscreet or give away too much information about myself, anyone else, or the UK adoption process. I'm going to find and delete the only information (a comment made by me, I think) that enables people to identify me by name, too.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Some good, some not so good

So the news is partly good – we have our first interview with the agency director on Friday – I’m feeling quite calm about it, probably because I suspect they will ask us the same type of thing the social worker from the first agency asked on the phone the other day. Even Mr Spouse seems quite calm.

I heard from a very dear friend who lives in the US and has one son through IVF that she is a) almost certainly coming back to live in the UK and b) expecting FET twins. She was very sweet and said if I didn’t want to mention it she’d understand totally.

We have told quite a few friends about our plans to adopt and they have invariably been very positive - in fact, it has given us some ideas about who might make a good referee (we have to have three each, I believe) based on their comments (although some of them seem to be a little unrealistic about us!) So we thought we should probably tell my mum in case someone else told her, as we were visiting over the weekend. The good news is she says she isn’t going to tell anyone else – though she wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about my first pregnancy, and did…

She was incredibly negative about the whole idea. First of all, she thinks that no children who are not genetically related to us will be any good, to be honest. I have to say this is something I’ve struggled with but we are going to have to get over it. There are nice, pleasant, even bright people in this world who aren’t related to us. Such as my husband, for example. And being highly intellectual is not a guarantee of being pleasant or happy.

I'm not really sure what she thinks our options are - whether she thinks we are doing this instead of getting pregnant. I am not sure I really want to ask, but I know she is not in favour of IVF, so I don’t know quite what she thinks we should do. Wait another two years and hope we actually manage to keep a pregnancy, and if we don’t, then what? Does she think we’re refusing treatment for miscarriage, or that we’ve decided not to get pregnant because we don’t want to have any more miscarriages? I have a feeling even if "old-fashioned" adoptions where young, bright girls gave up their babies voluntarily at birth were still possible she'd probably be against the idea.

But she also seems very set on the idea that adopted children are bound to be extremely disturbed, no matter how good their foster homes, or how little they remember of their birth parents, or how young they are. I have tried to explain that we are consulted at every stage about what types of difficulties we would be able to cope with. We are, I hope, going into this with our eyes open. I also pointed out to her that if you have birth children you have no guarantees - I used the example of autism - she says there's no way we’d have autistic children because we are both normal and outgoing – of course my godmother's family who have a grandchild with Asperger's because they are weird.

As you can imagine I’m not very happy about this! - it's all very well to say "oh, she'll love them when they come along" because I'm not entirely sure she will. As far as I can work out, her opinion is that no-one in her family should have a child with a difficulty or disability, and if you do, you've brought it on yourself - she is really, really negative about the distant family member (my age) with Down Syndrome, despite the fact that she's a happy and loved individual - she says "oh, they didn't have the choice in those days".

I think I’ve been thrown by this partly because of the positive reaction of most of our friends – I assumed she’d be the same – she loves our nieces and can’t wait to see them (although she also can’t wait to say goodbye sometimes!)…

Edited: after Thalia's comment - I don't know which book you've read, but as part of my research is in this area, and there's a lot of recent data suggesting input/environment is MUCH more important than previously thought, and I keep telling my mother this (and have always done so) I can't help feeling like banging her head against the wall and saying "Have I taught you NOTHING?". But strict nativism makes much more sexy copy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A tale of two phone calls (plus a third to come, and several

Last week -phone call to a friend of a friend who lives in the next (vast, rural) county north of us, who has a little boy, aged four, been with them a year, adopted through their Local Authority. As only two women who have never met but have an important subject in common can, we talked for an hour and still had a lot to say. Their adoption procedure sounded boring and long-winded (it might be slightly better with non-LA agency because of how most of the voluntary agencies structure theirs) but ultimately well-run and they are very happy with their little boy. They both work in health/social care fields and had been through fertility treatments and said "no more". Their little boy sounds intelligent, sensitive, and advanced ("Mummy, do octopuses have teeth? How do they clean them under the ocean?"). I asked if they felt the social workers had matched them well to him and they said they felt it had been taken into account that they would be the kind of family to suit a bright and articulate child.

Yesterday - after a bit of trouble arranging it (her husband thinks everyone on the Internet is weird - well, can you blame him) - phone call to a nice woman who posts on two internet fora I frequent (one full of babydust I'm afraid, but very UK-oriented, one full of scary people with children with severe mental health problems, but also helpful in a practical sense). She lives about the same distance from us but slightly nearer Big City. Again, as only two women ..... we talked for an hour and still had a lot to say. They had been through a voluntary agency quite some time ago and their older child was placed with them, and then they had done concurrent placement and had a baby placed with them. Although far more children placed though concurrent placement stay with their adoptive parents, I get the impression from a few different people that social workers minimise this risk, and in their case the child was returned to the birth parents. Another poster on one of these boards whose child stayed with them, I think, said they felt torn between wanting the birth parents to set themselves straight, and wanting them not to, so the baby could stay with them. I'm also not sure whether concurrent placements that result in the child returning to their birth parents will include ongoing involvement in the child's life - most regular foster carers can do this, unless there's something specifically to prevent it. They then adopted their little girl through a LA they don't live in, but who was also quite young (about 12 or 18 months I think). Both children again sound delightful, allowing for the fact that the boy is a teenager! I also asked if the social workers had matched them well to their children, in her opinion - yes, they are always being told the kids look like them.

I am not quite sure if a) the two women understood my question about matching rather differently or b) they have very different priorities in matching and the social workers took this into account or c) they have very different priorities in matching and by chance the social workers got it right. I do know that of all the children I have seen on social work websites/magazines the pair that has stood out most for me was a pair of African descent who were noted to be advanced for their age. I'm pretty sure Mr Spouse would not be up for this particular pair but I guess what this tells me is I don't mind if people don't tell me the children look like us... I know they think about this when allocating donor sperm or eggs, but at this point I suppose what I'm trying to say is it would be a luxury, rather than a necessity.

So I've now got Wednesday afternoon down as my afternoon to ring the first agency - the one that does concurrent placement. Despite the lengthy contact sessions and the risk of the child going back to birth parents, I feel this is a good way to go. I don't think the risk of placement breakdown is any greater than with a regular adoption - although it might be differently upsetting to have a child returned to their birth parents rather than leave because we could no longer handle them or they put other children at risk. It remains to be seen whether our geographical distance from the contact centre can be put aside since our travelling time is no longer than many other much closer families (it's only 10 minutes longer than the woman I spoke to, for example).

Voicemails - mainly to the miscarriage nurse, again, I'm afraid. I finally got the information sheet from the clinical trial but I still want to find out about what happens if my prolactin levels are still too high, can we be tested for the balanced translocation (very rare I know, and probably only in my mind because of Julia, but also I have these niggling doubts about the very high number of only children in Mr Spouse's family), and my acupuncturist keeps on at me to find out if the progesterone cream is OK to use. She thinks not (it could stop the progesterone receptors working, she thinks, and I never specifically asked the nurse, and feel that (though it would be much easier) I cannot lie to my acupuncturist...

[Edited because I had put up some information I shouldn't have]

Friday, September 29, 2006

I am married to a very lovely man

Yesterday I found out one of my colleagues is pregnant. This is quite an achievement as there are only twelve female members of staff in the department - two have school-aged kids "and that's enough", three are in their fifties or sixties, three have publicly declared they aren't up for commitment/of that sort (one single and complains to me about clingy men, one relishes her boyfriend being away at sea for four months at a time, and one happily coupled but childless), and one is also infertile. Which leaves J. Who has the office opposite mine. And who lives on my street. Closer to town. I have to walk past her office on the way to the photocopier and her house on the way to anywhere.

Now, I did think I was doing OK. I found out about the pregnancy (I think she must be about 5 months, but a clever dresser) during a day-long meeting where she was sitting opposite me, and I was OK - bored, but OK. Then when I got home I fell apart. Why does it still hurt? Why was I OK last time I got my period, but not on hearing that this very nice woman is pregnant? Will it still hurt if we have children but they are adopted?

Anyway unfortunately Mr Spouse had gone to see his mum after work and it's a long journey so by the time he spoke to me and realised how awful I was feeling he couldn't get home for a couple of hours. I moped in front of the telly with some soup and some cake and then had a hug when he got home. Today he left before I got up as usual and I'd said I was going to work from home - or possibly even call in sick, but in fact I had a lie in and felt much better so I went in late. And even managed not to have an extra coffee, which normally I need to perk me up when I'm feeling crap. So I got home and found...

a card saying there were flowers for me next door. He had sent me a bunch fo flowers! Isn't he sweet? He says it's in the appendix to the Husband Contract.

Monday, September 25, 2006

I'll let her off

The nurse rang me this morning at 8.30 - she said she'd been covering for other people most of last week - which I suppose rings true as the consultant's secretary wouldn't necessarily know that.

Anyway all the clotting tests are fine but my prolactin was elevated. Apparently this can be due to stress but she'd like to repeat it. She says it isn't related to the miscarriages but they'd like to repeat it. I don't think they would have taken this one before - a quick Google reveals that elevated prolactin can prevent ovulation, but since we know I'm ovulating nicely (had a decent progesterone level in that round of tests on day 24 or so I think, too), that's not the issue. The RCOG guidelines say that evidence linking hyperprolactinaemia with miscarriage is "equivocal". But if it's elevated again I'll ask if it can be treated, I think.

However they don't think there's a clear reason for the miscarriages so they are going to send me a letter about the NK cell trial - but given how slow the wheels of NHS bureaucracy grind, that is unlikely to be this month - apparently the research registrar is only just back from holiday today anyway.

So, I thought that we'd be taking the month off this month but it seems not... which brings up a whole load of adoption-related stuff.. perhaps for another post.

But I'll leave you with what the nurse at the GPs said to me while I was having my smear (why can't they hold the smear stick in one hand while they do the speculum with the other? why do they have to walk off and leave you in pain?). "So, do you have any children already? (no) Oh, did you just start trying quite late (yes, we only got married two years ago- was she going to tell me off for putting it off?)?"

OK, given that she only has my last 4 years' notes, or less, and I only told her the most recent referral to the gynae was for infertility (that part WAS her business), how does she know I didn't have ovarian cancer in my twenties, say??

Friday, September 22, 2006


I have spent most of this week, it seems, on the phone to the nurse at the clinic. I've left multiple messages, called before 9am, after 5pm, at lunch time, and called the consultant's secretary who assured me the nurse would be in this afternoon - I must have called five times this afternoon, but still no luck.

So still no results. I know she's getting my messages because she called me herself early on Tuesday to say she only had half of them and the rest would be available on Wednesday. But she hasn't called me back since.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

OK, seriously, what AM I?

I don't have my results from the nurse yet - this is the week they should be available, but she called early Tuesday morning to say one set would not be available till today, and I didn't get a call-back today after leaving a message, so I will try again tomorrow. If you've been following (and if not, do try to keep up at the back! honestly!), if they are all negative I can go on the NK cell trial, which involves calling Dr Q on CD1. Which is today...

So, another cycle, another wasted test. It's now 2 years since we started trying to get pregnant. If I calculate it rationally, that's a maximum of 26 cycles (28 days each) but of those I was pregnant for, say, 3, having a break for 2, on medically enforced abstinence for 1 and out of the country for the crucial week of another one. So that's 19 cycles and probably 3 measurable pregnancies. So I would imagine your average infertile would laugh me court of court if I claimed to be infertile too. Even if there were only 2, that's 1 every 9 months. But I don't feel very fertile.

Again, I don't feel as if I've had so many pregnancies and so many miscarriages - not compared to some people - some of whom seem to get pregnant really easily, perhaps that'[s how they fit in so many miscarriages? Or am I just misperceiving the time because time in my world goes slowly, but only reading their blogs it seems to go quickly in their world.

There does seem to be a dichotomy between difficulty getting pregnant and difficulty staying pregnant - I guess I do have both, but it's hard to tell how severe either one is - which will turn out to be the dominant one - will I never get pregnant again? or will I have more miscarriages? or will I be lucky?

If only I knew...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

It only goes to show, you never can tell

... as someone (Chuck Berry?) sang.

I recently made the online acquaintance of someone who seemed to be in a somewhat similar position to me - worked in a similar field, was married to someone quite a bit older than her, similar age to me, was unable to get pregnant (in her case because of health issues) so was considering adoption (in her case from China). We had emailed a few times and I was going to call her (I had her mobile number) but was away on holiday so somehow never got to it. She then posted on the forum where I knew her from saying her husband had been in a serious car accident and was in hospital, in intensive care, and texted me asking to post that he was going to need more surgery. Shortly following this she posted that he had died.

This upset me, not surprisingly. However, a few hours after this it was posted that she had in fact been an impostor, and had also had several other (and I have to say, much more extreme) personas in the past, so had been removed from the site with immediate effect. Now I'm not sure what to feel. I know that some of the things she told me and/or posted were very similar to my own situation, and were not written after I had shared my circumstances, so it wasn't particularly a case of her singling me out - but it still feels personal. We've had a death in the family, a friend's father has died, a friend my age has inoperable cancer, and to be told that a husband of a friend who is very, very similar to my husband/marriage in salient ways had died was just TOO close to the bone - I was in bits.

I don't know if this (what appears to be a case of Munchausen by Internet) has ever happened in Infertile World, but it seems as if it could easily happen. And it makes you question your grasp of reality.

I did ask Mr Spouse if he was real, but he declined to answer, on the grounds that he'd have to kill me if he told me. We had been watching Spooks...

Monday, September 04, 2006

When can we...

go on holiday? ring up the adoption agency? book my work trip to Tropical Climes (Asia this time)?

As Thalia just blogged, if you think there is a possibility you might be pregnant/have just had a scan/be just about to have a scan/have just miscarried/be just about to miscarry, then it is hard to plan ahead, especially for major things.

After the last miscarriage, at 5 weeks, just as we were supposed to be going away for the weekend for our anniverasary, and I was supposed to be giving a talk for work also several hours away (the same place, though), I am really scared of travelling while pregnant. But I also know that, if we did have another very early miscarriage, then I'd probably be fine with travelling after a couple of weeks - after the first miscarriage, I went to East Africa and was glad to get away. But I'm also not going to anywhere disease-ridden (especially malarial) while pregnant - and this is totally contrary to my normal inclinations, which are that lots of people get pregnant and give birth just fine and live in such places, and I have access to better medical care than most of them. I'm not planning a home birth in a developing country, don't panic, but I've always been a bit dismissive of nervous Nellies. Now I am one.

So my mind is full of scenarios like: will I tell the student whose fieldwork I'm going to supervise the real reason if I decide to cancel? Would I only tell her if I'm pregnant, but not if I miscarry close to the trip? Would I go if I was 15 weeks (I think that's just about possible)? She knows I've been sick on and off. So perhaps "I'm sick again" would do. But if I was at work, and cancelled 4 weeks before the trip, would that wash? Would my GP even write me a note for the insurance (probably, as it is a malarial area)?

And then, what about the adoption? Mr Spouse has agreed that we will try our luck with the concurrent planning people - no idea if either his or my age, or our distance from their centre, will be an insurmountable obstacle - but they should tell us definitely no, or that we have permission to apply, pretty much immediately. So the plan is to make that initial enquiry towards the end of October, leaving either them or the other agency two months to get the criminal records checks out of the way before starting the proper application early next year. But do we do the traditional "I'm not pregnant AGAIN since I just got my period so I will cut my losses and ring them now" or is that a bit too predicatable? Again, do I wait till my next cycle (not for 3 weeks) to book my Asia flight so I know more clearly the possible options (the 15 weeks pregnant will have been ruled out then, you see).

I really hate this ruling my life by my cycles, and I know I'm doing it to myself. I guess if you have treatment in the equation you just have fewer options for any one date - but you know further in advance which ones might lead to a pregnancy. I know the real answer is "book now, see what happens, don't let anything else be ruled by your cycles", but it's hard.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I really, really should know better...

than to ever tell parents anything about child development. You see, I only do this for a living - I don't have any actual in-house children, just a lot of theoretical and practical knowledge. But of course that doesn't count for anything.

I'm also tired and sad - my very sweet but quite elderly and, latterly, fairly sick father-in-law died on Tuesday. I think Mr Spouse saw it coming more than I did, in fact - he's much more of a realist than me.

We spent the Bank Holiday weekend at a festival - we've been going, separately and together, on and off, since 1983 (when I was a little teenager, and he would have been my youth leader!). Being the kind of place where people of like mind and
marriagable years get together, there are a lot of couples and babies. I was pretty apprehensive about going - we didn't go last year, as I should have been about 38 weeks pregnant, and we would have stayed away, so didn't want to wander around going "oh, we shouldn't be here". But although there were lots of babies, children, and bumps, I remembered all those years of watching couples, and how happy I am now with Mr Spouse - and tried to trust that we'll be going with our children, one day.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Not too shabby

Well, it took me an hour and a bit to get there, and about 2 hours to get back (the first hour of which was sitting in traffic in a rainstorm), but it was a fairly satistfying visit. The nice nurse is very nice, and very sensitive - you couldn't really do her job and not be sensitive. She asked me if it was OK to talk about the miscarriages - I suppose you need to be prepared to talk about them to go along to an appointment like that, but it does tend to bring it all back. She also asked if we had "any little ones at home" and said if we had another miscarriage they'd do some analysis on "the little one" which made me cringe a little but apart from that, full points. She didn't say "oh, perhaps the second one wasn't a pregnancy" which I had feared.

I asked all my questions apart, I think, from the one about implantation - I am pretty sure I am right about the cramps, since they only started after the first miscarriage (and we were only trying to get pregnant for 3 months before the first pregnancy), and don't happen every month. I don't think our problem is getting the sperm to the egg.

So the story is:

Multiple clotting factor tests, including all the ones that were done before and then some, and lupus etc. - she distracted me while taking the entire arm's worth of blood from my useless vein (I must have been a junkie in a former life) by telling me about the house she is buying where the previous owner was proud of not having hoovered in 17 years. If any are positive they will recommend either aspirin or aspirin plus low molecular weight heparin once I get pregnant. She said she saw where the nice gynae was coming from suggesting I take it anyway, they don't really suggest it but she didn't sound like it could do any harm. They won't do the genetic clotting tests again.

There may be a spina bifida issue. My brother and father have club feet (spina bifida can cause this, or you can have it alone) and there was a question of a cousin with a dimple in her spine. She wants me to take 5mg folate if I get pregnant - she said no need to do it before. I think I may get a prescription just in case, as finding out I was pregnant on holiday, for example, would be needlessly nervewracking. This also counteracts the hyperhomocysteinaemia (MTHFR) so that would be sorted too if I have it.

If all the tests come back negative then they will ask me if I want to be entered into the NKC trial. Since the tests are due back just as my next (but one) period starts (in a month's time) I might be able to get the biopsy done for that in September or October. So it is not all that shabby - she even apologised that they weren't recruiting this month because of too many lab staff being on holiday. So they are only recruiting people who clearly have idiopathic recurrent miscarriage. It being a clinical trial and all. I think they do also recruit from elsewhere in the country, again with a diagnosis of IRM.

I think it is at that stage that they would do a uterine ultrasound too. I'm not entirely clear what they see when they do the laparoscopy, but I would have thought they'd see anything obvious - so I'm not massively worried about that.

They don't do progesterone supplementation - if you have oligomenorrhea they give HcG - but I'm too regular for that.

So, if I see those two blue lines I'm to ring immediately (do not pass go, do not ring Mr Spouse - OK, I think I can ring him!) and they will follow me up. I could, I think, have similar follow up in my local hospital - in fact, it turns out the nice gynae used to work in the Liverpool hospital, as a research registrar - but I think I might use it as an excuse to take more than the odd day off work. I am even thinking of asking if I can go part time for a while (most it can be is 2 months, right?) if (when! when!) I get pregnant again. It does seem as if supportive care is actually the best - and extremly succesfull - intervention for IRM.

I actually feel like there is a way forward - and I have also started to feel more positive about adoption. I don't feel the same urge to get and stay pregnant, though it would be nice. I think that our plan C* (apply officially to adoption agency 6 months after last miscarriage i.e. in November) could still work out, as it is highly likely all my tests will be over by then, and I don't really think IUI is that crucial for us any more.

Things that made me well up yesterday: Seeing an undergraduate student come in with her TWO count them TWO little girls who were both accidents and who mean she's taken 4 years so far to do two years of her degree. Seeing the "baby wall" at the RPL clinic and not believing I'm ever going to have a baby picture to put up there. And then hearing that my father-in-law, in his 80s, is in hospital with pneumonia. The vicar decided he needed to go to hospital, having called round to see them. Mr Spouse (who was also tearful, not surprisingly) is worried he won't come home, because he doesn't think he can. We also worry about my mother-in-law, who is a similar age but more hale and hearty, but who does not tend to go out on her own, as she lacks confidence, so is at great risk of getting very isolated.

*A having been "get pregnant quickly" and B being "OK, we forgot to mention the part about staying pregnant, so let's get pregnant again and keep it this time."

Monday, August 14, 2006

A few links...

This is the Royal College of Obsetricians and Gynaecologists review of care for recurrent miscarriage.

This is very depressing for those of us with older husbands. I sent the link to Mr Spouse but he hasn't commented yet.

This is the four-drug combo study. I think I'd be more impressed if I knew what kind of clinical care the untreated women got - as frequent ultrasound and attendance at an early pregnancy clinic also seem to reduce the recurrence of miscarriage.

and finally this (absolutely, positively not work-friendly) has to be my best search term ever (and a mad search engine, too). No idea what page I'm on as I didn't dare go that far.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Note to self part, er, I don't know

I've got my appointment at the recurrent miscarriage clinic next week so this is a (to be updated) list of questions I want to ask:

Clotting factors: which tests will they do? Check they are doing the MTHFR as they couldn't do that locally.

Chromosomal factors: when will they test Mr Spouse for the balanced translocation? Can he have the blood taken locally?

Elderly reproductive system factors: is it worth me getting my FSH done again (the gynae said not, since it was only taken in January - I imagine she's right - perhaps next year)? What about an antral follicle scan - would this show a decreased ovarian reserve and would that be affecting the miscarriage?

Immune factors: are they still doing this trial of steroids? Does this require a biopsy? On a) day 21? b) a barrier contraception cycle? This will be yes to a) but no to b).

What about this new study of four-drug therapy for recurrent miscarriage? I realise it was a study with no placebo group but would they approve me trying the treatment? If no, would it do any harm to try aspirin (the gynae said it wouldn't)? Progesterone? (I have actually ordered some progesterone cream, partly because - of course - I hope it will help us conceive, but also because I have heard it's good for premenstrual cramps, which continue to plague me some months).

Which aspects of the therapy (steroids, aspirin, folate and progesterone) could I start at day 14 of my cycle, given our difficulties conceiving? If she says "none", would it be worth going onto the higher dose of folate anyway?

If I have another miscarriage, and it's not too fast, is it worth my having and ERPC to try and test any tissue? Would they be able to keep the tissue locally or would I have to go down there?

Oh, and about those cramps - is it possible they are conception cycles, with attempted implantation?

I'm hoping this is going to be an interactive post - if anyone can think of any questions I should ask, I'll add them in.

Notes from the notes:
I have looked into Foresight, but I think we are doing, or have done, everything anyway (vitamins - though there's no evidence anything except folate helps; stopping smoking - neither of us ever did; testing for STDs - got that sorted; heavy metals in hair - erm...)

Agnus castus - I understood that was for short luteal phases, which I don't have. But I'm prepared to be corrected.

The progesterone cream arrived today (about 6 dpo) and is very, er, creamy.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

On holiday

You see a lovely part of the world, and fall in love with it. You dearly, dearly wish to live there, yet circumstances prevent this. However, there is nothing to stop you from visiting as often as you can. Each time, you are charmed again, you do see there are some disadvantages but perhaps you are a little blind to them since it is, after all, a holiday. Parting is, of course, sweet sorrow. You book another trip the moment you get home, and once again you sigh and wish you could live there.

One comment recently asked me if it was hard for me to work with children, since we haven't yet managed to have any of our own. Mr Spouse was also asking me why I like volunteering with the Brownies (and why I suggested he might do some volunteer work with children, too), wondering whether I don't find it hard to have to give them back.

In other, not great, news, my work colleague who was going to go for her free IVF round on the NHS has had to cancel. I don't quite understand the protocol, but she says she went for an antral follicle scan (is that right?) at the start of her cycle (do they scan before starting? other people tell me they only scan after stimulation) and they found 3 follicles whereas they were hoping for 15? or is it 15 each side? Her FSH was also quite high - they've never found any problems before. She says she was (understandably) very sad at first but now they have resolved to go ahead with adoption from China. We are going to start a two-woman campain for equality of adoption leave with maternity leave (they recently updated the T&C at work and made maternity leave the same across job grades, but didn't update the adoption leave, which was previously inferior anyway).

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sorry folks

Slightly longer gap than I had intended. Note to self: if you want a loyal readership, you need to write more often.

Lots going on (holiday, family christening - I'm now a madrina!† - working on our new flat in London*, family funeral, minor ear infection, major migraine, work stuff, CD1). Nothing much has happened, really, except an oddly cramp-free second half of my cycle, which seems to happen about one cycle in three. I've started taking my temperature, probably completely mad of me but it is curbing my stick-peeing addiction slightly and not stressing me out too much. And I had a friendly conversation with the miscarriage nurse from Liverpool.

They do not offer any private services because, I think, they wouldn't be able do it any quicker privately. Given what I've heard about some of the private IVF places here, it doesn't really surprise me. Yes, this is the same hospital as Dr Quenby but I have been referred to a different doctor. If I'm not offered that test, I'll ask for it, but given my history it seems more likely to be either my age or clotting. The local hospital couldn't do/re-do the tests they were going to do but the miscarriage clinic wants to redo them all anyway so there's no point in pushing it locally.

Re the IVF/IUI debate: Mr Spouse thinks, and I am inclined to agree with him, that IVF is just a more expensive, and more invasive, way of getting to the same point we've got to before. IUI is more invasive than nothing, but since it seems to be difficult for us to get pregnant (two years, two/three pregnancies, and no babies) it might be quicker - I don't want to run out of reproductive time before my luck improves.

But currently I think I would rather go down the adoption route unless something definitive is found, as although IUI does increase your chances of pregnancy if you have unexplained infertility, it would not then help with the miscarriages. Adoption feels like so much more positive step, even if it is not (as a well-meaning relative said at the funeral) "something to do while you're waiting". Oh yes. Must remember to mention it to my mum before she hears from some other relative!

*As a friend of mine said, he was too old to be a babe magnet, and he didn't want to be a fridge magnet, so he was going to have to be a property magnate. An inheritance was left us, and the suggestion was that we use it to buy a holiday cottage. London is the only place we want to spend holidays regularly, and we have bitten the bullet and become second-home-owners. It might make us a bit of cash too. We are going down again this weekend - it's quite odd doing all this hard work when we aren't going to live in it, but it is nice to make a place simple, in an oddly satisfying way.

†Godmother - to my niece, who lives in Spain with my brother and his Spanish wife.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Oh hold

We're about to go on holiday, so a longer gap than normal in blogging. But a quick phone call to the recurrent miscarriage clinic (and conversation with at least five people with comedy Scouse accents. OK, I know people in Liverpool really do talk like that, but if you don't go there regularly, it sounds funny) revealed that the first appointment available is on the 17th August, and they don't, as far as the temporary secretary knows, take private patients.

This will be an appointment to take bloods and set up further tests. So everything else will be even more delayed, whether it's IUI or adoption, the first of which no doubt also has a long waiting list (and even if it didn't, I think the gynae is probably right that we should not do it a the same time as the miscarriage investigations) or, more likely, adoption, where they usually ask for a gap between any fertility investigations and starting the process.

Can I just say:

Thank you.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I'm a media slut

In the last 48 hours I've spoken to about 10 newspaper journalists and been interviewed for no less than 6 radio programmes (first one: scary; last one: blasé). A piece of my work which a friend described as "the cutest research ever" has been jumped on with a frenzy.

I'm not going to post a link here, but suffice to say if you've hear or read anything about children's language in the British media today, it's almost certainly me. But nothing will stop me going to Brownies tonight. Except maybe John Humphrys.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The women of this nation...

apart from those who like football, or have more than one TV in the house, are currently amusing themselves.

I've been doing a little browsing on the internetty web (as Mr Spouse and I call it), and a little sewing on two baby quilts. One is for my new niece, and one is either a faith quilt, or is for some other lucky child of a friend or relative. Not for my cousin's - I'm sorry, but having your second child due less than 3 years after your first does not count as "it's so difficult and upsetting not being able to have another child". Definitely not as "everyone in the family needs to know even your 97-year-old grandfather". Although the latter may have been her big-mouthed mother. Just because she is 13 months younger than her brother.

At least that may be the last of it for a while, unless my brother decides he can't live without a son. I have one remaining unmarried cousin my age, who is currently messing around with, and I suspect messing around, a very good friend of mine. No wedding bells or pregnancies I don't think - she wants to adopt from China, as a first choice, but he's under pressure to keep the family name going. The other side are all either under 30 and living in a different country to their spouse, or unattached, or both.

Going through my cycles in real time is rather a lot like watchin paint dry, so I'm not subjecting you lot to them. Suffice to say I madly decided to take my temperature this month, but at least it tells me, once again, I'm ovulating fine. In other news, no news from the miscarriage clinic (why does my mother ring to ask if I've heard from them four days after I've gone to the gynae? that's hardly enough time for a letter to get there and back!), and Mr Spouse and I have agreed that if "nothing has happened" six months after my last miscarriage, we will start going for adoption.

Details are yet to be worked out. Will "nothing" include another early miscarriage? Will we go with the agency we visited, or think about concurrency (where you foster a very young child and then if they don't get reunited with their birth parents- which does not happen 90% of the time - you adopt them)? The concurrency agency is quite a long way away - there are only about 4 in the country - and we might have to twist their arm to get them to consider us. We'll see.

A radio programme

This is a BBC Radio 4 programme about miscarriage that I suspect will only be up till Monday 26th June, as usually they keep them up for a week.

I'm putting this post up before an actual text one so if the programme expires, but I don't get round to updating, you won't have to keep looking at it.

Friday, June 09, 2006


I'm a university lecturer, and we've been on "strike" (a boycott of assessment activities - at the busiest time of year for assessment) - no marking. So now that our strike has ended, I have a huge pile of marking to do. You, gentle reader, are very lucky.

I had my next (maybe final) gynae appointment today, and went along with as usual a long list of things to ask. I forgot to put one thing on it, and I didn't sleep well last night, so not surprisingly I forgot to ask about it. But it is not fertility related*, and this is what she said about the fertility things:

My FSH level is 7. Not hopeless, but not as good as it could be (it seems that 2-6 is "excellent" and 6-9 is "good"), and another reminder that I don't have forever to do this pregnancy thing. So I didn't really need the gynae to tell me "it all gets harder after you're 40".

She's redoing the "online" clotting tests (the ones that measure actual levels of substance in your blood, rather than the ones that test for a gene mutation, which is not going to change). She also arranged for a test for the MTHFR mutation- she hadn't heard of it but the fact that it's in a book by the miscarriage guru lady in London, rather than off-a-random-website, made her take it seriously. But given that apparently a third of people have the mutation, there must be a lot of people who get and stay pregnant just fine with it.

She's referring me to the recurrent miscarriage clinic - the local one - the only thing I can find in the London clinic's book that I don't know if they do is the real-time clotting test (how fast does your blood clot in actual fact) and if they don't, I'll try and arrange for it to be done privately. She also said that, if I get pregnant again but have not yet had a diagnosis of a clotting factor, then it would do absolutely no harm to take low-dose aspirin. I am not sure if I'll extend this to "it will do no harm to take it during the second half of the cycle every month". I'm tempted.

And she said when we have some answers from the miscarriage clinic, IUI might make sense, and can be done at a fairly local hospital (1/2 hour away) with good results.

So reproductively I feel as if I've had a few answers. But parenting-wise, I'm not sure. If I knew we could not get (or stay) pregnant, I would want to go for adoption as soon as possible. But will I ever know that?

*it is a Barthelin cyst, and no, you don't want to know what it is.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Not a good day

It is a bank holiday, but we don't get the May bank holidays. Mr Spouse does, so he is at home, not working, while I am at home working. And I have got my period. I am not going to be a mother before I am 40; this was my last chance.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


For once I'm not entirely sure I would be happy if I was pregnant this month. It is possible, and my good friend A got pregnant with her daughter without skipping a cycle after a much later miscarriage; and another friend in pre-pregnancy-test-in-everyone's-drawer days "thinks" she had a miscarriage at 5 weeks the month before her daughter was born. But I am wondering if I need a rest. This did not stop us from trying, however.

And of course I'm not sure I'll be happy if I'm not, because I will worry I'm broken again, that was a fluke, we are not going to get pregnant. But I imagine I'll know by tomorrow, or Monday at the latest. An ovulation stick (actually my cheat's version, the sticks from the mega expensive Clearblue monitor, which are themselves cheaper than normal ovulation thingys) suggested my period will be due tomorrow; and a (proper, pricey, non-cheapo internet job) test was negative yesterday (I couldn't resist, OK? I'm addicted to peeing on sticks. If I had waited perhaps I would have been too late to do it...). I have no real clue symptoms-wise as, unlike DoctorMama even my 10-week pregnancy seems to have made my uterus cramp before every period.

Next steps are the gynae appointment in 2 weeks' time at which I think we will ask for referral to the nearer, less snazzy clinic, and I think they will see us in about a month, before which time we may well have some of the tests either repeated or done for the first time through the local hospital. I think there will be more clotting tests than have been done, and I'm going to ask that the ones that were done before could be repeated (apart from the genetic ones, which aren't going to vary). There will also be chromosomal tests for both of us, and I imagine a proper ultrasound of my uterus. If we find there is anything they can't or won't do, but that is done at the further, more snazzy clinic, we'll get it done privately.

Incidentally, does anyone have a recommendation for a free invisible counter? was doing me very well but seems to have been broken for the last week or more.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Yes, I do really want to have children, really, I do

I was away with Brownies last night, the only leader for our group - and one girl with a chest infection and asthma kept me awake coughing (I was awake longer than she was!) for almost the whole night. While sitting on her bed at 3am surfing on my PDA I was desperately longing for someone else to take a shift...

Other news from the Spousehold (and I promise not to use that again): we went to the open evening from the private (charity) adoption agency and both of us came away feeling more positive: they did not, like the local authority, seem to totally rule us out because of Mr. Spouse’s age - both of our ages would be taken into account, I am plenty young to be approved for under-5s, and although we might lose out in a “competition” for a child or children because of our age, we could also have something to give that others could not – I suspect my experience would help, but if we were willing to take a sibling group, that would also help a lot.

Under 5s are definitely around, and if you take two siblings at once, it has the advantage that a) they will have each other (with my family’s emphasis on biological kinship, this would be a positive thing, too) and b) the younger one will definitely be quite young, and the older one could be fairly young too as not everyone will take siblings. And Mr. Spouse, after hearing about the adoption process (which sounds a lot like our very intensive marriage preparation weekend, but more drawn out) and that one would have to go through some of it again for a second adoption, seemed to also become more positive about the idea of going for siblings. He is the one feeling the clock ticking on adoption, and doesn’t want to do the whole process once aged Old and then again aged Old Plus 3; he is an only child, sees no problem with having just the one, but is open to the idea of more than one.

I was predictably moist-eyed over Children Who Wait and Be My Parent; these were old issues, but one not so old that I can’t help wondering if one pair would still be in there if we started the process later this year, and also one set was very appealing in a car-crash kind of way, to be honest; six lovely sisters, from the same town where my mother used to do home tuition for children who had been excluded from school, and who my mother no doubt would be able to identify at least by reputation, as it’s one of those kinds of towns.

Mr. Spouse is very keen for me to cancel the IVF open evening. I haven’t yet, unfortunately the one we have booked is the day before my next gynae appointment or I would wait for that to make a decision. The next one we are away, I have cancelled one already, but I guess if we decided to go for it we could just book a (moderately expensive) initial appointment rather than go to the (free) open day, but not have to wait. He is more convinced it would be pointless, I wonder about balanced translocations and PGS. But the former is very rare and the latter doesn’t seem to lower the miscarriage rate to a major degree.

A bit of a long post, but we are going to see the gynae in a couple of weeks’ time, before she’ll refer me to the recurrent miscarriage clinic. I probably have the choice of clinics, one of which seems to have more of an emphasis on clotting problems, as they do more tests, and which is further away, but which does not believe in NK cells, and one of which is closer and is doing a clinical trial on NK cells, but I might not be eligible for the trial anyway being a little overweight and it involving steroids. So that’s a dilemma… the first one has a very good reputation, but the word on the street (or rather, on the babydust-infested but UK-system-oriented message boards) is that the second is pretty friendly and welcoming, too.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

It's four a.m...

and I can't sleep...

I started helping with Brownies in January, it's on a Friday night, and it's fun. But I'm not sure I can carry on, not with that group. There are a number of issues, some convenience (the Friday thing, which is starting to irritate Mr Spouse), some personal (not relevant here), but one crucially relevant: the baby.

I am pretty certain it's this miscarriage which has brought back feelings of the previous one, and feelings of NigelandDelia. I know it has for Mr Spouse too. This was the first week I saw little S, one of the leader's babies, after this miscarriage, and the first time I really clicked that she is very close in age to what they should have been. Perhaps because there is a month or two difference, but as she gets older this will be less and less significant. I know this is going to continue. If it wasn't for this, I think I would have asked to change groups anyway, but I'm just happy I managed to hold it together in the meeting, and that Mr Spouse found me a quiet bench on our way out to dinner for my meltdown.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Where we are at...

Not sure, really...

My theoretical return to work (in fact, return to my desk in my study at home, looking at work files rather than blogs) coincided with a major rush and panic on a grant application, fraught with inter-country politics, and due yesterday. We got it in, but not without a long-suffering research administrator working long hours and an international collaborator taking his ball home.
I did actually go into the office yesterday but reserved the right to come over all feeble and work at home today. Which I am doing.

Colleagues that I have told have been sympathetic - I felt like a bit of a wimp when I had to tell one very nice man that my miscarriage was at just over 5 weeks - his partner had two, one at 12 and one at 16, I think between their two children (she was told to lie in bed for a month with the next pregnancy, but this was 20 years ago!). But he said this was the worst time they'd been through, even including the death of two elderly parents in the last couple of years. I also told another colleague, who I didn't know at the time of the first miscarriage, about both of them. I think this may change the dynamic between us a bit - she comes across as someone who really doesn't want kids, and almost resents talk of them, although she is generally a lovely person.

New feelings have been raised, oddly by the pregnancy as well as by the miscarriage. When I found out I was pregnant, we had these two upcoming information evenings booked; I actually felt sad that I might not now need to adopt, but we had decided to go to both anyway "just in case". At my lowest point, when I knew I was miscarrying, I sobbed to Mr Spouse that I would never have a baby and he said "yes you will, it just might not come from your tummy". And that made me feel sad too - so I'm not sure what I want.

I guess I might want one or more children that are lovely little clones of me and Mr Spouse and who are gloriously bright and musical and calm and well-adjusted (all the good parts of both of us and none of our faults, of course, and guaranteed no developmental issues), as well as one or more children who are slightly more problematic, but who were "chosen" for us, or vice versa, in a very human sense.

I had an email from a friend in the US who had been told "well, you know, if you adopt you are guaranteed to get a baby" (by an adoption counsellor, so although the counsellor may be stretching the truth a little, she is probably not completely making it up). Perhaps this is true in the USA, if you wait long enough. Here, it is not, although most people give up rather than being given up on; and it is not very likely that one would get a newborn, although that is not too crucial for us, personally I'd like to go for an older baby or toddler and Mr Spouse is starting to come round to that idea, too, I think.

I have also been reading other US blogs where people seem to be going for IVF and adoption at the same time; another thing that wouldn't happen here. IVF seems a bit pointless at this stage, unless it turns out we have a balanced translocation or something like that, but I don't want to give up on pregnancy without knowing if there is something treatable we can find that might be causing the miscarriages. And I don't think we could have those investigations, and pursue adoption, either.

Anyway, I'm going to go and have some lunch, and go into town and do a little shopping. I am aware that I am at risk of getting depressed, especially when I catch myself afraid of going into town, partly because of the people, and partly because I think someone will spot me and say "you aren't sick". And that means I really, really need to get out of the house and get a little exercise.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

When a friend has a miscarriage

I just found this and thought it was quite good - I've seen other similar things in the past, although they are good to find, I'm not sure how one would give these to ones friends and family. Hello, people, you know I've had a miscarriage but really, you aren't being that sensitive, here's something to teach you how.

Did you know...

it is possible to have your bladder too full for an ultrasound? I was sent away to pee before my scan this afternoon. And I was very mean and didn't tell the Scan Man that there was no more loo roll after me.

Saw the GP this morning (declining the receptionist's suggestion of a telephone consultation yesterday, when I would have been on the train. No, I don't feel like discussing my miscarriage in a crowded train carriage. Funny, that) and he said that, although it was up to me, he would really recommend having an ultrasound. I guess part of me still had a tiny bit of hope, but I knew it was pointless thinking like that and that knowing I was going to have the scan would just get my hopes up. But fortunately I got an appointment for this afternoon and managed to take my mind off it by doing some gardening (at least my tomato plants are growing). The GP also seemed surprised that the pregnancy test I did yesterday would have been negative already, but it didn't surprise me, as I stopped feeling pregnant at the weekend.

So having drunk loads, and walked to the hospital, and waited half an hour (I was early, they were late), I found out there was nothing in there - which is better than the worst that could have happened i.e. that I would need to have an EPRC.

I'm still feeling pretty exhausted, sleeping a lot, and the GP says if I need to be signed off next week just to call; I have a grant application a nervous student needs to submit by Wednesday but I have sorted it out so I can do it from home if necessary, I think. I would dearly love to reduce my workload long-term but don't really see how - the parts of my job that are flexible are those that I like, and those that get me long-term promotion prospects. We have a moderately generous holiday allowance but it's not huge, and I already take it all as it's almost exactly the same as Mr Spouse's, and he always tries to take as much as he can.

Last time I came home from the hospital after my miscarriage to find a book on pregnancy had arrived from Amazon. This time I have had several items of nicely snug clothing arrive, due to some rather delayed mail-order and Ebay purchases which came while we were away. For our anniversary on Monday Mr Spouse and I chose a selection of possible cotton items for ourselves from the Boden catalogue and ordered them for each other without looking at the checkout page, if you have any idea what I mean. So I now have a nice new blue dress to wear to a wedding in a week's time.

I don't feel good. But I don't feel dead, either. I'll ring the gynae tomorrow to arrange a referral to the recurrent miscarriage people. I don't know where they do their standard referral to, but there are two clinics within a couple of hours of here, and if it's the same place they send IVF people to, I'm going to ask for it to be somewhere else, as it's a 2 hour drive.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

That seems to be that...

I bled much worse yesterday, and in fact my breasts were much less sore and swollen even when I woke up yesterday. A load of clots last night, and that seems to be it, it has eased off now. I am very tired and pretty numb, but not in floods of tears or anything. I've been taking my mind off it by knitting a little dress for my new niece who, ironically, arrived on Monday. I had already been making something for her older sister, and while I was making that, I had the audacity to think perhaps they could pass it back to our children when they are done.

My new niece has been given my mother's middle name as her first name. I like the name (although my mother normally doesn't own up to it, and is cross that she will have to now), as well as my mother's first name, and the combination was her maternal grandmother's name too. I had always thought I'd give my daughter the pair of names. I am grateful to my brother - though I doubt it was conscious - that he has not taken her first name for his own daughter. There may be a gap but there won't be another cousin with her name.

I dithered on Friday afternoon about ringing the consultant's secretary, for too long, so they were closed. The options on Saturday were then A&E, the GP out of hours service, or the ward where I had the other miscarriage. I rang the ward in the end, and I was glad I had - they told me I could come in if the bleeding or the pain were too bad to cope with, but need not do so if I didn't want to, and should make an appointment with my GP next week, and he would organise a scan. I don't think I want a scan unless they deem it medically necessary as I am sure it's all over, and the lack of a sac just means it was too early for one, not that I haven't got rid of all the material that was there.

What now? Well, it's our anniversary tomorrow, ironically. We have a hotel booked, so I may as well feel tired and miserable there, then Mr Spouse is off for a couple of days for work, and both the hotel and his work are near my mother's (they are also near Big Scary Department where I was supposed to be giving a talk on Tuesday), so I'll go there for a bit of TLC. Then I guess, working out who to tell about this (and who to tell there may have been a third, also), getting a referral to an official miscarriage clinic, and working out if there is much point in trying to get pregnant again.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Not good

I've started bleeding - not enough yet that I'm sure everything's gone, but it certainly isn't getting better, and it seems to be getting worse. I came home from work a couple of hours ago, and had to stop and get some pads on the way home. I also have dull, general aches rather than the twinges that I've had up till now.

I think I am going to go and lie down and feel sad now. We are supposed to be going away for the weekend, as it's our anniversary, so I don't know if that will happen either.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Hurrah for the busy woman!

When I was in hospital having my lap and dye, the nurses were commenting on the gynae, and I think someone made the classic comment "if you want something done, ask a busy woman". So, rather than going to my fairly-sympathetic-but-hardly-any-clinics-and-doesn't-see-the-point-of- early-scans-you-could-lose-it-after-the-scan-anyway male GP, I decided to entrust my anxiety to the gynae's secretary, who rang me back (on my mobile, while I was having lunch with a friend who only knows there have been "hospital appointments" and "an operation", so I'm glad she didn't want any more details over the phone). And I'm going to have a scan in 2 weeks' time. 7 weeks is probably good as I know you can sometimes see a heartbeat at 6, but not seeing one then is not bad. I may have to go on my own, I have just realised - Mr Spouse will be away a couple of days that week. Hmm. Perhaps his boss can be persuaded he doesn't need him on that trip. What if I went and there was no heartbeat and I was on my own? What if I went and saw a heartbeat on my own and then next time there wasn't one and he never got to see it? But I don't think he'll want to go to bi-weekly scans, if I have them, to be honest... Dilemma.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


I have stopped feeling very scared every moment of the day, although knicker-watch continues, I have not had to run out in the middle of anything in the last couple of days, and I actually slept well the last two nights. But I still feel low-level scared with bursts of petrified.

I can see that I've had a fair few visitors in the last couple of days but I think people may be holding off on commenting - partly because one person always seems to have good news as another has bad news. But I also know that, if someone else in my situation found themselves unexpectedly pregnant, I would feel jealous of their happiness. But I don't feel happy at the moment - just scared.

The acupuncturist did treat me, and explained what she wasn't doing because I was pregnant. She also told me to eat a better breakfast (yes, mum - although kedgeree was mentioned- bleugh) and not to drink coffee at all. A quick Google actually scared me into going to half caf this morning, as the strength I normally drink it, even one cup could be too much.

Now we have to decide what to do about the IVF and adoption open evenings we have booked for next month - the adoption one is a bit easier as they don't book up so we can just go to the next one, and they will see you for a chat at other times. But the IVF one is booked months in advance normally so it's harder to know what to do about that one. Of course, I could have miscarried before it, but it's unlikely I'll have had a scan.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Nothing really...

Another very faint positive. I would have thought it would be stronger today, and it was supposed to be a more sensitive test, but then it was a cheapo one I got off the internet for £1. Someone else I know on the web bought these and got about 10 negatives and then a positive with a digital test, if you can believe anything so ridiculous. If there are no further developments I might buy a better one at the end of the week...

But living in a small town leads to dilemmas here (hence buying them from the internet, or from Waterloo). I can't buy them from the chemist where I've promised to pick up Mr Spouse's prescription some day this week, it being right by my bus stop, as someone from choir works there. And obviously I can't buy them from the student shop at work as ANYONE might see me. Plus I think they have them behind the counter and you have to ask for them. Bet they don't sell many, what do you think?

Monday, April 24, 2006

I am a statistic

Apparently, according to that very reliable source The Internet, 30% of couples with unexplained infertility become pregnant within three months of a lap and dye. I think I’ve just landed in the 30%.

I’m really scared as I type these words that it will turn out to be a false alarm, chemical pregnancy, or whatever you want to call it. I thought my period was due on Thursday or Friday but last month’s bleed was weird and took ages to start, and I may have ovulated two weeks ago today (except I didn’t use the ovulation thingy according to the instructions, so who knows?) which would make it due today. But on Friday I got a “maybe evaporation line, maybe positive” and on Sunday a “faint but it’s really there and it appeared quickly, even if the outline isn’t that clear”, with some not very sensitive cheapo tests picked up at Boots at Waterloo when Mr. Spouse wasn’t looking (naughty Dr. Spouse). We've jut been to various far places on the train, which is why Waterloo.

So I suspect that it was actually due Friday or Saturday as I don’t think I’d get a positive with that test before it was due. I am, of course, on constant knicker-watch and will probably continue to be so for the next week or two. Who am I kidding? The next month or, hopefully, eight and a half. I have cramps (had them last time, but of course also just before periods) and weird pains in my groin (very like ones I get just before a period, but they’ve been going on for about five days, so I can only assume it’s stretching or something).

As I say, I’m really scared it will be a “chem”, but I think that even if I bled tonight I would push it to be recognised as my third miscarriage, even though this hasn’t made 5 weeks yet, and neither did the second. But if I don’t, I’ll try again with a more sensitive test in the morning, to see if I can get a stronger line.

I am currently trying really hard not to hope for the best, but definitely fearing the worst. I think the worst would probably be finding out the pregnancy was not viable after weeks and weeks. No, actually, the worst would probably be an ectopic, but never having had one before I am at least realistic in working out my chances of that are very low (about 1% I believe). Losing a pregnancy, and being worse off reproductively than before it, would be awful. I think losing the pregnancy late would then be a greater fear than losing it early; but not too early, as otherwise it won’t get taken seriously in treatment. I can’t possibly think ahead to anything else, except maybe seeing my GP maybe next week if maybe possibly just maybe I get that far. OK, I’m lying. I have thought about wangling, or paying for, an early ultrasound in a couple of weeks’ time. How can I be so confident it will even last beyond tomorrow??! How can I get some sleep??

Ironically, I had just booked an acupuncture appointment which is supposed to be tomorrow. I’m not sure whether to cancel, in which case I’d probably have to pay anyway, or go along and have a chat and pay, booking one for a couple of weeks’ time when apparently it’s safe (or we will be trying again, anyway).

Although I hardly ever do this, I am also doing a lot of very, very focussed praying…

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Men and miscarriage

I was reminded by yesterday's post to put up a link to a very helpful page written by the Miscarriage Association:

Men and Miscarriage

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Deja vu, part 2

I got an email from a friend yesterday:

I have just been told that the pregnancy we had is going to end (at around 11 weeks).

We went for an ultrasound, but though the sac was clearly visible, there was no sign of a baby. So I guess in a way, the pregnancy has already ended. I haven't had any bleeding or any pain, yet. The obstetrician was jolly nice and said we could choose whether to have expectant management - just waiting - medical management - medicine to make you have a miscarriage - or a D and C under anaesthetic.

More or less exactly what happened with us. But I actually felt OK about it - I forwarded it to Mr Spouse and he said he was having flashbacks and remembering how sad he was. I think I just felt happy to be able to help, and also I suppose happy that it wasn't happening to me just now.

He reminded me also to ask about my friend's husband and how he was doing; so many people rang him after our miscarriage and asked "How is she?", forgetting it was his baby too.

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Family Man

Last night we watched the second episode of this new drama. I actually think it's quite good, in some ways - it seems thoroughly researched, and some of the scenarios are realistic. For example, of the four couples presented, one has secondary infertility, which is not the classic infertility situation presented in the media, two are using donor eggs, and the procedures are gone through in a fair amount of detail, as well as discussion of egg sharing, PGS, IUI, and other things that don't make it into the media so much.

But being a drama, we've got to have something dramatic. This week's episode closed with the clinic, and the home of a couple trying to get approval for sex selection to replace their son that died, being bombed. And of course every couple who finds a private egg donor a) does so illegally and b) the father of the ensuing child proceeds to have an affair with the egg donor and c) the egg donor has a dodgy relationship with her mother because d) the mother is not telling her that she has always regretted giving up a baby at 16 for adoption and e) the child she gave up is now going for IVF at the same clinic (she's the one with secondary infertility).

Confused? Well, Mr Spouse was! In fact, since the third couple in the series just had triplets using eggs from the adopted daughter, the only people who don't seem to be related to each other in the series are 1) the IVF specialist
(who also has marital problems, did I mention that? and whose daughter confessed to taking the morning after pill. Perhaps she slept with the partner of the adopted daughter?) and 2) the family who want another boy, and since they are black, it is fairly obvious they aren't going to be doing any egg sharing with the other couples, who are all white (mind you, one of them could still sleep with one of the other characters).

It's Pregnancy As Dramatic Device writ extremely large. About 60 point, I'd say.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

In less weird and overly religious news...

I have booked an acupuncture treatment; the first date she had available that I could do is not for a few weeks time, in fact about four days after my next period is due and two days after we get back from our Easter holiday in Rome. We are going on the train.

Yes, we live in the North of England. Yes, we are mad.

Sixteen fits and conniptions...

I have no idea how to spell that, but that is what my grandmother would be having if she were still alive and could read this post.

My grandmother's mother was brought up Catholic and was disowned by her family when she married a Protestant. She spent the rest of her life indignantly anti-Catholic, as did my grandmother. My parents never go to church, and they are rather shocked that I do. Until we moved to where we live now, both Mr Spouse and I went to fairly strongly Protestant churches, his even more than mine. We now go to an Anglican church (Episcopalian for those north of the border/over the pond) that is strong on ceremony and saints.

I managed fairly successfully to avoid too much on Mothering Sunday in the way of slush, but the previous day had been the Annunciation (25th March being 9 calendar months before 25th December, and the church being run in former years by men who never had children), and a little was said about Mary. Thinking about it later, I was reminded of something I heard on the radio last year on the same date, which I think was Good Friday, about Mary and how women who have lost children, before or after birth, can feel a special devotion to her; they specifically mentioned miscarriage, and this was only a few weeks after mine.

I am not particularly into the idea that if you pray for something you will get it. I try to see prayer more as a communication, including possibly explanation to me of what I should be doing, why things aren’t happening the way I want, and also sympathy – a been there, had that happen to me type sympathy.

Which is how this good little Protestant girl then found herself at choir last night rehearsing a French hymn to the Virgin, and finding that the words had a huge emotional impact.