Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Guest Post: The elephant in the nursery

One of my closest friends, Emily, has quite a story that she has decided to share with the world.  First posting this on her blog, The Bewgs in Britain, a few weeks ago, she has already received amazing responses.  She feels that this is something we should talk about rather than hiding from.  Her story is incredibly touching, and so elequontly written, I asked to share it with you. 

The elephant in the nursery
by Emily

I've been debating for a very long time about writing a post on this topic - and based on a recent email I received - I feel it's high time to actually sit and write this one out. It's going to take a while to get all the way through this...hope you are ready for a monster post!

You find someone you love, you get married, have kids, live happily ever after. That's how it is supposed to work, isn't it? Unfortunately, it doesn't always work that way! For some (and as I'm finding out, most) the kids part isn't as easy as some make it seem. We've all gotten the gleeful announcements about other people's pregnancy where they appear to not have a care in the world and they are just so excited to tell the world about their good news. I am happy for them, I congratulate them, I want to be a part of their excitement, but deep down I keep thinking...'why isn't that me?'

I know I've been thinking (and feeling) that for the last 4 years (47 months, folks). {We even have friends that have just had their 3rd child since we have been trying to have our first!} I thought that the most pain and disappointment I/we would feel would be the end of each month, when the hope for 'next month' starts all over again. Months then get filled with testing and symptom checking - that I think can literally drive you mad. People say 'to relax'...but I'm willing to bet that the people who tell you that are the same ones that got to travel the easy road to 'parent-dom'.

We were patient and came up with lots of excuses as to why things weren't just working for us: perhaps it was our stressful jobs, or our long commutes, or what we ate or didn't eat, or what vitamins we took or didn't take. Perhaps there was something 'wrong' with us. The only thing that was actually true - at least two months it was because we were living on totally different continents, literally! We beat ourselves up, tried new things, took more tests, got monitors and test sticks and all sorts of paraphernalia , and analyzed every little thing. None of it worked.

Little did I know, rather than a baby, we would get a badge of honor, twice. Our first miscarriage was scary for all sorts of reasons. I was so, so, so happy to be pregnant. I was late and we were going away for the weekend to a family wedding. I took the test as we were packing our bags to go (so I would know whether or not I should be drinking over the weekend)- and when those two lines came up I just burst! We spent over an hour in the car talking about everything and looking at dates and where this event would fall, it was all so exciting! Then we made it to the wedding venue, and I had to pretend to drink and dodge questions and fake eating the pate. I can still remember the looks when I consumed a massive hamburger the night before the wedding that even the boys at the table couldn't finish. Looking back - we were so happy and excited about our news that was still just ours to know about. That first pregnancy ended about 10 weeks in. We got really good care at the hospital (our first real interaction with hospitals in the UK) and despite having to be 'American' and ask lots of questions/demand follow-up tests - we can't fault the staff at the Early Pregnancy Unit.

About a year later, we finally got a place with the Fertility consultant at the hospital where we did LOADS of tests (some painless (cough...Daniel's) - some rather uncomfortable (most of mine!))! She put us on Clomid for a trial run to see if that did any good. Our second cycle of Clomid proved to be a success. It was a holiday weekend and I was just a few days late. I took a test and it was positive. I was over the moon with hope again (although a bit tempered - as I remember all to well how it all crash-landed before). I remember thinking that it is so unfair to people who have had previous miscarriages - it's always in the back of your mind...and you will never be able to allow yourself to be so excited so soon.

As bad as the first miscarriage was - this second one was a doozey. Not only was it a miscarriage - it was an ectopic pregnancy. I knew what could happen with those - and the possibility of surgery/losing an ovary/tube or both was positively frightening. The nurse at the EPU (same one we saw the first time!) was worried. We had scans every other day and I was told at one point that they didn't want me to leave the hospital and that surgery was probably going to have to happen. There was no food in the house - and I was planning to go to the grocery store after my appointment. I said that I couldn't stay at the hospital - 'I had things to do and take care of' before we starting talking surgery. Looking back now...how silly! That trip to the store was horrible! I was in a significant amount of pain and only made it through half of my list before I decided I needed to go home (got the things I couldn't trust Daniel to find on his own!). I spent just about two-weeks on 'house arrest' - and thankfully was able to give my body enough time to sort itself out - that surgery wasn't needed. The whole month of May was a complete write-off for me at work. Thankfully my boss is amazing - and I was able to 'work' from home during that time.

The positive result following the Clomid cycle - gave us a bit more hope. Unfortunately, the results continue to be the same. We have another appointment next week - so hopefully we will start to look at what happens next in this crazy cycle of fertility care.

I used to get really upset when other people (or even TV actors) announced their pregnancy. I would smile and congratulate and then cry my eyes out in private. Thankfully, over the last 47 months, that reaction has gotten less dramatic - and I would say that we are far more relaxed about the whole thing. No more tests and daily monitoring - just the Clomid and cycle day awareness. It makes for a much easier life!

One of the reasons I wanted to post about this topic is that miscarriage is one of those things that people 'don't talk about' - and I really think that is a shame. When we have told people about our situation - we often hear 'oh - that happened to us'. Its amazing to discover this community of people who dont necessarily share their experiences openly - but who have gone through quite similar things on their path to having a family. Knowing that there are loads of other people in the same boat - makes it easier to not blame yourself for what happens. It's also so encouraging to know that there are families out there that have been through multiple miscarriages that eventually end up having successful pregnancies and beautiful children. I even think that our experiences have made Daniel and I a stronger couple and as much as we would love to be a family of three - we are incredibly lucky to be a family of two (+3 furries) at the moment.

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