For all the Mothers

Let’s get this straight.  I am not a Hallmark Holiday kind of girl.  I’m the girl who tells her boyfriend not to buy her anything for Valentines day and actually means it.  I believe that you should be kind to the people in your lives on a consistent basis and therefore not need a national holiday to remind you to do this.

poppies

Poppies – my Mothers favorite flower

Mothers day…  as it has never been a holiday about me, it’s not one that I have spent my life completely ignoring.  I traditionally bought my Mother a card and a little something to mark the day as I’m sure most of you did also.

I was raised in the UK and they celebrate Mothers day in March.  When I moved to the USA and my Mum was still in England I could never remember the day and the May date just seemed silly to us and thus the expectation dropped and we agreed to stop bothering with it altogether.  That said I feel that there is a twinge of disappointment when I fail to deliver.  I don’t think that she realized that my being allowed to forget it for her enabled me to move past the pain I felt of it not being a celebration for me too.  Selfish I know but infertility can make you feel this way.

Of all the Hallmark Holidays I feel that this can be the most painful for so many people for so many reasons.  Maybe you’ve lost your Mother, never had a Mother or long to be a Mother.  It’s so much easier to let the day slip past without commemoration than to wade through the aisles of cards with their sentimental messages.  I get it.

Now I am on the other side.  I am a Mother (finally!) and I still don’t feel the urge to dash out and purchase the most gigantic floral arrangement that money can buy.  I do however have a huge appreciation for my own Mum and the things that she has done that have allowed me to fulfill my dream of being a Mother.

As a Single Mother by Choice I had to do a lot of planning before taking the leap and having a child on my own.  I work an atypical schedule.  Daycare isn’t an option as I don’t start work until 4pm.  Paying a babysitter would have been more of a strain on my finances than I could have handled.  My Mother said she would gladly watch the baby whilst I worked.  Godsend!

I had done 2 rounds of IVF and experienced a miscarriage when we put my Mothers house on the market and started looking for suitable properties.  My Mother also cares for her elderly Father which added another dimension into our house hunting process.

 

sunset stock pic

Finally we found the perfect house.  A place with a separate in-law apartment that could be converted into a 2 bedroom house.  We purchased it, did a huge renovation and 3 months later I was at last pregnant with my son.

 

It had been a huge leap of faith.  I knew that the living arrangement wouldn’t suit me if I were to remain childless.  I was at a point where I didn’t believe I would ever have a child of my own. Before we bought the house, I was maxxed out on loans.  Luckily for me, my debts were all rolled into the new mortgage. This enabled me to take out another loan to pay for that last, final treatment (the one that worked!)

sandwich generation

My Mother with her father and my son. Can you say sandwich generation?

If it weren’t for my Mothers own sacrifices to care for her elderly Father and to offer to care for my (at the time) future child, I don’t know that I would have ever been able to do this on my own.  I say that I would have found a way – but would I?  I guess I’ll never know.

Mothers day has a different meaning now and I’ve started buying cards again, I’m even going to buy flowers and a little gift from my son so my Mum feels truly appreciated.  Without her, there would be no us.

As for me?  I have everything I need.  Smiles and giggles are the perfect gift from my little guy this Mothers day.

So to all of you, especially those of you who are struggling, I send you light and hope and wish you a Happy day.

Experiencing Infertility PTSD (part 1 – pregnancy)

You would think that the joy of being pregnant would erase the traumatic ordeal that had been infertility.

It didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong.  I was overwhelmed with happiness that I was finally pregnant, but I was also consumed by fear.  I’m aware that most women experience fear of loss. Pregnancy is scary.   However, I truly believe fear is compounded when you’ve had a loss or gone through infertility (or worse, both).

The desire to be a Mother was so encompassing that I couldn’t imagine living without realizing this dream.  Every ounce of my future happiness was dependent upon the growing life inside of me.  It was hard to shake the thought of something happening to my baby.  I feared what I might become if I experienced another loss.  I was out of funds, energy and hope.  If I lost this pregnancy I knew that I’d become bitter, hopeless and depressed.

There is a weird limbo to being pregnant after you’ve fought an infertility diagnosis.  You have a foot tentatively in both worlds.  Until there’s a baby in arms, it’s hard to get your mind out of the world you’ve just left.  You’re so used to being entrenched in it.

In spite of this, I LOVED being pregnant.  I embraced my changing shape.  I documented each month by going to a local photographer.  I wore the most figure hugging clothes.  I embraced the light whilst silencing the black fear that lurked beneath the surface.  I was conscious of being as positive as possible to infuse my future son with as much bright energy as I could.  And I was genuinely happy.

I didn’t equate being pregnant with having a baby though.  I know this sounds insane.  It felt like it was happening to someone else, not me.  Ultrasounds were an out of body experience.  That baby was actually inside of me?  I couldn’t wrap my head around it.  And while I loved being pregnant and was beyond excited to be a Mother, I didn’t believe it was going to happen until I was on the operating table waiting for him to be born.  There is nothing like a surgeons knife to give me a reality check!

Before that flesh and blood boy was placed on my chest I had fully pictured him only as a cartoon character.  A Pinocchio of sorts.  Like I was the Geppetto wishing for my real boy and never computing he was there all along.

Once my son was in my sight I knew him.  It was him all along.  I knew who he was and I loved him beyond anything I felt possible.  The relief… now I could see him, touch him and hold him it felt like I finally had control.  Infertility was behind me.

It’s one of the hardest things to explain to anyone other than a person who has lived through it.   I named it infertility PTSD but have since discovered that its a recognized syndrome.  I was never diagnosed with having it but there’s no other way to describe how it felt than this.

I thought these feelings would disappear once my son was born but in a strange way they actually just changed shape.  I think they’ll always be with me in some form.

I’d love to hear from others who have had these feelings.  How long did they last for you and did you feel like they changed once the baby was born?

more IVF and a Loss….

First off let me start with a trigger warning because Loss is mentioned and I know that can be hard for a lot of women.

 

My RE was perplexed as to why I wasn’t getting pregnant.  He decided he would do  ERA testing.  This is where they take a scrape from your uterus and send it off to establish the ideal time for transferring an embryo.

At the time I did this, it was in early stages and my sample had to be sent to Spain for analysis!  I remember thinking it was very strange that now Spain was involved in my fertility.  It came back that we were doing everything right.

During this break I went to see an acupuncturist whom my Mother used to work for.  After an extensive list of questions she told me that she didn’t think that acupuncture would help my fertility.  She gave me the name of a woman that she thought would be able to make a difference to my story.  This woman practiced Maya Abdominal Massage.

I went to see her right away.  It was very emotional and quite strange.  Its a very gentle practice but you can definitely feel something happen.  It connects you mentally with your uterus which is something that I’d never even contemplated beforehand.  I left with exercises to do at home.

A couple of weeks later I had another embryo transfer and miracle of miracles… a positive pregnancy test!!

My betas were strong and they doubled, then doubled again.  I went for an ultrasound and immediately my heart sunk.  A perfect yolk sack but no fetal pole.   The embryo was measuring behind.  I had seen others go through this.  I knew what this meant.  They made another appointment for a week later and told me to be pessimistically optimistic.

What an awful week.  I couldn’t justify taking the whole week off from work to wallow so I carried on as if nothing was happening.  I went to work, I went to friends dinner parties.  I didn’t drink.  I faked it.

Sure enough a week later the worst was confirmed.  At nearly 7 weeks I had lost the pregnancy.  I had options on how to proceed but I knew I needed answers.  I chose to have a D & E so that they could analyze the embryo and hopefully discover why it had happened.

The day of the D & E was one of the worst days of my life.  I felt utterly hopeless.  I had told myself that I was done trying and that this would be my last attempt.  I cried all day long.

Then the results came back.  The embryo had not been compatible with life.  It had the most common genetic errors for miscarriage.  It was not due to my age.  It was nothing I had done wrong.  My RE told me that this is the same reason that 25 year olds miscarry and that in so far as it could be, this was a good thing.

I found such solace in knowing this.  Light started coming back into the edges of the dark corners of my mind.  I felt empowered by knowing that my Uterus wasn’t broken, that it could maybe nurture a life….

I needed to find a way to try one. last. time.